Technology News from the LIS Helpdesk

Upgrading your software

Upgrading your software can cause issues

Upgrading your software is a huge decision for any business. When an automatic update appears on your screen, should you press update? Recently, some of the big software companies have released updates that have caused issues. Here are four stories that were in the news recently.

A Windows 10 update that was only released 2 weeks ago is breaking some PCs. Matt Hanson from TechRadar take a look.

An Unexpected’ iPhone and iPad update threatens app glitches. James Clayton & Leo Kelion, Technology reporters from the BBC publishes a recent article.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs into Boothole patch trouble. Steven Vaughan-Nichols for Linux and Open Source wrote an article for ZDNet.

Norton Antivirus fails to update on Windows 10. Aleksandar Ognjanovic a Troubleshooting Expert  wrote a story for Windows Report.

Upgrading your software

Given upgrades are here to stay, the key is not to regard them as a nuisance, but to recognise that by investing in them, you will benefit your business.

The pros and cons of upgrading your software

To help you make the right decision we’ve created a list of the pros and cons involved:

Pro: Security

New software is always more secure than its predecessors, because the longer a piece of software is on the market, the longer hackers and other bad actors have to figure out its weaknesses. With cyber-security being one of the biggest threats to businesses today (In 2016, 36% of all crimes were “cyber enabled fraud”, while “computer misuse” accounted for a further 17%) that’s a PRO you can’t ignore! Upgrading your software will help your systems with threats from cyber crime.

Con: New software costs money

Software costs can fluctuate between developers and product versions. Some programs might include a discounted price for future upgrades, or you may have to buy the software outright, which can quickly add up when you have to upgrade multiple computers. Making this kind of bulk purchase comes down to whether you have the budget, which can easily dictate how realistic software upgrades are for your company. To overcome these hurdles, Clockwork IT also offers a rental option to its customers allowing them to implement a new system with minimal upfront costs.

Pro: New capabilities

How do businesses justify charging you for an updated piece of software? By providing something that’s substantially better than earlier versions! The latest programs will undoubtedly address previous flaws, increase functionality, and take user feedback into account.

Con: But do you need it?

Of course, while the newest software may be the best, there is no guarantee that you need it. If your “old” program still works fine, and none of the new features will be useful to you, why throw money away on an updated product? In this case, there will almost certainly be something better to spend your money on!

Pro: Productivity and efficiency

The bottom line is this: as software functionality improves, it should deliver greater gains in productivity and efficiency. Some companies could save thousands of hours of work with a simple upgrade – at that point, the question becomes one of economics. Upgrading your software will keep your business up to date with the latest technolgu. This will ensure your team can produce the best product and service for your industry.

Con: Hurdles

While new software tends to be better, and can improve productivity, there will always be a “learning curve” to take into account. If the new programs are very different, it will require significant man-hours to understand. As well as major input from IT specialists, you may want to ask yourself: is it worth it? In other words, do the productivity gains you think you will reap from installation outweigh the height of the hurdles you will need to jump to get to them?

Managed updates

At LIS, we only roll out new software and updates when we know they can help make your business more efficient. This will save you time and money. Our clients benefit from managed upgrades.

If you would like to learn more about the software solutions that could be helping your business towards a more profitable future, contact the LIS Help Desk.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#microsoft #updates #BlueScreenOfDeath

Salesforce upgrade

Salesforce upgrade the Work.com platform

The recent Salesforce upgrade has new tools that help workers stay productive from anywhere while also enabling safer in-person experiences. Salesforce has released a number of upgrades to its Work.com platform in an effort to help organizations grow. This will help businesses while returning to the office safely.

Work.com is already being used by cities and companies around the world. Your team will be safe with technology for employee wellness, shift, management manual contact tracing and more. In fact, Salesforce recently announced Work.com for Vaccines to help orchestrate the “largest vaccination campaign in human history”. Governments and healthcare organizations are still preparing to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine, once found.

