Security

Blog, Cetus Solutions, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Who Would Prefer Digital Workspaces, Cats or Dogs?


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When it comes to blog post topics, I usually ask our Business Development Director, Paul Kiveal for topics to squirrel away and write about. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the fabulous ‘Hybrid Cloud Orchestration’ and ‘Is The Password Dead?’ posts weren’t my ideas. This week though, I caught him at the worst time, while he was in a strange mood (or sick of my constant craving for topics), and he gave me the worst title; ‘Who Would Prefer Digital Workspaces, Cats or Dogs?’. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be a challenge. I’ve already asked a handful of people with zero IT knowledge for advice and they all gave me different answers, so I’m on my own with this one.

Originally, I thought cats would prefer digital workspaces. And it’s not because I’m a cat person (sorry). I just have no problem imagining a hipster Maine Coon- we’ll call him Salem- with his fur tied up, sitting in a café sipping huge bowls of the blackest coffee (or milk?), working away on his laptop. Why would he want to spend the day in the office, getting swiped by all the other cats for no reason whatsoever? God only knows, he wouldn’t be able to concentrate with all that purring. And every two minutes there’d be a flurry and a yelp as one of them forgot where they were and attacked their mouse. So, because Salem’s a very busy hipster cat, off he’d pop, with his laptop and catnip in his satchel to the closest Costa. A bit of quiet to get one step ahead. And let’s not forget the toasted tuna baguette for lunch.

Dogs however, they’re the ones who would love digital workspaces. Can you imagine telling a golden lab about how their work life would change? Let’s set the scene; some fancy, all white laboratory, not unlike the setting for James Bond’s Q. You stand in a white, unbuttoned lab coat, clipboard in hand, while Scooby sits at your feet, tail wagging.
“Access your applications and data no matter where you are in the world.” “Oh yeah, yeah, I like it, that sounds good!”
You lower your head to look at him over the rim of your glasses. “Seamless user experience; easily transition between your laptop, iPad, and mobile.” “Yeah, yeah?!”
“Optimise your productivity by meeting your business objectives while you work from home, in the office or on the go.” “Oh boy, that’s just amazing, isn’t that amazing?”
At this point he’d lose control and wipe the desk behind him of electronics with his over-enthusiastic tail. That’s another reason why dogs would prefer digital workspaces; can you imagine how many devices they’d break? A moment of excitement and their iPad would be history. And if you tossed them their mobile from across the room it would be crushed between their teeth. But with a seamless user experience, all of their data and applications would be in the cloud, so it would be a simple sign-on to whatever other device you’d have on-hand and they’d be on their merry way.

But, going a bit deeper into all this theoretical stuff, if you had an IT department full of cats, they’d love digital workspaces too. You’d have to move them from their cosy spot on top of the warm servers first though. All you need to create your own kitty IT department is a closet of Mac laptops, those small ones that fit in handbags. Cats don’t take up much space, they have tiny paws perfect for tiny laptops, and they get distracted by Windows. With increased agility, even the laziest tabby could easily deliver and manage a connected workspace to any canine user, regardless of what device they’ve just been given to replace their broken one, over any network. And they’d make the higher ups very happy with the reduced costs in managing complexity of the infrastructure. And since we can all imagine Salem being the Data Protection Officer in an organisation, complete with shirt and teeny, tiny tie, he’d love the secure corporate data feature. With so many files and applications flying around the ‘net, the risk of a security breach is high. But with that security feature, those kitties would be able to deliver their services without compromising security.

So, I can only conclude that, regardless of whether your furry friend is a cat or a dog, they’ll love digital workspaces for their own reasons. Pop Salem in the IT closet on your way up to the office, or link Scooby with the latest gadgets that will keep him connected with customers and the rest of the office while he’s out and about. If you fancy hearing more about what digital workspaces can do to improve your users or IT department (regardless if they happen to be human or otherwise), have a chat with one of our animal-friendly experts. Or just show them photos of your pets, they’d love that as well!

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Check Point, Cloud, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

The Cyber Security Threats You Need to Plan for in 2019


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It’s that time of year again; time to be weary of scary things jumping out on your screen when you’re least expecting it, of monsters following you into your dreams and escaping from your [data] closet. I’m referring, of course, to National Cyber Security Month, the month to take extra care when it comes to protecting your organisation from cyber-gremlins. And I’m sure you’ve been hearing about it non-stop for the last three weeks; participating in the office games, including ‘bobbing for malware’, ‘pin the data on the phishing attempt’ and ‘pass the ransomware’. All party classics. Regardless, it’s an important issue that gets pushed to the side all too often throughout the year. So now is the time to make that extra bit of effort to make sure that you’re protected should the Big Bad Cyber-attack knock on your door (or make you realise just how badly your straw house was lacking).

To switch things up a bit, I thought it would be clever to start thinking about what lies ahead, when the dark, cold nights and endless Christmas parties make way for snow in April. Now is a good time to start planning for 2019, and what the cyber landscape might look like next year. I’ve dusted off my crystal ball and called upon the spirit of Google to tell me exactly what cyber security threats we’re most likely to hear about next year. So buckle up, take notes, and be prepared to impress your boss with your savvy goal-setting ambitions. You’re welcome in advance.

It seems like the world spent the entirety of 2018 running around trying to put out phishing fires. Unless you live under a rock, or are lucky enough to spend your days on a wifi-less beach, you can’t have missed the crazy number of phishing attacks that were publicised. Every second cyber security article had details of attacks and startling statistics (76% of businesses reported being a victim of an attack in 2018 so far). Alas, while phishing has been around since 1980, it has just been ramping up in popularity and severity over the last year or so. When it comes to internal threats, it’s by far the easiest way to get access to sensitive information. According to a Verizon report, 30% of phishing attacks get opened by American users, with 12% of those targeted by the emails clicking on the infected links or attachments. The element of human error makes it that much more appealing. Unfortunately, the only solution to phishing (for the time being anyway) is to train your users to be extra vigilant when opening emails from external sources, and make sure your spam filters are extra strong.

