Secure your IT in 2017: Part 2

In our first blog post of 2017, we provided you with a set of practical steps which you can take to ensure that the IT security within your business is fit for purpose.

The first five steps looked at:

  1. How you can review the risks to your business
  2. Make sure you have the Cyber Essentials
  3. Protect your data
  4. Use the cloud
  5. Futureproof your data.

In this post, we will look at how you can take time to protect the IT security of your business through your employees and documentation.

For further information on the points within this blog post, take a look at the Information Commissioner’s Office’s Practical Guide to Security.

6. Staff Training

How much do your staff really know about IT security? If your employees are working with technology, it is your responsibility to ensure they understand the risks. We all know someone who has clicked a link in an email which claims to be from HMRC, PayPal or another big business. While often nothing more than a case of human error, links and attachments may contain malware that may seriously damage your IT systems.

Train your staff to recognise threats such as phishing emails and malware and keep up to date with the latest security updates from organisations which are relevant to your business.

7. Be observant

Cyber attacks are getting more sophisticated and convincing so it is essential that you and your team are observant at all times as many people discover they have been victim of an attack when it is too late. By checking security software messages and running regular vulnerability scans and penetration tests, you will be able to pick up and fix any vulnerabilities before they become serious security risks.

8. Know how to address the risks

In part one of our IT Security blog, we told you how to review the risks to your business. Putting good quality policies in place will make sure that you know how to address these risks. Make sure you document all policies and controls you have in place and highlight any areas which may need improvement.

Every business should have an acceptable-use policy and training materials for staff so that they know and understand the responsibilities they have for data protection and security. If you need any guidance in creating an acceptable-use policy, we can help

9. Minimise your data

The Data Protection Act states that all personal data should be accurate, up-to-date and kept for no longer than is necessary. Conduct regular reviews of your data and delete anything which you no longer need; this may require the use of specialist software in order to make sure the data is deleted securely.

10. Holding providers to account

The previous nine steps have all been actions which you can do as a business to ensure your IT is secure but it is important that your IT contractor is doing what they should be too.

As we place an increasing reliance on technology, it is vital that business owners value and protect their IT, especially as the consequences of insecure systems and information can be very costly.

For more information about IT security, read the Information Commissioner’s Office’s Practical Guide to Security or talk to one of our security experts to find out how Perfect Image can help you improve and maintain the IT security of your business.

5 minutes with… Bob McKay

Account Manager, Bob McKay joined the Perfect Image team last year having spent seven years as the head of his own IT company in the Caribbean, working with clients ranging from Richard Branson to a small surf shack! As a valued member of the Account Management team, Bob has strengthened our account management offering, providing suggestions which help our customers achieve real business benefits.

We sat down for a quick chat with Bob to find out a little bit more about him and his life in IT…

So Bob, how did you get into the IT industry?
That’s a difficult one to answer!  I’ve always tinkered with computers for as long as I can remember, but in terms of commercially, it’s probably when I started building and selling computers in my first year of University.

What is your favourite thing about working at Perfect Image?
The people and the company culture and values.

What do you love about your colleagues?
They understand the critical importance of good banter!

How do you think your colleagues would describe you?
New Bob (there is already an Old Bob and my manager has a dog called Bob).

What do you think sets Perfect Image apart from other IT solutions providers?
Perfect Image is different to other providers in two key ways for me:
1) Scope and depth of knowledge: not only do we have expertise across a vast breadth of IT solutions, we also have genuine experts in those areas too.
2) Because of this knowledge, often across competing solutions, we never prioritise a particular vendor and so we are able to discuss the customer’s requirements and then select the best fit for them.

What are your favourite and least favourite technology products, and why?
My favourite piece of tech at the moment is the Raspberry Pi – it’s a far cry from the corporate world but it’s prompting my kids to learn to code (what it’s designed for).  My least favourite technology products are Apple products because I think it’s the embodiment of brand consumerism.

What piece of tech could you not live without?
My phone.

