Two screens. One great decision. Surface Duo.

Two screens. One great decision. Surface Duo.

Mobile productivity, powered by two screens
Open two screens and discover a better way to get things done. View two apps at once or span one across both screens, drag and drop between screens*, and say goodbye to constant app switching.

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Why Milton Keynes is a great place for business.

Why Milton Keynes is a great place for business.

Milton Keynes is a fantastic place for businesses, but putting your finger on why is a little more than just the infrastructure and accessibility – here’s some stats on why so many businesses choose to base their operations in this fantastic Buckinghamshire town.


1. The Commute

Because of its central point between London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge, Milton Keynes is ideal for commuters who need easy access to some of the most economically important cities in the UK, whilst also being able to take advantage of comparatively lower living costs.

There is also easy access for motorways/airports such as London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and Birmingham and East Midlands airports.

The accessibility of Milton Keynes also works the other way – meaning 27 million units per annum. This may be potentially due to the Centre:MK’s 240 shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as a range of galleries, museums and the Xscape indoor ski slope.

Visitors also flock to the national bowl which boasts a concert and open-air facility with a capacity of 65,000 people. The Milton Keynes bowl has become renowned thanks to so many years of hosting some of the biggest acts around the world including Queen, Michael Jackson, Eminem, Green Day and David Bowie.


2. MK Demographics

While the most recent stats estimate there are over 248,000 people living in Milton Keynes, those figures are set to grow to more than
300,000 by 2026. This could mean that Milton Keynes becomes the highest growing city by population.

That population has statistically a higher proportion of younger people living locally compared to the rest of the UK, plus with notable local educational organisations such as Crownfield University and the Open Universitie’s headquarters based in the city, that younger population has an even greater oppportunitty to become part of the highly skilled workforce we need in the UK.


3. Attracting bigger businesses

Though it was an unusual concept at the time, Milton Keynes was desinged from scratch with business growth in mind. This ethos has brough thousands of businesses and business-friendly facilities of MK.

Distribution Centres play a large part in the MK business make up – having attracted big names from John Lewis to River Island. Add the notable headquarters of Mercedes-Benz, Network Rail and Domino’s Pizza and you can see why Milton Keynes has a reputation as a place for business and employment.


4. SMEs thrive too

While big businesses are the ones people notice, the quiet majority of small and medium-size enterprises are quietly working away (and often supporting those big businesses) with the added bonus of an innovative nature to the local business community. Is it any wonder why it’s one of the top ten places for new patents registered and a top location for startups in the UK.


5. Housing market and property

Milton Keynes core strategy has set its growth plans to deliver over 28,000 new homes and over 40,000 new jobs by 2026. This strategy has continued to support the strong house building statistics.

Invest in Milton Keynes says that means the “average house prices in Milton Keynes are lower than many of our neighbours, despite our ongoing success”

While land is available and supply is high this will help to continue to attract more people and businesses to MK long term.


If you’re thinking of moving your business to Milton Keynes, or you’re starting a new one, getting your infrastructure right from the start (just as the planners of Milton Keynes have) is essential. Talk to us for a free quote and free initial advice on the best solutions for your new office.

Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

Are employees undermining your security with weak and shared passwords?

Are employees undermining your security with weak and shared passwords?

This article talks about the security risks associated with weak passwords in your business. Studies show there is a significant percentage of employees who will use weak passwords so it’s important to talk about the impact that has on your ability to defend against cyber attacks…

Though most employees are not trying to compromise security, you should consider what you can reasonably expect from them given the proliferation of online accounts requiring passwords.  Commonly, 3-6% of employees2,3 will use weak passwords and even share them between accounts.  These kinds of insecure password practices result in leaked passwords, which are exploited in 81% of cyberattacks worldwide, and 61% of all attacks target businesses with less than 1,000 employees3.

Therefore, you can no longer rely on just a password.

