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Why are you not Cyber Essentials certified yet?

“Only 30% of the enterprises mentioned implementing changes to cyber security because of GDPR.” - Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019

Per the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019, the average cost of all breaches identified in the last 12 months for small enterprises was £1,210 while for medium enterprises, it was £3,770. Also, around 32% of enterprises reported having cyber security breaches in the last 12 months.

To meet these cyber security challenges, the UK government has implemented a range of schemes and initiatives. Of all the initiatives, Cyber Essentials is possibly the most useful for SMEs. According to a report by NIG, almost 80% of data breaches can be prevented by implementing Cyber Essentials. This initiative brings many benefits to enterprises looking to get certified; here are the five most important benefits:

  1. Helps build clients’ trust: Around 60% of UK clients would stop doing business with a breached enterprise per a report by KPMG. Cyber Essentials certified SMEs would have a competitive advantage. Cyber Essentials certification becomes even more important for SMEs using and storing personal data like medical records, financial information, and other sensitive data.
  2. Improves operational efficiency: Without a clear and consistent plan, a great extent of time, money and resources are spent on patching security systems as and when they arise. There is an inevitable loss in employee time during the restoration of services, particularly for IT staff. Cyber Essentials certification will allow both technical and non-technical staff to remain productive and efficient by focusing on the core business needs rather than continually stopping to patch things up.
  3. Creates an opportunity to audit the internal security system: The effects of a severe data breach on an enterprise could be devastating. Not only financially, but also in terms of brand image and reputation. Cyber Essentials requires an enterprise to assess their systems against the 5 key pillars, document evidence of compliance, then have this approved by an independent Certification Body and subsequently an Accreditation Body who have been approved by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). This level of scrutiny on an enterprise’s security policies will detect security vulnerabilities and elevate the enterprise’s security substantially.
  4. Better chance of winning government contracts: The UK Government since October 2014, requires all enterprises bidding for contracts which require handling of sensitive and personal data or the provision of technical products and services to be Cyber Essentials certified.
  5. Improves cyber defence: Cybercriminals are trying to steal data, money, or cause severe business disruption to SMEs almost every day. Implementing Cyber Essentials is a great way for SMEs to approach cyber threats and is a very important first step in addressing cyber security threats. The Cyber Essentials initiative includes highly effective precautions such as using strong and secure passwords, limiting access to sensitive information, software updates, malware protection, firewall management, user account control and good security policies which help bind this all together for a security strategy which lasts well beyond the day of certification.

m3 Networks is a Cyber Essentials Plus certified company with several Accredited Cyber Essentials (ACE) Practitioners on staff. We can provide advice and services to your enterprise in order to help you get Cyber Essentials certified and take you well beyond certification to elevate your businesses security to where it needs to be. Speak to our expert to find out more information about Cyber Essentials.

What is your IT support provider costing you?

“Around half of all enterprises (49%) in the UK have outsourced some part of technology to an IT support provider. Also, outsourcing is more common among small and medium businesses than others” – Cyber Security Breach Survey 2019

Almost half of SMEs struggle to find IT staff with the necessary level of skills and experience, which is just one of many reasons why many SMEs look to outsource their IT operations. Outsourcing IT can either be merely offloading support and maintenance or outsourcing an entire IT department. More often than not, small companies find it difficult to justify the cost of more than one full-time IT support person but working with an IT provider can mean having access to a full team of experienced consultants.

However, not all IT support providers offer the same quality of support and services. Outsourcing should not be viewed as a simple cost-saving exercise. An unsuccessful IT support provider can cost more than you can imagine. The cost can be in terms of money, operational downtime, company reputation, losing your competitive edge and loss in staff time. So, it boils down to one question: what does your IT support provider cost you?

Consider these five factors to determine whether your IT support provider is costing you money

Recurring Issues

The most important factor to consider is recurring faults. If your IT support provider does not solve the root cause of the problem, then the same issues are going to crop back up. Problems like this indicate your IT support provider does not track issues correctly or are just patching things up when they go wrong.
Quality IT support providers prevent issues from recurring by identifying the root cause of a fault. They continually monitor systems and take pre-emptive measures to stop problems before they stop your business. They will also likely have a suite of value-adding Managed IT services to help reduce and mitigate various unpleasant possibilities such as unacceptably long periods of downtime, cyber-attacks and lack of system resources or resiliency to handle peak demand.