TechRadar take a closer look at the best CRM software of 2020: Customer relationship management solutions. TechRadar have also compiled some other articles that will help businesses

Salesforce upgrade

Salesforce announced multiple updates to its Work.com solution this week designed to
help companies adjust to the new normal (Image credit: Salesforce)

Employee Workspace is a central digital hub where employees can access the tools and resources, they need to work remotely including productivity apps like Google Workspace, learning platforms such as myTrailhead, payroll systems and more. The workspace also provides personalized communications, embedded collaboration apps and notifications.

Salesforce’s new Employee Helpdesk uses Einstein AI-powered chatbots to provide employees with quick and easy access to knowledge articles and escalation paths across any department. Employees can even use the helpdesk to ask questions about IT support or HR policies and benefits.

Safer in-person experiences with the Salesforce upgrade

While Twitter and other companies have said that they will allow their employees to work from home indefinitely, other organizations are now preparing to return to the office which is why Salesforce has added new communication apps to Work.com to enable safer in-person experiences for both customers and employees.

Brick and mortar businesses can use the company’s Queue Management software to minimize physical lines by creating virtual queues to protect customers and manage onsite capacity. Using the service, customers can easily reserve their place in line from anywhere and get updated on queue status via SMS to avoid having to wait outside for long periods of time.

Communicating updated hours of operation, new appointment times and safety reminders can be done using Saleforce’s Broadcast Messaging. Organizations can use the service to communicate with their employees and customers. They can use their preferred channels such as text, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Businesses can also use Broadcast Messaging to manage follow-up questions or service requests with automated chatbots and personalized service communications.

Finally, Digital Trust Cards allow local store employees to quickly update websites and apps with safety protocols specific to their location. Such as social distancing guidelines and cleaning policies to help build customer trust and confidence that they will be safe when vising in-person businesses.

EVP and GM of Platform, Trailhead and AppExchange at Salesforce, Sarah Franklin explained in a press release how the company’s latest upgrade to Work.com will help businesses thrive in the new normal, saying:

“The pandemic has accelerated everything, and every company is re-imagining work in the new all-digital world. The  new technology helps employees be productive anywhere. It will create a safe in-person experiences for customers, Work.com is helping companies get back to growth and thrive in the new normal.”

The IT doctor will see you know

With so many choices available for a CRM system, which is the right one for your business? We invest time going down the gym, eating the right food and trying to stay healthy. However, how healthy is you IT system?

Winter is on its way; some people are having their flu jab. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your IT audit. We will make sure you have the right security in place to stay healthy. Upgrade your software to stay efficient and prescribe any other long-term treatment to make sure your business stays fit.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Salesforce #CRM #Business #ITsupport

 

Mini Computer Upgrade

New Micro:Bit Mini Computer Upgrade

The new BBC micro:bit ‘mini-computer upgrade’ is given to school children, with AI and machine learning support. It was launched in 2016 as part of the BBC ‘Make it Digital’ campaign. Four years later over five million have been used by schools and children around the world. The project is no longer run by the BBC. It was taken over by the Micro Bit Educational Foundation, a non-profit group setup to make coding more accessible.

The new mini computer upgrade features include a microphone and speaker. It can help with listening out for doorbell sounds to playing back voice recordings. The device will include a touch sensor that could count how often a fly lands on a pad.

The new mini computer upgrade version of the palm-sized device is expected to be available from the middle of November. Other new sensors on the device including light, magnetism and temperature, to create a wider range of applications.

Micro Bit Educational Foundation said the changes were in response to requests from teachers around the world over the four years since it was first released.

‘The purpose of the micro:bit is to help children unlock their creative potential and learn how to shape the world around them,’ Gareth Stockdale, chief executive of the Micro Bit Educational Foundation, told BBC News.

Mini Computer Upgraded

BBC micro:bit to get its first major update since launching in 2016 including a new built-in speaker,
microphone and touch sensor and support for artificial intelligence

‘Learning coding and computational thinking can enhance their life chances in the 21st Century.’ 

The micro:bit is a similar concept to the Raspberry Pi but is much simpler and is more of an educational aid than the computer on a chip Pi. Both can be used for ‘maker’ style projects – in that you can attach sensors and other items to create real world projects. But the Pi is much more advanced, with slots to plug in monitors, keyboards and other ‘full computer’ devices.

