Monthly Archives

December 2016

Windows XP Upgrades with our IT Support Services

Windows XP Upgrades with our IT Support ServicesWe recently learned that the NHS is still running the outdated Windows XP operating system almost three years after Microsoft stopped fixing bugs and delivering security updates.

Some 90% of England’s NHS trusts are still relying on PCs installed with the Microsoft operating system, which is no some 15 years old. Of those, half have not made any plans to replace the operating system with a modern, secure alternative.

Why is this a Problem?

Because Windows XP is no longer receiving security updates from Microsoft, the health service’s PCs – and with them our private health data – are potentially wide open to hackers and at risk of malware. Vast sections of the public sector missed the 2014 kill-date for Windows XP and were forced to spend thousands of pounds of tax-payers’ money to individually arrange for  temporary support agreements with Microsoft. These were due to be renewed every year but it seems that they actually ended on April 14th 2015 after funds ran out.

We know there are still a number of smaller businesses who have not upgraded to a newer version of Windows yet. The reasons are varied: some are concerned about the cost, others are worried about getting to grips with the new environment. The most common reason is reliance on older software that may not be fully compatible with later versions of Windows.

Why upgrade from Windows XP?

The reason keeping XP is a problem is firstly that it is no longer supported by Microsoft and other companies. New software will not support Windows XP and Internet Explorer 9 and for older software the support services will gradually be withdrawn. If you have problems, then you are on your own.

Secondly – and more importantly – Microsoft’s security updates are no longer being issued. The monthly updates to protect against malware and viruses may have stopped, but the hackers have not and they are still working away to get at the unprotected data left in vulnerable XP-based systems.

Migrating To a New Operating System

If you do have a plan to move away from Windows XP yet, don’t worry: Digitalquill can help you. We can look at your software needs (including solutions that allow Windows XP software to run on other operating systems in a secure environment if you still need them), and we can assist you with anything from replacing a single terminal to installing a new OS on multiple PCs. We will also be there to help with training on the new system, and may even be able to develop new software to improve your business practices.

Visit www.digitalquill.co.uk or call us today on 01482 424402 for more details.

 

Fire Door Monitoring Software System

Fire Door Monitoring Software SystemIt can be difficult for businesses that operate across multiple sites to keep track when only a single staff member is dedicated to Health and Safety duties. Fire Door Monitor is an innovative solution to allow your nominated fire safety representative to discharge their legal responsibilities.

Prevent People Propping Fire Doors Open

If fire doors are left propped open, it can cause a significant health and safety risk. They should only be used for access and left closed at all other times in order to act as an effective fire and smoke barrier. If doors are propped open then it increases the risk if there is a fire, and it could result in a fail if a fire inspection is undertaken by the fire brigade.

Magnetic catches, with wireless transmitters are installed onto each door, allowing it to be opened only for a maximum specified time before the system sends an SMS and email alert to the nominated fire officer to visit the site. Full reporting tools are available, so it is possible to see which doors are opened and for how long.

Fire Door Inspection System

We use an RFID system to place RFID transponders at each fire door and our software manages inspection schedules and informs the responsible party when inspections are due. This means that the inspections cannot be manipulated or faked, the nominated person must have visited those doors, in order to carry out the inspection.  The software system then integrates with those inspection records to provide reporting and monitoring of the schedule of those inspections to ensure they are carried out in conformance with the Fire Safety regulations.

Compliance with Fire Safety Legislation

Not only does our Fire door monitor software tell you when doors are left open, it also monitors and maintains records of inspections carried out under The regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 BS 9999 which stipulates that inspections must be carried out on fire doors every 6 months. This means that even if the nominated fire officer is not on site, legal duties or any other national standards can be fulfilled.

It places legal responsibility on the responsible person (which defaults to the owner or managing director of the company if no-one is specified in company documents) to carry out these inspections and ensure that fire doors are kept closed and are in a serviceable condition: not locked, less than 3mm gap, closers work properly etc.

Digitalquill – Experts in Automating Health and Safety

Don’t put your staff and business at risk. Call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information.