What do you think technology will look like in ten years time?
I think as technology becomes more AI driven, we’ll need to interact physically less with it.  I think there will be more fully voice controlled systems, less reliance on displays, LCDs and input devices, and our systems will learn what information we value most – tech will be heard but not seen!  ☺

What technology-related blogs, podcasts, twitter accounts or websites do you follow?
Too numerous to recount!

What do you get up to when you’re not at work?
Playing with my kids and making my house smarter – right now I’m working on integrating my Amazon Echo with my security system.

Thanks to Bob for answering our questions, we hope you enjoyed getting to know him a little better!

We’re dedicated to providing excellent customer service to each of our clients which is why last year, we set up a dedicated Account Management team providing our customers with a single point of contact. The team covers all services and ensures consistent, high quality provision across IT infrastructure and business applications.

Secure your IT in 2017: Part 1

Well here we are, 2017 and for some of us, the New Year’s resolutions which we eagerly made and endeavoured to keep have already fallen by the wayside! But one resolution you definitely shouldn’t ignore this year is your IT Security.

We understand that keeping IT systems safe can be a complex task, requiring time, resource and specialist knowledge, which is why we wanted to go through ten steps to secure your IT in 2017.

In this first part of our blog, we will guide you through the first five steps which concentrate on practical actions you can take to secure your IT systems. For further information check out the Information Commissioner’s Office’s Practical Guide to Security.

1. Review the risks to your business

There’s a whole host of security software and hardware out there which can help increase the security of your IT but, if the solutions you buy into do not meet the requirements of your business, they could be doing more harm than good.

Review the data that your business holds and assess the potential risks to that data considering all processes involved in the collection, storage, use and disposal of personal data. Once you have a clear idea of the potential risks, choose the security measures that are suitable for your business requirements.

2. Make sure you have the Cyber Essentials

The Government has developed the Cyber Essentials Scheme which highlights five key controls for keeping data safe. These are as follows:

  • Boundary firewalls and internet gateways – a well-configured firewall is the first line of defence against an attack

  • Secure configuration – remove unused or outdated software to reduce the number of potential vulnerabilities

  • Access Control – restrict access to the users and sources you trust

  • Malware protection – use suitable anti-virus or anti-malware products and ensure your network is scanned regularly

  • Patch management and software updates – ensure that computer equipment and software are always well maintained

3. Protect your data…everywhere

At the office, store your servers in a separate room with added protection and ensure information is backed up on a regular basis.

Away from the office, ensure that devices used by those who work while on the move have the same level of security as those used in the office itself. Finally, connecting untrusted devices to your network or using untrusted networks while out and about can put you at risk.

4. Use the cloud

Cloud computing has come a long way over the past few years with top providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure doing their bit to ensure that your cloud-stored data is safe but that doesn’t mean you can just sit back and relax. Make sure you know where your data is being stored and consider two-factor authentication when gaining access to your data.

5. Backup to future-proof your data

If your business premises was to suffer a major disaster, such as a floor or fire, you’d likely want to get up and running as soon as possible afterwards.

Take the time to make sure that your data is backed up – don’t just assume that someone else within your company is taking care of it.

You can set up an automated backup which will save a copy of your data on a regular basis (without you having to think about it). If something should go wrong, simply restore from the latest backup. It’s also worth noting that loss of data is a breach of the Data Protection Act and could potentially incur a hefty fine.

The above points consider some practical steps you can take to ensure IT security within your business. In the second part of this blog, we’ll look at how you can protect your IT security through people and documentation.

If you can’t wait for the next post, read the Information Commissioner’s Office’s Practical Guide to Security or talk to one of our security experts to find out how Perfect Image can help you improve and maintain the IT security of your business.

Merry Christmas from Perfect Image

With Christmas just a few days away and the end of 2016 fast approaching, we thought we would take the opportunity to take stock of another great year.

It’s been a very busy 12 months here at Perfect Image and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our customers and suppliers for helping to make it such an exciting year.

This year, we’ve seen turnover reach £7.5 million, a 30% increase on the previous year. And as if that wasn’t cause enough for a celebration, we’ve also surpassed the targets set for this financial year by 8% – with our initial target for 2015/16 being £6.9 million.

