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September Newsletter 2021

Posted By: Hayley Monday 4th October 2021 Tags: , ,

Back To School & Staying Cyber Safe

In this month’s newsletter we look at staying cyber safe at University, the rise in school ransomware attacks, some Microsoft Silver Partner news, a look at Have I Been Pwned?, Windows 11 updates & a celebration of the life of Sir Clive Sinclair.

September 2021 newsletter image: Staying Cyber Safe

Staying Cyber Safe At University

It’s that time of year when our family and friends may be heading off to University to begin a new chapter of their lives. At University, as everywhere else, staying cyber safe is important and people need to be aware of the threats to online safety. This includes navigating through the world of nasties like viruses, spyware, ransomware, scams and identity theft.

It’s also important to be aware of how you conduct yourself online, and how you present yourself to others through your social media and general online presence, that will follow you on into later life.

Cyber Safe Tips

Some useful tips for staying cyber safe and looking after yourself at University include:

Renew your passwords and make them strong – use a different password for each of your accounts, and the current recommendation is to use a password manager to look after them all. Whenever it’s an option, use multi-factor authentication for that extra layer of protection. Recommended password creation is to create a short phrase of at least three words, plus numbers and/or other characters. Don’t use any obvious passwords such as children’s or pet’s names, which criminals may be able to guess by simply looking at your social media accounts.

Take care of clicking on links in emails and texts – especially for things that seem too good to be true! It’s a common phishing/vishing angle for students to receive offers to pay their fees or be given a scholarship, and all that’s needed is to provide bank details to be paid into.

Keep your devices up to date and secure, and verify apps and any free software – apply common sense to what access you allow apps to have on your devices. Does a calculator or conversion tool really need access to your photos and contacts? Keep your devices checked with a good antivirus tool, update software & hardware whenever prompted, download apps from reputable sources, and keep your important data regularly backed up in case the worst does happen.

Protect your privacy – be careful of what you post to your social media accounts, keep your account privacy settings high, and be careful of publicly displaying things such as geo-tagging of your location. Be careful that you’re using trusted wifi networks and don’t use public computers for any personal internet usage, such as online banking. If possible use a trusted VPN to encrypt your online use.

Think carefully about what you post online that can be identified to you, especially to your social media accounts – a less immediately obvious problem, but something that could definitely come back to haunt you in the future. Prospective employers may do an online check to see what sort of person you are. If you’ve posted potentially inappropriate photos or made nasty, insulting, comments towards others, then it’s saved publicly online for all to see.

These things aren’t exclusive to a person heading off to University. Staying cyber safe is relevant to everybody. All people should take care with their personal data, and the type of personally identifiable content they post online for others to see and read.

September 2021 newsletter image: Ransomware targets schools

Surge In ‘Devastating’ Ransomware Attacks Cripples Schools

The new school year is also back up and running and a Schools Week investigation earlier in the year has revealed the consequences of a number of devastating cyber attacks on schools in recent times. This included the forced delay of pupils’ return to classrooms, the suspension of Covid testing, the cancellation of parents evenings, and the loss of coursework, financial records, and testing data, after hackers struck in a series of targeted ransomware attacks.

The increase of such attacks has meant the NCSC, the government’s security centre, has issued alerts about the “growing threat” facing schools.

There was a noticeable uptick in such attacks in 2020, when, because of the pandemic, remote schooling became a thing. There was a rush to make schools remotely accessible to all pupils and the security side may not have been as robust as required.

Increased Cyber Security Combatting Attacks

A couple of notable, large scale, attacks occurred back in March. One involved 17 schools in the Cambridge Meridian Acadamies Trust, who were taken down for three days by a ransomware attack that hit their networks and took out their emails and phone lines as well as disrupting many services. Elsewhere, 24 schools in South Gloustershire’s Castle School Education Trust, were also hit by a ‘sophisticated ransomware attack’.

The education sector is braced for further attacks during this new school year, and schools are making sure their IT defences are more robust, using effective vulnerability management, making sure of backing up the right data, keeping offline back-ups, and testing their ability to restore services.