Amazon Go RFID Systems

Amazon Go RFID SystemsAmazon have announced their new retail store concept: Amazon Go. The Unique Selling Point of Amazon go is that there are no checkouts, no staff and no queues – everything is done automatically.

Using RFID to improve the Shopping Experience

The store will use RFID systems to detect when a customer has selected an item (or put it back on the shelf) and will keep track of purchases as shoppers work their way around the convenience store. When they leave with their goods, their Amazon account will automatically be debited without the need to produce any payment ID other than, presumably, a mobile phone or similar that will allow them access to the shop in the first place.

This concept represents an exciting new use for RFID and brings the technology even further into the mainstream. By using RFID transponders and RFID software together in such a way, Amazon are introducing a whole new way of shopping and helping to bring RFID technology into the mainstream. It moves RFID transponders out of the ‘Industry of Things’ and into the mainstream consumer world.

Digitalquill RFID Systems Experts

Digitalquill have been working with RFID systems for a number of years now. Our systems bring RFID out of the field of library books and stock control into exciting new areas such as automated access management with our AccessMonitor software; and equipment rental with RentalMonitor.

We also produce AssetMonitor, for the RFID enabled management and tracking of assets, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions that use RFID smartcards to increase customer loyalty. Fire door monitor alerts managers when fire doors are propped open and Inspection Monitor is used in hotel chains and restaurants to irrefutably prove that checks have been done. Our RFID software is in use all over the world in a range of industries and we are pleased to see Amazon choosing RFID technology for their Amazon Go concept stores.

Use RFID to Boost your Business

If you want to improve your business and boost productivity through innovative solutions including RFID systems, then call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information.

Critical Digital Skills in Business - Digital Skills Training

Critical Digital Skills in Business - Digital Skills TrainingThe modern world demands a certain degree of IT literacy, but we know that some companies are less comfortable than others when it comes to technology. We recently read the findings of the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2016 – in which the bank researched the attitudes of small businesses and charities to digital technology. The Yorkshire and the Humber factsheet makes for interesting reading: here are some of the highlights.

38% of Businesses Have No Basic Digital Skills

Knowing where to start can be the  biggest hurdle to overcome. Our support team at Dgitalquill are well versed in working with companies and individuals who lack confidence with computers. We will not patronise you or talk down to you. Call us on 01482 424402: we can gently coach and guide you through the digital maze.

48% of Small Businesses Have No Website

Having a website is critical for any business in 2016. Google has replaced the Yellow Pages as the place most people search for businesses, and without an online presence then your potential customers may not even know you exist! Your website is your shop window to the world, and customers expect every business to have a website, even if it only hosts a news page and contact details. Think about how you go about finding businesses and make sure you are not left behind. Call Digitalquill on 01482 424402 if you need a cost-effective website, or wish to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to move it up the rankings on search engines to increase the number of clicks you get.

66% of Businesses Do Not Invest in Cyber Security

Against the recent backdrop of cyber hacking being linked to everything from internet outages in Germany to the US Election result, it is simply no longer an option to ignore your online security. The biggest challenge can be understanding what the risks are, and Digitalquill are able to conduct an audit of your cyber security strategy – or develop one with you to keep you safe from malware, viruses, ransomware and corporate espionage. Call us on 01482 424402 to discuss your needs.

68% of Businesses Invest Nothing in Digital Skills

It can be tough as a small business to justify investing in full-time IT support. This is where Digitalquill’s Virtual IT Director service comes in – you can simply buy in the skills as and when you need them. We can work with you, as part of the team, to oversee your digital strategy – on-demand. We will get to know your business requirements, systems and processes. We can then recommend to your board of directors the opportunities for IT hardware or systems to be improved. We can ensure your business continuity plans are created and tested; ensure your systems are secure; and create a plan for your business in terms of its technological development to give you a competitive advantage. Call us on 01482 424402 to discuss your needs.

44% Create Social Media Communities

This is good news, as social media is the quickest way to create a marketing buzz and convert it into sales. It is cost-effective and easy to target but many businesses do not know where to start. Digitalquill can help with both traditional marketing and social marketing – give us a call on 01482 424402 to find out more.

