IT Support

Top 5 Risks When You Stay with Windows 7 this 2020

Top 5 Risks When You Stay with Windows 7 this 2020 1920 1280 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Windows 7 End of Life

Microsoft will no longer be supporting Windows 7 after a ten-year stint—as announced last December 16, 2019.

The purpose of this direction is for the tech giant to pour its ample resources into more lucrative, newer technologies. Essentially, Microsoft has squeezed as much juice as it can out of Windows 7. It doesn’t make sense for them to continue providing technical assistance and software updates that protect PCs using the outdated program.

The Impact on Your Businesses

First and foremost, Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs.

And a year from now in January 2021, Windows 7 will be used on 18.7% of all PCs, which accounts for around 281 million machines.

What does that mean, exactly? That even at under 20% of total usage on PCs, there are still over 280 million systems with Windows 7 in place. At such a vast number, it’s fair to guess that small to medium businesses make up enough of those totals. Especially since many owners might wish to sidestep the costly nature of upgrades.

Though, with the removal of all support for the system, keeping Windows 7 installed will end up being more costly than merely paying for the upgrade to Windows 10.

So, as a business owner or stakeholder who may still be using Windows 7, you’re likely interested in knowing what might happen after neglecting to upgrade.

Let’s examine some of the most significant risks involved in continuing to use Windows 7 on your PC and how it can affect your workplace:

The Top 5 Risks of Staying with Windows 7

Risk # 1.      No More Technical Support

Last year, Microsoft patched 29 Windows 7 vulnerabilities in April alone.

Of those vulnerabilities, 6 were rated critical with the other 23 being deemed important.

Think about it, that’s one month alone—and the only reason those changes were made was due to an extended support phase focused on fixing flaws. Those snafus on Windows 7, since it’s an older system, have continually surged over the years. Now, without support, these issues will be seemingly never-ending.   

Risk # 2.      Heightened Cybersecurity Risk

Studies from 2018 about cybersecurity in small-and-medium-sized businesses reported that 67% of survey respondents experienced some form of cyber-attack. On top of that, another 58% went through a data breach with employee or customer information.

These stats prove that businesses are already susceptible to these attacks. With Windows 7 now lacking the infrastructure to deal with these issues, if you don’t upgrade, the consequences could be disastrous.

Risk # 3.      Additional Costs

On a per-system basis, it’ll be possible to receive extended security support. However, there’s an additional fee paid to Microsoft per computer to obtain the appropriate security updates. Furthermore, the dollar amount owed to Microsoft will double every year and caps out at a maximum of three years.

The price begins at $50 per machine—meaning by 3 years it’ll be $150 per device. If you have around 10 machines, that can prove quite costly.

Risk # 4.      Falling Behind the Competition

As Windows 7 becomes more obsolete, more businesses will be using Windows 10. 

As technologies keep improving, functionality enhances. If you’re on an outdated system, the slower it’ll run, and it’ll be less equipped to handle the state-of-the-art tools that’ll keep you ahead of your competitors.

Risk # 5. Frustrating Your Team

When your employees end up with inferior technology, their morale tends to suffer. For many staff members, it can be a bad look when you fail to equip them with systems, programs, and software that isn’t – at the very least – up to date.

If you don’t update to Windows 10 soon, your team might get the idea that you aren’t invested fully in their success. From there, frustration brews, work tends to be negatively impacted, and you’ll have an office full of employees at their wit’s end.

The Very Real Problem of Malware in the Workplace

As technology keeps reaching new heights, so does its propensity to be malicious and dangerous. Businesses far and wide must be eternally vigilant in the face of these threats that can damage both their reputation and bottom line.

For instance, recently, Landry’s, Inc., an American, privately owned, multi-brand dining, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming corporation, identified malware on its payment processing system.

The malware was designed to access payment card data from cards used in person. Interestingly, the card data wasn’t readable due to the end-to-end encryption technology used at points-of-sale. So, the malware was prevented from accessing payment card data.

