COVID-19 – Tech support talk #1

We at ITAC Technology trust you are all safe and well. There is a lot of unknowns in this time…we want to try to provide you with some “knowns” instead. ITAC will be sending out emails like this containing news, advice and ideas relevant to your business in the context of technology and the new world we are living in. The intention for these emails is to be informative and efficient, not to be extra clutter in your inbox. If they are not delivering value for you, please let us know or hit “Unsubscribe” at the bottom.

Read time: less than 5 minutes

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Invest in Assets Now

Sounds strange, but now could be a good time to invest in new assets. The Government has increased the Instant Asset Write Off eligibility criteria and amounts until 30th June 2020. Ask us for more info, speak to your accountant and refer to this link (https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Fact_Sheet-Delivering_support_for_business_investment.pdf).

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Coronavirus Latest Stats

Want the stats without the misinformation? The rules keep changing, news that was relevant one hour ago is proven inaccurate an hour later. There’s a few places to go but one I have found to be quite reliable is Worldometers. I’ve got this tab open in my browser all day and check in occasionally to see the state of play without any of the noise. Visit https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ for world stats, or drill down by country https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/australia/. It is heartening to review these and watch the Recovered stat increase or the daily new cases be less than the day before 🙂

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Malware/Phishing Scams Are On The Increase

We’re seeing a huge increase in phishing scams whilst people are vulnerable with their guard down. Stay ever vigilant for dodgy emails and dodgy SMS. There’s myriad of scams out there right now including fake GOV SMS and fake emails from supposedly reputable departments or stores claiming to stock hard to find items like hand sanitiser or face masks. These scams are the same as always, don’t get caught out this time. Some good, basic advice that is relevant at all times, not just during COVID-19 is to avoid clicking emails or SMS that:

  • Are not addressed to you by name, have poor grammar or omit personal details that a legitimate sender would include. Most Coronavirus-themed emails that have been intercepted didn’t address the recipient directly?
  • Use language or grammar that you know that sender would not normally use
  • Are from businesses you’re not expecting to hear from
  • Ask you to download any files
  • Take you to a landing page or website that does not have the legitimate URL of the company the email is purporting to be sent from
  • Have a strange Sender email address, even if the Sender name looks correct

(Source: Mailguard, find our more here – https://www.mailguard.com.au/hubfs/2020%20Assets/COVID-19/MailGuard_eBook_5-types-of-email-scams-exploiting-COVID-19.pdf)

If ever in doubt with any email or SMS, ask us. We’re trained in spotting the fakes and can help you spot them too!

More resources and info on this new wave of scams in a future email.

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Remote Access, The New Norm

With remote access being the new norm, demand on remote access tools is at an all time high. We’ll be working with our Partner Support Tier clients to provide at least two forms of remote access to office workstations and ensuring secure access to core business data in the cloud or via remote access to local storage.  We will be making access to our Remote Monitoring and Management Platform available to all Partner Support Tier clients in the coming week to act as an alternative to Teamviewer.

There’s a number of alternative remote access solutions out there so if any business requires assistance with remote access to office workstations or remote access to core business data, do get in contact.

UPDATE: A number of vendors are also beginning to offer free access to their collaboration tools (eg Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc) as part of the Australian Business Continuity initiative. We’ll have more on this in an upcoming email, however, if you need collaboration for your team right now, let us know ASAP!

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Hacking On The Rise, Now Is The Time For Two Factor (Step) Authentication

With the shift to work from home comes a whole new range of security vulnerabilities and weak points that hackers are already beginning to target. When you leave your central work premises and open up the core business data and applications for access from anywhere, you also open it up to be accessed by anyone. All it takes is one weak link (a single user with a poor password, for example), to compromise the entire system.

Now is the time to increase password strength and enforce two factor (step) authentication for all user logins to all core business platforms. I understand this extra login step may seem tiresome, but it can mean the difference between business continuity or complete compromise.

I am strongly advising all businesses schedule some time in the coming week to review current passwords and login security measures and enforce any changes as required. This could mean for all platforms and users:

  • Setting stronger password policies and password changes every 1-3 months
  • Enforcing the setup and use of two factor (step) authentication
  • Updating or installing a unified Security/Anti Virus solution on all user devices that will be used to access core business data and applications

We realise in this time too, that users may be using alternative devices or their own personal computers to continue to work. This is fine, however, these devices need to be up to scratch and meet a certain level of security to ensure their access to the business does not compromise the business as a whole.

itac.technology have ensured this for our Partner Support Tier clients already, however, we will be in contact in the coming weeks to implement further measures ensuring we have made our best attempt to prevent hacking attempts. For our clients not on the Partner Support Tier, we are very happy to assist you in this process too with a security audit and assisted implementation of the above changes. Please contact us to arrange a time to discuss.

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Take Your Business Phone System Out Of The Office

An issue we are seeing is difficulty deciding how to handle phone calls whilst the office is closed and everyone is dispersed. Do you divert it to one mobile phone and make that person take every call? What about voicemails? What if there is more than one call at once? If someone needs to make an outgoing call, how do I make it look like it comes form the main business number, not my personal mobile?

One way to tackle this is with a Cloud Hosted Phone System. Whilst it serves many purposes, in the context of COVID-19 a system like this:

  1. Can be setup in less than a day
  2. Will temporarily divert the main business number into the system, leaving your original phone system intact and ready for use when the office reopens
  3. Uses a “Softphone” app installed on each team members mobile phone to accept and make calls using the business number over a wifi or 4G Internet connection
  4. Can allow for call transfers, hold music, customised voicemails etc all configured and accessible over the Internet so all team members can handle the workload
  5. Also uses physical handsets so you can have an office phone plugged in at home should you wish

Is a great substitute for the old-skool office phone system with the mysterious black control box on the wall and expensive call out fees for a specialist to make even the tiniest change

If you want to know more about this particular phone system or if you want to discuss how to best setup your existing phone system whilst the office is closed, give us a call.

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Got Stock? Need To Sell Online?

Fortunately, we’re in an age that is not shy to shop online. The myriad platforms and tools available to make this possible is astounding. So, no matter what you’re selling, there’ll be something out there for you! Visual social media, like Instagram, is gonna be key to pick up customer and drive traffic. But where are you driving them to?

  • Restaurants, bars, hospitality – Use one of the existing delivery apps or devise your own method. How about a point of difference and make it personal again by offering phone orders only in place of an app with no human contact? Or make it novel and unique in some way by adding some extra flair when you deliver
  • Clothing, homewares, physical products – Start building your Squarespace, Shopify site now. We can help have the framework up and running for you in less than 2 days, we can add a design element to that and if need be we can even help with the loading of inventory. However, in the meantime, why not start listing some items on existing platforms like Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/au/) or even Gumtree (gumtree.com.au) then driving traffic via Instagram posts?
  • Services, health, gyms etc – Online courses and one on one Zoom sessions are where it’s at. Start loading that knowledge into something people can access from anywhere and give those stuck at home something positive to invest their time and energy into!

There are just a few ideas. Plenty more where they came from! Want some help or want to brainstorm some options for your business, please call for a chat 🙂

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Til next time, please stay safe, healthy, spreading only good vibes and love through this strange time xxx