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Is your data safe in the Cloud?

The cloud allows companies to store their data in third-party data centres through a cloud provider. This is becoming increasingly popular each year, however, people are still asking is their data is safe in the cloud?

Many people are apprehensive that cloud computing is less secure than conventional methods of storing data. The main reason for this is since organisations data is stored on servers and systems that they do not own or control. However, cloud computing offers organisations an array of security choices to ensure your data is encrypted and safely stored.

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Cloud storage providers share the responsibility for cloud storage security and implement standard protection for their platforms and the data that they process including authentication, access control and encryption. This is the basic security measures they have in place, most providers offer added security measures to strengthen cloud data protection and reinforce access to sensitive information in the cloud.

To access any files you require an encryption key, without this key files look like random letters and numbers. This key can be stored by the service itself, or by individual users.

The server usually stores at least three copies of each piece of data, in different places meaning it is hard for them to get lost in the cloud. You need to have all three copies disappear at the same time to lose any data, and if this happens, which is unlikely, data can be recovered in a couple of days.

 

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Benefits

The cloud is flexible meaning that clients can scale the service to suit their needs, customise apps and can access cloud services from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.

The cloud is also efficient as clients can get applications to market quickly, without thinking about infrastructure costs or maintenance.

The cloud also provides clients with a competitive advantage as they provide users with the most innovative technology that is currently available.

Users of the cloud can choose public, private or hybrid storage options which varies on security needs and other considerations.

If there ever is a hardware failure this does not mean that there will be data loss as with the cloud there are networked backups.

Don’t forget to check out our other latest blog posts on our website and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think we could help your business run smoother!

You can reach us on 0333 444 5353 or email [email protected]

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Hacker Halloween

Monsters may be out of your age range, however, technology can be a scary place, it’s always connected and open for hackers, malware and viruses. Halloween is the scariest time of the year with ghosts, monsters and demons, however, is the horrors found in technology more terrifying?

New devices are being created each year to make your everyday lives smarter and more efficient but it is up to you to ensure your devices are secure. This involves any device that is connected to the internet such as televisions, gaming consoles, home router, Google Home, Alexa, security cameras, baby monitors, smart locks and even smart thermostats, these can all make your home vulnerable.

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These devices are known as the Internet of Things devices or IoT for short, IoT devices have provided cybercriminals with new ways of gaining access to devices and the reason why these devices are targeted is because they have little or no security.

Heres how to keep your devices safe not just on Halloween but all year round.

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How to become secure 

Equip your home router with strong passwords as this is the key element in connecting all of your devices and make them operable.

Rename your router, don’t keep the name that it comes with as this may distinguish the make or model. Give your router an unusual name that doesn’t relate to you or your address, as you don’t want to give away any personal information.

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Set up a guest network that visitors or friends and relatives can use and doesn’t link with your IoT devices.

Change any default username and passwords that come with your devices as some hackers may already know the default passwords for some IoT devices which makes it easier to access them.

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Also, use strong passwords and avoid the common words, use more complex passwords which you can do by mixing up letters, numbers and symbols. You may want to consider a password manager.

Keep software up to date, if you get notified of a software update don’t ignore it. These updates could include security patches, make sure that you are downloading the updates to ensure that you are secure.

Two-factor authentication, you can receive one time codes that get sent to your phone as well as entering a password which helps you become more secure if this is offered it is beneficial to use it.

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Can it be stopped?

It is very unlikely as hackers find new ways each day, you can stay one step ahead of hackers by following the steps provided above.

Don’t forget to check out our other latest blog posts on our website and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think we could help your business run smoother!
You can reach us on 0333 444 5353 or email [email protected]

 

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Benefits of Cloud Computing

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What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is the distribution of a service which is hosted over the internet and can be divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

This can include servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence which are completed over the internet providing innovation, flexibility and scalability.