We celebrated 25 years of Perfect Image with a day at the races. Our anniversary event, which was attended by more than 150 of our stakeholders, team members and customers included presentations from Microsoft and PwC and focussed on emerging technologies and cyber security.

We reached an important staffing milestone this year, growing to more than 100 employees and we were thrilled to find that 99 percent of our staff are proud to work for Perfect Image!

Finally, and most importantly, we would like to take this opportunity to extend a sincere thank you to all of our customers from the past year, and we hope you have very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

With the exception of bank holidays, the Perfect Image service desk will be open throughout the festive period, so, if you need support over the Christmas break, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

Introducing our new Account Management Team

While account management and excellent customer service have always been important parts of our offering, we have never before had a team solely dedicated to building the relationships with our existing customers. Until now…

Headed up by Glyn Elrington, our new Account Management team is in charge of looking after our growing portfolio of clients, building relationships and ensuring our customers fully understand all that we can offer. Providing our customers with a single point of contact, the team will cover all services and ensure uniform, high-quality provision across IT infrastructure and business applications.

Perfect Image Account Management Team

Our new Account Management team. From left to right – Bob, Leah, Susan, Rowan, Glyn

Introducing Glyn Elrington, Head of Account Management…

Glyn has spent her career developing an excellent approach to customer service. Glyn joined the Perfect Image team in June due to her successful development of client relationships through customer service programmes within international companies including Sage, Vision and Inspired.

Commenting on her appointment, Glyn said: “Joining Perfect Image has been both exciting and challenging at the same time, building a new team and creating a whole new way of working as well as forging deeper more meaningful client relationships makes for a busy time.   It is my aim to strengthen Perfect Image’s position as a company that isn’t just really good at what it does, but builds trust so that when a client needs any type of IT service, the first name they think of is Perfect Image.”

Introducing Rowan Blair, Account Manager…

Having spent the last two years as an account manager here at Perfect Image, Rowan has built up some excellent relationships with our customers. Rowan works with a portfolio of 35 clients, helping them understand all of our service offerings.

Talking about the inception of the new account management team, Rowan said: “I have always enjoyed working closely with our clients but, since the introduction of the account management team, we have been able to build more meaningful and supportive relationships with them. It has been great to have the support of the new team around me.”

Introducing Susan Peters, Account Manager…

Susan joined the Perfect Image team almost three months ago and has already built up a great relationship with one of our largest clients. While other members of the account management team look after a portfolio of clients, Susan works exclusively with a national home building business to ensure that their IT requirements are met and catered for. Having worked for Hewlett Packard in both the UK and the Middle East and EDS, Susan has a vast experience of working with large companies.

Introducing Leah Wilson, Account Manager…

In a previous life, Leah was the MD of a north east based model agency, dealing with big name stars including Cheryl Cole! Having recently graduated from Northumbria University with a First in MA Leadership and Management, Leah is perfectly suited to the account management role. Leah works alongside Susan to support her as well as working with a portfolio of 20 clients.

Introducing Bob McKay, Account Manager…

Bob is our most recent recruit. While all members of the account management team have an interesting work history, we’re rather jealous of Bob’s career to date having spent seven years as the head of his own IT company in the Caribbean working with clients ranging from Richard Branson to a small surf shack!

By providing a stronger account management offering, we are better positioned to identify opportunities for our clients and can, therefore, make further recommendations to help our customers achieve real business benefits, assisting with business transformation through the intelligent use of IT.

Celebrating excellent staff survey results

Here at Perfect Image, we firmly believe that our staff are our greatest asset which is why we’re  thrilled to announce that our annual staff satisfaction survey has found that 99 percent of our staff are proud to work for Perfect Image.

More than eight out of ten of our employees stated that they have great job satisfaction, were very satisfied with the progression opportunities available to them, and felt that their contribution to the company was valued.

CEO Andrew Robson said: “Without the right people in our business, none of what we do for clients would be possible. I’m a firm believer that in order to really make a difference to our clients’ businesses, we need to start with our own – and that begins with our people.