Adoption of eCommerce

Although most businesses are using some kind of eCommerce, our area is behind the national average. If you want to make or make payments electronically or sell from a website then rest assured that this is one of Digitalquill’s specialist areas. We can build you a website or make sure your point of sale equipment is compliant with the rules around credit card processing, and everything in between. Call us today on 01482 424402 for more details.

RFID Food Hygiene Inspections System helps you get 5 star rating

RFID Food Hygiene Inspections System helps you get 5 star ratingTwo popular East Yorkshire pub-restaurants hit the news recently when they failed their food hygiene inspections. The Red Hawk in Brough and the Sandpiper in Melton were both told to make improvements to their hygiene regimes after environmental health officers found significant issues and awarded them just one of a possible five stars.

If you run a commercial kitchen, pub or restaurant in Hull or East Yorkshire then you will understand how important it is to keep a record of food hygiene checks for the FSA (Food Standards Agency).

RFID Enabled Inspection Checks

Inspection monitor can help you improve your Food Standards Agency Rating by enforcing regular inspections of your kitchens and establishment by your staff, thus highlighting where improvements need to be made and creating HACCP documentation.

The cost-effective system will run either on existing Android/iOS portable devices or on dedicated mobile terminals. Inspection Monitor uses RFID technology to track assets and locations you need to prove are regularly inspected – and it will inform you immediately when a check is missed or failed. This frees up management time, and gives you irrefutable evidence that the checks were done.

Safe, Secure and Trustworthy

RFID transponders are unique: they can not be scanned remotely, copied or cloned. Your staff member has to have physically visited the location or asset the transponder is fixed to in order to scan it, so  you can sit back safe in the knowledge that the work has been done.

You will only need to review reports or system messages on the rare occasions when something goes wrong. Because it is completely silent when all is going well, Inspection Monitor can vastly reduce the amount of paperwork your managers must sign off each day.

Flexible and adaptable

You have the flexibility to create checkpoints and group them into any number of inspections. Every scan and inspection is recorded in a secure cloud server so you can provide inspectors with an audit trail and generate reports at the click of a mouse.

Call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information on our RFID Systems.

yahoo hack

yahoo-hackBreaking news this evening of another hack on Yahoo with a staggering 1 billion accounts affected. The details of this hack are still coming out but it appears that account details have been published online.

Our advice is:

  1. If you have a Yahoo account, change your password immediately (not tomorrow, or in an hour. do it now) using a strong password (no dictionary words, no names, use of special characters, capitals and non-capitals). This will not prevent accounts future hacks but it will change the known data that has been published.
  2. Do not use Free email services for business use. Contact us for secure hosted services.
  3. If you have any sensitive data held in your yahoo accounts such as banking details, emails containing passwords to other critical web services, personal details such as actual address, name, date of birth, ensure you monitor this story closely. If it is believed that any information held on accounts has been breached proceed very carefully.
  4. Consider closing your Yahoo account altogether, removing all information held on that account before closing.

We are sure that more will come out about this event in the coming hours and days.

Update:- It appears that this is an old hack from 2013, with data from that hack being released in the past few hours forcing Yahoo to admit that this did indeed happen. This raises the question as to when Yahoo first knew about this hack and why they were not open about this when they knew, the bottom line is share price over security.

Update 2:- Given that anyone could potentially have had access to email accounts for the last three years, it is very possible that those people are affected much more than a simple account breach on their email account. The hackers will know where you shop. How many peoples Amazon account password is the same as their Yahoo one? They will know when your birthday is from friends wishing you happy birthday, they will know where you live as you will have order confirmations, they easily have enough data for identity fraud. What the statement from Yahoo is correct in that ‘No Bank or Card details’ have been stolen in the hack, this is directly from Yahoo. This is again a company spinning to protect share price. It is clear to us that the extent of the damage could very well extend far and wide.