The new micro:bit is a more powerful device combining all the same features of the original and extra features to enhance learning in the classroom, the foundation said. As well as new hardware features, the latest update includes a new technical platform adding support for AI and machine learning.  It is a palm-sized circuit board and has 25 LED lights that can be programmed to show shapes, numbers and letters. It also has a bluetooth chip for wireless connectivity.

BBC Director General Tim Davie said the micro:bit project has the same qualities that form the core of the BBC – to ‘inform, educate and entertain. Since its launch through our Make it Digital campaign, it has helped transform digital skills and learning,’ Davie said.

Five million micro:bits in use

There are more than five million micro:bits used in classrooms around the world, used to teach the basics of coding through interactive projects. It started as a way to support computational thinking in the UK, but since then the BBC micro:bit has gone on to global success. To use the device users write code on a computer, tablet or even a smart phone then transfer them to the device to make it perform tasks.

The previous version could flash messages and record movements . The new version now includes a microphone, more memory, speaker and touch sensor. The new device can do much more, including responding to sound.  It is estimated that about 25 million children have learnt computing skills on the device since 2016. The campaign is successful and is used in 60 countries.

The device is used in primary and secondary schools. As well as libraries and has even been used in universities to demonstrate coding applications.

“The [micro:bit] has a low floor and high ceiling – you can make it as advanced as you wish but it can also be very basic,” Keith Quille, a lecturer at the Technological University Dublin, told BBC News. “We teach it at primary schools and at university degree level. You don’t need lots of other tools to make it work, it’s very easy to use.”

The foundation says it transforms ‘students’ engagement with technology’. As well as building teachers’ confidence in leading digital skills and creative computing education.

Time for an upgrade

LIS clients benefit from our extensive knowledge and expertise. Clients who are on a monthly support contract receive remote support and software upgrades. As well as the latest security and access to upgrade their hardware.

Does your computer system run slow? Fed up with slow Internet speeds? Can you work from home like you do in the office? Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT Audit. Our team will be able to recommend the most cost-effective solutions to bring your system up to speed.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technology #computers #education #microbit

Museum losing millions

Facebook donates £1 million to help save a museum losing millions

Facebook is donating £1 million to Bletchley Park. The UK centre for Allied code breaking during World War II that now operates as a museum. This museum is losing millions of pounds during the pandemic. Rory Cellen-Jones the BBC’s Technology Correspondent takes closer look into this generous donation.

Leaders of the UK’s cultural sector warned the industry is facing possible devastation. A potential loss of more than 400,000 jobs and up to £74 billion in revenue to the end of 2020. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to new research from Oxford Economics commissioned by Creative Industries Federation. The research suggested museums are losing millions of revenue. As well as, theatres, galleries, will experience twice as much economic fallout from the pandemic as the overall economy. This also includes the industries of music, film, TV, Architecture and publishing.

Donation helps museum losing millions

The Bletchley Park Trust, a registered charity, announced in August that the site was facing a revenue shortfall of £2 million because of falling visitor numbers caused by the coronavirus. Because of the drop-in revenue (95% of annual income), the park announced it was considering 35 redundancies, constituting a third of its workforce. Facebook’s donation will save some of these jobs, but it’s not clear how many.

Museums lose millions

Former Bletchley Park employee, Jean Valentine, handles part of the Turing Bombe — an electromechanical computer
used to crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during WWII. Photo by Rui Vieira / PA Images via Getty Images

An ongoing legacy

Facebook said it made the donation in recognition of Bletchley Park’s “ongoing legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.” The park’s code breakers and mathematicians cracked the Enigma codes used by the Nazis. An achievement that some historians say shortened the length of the war by two to four years. They also made key theoretical and engineering breakthroughs. These include the creation of Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital computer. With the help of Alan Turing’s work, the English mathematician who is seen as the father of modern computer science and artificial intelligence. At its height, the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park included some 10,000 employees, with women constituting roughly 75% of the workforce.