To avoid becoming a victim, you need additional proof of identity beyond a simple username and password; such as is made possible with WatchGuard’s AuthPoint service.  AuthPoint delivers multi-factor authentication (MFA) safeguards on an easy-to-use Cloud platform for powerful security with low total cost of ownership.  AuthPoint enables:

  • Effective MFA Protection with Mobile Device DNA
    AuthPoint provides 3 ways to authenticate, and our mobile device DNA matches the authorized users’ phone for an additional identification factor.
  • Easy to Use AuthPoint Mobile App
    Users can authenticate right from their own phone!  No need to carry keyfobs or thumb drives; instead install and activate the AuthPoint mobile app in seconds.
  • Broad Coverage with Web SSO
    AuthPoint supports the SAML standard and our ecosystem includes dozens of 3rd party integrations – enabling you to require authentication before accessing sensitive Cloud applications, web services, VPNs and networks.
  • A Cloud-based Service
    AuthPoint runs on the WatchGuard Cloud platform and is available from wherever you are. There is no need to install software, schedule upgrades or manage patches.


Watch this short video and learn more about how AuthPoint can protect your business.

Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

Windows 10 Update – what to expect

Windows 10 Update – what to expect

If you’ve just downloaded the latest Windows 10  update, you might be wondering what you’re getting. There’s a new set of features, efficiency tweaks and, of course, new emojis. Here’s the full info…

Have you updated your computer to the latest version of Windows 10? It comes with new features such as the latest emojis, a smarter keyboard and more intelligent, faster updates.


As always, the update is free and available to download (if you haven’t go it already) and brings with it better sharing and integration with your mobile device. You can manually download the update by clicking the Windows/start button, clicking the settings cog and then typing ‘update’ into the search box. Select the ‘check for updates’ option and follow instructions from there.


Need help? Get 30 days free IT support for your business here…


This is the second major update this year and there are some important security and privacy updates as well as allowing different users to tailor what information is shared with Microsoft.



Faster, Smaller and Smarter Updates


To be more precise; 31% faster, 40% smaller and a lot smarter about when to reboot your system. The updates are important, but you can delay it slightly by changing your update settings. However, one of the new features is Microsoft’s ‘Intelligent Reboot Scheduling’.


Too many of us have stepped away from our screens for a little too long and returned to find our system rebooting itself and being forced to wait for it to finish updating before being able to get back to work.


The new version will take into account your frequently active hours, whether you’re on battery power and will even mute sounds so that if it’s updating at night it won’t make a lot of noise and wake everyone up!



Mobile Integration


Part of the update is geared toward Windows relaunching its integration with other devices. Microsoft announced last year that it was no longer going to continue development of Windows 10 Mobile as it had been unable to effectively gain traction in the mobile market. This means Windows phones will only receive bug and security updates until 2019.

So there’s now a new ‘Your Phone’ app for providing access to photos and SMS messages on your Android phone. If you have an iPhone, then you’ll be able to send web pages you’re browsing to your PC.


Clipboard in the Cloud

Cloud-powered clipboard gives you the ability to copy something from one computer and paste to another. While this might not be the most exciting feature to hit your desktop, being able to pin frequently used paragraphs or images could be much more useful.

Timeline feature

Want to be able to track the documents and web pages you’ve been working on? This updated feature helps you look back at what you’ve been working on and has now been added to ‘Task View’. With the extra mobile integrations, it’ll now also be able to track your phone activity as well. Android users go to Google Play Store and install Microsoft Launcher App. iPhone users, your release will be coming soon.


New Virtual Keyboard

SwiftKey was bought by Microsoft two years ago and they have been working on a smarter screen keyboard for Windows. This update gives you SwiftKey’s predictive texts, AI learning, better autocorrect and better next word prediction.


Search Improvements

A better search facility


New emojis

Once you’ve downloaded your latest update, view all the new emojis by clicking Windows key  + full stop [ . ]


Search improvements


A better search facility has been added with previews of documents and files, recently accessed files when you search for an app and a pick up where you left off display.