“We’ve worked hard to create a vibrant, engaging culture within our business and this is clearly being felt by our staff as the results of our staff satisfaction results show how happy our staff are. We’ve grown our staff base to over 100 employees which is a huge milestone for us in this, our 25th anniversary year.”

As a trusted provider of choice for many businesses in the North East and across the rest of the UK, it is important that we hire and retain the best staff so that we can continue to offer a top quality service to our customers.

Our excellent staff satisfaction results follow substantial growth across all areas of the business. Last year turnover reached £7.5 million after growth of over 30 percent.

Kay Lees, HR Manager at Perfect Image, said: “Because we work collaboratively,  there is a real sense of community here at Perfect Image. Working in technology is exciting and offers huge potential for personal development, a rewarding challenge and the chance to be at the forefront of emerging technologies – it’s such a great time to work in the industry.

“Our staff turnover is very low and our employees continue to enjoy excellent job satisfaction – as our survey results clearly show.”

In addition to competitive rates of pay and opportunities for personal development, we also offer flexible working, a bonus scheme, a modern office environment, positive atmosphere, cycle to work scheme and childcare vouchers.

To find out more about our latest vacancies, visit: http://www.perfect-image.co.uk/careers.aspx

Getting the most from Cloud Computing

We hear a lot about cloud computing technologies these days with an increasing number of businesses offering cloud services. Despite the growing number of cloud offerings, some companies still have reservations about using cloud computing in their businesses.

What some business owners don’t realise is that chances are, they’re using cloud computing in their personal lives. Whenever you update your Facebook status, check your bank balance, pay for your online shopping with PayPal or curl up to watch a new series on Netflix, you’re accessing the cloud, so what exactly is cloud computing and what should you be looking for when considering using this technology as part of your IT infrastructure?

A true cloud solution should be able to flex up and down to meet your requirements – all the way from nothing through to very significant amounts of computing and storage. Not only this, it should be able to be scaled quickly, easily, and in many cases, automatically.

One of the great things about cloud technology from a business point of view is that it is pay-as- you-go, so at the end of each month you only pay for what you have used – no more, no less. This makes it an efficient service for modern businesses.

When considering which cloud service is best for your business, its important to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do I really just pay for what I need?

  2. Can I flex it quickly and easily?

  3. Is this offering the best possible value?

In reality, there are only a small handful of global suppliers that can provide a true cloud solution for

your business and, we’re proud to work with two of the largest suppliers in the world for this service – Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

If you’d like to find out more about true cloud computing, watch this short video blog, call our cloud computing experts on 0191 201 2111 or email truecloud@perfect-image.co.uk

On your bike! Perfect Image team members are set to cycle from Vietnam to Cambodia…

As a company with 100 employees, you can imagine that members of our team are often participating in fundraising events but, in 2017 two members of the Perfect Image team are quite literally going the extra mile to raise money for charity.

Next February, HR Manager Kay Lees and Accountant Gail McCamley will be embarking on an epic 450km bike ride, from Vietnam to Cambodia, to raise money for Women Vs Cancer.

The pair will join a group of around 100 fellow female riders from all walks of life as they cycle from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City to Angkor Wat in Cambodia in just six days. Along the course of the ride, Kay and Gail will cycle through some truly breathtaking scenery, visit some beautiful ancient temples and experience a fascinating culture.

Over the past few months, Kay and Gail have organised office bake sales, a pop-up sweet shop and football scratch cards, as well as packing bags at local supermarkets and collections at Whitley Bay and Blyth Football clubs to meet their £6,400 fundraising target.

Kay said: “Training for the bike ride is starting to step up despite the recent decline in weather! We recently went to Scotland with local bike club Wat Bikes and spent two days riding through the rather hilly landscape. We also have a staff cycling club going on with a number of team members bringing in their bikes and riding together on evenings after work.”

The money raised through the Women Vs Cancer will be shared equally between three very worthy charities; Breast Cancer Care, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.

Gail said: “Raising money to help find a cure for cancer is a cause close to both of our hearts. We were encouraged to take part in the challenge after a mutual friend who has herself battled cancer, signed up and, while I’m a little worried about the distance, I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Kay added: “We would like to thank Perfect Image for their generous donation, their excellent support and giving us the flexibility to fundraise and train. I’m starting to get excited and can’t wait for it to be here.”

