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Cyber-attack – why having no backup and continuity plan could be terminal for your business

Your small business is now the preferred target of the cyber-criminal UK businesses still have a lot to do regarding effective backup and continuity planning in the event of a cyber-attack. Despite the clear rise in documented cyber-crimes against UK Businesses, a worrying number remain ignorant to the severity of the risk. Many incorrectly conclude that it will never happen, choosing to believe that their size or niche would not be of any interest to the cyber-criminal. However, failure to take the appropriate steps to adequately protect yourself could result in costing you more than just money. What are the most common forms of cyber-attack? Your enterprise can be targeted in a number of ways; the most common being: hacking/spoofing phishing/spear phishing malware DoSA ransomware. Any network, large or small can be open to attack. But if it is not continually monitored, patched or updated, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to developing exploitable weaknesses. Consequently, you could face your data being encrypted, damaged, lost or stolen, which could have disastrous implications, particularly if sensitive personal information is involved. Prioritise acting now, and protect yourself from cyber-attack EU regulations implemented in 2018 govern the protection of personal data. Not taking cyber-security seriously could mean non-compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This, in turn, could result in a fine for your business, which could be as much as 4% of your turnover. Obviously, this could be catastrophic for any business, which is why being proactive about cyber-security and planning for a cyber-attack is a must. The action you can take now includes: updating your passwords installing the latest versions of antivirus/malware software regularly updating software/patching training your staff to make them aware enlisting the help of a professional to effectively identify vulnerabilities, detect and stop attacks and planning for continuity in the event of the worst happening. ASL can help you protect your business from attack Data that has been researched and published by our partner, Symantec, identifies how small businesses are being targeted with spear phishing. More than 52.4% of all reported attacks, where an apparently trusted email is used to elicit personal information from the recipient, were against SMEs. The statistics clearly demonstrate that hackers are very aware that a smaller business is less likely to defend itself as vigorously as larger ones, and will take advantage wherever possible. However, by combining our expertise in cyber-security with that of Symantec, we can help you: plan for disaster and assist with continuity services advise on how Cloud technologies can help with security recommend tailored cyber security solutions in line with your specific needs and budget The main issue is lack of awareness of the threat as well as the consequences of doing nothing to mitigate it. As experts in systems monitoring and cyber-security, we can help you identify how your business is most likely to be targeted and where the weakest points are in your network that could be easily exploited. Ignoring the problem, and failing to take any action could prove terminal for your business. To discuss how best to protect your business from the increasing threat of cyber-attack, call us on 0345 862 0350 or email

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Virtualizing your SCO or Linux based environments with VMware

Why virtualize? Virtualisation is a practical way to fully utilise your server’s potential; increasing the security of your data, sharing workloads and reducing your overall IT costs. It’s a way of capitalising on a server’s potential without investing in additional hardware. Virtualisation allows you to reduce the amount of physical IT hardware your business needs to operate and grow, which in turn reduces the time and cost involved in deployment of new servers, maintenance and upgrades. How does virtualisation work? The process of virtualizing your Linux environment and other servers is achieved using VMware. VMware is a hypervisor installed on the physical server as the ‘host’ operating system. VMware controls the hardware and allows for multiple ‘guest’ operating systems to run at the same time. One great advantage of virtualisation with VMware, is that it fully supports SCO OpenServer definitive, SUSE, Redhat and other Linux OS’s. It also allows legacy software to be fully virtualized and deployed on new hardware. What can you expect from VMware virtualisation software? Flexibility – hardware can be added on demand and growth in the system accommodated without any downtime. Efficiency – save deployment time, server room space and money on utility bills by utilising a server’s full capacity. Security – increased security of new servers as well as the option to move into a datacentre (which improves your data security). Recovery – compatible with Quest Rapid Recovery to backup and quickly recover your data in the event of an outage, attack or other disaster. Economy – reduced amounts of hardware means reduced expense on hardware and software replacements and updates as well as systems management and maintenance. Customer Case Study – ASL virtualize the server environment and SCO OpenServer for Music Exchange Our client, Music Exchange, came to us with their virtualisation needs. Problem: Music Exchange had a Microsoft and SCO environment with multiple servers that they wanted to upgrade and make more resilient. ASL’s solution: We recommended a highly available VMware platform solution from Dell. This hardware system, along with Quest Rapid Recovery, allows for a fault tolerant on-premise server environment with on-site recoverability, where data can be restored to any point in time. It replicates the critical data to our secure off-site datacentre, thus protecting the data in case of disaster. Benefits: In the event of hardware failure, the server environment will immediately bring up the failed ‘guest’ servers on the remaining hardware, therefore minimising the downtime to minutes rather than days. In the event of a complete disaster, all replicated data can be used to recreate the server environment in our secure datacentre and allows the customer to have remote access to this completely hosted system within a few hours. Not only does this save money on actual physical server hardware, but the business operates more efficiently and securely than before. To find out about the benefits of virtualisation, contact ASL on 0345 862 0350. 