Bletchley Park Quote

 “The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook. We are thrilled to help preserve this spiritual home of modern computing,” said Steve Hatch, Facebook’s vice president of Northern Europe, in a press statement. The UK is Facebook’s biggest engineering hub outside the US, home to more than 3,000 employees, with more than half working in engineering roles.

In a press statement, Bletchley Park CEO Iain Standen said the site was “very grateful to Facebook” for its donation. “With this significant support, the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’. It will keep its doors open for future generations,” said Standen.

Helping businesses in these troubled times

Museums are losing millions and all of the creative industries are experiencing difficult times. If ignored, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country.

LIS client benefit from support for workers from home. Our team provide remote IT support and make sure your team have the correct access and security to enable them to work as if they were in the office. Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out how we can support your company.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technews #bletchleypark #funding #facebook

Ban ransomware payments

Should ransomware payments be banned?

The Government have been recently lobbied to ban ransomware payments. They have been asked to prohibit companies and individuals being able to pay ransom demands. Cyber criminals try to scam organisation with cyber-attacks using ransomware malware. The prohibition of ransom payments would cut the flow of income to attackers. As well as shutting down the desire to hit U.K. citizens and companies with ransomware.

Prohibition of ransom payments for ransomware could mean there is no point in cyber attackers going after U.K. Alexander Culafi a news writer from Search Security explores the ban ransomware payments story in more detail.

Ransomware payments

A security firm involved in the business of combating ransomware has called for a government ban on the
payment of ransoms by companies. There was no other practical solution other than to ban ransomware payments.

Paying ransomware demands could be illegal

Companies paying ransom when attacked by ransomware in an effort to retrieve their data has always been controversial because it encourages future attacks. Now, doing so may also be illegal.

The U.S. Department of Treasury today warned that paying ransomware demands may be illegal and that companies that do so could be prosecuted.

The warning came in advisories from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Both warned that any company that paid a ransomware payment, or a third party that facilitated a payment, could be prosecuted in the case that the hackers demanding the ransom were subject to U.S. sanctions.

There is an exception: Companies that are considering making a ransomware payment can do so but only with government approval.

Specific attention was given to third-party companies that facilitate ransomware payments. “Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber criminals, encourage future ransomware payment demands. They also may risk violating OFAC regulations,” the Office of Foreign Asset Control said in its advisory.

Ransomware payments are controversial

Paying ransoms in ransomware attacks has always been controversial. Firstly, a serious ransomware attack could and has seriously crippled companies and cost them. Secondlay, hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business and costs. Finally, sometimes paying the ransom to obtain access to core business files is arguably worth it.

The counter-argument is that every single time a company pays a ransomware demand, it encourages future ransomware attacks. Hacking groups know this, which is why they keep deploying attacks.

An expert’s opinion

James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at security awareness training company KnowBe4 Inc. compares ransomware to the Italian Mafia.

“Many years ago, in Italy, there were many kidnappings by organized crime groups of the wealthy and affluent families,” McQuiggan told SiliconANGLE. “They would request large sums of money in exchange to return the victim’s loved ones. The kidnappings got so bad that the Italian government initiated a ban on paying any ransom to organized crime groups. The government would seize all financial assets to prevent the kidnapped families from getting the money to pay.”

He went on, “At first, the crime groups called the bluff of the families who couldn’t pay and killed the family member. However, after a short while, the organized crime groups realized they couldn’t pay, and quickly, the kidnapping and ransoms came to an end.”

Returning to today’s advisories, McQuiggan said that even if an organization wishes to pay the ransom, it would have to collaborate with the U.S. Treasury, FBI and other government agencies to send the funds. “The U.S. government’s recommendation of not paying comes with a similar notion of not negotiating with terrorists. Never pay the ransom when involved with kidnappings and thus, the anticipated action of reducing ransomware attacks,” he said.

Stay protected with LIS

Unfortunately, we are unable to stop cybercrime. However, we try and help prevent it. Our clients benefit from our Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus and Office 365 Security Package solutions. Can you afford to take the risk?

Practice safe IT. STAY PRODUCTED! Contact the LIS HELP DESK to discuss your options.

LIS – Securing your digital world

#Ransomware #Cybercrime #Security #ITSupport