Agile Working Trends E-Book

Whether you call it agile working, remote working or flexible working, it’s changed the game for all businesses.

A well rounded agile working solution should include many or all of the aspects mentioned in the e-book. From Cybersecurity solutions including multi-factor authentication to Disaster Recovery solutions should the worst happen.

In May 2020 we decided to contact our customers to ask them about their ‘new normal’ working practices throughout the pandemic of Covid-19 and if there was anything they would have done differently if they could have.

You can download the e-book created by filling in the form below. You can also read what Commercial Director, Phil Cambers had to say about the findings by clicking here.

Agile Working E-Book Download

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Cisco Meraki Systems Working in the Real World

Corporate networks are stretched thin by cloud services, SaaS applications, and mobility. Plus, organisations require better connections to branch offices to deliver higher-quality network services. As they transition to a digital business model, their network topologies are significantly impacted.

The adoption of cloud services, the virtualisation of the traditional network, and an increasingly mobile workforce accessing applications in the cloud are accelerating advancements in wide area networking technologies.

We held a webinar with Cisco Meraki Systems Engineer Ben Kersnovske, Lake District National Park Authority IT Manager, Frank Blackburn and TruStack Commercial Director Phil Cambers to discuss the benefits of SD-WAN and how it performs in the real world.

You can recap on what was delivered by filling in the form below.

Webinar Download

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Data Classification: What it is, why you should care and how to perform it.

Many organisations have limited resources to invest in safeguarding data. Knowing exactly what needs to be protected will help you develop a secure plan so you can allocate your budget and other resources wisely.

The best place to start is by classifying your data. Classification provides a solid foundation for a data security strategy because it helps to identify the data at risk in the IT network, both on premises and in the cloud.

In this article, we will give the data classification definition and explore the steps involved in getting started.

What is data classification?

Data classification is the process of organising both structured and unstructured data into categories. It enables more efficient use and protection of critical data, including facilitating risk management, legal discovery, and compliance processes.

For years, it was up to users to classify data they created, sent, modified or otherwise touched. Today, organisations have options for automating classification of new data that users create or collect.

What is data discovery? 

Data discovery is the process of scanning repositories to locate data. It can serve many purposes, such as enterprise content search, data governance, data analysis and visualisation. When combined with data classification, it helps organisations identify repositories that might contain sensitive information so they can make informed decisions about how to properly protect that data.

Data security

To safeguard sensitive corporate and customer data adequately, you must know and understand your data. You need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • What sensitive data, such as intellectual property (IP), protected health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), and credit card numbers, do you store?
  • Where does this sensitive data reside?
  • Who can access, modify and delete it?
  • How will your business be affected if this data is leaked, destroyed or improperly altered?

Having answers to these questions, along with information about the threat landscape, enables organisations to protect sensitive data by assessing risk levels, planning and implementing appropriate data protection and threat detection measures.

Regulatory compliance

Compliance standards require organisations to protect specific data such as cardholder information (PCI DSS), health records (HIPAA), financial data (SOX) or personal data (GDPR). Data discovery and classification helps to determine where these types of data are located so you can make sure that appropriate security controls are in place and that the data is trackable and searchable as required by regulations.

Guidelines for data classification

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to data classification. However, the classification process can be broken down into four key steps, which you can tailor to meet your organisation’s needs as you develop your general data protection strategy.

Step #1. Establish a data classification policy

First, you should define a data classification policy and communicate it to all employees who work with sensitive data. The policy should be short and simple and include the following basic elements:

  • Objectives – The reasons data classification has been put into place and the goals the company expects to achieve from it.
  • Workflows – How the data classification process will be organized and how it will impact employees who use different categories of sensitive data.
  • Data classification scheme – The categories that the data will be classified into.
  • Data owners – The roles and responsibilities of the business units, including how they should classify sensitive data and grant access to it.
  • Handling instructions – Security standards that specify appropriate handling practices for each category of data, such as how it must be stored, what access rights should be assigned, how it can be shared, when it must be encrypted, and retention terms and processes.

Step #2. Discover the sensitive data you already store

Now it’s time to apply your classification policies to your existing data. You could choose to classify only new data, but then business-critical or confidential data you already have might be left insufficiently protected.