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Top benefits of cloud computing

Cost

Relocating to cloud computing may lower the cost of running and maintaining your IT systems. You can reduce costs by using the resources of cloud computing such as Cloud53’s Cloud Desktop service – this removes the expense of purchasing expensive server equipment and software as well as setting up and running data centres or computer rooms on-site. More ways costs can be reduced involve the cost of upgrading systems, hardware and software may be included in your contract, energy intake costs may be reduced, there are fewer time delays and you do not need to pay for experts managing the infrastructure as it is all included in a monthly cost usually in a ‘pay as you grow’ model which allows for flexibility and scalability whilst delivering a clear monthly cost.


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Speed

Cloud computing services are usually provided as a self-service and are on-demand meaning that a large amount of computing resources can be supplied within minutes. Businesses can also get applications to market swiftly, without thinking about capital costs or technical delivery or maintenance. Cloud computing services usually run on a global network of secure data centres and these data centres are updated and maintained regularly to ensure fast and efficient computing hardware. For example, Cloud53’s datacentres are situated on the Internet backbone of the UK providing blazing speeds for clients.

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Productivity

Cloud computing also allows for a business to be more productive as it delivers the ability to access any data from any location, worldwide. This allows businesses to offer employees the ability to work from home with exactly the same resources as they would have in the office. This saves staff commuting to and from the office which results in the employees being more productive. Similarly, the “office” is never closed – you are free to work from wherever, whenever. Giving staff freedom to manage their own workload.
Cloud computing also removes the need to deal with hardware. Whether it be setup time and costs, server racking and stacking, hardware set-up, software patching and other IT tasks that can be time-consuming. This allows for more time satisfying customers, achieving goals and concentrating on the business.

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Security

Many cloud service suppliers offer a wide range of policies, technologies and controls that reinforce your security overall which helps protect data, apps and infrastructure from potential threats. 94% of business saw an improvement in security after switching to the cloud found a survey conducted by RapidScale.

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Reliability

Cloud computing makes it easier for business continuity, disaster recovery and data backup, as well as making it less expensive as data can be mirrored at multiple sites on the cloud providers network. This avoids human error as all documents are stored in one place and in a single format meaning consistency in data can be maintained and this provides you with a clear record of any revisions or updates.

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Scalability

Another benefit of cloud computing involves the ability to scale up or scale down your operation and storage requirements quickly providing businesses with flexibility. It is for this reason that Cloud computing is often referred to as elastic computing.
Using the cloud will free up your time allowing you to concentrate on growing and running your business.

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A Day in the Life of a Digital Marketer.

Meet Ellie our Digital Marketer.

Why Digital Marketing?

I studied travel and tourism for 3 years at college and International Tourism Management at university for another 3 years and throughout my courses over the 6 years, marketing was a unit I had to learn, which I loved and wanted my career to be in marketing once I had graduated.

I graduated from university on July 10th and the first thing I started doing is looking for a job role as a digital marketer and came across Cloud53. I passed my interview with Cloud53 and everyone here was so welcoming and a pleasure to work alongside.

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Day to Day

The first thing that I make sure to do every morning is checking Cloud53’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts and I do this as this gives me an insight into what is trending on that day and this allows me to share any stories that are relevant. I then see if I have anything to post on each social media account. I show Dan some of my ideas I have created as he likes to be picky so as soon as he is happy the posts are scheduled to Hootsuite.

I had a meeting with Stephen on what he wants me to do marketing-wise for Cloud53 and asked me my ideas and opinions. I learned a lot from Stephen as he showed me some tricks that I didn’t know and he told me that he liked what I was doing so far.

The team at Cloud53 has a weekly meeting which allows everyone to be updated on what each of us is up to and what plans we have in place for the company as everyone has a different job role.

Before I leave I make sure to check all of our social media accounts to see if there are any comments I can reply to and see what engagement the posts have got. When I get home I also create more posts to make sure I’m ahead and this allows me to post regularly.

