Updated Data protection regulations coming into force

From 25 May 2018 GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) will be in force throughout the EU and the UK Government has confirmed that it will comply regardless of the decision to leave the EU.

The GDPR is designed to improve consistency in protecting and strengthening consumers’ rights over their personal data, although work is continuing on refining the regulations.

Many organisations collect and keep personal information for a range of legitimate purposes, from use in targeted business marketing, to records kept by organisations providing health and other services and also for research.

But rarely a week passes without news of yet another organisation’s customer database being invaded or “hacked”.

Any business or organisation that collects information from people who either work for or use its services has a duty to ensure it is stored securely and safely.

When the new regulations come into force both businesses and those who process digital records for them will now be accountable. They will have to document decisions that are made about processing the data that has been collected. This means showing that the data has been lawfully collected for specified and legitimate purposes, and that the details of what has been collected are specific and limited to those purposes.

Crucially the information must be protected and held securely and must be stored for no longer than required.

Any organisation or business that keeps lists containing people’s personal data will need to look at their data collection, storage and processing systems to be ready in time for the new regulations.  They must ensure they have proper permissions for collecting and holding personal information and can verify this. Silence or pre-ticked boxes are not proper consent.

They must also give individuals a right of access to and correction of the information being held, the right to its removal and to restricting it and the right to object. So, they will need to put in place acceptable governance to ensure all these rights are acted on, on request and in a timely manner.

Opt-outs from the regulations, known as derogation, will be allowed only in some situations – such as for national security reasons.


The End for Windows Vista

No more support for Windows Vista

It is ten years since the Windows Vista operating system was launched and this week on April 11 2017 Microsoft finally withdrew support.

Vista users will no longer receive security updates that can help protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal personal information.

When it was launched, Vista was supposed to revolutionise Windows because of its new file system and user interface.  But the new system was “graphically intense” and took up a lot of space, especially on laptops.  It was also too much for many netbooks.

Users complained about file transfers being slower than Windows XP, video games were sluggish, and on-screen prompts constantly pestered PC owners.

Vista reportedly became one of the most disliked software packages, especially when compared with Windows XP, which was two years older than Vista.

At the time, Microsoft was criticised for failing to understand customers’ needs and for not listening to them.

While those who still have Vista on their machines will still be able to run it, they should be aware that they will no longer be protected and if they store sensitive information, where security is important they should consider changing to a different operating system.

They may also find that their PCs will no longer work with other hardware, such as printers, scanners and cameras that have been manufactured to be compatible with more recent operating systems.

If you want to find out about the life cycles for support on other Windows operating systems there’s a fact sheet here

If you want help to upgrade to a newer system Colchester IT can assess whether your existing computer hardware is powerful enough to cope as Windows 10, for example, is very power-hungry needs at least 1GB of RAM, between 16 GB and 20 GB of free storage, and a display with a resolution of at least 800 x 600 pixels.

Call us for advice and to help you through the process of upgrading.


IT round-up

IT round-up for small businesses and home computer users

Here’s a round-up of some of the latest tech info and issues and this week, it’s mostly, but not all, about security and hacking.

Record levels of online fraud in 2016

The fraud prevention service Cifas has reported that Identity Fraud in the UK reached record levels in 2016 with 25,000 victims aged under 25 out of a total of almost 173,000 recorded frauds. The statistics were collected from 277 banks and businesses and 88% of all frauds occurred online. There’s more on this here.

Young people at risk despite parental controls and filters

A new study published in The Journal of Paediatrics has cast doubt on the effectiveness of parental controls and content filters as a means of protecting teenagers online. Researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University analysed Ofcom data on 515 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15, and found that the use of content filters in the home – in use in a third of the households involved – “did not appear to mitigate the risk of young people having unpleasant online experiences and that technical ability to bypass these filters had no observed effect on the likelihood of such experiences”.

