Thursday, 25 May 2017

How robust is your Disaster Recovery strategy?

How robust is your Disaster Recovery strategy?

With the recent Ransomware attacks on the NHS and 150 organisations worldwide, how confident are you that your business will bounce back in the event of a cyber-attack or lost data? Do you have a solid Disaster Recovery (DR) strategy in place or could you benefit from tailored help?

In a recent survey of 6,000 IT professionals by the Ponemon Institute, 86% claimed their company had one or more incidents causing downtime in the past 12 months. Typical downtime was 2.2 days costing an average of $366,363. And it’s not just the cost, significant damage to reputation is also a major cause of concern. It’s no wonder 81% of smaller businesses suffering such an attack close their doors within three years.

Businesses of all sizes are increasingly reliant on the data stored on their servers. 1 in 5 UK businesses has been hit by cyber-attack, a recent survey by The British Chamber of Commerce has revealed. Loss or corruption of business data can also occur from a number of other reasons including failure or damage to hardware or human error. Having a solid and reliable Disaster Recovery plan in place and ready to go the moment disaster strikes is your best defence mechanism.

Disaster Recovery planning is now more important than ever and presents a challenge for many organisations. The substantial cost, required preparation and question marks over accountability are some of the reasons why a DR strategy is often neglected by businesses. All businesses need a robust response plan in place to ensure business operations are not severely impacted if disaster strikes. Without one it could jeopardise your company’s I.T. infrastructure and incur costly downtime. It’s time to stop putting it off and take action!

Claritas Solutions has pulled together ten important steps to effective Data Recovery to help your business prepare for the worst:

  1. Get planning.In the event of an attack, the key to getting your business back up and running as quickly as possible, is a sound recovery plan. Your Disaster Recovery plan should outline your company’s critical data and applications, how your data would be recovered and the recovery time
  2. Back-up your files.It is imperative your business takes time to regularly back up all files whether this is an hourly, daily or weekly basis
  3. Make copies.We recommend multiple copies of your critical data. To truly have DR and data protection, you need to make sure that the replicated copies of data reside at a different geographical location from the production data to protect against scenarios such as power outages and natural disasters
  4. Consider secure UK cloud hosting.Storing your data off premise in a highly secure environment gives you the assurance that your data is in the safest place possible if disaster strikes. The cloud allows flexibility in the amount of data you can back up and is cost effective as you do not have to buy large pieces of hardware, you just pay for the cloud storage you require at that time. Claritas’ UK cloud guarantees 100% uptime and that your data will not leave the country, is controlled by you and can only be accessed by you
  5. Clarify your Recovery Point Objective (RPO).The RPO refers to how often the system is taking a backup of the data. This is important as the RPO represents the amount of data that could potentially be lost as a result of a cyber-attack. For example, an RPO of 8 hours would backup three times a day. In the event of cyber-attack your business could potentially lose the last 8 hours’ worth of data
  6. Define your Recovery Time Objective (RTO).This refers to the amount of time it takes to recover data following a disruption. For businesses using tapes, RTOs can be in days or even weeks depending on the logistics of locating and rebuilding the tapes. The RTO refers to the amount of time it takes before users can access and use their systems and applications following a disruption. This needs to be defined within your DR plan
  7. Disaster Recovery Testing.You should make time to regularly check that your company’s DR plan is up to date and working effectively. Testing enables your business to prepare for the worst case scenario and helps employees know exactly how to react
  8. Move quickly.If you haven’t already got a DR plan in place, act now! You don’t have to do it all at once but make a start as soon as you can as you never know when disaster could strike! The cloud has really become a great way to implement quick, efficient, and reliable DR and data protection for your applications. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions can be implemented quickly and you can start with your most critical applications and data and add to it over time
  9. Call the experts.Disaster recovery can be a successful, reliable and less painful process if you incorporate an expert I.T. company such as Claritas Solutions. We can help you manage your DR from applying the right policies and determining effective UK based back-up locations right through to monitoring and alerting you to potential issues
  10. Contact Claritas Solutions today! To help protect your organisation against error, failure or breach call us on 08456 399 661 or email us at

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Ransomware: Act Now or Pay Later

Ransomware: Act Now or Pay Later

Almost half of UK companies have been hit by Ransomware in the past year. You could be next! How can you prevent your company from being the cybercriminals’ next victim?