Although this hasn’t occurred on a Windows 7, these attacks come from everywhere when sensitive information or money is involved. As proven by Landry’s, with state-of-the-art systems in place, these cyber breaches situations can be nipped in the bud.

So how do you mitigate these risks?

The short answer is to move to Windows 10 to receive the full support from Microsoft. This can be done by upgrading your operating system on your existing PC’s, assuming your hardware is capable of handling the demands of a modern operating system. If you PC is more than 3 or 4 years old, it is probably more cost effective to simply replace the PC.

Hello for business

Windows Hello for Business – no more Passwords in 2019?

Windows Hello for Business – no more Passwords in 2019? 1914 859 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

In the US, businesses are projected to spend more than $65 billion on cybersecurity solutions. With good reason too. Cyberattacks may have abated from 2017’s high of 1.6 billion, but they still remain quite elevated in this ever-connected digital world.

Fortunately, new security solutions such as Windows Hello for Business can help make companies more secure. IT managers will be happy to know that solutions like this don’t need to eat up a big part of the tech budget either.

What is Windows Hello for Business?

Microsoft has stated that it is, “committed to its vision of a world without passwords.” While this may seem counterintuitive to the need for increased security, the company’s no-password world relies on other security measures that address the inherent weaknesses of passwords. Passwords can be:

  • Difficult to remember, leading users to write them down in an unsecure location or to use the same password on multiple sites
  • At risk for phishing attacks and replay attacks
  • Easily exposed in server breaches

With Windows 10 devices, users can now use Microsoft’s new Windows Hello service, designed to help address these password flaws. The business version of this innovation replaces passwords with stronger authentication based on a device and a biometric or a pin. Windows Hello for Business delivers maximum protection through the combination of biometric authentication, Group Policy or mobile device management (MDM) and key- and certification-based authentication.

With this new type of credential, users can gain secure access to an Active Directory or Azure Active Directory.

How Does Hello for Business Get Rid of Passwords?

During enrollment, users will have to complete an initial two-step verification. After this step, they won’t have to perform this step again. To finish set-up, users will then have to set a gesture. The gesture can be a biometric or a pin.

A biometric is a way to sign in based on fingerprint matching, iris scan or facial recognition. Your Windows 10 device must have a way to read these biometric indicators, such as a fingerprint scanner or infrared-capable camera (to differentiate a human face in person from a photograph). Increasingly, devices are coming standard with these features, or they can be purchased separately. Note that with current technology, iris scans work best on mobile devices, so enterprise solutions may want to focus on fingerprints and facial recognition.

It’s important to note that this biometric data is stored locally so it’s not as if a central location storing all the biometric data could be hacked.

A pin might not sound much different than a password, but it is more secure. A pin is tied to the specific hardware, so it is not useful to a hacker unless he has the hardware. As with biometric data, pins aren’t transmitted anywhere.

A pin is more secure than a password because it creates an asymmetric key pair for authentication. As an administrator, you can set policies for pins – for example, characters that aren’t allowed or lock out periods after brute-force attempts to gain access. As a standard, the service does not allow pins that have a constant delta (rate of change) from one digit to the next.

What is Multi-factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication is used to describe security measures that rely on three factors:

  • Something you have
  • Something you know
  • Something you are

Windows Hello for Business can satisfy all of these requirements if you have the right equipment. The thing you have is the private key or token that is protected by your device’s security. The thing you know is the pin you set up. The thing you are is your fingerprint, iris or face, aka the biometric gesture you use.

Although you only really need two of these factors to unlock your device, you can set up your device to require an additional factor in order to access your desktop.

Given these extra layers, multi-factor authentication is more secure than other measures of protection. Biometric data, in particular, is difficult to hack. An attacker would not only have to get your device but would also need you present in order to scan your finger, face or eye.