Delay in adoption of the latest technology

SMEs need to aggressively adopt technology to stay competitive. If your IT support provider is unable to keep pace with your technology needs, then this should be taken as a negative sign that this partnership is no longer fulfilling its purpose. In a rapidly changing technology landscape, IT support providers should encourage their clients to remain agile, control costs, quickly respond to competitive opportunities and align IT with ever-evolving business objectives.
Reputed IT support providers use the latest technologies and equipment to deliver services which are updated regularly with no additional cost to the business and thus eliminating the risk of an obsolete IT infrastructure.

Slow response time

At any moment SMEs can be struck by show-stopping issues such as internet outages, server crashes and cyber-attacks. When a problem arises, your IT support provider should get on it immediately. If there is a lag in response time, then your business could come to a grinding halt.
There are many reasons for this. Maybe your IT provider has not invested in the technology necessary to continuously monitor and track your IT systems, are short on skilled resources, overstretched with their commitments or even this is the level of service you have agreed to. If this is an ongoing issue though, then it’s time to act.

Poor Communication

If your IT support provider is not completely clear about the support services which they provide, then you should consider changing. You outsource IT services for several reasons including fixing costs, or at the very least to have a handle on them. Yet, far too many businesses are being hit with unexpected invoices due to their provider’s lack of transparency or poor communication on a non-technical level. This often erodes that all-important trust and damages the working relationship.
Reputed IT support providers will communicate regularly and in non-technical language - often through an account manager. They should report not just on how healthy your IT systems are but on your levels of usage, customer satisfaction, industry trends, and any areas of concern. Your IT partner is just that – your partner in technology, and you rely on them to look out for you, present opportunities, and plan for the future.

Lack of strategic planning for the future

In the past, a reactive approach would have done the job. But with the increasing complexities and security vulnerabilities of the modern enterprise, a proactive approach is a must-have. A reactive IT support provider lacks the foresight to plan ahead and may be driving you head-first into entirely preventable issues. Whilst your provider may be an expert in solving problems, somebody must plot the course and steer the ship. Otherwise, things are going to go off-course!

An engaged and proactive IT support provider will regularly analyse your business requirements and work with you to maintain alignment between IT systems and business objectives, which they may formalise by way of a strategic road map.

Four elements your IT support provider should support you with in the long run

1.Reduce downtime: Your IT support provider should reduce operational downtime. UK SMEs experience 45 minutes of downtime each week, which is approximately £500 per employee, per year, in lost productivity.

2. Improve security: According to Cyber Security Breach Survey 2019, the average annual cost of a cyber-attack on businesses in the UK is £4,180. Your IT support provider should be able to reduce the risk of a cyber-attack and improve the overall security of your enterprise.

3. Company reputation: 60% of UK consumers would be willing to stop doing business with a breached enterprise. The provider should be able to protect your enterprise from data breaches. 

4. Business efficiency and competitiveness: Without a coherent and consistent plan, a significant amount of time, money and resources are spent on patching IT infrastructure and security issues as and when they arise. There is an inevitable loss in staff time during the restoration of services, particularly for IT staff.

Any IT support provider can fix issues, but a quality provider brings much more to the table. They shouldn’t just add value; instead, they should be invaluable. They should be working hard behind the scenes to prevent problems from ever arising. Also, your provider should communicate clearly and regularly, steer the business clear from disasters and develop strategic IT roadmaps to enable the company to leverage technology to achieve maximum business benefits. It’s true that so many SMEs see IT as a cost centre, but the truth is that IT can and should be the driving force behind your enterprise’s profit centre.

5 Must-Have Agenda Items your IT Strategy Should Address

Having a robust IT strategy is critical to the success of any business, whether they realise it or not. No longer is IT just an enabler for businesses to run software, answer emails or take phone calls – IT has transformative effects on their ability to grow effectively and efficiently. However, for this to ring true, IT must be aligned with the business, and this comes from a carefully thought out IT strategy. Yet many businesses are moving forward with a poorly designed IT strategy or with no strategy at all.