We’ll be giving the ladies a Go Pro camera to record their ride and keep us up to date with their progress while they cycle across Vietnam to Cambodia.

If you would like to show your support for Kay and Gail, you can visit their Just Giving Pages and read their own personal reasons for taking part in the charity bike ride.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Kay-Winfield

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gailmccamley00

What is a true managed service?

As our reliance on IT grows, it is easy to neglect the resources that support our ever increasingly complex technological environment but what happens in your business when something goes wrong with your IT?

In many small businesses, IT resources are scarce and can quickly be overwhelmed with the day-to-day responsibilities of keeping the IT infrastructure up and running. If you fall behind when it comes to performing backups, checking security and updating software, an outage can spell disaster for your business.

A managed services approach to your IT solutions is much better for your business than a traditional break-fix support contract. The phrase ‘managed services’ means a lot of different things to different people even within the industry. We believe that a true managed service is something that goes well beyond simple support and the break-fix mentality that many other suppliers adopt.

To us, a true managed service is about taking end-to-end management and control of a customer’s IT service, including the underlying network all the way through to the applications, making sure that these elements are delivered reliably, securely and that all users are well supported.

In addition, it’s about proactive improvements; providing planning and advice to make a customer’s IT service better over time. It’s not just about keeping your systems running, it’s about making them better, ensuring the solutions are aligned to your business needs so that they get even more from their IT.

The true managed services approach is engrained in everything that we do. From account management, where we aim to understand our customer’s business, to the technical skills our team of experts use to deliver the right IT solutions for our clients. We do this by working with our customers, ensuring each client understands how and why the recommended solution is fit for their business.

Even our monitoring tools are designed to not just look at whether elements of a customer’s hardware are broken, but they monitor the availability and reliability of the applications that sit on a network.

We know there isn’t a one size fits all approach. Crucially, we tailor each of our managed services solutions so that our IT solutions meet your individual needs in a way that provides the very best possible value.

We understand that most of our customers don’t want the traditional break-fix service; instead, they want a reliable managed service. Our advice to anyone reviewing their IT solutions is to ask for a managed service – you’ll not only find a better value IT service, but it will also benefit your business for the long term.

For more information about managed services, visit: http://blog.perfect-image.co.uk/what-is-managed-services/

Celebrating 25 years of success at Perfect Image

1991 was the year Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web, the year the first website went online and the year that PC World opened its first store. It was also the year Perfect Image CEO, Andrew Robson set up Perfect Image.

Having previously graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MA in Computer Science, Andrew originally set up and ran the business from his bedroom, achieving a turnover of around £100,000 in the first year. The first Perfect Image employees joined a year later and the company has gone from strength-to-strength ever since.

Our focus has always been on using the best technology to benefit our clients’ businesses, not for the sake of technology. What we expect from IT has come a long way in the last 25 years – as a company, we’re about six months younger than the web – so the game has changed tremendously and it’s vital that we continue to help businesses stay up-to-date and embrace new ways of working.

It’s a very exciting time here at Perfect Image and we’re delighted to be celebrating our 25th anniversary with our stakeholders, loyal customers and staff. It’s a wonderful milestone, especially following on from the announcement that our turnover reached £7.5 million last year after growth of over 30 percent – an increase which we’re working to build on again this year.

Our 25th anniversary celebrations kicked off with our recent race day event at Newcastle Racecourse. The event, which was attended by more than 150 of our stakeholders, team members and customers and included presentations from Microsoft and PwC, focusing on emerging technologies and cyber security.

We’re on a mission to use technology to get the very best for our clients and are dedicated to offering excellent service. As part of this, we believe in recruiting, training and retaining the best people to do this, so we’ve worked really hard to provide our staff with a great working environment.

The success of Perfect Image is because of our people, their substantial knowledge, dedication and skill, and it’s a pleasure to work with such a wonderful team. We’re incredibly proud of our staff and the outstanding results they deliver for our customers – they always go the extra mile, and beyond!

Race Day

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