Thursday, 22 June 2017

Women in I.T. – why you should embrace I.T. when it finds you

Last week we discussed why now is the right time for women in I.T. We considered statistics from a recent report and talked with two of our leading I.T. ladies at Claritas - to dispel preconceived myths and motivate other women to consider a career in the industry.

Today, in part 2 of our series, we explore the management side of the business. Speaking with our Finance Director and Sales Manager, we discuss why I.T. is an exciting and fulfilling career for those who work in the industry but are not programmers or developers, arriving at the conclusion that when I.T. finds you, you should embrace the opportunity.

Kirsty Sutton, Finance Director, 12 years in I.T.

Could you give me a brief summary of your role at Claritas?

I’ve worked in I.T. for 12 years and at Claritas for 3.5 years. I’m responsible for the day to day running of the financial operations of the company, including accounts preparation, cash flow, payroll, operations, customer and supplier relationships to mention a few.

What made you decide to go into I.T.?

I was given the opportunity to move out of practice into industry, working for a company I had been involved with for their audits. This was 12 years ago and they just happened to be in I.T., and I’ve never looked back.

What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

I enjoy the fast moving industry where there is always something new to learn and/or develop.

What would you say to encourage more women to go into I.T. as their chosen career path? / Do you have any advice to give other women looking at a similar career?

I just happened into I.T. by chance but I’d say that once you’re in the industry you really learn so much. It’s a fascinating job and one with plenty of career development opportunities.

Andrea Olsen, Sales Manager, 18 months in I.T.

Andrea has been with Claritas Solutions for 18 months managing the sales and account management team to bring in new business and maintain solid relationships with existing clients.

What made you decide to go into I.T.?

I.T. found me! I previously worked in the healthcare sector for 10 years and needed a new challenge.

What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

Being part of a team that provides solutions to varied and interesting organisations from SME’s to some of the largest National enterprises and even government sectors. I.T. is at the heart of every organisation so I enjoy assisting Claritas in being an integral part of the company’s I.T. team. The nature of the job requires keeping up to date with emerging technologies and I enjoy being at the forefront of the latest developments. I also enjoy being exposed to so many different industries. It makes my position varied and interesting.

Do you have any advice for other women looking at a similar career?

Don’t be intimidated by the I.T. industry being dominated by males or be under the false impression that it is dull. Being at the forefront of technology is far from it! Also in an era when cybersecurity is becoming more of a threat to us all every day, being part of an industry that is constantly developing new ways to prevent this is both challenging and rewarding.

A big thanks to the Claritas girls who have contributed to our posts and provided us with insight into the industry for women.

Something to consider is the findings of the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study Benchmarking Workforce Capacity and Response to Cyber Risk. The report recently forecast that the industry is on pace to reach a cybersecurity workforce gap of 1.8 million by 2022, a 20% increase over the forecast made in 2015.

In light of this news, it’s clear that it’s now more crucial than ever that I.T. draws in the brightest brains and we want to encourage more women to take on this challenge. Moving into the industry could just be the next step in your career.

Need more advice? Talk to us on social media.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Why now is the right time for Women in I.T.

News in recent weeks has put women in the spotlight when it comes to the I.T. industry. Assessing the space in a recent survey, KPMG & Harvey Nash stated that still only 10% of the I.T. workforce globally are women. But times could well be changing.

Some countries are undoubtedly outperforming others in this area, for example, in the UK the figure is just over 20%. Additionally, in 2016, more female CIOs received a pay rise than their male counterparts - a first for the industry and a significant indicator of a positive future to come.

The recent survey found this result reflected in not just one area, but appeared to be the case across many sectors, including financial services/banking and business/professional services.

The I.T. and tech industries respectively have, in the past, been seen as a very male dominated space. We know this to be different at Claritas and the truth appears to be finally coming out - there are fantastic women in I.T., have been for some time, and will be more and more moving forward. We as a company want to encourage more women to enter the industry and we want to dispel any preconceived notions.

So, let’s talk to some of them. This week and next we’ll be speaking with the ladies of Claritas both development and management side, discussing the reasons why now is a great time to work in the industry.

Jackline M'Arimi, Software Developer, 7 years in I.T.

What made you decide to go into I.T.?

Technology seemed to be the way forward for most industries, at the time when I was making my University major choices, most companies were starting to integrate their business processes with new automated technology. Software was the one commonality in all systems. This sparked an interest in knowing how to program a system to perform actions and an interest in seeing an idea translated into a working system.