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ASL industry leading IT support services across Manchester, Cheshire and the UK

Wide-ranging IT support available on your doorstep. As a Manchester based IT service support provider, we are perfectly positioned to deliver industry-leading, managed IT support services to businesses around the UK. We have years of experience helping small, medium and large corporations with their IT issues, and offer an extensive range of services that deliver flexibility and value, that can be easily scaled up or down according to your business needs. 6 reasons to choose ASL Fully trained locally based IT experts – we offer first-line IT support services to businesses based anywhere in the UK by phone and email. Wide-ranging IT experience – we deliver industry-leading IT support. We are specialists in Microsoft Technologies, Microsoft Dynamics, Cloud and High Availability Systems. We offer advanced support covering a wide range of hardware and software products – including SAN’s, printers, firewalls, PCs, and SQL servers. We can help you, whatever your requirements and deliver affordable IT support so that you don’t have to pay to hire, train and manage your own IT department. Easy access to disaster recovery – outsourcing your backup and disaster recovery to us ensures your business quickly gets back up and running after a disaster, whether that’s a malicious ransomware attack, human error, power outage or weather-related disruption. With our help, you can remain operational. Onsite Surveys – we provide onsite surveys to give you the opportunity to discuss your business IT support requirements. Cost control – recruiting and training your own in-house IT support team, and keeping them up to speed with every development, can be very expensive.  We constantly update our skill set, provide training and keep up to date with developments in the marketplace, so you don’t have to. Stay competitive – because your resources are not being stretched by maintaining your own IT department, you can direct your finances and expertise towards developing your business. To discuss your IT support needs, call us at ASL on 0345 862 0350. 

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On-premises backup and recovery considerations.

Taking the right approach with on-premises disaster recovery. The age of the Cloud has well and truly arrived, however, a large number of SMEs are still continuing to choose the on-premises backup and disaster recovery option. At ASL, we know the success of any backup and recovery solution lies in the planning.  In choosing an on-premise solution, it’s extremely important to take into consideration a number of points before finalising your plan. What are the considerations for an on-premises solution? The first major consideration is whether to invest in building and maintaining your own system, which would include the appointment of IT staff with the appropriate expertise in the configuration and operation of the system. Suitably qualified personnel could be a) expensive and b) a challenge to find so you may want to consider the option of outsourcing instead. The second consideration is to determine the amount of data you need to backup and whether the purpose of this backup is file recovery only, if corruption has occurred, or data recovery, in the event of a disaster. Other considerations include: backup and recovery specifications – size and speed of storage environment RTO – recovery time objective or the maximum amount of downtime tolerable RPO – recovery point objective or how far back files are to be recovered application requirements – to accommodate real-time transactional data or static files internal or external implementation of the recovery – will consultants be needed to assist? data replication to off-site centre or cloud data amount kept on physical systems vs. virtual machines VM storage support backup server deduplication facility – to reduce storage and increase recovery speed backup to tape, disk or hot site – affects RTO Keeping your data from being exposed to third parties Keeping your data under your own control. Addressing these considerations will assist you in determining the nature of the data storage environment required. Why outsource your backup and disaster recovery to ASL ASL has more than two decades of experience in designing and implementing backup and disaster recovery solutions. We know how important it is that your IT systems, business applications and data are recovered as rapidly as possible to reduce the impact a disaster can have on your operation. Our experts have the specialist knowledge required to keep your IT systems up and running in the event of a disaster. For further information about on-premises backup and recovery solutions, contact ASL on 0345 862 0350.