Here’s an interesting (albeit worrying) one; your new smartphone being compromised before it even gets in your hands. Malware is another one of those evil little buggers that can really cause trouble if you’re not very careful. Like phishing, it’s becoming a prevalent part of the internet landscape that users have to be wary about, kind of like not playing in traffic and eating your vegetables. In a society where being always-on is a necessity, mobile phones have become replacements for desktop computers. Think about it, what do you store or have access to on your laptop that you don’t on your phone? The data your phone collects on a daily basis is a very attractive target for cybercriminals. But the modern cybercriminal doesn’t have to stand on a street corner and ‘accidentally’ bump against you to steal your mobile, and ergo your data. Apps are an easy hands-free way to bypass security measures and cause trouble without even clicking on a malicious link. There have even been reports of smartphones leaving the factory floor with malware built in! This malware, called Cosiloon, can send users to download dodgy apps that they didn’t intend on accessing. The app is passive, only visible to the user in the settings section, but then connects with a website to grab the payloads that hackers want to install on the phone.

Speaking of phones, surprise, surprise; cryptocurrency is going to continue to be a massive deal in 2019. And since it is, the dollar signs in the eyes of hackers are getting even bigger. Cryptomining was a new trend for 2018, but without a doubt will gain traction during the next year. Uber-clever cybercriminals infect machines to commandeer their CPU power and steal Bitcoin. What we will most likely see in 2019 is the rise of cryptomining through mobile devices. Since cybercriminals need the infected device to be running to access the processing power, it only makes sense for them to move onto always-on mobile devices. Clever, huh? Many hackers simply create useful and legitimate apps, such as calculators, music videos or voice recording technology, and then embed a script that allows the cryptomining plugin to work silently in the background (don’t start getting any ideas). Since the nature of mobile is to simply make everything so damn complicated and finicky, you probably wouldn’t even notice the extra tab on your browser. The only thing that would indicate that you were a potential victim would be the quick-draining battery. But let’s face it, how often would you attribute awful battery life to a hacker, rather than just having an older phone? “You’d need terrible mobile security!” you might guffaw, pitying the idiot commoner that wouldn’t think of protecting their mobile devices (oops, that would be me). Alas, cryptomining doesn’t technically compromise the security of the device, as it doesn’t bypass security systems or install any rogue software. If you think you’re being clever by installing app-only or endpoint-based security solutions, you won’t be the one laughing (I don’t feel so bad then).

CheckPoint’s SandBlast Mobile is one fabulous piece of software that can and will protect your mobile devices. It protects users from threats to the OS, apps and network, and boasts the industry’s highest threat catch rate. Zero-day malware, using a software vulnerability for which there isn’t any available fix or defence at the moment, is being created and released onto unsuspecting victims every day. SandBlast Mobile blocks zero-day malware (I think it’s magic, actually), and prevents phishing on your apps. If you’re worried about infected devices accessing corporate data, it will intuitively block the device, while also blocking infected devices from sending on sensitive data to botnets. Possibly the most innovative feature of SandBlast Mobile is how it mitigates threats without having to rely on a management platform, which means that you’re protected even when you might not be on the ball (mobile attacks can also happen after late nights- you can’t have Spidey senses all the time!). Regardless of what you do or access on your mobile, if you work from your phone- even if it’s just to reply to emails- SandBlast Mobile is the all-encompassing solution for you. Well then, we can pretty much strike off two of those potential 2019 issues with just one technology!

We’re all for embracing the future here at Cetus. There is so much to look forward to, and so many awesome new technologies- both malicious and not- that will come about, regardless of how well you try to prepare. Working with CheckPoint, we feel reassured that our cyber security is covered, regardless of time, place or device. If you’re interested in what our experts have to say about all the cool things that CheckPoint offer, you can have a chat with them with here. And don’t forget to tell us what you think; what will 2019 have to offer by way of cyber security threats?

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Improving your Network Security; it Doesn’t Have to be a Scary Business


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It’s finally October! Time for the quintessential Pumpkin Spice Latté from Starbucks, complaining about the sudden early evenings and frantic last-minute costume shopping for the office Halloween party. It also happens to be International Cyber Security Month; a friendly reminder to take extra care when it comes to your cyber security, lest a cyber-Dracula should invade and exsanguinate you of all of your rich, iron-filled data. Here at Cetus, we’re always up for a bit of spooky fun, but when it comes to security we’re serious. This week, in honour of Anti-Malware,-Ransomware,-Phishing,-And-All-Things-Evil Month (it’s original title wasn’t quite catchy enough), I’m going to try and make improving your network security a little bit more fun. I’m only 125 words in, so there can be no promises.

Along with an effective cyber security policy, creating a plan in the case of a cyber-attack, using micro-segmentation to minimise the damage of said cyber-attack, making sure that you have ample backups in place to maintain your business after a cyber-attack, and many, many more stress-inducing topics for you to worry about, making sure your network security is up to scratch is also crucial for your business. (If you’re looking at that list and wondering what on earth you’ve been missing, they all link to delightfully hilarious posts that will alleviate all of your fears.) Your network is the glue that holds the entirety of your organisation together. Or, in this instance, it’s the stitching that holds the body parts of your Frankenstein Monster of an organisation in place. Ever try sharing a digital document with Stacy from HR in the next building without a network? It would be faster to train a carrier pigeon to knock on her window- but that wouldn’t be without the risk of interception. Or practise morse code- unless Stacy is on the other side of the building. If you’re lucky enough to be by a window directly across from her, there’s always the option of folding up a paper airplane or, my favourite, using a tin can telephone. And those are all well and good, but what about if Stacy’s office is in another country- or continent? An ultra-sophisticated, time-locked carrier pigeon is the only way to go. Unless you have a secure network, that is.