For over 30 years, Ransomware has been an increasing problem for organisations worldwide. Cybercriminals are not discriminatory, everyone is vulnerable. Hackers want to target as many people as possible to obtain the highest profit.
Ransomware attacks are on the rise, with over 50 known strains in circulation. Businesses are particularly vulnerable as they are likely to pay to retrieve sensitive data and ensure business continuity.

If an organisation is infected by Ransomware, critical data could be compromised, systems knocked offline and an organisation’s existence put at risk. Paying a ransom fee doesn’t guarantee that an organisation will get its data back. Prevention is essential.

What is Ransomware and what types are out there?

Ransomware is malicious software that takes control of a user’s computer and encrypts the data on it, rendering it inaccessible. Cybercriminals then demand a payment in exchange for handing over a decryption key to restore the data.

Types of Ransomware:

Encryption - personal files are encrypted and deleted

Lock Screen - locks the computer screen and demands payment

Master Boot Record (MBR) - changes the computers MBR so that the normal boot process is interrupted and a ransom demand displayed in its place

Ransomware encrypting web servers - encrypts files on the webserver via vulnerabilities in CMS

Mobile Device Ransomware - infects mobiles through downloads and fake Apps

Steps you can take to protect yourself
  1. Back up your files. We recommend you make two copies of essential data; one on an external device and one in the cloud. Once Ransomware worms have infiltrated your system there is little you can do, unless you have a back-up of your data. So backing up is the most essential step to mitigating the risk of Ransomware
  2. There are technologies that will protect you. A comprehensive, up-to-date, security solution will help protect you from a variety of malware types and attack vectors

To pay or not to pay?

In reality, if you back up your files, you don’t need to pay.

Paying the ransom fee will not necessarily resolve the problem or ensure data is safely returned. In addition, the more successful the Ransomware is in obtaining large sums of money, the longer cybercriminals will use this sort of activity to exploit businesses.

And it’s not just the cost of paying the ransom. There are other detrimental costs to the business of a Ransomware attack: loss of reputation, disruption to the business, lost days’ work, substantial man hours to restore lost data. The list is endless.

Claritas Solutions has everything you need to protect your company. Call Andrea Olsen on 08456 399 661 or email for more information. 

Alternatively, visit to request more information.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Claritas Spotlight

This month's Claritas Spotlight is on Head of Database Solutions at Claritas, Andy Tate.

Tell us about your role at Claritas

I run the database solutions team and develop the operational processes that the department follows.
I also manage a number of Claritas internal systems.

How long have you been at Claritas?

10 years 3 months. I started July 2006 after being made redundant by one of Claritas' customers. I was then approached by Claritas employee, Wes Rowland, and asked if I would come to work for Claritas.

What prior experience do you have?

I have 32 years experience in Information Technology. My previous job was to ensure the day to day running of all the company servers. I was also the only software developer and wrote the original identichip website and database solution.
I have written various applications in my career, in a number of languages eg. rpgII, Cobol, informix 4gl, coldfusion, and C#.

What would a normal day consist of?

  • Ensuring Claritas internal systems and Client hosted applications are running
  • Providing support to internal users on various applications eg. Paperchase, Sharepoint, Team Foundation Server
  • Writing database solutions for clients
  • Providing support to the technical team for database / application issues

Why is your role so important to Claritas’ customers?
Most applications these days connect to a database; if the database is not available or has performance issues, the client is going to have performance problems with their applications. This leads to end users having a negative experience of the application.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

The best thing about my job is that every day is different and I love diagnosing problems and coming up with the correct solution.

Tell us a couple of quirky facts about yourself

I ran the London Marathon when I was 18.
For me, everything has to be black or white, there can be no grey areas!

What 3 things would you take with you if you were spending a year stranded on a desert island and why?

  • A hammock to sleep on as I would hate to be on the ground with all those pests. This can also be re-purposed as a fishing net or a bag for carrying things
  • A book on survival - Hopefully this would enable me to learn how to survive for 12 months
  • Sun cream - I wouldn't want to get sunburn on my tropical island!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Claritas Spotlight

This month our Spotlight is on Phil Yau.

What is your job title?

Account Manager, New Business.

Tell us about your role at Claritas

I look after several customer accounts, which involves being the primary customer contact for day to day activities, including answering customer queries, providing quotes, preparing proposals.
I also attend regular customer meetings to discuss future requirements and ensure that Claritas are meeting their expectations.

How long have you been at Claritas?