The IT strategy serves as a road map that will help businesses understand how to leverage existing and emerging technologies to support business objectives. Below are five must-have agenda items your IT Strategy should address:

Agility and flexibility – The IT strategy should be agile and flexible to address changing technology needs

Agility is an essential factor for a business to survive in fast-moving and dynamic markets. Business strategies should be flexible, and businesses should be able to reprioritise, change direction and include or exclude capabilities quickly based on market conditions.

To compete in today’s world of dynamic and disrupted technology markets, SMEs should be able to operate swiftly. They should be able to respond quickly and efficiently to changing technology needs of customers and the market. As such, the IT strategy should be flexible enough to address regular changes in SME's strategy and technology needs. SMEs mostly operate in a dynamic environment which requires an agile plan.

People and process – Your IT strategy should consider the non-technical aspects of your business

Many businesses focus on the technical aspects of their IT strategies without considering the process or employees involved. Your IT strategy should address organisational change management and business process reengineering both of which are necessary to realise the full benefits of technology implementation.

Support business goals – IT strategy should align with your business strategy

To create a successful IT strategy enterprises must make sure it is aligned with their overall business strategy. In many cases when SMEs decide to implement a new IT strategy, they have good intentions, but sometimes, those intentions are not aligned with the business’s overall strategy. Before creating an IT strategy, enterprises should first define their strategic business goals, then outline specific IT risks, opportunities and objectives that support those overarching business goals.

Improve business performance – IT Strategy should support optimal business performance

The IT strategy should address the businesses most important priorities to improve performance. The strategy should help the business outside of the direct application of technology in the workplace. It will guarantee that the budget is used to create value, both in technology and in supporting the rest of the business to perform at its best.

Affordability – The IT strategy and support should be cost effective

Should our business outsource IT strategy development and IT support services or develop it in-house?

This is the one question which most SMEs ask before they begin with the IT strategy development plan. In-house IT strategy and systems are built based on the businesses requirements born from a day to day knowledge of business operations. Whilst this is valuable in meeting real challenges and daily objectives, it can often cause the IT strategy to be misaligned with the overall business direction.

On the other hand, outsourcing the development of your IT strategy to an IT provider is not only cost-effective, you are getting a truly subjective review from somebody who is not concerned with or bogged down by these daily challenges. Not only that, but outsourced IT providers often bring them with a plethora of highly specialised skills and extensive partner networks in key areas such as security, disaster recovery and cloud computing

Has your business decided to build or revamp your IT strategy? Do you even have one?
Get in touch with us and let’s get started!

Why You Should Plan to Fail… by Building an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

Irrespective of industry, IT system failures can have a devastating effect on small and mid-sized businesses. IT disruption for even a few hours can bring business operations to a standstill resulting in significant financial loses. Crises’ such as server or internet failure, cyber-attack, fire, flood or even a natural disaster could takeout your IT infrastructure and cripple your business. SMEs, therefore, must have a disaster recovery plan in case of such a catastrophe. Not having a plan to fail can put your enterprise at risk of financial loss, brand damage and most importantly risk of losing customers.

Consequences if you Fail to Plan (for failure)

Despite all the awareness and precautionary tales surrounding these events, there are still a large number of SMEs that choose not to develop a disaster recovery plan until it’s too late. Below are a few compelling facts which highlight just how important it is to prioritize a disaster recovery plan.

  • Downtime: SMEs on average experience over three downtime incidents each year due to some form of disaster.
  • Power cut and connectivity failures:
    • Around 77% of UK businesses (approximately 4 million) experience connectivity failures.
    • Businesses on average suffer 4-5 outages in a year with a six-hour waiting period for the services to be restored.
  • Security breach: Last year almost 43% of UK businesses suffered a cyber-attack resulting in variable amounts of downtime.
  • Financial and productivity loss: Per a report by Daisy Group, UK SMEs on average experience 45 minutes of downtime each week which is approximately £500 per employee, per year, in lost productivity.
  • Data loss: Per a report by IDC, 40% of SMEs in the UK do not have a data backup plan in place and if they do, then around 50% of the data backups are only partially recoverable.
  • Enterprises failing to recover: According to a report by Deloitte, almost 90% of businesses without an IT disaster recovery plan will not survive when a major disaster strikes.