The most popular cybercrimes revealed

From the Telegraph:

  1. Phishing – The aim is to trick people into handing over their card details or access to protected systems. Emails are sent out that contain either links or attachments that either take you to a website that looks like your bank’s, or installs malware on your system. A report by Verizon into data breach investigations has shown that 23pc of people open phishing emails.
  2. Identity theft – According to fraud protection agency Cifas, the number of victims rose by 31pc to 32,058 in the first three months of 2015. Criminals use online ‘fraud forums’ to buy and sell credit cards, email addresses and passports.
  3. Hacking – In a Verizon study of security breaches there were 285 million data exposures, which works out to about nine records exposed every second – 26pc of these attacks were executed internally within organisations.
  4. Online harrassment – Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, while 73pc of adult users have seen someone harassed in some way online and 40pc have experienced it.

Changes to Google hangouts

Whether you use them for business or personal communication Google have announced they are revamping Hangouts.

The main Hangouts text chat service will receive a Slack-style upgrade, completed with threaded conversations and both web and dedicated app interfaces, to become Hangouts Chat. Meanwhile, the video/voice conferencing capabilities will get a new, less fiddly front end in the form of Hangouts Meet, which is live now. More on this here.

And finally ….

Do you read the Ts and Cs (Terms and Conditions) when you visit a website?  Perhaps you would if they were presented like this graphic novel produced by US artist Robert Sikoroyak?


New ruse by scammers to get control of your computer

In the last couple of days there have been warnings about a sneaky new tactic being used by scammers to get control of people’s computers, as ever with the objective of extorting or stealing money.

The warnings have come from the UK’s National Trading Standards e-crime team.

In this scam the problem starts when the computer owner has a printer that develops problems and then goes online to find a printer helpline, which they then call.

“This printer helpline scam is particularly pernicious because it encourages victims to unknowingly contact the fraudsters of their own accord,” said Mike Andrews, the team’s lead co-ordinator.

This new ruse is a 21st Century version of the psychology used in old-fashioned distraction burglaries, where the criminal depends on the victim’s attention being on something else and therefore not alert to the real danger they are in.

Callers to the fake printer helplines are fooled into allowing remote access to their computers. Then, in the same way as the more well-known scams that depend on an unsolicited phone call claiming to be from Microsoft, victims are persuaded to allow remote access to their computer to fix the problems, only this time supposedly with their printer.

Victims are likely to be less alert to a possible fraud because their attention is not on their PC but on a printer issue.

From there on the victims are trapped by the usual scammer tactics of either refusing to hand back control until the owner pays them some money, or by the scammers inserting malware into the computer that allows them to steal the owner’s bank account details, again to extract money.

The best advice is to either access the printer manufacturer’s own website online and search for its official troubleshooting advice or helpline, or consult the brochure that came with the machine if there is one.

You should never, ever, allow remote access to your computer by someone you have not met and are talking to on the phone. Equally important is to keep virus and malware protection software up to date to protect the computer from the latest scams.

This is the latest variation to add to a growing list of telephone and email scams that also include emails that appear to be from legitimate banks or Internet service providers (ISPs). These usually contain a link for the recipient to click on, at which point the scammer has access to either steal financial information or to encrypt the machine then demand a ransom payment to unlock it.

According to the organisation Action Fraud, there were more than 32,000 instances of various types of computer service fraud in 2016, an increase of 47% since 2014.

If you have been effected by this scam or have any concerns contact us at ColchesterIT for FREE no partial advice. Or simply call us on 01206 634063


No internet access after applying Windows updates

No internet access after applying Windows updates – FIX

We all know that Windows updates can cause just as many problems as they manage to fix, one of the issues we have seen an influx of recently coming into our Colchester-IT is where a computer is unable to connect to the internet after completing a number of updates that have been recently installed. This normally doesn’t cause any issues until the machine has been restarted, luckily this is generally a simple issue to fix.

Upon further inspection, we were able to fix this particular issue simply by disabling the wireless adapter, rebooting the machine, and then re-enabling the wireless adapter upon restarting. This seems to permanently fix the issue, for steps on how to fix this problem please see below.

  1. Right click on the wireless logo on the task bar in the bottom right and click on “open network sharing centre” – Alternatively you can hit the Windows key + X key to open the menu and click on network connections.
  2. Once you are in the network and sharing centre click on the “change adapter settings” this will open a new window which displays your available network connections
  3. Right click on the wireless adapter which may be named “Wi-Fi” and disable the adapter, once you have disabled the wireless adapter it will grey itself out.
  4. Proceed to reboot your machine leaving the wireless adapter disabled, repeat the above process to get back to the adapter settings and you can simply enable the adapter again by double clicking on the greyed-out adapter.
  5. Check that your wireless has connected back to your router (it should still remember your preferred network) and you should be back up and running!