Embed 3D animations


Add an extra dimension to your documents and PowerPoint presentations with embedded 3D animations and AI-powered smart art if you have a stylus you can also add in drawings and scribbles.





Enlarge part or all of your screen with Windows key and plus sign (+)



Snip and sketch


Share images and sections of your screen with the relaunched feature taking over from screen sketch. It gives you the ability to copy and paste snipped parts of your screen to share in emails and documents.



Block AutoPlay videos


Microsoft’s browser, Edge, also sees some added features with improvements to how it handles PDFs, a new definition dictionary feature and more usefully the ability to stop web pages automatically playing videos.



The Windows 10 update is an important part of your security. If you’re not quite sure that your security is up to scratch, then get in touch with us for a free security check at Free 30 Day IT Support Trial



Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a collaborative effort between government and industry that aims to inform users about the dangers of cybercrime and how to spot untrusted sources. Here is a little more information and some top tips for avoiding the ever-growing cyber security attacks…


Did you know that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month? As a collaborative effort between government and industry, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) was created fifteen years ago, and is now observed each year to ensure everyone has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.

Most places we go, there’s a network connection for us to link up to—a gateway into the World Wide Web, its endless information, and being able to connect with each other. But how can you protect yourself when browsing online?

Here are four tips you can share with your employees and clients to ensure better security while online.


1. Only Connect to Familiar Networks

I know how tempting free Wi-Fi can be, but it can also be dangerous. Public connections at the local coffee shop are usually unsecure, and therefore leave your machine open to hackers and outsiders.

While these networks provide a convenience, there are risks to be aware of because you can never be too sure who is providing the connection. To avoid any false play, only use trusted network connections or be sure to secure the connection using appropriate VPN settings.


2. Browse and Shop with Caution

Malicious websites are out there, and it only takes one wrong turn to unknowingly download a virus and compromise your computer.

A good—and safe—place to start is by visiting websites that are familiar to you. Stick with the reputable sites that are tried and trusted, like Amazon or Netflix. Always look for that ‘padlock’ symbol or the abbreviation ‘https’ in the address bar at the top of your browser. This will ensure that you are on a secure, encrypted part of the webpage.

This is especially important when purchasing items that are in your online cart or filling out any other financial or personal information. And, it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on your bank statements for suspicious activity.


3. Trust Your Instinct: Don’t Click on Anything Suspicious

Most people have a decent scam radar—although, cyber threats are getting more sophisticated and real-looking by the day. But, when browsing online, keep in mind one thing: if an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Try to avoid clicking on any links or pages that look suspicious or spammy. If a window pops up while browsing a website, immediately close it.

The same goes for email. If you get an email from an unknown source, do not click any of the links or attachments within it. Familiarity is always your friend, and playing it safe or using your best judgment is always a good defence.


national cyber security awareness month

4. Use Secure Passwords

Always be thinking about the passwords you’re using. Passwords for logging into any website should contain a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters, and keep in mind whether or not you’re sharing these passwords or using them for multiple apps and websites. It can definitely be a pain to remember all of these passwords, but ask yourself which is more of a pain: remembering these, or recovering stolen personal information.

There are a few best practices around strong passwords, including the length being at least eight characters, and staying away from obvious information such as names and birthdays. Additionally, it’s wise to think about changing and/or updating their passwords every six months or so.

If you have a question about your company’s cybersecurity or would like more help, get in touch with Spectrum Networks today.

Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

Why Hackers Love Companies that Don’t Use Multifactor Authentication

Why Hackers Love Companies that Don’t Use Multifactor Authentication

The recent breach of the popular mobile app Timehop was caused by hackers breaching the app. It then exposed the credentials, phone numbers and social media histories of more than 21 million users. There was also a considerable length of time that the hacker’s presence went undetected.


This article about hackers, authored by David Vergara, Director of Product Marketing at OneSpan, first appeared July 24, 2018 on Payments Source.