ID100a Trovan RAFID Systems Transponder

ID100a Trovan RAFID Systems TransponderWe have seen RFID systems being used in Asset Tracking, Access Control, Monitoring of Inspections, and so on but new innovations like Amazon’s Go retail store concept shows that RFID has many more interesting uses. New ones are being thought up all the time, but here are some of our favourite and most interesting uses for RFID

1 – Amusement parks and Ski lifts

These are using RFID transponders to control access and even to actually initiate the rides. With an RFID ‘ticket’ there is no need to have staff constantly monitoring access, as the doors can only be opened with an activated RFID transponder and the same chip can also be used to trigger the ascent of the lifts.

2 – Car and Bike Rental

Systems like Rental Monitor from Digitalquill are being used for RFID enabled rentals. The renter simply purchases a rental and is issued with a card (or has their existing card topped up, like the Oyster card). Then they can access transport by bringing the card near to a reader without having to be issued with keys. GPS can be used to locate the bike or car when it has been returned (or not!).

3 – Marketing

HF RFID or NFC transponders can be encoded with URLs to give access to ‘Easter Egg’ type content. This is used to promote movies, video games and other products. RFID transponders are so inexpensive they can be given away.

4 – Sports Timing

Accurate timing is a doddle when you stitch RFID transponders into clothing, or attach an RFID tag to the number worn by runners in a marathon. The unique codes allow for every runner’s time to be calculated simultaneously and by using several checkpoints it is even possible to locate them on the course based on which gates they have passed through.

 

5 – Clothes cleaning

Why would you need to use RFID in cleaning? The fire retardant clothes used by fire personnel have a limited number of wash cycles before the fire protection starts to reduce. RFID readers can be placed at the entrance of the washing machine and RFID Systems can record each wash cycle. The same principle can be used for everything for tracking gas cylinders to managing space suits!

6 – Casino Chips

What better way to prevent fraudulent use of Casino Chips than by embedding unique RFID transponders in each one. This makes every chip unique and makes counterfeiting practically impossible.

7 – Beating Counterfeits of Luxury items

Another use of RFID transponders as an anti-counterfeit measure is seen in some luxury items. Louis Vuitton bags have an RFID transponder attached to prove they are original, and SevenFriday watches also have a unique RFID tag. In fact, the luxury watch industry are developing an RFID system to replace paperwork and to record services, which can have a massive impact on the resale value of such items.

8 – Track Household waste

RFID Bin Tags are used in the waste industry to identify where waste came from – and where it ends up. This has revolutionised the waste collection industry and allowed for much more granular charging models that encourage recycling and help cut costs for businesses.

9 – Rock concerts and Festivals

Festivals like Glastonbury used to suffer from ticket counterfeiting and people gaining access to the perimeter without a ticket. They now use RFID Wrist Bands rather than tickets which are uniquely identifiable, almost impossible to copy, and which can be individually allowed or disallowed access based on software settings. No more need to worry if your name is ‘on the list’!

10 – Cat Doors

Those of us with pets already use RFID without even realising it. Your cat’s ID microchip is an RFID device and can be used to only allow your cat inside your home. You can buy a cat flap with RFID reader that reads the pets micro chip and only unlocks it when it recognises the animal. That is like a version of Digitalquill’s Access Monitor for felines!

For more information about our range of RFID solutions call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk.

security - cyber security

security - cyber securityWe never intended for this blog to become focused on security, but unfortunately recent events have highlighted the problems that we face on a daily basis in this ever more-connected world. If we want to move forward with ‘The Internet of things’ concept, where more and more devices become connected to the internet, then we need to start taking security a lot more seriously.

Seeing Security Seriously

In recent weeks, we have seen viruses, cyber-attacks and security breaches from big players like Dropbox, Yahoo, KCOM, Three, TalkTalk, the Post Office, the National Lottery and even the NHS. We have heard about hacked CCTV cameras, web cams and routers being used to attempt to bring down the internet. One thing is very clear: Tech companies need to get serious about the risks. We were appalled to hear that TalkTalk, upon being presented with a list of router SSIDs and login details stolen in the recent cyber hack, refused to back down on their statement that their customers were not at risk and need no change their security credentials!