But ‘pub tonight?’ emails aren’t the only things your network adds to your business (though it might be one of the most important ones). Think of all of the many files that are stored on your organisation’s shared network drive, and all of the instances you need to access one. Last-minute edits to the document that your sleepy, unsupervised intern prepared for your board meeting? Holiday request form? I guarantee you, you pop in there at least once a day to spend half an hour looking for a document someone else created. Without your network, you’d be a building of USBs wandering around the office. Your extremely helpful Outlook calendar that allows you to own the time of your colleagues (but also allows them to rule over yours) is thanks to your secure network, too. Want to work in a café/building site/park bench (near a Wi-Fi source; it’s not that magical)/car park? Feel free to use whatever open Wi-Fi network you want without the worry of a cyber-creep stealing all of your organisation’s secrets. And a lack of network security cost UK small businesses a collective, but nevertheless horrific, £11bn in 2016. So, how do you take care of your Frankenstein Monster?

If your network is Frankenstein Monster’s stitching, then a healthy network security policy is the age-defying, pollution-barrier moisturiser that keeps everything supple. A clear, simple and comprehensive network policy makes everything work smoothly. All it takes is a written document that outlines user policies; who is allowed to access the network, what privileges and limitations do they have, etc. There’s no point letting just anyone who happens to be working for the organisation into every file; unless you’re sending her paper airplanes, Stacy from HR shouldn’t be included in the notes of the main board meeting. A good risk assessment test, identifying important data sets and creating a disaster recovery plan is all that is needed to make sure your network security policy is ready to go! It’s also a good idea to organise drills within your IT department to make sure that the new implementations have been well received by your users, and to identify if they need further training.

A lot of organisations do well to make sure that their network is safe, by investing in the most expensive, most sophisticated and most snazzy infrastructure to keep the outside out. However, where they fail is usually keeping the ‘snazzy’ up to date. We already know that loopholes from unpatched networks can cause some serious security breaches (WannaCry, anyone?), so it’s crucial that your IT department acts on whatever updates may come about. If, for example, Frankenstein’s Monster were to lose a finger or nose, you wouldn’t leave it be, right? So, patch, patch, patch. Speaking of, bad passwords are like skin erosion. Let that fester and it won’t take long until the bad outside germs (cyber threats, in this example) pierce through and infect the entire body. In the age of Gen-V cyber-attacks, it’s important that your password policy is up to the security demands of your organisation. Maybe think about multi-factor authentication? I’ve already written loads on that, but to make it brief, think about making passwords expire every 60 to 90 days, just to be safe.

It’s time to don your favourite lab coat and get into your Dr Frankenstein head space, because now we’re talking about auditing and mapping. Place your monster on the slab and open him up! Know everything about your entire network’s infrastructure; what servers, printers, computers, devices and users are connected? How to they connect, and how do they maintain their connectivity throughout the network? Look for vulnerabilities that could end up causing you trouble in the long run. Keep an eye out for ways you could improve security, performance and reliability. Basically, see if you can replace a few weakened patches of skin with some robust tin and give it a zap to bring it to life.

Last but not least, Dr Frankenstein would hardly have created his monster without making sure he had plenty of backup arms and legs, just in case. And neither should you. Chances are, a hacker will find their way into your system. Which sounds a whole lot less scary if you’ve already read all about micro-segmentation and you’re compartmentalising your network. Regardless, it would be best to make sure you’ll never be caught out if it were to happen. As always, we’ve got you sorted, since we always take backup seriously.

IT’S ALIVE! Now that we have all of that sorted (that wasn’t as torturous as you’d thought, was it?), we’d love to hear what you think. Is Frankenstein’s Monster the best monster comparison of your network? Have you suddenly realised that maybe you need to take another quick look into your security? Have a Halloweeny chat with our experts to see what we can do for you, and decide what you’re going to dress up as this year.

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Speaking of, I’ve finally decided on my costume for the office party; Cyber-Dracula. Sorted.

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, GDPR, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Is The Password Dead?


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My boyfriend was amazing me last weekend when he showed me how he could unlock his brand-new Google Pixel 2 using just his voice. I was seriously impressed until he laughed and showed me the index scanner on the back that actually unlocked it. To be honest, it’s a perfectly useless piece of hardware since I know his pin code anyway. Which isn’t much of a win- I just get full access to the albums upon albums of stupid memes that he stores for later consumption.

These days, it seems as though you’d need to live and work in the Pentagon to keep your data safe. And even then, you’d probably be safer by having a photographic memory and never writing or typing anything. Ever. For the entirety of your life- and chances are, you’ve ballsed that one up already, right? If not, there you go, cyber security problem solved. You can tell that annoying antivirus update pop-up reminder where to stick it because you JUST DON’T NEED IT. However, if you don’t have the privilege of a) living in the Pentagon or b) having a photographic memory, then keeping your data safe can be a smidge harder (and I’m betting that’s most of us). Back in the old days of computers and the internet, simple passwords were enough to keep sensitive data safe. Nowadays, the opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit this information are too good for these less-than-moral people to miss out on.

But, as with the Google Pixel 2, we’re quickly catching on to the fact that a simple password or pin number isn’t enough, especially when it comes to our accounts online. According to password management company Dashlane, a single email address can be registered to a whopping 130 passwords. This tells us that some people either have too much time on their hands or a terrible memory, or both. Let’s be honest, when we have a password that we can remember, has a capital letter, a special character AND contains more than eight letters, we all use the same one for the random things around the web. Deliveroo, Amazon, Tesco Delivery; so many things are online now and they all require an account. And it’s not much better in the workplace. ‘For security purposes’, passwords get changed every three months or so at work, but it’s just a case of using a particular word and going up the number line each time we get that annoying notification. I am definitely guilty of this (I wait until the absolute last minute to message around to all of our IT support techies to get it changed. So they all end up knowing my new password. I like to call it ‘herd immunity’). And 42% of workers admit to sharing their passwords with co-workers. So, in the age of GRPR and a heightened awareness of cybercrime, we have to ask ourselves; is the password dead?

