Countdown has begun…Bye Bye Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003

Nearly time to say goodbye to Windows Server 2003…

The support for Windows Server 2003 will be ending on 14th July 2015 and with the discontinuation of SBS it seems Microsoft customers have to go down the Office365 or Windows Server 2012 route. With the end of support in less than 12 months, companies need to pick a path because staying with Server 2003 is not a good idea.

The main issue with staying with Windows Server 2003 or any out of support product is the fact bug fixes will stop and you will not receive anymore updates and patches. This means any new Server 2003 vulnerabilities will not be addresses, which could become a massive security risk.

To protect the network more investment of time and money will be needed to strengthen the security of the network i.e. intrusion detection and upgrading firewalls. So, in the long run moving to Windows Server 2012 might be more cost-efficient.

For some sectors running unsupported products it may mean the IT network will not meet the necessary legal and regulatory requirements. The outdated product on the network can also become unstable, cause increased downtime and a decrease in productivity.

There are really 3 main options for those who are currently on Windows Server 2003: stick with it, perform an upgrade on the existing hardware or migrate and upgrade – which could be the best option if the current hardware is several years old.

For upgrades, migrations planning and deployment as well as proactive IT services information and advice please contact us today on 0845 603 5552.

Right to Request Flexible Working

‘Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs like working flexitime, homeworking, job sharing, shift work etc.’

From June 30th 2014, employees are entitled to request flexible working if they have completed 26 weeks of service within a company. Prior to this change it only applied to parents of under 16s and carers.

The Steady Rise of Homeworking

According to Trade Union and the Office for National Statistics there has been a steady increase from 1.3 million homeworkers in 1998 to 4.2 million in 2014, with many spending at least half of their work time working from home.

With most job roles requiring technology or access to the corporate IT network it is becoming necessary for organisations to allow users to remote into the network anytime, anywhere. Within the marketplace there are a number of products that can help like Microsoft Remote Desktop App, Citrix XenApp, VMware Horizon etc.

Homeworking has a number of benefits for both the employer and employees:-

Employer

Employees

  • Increase productivity
  • Help lower overheads
  • Reputation of flexibility = help attract and retain staff
  • Lower carbon footprint (less commuting)
  • Flexibility
  • Savings on travel costs
  • Improved work-life balance
  • Personalised work space
  • Improved job satisfaction

Although there are benefits of homeworking, it is not suited to all job roles and organisations i.e. workers who require particular industrial machinery to carry out their job or a sales consultant at a retail premises – so, job role suitability is factor when considering employees application for homeworking.

Another thing to keep in mind is security – always ensure the technology and methods used by homeworkers to access business data is secure, to help lower the risk of data breaches. This may mean initial investment into the IT infrastructure to make it suitable for homeworking. So, assess whether the advantages outweighs the disadvantages and the costs against the benefits.

For more information is planning, deploying and managing remote IT technology please contact us today.

Information Security isn’t just a Technology issue but, a Business one..

As the lines between work and play blurs due to the advances of technology, it becomes more apparent that ‘Information Security’ within the workplace is not just the IT department’s issue.

Information or data is a business enabler, it enables operations and productivity so, the security of it should be viewed as essential and promoted throughout the company – but, in most cases it is not.

Is this because we instinctively protect what we can see in front of us like buildings, personnel, hardware, the tangible assets but, we neglect the intangibles such as information because we struggle to see the physical value of it? Or is it the general attitude towards data security, the idea that we just need to do enough to meet regulations and compliance standards?

IT Security should be seen as a task to minimise risk for an organisation

This risk management is not just limited to the IT department or within the office because let’s face it, many of us do work a little when we get home even if its just checking our emails.

‘As many as 49% of individuals would use their personal device for work, found in a recent Norton Report’.

Employees use of unauthorised personal mobile devices can be a threat because it is an unknown object on the IT network. For example, if a user was to save business data onto an unauthorised device and then it was infected by malware, the data could end up in the wrong hands!

