Monday, 1 June 2015

Security Threats 101 for the SME Enterprise


Image from CESG – The Department for Business Innovation & Skills: 
For many SMEs with less than 100 employees accountable, IT security isn’t usually the first on the list for priorities. The minimalist approach is taken for protection against cyber threats, many merely relying upon economy value firewalls and email security for protection.

Unfortunately for them, over 250,000 variants of viruses are manufactured each day… making it unlikely that the basic firewall can put up a strong battle, against the constant stream of threats.
IT managed services, likeClaritas Solutions is one of the many reasons why SMEs utilize and rely upon third party help, to help distinguish a real threat from a regular day in the office.  

So what are the common threats in IT?
Hackers
The person who created this infestation, controlling the destruction in the technology realm. Behind every virus/malware/worm, there is a man or woman producing the coding for debauched purposes. Don’t believe that the hacker will only be an external threat, many hacks do also come from within carried out by disgruntled employees.
Malware
Malware is one of the biggest growing threats in technology, manipulating its way through network infrastructure as email attachments, URL links, downloadable PDF’s or presentations; the list is endless. Once the malware is in, it sends communication and opens the door for newly welcomed viruses onto your network, to steal data, cause havoc, and create a nightmare task for the SME.
Worms
Worms are a standalone piece of malware that can duplicate and spread across other computers within a network. Quite a vicious little creature, it is controlled by the hacker to track data and send it back out of the private network or convert it into a zombie state or bots themselves, thus stopping the document from being used again.
Viruses
Created in 1978, way before the internet is what it is now, the first virus was born. Viruses were the first of its kind, alongside hackers in the malicious data industry, causing systems to crash, using all a computers’ data. Although some of the first viruses created were to help protect software from being pirated, there was always going to be a big industry for malicious data, lurking around the unprotected corner of the internet…
Adware
Adware, the painful ad-covered webpages, disrupting your user experience on many websites, with pop-ups, banner ads and even onto your desktop. Advertised-supported software automatically renders adverts onto a computer to generate revenue for its author. Very annoying once downloaded, even more so when the blighters ask you to pay for the removal of the software from your computer.
Trojans
The Trojan War tactics taken on by the Achaeans, a gift to Troy, a wooden horse carted into the town and massacred the entire population of Troy. Horrific yes, and theoretically speaking, the technology version of the Trojan can produce the same effects... massacring your business, draining your IT resources.
How do we combat it?
(This is where the marketing team jumps for joy to say…) Through Claritas Solutions of course! J
In all seriousness, we can help with the above threats, it is what we do for a business. However for now, consider; Firewalls, Email Security, Mobile security and anti-virus software when updating or setting up IT security infrastructure; and use the 10step security approach endorsed by The Department for Business Innovation & Skills.

Our facts and figures were taken from the 2014 Information Security Breaches Survey:   

Friday, 1 May 2015

News Announcement - Silver Partnership with Microsoft!


Claritas Secures Silver







We are now happy to announce our Microsoft Certified Silver Partnership, with dedicated Microsoft datacentre competences.

A committed team at Claritas Solutions has ensured our commitment to creating and delivering innovative customer solutions and services, based on Microsoft technologies.
Hard work by Joseph Shelswell, Miguel Lopez and Vanessa Wood has ensured that our commitment to excellence has been recognised. 

Our strengthened capabilities will also benefit clients by providing further services in Microsoft datacentre competencies. This is just another straw in our hat for partnerships, as we continue to build a strong network of alliances with the world's largest technology Giants, thus providing better services and solutions for our clients. 

 
Caption: Joseph Shelswell, Vanessa Wood, and Miguel Lopez, the dedicated team that certified Claritas’ with the Microsoft Certified Silver Partnership



Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Hack Seminar


The Hack Seminar 

First in a Series of IT Seminar Shows Destruction and Unravelling of a Security Infrastructure and Demonstrates How To Avoid It.

The Hack Seminar on Thursday 2nd July hosted by Leeds based IT experts, Claritas Solutions.
This original and exclusive demonstration will cover security infrastructure and the hottest technologies in threat prevention. Claritas is providing the facility that sees a collaboration of two IT security giants presenting the ultimate wrap round solution to protect business networks.

Experts from Check Point and Symantec will present their ultra-secure security solutions, demonstrating that one that is truly dedicated will virtually eradicate any unwanted intervention, achieving impressive state of the art security for both private and public sector organisations.