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ASL implements a backup and recovery solution for Boutinot Wines

Ensuring business continuity during head-office relocation. An effective and up-to-date backup and recovery solution is vital to ensuring business continuity.  Failing to restore data can have far-reaching consequences, which is why we at ASL design and implement backup and recovery solutions that minimise service disruption and quickly get you back to work. We have 20 years of experience and have helped many UK businesses plan for disaster, which proved to be crucial during Boutinot’s office move. Customer– Boutinot wines Established in 1980, Boutinot is one of the leading UK-based distributors of quality wines from around the world. Distributing more than 1400 wine varieties, totalling 44 million bottles each year to UK and International retailers, restaurateurs and wholesalers.  Boutinot’s requirement is for an IT infrastructure that is as robust as its supply chain. Having worked with Boutinot since 2015, ASL were engaged to help manage the IT systems relocation; when the company moved to a new head office in Cheadle Point, Manchester. The ASL approach A major hardware upgrade and virtualisation project was planned to coincide with the move. By upgrading at the same time as relocating, we could resolve any issues that arose using the new platform, which would minimise disruption. Our approach was to ensure the Boutinot back-up and disaster recovery environment was 100% up to date. We commenced work at 6pm on Friday evening, making sure everything was powered down and prepared for the move.  After Boutinot’s IT infrastructure was professionally moved to their new site, it was then our job to rebuild the server environment in the new location. We re-attended site at 8am on Saturday, and within a matter of hours, we had all of Boutinot’s servers back online, with one critical exception. The critical issue – during transit damage had occurred which prevented a server from booting up. The ASL solution – using our powerful Backup and DR solution, we were able to export a brand new virtual copy of the server onto Boutinot’s new hardware platform. This was completed in under 2 hours, and all system functionality was fully restored. The benefits – the new hardware platform has enabled Boutinot to embark on a series of Windows Domain upgrades, Exchange upgrades, remote desktop services upgrades and SQL server upgrades, which are all built on their highly available platform. Within 3 weeks of the office move, we had successfully migrated all Boutinot servers onto their new hardware platform. In addition, we also implemented our managed network monitoring solution, to actively inform Boutinot about all aspects of their IT infrastructure, hardware and networking.  Had our Network monitoring solution been in place, it would have identified the issue with the failed server before the move. If you would like to discuss implementing or upgrading your disaster recovery solution speak to us at ASL. Call ASL today on 0345 862 0350 and let us help your business to remain up and running.  

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Why book an onsite IT survey?

How does an onsite IT survey improve and protect your business? For all businesses, a thorough IT site survey/assessment offers a means to appraise the current health of IT systems and assess potential future vulnerabilities. It delivers an overview of how your current technology is helping or hindering your core business efficiency and productivity. It incorporates systems and network performance reviews, software audits, technical reviews and risk management. Does your company need an IT health check? Evaluating the health of your IT environment is necessary in order to work out its vulnerabilities, and mitigate future risk. The ultimate goal of an IT assessment is to identify areas where improvements can be made that will; increase efficiency, decrease cost and reduce risk. By bringing in a ASL specialist IT assessor to identify your systems strengths and weaknesses, you are enabled to develop a blueprint to improve your technology and security. We help you to work out: The effectiveness of your technology in supporting your overall business goals. The steps you need to take to improve your overall IT environment. How to plan for an unexpected disaster. We attend site to review your: network servers and end user devices software infrastructure backup, recovery and business continuity plan What can you expect from our onsite IT assessment? After an in-depth analysis we are able to assess any weaknesses, and then come up with a plan to upgrade and improve efficiency, security and availability. We can ensure you have the right technology in place to run your business at optimum efficiency. Software issues – we can evaluate your existing software and advise on vulnerabilities, software updates, licensing issues and necessary upgrades. Security issues – we can review your security measures to ensure your data and systems are protected and safe from attack. Backup and recovery issues – we can ensure your business has IT continuity.  We can devise and implement an IT disaster strategy to ensure your business can keep on running – no matter what happens to your hardware, software or vital business data resources. Network issues – we can analyse your network, leading to recommendations and the implementation of network changes to ensure your IT network is fast, resilient, free from bottlenecks and fully monitored. Hardware issues – we can identify where hardware is under specified or vulnerable to future failure or overloading. Booking an onsite IT assessment. If your business is in need of an IT assessment, contact us at ASL. Call us to discuss your requirements, and find out how we can help you discover your IT issues before they strike and lead to disaster. Call 0345 862 0350 to book an onsite IT survey.      

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