What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

The potential to keep learning new technologies and possibility to work within different industries made I.T. one of the best career decisions yet. I mean you could be working in I.T. within government, health, gas & oil, environment - the possibilities are endless.

What would you say to encourage more women to go into I.T. as their chosen career path? Do you have any advice to give other women looking at a similar career?

I.T. is not scary, it’s one career that has potential to progress in numerous paths. Yes, most of what people hear is that I.T. is all software programming, hardware assembly or helpdesk, but there is much more to I.T. we have tester, project managers and business analysts who all work within I.T.

Vaishali Pant, Application Test Analyst, 16 years in I.T.

What is your role at Claritas?

I have worked in I.T. for more than 16 years, starting with academics and later, moving to Software Testing.

I have been with Claritas since August 2010. I deal with all kinds of software testing. I work alongside developers to make sure that we deliver a bug free application to our clients. My role includes creating various test documents for clients and making sure what we deliver is bug free and coherent with the specification. I suspect developers may not like me at times because I am constantly trying to break the software which they’ve created!

What made you decide to go into I.T.? What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

I always found computers interesting in college and I was lucky to get an opportunity to teach computers straight after. Later on, I decided to move on to Software Testing and I am still enjoying it very much. I have an eye for the detail and aesthetics and I think that’s the key for testing.

Do you have any advice to give other women looking at a similar career?

My advice to other women looking for a similar career would be that if you have flair and an attention to detail then it is a great career for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions, so you know the application inside out, and that’s the only way you can test it correctly. Look out for simple mistakes, developers usually focus on big issues and forget to fix the little ones!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Be yourself, be confident! One of my favourite quotes is just right to sum it up:

Be seen, be heard and be memorable in a way you can advance not just your career but the careers of the women around you.
Erin Sweeney

A great way to finish off the first instalment of our Women in I.T. series.
We’ll be back with the second instalment, discussing Sales and Financial Management in I.T.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Child safety week: Keep your child safe on the internet

The internet is an incredible resource for children, allowing them to connect, communicate, research and be creative in many ways. However children need guidance and protection when it comes to using the internet to ensure they are using it safely, legally and appropriately.

In an age where children have access to an endless number of apps and websites, it is imperative that parents teach their children how to make suitable use of the internet and avoid its potential dangers.

Claritas Solutions has 20 years’ experience in I.T. and cyber security solutions so has used its expertise to pull together these tips to help keep your children safe online:

Monitor children’s online activities

There are a number of ways parents can help protect their children online, including using parental controls with filters that can block certain sites and content. Software is also available that can highlight what websites your children are visiting. We strongly advise using these tools. You can get more information about setting up controls on different devices from the UK Safer Internet Centre and mobile providers.

Set up request games and contacts features

Adjust the setting on your child’s devices to ensure they cannot access apps and games without your permission. This can help you control the safety of your child’s activities, it can determine whether the material is age appropriate whilst also keeping you up to date with any service, email, game or website they are intending to use.

Turn off app installation and purchasing on devices

Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by advertising and marketing schemes, which can also mean inadvertently spending money online. Our advice is to passcode protect the Installing Apps function on smartphones and tablets and restrict in-app purchases.

Check age restrictions

Familiarise yourself with the age ratings for games and apps as they can help to indicate the level and suitability of the content. Age restrictions have been set on various games, websites and social media channels for a reason. We advise that age guidelines are followed. In addition, online reviews from other parents may be helpful, if available.

Teach your child to be careful who they trust online

When your child is ready for social media make sure that only friends can see their profiles, and explain the risks of engaging with people they don’t know. Children should be taught that people who want to be their friend or follow them online may not be who they seem to be, and may present a danger. Children should be encouraged to chat online to real world friends and family only. Regularly reviewing lists of friends and removing unwanted contacts is a useful step.

Restrict the hours that children can use the internet

By limiting the time children spend online you can make sure you are around to monitor their usage. This also has the added benefit that it is healthier to restrict how much time children spend looking at screens.

Discuss the limits of sharing personal information

It is important that children are aware that many websites and apps allow anybody to access the information that they have posted. Children should be taught that when using the internet, it is important to keep personal information safe and not share it with strangers. That includes anything that identifies the child, the family, the school, telephone numbers, address, birthdays and family photos. Turning off the camera in games that are accessed over the internet is also advisable.

Keep the lines of communication open

Talk to your child about what they’re doing online and discuss the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages, images and behaviours. Encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone is pestering or bullying them online to enable you to intervene as quickly as possible. Parents should inform the police and the child’s school if any inappropriate activity is suspected.

Keep up with the latest IT & Tech news by following our social channels.

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!