It’s remarkable just how many significant security breaches could have been prevented if only multifactor authentication technology had been deployed.

A lack of strong authentication is the reason behind the recent breach of the popular mobile app Timehop, which lets users see social media posts from the same date in previous years. The breach exposed the credentials, phone numbers and social media histories of more than 21 million users. What’s worse is there’s a considerable length of time that the hacker’s presence went undetected, making this application’s user identities ripe for theft.

Here’s what happened. A Timehop employee’s credentials were leaked, which gave a hacker access to their system. The use of strong authentication, multifactor authentication in particular, would have required the hacker provide a second form of authentication beyond a username and password. A failure of the secondary authentication would have stopped the hacker cold.

hackers milton keynes

Making Multifactor Authentication a Business Priority

Still haven’t deployed strong security in the form of multifactor authentication? It’s high time to get started by choosing a solution that’s right for your organization and your end users. Multifactor authentication is a must along with complementary technologies like single sign-on, user directories and other systems that allow for strong authentication and protect social media, email communications and business-critical applications.

It’s easy to point the finger at a company’s IT department and say, “Why didn’t we have this stronger security?” As mentioned on Payments Source, the answer is sometimes simple — companies are confused about which technology to use, these tools were never intended to be used together, and integration can become expensive and cumbersome. Today, the right level of security requires additional technologies to keep up with the emerging threat vectors. All of this points to the urgent need for businesses to implement multifactor authentication and a risk-based approach to access management.

The IBM Security report also found that one major factor impacting the cost of a data breach in the U.S. was the reported cost of lost business, which was $4.2 million, more than the total average cost of a breach globally, and more than double the amount of “lost business costs” of any other region surveyed.

Make adding an MFA solution a priority. Your customers’ experience, brand reputation and bottom line depend on it.

Protect your infrastructure from hackers

To find out more about improving your company security and protecting your systems from hackers visit our network security page or contact us for a free IT security assessment

Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

What is a firewall?

What is a firewall?

In computing and networks, a firewall is software, hardware or firmware (which is permanent software programmed into a read-only memory.) that follows a specific set of rules to decide whether to allow information or data to enter or leave a network.

Firewalls have been a crucial defence in network security for over 25 years. They are a virtual barrier between sources that are checked and trusted, and untrusted sources that come from outside an internal network.

Firewalls can be used for a wide range of devices and systems to lower the risk of malicious data travelling to and from the device.

The term firewall is a metaphor relating to a wall or partition designed to inhibit or prevent the spread of fire. The most common ones you see are fire doors in a commercial building or school. There are two main types of computing firewall; network based and host based.

Host-based means it’s installed on individual servers and monitors signals going in and out. A network-based firewall is held in the cloud as a virtual firewall.

When you’re looking at firewalls, you’ll come across some various terms within those host and network-based firewalls; proxy, stateful inspection, unified threat management (UTM), next-generation firewall (NGFW) and Threat focussed NGFW.


Why do you need a firewall?

Firewalls are just the first line in the defence against hacks and malicious intent.

In the same way that you lock your doors and windows before leaving the house, your firewall locks out unwanted intruders and makes you much less vulnerable to hackers who want to access your data or imitate your company (also known as spoofing).

Some of the most common attacks are IP spoofing, network packet sniffers, man-in-the-middle attacks, distribution of sensitive internal information to external sources and password attacks.

Password attacks can be achieved via password guessing (like you see in the movies), brute force login (where a programme guesses at a much higher rate per second but can often crash a system due to the resources required to cope with the constant attack) and password cracking (where the attacker gains access to the file on a computer that stores your passwords).

The results of not having adequate firewall protection can be minor or devastating. Sometimes the downtime alone is the most costly part of the disruption, but other outcomes can be damage to a company’s reputation or loss of crucial information.

Talk to us about the best firewalls and security for your organisation – get your free consultation via our contact page.

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What Is Ransomware and How Do You Avoid It?