A recent Verizon report states that two thirds of data breaches are caused by stolen passwords or misused credentials. So basically human error. And it’s not like we can remove that problem until AI progresses enough to create robots that can do the work for us- wouldn’t that be convenient? Maybe robots are the answer, but not in the short term.

Passwords are a lot like mayonnaise. You wouldn’t consume it on its own (or at least not more than a tablespoonful or two straight from the jar at a time), but it’s a nice little addition to a dish. So what would be the ‘piece de resistance’? We have biometrics that are starting to become popular. Even I managed to fall into the ‘high tech’ phenomenon of having a thumb scanner on my ancient iPhone. And how many times has NatWest bothered me about getting their banking app? “It’s so much safer!” they say. “I don’t trust mobile devices!” I scream back. “WE’VE NEVER HAD A SECURITY BREACH!” they holler. “I WILL NOT BELIEVE IT!” I finish. I’m paraphrasing, of course, the conversation I had with my, considerably older, banking agent. Shocked that a twenty-something would have so little faith in technology, he took out his fancy phone to show me. Needless to say, I won that argument. As it was, it took me a while to get into the idea of biometrics. Realistically, all it takes is some criminal genius to sever your finger to access your bank account. I don’t know about you, but having someone steal my money after stealing my thumb is, quite literally, adding insult to injury.

So what about removing the password altogether? I’m not suggesting we scrap the whole thing, of course. But multi-factor authentication has become something of interest recently. Microsoft shocked the world in May when they announced in a blog post that they were trying to rid the world of passwords for good. Promising a future where end users will never have to deal with passwords while also vowing that user credentials will never be ‘cracked, breached or phished’ seems too good to be true. But apparently, with 47 million users worldwide, Windows Hello is very much a thing. And it only needs one authentication method; facial recognition (luckily, you’re slightly less likely of having your face severed), fingerprint or retina scan. If you are absolutely adamant that fingerprint scan is the way you want to go, you can buy a tiny little USB device to plug into your laptop, a bit like the connection bit of a wireless keyboard. I’ve said it before, but starting my day like Tom Cruise in Minority Report sounds pretty cool. I might just start getting out of bed at the first alarm every morning. My ultimate favourite feature of Windows Hello is Dynamic Lock. It’s a fancy name for something pretty simple; essentially, your computer detects when you’re out of reach and automatically locks itself. And by ‘you’, I mean your phone. So you’ll never have to worry about fire drills, emergency pee breaks, or having your laptop stolen out of the window by sleuths with fishing rods. True peace of mind.

What makes Windows Hello so secure? If you use facial or fingerprint recognition, Microsoft does not transfer the raw data over the internet. So that’s already a huge chunk of potential Mission Impossible criminals who won’t be able to make latex copies to break in. Apparently, Microsoft doesn’t even store the raw data, creating a digital abstraction instead that can only be interpreted with a machine. And what user information does get transferred across the internet gets encrypted to almost-Pentagon standards. And all you need is the Windows 10 Anniversary Update- easy!

So, what do you think? Will you be chucking that little black notebook full of usernames and passwords? (Maybe burn it instead) Or will you insist on keeping the same password you’ve used since you had to put your social media profiles on private? Either way, you might be interested in hearing what our experts can do for you.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Check Point, Cloud, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Cyber Criminals are at Gen-V; Are You?


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Since the dawn of the internet, we’ve learned that keeping our sensitive information under lock and key is important. Even more so nowadays, with the explosion of ecommerce asking for everything short of your National Insurance number. And nine times out of ten you can choose to save your card details for the next time you’re feeling too lazy to get out of bed to grab your wallet. If you really think about it, that’s probably not the best thing to do. But while putting our bank accounts at risk, you’d expect big corporations who have entire qualified, skilled and experienced IT teams to have a handle on their security, right?

Oh boy, could you be any more wrong. In a recent CheckPoint survey, 97% of the organisations that were assessed were not prepared for a Gen-V cyber attack. The thing is, cyber-attacks and security protections have evolved significantly in the last 30 years, but not at equal levels. Currently, organisations are at Gen-III. We fell into Gen-III in the early 2000s, when attackers learned to leverage vulnerabilities in the components of an IT infrastructure. This includes operating systems, hardware and applications. A fantastic example was the SQLSlammer worm. Since then, Gen-IV has emerged in 2010 as cyber criminals became more sophisticated, targeting the world of finance, where sandboxing and anti-bot were the main protections.

Back in 2017, the dreaded Gen-V cyber attack made a roaring entrance with the world-shattering WannaCry ransomware attack. We’re looking at large-scale, multi-vector attacks, using uber-sophisticated attack tools. It’s safe to say that we’re not in Kansas anymore. These attacks are major, generally using ‘state-sponsored’ technologies that can target networks across countries, companies and even continents. Cyber criminals are getting their hands on these technologies from simple leaks or as a result of reverse engineering, and cause major reputational damage for the organisations affected.

So what can be done? The risk of a security threat is omnipresent. No matter what you do, your organisation will be exposed in one way or another (unless you favour the slate-and-chalk method of working).

Check Point’s Infinity is one of the best ways to handle the stress of cyber security. Focusing on prevention instead of detection, it’s a hyper-aware platform that provides consolidated security across networks, cloud and mobile. Combining a single security platform, pre-emptive threat protection capabilities and a unified system for management. With the release of R80.10, it features plenty of clever capabilities and enhancements which include unique policy layers, security multi-zones and boosted performance, to ensure security management. With the move to cloud earmarked for most organisations, the integrated Check Point vSEC Cloud Security’s comprehensive portfolio integrates with both private and public cloud platforms, so you’re covered regardless of your cloud preferences.

