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Mar
11th

Malware alert – Message from “RNP0026735991E2″

Take note of this latest variation on malware.

A user received an email with the title – Message from “RNP0026735991E2″

The email had an Excel spreadsheet attached; the spreadsheet had a filename that is designed to look like a date. When viewed in the Outlook preview pane, it can be seen that the tabs are in Cyrillic script. Also, the file is in the old Excel spreadsheet format, with a file extension of .xls, rather than the newer .xlsx format. The file contains Macros (this cannot be seen in the Outlook preview pane though).

This appears a lot more convincing than a zipped file claiming to be an invoice, but we have little doubt that when opened this, it will infect your machine with malware. To re-iterate previous advice, if you receive an email that contains an attachment that you are not expecting, do not open the attachment and delete the email. If you receive an file claiming to be a Word document or Excel file, use the Outlook message attachment viewer to preview the file if you must view it, but best advice is to delete the email.

Mar
10th

Time to spring clean your IT systems

Spring laptop

Well it certainly seems like it’s been a long time coming, but we actually felt the warmth of the sun in Macclesfield this weekend. The crocuses are up and i’m pretty sure I heard birdsong the other day. It can all only mean one thing… spring is on its way. (Finally!)

So what better time to brush away the dust, and give your IT systems a good spring clean.

Here’s our quick checklist to help you out….

Out with the old
Decide which pieces of hardware are past their sell by date and need replacing. Any old desktops and laptops that are getting progressively worse in functionality should be upgraded or changed – it will cost you more money in the long run through downtime and slow production to hold onto old machines than it will to replace them with new kit.

The status of your software
Do you know who is using what software and how many licenses you have? Are you over or under-licensed? Is your software legal? It could cost you a lot of money in the long run if it isn’t. Check which software is on which machines, who uses it and how frequently to ensure you’re only paying for what you need and that everything is properly licensed and above board. And remember, if you move to a cloud solution all of this is handled for you by your provider, taking away the stress of compliance.

E-mail overload
Does your email system have a storage limit? If so, clear out email inboxes and delete anything that is being kept unnecessarily. If emails containing large attachments are being stored for future reference, save the documents to your server and delete the email. Be ruthless and keep only what you need. Use archiving! Enforce this with your employees too and make sure that only business critical emails are being kept. If you move to Office 365, Exchange Online gives you a 50 GB inbox allowance and far more flexibility.

Get rid of clutter
Delete any old programmes, files or documents that are being stored needlessly or are out of date. Using up disk space unnecessarily will slow down your network, and reduce productivity. Screen savers, wallpapers and other junk downloaded from the internet can also take up valuable space, so get rid. Again – a cloud solution automatically frees up all of this space as your software is hosted on your cloud providers servers.

Check your backup
Go over your backup routine to ensure it runs regularly, and at a time that doesn’t disturb your workforce. Run a trial restore to make sure backups are running effectively and make any necessary amends to ensure a smooth and reliable system is in place. Look at whether your backup could be more effective or secure – are you backing up to an off-site location for example? Is the backup automated? Backing up to the cloud is best practice.

Be sure of security
Run through your IT security – anti virus, anti spam, firewalls etc. Is everything in order? Does the software need upgrading? Is your network still safe? Can users only access the areas of the system they are authorised to reach? If there are any glitches in your security it could lead to a major meltdown, so check that everything is intact and if necessary, purchase new or improved software to help maintain network integrity.

If you need any advice on your current network infrastructure or want some advice on moving your business to the cloud, we can help - get in touch with us here for more info.

Mar
6th

Northern Tech Awards here we come…

Web

We arrived into the office to a bit of good Friday news this morning…

Axon has been ranked as one of the Northern Tech Awards Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies for 2015.

Hurray!

Feb
16th

Windows Server 2003 support is ending on 14th July…What’s your plan?

2015

We knew it was coming, and it’s not far off now. Microsoft is ending support for Windows Server 2003 on 14th July this year. This includes all versions and subeditions. Service packs actually stopped in 2010, but in five months time support goes too.

What will this mean? Well if you’re still running Server 2003 after 14th July you’ll be vulnerable to security flaws. Future attacks won’t be patched by Microsoft which will leave holes in your system that could lead to breaches, hacks and cyber attacks.

So what’s your plan? It’s been predicted that Windows Server 2003 end of life will prove to be a huge cloud catalyst. And we won’t argue that cloud is certainly a good way to go for many businesses. Migrating to Microsoft Azure or Office 365 will bring concrete benefits including better performance, business mobility, enterprise class security, increased productivity and agility. If that’s the path for your business, you’ll need to act now to plan your migration strategy and protect your IT infrastructure.

Have a look here for more information on Microsoft Office 365, and speak to us for help migrating your business to the cloud.

 

Feb
10th

Guide To Choosing A Server – Free Download

We’ve put our years of experience and heads full of geeky knowledge to good use, and have put together a comprehensive guide to choosing a server.

The 3 part eGuide on choosing a server looks at

• Processors and ram
• Hard drive size
• How to future proof your server

Our free downloadable eGuide covers everything you need to know about choosing the server that is right for you. No signups necessary, no hoops to jump through, just a practical free guide in handy .pdf format which you can download by clicking on the link below.

Download Free EGuide Choosing A Server

Feb
9th

How to hack your own business (or how not to)

Binary & PC Screens

Over the past few months we’ve seen a number of instances of customer DNS records being changed. This is usually as a result of the customer having a new website done. The DNS records are changed in order to move website hosts and often the servers hosting the DNS records are changed at the same time. Unfortunately, we often see changes made to DNS records that affect the ability of domains to receive emails.

