telanova Blog

telanova: the outsourced IT team that feels like your own

Providing advice, consultancy, helpdesk, monitoring and maintenance, updates, upgrades, security: all the things your in-house team would do, but better and at a fraction of the cost and hassle.

Your IT is only as secure as your weakest link

Your IT is only as secure as your weakest link. But what are the links? And how do you strengthen them?

Accounts

  • Each person should have a unique strong password for each account, application and website
  • Enable two factor authentication for every account that supports it
  • Use a password manager. LastPass Enterprise will “score” each person so you can see who is not following best practices

Devices

  • Ensure all devices are protected at all times by a firewall, next-gen antivirus, web filtering and email filtering
  • Ensure security patches are installed as soon as possible. Not just Windows updates, but your applications too e.g. Chrome, Adobe Reader etc
  • Don’t take it on trust that everything is doing its job, actively monitor each device

Data

  • Regularly backup all business critical data off-site, and retain for an appropriate length of time. Make sure your colleagues aren’t storing data anywhere that isn't backed up. Test your backups actually work by carrying out a full disaster recovery test.
  • Protect your data from physical theft. Encrypt devices at risk of being lost or stolen such as PCs in public areas, laptops, mobiles etc
  • Limit the damage that can be done from a single compromise by making sure each person only has access to the data they need to do their job.

Policies

  • Document your IT policies - Acceptable use, BYOD, Security etc
  • Make sure they are simple and easy to follow e.g. don’t just say “Use a strong password”, spell it out “10+ characters, 1 upper, lower, digit, symbol, isn’t easy to guess”
  • Enforce them by technical means where possible e.g. setting minimum password length and complexity.

Procedures

  • Document your IT procedures and ensure they are not vulnerable to social engineering
  • Instil a culture of insisting procedures are followed, and always insist they are followed yourself

People

  • Train your staff how to spot threats, what they should do if they think they might have been compromised, and who they should report incidents to
  • Carry out simulated phishing attacks and provide additional training to anyone that falls for them

Working from home?

Every single point applies just as equally to home workers and their home working setup, even if working from a personal device. If you make exceptions for home working then that becomes your weakest link!

Do you have any weak links you would like to improve? Or is your current IT provider letting you down? Engage telanova as your IT team!

The Machine Learns

Some things seem like Science Fiction. Then you realise they’re here now. Machine Learning’s like that.

You’re using it today! When you mark an email as Spam, The Machine learns, improving its automatic detection rate for you and everyone else. Through learning by example, The Machine mimics the way the human brain works. The Machine uses a Neural Net, similar to the arrangement of the brain cells in humans, but built in software or fast Silicon hardware, not biological cells.

For more advanced examples, see “AlphaGo - The Movie”. It isn’t a science fiction movie like “ex Machina”; it’s a documentary about the application of Machine Learning to vocations for which humans spend years in intensive training and rely on “human intuition”. Tasks which have previously been thought beyond the bounds of computers’ capability. Making machines not just as good as an average human, but better than the best expert in the field. After trouncing world champions in the game of Go, the AlphaGo team is setting its sights on medical diagnosis that’s better than the best experts’. A few years ago I’d have thought that impossible in my lifetime, but now a certainty. AlphaGo - the Movie is a real eye-opener and free to view on Youtube

So what does that mean for your business? Let’s consider the Threats before the Opportunities. Someone, somewhere is thinking of using Machine Learning to do what your business does, better and at a fraction of the price. For Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, Netflix, Tesla and thousands of venture capital backed start-ups, it’s in their business DNA. Driving cars: yes, you see that on TV. Cutting hair - yes, why ever not. They’ll do what you do, better and at a lower price, sooner than you think.

The Opportunity with the biggest prize is to become the leader in applying Machine Learning to your field, potentially dominating the market. If that’s what you want to do, you’ll need to capture a lot of relevant but tiny pieces of information about the running of your business, feed it into The Machine, and turn it into something world beating with the help of some very clever and creative technical specialists. Like Google did with Spam detection and AlphaGo. If you’ve got the ambition, the vision, the nouse and the stamina then people will want to pump more money into your venture than you’ll know what to do with.

You could work in partnership with a specialist company or form a joint venture with other businesses in your field. Make a good case why they need you rather than another company in your field. It doesn’t have to be an academic research project. You can build applications using pre-trained generic building blocks; from Amazon AWS for example:

  • Comprehend is for finding insights and relationships in text,
  • Rekognition is for image and video analysis: identify objects, people, text, scenes, and activities in images and videos, as well as detect any inappropriate content,
  • Lex is for building conversational interfaces using voice and text,
  • Personalize is for building real-time personalized recommendations for your customers,
  • Translate is a neural machine translation service for fast, high-quality, and affordable language translation
  • Polly's Neural Text-to-Speech (NTTS) turns text into natural sounding human speech allowing you to create applications that talk, and build entirely new categories of speech-enabled products

More simply, you can use off-the-shelf products in your business that incorporate Machine Learning. Starting from a basic capability the products learn what works for your business from your feedback. Actively watch out for new game changing technology that gives your business an edge over your competition. For example:

  • automating processing of paper and e-paper: receipts, invoices, recruitment etc,
  • image recognition: faces, vehicles, objects,
  • customer service: chatbots, voice response, or
  • cybersecurity

That’s why you need a forward looking company like telanova. We work with you to select the IT that’s right for your business from the best of current IT, whether that’s using machine learning, other innovations or other traditional approaches. We integrate new IT into your existing systems, train your colleagues in new ways of working and maintain your edge over the competition.

IT supply chain attacks

IT supply chain attacks are becoming increasingly common, hackers will attack a smaller, less secure supplier of their target. If successful, the hackers will leverage their access at the small supplier to breach their target.

Think of it like a classic heist movie. The robbers don’t break directly into the bank - they break into the coffee shop next door and then tunnel through the basement.

Larger organisations are demanding their smaller suppliers comply with security policies and prove that they are safe to do business with.

We will help you:

  • Audit your security and suggest sensible changes and policies to make sure your business is secure
  • Prove that you are secure, by gaining accreditations such as Cyber Essentials.
  • We will guide you through any security requirements your customers may require from you
  • Help you implement policies to make sure your suppliers are secure - making sure they are not the weakest link either.

Tales from our helpdesk - I’ve lost weeks of work

We had a call from one of our customers in a panic. The PowerPoint file they’d been working on was missing all the changes from the past two weeks.

We said, don’t panic!

We set up our customers in a way that ensures their data is kept safe. We can restore any file to any version over the last few weeks. In this case their files were stored in OneDrive (see our blog about this here) and we were able to restore the latest good version. From utter despair to total relief in the space of a 5 minute call.

For peace of mind, engage telanova as your IT team

Tales from our helpdesk: Turning the mountain back into a molehill

Recently a customer called up our helpdesk in a panic. “Everything’s down!”

We quickly established that the power was on in the building, and all the devices showed the appropriate green lights, so it seemed that everything ought to be working, except that it wasn’t. They didn’t have a connection to the internet, and in today’s environment that is everything.

After asking the right questions our helpdesk discovered that some contractors had been onsite, and they had unplugged some cables to get access to a wall. The customer thought the contractors had plugged them back in correctly.

We had our doubts and dispatched an engineer, who quickly spotted a missing cable, connected everything properly and got them back up and running.

That’s what we do. Fix things promptly and effectively, not making a big deal out of a crisis.

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