These are processes all businesses, not just schools, should be making sure to have in place to mitigate any attack that could cripple their ability to operate. If you need to review the IT systems in your business, contact our team today!

September 2021 newsletter image: LaneSystems Microsoft Silver Partner

LaneSystems Attains Microsoft Silver Partner Status

We are proud to announce that, this month, our company has passed the Administration, Technologies and exam requirements to attain Microsoft Silver Partner status.

To acquire membership competency, you are asked to demonstrate expertise in various areas of business and technology, which are: Applications & Infrastructure; Business Applications; Data & AI; and the Modern Workplace & Security. This covers things such as Windows environments, infrastructure and devices; Cloud & Hybrid applications and productivity; security; providing scalable business solutions, and much more.

As well as demonstrating the meeting of performance thresholds within the above areas, some of our employees have taken, and passed, classes and exams to certify the achievement of the competency level.

We are able to provide expert information about the use of Microsoft365, Office365, Sharepoint, Azure and Dynamics365 in your business. Contact us today for a review of your IT systems and a plan for the digital future of your business.

Have I been pwned website

Have I Been Pwned?

It feels like a daily event to hear about some well-known large business reporting a cyber attack that’s resulted in theft/loss of data – usually customers’ personal information. Even when it involves a company that you’ve never, to the best of your knowledge, had any dealings with, you could find that some form of your personal data was being held by said company. See the recent Epik data breach, for an example.

While most companies will make news of any breach public as soon as they’re aware of it, some try to hide the fact until evidence of it leaks elsewhere.

If you’re ever curious about the state of your accounts and status of information held about you, pay a visit to haveibeenpwned.com and enter any email address that you use for any online logins to find out if any could have been involved in any data breaches.

The free service, set up in 2013 by a Microsoft security researcher, is a data-breach notification service which processes thousands of requests each day so users can check to see if their data was compromised — or pwned, with a hard “p” — by the hundreds of data breaches in its database. It includes some of the largest breaches in history, and today sits at around the 10 billion breached-records mark.

A worthy site to keep bookmarked and reference whenever a data breach hits the news.

Windows 11 LaneSystems

Windows 11 Is Coming

The official release date for Windows 11 draws ever closer, and Microsoft recently unveiled a range of new hardware products to showcase its new operating system.

A new range of Surface devices have seen the light of day, with a laptop, three tablets and a phone. They are the Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Pro 8, Surface Go 3, Surface Pro X and Surface Duo 2 phone. A raft of accessories were also released, including a mouse made from recycled ocean plastic. All are optimised to deliver the best performance that Windows 11 has to offer.

The Surface range is a successful, yet small, part of the Microsoft behemoth and the timing of this whole range is really more an exercise in promoting the October release of the Windows 11 operating system and partnering Office productivity applications. The new hardware sees the same release date as Windows 11.

If you’d like to find out how Windows 11 can benefit your business, contact our team today.

Clive Sinclair LaneSystems

And finally…

September 16th saw the loss of genius inventor and one of the leading innovators in home computing, Sir Clive Sinclair – the creative mind behind the ZX80, ZX81, and the iconic ZX Spectrum.

While his goal may have been to bring cost effective home computing to the masses for work and creative purposes, in some ways, Sir Clive was inadvertently instrumental in the creation of the UK — if not global — video gaming industry. When the ZX Spectrum launched it produced a whole generation of games designers – people and brands who are synonymous with today’s gaming industry.

Almost everybody of a certain age can recall the aggressive bashing of keys, or destruction of the joystick while playing Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. Some, like myself, recall the cheat codes to play any level of Manic Miner (6031769). The sound pattern of games loading from tape, and the flashing of the lines across the loading screen are unforgettable memories of a childhood sat waiting to play a game.

The C5 electric car may have become the source of fun and his ridicule, yet it could be argued that it was simply too far ahead of its time. But, nobody can take away his legacy in pioneering the ubiquity of owning a home computer.

RIP Sir Clive, you were a legend.

You can read a full obituary of Sir Clive here.

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