3 Months - it seems a lot, lot longer...

What prior experience do you have?

I have been in the IT industry for over a decade, working for a telecommunications company and an ISP. I have had multiple roles within Sales including Account Manager, Partner Manager and Channel Sales Manager.

What would a normal day consist of?

It varies day to day but I would say, in no particular order, check my diary for the day, ensure I have all the relevant information for my meetings and conference calls, read and respond to e-mails, chase suppliers, write proposals and liaise with customers.

Why is your role so important to Claritas’ customers?

I think that Sales plays a pivotal role in Claritas, we are the face of the company, delivering an exceptional customer experience.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I enjoy engaging with customers and building relationships. Understanding what the customer is looking for and aligning our product and services to deliver on it. It’s satisfying to deliver a solution that exceeds the customers’ expectations.

Tell us a quirky fact about yourself

I once rescued two people from drowning in the same day whilst travelling in India.

What 3 things would you take with you if you were spending a year stranded on a desert island and why?

I would take Bear Grylls to help me to survive (I would like to think I would do okay, but best to have a plan b); a chef, maybe James Martin, to cook nice meals and David Attenborough to explore the island with and tell me about all the plants and species.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

10 Essential steps to protect your business from cyber-attack

Barely a week goes by without news of yet another data breach incident. Cyber-attacks are undeniably on the rise. In 2015 reportedly over half billion personal records were lost or stolen, there was ban increase in spear-phishing of 55% and a 35% rise in known ransomware*.

Talk Talk, LinkedIn and What’s App have all made the headlines recently due to being hit by cyber-crime and thousands of other business have suffered lower profile attacks. No one is immune; businesses of all sizes are at risk.

Claritas has pulled together a short guide for SME's to keeping your business secure.
  1. Team Work

    The most important thing when it comes to cyber security is collaboration. Strong IT teams coupled with supportive management are the most resilient to cyber-crime. Cyber security needs to be on the board meeting agenda and embraced by the whole company.
  2. Be Prepared

    When it comes to cyber security, we can learn a lot from the Boy Scout motto! Companies should always ‘be prepared’ for the worst. Back-up your data off site or install duplicate severs to help prevent the loss of data.
  3. Update Systems and Software Regularly

    Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are creating new vulnerabilities that are constantly being updated and take a long time to detect, making it more difficult for traditional defence methods to protect systems. It is therefore essential not to rely on old systems; hackers work all hours to work out ways of getting into companies’ networks.
    Staying ahead of the game with regular system and software upgrades is key.

  4. Make an Inventory

    Having an accurate record of all of your company’s systems, software, endpoints and data is essential to ensure control over what is running where. It’s impossible to secure your IT infrastructure when you don’t know what you have. If anything is identified as surplus to requirements it is advisable to remove it to reduce any unnecessary risks.
  5. Invest Wisely in Defence Tools

    Don’t cut corners when it comes to your company’s cyber security. ‘You get what you pay for’ could never be more relevant than when deciding which defence tools to purchase. Whilst many may seem expensive, the cost is nothing compared to average cost of a cyber breach, reportedly £36,000, and that doesn’t take into consideration the loss of reputation and disruption to the business.
  6. Ensure All Angles Are Covered

    It’s no longer sufficient to invest in a middle of the road firewall and think that your cyber security is covered. Perimeter, internet, email, mobile, all need to be protected.

    With the threat landscape constantly shifting and evolving, the fight against cybercrime is never truly over. Organisations are under pressure to stay updated with the latest threats and must work nonstop to mitigate the risk they pose to their business.
  7. Education is Essential

    Even with the very best kit available, there are still a significant amount of threats entering business networks due to a lack of knowledge. There needs to be more investment in educating employees. A large number of security breaches are caused by human error so it is essential to communicate to employees the steps required to prevent your company becoming a victim.

    Many of the most malicious recent attacks have come from external sources masquerading as insiders by using stolen or compromised credentials to steal valuable data. Companies must ensure all employees are aware of these risks. There are several new products on the market to help identify such scams. Claritas can advise independently which tools would best suit your business.
  8. Ensure Users Change Their Passwords Regularly

    A large number of hacks are due to weak passwords. Companies must encourage users to implement strong passwords and force them to be changed regularly by setting a limited password lifetime.