How Does Windows Hello Integrate with Third-Party Authentication?

If you already have a third-party authentication system set up, you can still benefit from this new Windows service. Windows Hello for Business can be configured to work with third-party authenticators in Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS). Currently, Microsoft lists twelve outside offerings that work with Hello for Business.

These offerings include services such as:

You can also build your own custom authentication method.

What are the Basic Technical Requirements?

Beyond a Windows 10 device – either desktop or mobile – fingerprint sensors and software or facial recognition devices with infrared sensors and software, the basic technical requirements will vary based on your deployment strategy.

If you are doing a cloud-only deployment, then you’ll need:

  • Windows 10, version 1511 or later
  • Microsoft Azure Account
  • Azure Active Directory
  • Azure Multi-factor authentication

Modern Management and Azure AD Premium subscription are optional in cloud deployments.

If you are doing an on-premise deployment, then you’ll need:

  • Windows 10, version 1703 or later
  • Windows Server 2016 Schema
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain/Forest functional level
  • Windows Server 2016 Domain Controllers
  • Windows Server 2012 or later Certificate Authority
  • Windows Server 2016 AD FS with KB4088889 update
  • AD FS with Azure MFA Server, or AD FS with 3rd Party MFA Adapter

In this deployment, an Azure Account is optional for Azure MFA billing.

Hybrid deployments are more complicated.

Is it Right for My Business?

Most businesses, especially those that still rely on cumbersome and cyberattack-prone passwords, would probably benefit from implementing Windows Hello for Business. It is a relatively cost-effective and easy way to increase your security. It will require some set-up and perhaps some initial investments in hardware for biometric scans, but the long-run gains in security will likely outweigh these set up costs.

2019 may be too early to declare the end of passwords. However, technology seems to be headed in that direction and adopting Windows Hello for Business may help you stay ahead of this technological shift.

Resources:

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3220967/microsoft-windows/windows-hello-for-business-next-gen-authentication-for-windows-shops.html

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17215/windows-10-what-is-hello

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security/identity-protection/hello-for-business/hello-identity-verification

IT maintenance plan - server network

Why Every Business Should Have an IT Maintenance Plan

Why Every Business Should Have an IT Maintenance Plan 2048 1365 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

IT maintenance plan - server networkIT network plays a crucial role in every business. In fact, it’s your company’s lifeline because everything – from product creation to customer support – happens around a computer network. The bottom line? It’s extremely difficult to manage a business without a reliable network.

But don’t just settle for creating one. It’s imperative that you implement a regular IT maintenance plan.

The Challenge of Utilizing Computer Networks

It gets harder to manage a computer network as your business grows. Things become more complicated. There are more issues to fix and problems to watch out for, like bugs and viruses. Just recently, the entire web was abuzz with Heartbleed, which some consider the deepest security hole ever. According to reports, the bug has put around two-thirds of the planet’s websites at risk. Because this security threat is so strong, many users are worried about the safety of their online data and have taken measures to protect their identity.

It’s scarier for businesses. Fears of compromised data can lead to lost customers. That is why it’s important for businesses to have an IT maintenance plan in place. This may not completely avoid issues like Heartbleed, but it can definitely minimize the impact to clients and customers.

Having IT Maintenance Protects Your Business

There are many benefits to having an IT maintenance plan:

It ensures increased productivity

To make sure everything runs smoothly, your computer network must be at its peak. It must perform well to make sure that everyone in the company will be able to accomplish tasks seamlessly. Regular maintenance will let you monitor potential problems in your IT systems. By having someone always looking out for impending issues, like downtimes, you can rest assured that key aspects of the business are well taken care of.

It avoids unexpected high repair costs

You’re likely to spend more on repair as compared to regular maintenance. When something breaks down, you have no other choice but to find someone to fix the problem immediately. You can’t risk letting another minute go by without resolving the problem because it will worsen the damage and lead you to lose potential sales.
Some business owners feel monthly maintenance fees are extra expenses that they can opt out of, but what they don’t realize is that when something happens, it’s a lot more expensive to solve the issue because it often requires new equipment and takes too long to finish. Remember, fixing something before it actually breaks down is always more cost-effective.