To change a website host, the only records that need to be changed are the A records. Making any changes to MS, TXT, SRV or SPF records, especially if Office 365 is the mail server, will result in extensive problems when people try to send emails to your domain.

If you need to make changes to your DNS please talk to us, or your own IT support provider, prior to taking any action. We deal with these records on a regular basis and we can advise which changes need to be made and, more importantly, what records  NOT to change.

Don’t be the victim of your own DNS disruption.

Axon can help!

If you need assistance, then please give us a call on 01625 837800 or contact us here.

 

Feb
2nd

Axon Raises Funds for Macclesfield Neonatal Unit

The pennies have been counted, and the grand total of our fundraising for 2014 was £875.07.

All the money raised has gone directly to our charity of the year for 2014 – Macclesfield Neonatal Unit and the money will be used towards a high flow oxygen unit.

Lynn McGill, Chairman of East Cheshire NHS Trust said, “We have been honoured to have the incredible support of Axon, who named us their charity of the year 2014. The team’s enthusiasm for ECHO has seen them raise an incredible total which will go towards a high flow oxygen unit on the neonatal ward at Macclesfield District General Hospital. This equipment will provide more effective and comfortable breathing support for babies who need it. Thank you Axon – it has been a pleasure to work with you.  We wish you great success with your future fundraising.”

Huge thanks to everyone that supported and sponsored us.

Jan
29th

What will winter cost your business?

Car in Snow - resize

A good few inches of snow in Macclesfield today. Schools are closing, roads are covered, and several of our team are having to stay at home today. Of course, that doesn’t matter to us. Thanks to cloud computing, our staff can be productive from anywhere. But without cloud computing, we’d be losing some serious man hours right now.

Loss of productivity as a result of snow days costs businesses in the UK millions every year. How does it affect your business? If you lose 50% of your staff to snow for the day, how much money do you lose?

Of course it depends on your line of business. If you’ve got factory or shop floor staff, then of course they can’t really be utilised at home. But your office-based staff can continue to work as normal. And with VoIP telephony, your business comms can continue to work effectively as well.

So what is cloud computing?

If you’re not too sure exactly what cloud is, you can find out more info on our cloud services page. But in a nutshell, you move all of your business data away from your on-site servers and into “the cloud” – so onto your cloud provider’s servers – and you access it via an internet connection. It gives flexibility, it saves money, and it helps form part of your business continuity and disaster recovery plan – meaning that if your offices become rendered out of action, for whatever reason, fire, flood, theft, or you can’t physically get to your office, then your business continues to run as normal.

Working from home on a bad snow day, is a great way of maintaining productivity when the weather turns bad and stops staff being able to get into the office.

Staff can boot up their devices at home – home PC, laptop, iPad etc, and access their files, emails and calendars  in exactly the same was as they would in the office. And Microsoft Office 365 helps to make your tech even slicker. It brings you all the benefits of your usual Office software, together with data storage and internal intranet sites through OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online, access anywhere emails and calendars through Exchange Online and intuitive communication capabilities through Lync Online. Lync takes your comms that step further with online meetings, live video conferencing and instant messaging helping teams to collaborate efficiently no matter where in the world they’re based.

Which brings us nicely onto business comms. If staff are snowed in, cloud computing makes sure you’re all in contact, working effectively, keeping the business running…but what happens to your phone lines? What happens to your customers ringing into the business while your staff are all at home? Well this is where VoIP can save the day.

But what’s VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and it’s the technology of placing telephone calls over an internet line. And the key benefit in this type of scenario, is the flexibility. Mirroring the way that cloud works,  when your telephone system uses broadband instead of traditional analogue lines, it will work from anywhere with an internet connection.

You use either an IP enabled telephone handset, or a headset combined with a piece of software known as a softphone installed onto your computer and that’s it. Well, and the internet. So if you’ve had to stay at home, you just boot up your laptop, connect to the internet, plug in your headset or IP phone and you’re away. All calls made to your regular business telephone number will arrive on your laptop, and you can transfer calls or call internally using your usual individual extension numbers.

Of course, there may be flaws to my plan. I’m assuming your staff all have the internet at home. And a company laptop or home computer. But let’s face it, most of us do these days. If your teams can remain productive when they’re unable to battle through the elements you will reap the benefits on your bottom line. It can also help keep morale high, letting your team stay in touch, keep on top of their workloads and even the peace of mind that they’re not having to make dangerous journeys into the office when it’s not necessary.

Get In Touch With Us

You can find loads of information about cloud computing services and VoIP solutions on our website here, and if you’d like a chat about how cloud could work for your business, pop in and see us – unless it’s snowing. In which case, you might want to catch us on VoIP 01625 837800.

Jan
27th

Update to F-Secure causing machines to lose the TC/IP stack


We’ve discovered that there may be an update to F-Secure that is causing machines to lose the TC/IP stack. To re-bind this to the machine you will need to get the user to run the following…

 netsh int ip reset /c:resetlog.txt

At this point it will ask you to reboot. DO NOT REBOOT! Run the following, in this order…

netsh

int ip

winsock

reset

Then reboot.

Jan
22nd

Holographic computing is here – say hello to HoloLens

HoloLens

Much excitement at Axon Towers today, with the launch of Microsoft’s HoloLens. What is it? It’s the future, that’s what. (Well, we’re hoping so). A holographic headset, it creates hologram illusions in your field of vision, but unlike previous virtual reality devices, you can interact with objects. To give it its technical term – immersive augmented reality.

Sounds intriguing? It is.

It could transform the world as we know it. But will it? Will holographic virtual reality ever become our reality?

Take a quick look at this video and let us know what you think. Mindblowing stuff…

 

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