Infinity also boasts an impressive threat prevention in the form of anti-ransomware technology that enables businesses to remain protected against even the most sophisticated ransomware and cyber extortion. If your organisation is big into mobile (whose isn’t?), SandBlast mobile has the intelligence to detect both known and unknown malware, effectively blocking it before it becomes a problem. You’ll never have to worry about poisoned wi-fi networks, ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks or SMS phishing. There are so many nifty features of Infinity that make it a clever investment for an organisation, no matter its size. Centre stage, it has centralised management and role-based administration that allows it to apply to all organisation use cases.

Gen-V will certainly not be the last upgrade in cyber security. As technology improves, expanding and intruding into more and more of our lives, the sophistication of cyber criminals will progress just as fast. It won’t be long until I’m writing about a major Gen-VI cyber-attack and its implications affecting another group of international organisations. So now is the time to start getting ahead of the hackers. We work hand-in-hand with Check Point to ensure that your infrastructure is at the highest level of cyber security so you don’t need to worry about that.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Saying Goodbye to your Legacy Systems


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If, when you were six, someone had asked you what 2018 would look like, how far off would you have been? In the last 20 or 30 years, the world of tech- and therefore the world around us- has been changing exponentially. And what person hasn’t been amazed by what we’ve achieved as a human race? But with innovation to that degree, we now live in a world where what we have is never good enough, and where money exists in creating the future. Before we get bored of a new technology, something bigger and better has been produced. People camp out in all weathers to be the first to get their hands on the latest gadgets. We all know someone who insists on buying the latest iPhone, spending thousands every year, purely to be able to say that they have it. Let’s face it, new gadgets can be exciting; moving images on a screen? Having a camera in our phones? Storing something in the cloud? What magical sorcery is this?

But with that comes a lot of change. And no one likes change. It’s a fact of life. Little innovations, yes, but big, huge, drastic change is never welcome. Unfortunately, in the world of tech, human instinct is rarely prioritised (this is why our screen-addicted children with all of the child-friendly apps have lesser social skills than us). Such is the case with legacy systems. When they first were created, they constituted a benchmark in the world of business and industrialisation. Suddenly, IT was more than manually putting numbers into a computer to systematically create graphs, it was running critical business operations such as general ledgers, inventory management and other back office systems. With legacy systems, key business activities could be done quickly and automatically, changing the focus of employees from mundane tasks to improving the organisation.

It will be zero surprise that the latest big, bold and brilliant innovation of the last ten years has been cloud. Organisations are waking up to the realisation that to stay ahead of the curve, and indeed keep up with the demands of customers, cloud and a cloud strategy is a major priority. We are smack-bang in the middle of the digital transformation revolution, and cloud is the ultimate destination, an essential business driver that is completely altering the world of industry. But one of the biggest challenges that face organisations yearning for cloud is their legacy systems. These siloed, inefficient and uneconomical systems are a towering behemoth to digital transformation that refuse to come into the 21st century.

They’re just plain difficult
One of the biggest barriers for migrating to cloud is the simple difficulty that a legacy system poses. One might think that maintenance costs would be minimal. With less upgrading, patching and training, legacy systems should be easy to replace and never think of again, right? Alas. Support for updates have become more challenging to come across as they reach end-of-life, and the ones that are available are usually quite expensive because of this. Legacy systems are also complex, fragile and about as flexible as concrete. Because they were created for another time, with a completely different set of parameters, they’re just disastrous in the face of the new, application-centric systems.

Security is not a priority
Oh boy, is security a problem when it comes to legacy systems. If your Data Protection Officer isn’t going prematurely grey and chain-smoking as soon as they walk into the building then someone should be worried. There wasn’t so much as a whisper of GDPR when legacy systems first became a thing, and because of this they’re way behind. This is an obvious one; updates and changes in IT are done to keep up and ahead of evolving security threats. After Wannacry, we know that cyber criminals are at Generation V when it comes to technical capabilities, and as it stands, even with improved cloud security most organisations are still at Gen III. Legacy systems are so behind they almost don’t figure on the Gen chart. And if you’re lucky enough to have a developer that’s willing to mastermind an update capable of patching major holes like Wannacry, it would be so late that the next disaster would be impending. Essentially, your legacy system is a disaster waiting to happen. But we can fix it, I promise.

It’s way behind on like, everything
If you are B2C and you’re relying on your legacy system to be in with the hip young consumers of today, you’re going to be in for a shock. Chances are, your competition may or may not be that new breed of internet-built company that began in a world where having an in-house data centre isn’t a thing. If anything, they probably don’t even know what a legacy system is. They didn’t exist when dial-up internet was the only option. Hell, they probably don’t even remember the pain of following the weak wifi signal to the top of the stairs to send an email only to sneeze and lose it again. So while they’re moving from new app to new update, optimising their performance with the latest Instagram or Windows 10 features, chatting away on instant messaging that you can’t achieve, your legacy system is restricting you and your potential.

You don’t have to be a prisoner of your legacy system, nor does it have to be super complicated. The thought of switching to a whole new way of doing something might seem scary, I know. It’s not easy to put all of your faith into an idea that you’ve never dealt with before, and the risks that you take while moving over. Luckily, here at Cetus, we’re pros. Register now for a free consultation with one of our senior solutions architects, they love a good challenge!

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Citrix, Cloud, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

The Importance of Analytics


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For a lot of people, analytics can be boring. When you have something like a hybrid cloud solution, you just want it to work and let you get on with what you need to do. Monitoring and responding to security and performance issues are important, but can be tedious. And let’s face it, if something is tedious, chances are you’re just going to put it on the long finger and hope that the last half an hour of the work day will be enough to get it sorted. To help with all this, let me introduce you to Citrix Application Delivery Management.