What Is Ransomware and How Do You Avoid It?

Ransomware isn’t exactly a new threat, and it continues to grow over recent years as a means for cyber criminals to extort individuals or businesses by way of locking down their devices and – you guessed it – essentially demanding a ransom for it to be unlocked. With reports of ransomware being more widespread as far back as 2015, you’d think by now it would have been dealt with more efficiently, however, according to research ransomware generated an estimated $1 billion in 2016 alone.  It also has a low cost structure (so, very profitable) and the victim directly sends the perpetrator money.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware, in a nutshell, is a form of malware that essentially locks down access to your computer data. This is usually done by way of encrypting as much personal information on your PC as it can find, or by just locking your screen entirely. The malicious software will then demand a payment from you (a ransom) before your data will be unlocked again – simply put, it is holding your computer, files and data hostage until you pay a fee. Most commonly, ransomware infects your PC when you click a link in an infected e-mail.

A survey of companies who were infected by ransomware includes cautionary facts for those who might be thinking that paying the ransom and moving on is the fastest and simplest solution.  Most of the companies who paid, paid in excess of $1,000 (per computer) in order to recover their data. But, not surprisingly, only 55% of the companies who paid actually received the decryption keys and re-gained access to their devices. The cheapest and safest ways out of a ransomware attack are: try hard to avoid the social engineering tricks (do your due diligence to avoid an infection happening) and keep backups of your important files and data. Paying the ransom simply isn’t a wise option.

How Does Ransomware Spread?

The most common method of spreading ransomware is using a tactic known as “social engineering”. Generally speaking this is a way of tricking you into infecting your own device. Most commonly this is achieved via an e-mail, but could also be a malicious ad or popup on the web or a web page itself. It usually consists of an enticement to click or download an attachment, document, picture or video. Microsoft Office files, PDFs and multimedia files can all be the carriers for the ransomware program.

How Do I Know If I’ve Been Infected?

It’s quite difficult to not notice that you’ve been infected by ransomware due to the nature of the infection itself. Usually your entire screen will be taken over by something like the below images:

It’s very common for these types of screens to claim to be part of the government or law enforcement. This is social engineering in an effort to create fear of government reprisal for failure to cooperate.

How to Not Get Infected by Ransomware

For businesses, there are many different variables in play that can make it difficult to be completely secure against ransomware attacks. We highly suggest you utilise Managed IT Services to ensure your systems are kept up to date and you have the very best malware and virus protection on your devices at all times.

For individuals and home computers, the below guidelines can be very helpful:


  • Don’t click links or open attachments in an e-mail, unless you know who sent it. Even then, consider contacting the person to see if they really did send it.
  • Be suspicious of directives to “click this patch” for Adobe, Flash and some other common tools – there is a high chance this is malware. If you want an Adobe patch, go to the adobe site and get it yourself.
  • Be alert for news that there are new methods of infection. For example, malvertising may become a popular method of infection.


Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

Windows 10 Vulnerability Allows Hijack, Even When Locked!

Windows 10 Vulnerability Allows Hijack, Even When Locked!

Is your computer and Network Security up to scratch? Regardless of whether the device has been locked, a recent vulnerability in Windows 10 has given hijackers an easy route to taking over – simply by using the digital assistant, Cortana, to execute commands. If you’re running Windows 10, you may want your IT Support personnel to tighten up the security on your systems.

Security software giant McAfee provided an in-depth analysis of the new vulnerability, which states that the “Hey, Cortana!” voice command (a default feature enabled in Windows 10) could be triggered even when the device was in a locked state, giving potential attackers a route to being able to see files, information and potentially allow arbitrary code execution.

Due to the vulnerability, it is possible to launch a Windows contextual menu by typing when Cortana starts to listen to a query on a device that is locked.

“All the results presented by Cortana come from indexed files and applications, and that for some applications the content of the file is also indexed. Now we can simply hover over any of the relevant matches. If the match is driven by filename matching, then you will be presented with the full path of the file. If the match is driven by the file content matching, then you may be presented with the content of the file itself,” McAfee explains.