Why do hackers exist?

The simple answer is that people hack because they can. Many hackers are out to prove a point and there is a strong argument that these sorts of things should take place, not that we would ever condone hacking or stealing of data, however, as a society we need to take this sort of thing more seriously, many of those who are finding these vulnerabilities and pointing them out are not looking to cause direct damage but they are trying to prove a point which is actually the same one we are making, that the big faceless corporations need to start taking this seriously. Unfortunately this is often not moderated and ends up causing direct damage and disruption, often to people who are not directly responsible for the poor processes that lead to vulnerabilities existing.

There are of course the highly organised criminal elements who hack to steal. This can be government espionage, industrial espionage stealing other companies secrets or it could be funding other criminal activity or for use in ransom or other manipulation of individuals or corporations.

Companies Cutting Corners

These attacks are happening too often, and we know that only the tip of the iceberg is reported in the press. The Dropbox hack, for example, took several years to come into the open. We think these big companies have a social and moral responsibility to address the vulnerabilities. As technology rolls forward and the pressure is there to innovate and produce the next big thing, there is increasingly a seeming lack of controls, checks and balances: corners are being cut. Remember Samsung’s melting phone batteries and Apple’s bending iPhones?

What is the future for the ‘Internet of Things’?

As a technology company known for innovation, Digitalquill wanting to push forward to a future where everything is connected, but currently that future looks bleak. For example the recent news that Apple, Ford and Google are working on self-driving cars. How can we trust self- driving cars when we can’t get routers that are hacker proof? Hackers would not need to hack and take ‘control’ of these sorts of systems, all they would need to do is find a weak point to disrupt sufficiently to cause the rest of the system to crash.

The Zyxel Router Hack

This seems to be a new tactic, the recent KCOM internet outage was not caused by an attack on KCOM themselves. Hackers exploited a weak point which in turn caused a knock-on effect like a wave across the whole network and could have taken a full city off the internet map in one fell swoop. Similarly in Germany, the same hack cost 900,000 Deutsche-Telekom users their internet connection for weeks. A targeted attack could cripple the national infrastructure all for the sake of not changing default router passwords!

How to keep homes and businesses safe from Cyber Attacks

While most of our frustration is directed at the manufacturers of the products and the ISPs for failing to take security seriously, some responsibility has to be taken by the consumer. We all want ever cheaper technology. We put the tech companies under pressure to constantly upgrade and improve their products and all-the-while we expect the costs to fall lest that company is seen to be falling behind.

Digitalquill Cybersecurity Experts in Hull and East Yorkshire

We will continue to highlight the problems we find and recommend solutions, but the thing you can do today to improve your cyber security is to arrange for a cyber-security healthcheck for your business. Digitalquill are experts in the field and we can help you combine policy, software and hardware to reduce the risks to your business.

If you need advice on how to keep your business secure then call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information.

 

Free Wifi advice for business users - use a secure VPN

Free Wifi advice for business users - use a secure VPNWe know that business travellers need access to the internet when they are on the go. We all rely on Wi-Fi being available at service stations or airport lounges, cafés or on the train. While this is convenient, the risks of doing so can not be underestimated. Your internet traffic could be intercepted, or you could be tricked into accessing a fake hotspot with a name similar to the real thing. You may not know who is operating the Wi-Fi and other users could even be able to access your computer through an insecure shared connection.

Keep Your Data Safe From Snooping

There are two kinds of public Wi-Fi networks: secured and unsecured. An unsecured network operates without any security features, like passwords or logins. A secured network on the other hand requires a user to agree to terms, register an account or enter password before connecting. Both can suffer from the same risks, and you should not assume you are secure just because you paid for access or entered login details before using the network.