It ensures work isn’t disrupted

Every minute of downtime will cost you money. Remember that time is money and you must find ways to maximize your most important resources: manpower and time. IT maintenance will minimize, if not completely eliminate, downtimes and other system issues that disrupt work and affect output.

It enhances security

In this age, security matters a lot especially for businesses that deal with critical data. Security breaches are not uncommon and they can happen very easily. IT systems that are not properly maintained are susceptible to attacks. They’ll be vulnerable to virus infections and hacking. Additionally, compromised systems make for bad publicity.

It keeps your business from losing money

When IT systems work fine you don’t have to pay for exorbitant fees technicians charge. Expect to spend even more when experts discover heavily damaged parts. But what’s more alarming is the money you’ll lose from the hours (or days) when your system isn’t working well.Downtimes are very costly, and the only thing standing between you and costly repairs is a reliable IT maintenance plan.

It minimizes the effects of system disruptions

Ultimately, IT systems will fail at one point. There’s no stopping that and the only way to stay on top of things is to minimize the effects. You must have a way to retrieve important data (i.e. having a solid backup solution) prevent it from happening again.

It helps you keep customer relations strong

Perhaps the most important reason for having an IT maintenance plan is keeping customers satisfied and happy. And one of the things that keep customers happy is the knowledge that their data is secure and that you can continue to give them reliable, uninterrupted, and top-notch services.

If you’re still on the fence about getting an IT maintenance plan, think about this: it gives you the chance to take a proactive approach in protecting every single aspect of your business. It’s crucial in making sure you continue to provide excellent service to your customers.

Laptop computer

How to Choose the Right IT Support for Your Business

How to Choose the Right IT Support for Your Business 2048 1536 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Laptop computerSimply put, a lack of IT support will hurt your business and severely affect your daily operations. Instead of focusing resources on more urgent matters, you’ll be tied up with problems that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Plus, without dedicated IT support, the best you can hope for are “quick fixes” – but those “quick” fixes are often no more than a Band Aid, with more costly problems looming.

Just one problem: In-house IT support can be costly. Among the problems you may face are budget constraints, keeping up with the trends and finding the right people. That’s why it’s beneficial to get outside help.

What’s in It for Your Business?

Outsourcing IT support will help you control costs, increase productivity and minimize risk.

  • Controlled costs: Monthly expenses for IT support are fixed so you’ll know exactly how much goes out of your pocket. You will also be able to foresee possible expenses and allocate funds appropriately. As a result, cash flow is managed better.
  • Increased productivity: Instead of finding the one or two employees who “know a thing or two” about troubleshooting, those employees can focus on their own projects and deadlines. That, in turn, leads to increased productivity.
  • Minimized risk: When things go wrong, either with your hardware or software, business shuts down. Now, you’re facing a potential loss of profits, expensive repair costs and once-loyal customers who are now concerned about working with you. And that doesn’t include the possibility of security breaches, both for you and your clients. Working with an IT company gives you peace of mind.

Steps to Find the Right Support

  1. Create a plan: What is your main goal? Why do you think seeking professional help will benefit your business? Is there a specific area you wish to improve or a problem you want resolved right away?
  2. Who’s using them?: Before hiring anyone, go to their respective website, and see if they list previous and current clients. Are these businesses similar to yours? It’s better to work with an IT company that has helped similar companies because you’re more likely to have the same needs and issues. Word of mouth is also an effective way to find the most competent people.
  3. Are they certified?: Make sure anyone you’re considering is certified. You can usually find this information on the company’s website or various social media sties. Look for those who are Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS). You should also look for those with CompTIA Network+ certifications.
  4. Narrow down your search. Once you’ve pinpointed several finalists, reach out to each company and ask questions. Document everything so you can go back to and discuss with the team before you make the final decision.
  5. Think of your business’ future. Find a provider that will be in it for the long haul. IT system maintenance is essential to your business – and you need someone who will stick with you for several years. You need the right people to maintain reliable IT systems for years.