Once hackers have gained access to contents and files, they can potentially continue the hijack and gain code execution rights – all from the Windows lock screen. This type of vulnerability will allow malicious individuals to run scripts (via things like PowerShell or Command Prompt) and commands without the need for parameters and without needing to have the device unlocked. It can even be possible, for example, for the hacker to remove software from the system.

You can test your system for the vulnerability simply by following the instructions as outlined by McAfee – if you can successfully follow these steps then we strongly advise you patch your system.

Trigger Cortana via “Tap and Say” or “Hey Cortana”
Ask a question (this is more reliable) such as “What time is it?”
Press the space bar, and the context menu appears
Press esc, and the menu disappears
Press the space bar again, and the contextual menu appears, but this time the search query is empty
Start typing (you cannot use backspace). If you make a mistake, press esc and start again.
When done (carefully) typing your command, click on the entry in the Command category. (This category will appear only after the input is recognized as a command.)
You can always right click and select “Run as Administrator” (but remember the user would have to log in to clear the UAC)

Luckily, Microsoft has already released a patch (as part of this month’s Patch Tuesday rollout) to address this vulnerability, but for systems that haven’t yet received this update, we strongly advise you get the latest patch or simply switch off Cortana until you have updated.

As part of our Managed IT Services, you can have peace of mind that your operating systems are always up-to-date with the very latest security patches and rollouts.

Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

It’s time for an IT Audit when…

It’s time for an IT Audit when…

It’s difficult to conduct business these days without having a degree of reliance on IT systems and practices for your day-to-day operations. Unfortunately it’s also easy to become complacent when it comes to keeping your IT systems up-to-date and operating with the utmost efficiency, if you don’t have a dedicated IT support team.

It’s a general recommendation that you give your business hardware a refresh every 3-5 years, but more often than not small businesses will continue to use their IT systems for even longer than this. In this day and age, computer systems are improving rapidly, and it’s amazing how much a new computer will do for productivity.

If there are any signs of potential vulnerabilities in your IT network security or infrastructure, indicators of inefficiency in IT asset management then it’s probably time for an IT audit.

What is an IT Audit?

In a nutshell an IT audit is “the examination and evaluation of an organization’s information technology infrastructure, policies and operations.” This usually includes a full assessment of hardware, software and the general technical environment and even IT personnel.

When is the best time for an IT Audit?

Many companies conduct IT audits as part of a regular schedule, usually in conjunction with their financial audits. However they can also be performed as a selective audit whenever they are deemed necessary. There are plenty of circumstances when an ad-hoc IT Audit is necessary:

Inadequate Security

If you’re insure of how secure your IT systems are or are suspicious of its security, an audit is one of the best ways to determine vulnerabilities and putting them right by way of updates to software and hardware. IT audit services can help determine if there are vulnerabilities to your system that could create pathways for data loss, leakage, or tampering.

Checking For Compliance

Particularly with the introduction of GDPR, maintaining compliance with laws or policies is on every businesses minds. An IT Audit can assist you in determining if your business is compliant with these policies, and if it isn’t, make recommendations of where you can improve your IT practices, security or hardware to achieve an acceptable level of compliance.


It’s important for your IT budget to remain dynamic and chance with the economic landscape of the company. It’s all too easy for unnecessary software or hardware subscriptions to go unnoticed whilst cuts are being made in other areas of the business. An IT audit can help identify where budget cuts can be made whilst maintaining efficiency and operations.

Does Your Business Need an IT Audit?

At Spectrum Networks Solutions, we’ve got you covered. We have the knowledge and experience to conduct accurate, efficient IT audits and not only advise you of where your infrastructure can improve, but how and we can even supply you with the necessary hardware or managed IT services. Let us make your IT systems as good as they can be!

Contact Us today, to know more about our IT network support services and discuss your project requirements.

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