It is my second week at Cloud53 and there is still so much I haven’t done but I will be doing, such as meeting Cloud53’s clients, visiting our data centers and attending network events.

Don’t forget to check out our other latest blog posts on our website and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think we could help your business run smoother!
You can reach us on 0333 444 5353 or email [email protected]

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What does Cloud53 really mean?

 

What is Cloud53?

Why do businesses choose their name? Do they put thought and meaning into choosing one or is it simply the first thing that came to mind? This blog post will tell you why and how Cloud53 became Cloud53 so keep reading!

Lost in the cloud

Firstly, the cloud in our name is obvious isn’t it? We are a cloud computing business that offer a range of cloud services. You might be thinking “what is this cloud everyone’s talking about” but we’ll save that for another blog post. So if the cloud part of our name is clear, why is the 53 there and what does it mean?

Image result for herbieWhy the 53?

Number 1 on our list of reasons is that the Cloud53 head office is based in the city of Manchester, the heart of all our operations. Manchester is located along the 53rd degree of latitude. This is what sparked the initial idea for the 53.

Reason number 2 for the 53 is slightly more technical and appropriate to our business. The DNS (Domain Name Server) port is 53 and fundamental to the internet. DNS ensures the internet is not only user-friendly, but also works smoothly. This is another reason why 53 is such an important part of our name.

Not only did we choose to have the 53 in our name, there are also some coincidences that we have come across along the way. For example, our office happens to be located along the bus route of bus 53. Although this may not be a coincidence, it’s still a fun fact that one of our directors only puts £53.53 litres of fuel in his car. There’s also a C53 hidden in the green cloud icon of our logo and have you ever noticed the 53’s in our telephone number? As you can see, our name isn’t just a name to us. To us, our name is what we’re all about and we hope you enjoyed another blog post with an insight into what our business is about.

Don’t forget to check out our other latest blog posts on our website and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think we could help your business run smoother! You can reach us on 0333 444 5353 or email [email protected]

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Day in the life of a technical support engineer

Day in the life of a technical support engineer

IT support is at the heart of what we do here at Cloud53. So we thought we’d let you in on what a day in the life as a technical support engineer is like…


We thought it would be great to give you an insight in to what goes on behind the scenes when you call for IT support, and who better to ask than Brad one of our longest working technicians.

What does a technical support engineer do?

“To start my day off in the morning, I focus on our proactive monitoring; I ensure all backups have ran successfully throughout the night and check if any machines on our network are identifying any possible issues. Potential issues can range from unsuccessful virus scans to hard drive failures. Once these tasks are dealt with, I can begin to work on any internal projects that we are currently working on. At the moment, most of my effort is spent on our new network monitoring software. I have been adding required servers and putting in place active checks which run around the clock. This is designed to let us know as soon as a problem has occurred before it becomes serious or could affect our customer’s productivity.

As well as this, each day I take multiple calls and queries from our customers who actively report any IT issues they are experiencing. At this point, I take as much information as I can regarding the issue and then create a ticket which details the problem that has been reported.”

How do you help our customers?

“I try to go the extra mile for all of our customers, no problem reported is too big or too small! During any support I provide, I ensure the customer is kept up to date regularly as I’m dealing with their issue. Once the problem is resolved, I explain what the issue was and how I resolved it, without all the technical jargon. I always check if there’s anything else I can help or support with to make sure the customer is satisfied with the result of the service!”

What is office life like a Cloud53?

“I’ve been with Cloud53 for just over two years, we all work together to create a relaxed but professional office environment. I enjoy working here for multiple reasons; I am able to work with a wide range of technology and there is always something new to learn. Not to mention the free fruit all week and cups of tea on demand, oh and a day off on your birthday! I think I can speak for everyone here when I say it’s a rewarding job and a great company to work for.”

Brad Roberts – Technical support engineer

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Password security 101

Do you know how strong your passwords are?