Six Things Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan Should Cover

Disasters can strike at any time - cyber-attack, human error, natural disaster, flood or fire, storms etc. When disaster strikes, it is necessary to have a plan to protect your IT systems from its impact. It’s no wonder, therefore, that having a strategically designed and tested IT disaster recovery plan will improve an SME's ability to return to normal business operations as quickly as possible.

When putting a recovery plan together, it is best to work with a Managed Service Provider with experience in IT disaster recovery planning. MSPs offer strategic services to help businesses review their current IT systems, evaluate and redefine processes and then actually implement the new IT disaster recovery plan. Consider the below six things when your business plans to create an IT disaster recovery plan, or are reviewing the one you already have:

  1. Threat Modelling & Response of potential disasters: The disaster recovery plan should include a wide spectrum of all possible technological, environmental, political and business incidents, with a response/recovery plan for each scenario.
  2. Business operation impact analysis: Business operation impact analysis will simulate the consequences of disruption of a business process and collect information needed to develop disaster recovery strategies. The business operation impact analysis inspects three security objectives: integrity, confidentiality, and availability.
  3. Identify business-critical systems and information: Not all information is of equal importance. Identify the most critical systems and data which should be protected at all costs and protect it!
  4. Crisis Management: Identify the right management and technical staff (or support providers) to support the business through a crisis. The recovery plan should include a crisis response team to handle the disaster effectively.
  5. Regularly updating disaster recovery plans: Update disaster recovery plans whenever internal IT systems are changed or updated. Updating is important as the recovery plan will be successful only if it takes into consideration all the IT systems and applications currently in use – which are forever changing.
  6. Test your IT disaster recovery plan: Testing recovery plans is critical – after all, when you need them – they must work first time!  Loopholes, snags, changes and unforeseen technical problems always arise during testing and these must be worked through and corrected before the plan is put into production and disaster strikes. Since IT systems are continually changing and upgrading, testing recovery plans also assist in ensuring the recovery plan is current.

Do you have questions about disaster recovery planning? Contact m3Networks. You'll be connected with a disaster recovery expert who can address your specific challenges and problems.

How to protect your company’s sensitive information from being traded on the dark web

Did you know that your employee identity or customer details can be illegally sold on the dark web for as little as £7 to £10?

Businesses may or may not have heard the phrase "dark web", and even if they have, it may be difficult to understand what the dark web is and what it can mean to their business. In today’s digital world, online interactions have increased tenfold with digital payment systems, online databases with sensitive information, personal identities and digital corporate information. It has led to an explosion of digital crime with hackers stealing sensitive data and selling them on the dark web.

The three levels of the Internet:

Level 1 – Surface Web: The surface web is accessible by all and is what we all know as the internet. The surface web represents about 4% of the internet. Surface web is also known as the public web which is anything that can be indexed by a search engine like Google, Bing, etc. Online shopping, sharing posts in social media, searching for information, etc. are all part of the surface web.

Level 2 – Deep Web: Deep occupies around 93% of the internet. Internal company sites, intranets, databases, members-only websites are examples of the deep web. These sites are not indexed in search engines, i.e. they won’t show up in searches unless either you are connected to your company’s network or you know the web address and have access to it.

Level 3 – Dark Web: 3% of the internet belongs to the dark web. The Dark Web is intentionally hidden and is inaccessible through regular web browsers. Multiple layers of encryption and security help the dark web in maintaining its anonymity. The dark web is the go-to place for large scale illegal activities and online crimes.

Why should SMEs be Wary about Dark Web?

Criminal activities on the dark web can directly affect your business. For example, your customer data, employee information or other sensitive information can be stolen and sold on the dark web. 

Recently security specialists at m3 Networks recently uncovered alarming results from research investigating more than 600 businesses which are members of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce. Almost 24,000 security breaches with an average of 39 per company were found on the dark web – over 57% of all these businesses appeared on the dark web with breached credentials.

How can SME’s Protect themselves from the Dark Web?