Things to Watch Out For

  • Tech people who only speak in jargon: These people are either hiding something or masking the fact that they don’t really know anything. Reliable IT providers will ensure that you know what you’re getting into, so they’ll explain what needs to be done in simple and clear language.
  • Support providers who don’t like to get their hands dirty: IT support providers must be willing to get involved in your business’ daily operations. They need to immerse themselves so they can figure out the best way to take care of your IT needs.
  • Those who like using quick-fixes and insist that their solutions are the ONLY ones that matter: Short cuts are dangerous because not every detail is scrutinized. Avoid support providers who like doing these. At the same time, those who refuse to seek a second (or third) opinion and insist on doing only what they are familiar with will only cause you more problems.

Are Internal IT Departments Dead?

Are Internal IT Departments Dead? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

computer-beavis-butthead-struggleThere, I said it. It became clear in a recent conversation I had with a business owner that the future of the in-house IT department is limited at best.

The client in question owned a business with over 40 full time employees, including its own IT department of about three people and Tim (not his real name), the IT manager. But I’ll talk more about this in a second, because I have a question to ask you.

Why is McDonalds is successful? Don’t look down yet, I want you to ask yourself why.

This is a tough question for most people. You know, because the food sucks. So it’s not due to the quality food, nor is it cheap (anymore).

It’s because it is so consistent. The service provided as well as what you get—it’s the same! No matter where in the world you are! Isn’t that just a little crazy?

Consistent, predictable– a staple option for when you just want a quick bite. And what is it that makes this possible? GREAT SYSTEMS! When your teenage son or daughter get their first job at McDonalds, they undergo the same exact training experienced by everyone else. It’s ALL documented in a pretty scary-thick training manual.

So let’s return to the business owner, and the tumultuous history of their now-gone IT department. When all IT staff were at the ready, the ship sailed just fine. But one day Tim, their experienced IT manager, abandoned ship for a better offer. With two weeks’ notice, this created considerable problems.

For one, Tim had not found the time or inclination to document procedures. Verbal communication and emails meant Tim left with most of that information in his brain. What followed Tim’s departure was grim, to say the least. The cost of their IT department on the business skyrocketed. Costs like:

  • Hardware and software. Tim had formed relationships with suppliers, and understood the discounts and when to order. When Tim left, sporadic sourcing pushed costs way up.
  • Maintenance costs. By not maintaining hardware and software, more bugs and failures began to pop up. This meant more down time for staff, and a frustrated IT support team.
  • Training. Because the IT department was now so busy, the owner hired another technician. With no documented procedures, it was up to the existing IT team to train them up, frustrating for all involved. Most staff usually take a few months to settle in and be independent performers, and that costs you money. If you couple that with the need for other staff to train them, to fill them in, then that cost continues to go up.

Now this post is not suggesting Tim was at fault, nor can business owners always predict these things will happen. We hire people we like, and who are good at what they do. Sometimes life, and these situations, just happen. It’s a learning experience for all involved.

That’s kind of why companies like Greenlight exist. Managed Service Providers offer some distinct advantages to keeping IT Support in-house.  Here are just a few:

  • No key-person risk. MSP’s have one job, fixing or looking after your technology needs. That’s pretty much it. We need more IT managers than other companies, and document everything. That means consistency in the service we provide, and that if someone internal moves on, it does not affect our clients.
  • Economies of scale. With a bigger team servicing more companies, MSP’s offer leverage. Reduced costs to you as a business owner, AND you get to tap into the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to expertise.
  • Better use of YOUR resources. You can invest the money you would spend on an IT department into things that make more sense for your business. Whether it’s a bigger or better sales or marketing team, or R&D to make your products and services better than the competition. Whichever way you look at it, you get better results for less money.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know. And if you’ve got your own IT department in-house, give us a call on (02) 8412 0000. We may just be able to save you some money as well as a few headaches.