They’re probably not as strong as you think. Why wait until the one day a year where everyone talks about the subject? World Password Day is an annual celebration to promote safer password habits. It takes place on the first Thursday of May each year, but why wait another 10 months to tighten up your password security?

While passwords are a common form of authentication on the Internet, they’re more often than not the only line of defence between hackers and your personal information. Our helpful team at Cloud53 HQ would be happy to talk things through with anyone who is concerned about their security and anyone who wants better defences. In the meantime, the information below may give you some quick pointers!image

What is Password Security?

Password security, though often overlooked, plays an extremely important role when it comes to protecting your identity on the Internet. After all, it keeps unauthorised users from breaking into your online accounts and stealing your personal information for their nefarious purposes like impersonating you to commit crimes in your name.

You can free yourself from risk by resetting your old, weak passwords to long, un-crackable ones and remind your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. With identity theft and other cyber-crimes at an all-time high, setting robust passwords is crucial and we’re going to show you exactly how to go about that.

How Hackers Can Steal Your Passwords?

Have you ever wondered how hackers go about cracking your passwords? Well, here are some of the most common ways through which they can steal your passwords, and ultimately, your personal information:

1. Brute force attack

One of the most common password cracking techniques out there, a brute-force attack involves checking all possible key combinations until the right one is found. Since hackers use complex algorithms to try multiple combinations at super-fast speeds, rest assured that your short passwords will be cracked in no time!

2. Password sniffing attack 

A password sniffing attack is a technique used by hackers to collect your credentials on unencrypted connections. By using a combination of easily available tools on the Internet, they monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic on a network so they can intercept your usernames and passwords as they’re being transmitted.

3. Phishing attack 

Even though phishing is an old trick in the hacker’s playbook, it’s still going strong and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Typically, it entails sending an email to the victim by impersonating a legitimate entity and requesting that they provide sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and even credit card details.

4. Social engineering attack 

A social engineering attack requires little technical knowledge and relies on human error, tricking otherwise unwary employees or users into performing certain actions or revealing confidential information such as passwords or bank account details.

5. Dictionary attack 

In a dictionary attack, a hacker tries hundreds – or sometimes even millions – of likely possibilities derived from a predefined list of words or dictionary in order to defeat an authentication mechanism like passwords.

6. Keystroke logging

Keystroke logging, also known as keylogging, is a technique that involves the use of a program to record or log every keystroke so they can obtain confidential information like passwords without the knowledge of the unsuspecting user.

So how do I make a secure Password?

Now that you know the common password security mistakes you need to avoid, let’s discuss how to create strong passwords. The following are some password tips to prevent hackers from accessing your online accounts:

 1. The longer your passwords, the better.

The passwords you decide to use should be at least 12 characters in length so that they’re difficult to break. The longer a password is, the more combinations a hacker would need to try in order to successfully crack it.

2. Aim for complexity.

Password length and complexity go hand-in-hand in the quest to creating strong passwords, so make sure you include lower-case and upper-case letters along with numbers and symbols. Mix them up like you mix your cocktails on a Friday night!

3. Unpredictability is key.

Unpredictability is key when it comes to password strength. Avoid predictable words, passwords based on dictionary words, as well as any references to your personal life or popular TV shows, video games, and movies.

4. Unique is the way forward. 

We’ve already highlighted this before, but its importance can’t be emphasised enough: Only use one password for one account.

Hopefully you are now equipped with the knowledge and ready to update your passwords. However, if you are still feeling uncertain and would like some more advice, don’t hesitate to give one of our friendly staff a call on 0333 444 5353 or drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll be in touch with some more helpful tips!

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Windows 7 – is this the end?

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Windows 7, as an operating system (OS), is probably the most popular OS in history, XP was good in its day but Windows 7 beat it. It was released in 2009 and in its first year sold 240 million copies, that’s 7 copies every second! It has become the staple business Operating System and it was only at the end of 2018 that Windows 10 became more popular. As of April 2019 Windows 10 accounts for 44%* of Operating systems on Desktops/Laptops with Windows 7 still having 36%* of the market. Windows XP that went end of life 5 years ago still has 3.5%*.