NetScaler is a highly intuitive piece of software, providing centralised network management, automation, analytics, orchestration (not quite sure about hybrid cloud orchestration? I’ve already written a great blog on the subject)…. All of these tools can help you to support the various applications deployed across your hybrid cloud and containerised infrastructures. You might find yourself asking these questions; is whatever Alan is doing on the network any different from what he would normally be doing? Does a particular workload normally speak to this other workload? Has user experience changed over time? What applications and data are being used the most? These are all questions that, for one reason or another, can be important to ask. With Citrix Cloud Analytics, our clients can ask these important questions (and plenty more). By deploying Application Delivery Management, it is possible to gain a deeper insight into what is happening in your hybrid cloud environment.

The world of business is ever-changing and always innovative. There are new and cool apps appearing every day, promising to not only make your tasks easier, but also keep you customers happy. That’s why it’s so important to embrace digital transformation. This digital transformation is changing the way that applications, much like the ones you use every day, are being developed and deployed. The last thing you want is application downtime, since it will cost you money, and lots of it. One of the biggest innovations in the world of tech? You guessed it; cloud. This wonderful, futuristic phenomenon allows the much more simplistic deployment of applications and data centres. And Citrix Application Delivery Management will help you to embrace all of the possibilities of cloud to make that big job of analytics as easy as possible. Who knows, you might be able to actually go on holiday for once and leave the crucial job of monitoring to your assistant. I swear, it’s possible.

There have been so many changes in recent years in application architectures, which have been prompting the need for changes in application delivery services technology. With increasing demands, applications have become much more complex, which results in more complicated availability and troubleshooting. Add in the cloud, and all of this becomes more difficult. Thankfully, Citrix Application Delivery Management is here to meet the needs of your IT team. We’re all trying to move to transform our IT infrastructures by moving to cloud. And with that, Application Delivery Management  provides much more control and visibility.

Citrix Application Delivery Management allows you to proactively manage user and application security threats, improve application performance and support continuous operations through actionable insights collected across Citrix offerings. It has been enhanced to provide valuable insight into the performance and security of your application delivery infrastructure from an application perspective, defining how they map onto the ADC configuration. This makes it easier for you to determine the state of an application, and therefore use an application-centric approach to easily collaborate with application owners. With its new application health score, Application Delivery Management summarises how well an application is performing based on an industry-standard APDEX scoring. This allows you to investigate instances of user satisfaction as well as other performance metrics and assessments of security threats.

If you’re looking for seamless integration with many leading orchestration platforms that you deploy to automate your data centre infrastructure, NetScaler has it all. More and more data centres are moving towards the cloud, working towards a fully SaaS-based infrastructure model (and I bet yours is too). With that, automating all of those supporting services will become more important. Citrix Application Delivery Management is API-driven, enabling orchestration and analytics across a lot of third-party platforms. It also allows easy management and orchestration of containerised services as well as automating NetScaler lifecycle management and provisioning. That’s a lot of automation that should make your life that much easier. You’re welcome.

If you want to keep up-to-date with what’s going on with Citrix, make sure to keep an eye on our events page where we regularly share workshops and webinars to keep you in the know!

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Citrix, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

When a User Leaves


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(Potential) door slamming, cardboard boxing, silent goodbyes; it can be a bit dramatic when an employee leaves the business. Even on good, moving-on-to-better-things terms, it can take its toll. Writing up job descriptions, endless interviews, the empty desk. There’s lots to do when the ex-employee closes the door. And that’s all well and good, but what about the IT side of things? It’s not simply a case of handing over a laptop and starting anew. Without realising it, you would be watching not only a good friend walk out the door, but a security breach too. A walking, talking security breach. Imagine the nightmare. With BYOD becoming more and more popular, you don’t know what devices they were using to work or what data they have stored where. Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t a stressful situation before, the recent enforcement of GDPR has only made it worse. And it’s not like you can ask them to take out all of their devices and go through all of their files, contacts and photos. The desk would be covered in personal and company phones and laptops, USBs, the company iPad and the slightly sicky, sort-of cracked personal iPad that has every indication of a child being given it to play with during a moment of parental weakness. There would be drama for the water cooler. Or, as we call it in the UK; the Hallway Stop n’ Chat. So, what should be done when a user leaves?

Regardless of how an employee leaves, they’re going to walk away with something. Whether it’s your business practices, how you like your coffee, or behind what book Lorna hides her chocolate, something’s going to go. In this scenario, it’s a case of looking at what’s sensitive and what’s not (Lorna needs a hiding place rota regardless). Back in the day, people would slip files into their briefcases and quickly waltz out the door, whereas nowadays it’s quick and easy just to copy a digital file, and none will be the wiser.

Before there’s even chats about Having Been Here Too Damn Long or the more popular I’ve Wasted My 20s At This Desk, it’s best to prepare for the worst. And even more so if you have, or are thinking of establishing, a BYOD policy at work. Start with an extensive, written BYOD policy. Sounds easy, but I promise you that it’s not.

Treat it more like a software development project- compile ‘what if’ scenarios. Include some ‘beta testing’; a period of time to review real-life situations before handing in the final copy. A few things to consider, since there is 100% going to be the office eejit that will take the mickey; ‘acceptable business use’ is just as important as the limits of ‘acceptable personal use’- you just know some yob is going to be playing Candy Crush if they find even the tiniest loophole. Decide what kind of apps you don’t mind being downloaded, and what apps you most certainly do. What company resources (think email, calendars and so on) is acceptable to have access to on a personal device? Obviously, harassing people on company time on a company device is a no-no, just make sure everyone else knows. Same goes with texting or emailing while driving. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how much it isn’t to some people. Think security; what security requirements are needed before being allowed to connect to company networks? What happens of the device is lost or stolen? At this point, you may as well bookmark this post to come back to after doing the above. I’ll wait. Now that you have your policy defined – how do you enforce it? We use Citrix XenMobile and Citrix ShareFile to provide a centralised, single point of management for our mobile devices.