Dos and don’ts for using public Wi-Fi:

  • If you have the choice, connect to secured public networks in preference to unsecured (no padlock icon). If you are not able to find a secure network, proceed with caution.
  • Never access personal bank accounts, or sensitive personal data, over an unsecured public network. Even doing so on secured networks can be a bad idea: avoid accessing these accounts at all when on public WiFi.
  • Never leave your laptop, tablet, or phone unattended in a public place. Keep your screen covered or facing away from the general public to discourage ‘shoulder surfing’.
  • Don’t do your online shopping on public Wi-Fi. This could let an attacker see your name, address, bank account details, credit card number and login and password for the retailers. They could then login as you, change the address and empty your bank accounts.
  • Turn off automatic connection on your device: make sure you choose which network to connect to every time.
  • Keep an eye on your Bluetooth connectivity. Leaving it turned on in public places can pose a risk to your security as a hacker can look for open Bluetooth signals and possibly gain access to your devices.
  • You could use a proxy server (a server under your control that you connect to over the network) but these are not totally secure and do no support Secure Socket Layer (SSL) for applications such as online banking.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) solution. This keeps you anonymous over public WiFi. VPN services encrypt the data that you send and receive while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot and secure your information from other users.

Digitalquill Affordable Business VPN Solutions

Digitalquill can provide you with anything from a simple Encrypted VPN server which just encrypts and hides your internet activity from anyone else; right up to corporate VPN services which link remote workers back to their corporate network.

Our simple Encrypted VPN services start from as little as £10 per month and can be setup instantly upon request. They work with laptops, tablets and mobile phones. For more information call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information.

TalkTalk Hack - Security

TalkTalk Hack - SecurityTalkTalk are back in the news again after the recent cyber attack hit one of the Internet routers they use. Some TalkTalk customers’ wi-fi passwords have been stolen following the malware attack which also blocked internet access for customers of other companies including KCOM in Hull, East Yorkshire.

Login Details and SSIDs Stolen

The stolen details would let attackers pinpoint exactly where the equipment was being used, and further targeted hacks are now possible. This is because the attackers stole both the login data and the Service Set Identifier (SSID) codes – a unique identifier which can be used to reveal where a machine is located.

Mirai Worm Router Hack – Security Advice

A TalkTalk spokesperson said: “As is widely known, the Mirai worm is affecting many ISPs around the world and it has affected a small number of TalkTalk customers. We continue to take steps to review any potential impacts and have deployed a variety of solutions to ensure customers’ routers remain safe. We have also employed additional network-level controls to further protect our customers.”

TalkTalk are issuing the advice that there is “no need” to change router settings. In our opinion (and in the opinion of many leading security experts) this response from TalkTalk is far from adequate to the extent that it is dangerous leaving customers wide open to further attack.

TalkTalk have also stated that in their opinion there is “no risk to personal information” which, if we give them the benefit of doubt is a naïve statement and if we don’t, it is utterly false and misleading. Given an SSID (Wireless network identification) we can use tools to geographically locate many of those networks which when combined with the key would allow anyone to connect to that network and harvest whatever information happened to be there.

Talk Talk Internet Router Replacement

We would advise all TalkTalk (ADSL and Fiber) customers to replace or otherwise secure their router. If you are a residential ADSL user we recommend ASUS DSL-AC68U AC1900, while residential fiber users should look at something like ASUS RT-N66U or the Netgear R6400-100UKS AC1750.

These recommendations are for suitable routers for residential Talk Talk, Post Office internet and all other affected ISPs.

Business internet users of TalkTalk should contact us for a recommendation, we usually supply routers from the Draytek range as these are business class routers which will suit most needs.

KCOM Internet Router Replacement

Although there is no evidence of any KCOM router passwords being stolen, we would recommend that all users change theirs as a precaution. You should always change administrator and wifi passwords from the defaults provided in the machine or it will not be secure. We also recommend upgrading to a more secure router or modem/router. If you are a residential ADSL user we recommend ASUS DSL-AC68U AC1900, while residential fibre users should look at something like ASUS RT-N66U or the Netgear R6400-100UKS AC1750.

For business users of KCOM we again advise running enterprise standard Draytek routers. Digitalquill supply, and configure Draytek routers which have their enhanced firewalls allowing connections and networks to be secured to the standards required for PCI DSS and credit card processing.

If you need advice on how to keep your business secure or then call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information.