We are Hiring

IT Apprentice job in Colchester

Colchester IT is looking for a new dedicated apprentice to join our professional team in Essex. This role would suit a hardworking individual who is keen to start building a career in IT.

The IT apprenticeship is specifically designed for those aged 16-25, all training will be provided on site. Your role will be for 35 hours per week, based in our busy workshop and also on the shop floor.

Day to day duties will include shadowing and providing support to the IT engineers, to learn about the inner workings of computers. From this, you will gain an extensive working knowledge of various computer services and repairs.

You will also gain retail and customer service experience, offering support to customers both over the phone and face to face on the shop floor.

This will be a hands on role, with lots of exciting tasks and challenges along the way, so you must be willing to learn and get stuck in. You will be a good team player, proactive, and enthusiastic.

If you would like to apply to join our team, please email your CV to: apprentice@colchesterit.com

We look forward to hearing from you.


Will selfies replace passwords for payment?

Will selfies replace passwords for payment?

Card payment company, MasterCard has stated that it will begin to accept selfies as alternative to passwords when authorising IDs for online payments in the future. The firm will also use fingerprint recognition in the same way.

The move comes following successful trials of the process in America and the Netherlands last year. So successful in fact that MasterCard told the BBC that 92% of test subjects actually preferred these biometric payments over manually entering passwords.

Experts have also predicted that selfie and fingerprint payments could potentially wipe out credit card fraud one day. Although, this has been met with criticisms, with some security researchers questioning how easy it could be to trick the system.

MasterCard explained that members of the public will simply need to download an app to their smartphone, tablet, or PC in order to begin processing payments this way. This technology is now officially rolling out, in the UK, US, Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.


How do selfie payments work?

When making purchases, users will still be asked for their payment card details, but if a two factor authentication process is required, then they will be asked to use the device’s camera to take a selfie, or use the fingerprint scanner. This is instead of the current system of having to type out selected numbers and letters from their passwords.

Interestingly, if validating their ID by a selfie, users will need to blink into the camera, to prove they are really there, and not just holding up a photograph.


Why has MasterCard brought in selfie payments?

Ajay Bhalla, chief of safety and security at MasterCard, says that passwords are not secure, people frequently use the same password across multiple websites, and we all know that the most commonly used password is 123456. The problem is that if one website gets hacked, then all the websites where you use the same password will get compromised. This is not ideal.

In this day and age, we all own mobile phones, and we all access the internet. It makes sense to introduce biometrics as an extra security level when authenticating ourselves.

There has long been a problem with online payments because there is no card present, and therefore a greater risk of fraud exists. This is why we typically pay surcharges for credit card payments. Introducing biometric payments makes a lot of sense because it is a more secure method than simply asking for a password. Hopefully this will reduce fraud and we can all benefit from lower prices for these transactions.


Free or Paid Antivirus?

Paid Vs Free Antivirus

The internet can be a dangerous place, there are a growing number of threats out there that can cause serious damage to your PC. Antivirus protection is therefore essential, but some are free, and some are paid for. So what are the differences between paid vs free antivirus, and which is best?

Free antivirus

Freebie programmes generally only provide the absolute bare minimum level of security protection. This means it will scan for malware, and you can set it to do that automatically which is one less thing to worry about. Some free versions may also offer additional tools like a bad link finder or a firewall, but these will probably be trialled versions that will expect payment at a later date. Free antivirus might also provide malware detection, which will alert you of new threats, so that’s always a bonus.

A major downfall with free antivirus programmes is that you do not benefit from any technical support over the phone or online etc. It is really only paying companies that receive extra help and support if something goes wrong, or questions need answering.

Freebies will frequently flag you with adverts and reminders to upgrade, and trial the paid products. At first this will be fine, but over time it can become extremely annoying and time consuming, especially when you are in the middle of other tasks.

Paid antivirus

Paid versions usually provide more complex settings such as identity theft protection or parental controls. There will be more settings and options, so be sure to read the manual and spend time playing through them.