  9. Engage a Security Professional and Work Together

    An external pair of eyes will see things you won’t and will help give you an objective perspective. A professional IT company, such as Claritas, has valuable experience and can offer independent advice on the best security solutions for your business. Their expertise will help you to quickly identify potential risks and they can also often negotiate the most competitive rates.
  10. Carry Out a Security Checkup

    Claritas partners with Check Point, the world’s largest network cyber security vendor, to offer a full IT infrastructure security check. We produce a full report highlighting any vulnerabilities in the system and offer solutions to help to resolve the identified weaknesses.

For more information on any of the points raised above, please contact Andrea Olsen on 08456 399 661 or at

*Symantec Internet Security Threat Report 2016

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Claritas Spotlight

This month our Spotlight is on Finance Director Kirsty Sutton.

Tell us about your role at Claritas

I run the Finance team and manage the day to day operations of the company. Overseeing Customer, Supplier and employee relations, managing cash flow, accounts preparation and attending to the bulk of the legal and compliance side of running a business.

How long have you been at Claritas?

Since September 2013.

What prior experience do you have?

I held a very similar role as Finance Director at POSTcti for 8.5 years before it was bought by InterCall UK. Prior to that I trained and worked in practice at HW Leeds as an audit senior (Chartered Accountant).

What’s the team’s focus this year?

As ever it’s to ensure the company systems and processes run smoothly.

What would a normal day consist of?

There is no such thing as a normal day for me, which is why I enjoy the job so much. Over a year there are VAT returns, payroll, management accounts, payment runs etc that all need to be done in a timely manner.

Why is your role so important to Claritas’ customers?

We keep the wheels turning in the back ground keeping the billing and customer service elements working.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I enjoy all of my role; if I had to choose one element it would be managing my team.

What do you do on those days you’re not in the office?

As the mum of 2 young girls I’m kept busy providing taxi services to various sports and social activities for the kids! I also enjoy keeping active myself doing a bit of running, gym work and weekly Pilates classes.
In the last couple of years I’ve also taken on the role of school governor at the local primary school which the girls attend – unsurprisingly I’m on the finance and resources committee!

What 3 things could you not live without?

Chocolate, family holidays and gin!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Claritas Spotlight

This month our Spotlight is on Simon Fogg.

Tell us about your role at Claritas

I do whatever Glenn (the owner, MD, Claritas) wants me to do to get projects and service delivered. I am primarily a hybrid Business Analyst / Project Manager assisting Claritas customers in articulating their requirements and managing projects from initiation through to implementation and ongoing support.

How long have you been at Claritas?

4 years 6 months. I started in January 2012. I switched “sides”, post redundancy, from being a Claritas customer and was known by a number of Claritas staff prior to joining.

What training did you have to have to do your role?

Significant education and training in my life to date (I started work in August 1984 on Asda’s first graduate store management training programme) that has equipped me for my current role includes:-

  • BA (Hons) in Business Studies / Management Science at the University Of Stirling
  • MBA at Strathclyde Graduate Business School
  • Data and Business Process Modelling
  • Prince 2 Project Management Practitioner
  • Managing Business Change Through Programme Management
  • Managing Extraordinary Customer Service
  • The Service Account Manager
  • Implementing a Change Culture

The University of Stirling

What would a normal day consist of?

I would be hard pushed to do all of this in a single given day but typically I would do the following:-

  • Facilitate and then document requirements workshops involving staff at all levels of the customer organisation to “extract” their business and other requirements for us to then deliver a solution to meet those requirements
  • Chasing progress on project work and actions from Claritas and customer staff
  • Managing change requests from Claritas technical staff into the customer organisation’s change process
  • Lunchtime: walk “round the block” for 3 miles around Garforth (the only exercise I get!)

What sort of issues do you deal with on a daily basis?

Issues relating to project planned work mainly revolves around clarifying customer requirements and prioritising work/issues. For unplanned work, issues are around marshalling responses from the various Claritas teams to incidents and ensuring that there is a rapid turnaround of fixes to live incidents in customer systems.

Why is your role so important to Claritas’ customers?

Depending on the customer and the work we are doing for that customer, all members of the Claritas team will be important to the customer in varying degrees.

For the work that I am involved in, I see myself, and strive to be, a “trusted advisor” ensuring that I understand the customer requirements and that these are clearly articulated to other members of the Claritas team. This includes challenging appropriately what the customer is asking for and ensuring that likely future changes to their business operation are properly considered.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I do tend to get “on a roll” when discussing challenging requirements in a workshop setting with customer staff and marshalling the discussion to a conclusion. I have a ruthless obsession with concluding and driving to action.