Right, with that niggly bit out of the way, let’s look at monitoring. Not the breach-of-privacy looking-over-shoulders kind of monitoring that will definitely end in tears and a lawsuit, monitoring where your data is going. That sounds much less dramatic. It is time for your IT department to shine. Set up shared company file servers for starters. There are plenty on the market, but I can say from experience that Citrix Sharefile is the best one (that’s mostly because it’s so simple even I can use it). With these file servers, make sure to set up protocols, such as who can access what files and how. With ease, IT can now monitor who is accessing those files and when. Likewise, copying anything from the company server onto a company or personal device is logged. Local devices are cool, until they’re riddled with company data. A big help in not letting too much data get downloaded is knowing the ins and outs of the applications and services that your users use. What kind of liberties do these apps allow? A central repository that can be monitored is a really good idea, adding a layer of security to company networks.

According to a report from Osterman Research, 67% of organisations don’t know if they can detect whether an employee is still accessing corporate resources. Think that’s bad? A whopping 76% can’t tell if a third party (like a contractor) has stopped working on their organisation’s systems and data. If that’s not scaring you, the thought of the fine for breaching GDPR because of some eejit who sees their chance and takes it should. But I’m not here to panic you (only a little, or you wouldn’t be reading all the way to the bottom). Like all well-established organisations, Cetus has had its fair share of employees leave for one reason or another (although thankfully far lower than the average tech company). Thankfully, we’re a team of experts that know exactly how to deal with it. If you haven’t sorted out some policies to prevent your sensitive data from walking out the door, make sure to have a chat with one of our experts. They’re only a phone call away and they’re sure to help you eliminate some of that stress.

We’ve helped hundreds of organisations to implement their mobility strategies and we’d love to share our experiences with you. We can provide everything to get you started from Business Case analysis (at no cost) to high level designs and implementation…

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Continuum, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

How to Develop an Effective Cyber Security Strategy


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We thought 2017 was particularly bad for cyber security threats. WannaCry (on which I’ve only just gone and written a one-year update), Peyta/NotPeyta…. The monthly rate of ransomware attacks against UK organisations increased up to 10 times the rate of 2016. But 2018 is set to beat every record made in 2017. In January alone, there were 7,073,069 attacks on UK organisations, and that number is set to soar throughout the rest of the year. The threat that a cyber attack poses is only getting worse. There were constant instances of security breaches being plastered over the news in the first half of this year alone; Ticketmaster, University of Greenwich and Timehop are only a handful of high-profile examples. So it’s not really a surprise that security and risk management were rated the most important priority in 2018 for CIOs in NASCIO’s November 2017 survey.

Panicked? Sorry, you weren’t supposed to be. In reality, all organisations- big or small- should expect a security breach at some time or another. There’s no way of avoiding it, but there is a way of being prepared. I’ll stop waffling on and get to the good stuff; how you can develop a cyber security policy and improve your best practices so that when disaster strikes, you’ll already be sorted. Mostly. (And if you do happen to face/be facing a security breach I’ve got you covered)

If you’ve got software and systems, update!
It’s really a no-brainer; IT needs to be updated regularly. Maybe in the 90s or early 00s you could get away with only updating whenever you happened to fancy the latest version of Windows to replace your current Windows 95, but it’s not the case now. With the internet, automatic updates are here to stay- whether we find them an annoyance or life-saving. Windows 10 only has two major updates a year and countless little ones that improve so much about the platform- including its security. After all, it was a dodgy unpatched Windows system that started the whole WannaCry debacle. So guys, make sure you update!

Understand the cyber security risk in relation to your organisation
Your organisation depends on a lot of things. Digital processes, data, systems, and your employees mastering the trick of gossiping and doing their work. All of these (minus the employee issue) are vulnerable to being manipulated. The whole point of a robust cyber security strategy is to protect them against fraud, theft of sensitive data and business disruption- along with the risk to your reputation along with it all. Your entire organisation has to work together to protect these vital processes from the threat. Thankfully, here at Cetus, we understand just how important it is to keep everything ticking along smoothly. In fact, we offer a complimentary security posture review to ensure that your business has the necessary security that it needs. We analyse where your organisation is exposed to security risks and provide you with recommendations on how to address them. Our finished report will analyse your network traffic to detect security threats; malware infections, usage of high-risk web applications, intrusion attempts, loss of sensitive data…. The list goes on. It will also evaluate your organisation’s end-point security, focusing on mobile management, user rights management, advanced end-point protection, patch and user rights management, and enterprise file sync and share. Importantly, the report will assess any threats posed from within your infrastructure – east-west traffic, privileged user access and user access rights. Basically, your entire infrastructure will be analysed to make sure that as little of the bad stuff as possible can breach your systems.

Taking a look at your social engineering
This is an interesting one. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s basically GDPR handling in the office. We’ve all been panicking as we worked towards the deadline on May 25th, but privacy protection doesn’t just end there. Social engineering can be the simple calling out of a password to another co-worker behind them, or the more serious incident of pulling up a website at work and volunteering passwords and other vital information that can end up in the wrong hands. Hell, someone on the end of a phone saying the right things with the right amount of confidence could potentially sweet-talk the more trusting to give out a piece of information- and sometimes that’s all they’ll need.

Perform regular data backups
I’ll try and keep this one quick because here at Cetus we rabbit on about them all the time. Backups are great. Should you have the misfortune of having a ransomware attack, having a copy of the data that’s held hostage can be a life saver. Firstly, you’ll know exactly what data the hackers have- or if they gained access to personal information that could cause problems-, and you won’t have to worry about data loss regardless of whether you pay the ransom or not. Backups; if you haven’t got them sorted what are you waiting for?! With so many types of backups to choose from, from tape to replication (we suggest keeping up with the times and trying out Continuum), there’s no excuse not to have that sweet disaster recovery/business continuity plan in place.