However, it is not about the IT department forbidding personal devices – if devices are approved then it is safe to have on the network. It’s all about having policies in place and training employees on how to access business data securely. The training should not be limited to the use of mobile devices but, general IT security practices i.e. always encrypt email containing sensitive data or never write login credentials on a piece of paper.

It is also important to ensure staff are aware of ‘Social Engineering’ because no matter how protected an IT Network is, there is always the possibility of external threats getting in, like CryptoWall which tricks users into opening infected attachments, exploit security gaps in Sliverlight, Flash and Java then, similar to CryptoLocker it will encrypt your files and demand a ransom.

Regular IT network assessments are recommended – not only will it help protect and minimise potential security risks, it can also be an opportunity to assess the efficiency levels of the network.

There will always be a possibility of a breach in security for every company, it could be due to a cyber attack, human error, social engineering etc but,if risk management is a common goal amongst every employee not just the IT department, it can help manage and minimise security risks in the long run.

To find out more about data protection or IT network security you can contact our consultants on 0845 603 5552 or drop us an email on info@netshield.co.uk

We are now on Facebook!

The team at Netshield have some exciting news to announce… we are now on Facebook! It will be filled with latest technology news, advice and much much more..

Although there is not much on our Facebook page at the moment but, watch this space as there will be some interesting news posted on there in the coming months 🙂

IT Services Netshield Facebook page

Check out the new Netshield Facebook page today!

Remote Working… The Trend of Mobility in the Workplace

Forrester Research suggests 95% of workers are using at least one-self purchased device for work, which can help explain the blurring between work and play, and the growing adoption of BYOD within businesses.

But, when it comes to Workforce Mobility, BYOD is only a part of it, as TechTarget and Computer Weekly IT priorities survey, found 67% of enterprise plan to issue employees with mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones in 2014 – suggesting that employers are also starting to see the benefits of remote working, by empowering employees with the ability to choose where they work.

Remote Working

Working anywhere, anytime…

By offering remote working or telecommuting it can remove recruitment geographic limits, employers can employ the very best and employees can work for who they want without worrying about the location of the offices – the ability to be able to work anywhere and workplace flexibility can help to attract and retain staff. With the amount of communication tools available cross-boarders conference calls can all be cost-effective.

Researchers at Stanford University found that remote workers are 13% more productive and have less sick days. The increase in productivity could be because it provides employees with the freedom of working from a personalised space, a space that can support individual workflow and processes, no compulsory commute (which can sometimes be stressful!!), a space that has no interruptions from colleagues which in turn can increase job satisfaction.

By offering employees the option for flexible working it displays trust (although there will be times where this is abused). Employees would appreciate the flexibility of tailoring their work-life balance = they would be as focused and productive. In theory. But, when working from home there may be distractions due to domestic circumstances which could have opposite effect so, its not something that is suitable for everyone.

Not everyone sees workplace mobility in a positive light – In 2013 Yahoo ended its remote working program and BestBuy quickly followed suit. Both argued employees working together within one building will promote interaction, creativity and the sharing of information – which is a valid point. This idea is supported by Google where Patrick Pichette CFO commented “The surprising question we get is: ‘How many people telecommute at Google?’ And our answer is: ‘As few as possible’”.

The lack of uptake of remote working could be that many organizations lack trust with their employees, they have an innate belief that performance and productivity can be measured within office buildings, as Managers can see physical presence – the question is, just because someone is sitting there, does it really mean they are being productive? The answer can be debatable.

Even though there is a low uptake in remote working currently, as technology and user habits change, ‘Work Mobility’ and ‘Flexible Working’ is predicted to grow. Leading to a popular view that work is something not confined to a particular building, it is an activity that can be conducted anytime, anywhere.

Of course certain jobs are not suited to remote working like manning a production line and there are a number of disadvantages. In short mobility in the workplace can be beneficial

Secure Remote Working Netshield

Working remotely? Make sure its done securely.

for businesses and individuals but, before the decision is made an assessment of suitability is required. If workplace mobility is something that is suited to different roles and organisational culture then, it must be planned, deployed and managed securely.