Tell us a couple of quirky facts about yourself?

I recently completed my 19th Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in 3 years. This has been eye-opening as my education and learning previously was all pre-internet. A summary of the courses I have done can be found at I am now building a MOOC (Project Management 101) using knowledge acquired on the 19th course “Making MOOCs on a Budget” which I am endeavouring to implement with no financial cost to me.

I was in the army cadets (part of the Assault Pioneers) at Loughborough Grammar School in the 1970s. I never missed a summer camp (mainly army-related activities) or an adventurous training Easter camp (mainly leisure activities). One memorable achievement was walking 150 miles of The Pennine Way in 7 days after being dropped off north of the Scottish border and arriving at the Three Peaks in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. This included walking in whiteout conditions on Cross Fell and camping outside Tan Hill Inn (highest pub in England).

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you take with you?

I am an avid listener to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs podcast!
I would take:-

  • Laptop/tablet device with in-ear headphones and internet access to support my Twitter addiction, to listen to music and podcasts (both are a huge part of my life) and to read books
  • Large screen TV to watch quality drama series (e.g. NYPD Blue, The West Wing, The Newsroom)
  • A never ending subscription to a daily takeaway delivery service of Thai, Italian and Indian food with accompanying real ale, exotic lagers and so on…

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Claritas Spotlight

This month our Spotlight is on Project Manager Jenny Lloyd.

Tell us about your role at Claritas

I am the Project Manager here at Claritas and work closely with the Technical and Development departments in delivering client solutions. I also assist and develop operational processes within departments.

How long have you been at Claritas?

I have just reached my 10 year milestone! I started as receptionist all that time ago!

What would a normal day consist of?

A normal day would generally consist of managing suppliers, client reviews and project meetings.

Why is your role so important to Claritas’ customers?

Customers need to be kept informed of progress of their projects and be assured that the solution that we are delivering meets their requirements and expectations and also to budget.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

Hearing the satisfaction from our clients that the solutions we deliver have really made a difference.

Tell us a couple of things about your life outside Claritas?

Over a weekend it is time for unwinding at home, spending time with friends and family and having a few tipples in the local watering hole! I often travel back to my home town of Aberdovey in Wales to see my very large family!

What’s your idea of a good holiday?

My idea of a good holiday is plenty of sunshine, a gorgeous pool, a glass of wine and beautiful views. In fact this time next week I’ll be relaxing in sunny Spain!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Claritas Spotlight

This month our Spotlight is on 3rd line & Presales Technical Consultant, Ben Dunkley, who has been with Claritas Solutions for almost eight years.

Tell us about your role at Claritas

I predominantly specialise in network and security devices, (i.e. switches, routers, load balancers/ADCs and firewalls). Our team handles the architecture, design and specification of proposals for new projects, and their implementation, and also escalation of support issues from the 1st and 2nd line teams.

What training did you have to have to do your role?

Various vendor specific training programs, (e.g. Check Point, Cisco), and accumulated on-the-job experience.

What would a normal day consist of?

There isn't really a typical day, the things we do are a bit too varied for that. I’m usually out on a customer site maybe up to a dozen days a month, depending on what projects or work is ongoing. When in the office I'm either dealing with presales work, or escalated support issues, or picking up background project tasks.

What sort of issues do you deal with on a daily basis?

There isn’t really any consistent pattern, but recently we’ve been handling the rollout of a large infrastructure project, and have been doing some Check Point Security Check Ups.

Why is your role so important to Claritas’ customers?

Not only is 3rd Line Support responsible for implementing IT solutions but we are also on call to respond to technical issues our customers may have. And for some weird reason customers seem to like me!

What’s your favourite part of your job?

It’s a great opportunity to get to play with new, and sometimes expensive, bits of kit. The variety of kit that comes across the desk often requires a little creative thinking to adapt to the job at hand!

Tell us a couple of things about your life outside Claritas?

At home I can often be found either reading science fiction, or playing computer games and I even sometimes get a little bit adventurous in the kitchen.

What’s your idea of a good holiday?

I’ve been snowboarding for something like 15 years or so, and tend to take to the slopes around January/February with a fairly variable group of 4-12 folks.
In the summer I prefer active holidays rather than sleeping on the beach all day – windsurfing and taking to the water in dinghies and catamarans have been involved in fairly recent holidays.