Nobody knows the exact number of computers in use worldwide but in 2015 it was estimated to be around 2 Billion, if we take that as todays figure then there are around 720 million Windows 7 PC’s in use worldwide! One hell of a successful OS for the last 10 years!

BUT in January 2020 Windows 7 is officially retired and in Microsoft terms is ‘end of life’! What does that mean? Well simply it will continue to work as it always has done, in much the same way Windows XP still works however there will be security risks which may be acceptable for a home computer but typically is going to be a major risk for business computers. Furthermore the latest applications and/or updates may not work on Windows 7.

Microsoft releases critical and security patches regularly for all operating systems as and when potential threats or vulnerabilities are found, the numbers per month vary but typically there are around 20 per month from Microsoft, from January 2020 these will not be released from Microsoft for Windows 7.

Options?

  1. Carry on as you are using Windows 7 and accept the risks.
  2. Upgrade your Windows 7 to Windows 10 subject to the computer hardware meeting Windows 10 requirements.
  3. Purchase a new computer which comes with Windows 10.

 

Essentially if you are a Windows 7 user Microsoft have effectively backed you into a corner, it is a major risk to continue using Windows 7 and the longer it is used after January 2020 the larger the risk becomes. The best advice, to be safe, is to move to Windows 10 however this will come at a cost.

Remember the WannaCry Ransomware attack on the NHS last year? This is estimated to have cost the NHS £92m and affected most XP machines within the NHS that were powered on at the time, the hack happened due to a vulnerability within the OS as no updates for XP had been released for 4 years. Something similar is a very serious threat to Windows 7 after January 2020.

Cloud53 would be happy to discuss the options with any company concerned about their OS strategy ready for the next decade.

*figures from netmarketshare April 2019

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Windows Sandbox – Coming Soon!

A new feature coming to Windows 10, for Pro and Enterprise users and it is called Windows Sandbox. Windows Sandbox is software that allows you to create a temporary isolated environment which can then be used to run a potentially suspicious app or just for testing.

Sandbox will come as part of Windows Pro/Enterprise and will be shown as a feature ready to be installed

This implementation makes it easily accessible and less work than creating a Hyper-V session for a quick test.

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The set up for Sandbox is very simple, once opened it’s effectively a clean and new installation of Windows, no need for a complicated set up as with other virtual environments. It has the host’s diagnostic data settings and all other privacy settings are set to the default values, totally secure and away from your network. Each time a new session is closed all settings revert to default so every session is new and fresh.

This is a very convenient security measure to have in place. You will be able to witness first-hand what an application does when run, therefore if it is harmful you can remove it from your PC without ever opening it and exposing it to your files/network as the sandbox is ring-fenced.

The reason it does not affect your PC is because it uses hardware based virtualisation for the kernel isolation. That is done by relying on Microsoft’s hypervisor (Hyper-V) to have Sandbox separate from the host.

It is in the early stages but requires Windows 10 build 18305. Obviously as this is still in beta there could be compatibility issues and performance issues.

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Cloud53 Sponsor Swinton Swimming Club

Swinton Swimming Club, who this year have a team of swimmers ranging from the ages of 8 years old to senior swimmers, have been participating in a 2- day gala which is held at Cappenberg in Lünen, Germany, which is Swinton’s twin-town, for almost every two years since the year 2000 to try and bring home the trophies.

In previous visits to this gala the club have won many medals for individual and team events and their trophies are displayed proudly in their trophy cabinet at their home in the Pendlebury Leisure Centre

SCC is a self-funded club via quiz nights and raffles, and although it does not receive any grants, this year we at Cloud53 have sponsored the club and supplied the team with their stylish polo shirts.

Cloud53 wish the Swinton Swimming Club the best of luck when they fly out on the 4th of July and hope they can bring home more trophies to add to their collection!
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