Rather than trying to manually identify databases, file shares and other systems that might contain sensitive information, consider investing in a data discovery application that will automate the process. Some technology tools report both the volume and potential category of the data.

Step #3. Apply labels

Each sensitive data asset needs a label in accordance with your data classification model; this will help you enforce your data classification policy.

Step #4. Use the results to improve security and compliance

Once you know what sensitive data you have and its storage locations, you can review your security and privacy policies and procedures to assess whether all data is protected by risk-appropriate measures.

Step #5. Repeat

Files are created, copied, moved and deleted every day. Therefore, data classification must be an ongoing process. Proper administration of the data classification process will help ensure that all sensitive data is protected.


Data classification is not a magic wand that ensures data security or compliance with regulatory requirements by itself. Rather, it helps organisations identify the data most critical to the business so they can focus their limited time and financial resources on ensuring appropriate data protection.

For more information contact us here.

Thales 2020 Data Threat Report

Did you know that 46% of data generated by European organisations is stored within the cloud?

Click on the link below to download the Thales 2020 Data Threat report. This edition produced by the IDC runs through how organisations are securing their multi-cloud environment in 2020.

Get the report now to learn:

  • How digital transformation complicates security
  • Adoption rates of encryption for cloud data
  • Security recommendations and best practices

Data Owner vs Data Processor – Why You Need to Protect Your Own Data

There’s a common misconception among Software as a Service (SaaS) users that backup isn’t necessary for their data because it exists in the cloud – and that provider will backup and secure your data, right? Unfortunately, this is untrue. SaaS applications such as Microsoft 365 unfortunately are just as vulnerable to data loss as on-premise apps.

Why? Because the number 1 cause of data loss is human error. Staff members accidentally deleting files, opening phishing emails, accidentally downloading malware and more. 
Some scenarios where customers could lose data include:

  • Malicious deletion by a disgruntled employee or outside entity
  • Malware damage or ransomware attacks
  • Operational errors such as accidental data overwrites
  • Lost data due to cancelled app licenses

SaaS providers like Office 365 offer a convenient service to provide access to e-mail services, data storage, and collaboration tools. These features were traditionally offered from an on-premises infrastructure with services like Exchange server and SharePoint server, where the data processor and data owners tend to be the same thing.

Now let’s think about what this means in a SaaS environment, the data processing task has moved to a cloud service where you don’t need to worry about it anymore, however you are still the data owner. This means that you are still responsible for how the data is protected.

In this example, Microsoft’s responsibility as a data processor is bound by the Service Level Agreement, they operate to which guarantees that the service they offer will be available. As of Q1 2020, O365 has a 99.98% up time, or to put that into perspective, an average of 17 seconds downtime per day. Microsoft operates a resilient infrastructure, which meets stringent security qualifications such as Cyber Essentials PLUS and hardware-level resilience by operating its services from multiple data centres in dedicated regions around the world.

All of this is great for providing a service, but it doesn’t protect the data within those services that you as the data owner are responsible for. Let’s assume you have a business requirement to maintain 7 years’ worth of email data when that data lived on-premises, that requirement doesn’t suddenly go away when you move the data to the cloud. Equally, if e-mails were deleted or were subject to some kind of ransomware attack, you would rely on a backup to recover the data. The same thing still applies when the data is running in a SaaS service like O365.

This is where products like Datto SaaS Protection comes into play. For more information on how we can help or a free demo, send us an email on [email protected] or call us on 0191 2503000

Why You Need Multi-Factor Authentication and Thales

Hopefully you will have been on our multi-factor authentication webinar with Thales last week, just in case you missed it, Pre-Sales Technical Consultant Ian Sanderson gives his view on why you need MFA, and in particular, why Thales.

When choosing our multifactor authentication product, it is important to understand our thought process when evaluating the marketplace for a product and more importantly why we were looking.

In the last few years, we have seen a massive swing when it comes to business priorities in IT. You will often find that IT directors and managers mark security as their number one focus on IT spending, and with good reason. Each day we create more and more data which is the lifeblood of many organisations. I would go as far as to say that many businesses would struggle to recover if they lost all their data.

Multi-factor authentication is an important part of a multi-layered approach to securing business assets. A common attack vector is credential theft. Think about what a malicious actor could do if they had access to a corporate Office 365 account or similar. Multi-factor authentication means that even if a user does fall victim to credential theft, it would be near impossible for the malicious actor to use those credentials as each login request would require a unique one-time passcode to login with.

