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What Do IT Consulting Companies Do?

The difference between an IT consulting company and an IT service providing company makes a huge impact on businesses. It is usually a major decision that consumes a lot of thought, precautions and knowledge. And to add to the confusion, there is a wide variety of consulting companies that provide varying services and come with varying expertise and specializations to boot. So deciding whether or not an IT consulting firm can be beneficial to the business or will prove to be essentially useless is a major decision to make. It is a mistake that can often prove to be costly to the business. And as such, there is no doubt a lot of thought goes into making this decision. But to aid this decision-making process, and to make it a little easier to decide whether or not an IT consulting company can be useful, here is a simple guide that may be helpful. 

What Are IT Consulting Companies?

IT consulting companies often work with their clients to provide IT solutions as well as support. This support can be anything from basic network analytics assistance to managed IT solutions. But unlike IT support companies, an IT consulting firm may only specialise in a specific field of IT and provide support relating to that field. IT support or It consultancies can often specialise in cloud services, disaster management, network operations, managed IT solutions, cybersecurity and compliance. For new businesses looking to set up an IT department, an IT consultancy is the right choice. As an IT consultant will be able to make recommendations on equipment and software that will suit the needs of the business specifically. This way a  business can set up an IT department that will be able to manage all of its IT requirements. 

What Do IT Consultants Do?

IT consultants are experts in their field and are capable of understanding how a business IT is functioning and putting forward the right steps for improvement. Their expertise allows them to see the business with a technical view and spot the problem areas or the areas that could improve or change. Unlike IT support companies, IT consultancies are often hired for advice and ideas. They take out time to understand the business and how it works and how IT works with the business. This way they can figure out areas that need to be improved and know just how they can be improved too. They are also able to provide consulting services when it comes to the software that a compy will have to purchase to fulfil its requirements. The consultants will also be able to upgrade or customize the software to suit the needs of the company. Often a business may not need an IT department if it can hire IT consulting services that can provide everyday maintenance for the company. This way the cost will be lower and they will also be able to provide any IT services remotely when needed. 

Benefits Of Using An IT Consulting Company

IT consultants bring specialized knowledge into the business at a fraction of the price of hiring employees to serve an IT department. IT consultants are experts with a depth of knowledge in their field. Moreover, being a service providing company, the IT consultants will have experience of having dealt with varying situations and problems relating to the business and will therefore have a much wider knowledge in the field and a trove of knowledge too. They are also much less costly than employing IT specialists. This service needs to be paid for only when the service is used. At other times there is no need for their service nor is any cost incurred. They also deal with multiple companies with similar issues and will therefore have a way of looking at the problems that will be more beneficial to the company than that of an IT department. Their rates may be expensive, but it is not much compared to the fact that their service is not required at all times. This saves the cost of an entire department, employee hiring, training and wages. Add to this, being outside of the company they may provide a fresh set of eyes to the IT problems within a company that can bring out better and more creative solutions. 

IT For The Future

Unlike most other fields, IT grows and changes on a day to day basis. The growth is exponential and a business will not be able to keep up with it. IT will also be expensive to train and retrain its employees every few months to keep up with the changes. But hiring an IT consultancy can provide such upgraded IT knowledge to the business without incurring any extra costs. The consultants are trained in their firms as often as needed and are therefore a hassle-free solution to meet the IT needs of a business.

FREE Supply Chain Check

FREE Supply Chain Check

Supply Chain Fraud can happen in a number of ways but we see far too many where the easiest & simplest of things haven’t been done, especially with e-mail & CRM systems. Companies in the supply chain that haven’t enabled Multi Factor Authentication (and often also haven’t enabled Sender Policy Framework or DMARC, so anyone, anywhere can send email as if from them).

A fake internal email from a colleague with a link to ‘an important document’, a fake login page to the shared on-line drive that then gives away the users logon, then use that genuine account to send just one more email in an existing thread, topped & tailed like all those before. This will not be picked up by filtering services … because it is a genuine email, from a genuine mailbox of a genuine supplier and the end user has no reason to believe it isn’t a continuation of a genuine thread.

It is time for companies to test, educate and secure their supply chain as ultimately it is looking after their own interests too. Collaboration to keep all secure and in business.