  1. Ban employees from using TOR: Don’t allow employees to access the TOR network; they can easily expose your business to malware. TOR is the most common software client used to access the dark web. Provide clear and strict employee guidance on how to cleanly use the internet.
  2. Train employees on security protocols: Cybersecurity experts always advise that employee error plays a major role in a successful cyber-attack. The fact that most SMEs are unaware of the dark web is argument enough that additional training on IT security is essential. This will help increase employee awareness about cybersecurity measures and compliance so that they follow your businesses security protocols.
  3. Treat passwords carefully: Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Creating a strong password is best practice as well as storing these with a reputable password manager such as LastPass or OnePass – but this is not a guarantee. You could have the strongest password but if your business does not protect it in a secure format then it could be stolen. Knowing your password has been breached as soon as possible is critical so you can change it in all the locations it has been used. Or it WILL be used against you.
  4. Limit employee access to sensitive information: Many SMEs cannot differentiate between sensitive data and publicly accessible information thereby offering a much larger possible attack surface. Limiting employee access to sensitive data can limit a cybercrime incident. Therefore, it is advisable to restrict access to sensitive data on a need to know basis.
  5. Take help from dark web monitoring experts: At m3 Networks, we offer dark web monitoring services to alert when a business has been compromised so that passwords can be changed quickly. We have tools that can trawl more than 600,000 forums and websites on the dark web. 

We also offer a suite of other security services such as security awareness training, penetration testing,  real-time network and security event monitoring, incident response and virtual CISO services, amongst others

Our technical director Mark Lamb recently gave an interview on the dark web to The Courier “Personal details of thousands of workers from Tayside firms being sold on dark web”. Follow the link to learn more about our investigation and what Mark Lamb’s recommendations are for enterprises.

6 Factors You Should Consider when Choosing a New IT Provider

Managed IT support and service providers are an excellent choice for SMEs looking to improve their business efficiency.  IT service providers not only offer affordable IT services but also provide business owners with peace of mind knowing that their IT is in capable hands.

However, not all IT service providers are competent enough to offer your enterprise with industry best practice services. Below are 6 factors to consider when selecting your preferred IT service provider.

Factors to consider when selecting a new IT provider

Why it is important

m3 Networks' Advantage

Availability of Skills and Expertise

- The most important factor when selecting an IT service provider is the depth and breadth of skills and expertise.


- For small and mid-sized enterprises, being able to access specialist skills and expertise is an integral part of growth. Access to IT experts to assist your enterprise’s need at any time during working hours is critical.


-Ask about the skill sets of their staff, how they gain and share new knowledge and their expertise around scalability.

- We have 10+ years of experience in offering IT support services


- 120+ locations supported from Dingwall to Hastings


- We are one of the only Scottish companies to have a multi-skilled Managed IT Services, Cloud and Cyber Security trained team holding accreditations and qualifications such as Accredited Cyber Essentials Practitioners, Digital Forensics, Ethical Hacking, Microsoft Certified System Administrators, Cisco Certified Network Engineers and Fibre-Optic & Radio physical network infrastructure engineers

Ability to Customise Services

- Based on market conditions, SMEs must adapt and change their business strategies accordingly. As such, SMEs will require customised IT solutions to fulfil their business needs.


- Look for IT support and service providers who can manage and assist with any IT related issues by offering customised IT solutions that match your business needs and can help support your business through its growth as well as its day to day running.


- Even better, your provider should spend time getting to know your business, so they can actively generate ideas of how to expand, develop and create efficiency gains to increase profitability and fuel growth through technology.

- We manage and assist with any IT related issues by offering customised IT solutions that match clients' business needs.


- Analyse clients’ businesses to understand their requirement and operate as an extension to the clients' management team.


- We ensure the IT strategy is aligned with the needs and demands as your own business grows and develops, proactively generating ideas on how technology can be used to achieve this.

Service Range and Support

- Technology needs of an enterprise changes continually depending on market demand.


- As such, the IT service provider should not only provide a range of services but also enhance the enterprise’s capabilities through a process of continuous improvement.


- The IT Service provider should support your enterprise by streamlining existing IT services and introducing new IT services when needed to help improve business growth.


- Also, make sure that the support and services are delivered without added costs – the last thing any business wants are unexpected costs.