Glenn Scaife, Managing Director of Claritas Solutions says, “This is the first of a series of top level IT Seminars we are hosting, usually only seen in London.  We will continue to bring premier IT operators to demonstrate their security skills and solutions for Yorkshire and Northern organisations, and how to ensure their IT is up to date and vitally important, secure.”

Claritas has recently become an official supplier to the G-Cloud 6, the Government’s new secure cloud system, demonstrating its capacity for totally safe IT and providing therefore both the  public and private sector with  software design, testing and deployment, service and systems management, integration and enterprise architecture. 

For further information, contact Rebecca on rebecca.stenson@claritas-solutions.com or 0845 63 99 661

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Top 10 Technology Facts

Top 10 technology (related) facts that we love at Claritas











Fact: (fakt) A thing that is known or proven to be true.  
  1. In the duration of 63 years, humankind went from taking flight, to landing on the moon.
  2. HP, Google, Microsoft and Apple were all founded in their garages.
  3. The Woolly Mammoth was still alive when the first Pyramids were being built (Not technology as we know it today, but the Egyptians played a vital role in construction technological advancements).
  4. Every two minutes, we take as many photographs as all of humanity took during the 1800's.
  5. First ever Star Wars movie came out in May 1977, the same year the last man in France was executed by guillotine (10th September 1977).
  6. A spammer will receive 1 response for every 12 million emails he/she sends.
  7. It took 38 years to reach 50 million listeners to the radio, 13 years to reach 50 million viewers and 4 years for 50 million users of the internet.
  8. Doug Engelbart invented the first computer mouse in 1963, and it was made out of wood.
  9. Google's founders were willing to sell their Company to Excite in 1999 for $1 million, however Excite turned them down.
  10. In 1998, AOL launched 4.0, and for several weeks used ALL of the CD production companies across the globe. Thus began their intensive marketing strategy (at one point in the 90's the AOL logo was printed on 50% of CD's worldwide). - Marketing's favourite fact anyway.



Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Disaster Recovery – More important than you think.

Here’s a very simple question for you – “How much would it cost your business if you lost access to all of your computers, emails, internet and stored files for one working day”?

If the answer is – “A LOT of money”, and you do not currently have a Disaster Recovery Plan, then you really do need to read on as this is very important.

When we talk about disasters, we can split them down into two categories, namely natural and man-made. These categories can be then subdivided as follows and by way of example;

Natural

Avalanche, blizzard, earthquake, fire, flood, freezing rain, heat wave, hurricane, landslide, lightning, tornado, tsunami, volcanic eruption etc.

Man-made

Bio-terrorism, civil unrest, fire, hazardous material spills, power failure, human error, sabotage etc.

A disaster recovery plan is a document listing the procedures to follow in the event of an IT ‘disaster’. It should be clear, concise and have guidance on how to recover the IT systems which have been affected by the disaster so as to avoid as much down-time as possible. It should also detail actions to be taken before a disaster as well as during, and after.

It is not always possible to avoid a disaster, but with the right planning and pre-thought, its affects can be minimised. The key objectives of a disaster recovery plan is to do just that – minimise data loss and downtime. Disaster recovery is measured in two ways – the recovery time objective (RTO) and the recovery point objective (RPO).

The RTO is a set time in which an organisations IT systems must be restored back to a working order after a major incident, whereas the RPO is the maximum acceptable age of the files and / or data being recovered. The RPO is measured in backwards time from the point of the major incident, whereas the RTO is in forwards time.

As stated on Wikipedia, some of the key benefits in having a DR plan are as follows;

  • Providing a sense of security
  • Minimizing risk of delays
  • Guaranteeing the reliability of standby systems
  • Providing a standard for testing the plan
  • Minimizing decision-making during a disaster
  • Reducing potential legal liabilities
  • Lowering unnecessarily stressful work environment

It should be noted that since no two business operate in exactly the same way, similarly there are no two identical DR plans as they need to fit a business’s exact requirements. Three things which are essential though are;

  • Preventive measures
  • Detective measures
  • Corrective measures

With the advent of faster and much more reliable internet connectivity, many businesses are now opting to store a lot of their data and servers in remote data centre locations, otherwise known as ‘the cloud’. The benefits of this being that in theory, it wouldn’t matter so much if their building suffered a disaster, as every IT system they would need to continue operating would be housed at a different (diverse) location. However, this way of working comes with security concerns, so many companies still prefer to keep everything on-site.