Why Every Company Should Consider Co-Managed IT Services

Why Every Company Should Consider Co-Managed IT Services 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

You’ve always done it yourself. But now, things are coming to a head. You’ve stretched your IT department too thin, and you’re concerned about the level of service that they can offer to your expanding list of customers. Not only that, but you simply can’t afford the new equipment and staff you desperately need to properly service your clients. You’ve reached your breaking point. What do you do?

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution. Using co-managed IT services can get rid of the stress and expenses that arise when your IT department needs grow faster than you do. Unlike managed services, co-managed services offer all the benefits of managed services, but with fewer downsides. Here are seven great advantages to using co-managed IT services.

Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

Lower Equipment Costs

Paying for equipment, software, and remodelling costs are all major expenses that a business often bears when expanding its IT resources. However, when using co-managed services, the company running these services will be the one bearing these costs, meaning that you no longer have to make an expensive capital outlay to keep your IT department up to speed with your customer needs, according to inTechnology.

Lower Labour Costs

Using co-managed IT also allows you to reduce your labour costs, according to essent.com. Without a co-managed IT plan, you may end up having to hire additional specialised tech support and paying out the increased higher salaries. While training your own staff is an alternative, this would lead to your business having to foot the bill for training and certification. In addition, these newly trained IT staff members will struggle to cope with both their previous roles and IT demands. By using co-managed services, you’re relieved of the burden of having to either train or hire specialised IT staff, saving you money on labour costs.

Less Downtime and Risk

Using co-managed services allows you to reduce the downtime and the amount of risk that your IT department faces. By utilising a co-managed services provider, you will have available to you superior troubleshooting services. These providers have the experience to effectively solve complex issues or problems that crop up far more easily than in-house IT services, and are equipped with a specialised suite of tools that can also offer better solutions. In addition, they are often able to address potential problems before they can cause a negative effect on your business, reducing downtime for your business.

Better Efficiency

Co-managed IT services can provide better efficiency due to their concentration on IT. Unlike a business that has one or two in-house IT personnel, companies that offer co-managed solutions have far more experience and knowledge in the IT business. They have worked out the best practices and their specialisation results in less time wasted and more productive employees, meaning that tasks get done far more quickly and efficiently than if they were done in-house by your business, according to Essential Link.

Better for the Environment

Guess what? Using co-managed IT services are actually better for the environment. Because of the centralised nature of co-managed IT services, your business saves on expensive energy costs that it would have incurred from running the necessary equipment. This also means that you utilise less fossil fuels and reduce your carbon footprint.

Customization and Control

Co-managed IT services offer all the benefits of ordinary managed services, but with a higher level of customization and control, according to the Utility Company. Co-managed IT allows IT departments to extend their capabilities through partnerships to shore up key areas of service and support, while in turn being able to have a high level of customization and control over the entire process. As a result, co-managed IT service users get the best of both worlds – the benefits of using managed services but the choice of a far higher level of input and transparency.

Better Focus

Your co-managed IT service provider will allow you to concentrate on your most important area – your business! Instead of having to worry about IT needs, a co-managed IT service provider will take care of those worries for you, even more efficiently and effectively than you possibly could. With a real “fix it and forget it” approach, your service provider will take all of the stress and technical details while you concentrate on more important aspects of your business.

Using co-managed IT services is a great way to increase the efficiency and productivity of your IT service department without putting a big strain on your budget, and can actually end up saving you money in the long run. By speaking to a company that offers co-managed IT services, you too can release the strain on your overburdened IT department and raise the standards of your IT services.

Still got your attention? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to provide you with an overview of how we could help your business.