There are a tonne of benefits of paid antivirus though, and it will provide you with a much more comprehensive protection and cover. Paid programmes often include extra security levels like firewall, backup, recovery,l and anti-spyware solutions. You can set everything to quickly and automatically update which makes thing easy to manage.

Usually with paid antivirus, you get multiple licenses, which means you can protect all of your computers and devices, without needing to purchase multiple protections. You’ll get online support and help, too.

Recommended solution

At ColchesterIT, we are currently offering you half price AVG! At Only £39 for 2 years! To make the most of this fantastic offer, bringing you all the above benefits, and more, please contact us today.


How to backup your files

The files on your computer are extremely important. Unfortunately, you will probably lose some of that data at some point in your life. The hard drive could fail at any moment, your files could fall victim to ransomware and be held hostage, or a bug in the software could delete everything in an instant. This is why it is so important to regularly backup your PC and files or you risk losing all that data forever.

There are many methods of backup available, each with their own pros and cons. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be a complicated process. A bit of initial legwork will save a tonne of hassle in the future.

What needs backing up?

Be aware that in the event of a hard drive failure, it’s easy to reinstall the operating system and re-download any programmes you may need. But your own personal data – photos, videos, documents – can never be replaced. Therefore, these should be first on your backup agenda.

That said, you may still want to backup your operating system, settings, and programmes, but this is a much longer process, and won’t always be completely necessary. So let’s focus on those all important personal files for now.

Types of backup

  • External hard drive – this device attaches to your computer via the USB port and you can make use of your computer’s built-in software to run the backup. To do this on Windows 8 or 10, you’ll need to use File History. On Windows 7, it’s called Windows Backup. If you have a Mac, it will be performed through Time Machine. You could either leave the device connected to the PC at all times and let it run automatic backups, or connect them from time to time and do it manually.
    • Pros: low cost and relatively quick.
    • Cons: if the external hard drive is lost or damaged, your backup will be lost.
  • Internet backup – These programmes run in the background of your computer and automatically run backups which will store on the web. If your files get lost, you simply log into the service and recover them. Some examples of internet backups include CrashPlan, BackBlaze, MozyHome, and Carbonite.
    • Pros: you’re protected against any data loss – hard drive failure, natural disaster, theft, etc.
    • Cons: you need to pay a monthly fee (from around £5 upwards) and backup time can be quite slow.


Cloud backup – Cloud storage such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive, will all serve as a form of backup too. For example, if your PC dies, your files will be on the online account, or synced to your other PC for recovery.


    • Pros: Easy, fast, and free. Protects against all data losses.
    • Cons: If you have lots of files to backup, you’ll need to pay.

Top tips for the best backup

  • Automate your backups. That way, you don’t really need to do anything, so long as you’ve set it to run regularly.
  • Use more than one method. Using an external hard drive and also internet backup, for example, will make sure you can recover those files in any event.
  • Constantly think about what you will do if your computer dies, and you need to recover your files. This is the best mindset to ensure everything is kept safe. Make sure you always have multiple copies at all times, in more than one location.



Charity Sky Dive

ColchesterIT Charity Skydive

Extreme thrill and adrenaline rush was on the cards for ColchesterIT owner, Nigel, last week as he braved jumping out of an aircraft and plunging down to earth at speeds of more than 120 mph for a great cause.

This immense breathtaking experience was a skydive at 13,000 feet (just over three miles!) in aid of raising funds for the The Isobel Parmenter Memorial Fund, a charity close to the hearts of many. Nigel’s jump took place in Lowestoft with UK Parachuting, and raised a stonking total of more than £750!

You can watch his exhilarating experience on YouTube here:

Well done, Nigel!

Nigel’s skydive was in aid of an extremely worthwhile cause – The Isobel Parmenter Memorial Fund at CCLG. A small person inspiring people to do BIG things! This is funding essential research into the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of histiocytosis – a rare cancer group of diseases caused by an increase of white blood cells in the blood and tissue. It is hoped that one day a cure will be found.

To find out more about this amazing charity, and how you can give your support and get involved, please visit: http://www.cclg.org.uk/Isobel-Parmenter-Memorial-Fund