You would be surprised by what we are able to deduce from a domain name or better still a header from a genuine email – use our FREE Supply Chain Check to test yours.

Microsoft Exchange Critical Vulnerability

Microsoft Exchange Critical Vulnerability

350,000 Microsoft Exchange Servers remain unpatched against a critical vulnerability fixed by Microsoft in February!

If you run an in-house Microsoft Exchange Server simply e-mail us on helpdesk@1stcs.it and from the hidden e-mail header we can tell what version and update of Exchange you are running and advise accordingly.

This is a FREE service to ensure companies are secure against compromise (this bug allows a standard user account to take complete control of the server as an administrative user and from there likely other resources/servers on the network).

Working From Home

Working From Home

We have been busy setting up our clients to enable their staff to work securely and efficiently from home (WFH).

For some that has been implementing firewall changes to prioritise WFH internet traffic over normal traffic. For others who have redundant connections it has been dedicating one purely to WFH traffic.

One design customer, who operate from a beautiful barn but with limited connectivity speeds found they could get 20mb:20mb via 4G. A 4G router has been added to their firewall and dedicated to WFH traffic. As it is only WFH traffic going over 4G the data costs are capped within their SIM contract – “Thanks guys, it’s now just like being in the office!”

If you are struggling to get your staff working securely & efficiently from home with IT or Telephony drop our support team an email. We can then arrange a FREE chat with one of our skilled engineers who will help & advise. helpdesk@1stcs.it

VPN and Working From Home

VPN and Working From Home

If you use VPN (Virtual Private Network) to access your business IT, is it patched, secure and most importantly using Multi Factor Authentication (MFA/2FA)?

In the race to give staff access to corporate systems from home we are hearing of VPN clients being hastily installed on untrusted home computers.

If these machines are compromised by malware the VPN profile can be extracted and the username & password logged – without MFA they can be re-used giving ultra easy access to a hacker.

There are other ways of securely giving ‘air gapped’ access from home computers, but be careful there are many rogue services & software out there just waiting for you to effectively breach your own network!

We would leave VPN connectivity for corporate owned & trusted devices (and still secure with MFA!) and set very tight firewall rules around what servers & services can be connected to over VPN. This also goes for those who expose Remote Desktop Services (aka Terminal Services) directly to the internet, not behind a secure gateway and likely again without MFA – Don’t Do It!

IT Super Heroes

IT Super Heroes

Last week I was put on the spot by a friend of a friend and asked ‘So what’s your company’s USP then Steve?’

I failed at the first hurdle with ‘Err, i guess we’re much the same as many others really’. ‘You’re not very good at this Steve’ came the reply, with a chuckle and a grin, ‘Try Again’.

My 2nd attempt was a little better – ‘Well, err, we care! We genuinely care and want our customers to have the most resilient, secure, scalable infrastructure and staff that are cyber risk aware’.

The next day on the short walk to school I asked my 8 year old Son what our USP is and without hesitation, he nailed it, first time – ‘That’s easy – You’re IT Super Heroes!’ So there you have it 1stCS #ITSuperHeroes

Windows 7 End-Of-Life

Windows 7 End-Of-Life

Windows 7, End of Life January 14th 2020 – Act Now!

If you haven’t yet replaced or upgraded your machines to Windows 10, especially if you are a business, it is essential that you do so now!

The team at 1stCS are here to help. If you need any help or advice please do get in touch on 01329 630018 or helpdesk@1stcs.it

After January 14th 2020, no security updates will be released for the Windows 7 platform, making it increasingly vulnerable over time (many vulnerabilities fixed in Windows 8 & 10 are likely to also exist in Windows 7. Reverse engineering of a fix exposes the flaw and it is then actively targeted, especially on machines that will never receive a fix!).

If you rely on the built in Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) in Windows 7 as your anti-virus, it has now been announced that that will continue to receive signature updates (but no updates to the software itself). Microsoft originally intended to stop signature updates on January 14th too but have wisely decided to continue providing them as not doing so would have left many even more highly exposed.

The following Microsoft document explains more – https://lnkd.in/dJ5EfvV