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  • Secure configuration – remove unused or outdated software to reduce the number of potential vulnerabilities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

Record-breaking year at Perfect Image: we want you to be part of our future success

Here at Perfect Image, we’re delighted to tell you that we’re celebrating a record-breaking year after announcing our audited annual results.

From our home on the Cobalt Business Park in North Tyneside, we’ve seen turnover for our latest financial year 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.

Last year we had a really strong performance and good growth too. When we set the targets for this year, we felt they were ambitious, yet achievable with hard work and dedication, so we’re thrilled with our performance and to have exceeded our goals – it’s all down to a buoyant IT market and, of course, a great team too.

There is no doubt there is continued confidence growing in the IT market and as cloud computing becomes the ‘new normal’, we’re certainly seeing a tipping point in the sector. Our strategy of aligning ourselves to cloud computing back in the early days and providing a managed service around clients’ applications in a true cloud environment is paying dividends now. As new and existing clients want to harness the business benefits cloud computing can offer them, we are often their provider of choice, due to our track record and the close working relationships we enjoy with our two key cloud partners – Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.

Here at Perfect Image, we work collaboratively with our clients to foster business transformation through the intelligent use of IT. We design and support cloud, traditional and hybrid IT systems, providing an end-to-end service across business applications, infrastructure, networks and data analytics. So much so, while Perfect Image as a whole has surpassed the set annual turnover target, each individual department within the business has also out-performed their annual goals – we couldn’t be happier!

A huge contributing factor to the fantastic results of the past year is due to winning a number of new customers across the North East including Fairstone Group, Auckland Castle and Arcinova, helping to establish Perfect Image as a major IT player in the region. What’s more, we’re also gaining traction across the rest of the UK with a number of big wins with household names such as Halfords, Zurich Insurance and BGL – owners of ComparetheMarket.com.
And the good news doesn’t stop there; due to our exceptional company growth, we’re now recruiting across the business into a number of roles. If you want to work in a fast-paced, challenging but hugely rewarding environment with state-of-the-art technology by global providers of IT solutions, then we want to hear from you.

After all, the success of Perfect Image is down to our people. Without their skill, knowledge and expertise, we could never service our clients the way we do and, ultimately, it’s this that makes businesses want to work with us – we’re committed to our clients and work hard to design and deliver technology solutions that produce real business benefits for them that can help transform their organisation.

This time last year we had approximately 75 people working at Perfect Image. Now, when we fill our latest roles, our head count will grow to 99 people. It’s really a very exciting time with even more ambitious targets set for next year. We’re looking to achieve a further 20% growth in our turnover for 2016/17 and to do this we need the right people on-board. So if you’re up for the challenge, why not check out the roles available with us?

Avoid hefty fines as new data protection guidelines come in to force

With enhanced data protection rights set to come into force in 2018, Perfect Image and its compliance partner, Evolve North, will be reviewing the implications of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and suggesting ways your organisation can remain compliant.

On 20 July Perfect Image will host a free-to-attend practical workshop, which will help you prepare your organisation for the upcoming changes in Data Protection. While the changes laid out by the GDPR do not come into force until 2018, it is essential for all organisations to put plans in place as soon as possible, to allow time for your organisation to ensure it is fully compliant, while avoiding hefty fines when the changes come in to force. Any organisation which fails to comply with the GDPR will be subject to either fines of around £60,000 or a percentage of their turnover for each breach.

While many of the main concepts and principles within the current Data Protection Act will remain valid under the GDPR, there are some significant changes, as well as several new elements, which organisations must prepare for. Under the new rulings, businesses will have to appoint a Data Protection Officer, undergo mandatory Privacy Impact Assessments and all software, systems and processes must be compliant with data protection.

At Perfect Image, we’re committed to best practise and wanted to share our knowledge on a subject which, if not handled correctly, could have a huge impact on your organisation. Despite having two years to ensure compliance measures are put in place, we want to help you make the transition as simple as possible.

Mark Dennis, managing director and information governance lead, at Evolve North will be talking about GDPR’s implications for organisations and individuals, as well as reviewing the Information Commissioners’ 12 Steps for compliance. Mick Keeble/Michael Steen, JOB TITLE, at Perfect Image will also discuss how organisations can plug the gaps in their data and security, to ensure that they remain compliant when the new guidelines come into force.

As all organisations must comply with the new GDPR, our workshop is open to any organisation which processes data, and will give attendees an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday 20 July at 9.30am at Perfect Image, Equinox House, 3.2 Silver Fox Way, Cobalt

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