Claritas can advise and help you create a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, as well as giving guidance on cloud based solutions and how to ensure that security is a priority.

For more information please feel free to get in touch on 0845 63 99 661 to speak to one of our technical sales team.







Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Human Factors - IT Security Risks


Social Media, is an addiction for many, and an IT nightmare for technicians for securely using the platforms. Whatever is used within the office; Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, there are many ways that data is leaked through them. Take This Lollipop, a Facebook interaction video just highlights how much information is given our by users – scarily enough, willingly; with no malware being used or breaking any UK laws and site policies.

WARNING this will make you want to sharpen your security settings. Click on the below photo to find out more


Take This Lollipop is an interaction video that interacts with your personal Facebook feed. It demonstrates how much information we freely provided to social media platform. 


Friday, 6 February 2015

Check Point Sales Kick Off 2015 - Vienna

Check Point Sales Kick Off - 2015


Red the Puppet Hosted SKO 2015
This year, we had two representatives that went to the Check Point Sales Kick Off 2015 in Vienna, to find out what the Technology Giant has planned for 2015.

Check Point is one of many security network companies that we work with at Claritas – and one of our Partners. Although our solutions are all dedicated to a business’s requirements, we promote the use of Check Point firewalls and blades within many of our security solutions, because they do exactly what they say on the tin – they secure the internet.

So, when we were asked to attend their Sales Kick Off Conference, we jumped at the chance.
Here are our best bits from the conference:

Check Point Capsule:
Mobility and BYOD are necessities in the modern day business, and mobile security is one area that has seen a huge rise in security infringements, with mobile malware infecting over11.6 million devices in 2014... But that is a completely new blog in its own right.
The Check Point Capsule allows users to work remotely and securely from their mobiles. Thus producing:

  • -          An extended corporate security policy to include mobile devices and prevent access to cyber threats
  • -          A secure business environment- Separate business data from personal data and applications on mobile devices
  • -          Secure business documents everywhere users’ go – data encryption on business documents enabling only authorised users to view attachments and emails.


Brilliant we think, especially for the expanding mobile industry, one that in recent years, is new to attacks and more recently has been under scrutiny for data leaks and ‘back doors’ within applications.

Threat Emulation
The threat emulation hardware devices, is something extra special for 2015. It has so far shown 100% effectiveness against Zero Day threats, targeted attacks and undiscovered exploits; and this is from a Meircom report (the industry leader for reviews and certification for networking systems). 

The sales pitch was impressive to say the least, but the technology advancement was even more so. When compared to other leading technology within threat emulation, Check Point exceeded them all, with all unknown threats being identified.

The Awards Ceremony

Okay, so this is not as important in retrospect, but we have to say hats off to Check Point for their awards ceremony in the evening. A brilliant night was had with lots of food and great entertainment. The event as a whole was fantastic, and we definitely learnt a lot about the new technologies due to be launched. If you have any enquiries regarding the above mentioned technologies get in touch on 0845 63 99 661 or email contact@claritas-solutions.com 

Monday, 2 February 2015

G Cloud

The G Cloud is a detailed and secure Cloud system offered by the Government, and as of today (Monday 2nd February 2015), is available to provide approved technology services.

The great news is that we at Claritas are now an official supplier for the Government Framework and will provide project managers in the public sector for specialist IT projects within the Cloud hemisphere to include software design, testing and deployment, service and systems management, integration and enterprise architecture. This provides a significant opportunity to increase our business within this sector for the first time.

The G Cloud 6 framework gives access to government departments, devolved administrations, local authorities, blue light services, wider public sector bodies and arm’s length bodies, enabling us to quote for our extensive, expert IT services.

The G Cloud is key in transforming the way the public sector buys digital and tech services, the Government is developing a clearer, simpler and faster tool to help support the process. The new Digital Marketplace aims to become the single place for all of government to buy what it needs to design, build and support its digital services. The “Digital Marketplace” replaces and consolidates CloudStore as the new home for G-Cloud services and also for the Digital Services framework.

Quote from Gov: “We want to make it easier for public sector organisations to find the information they need to buy the right services. That means we have made changes to the way suppliers’ services are presented on the Digital Marketplace.”