Lock everything up tight
There’s no point in having the best firewalls money can buy, along with the most secure cyber security solution, and cyber attack just-in-case plan of action if a criminal can just waltz through the front door and calmly collect all of your information on a USB. If your sever room (or server part of the floor as the case may be) isn’t locked up tighter than Alcatraz then eventually there’ll be a problem. Remember, not everyone in the office needs access to the servers!

These are the most basic points to note for a cyber security strategy. Cyber threats are real and preventing attacks will always be a better alternative to reacting to one after it has breached your infrastructure. One of the most important in the list is understanding the cyber security risk in relation to your business. Make sure to book a complimentary security posture review today, and take the biggest step towards securing your infrastructure or speak to one of our cyber security experts today.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Citrix, Cloud, Continuum, IT Solutions, Security, Uncategorized

Top Trends in Digital Transformation for Your Business


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The tech world is fascinating. We’re always on our toes, trying to figure out how to use the latest innovation that’s been rolled out office-wide. We’re lightyears ahead of where we were only ten years ago. With that, it’s so easy to fall behind in what’s going on in the world of tech and all the great improvements that come with it. Hell, just go on a two-week holiday and you’ll come back to 2,000 urgent emails and a brand-new content collaboration system that eclipses the old one. There are new ways of doing everything, so god forbid you don’t pay attention. The trends in digital transformation change quickly, but these are the main ones your business needs to keep up with to stay ahead.

Cloud and hybrid cloud are taking over
It’s a bit like opening a tin of chocolates to yourself; you just can’t stop the outpouring of those delicious chocolates wrapped up in colour just constantly getting plucked out of the tin. There’s been a huge movement towards cloud in recent years. Everyone and their mother loves cloud and just can’t get enough of it. Business-wise, improving your IT infrastructure to respond to change just makes sense. With the exponential creation of data becoming an issue that has to be considered early rather than in hindsight, digital transformation surrounding cloud brings with it numerous benefits. Organisations love the dexterity of scalability; never needing to worry about what they have but knowing that there will always be room to grow or decrease depending on needs. Of all the cloud options, hybrid cloud is by far most popular, almost indispensable for most organisations, big or small. The ability to have that little bit more control over your data with on-prem data centres is the best first step into the wonderful world of cloud.

Importance of user experience
User experience will always be a major factor in digital transformation for businesses. It goes without saying that when your employees are happy, the higher productivity rises. And that’s what we all want, right? But user experience goes beyond just having coffee and chocolate digestives available downstairs. So what about the other niggly techy bits? Cloud sprawl can be a massive problem for businesses. Chunks of data here, there and those few spots you least expect it can quickly become a problem. We’ve (read: I have) already discussed how cloud sprawl can irritate your users enough for them to abandon your well-established IT infrastructure and turn to the world of shadow IT. A good IT solution will go above and beyond what the user wants and needs. Think of the basics; an email platform, a file-sharing platform, the ever-popular instant messaging app that allows your users to make quick work of small issues. The necessities, basically. Then think of what your users will want to ensure the smooth running of their work day. Now amalgamate and watch the productivity rise!

Remote workforce
We’ve heard it a million times before. Mobile workspace, digital workspace, modern workspace – whatever you want to call the ability to work from anywhere that isn’t the office – it’s the future of work. What’s new? Shockingly, there is more excitement around every corner in the tech world (I did say that it’s fascinating). The latest updates to Citrix Workspace were unveiled in May’s Citrix Synergy. It encompasses all of the usual things that you’d expect from a digital workspace; ultra-secure security, ultra-fast one-sign-in-works-for-them-all authentication, ultra-easy access to any of your files from any of your devices, clouds, networks. All that fun stuff. But the fun just doesn’t stop there. From collating collections of your favourite apps for quick sharing, universal search and – my favourite – using any screen as a presentation screen (no matter how big) just by using a QR code. I swear, it’s magic. And it really makes a difference.

Cyber security priority
WannaCry really wasn’t that long ago, but, even over a year later after the devastating attack, 66% of IT security pros have admitted that they haven’t improved their patch management systems. The biggest issue facing organisations when it comes to cyber security is the lack of progress and drive to be ahead of cyber threats. Terrifyingly, WannaCry was a Gen V-level cyber-attack. It’s terrifying because not only has tech advanced so quickly in so little time (the firewall is the cure for Gen II cyber threats), the majority of businesses are way behind. According to Check Point’s Cyber Security Generations Survey from March 2018, only 10% of IT security professionals are at Gen IV and, worse still, only 3% are at Gen V. If that doesn’t scare you, not much will. So it’s pretty clear; stepping up the digital transformation of your organisation is for absolutely nothing if you ignore the cyber security part of it because then you’re opening yourself up to more attacks. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, how much garlic you hang by the window or how much you trust that Starbucks Wi-Fi, there’s only one way to make sure that you’re protected.

Back up all of the things
Again, it’s one of those things that we hear over and over; backup is important. If there’s a fire; fire up (pun intended) your backup system. If there’s a flood; fire up your backup system. Attack of the tin-eating frogs; fire up your backup system. Backup is a major part of the digital transformation because it’s often overlooked. Everything is up and running and perfect and you just couldn’t imagine anything going wrong. There’s really no point in sorting out your backup after disaster strikes. And in this day and age, there’s no excuse – there are so many different types of backup and replication that can be used for disaster recovery. Here at Cetus, we favour replication – it’s the future of backup – and we proudly suggest our very own Continuum.

Digital transformation should be a top three priority for every organisation that wants to keep up and ahead of the curve. If any of the above sound too difficult for you, or if you need a bit of a refresh on any of them, why not have a quick chat with one of our experts to see what we can do for you? In the meantime, it’s worth looking into our
free business challenge consultation to help you navigate your business challenges, while here in the office we argue about the best tin of chocolate (it’s obviously Roses).

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.