With that in mind, we set out to find a solution that met a set of criteria. Something easy to use, has a rich set of features, is SaaS-based, and offers value for money.

We looked at offerings from Microsoft, DUO, and others which all have their good points, but none of them offered everything we wanted, apart from Thales.

Microsoft is great if you are only interested in securing your Microsoft Ecosystem. DUO was easy to use but required installing various applications on-premises to provide the full functionality of the product.

Thales Safenet Trusted Access allows you to secure many popular cloud workloads such as Office 365 as well as on-premises workloads such as VMware Horizon View and popular VPN solutions. All of this is managed and maintained from Thales SaaS SafeNet Trusted Access platform. No need to install radius or authentication proxy servers.

If you have not heard of Thales before, part of their organisation is the business they acquired when they bought Gemalto in 2019. What you will see here today is part of that Gemalto suite. The name Gemalto may sound familiar, they make products like Passports with the RFID chips, card readers for online banking systems, and importantly, they make One Time Passcode tokens. Those little devices that pop up with 6 digits on that allow you to log in somewhere.

Because Thales make those devices, they can bundle them in with the MFA service, typically at no additional cost. Other vendors we looked at; this was a line item cost. It is important to understand why we think this is a differentiator. Many organisations that would like to roll out MFA may not want users’ personal devices enrolled as an MFA token, or indeed the user may say they do not want any corporate software on their personal device. Having the option to hand out a physical token for those use cases, without incurring an additional charge represents excellent value in our minds.

If you would like more information on MFA, you can watch our on-demand webinar, or drop us an email at [email protected] for your free 30 day trial.

Handy Hints For Agile Working – Office 365

  • Did you know with Office 365 you can access all of your business applications by going to From there you can access everything that you need for the ability to work agile, including Word online, Outlook web access, Excel online etc.

    IT Admins should still be aware that multi-factor authentication should be in place when accessing any apps online.

    Learn more about Thales by clicking HERE

  • Don’t think of Office 365 as just your day to day applications limited to your computer, you can use Office 365 on up to 5 devices licence dependent, for example your tablet or smart phone. You can use OneDrive or SharePoint as a central point to store, share and access information from any device and any location. 

    Remember to keep in mind that Microsoft doesn’t back-up any of your files or data and you will need another solution such as Datto to help protect against loss of information should anything happen.

    Learn more about Datto by clicking HERE

Struggling with Office 365 or Agile Working? You can contact us by clicking HERE!

Handy Hints For Agile Working – Microsoft Teams

Use tech to stay connected – sometimes you can feel cut off from what’s happening in the office when working remotely. By using video calls and instant messaging you can catch up with your coworkers, request information and bounce ideas around the team helping you to feel connected.

1. Did you know that you can send out Team’s conference call details from either within the Teams App or  from Outlook for a handy free of charge conference? You can also upgrade to audio conferencing licencing to include global dial in details.
2. User beware – do you have external contacts within your Teams in Office 365? Be careful when adding attachments that are for internal viewing only!

3. Did you know when on a video conference you can blur your background. You may have confidential information in view of those on your call! You can also use covers for your webcam to ensure you are ready before going live.

4. Double check your audio before starting a Teams call! Do you have your laptop connected to other home devices such as your Echo Dot?!

5. Be careful what you are sharing! Only share the screen that you want to share, you could be sharing important emails, customers details or confidential information.

6. Use of applications – did you know there is a whole host of applications you can add into your Teams, applications such as Trello, Flow, Yammer ect.

7. Did you know that you can record all of your Teams meetings for future playback? Just make sure that you tell the team before you do this!

Struggling with Teams or any other aspect of Agile Working? Why not contacts us? We would be happy to help!

Networking Series – Explainer Videos!

Watch our 2nd and 3rd videos created in the ‘Networking Series’ by Senior Consultant, Ross Phillps.

Ross will take you through the basics of Network Access Control and the Cisco Umbrella product. Both videos will take you through the subject in 3 minutes!

SD WAN in 4 Minutes…

Struggling to get your head around SD WAN? Don’t quite understand what benefits it can give to you and your business?

Why not watch our explainer video with Senior Network Consultant, Ross Phillips who will break it down into what you need to know.