JSPC Computer Services

Call us now (01903) 767 122

Remote Support Schools Info

Monthly Archives: May 2017

Planning a technology makeover for your school this summer?

The summer holidays can be the ideal time to implement an upgrade of the IT equipment in your school because you can make sure everything is installed and thoroughly tested without any interruptions for students and teachers. Before you book in a technology makeover for your school, it’s worth considering what your issues and requirements are. Understanding these two key areas will ensure that you deliver improvements where they are needed without unnecessary spending of the IT budget.

Pinpoint the issues

It’s worth examining what exactly is behind any issues that you may be facing. When teachers and pupils complain that machines are slow, it’s worth taking a deeper look before simply purchasing new computers. For example, is it that the machine is slow or is it the internet connection? Are the computers cluttered with files or unnecessary software? An IT provider isn’t just there to sell you shiny new kit, a specialist can audit your current hardware and infrastructure and advise on changes which could have a big impact on your IT performance.

Understand your requirements

We pride ourselves on building positive relationships with our client schools because the more we understand about the requirements, the more we can help. If you take the time to understand what is needed – better availability at peak times, updated software or applications, remote connections for teachers, legally compliant data storage or disaster recovery are just a few examples – then you can choose from a range of options for each requirement.

For example, you might need faster internet. If your internet connection is throttled at peak times, you might be able to redistribute some functions such as routine backups or other administrative functions to occur outside those times and ease the burden. However, if you simply have a slow connection regardless of the workload, it probably is time to look for a new provider. Understanding just what is needed can guide your decisions so that you’re managing your IT budget effectively.

Make smart choices

Once you’ve highlighted the pain points within your IT infrastructure and understood the gap between your requirements and your current provision, it makes it much easier to develop a clear plan for the upgrade process. We always work with our clients to ensure that we’re helping them to deliver against any objectives and directives they may need to follow and can provide input into a related IT strategy. We understand that it’s not just about the equipment you may need to buy, but how to make the most of the equipment you already have, provide the best possible technology to support the education process – and of course, have it all upgraded and ready to go before you welcome students back from the summer holiday.

 

Don’t be held to ransom by your IT security

It is rare that IT news hits the headlines, but you can’t have missed the news about the Ransomware attacks that happened across the globe at the end of last week. The attack, which exploited a flaw in Microsoft software, led to cyber-attacks on 200,000 computers across the globe. Victims of the attack included 48 NHS Trusts in England as well as Germany’s rail network Deutcsche Bahn and the global FedEx network. The spread was limited in part by 22-year-old Marcus Hutchins, a researcher who ended up being an accidental hero as his tracking the spread of the virus helped to prevent it. There are concerns that systems remain vulnerable, however, and it’s important to keep this type of security at the top of your mind when managing your IT.

What is ransomware?

Ransonware is the name for a specific attack which prevents access to files and demands a payment – essentially a ransom – for their return. Often the demands start small and if they are ignored, increase over time or threaten the destruction or sharing of valuable or sensitive files.

How can you prevent attacks?

The extent of the spread of this attack demonstrates that you can’t entirely prevent attacks. A determined hacker will at some point find a loophole in security and exploit it. However, there are measures you can take to limit the likelihood of an attack and the impact if it does occur. Firstly, this might be a good time to have an audit of your current security precautions. This includes not only looking at whether your firewalls and virus trackers are up to date and effective, but also looking at practices which may be making your network vulnerable. This includes considering how data is stored and shared across your organisation. In many cases, staff training is as important as the technology.

Incorporate cyber-attacks into your disaster recovery strategy

This latest threat may have been stopped for the most part, but in time, it is likely that another threat will arise from so-called “black hat” hackers. This is why it’s important that alongside protective measures to prevent an attack, you also prepare for the worst. A disaster recovery plan should include details of how to prevent the spread across the network, backup storage and data encryption. We track the trends in cyber security to help our clients protect themselves. Not all of them hit the headlines as this high profile ransomware attack has done because often they can be stopped before they do too much damage. If you want to make sure you don’t hit the headlines as a victim of ransomware or other malware, give us a call and we can audit your current set up and advise how you can protect yourself.

 

 

Content filtering needs an intelligent approach to match up to the evolving world online

A report by the House of Lords published earlier this year called Growing up with the Internet called on the industry to do more in the field of content filtering to protect children online. Although it is clear that there needs to be action, some IT leaders feel that a blanket approach may be heavy-handed. The report does highlight that the responsibility does not lie with the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) alone but is shared by a group of stakeholders, including the Government, schools, parents, children and the voluntary sector.

Although we agree that protecting children online requires a broad approach and includes education and input from a number of stakeholders, schools can’t wait around for all the disparate groups to agree on a new standard. This is a priority for any school looking to provide online access because they have a duty of care to the children. That’s why we offer a range of safeguarding tools which includes intelligent content filtering to schools so that they can open up the best parts of the internet to pupils using it as a learning tool and protect them from the worst aspects of the world-wide web.

One thing that is clear from the current debate is that one size will not fit all, and for this reason we provide flexible solutions that allow, for example, different levels of access for staff and pupils. It is also worth remembering that it’s not just children that may need protection, and similar requirements may apply in a business, where some departments may have their internet access more strictly filtered than others. For example, you may not want your team to have access to social networks during work hours, but some teams like customer services or marketing may need access to perform their roles.

The internet continues to grow and change in nature and that’s why the best approach isn’t to apply strict rules. Our content filtering uses an intelligent system that continues to evolve and adapt with your requirements. For example, a school may eliminate most issues and then new sites or subjects may pose a threat. We can alert staff so that they are aware of what’s happening on the network and can take appropriate action.

Content filtering isn’t something you can implement once and forget about. It requires an intelligent solution which is constantly evolving to respond to new threats as they arise. Even if ISPs are held to stricter standards in the future, it’s important to bear in mind that there will always be something new around the corner and a specialist system can be more finely-tuned to detect and neutralise any problematic content.