Our managing director, Glenn Scaife, said: “This is very much part of our ongoing strategy to provide specialist services, especially the all-important security, for any organisation in the Public Sector. We already have strong links with some high profile public sector organisations and are actively working to extend our trusted and expert resource to others.”

For more information, contact us on 0845 639 9661.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Super Connected Cities Scheme extended

Here is some great news to kick off 2015......

BDUK West Yorkshire have announced that their Super Connected voucher scheme has been extended, not only in time, but geographically too.

This means that more area's now qualify for the scheme, which enables businesses to take advantage of the ability to claim up to £3,000 from the government as a contribution to the installation and one off costs associated with upgrading the speed and reliability of their internet connection.

Previously the scheme only included Leeds and Bradford, and had an expiry date of March 2015. However, the project has been so popular that the government has decided to extend the application expiry date until March 2016.

The area reach has now been extended to all businesses in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield council areas, so the scheme in Leeds and Bradford is replicated in all 5 West Yorkshire districts. The following area map illustrates which areas now qualify;


 For more information on the scheme, or to find out if you qualify then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us on - 0845 639 9661.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Spectrum Vega

For a generation of kids growing up in the early 1980’s, the must have device for the bedroom was the ‘home computer’. Home computers were a new thing in the early 80’s and every home had to have one. The potential uses for them were massive, but as history has since shown, most were used to simply play games.

The two most popular devices at the time were the Spectrum 48k and the Commodore 64. Both boasted impressive graphics (for the time), sound and games play and at the time, the rivalry between the two manufacturers was a bit like the rivalry between the Beatles and the Stones in the 60’s. You were either in one camp or the other, and nobody was ever a fan of both.
As the decades and technology moved on, these relatively simple home computers were replaced by a multitude of gaming consoles, leaving them firmly in the history books…..
Or so they thought….

Whilst these 80’s home computers were very limited in terms of graphics, memory, sound and processing power, these limitations meant that the games developers had to do the best with what they had, and as a result the games had to be very playable and for the most part, ‘good’. As such, in many ways the games have stood the test of time, even if the visuals don’t jump out of the screen.

And so for that generation of kids who grew up with this technology, nostalgia has led many of them to maintain an interest in the technology which entertained them in their childhoods. There are websites which are dedicated to retro gaming, emulators for all the major home computers and just about every single game which was available at the time is now available to download, free of charge.

The emulators have been around for many years now, but there has been some criticism that they are not always easy to use and can often crash.

However, in December 2014, it was announced that Retro Computers in conjunction with SMS Electronics, would be developing a new version of the Spectrum 48k called the ‘Spectrum Vega’.

The device, a must have for nostalgia fans and those curious about home gaming history, is a stripped down version of the classic Spectrum 48k, and instead of having a full qwerty keyboard, it only has those keys which were used in the original game play. It also comes pre-loaded with 1,000 classic Spectrum games as standard, with at least 3,000 available on future releases.

The unit is provisionally planned for an April 2015 release, and will sell for around the £100 mark. The initial production run of 1,000 units were only available as a pre-order at £100 each. Unsurprisingly this offer was snapped up in no time at all and now the next batch are currently in production.

For more information on how to get hold of one of these devices then click here.


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Facebook Censorship of Unsuitable Content

Whatever you thoughts on Facebook, nobody can deny that it is now a global phenomenon and has been for a number of years, with almost 1.5 billion users now signed up and using the site on a daily basis. Facebook is the world’s most popular social media networking website, and shows no sign of losing its top spot.

Whilst Facebook is mostly used for good things, like old friends staying in touch with each other, people sharing funny video’s, idle gossip and users posting pictures of their cats, there is also a dark side to Facebook. One of the main areas of concern is the way Facebook automatically plays video content which has been posted by its users. Whilst these previews do not play the audio content, the images do appear and every now and then this content may be completely unsuitable for the person who happens to come across it.

There have been horrific examples of people posting direct links to video content which contains either violence, sexual content or in some cases, death. Most of these have been in protest of some of the awful events which have been happening in the Middle East, and whilst they are often posted with the best intentions, most people do now want to see this kind of thing.

However, the good news is that Facebook are now taking the appropriate action by censoring this type of content. Whilst this is still a work in progress, Facebook are now attempting to disable the auto-preview and instead, any suspicious video content will have a warning, informing users that the video contains graphic content which may upset.

Many leading figures and politicians are said to be delighted with this move from Facebook.