- As an IT technology partner, we provide a 360 degree IT support and services offering including customisable yet comprehensive cyber security services to our clients.


- We provide 24/7/365 system monitoring.


- Unlimited remote and telephone support.

IT provider's Reputation

- To get a better understanding of the IT support and service provider, request references/case studies and demonstratable examples of their past and current clients or projects.


- Research the reputation of the IT service provider to ensure your enterprise is choosing one with an excellent customer satisfaction record.Also, look for their partnership with other reputed software providers such as Microsoft, Netgear, HP/Dell etc.


- But most importantly look for industry-agnostic accreditations and quality management systems such as ISO certification form leading certification bodies like BSI.

- We are an ISO 9001:2015 certified company with 100% customer satisfaction for 2019 to date and over 98% for the last 3 consecutive years


- We are approved as Cyber Essentials practitioners.


- We hold numerous partnerships with key vendors such as Microsoft, Netgear, Draytek, Zyxel, HP amongst others.


- Sponsored Cyber Security Business Breakfast, a Chamber Event organised by Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce.

Outsourcing Cost

- IT support and service providers have made outsourcing cost competitive. It is always a good practice to research the market cost before diving deep into a contract with the service provider.


- However, selecting a service provider only on cost is not advisable as the service quality is very likely to suffer. Hence, the industry best practice is deciding based on a combination of price and quality. As they say, you get what you pay for.

- No surprise charges; billing is a fixed monthly fee.


- Clients have fixed-price, monthly support agreements, so they know exactly how much they are paying for IT support and services.

Security Standards

- SMEs are vulnerable to malware and hackers. Ability to handle escalating cyber threats, sensitive customer information and regulation changes like GDPR should be a top priority when selecting an IT service provider.


- Understand IT service provider's security measures and how they will handle your enterprise's data.


- Reputed managed IT service providers will protect and secure your business by reducing and mitigating various forms of cyber threats.

- We are approved as Cyber Essentials practitioners.


- We provide managed Cyber Security services to help reduce and mitigate many forms of cyber threats through industry leading technology vendors


- We have numerous Cyber-trained engineers in key areas such as Digital Forensics, Ethical Hacking and Cyber Response.


- Our weekly maintenance programme is unique - by carrying out system clean-up, virus-scans and patch management, we can usually eliminate a lot of the issues that cause your computers to slow down and impact your business, as well as monitoring critical systems for tell-tale signs that something is about to go down.

Advantages of Outsourcing your Cyber Security Services

“Almost half of businesses in the UK including SMEs (43%) suffered a cyber-attack in the last twelve months.” - Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Reasons for outsourcing cyber security services

Current Scenario

Advantages of Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Breadth of cyber security knowledge

In the UK:


- 43% of micro firms,

- 41% of small firms,

- 39% of mid-sized firms


don’t know the reasons which lead to a cyber-attack.

- Lack of proper knowledge on the contributing factors and sources for most of the disruptive breaches makes SMEs vulnerable to cyber-attacks. 

- As such its best to outsource cyber security to a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). Experience and knowledge of managed cyber security service providers will reduce the chances of a cyber-attack considerably.

- Also, a managed security service provider will be able to educate employees through cyber security awareness training programs and monitor your organisations exposure on the dark web, amongst other things

Fixed monthly or yearly cost

- 34% of SMEs in the UK find it challenging to invest in IT security as the cost has historically been high

- 30% of SMEs spend less than 3% of their overall budget on cyber security.

- Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) offer cyber security services at a very affordable and fixed cost.

- Majority of MSSPs offer their services to SMEs on a monthly subscription fee, but some may charge it annually.

- The fixed cost helps SMEs to plan their cyber security investment efficiently.

24/7 peace of mind

On average it takes around 3 days to neutralise the effect of a cyber-attack, leading to lost staff time and deviation of focus from the core business.

- Managed security service providers will perform around-the-clock monitoring.

- Continuous monitoring is an essential aspect of security as an enterprise can come under a cyber-attack at any time of the day.

- With 24/7 monitoring and security support, SMEs can enjoy peace of mind to focus on their core business operations and revenue generating activities

Availability of cyber security professionals

According to industry experts, there will be a shortfall of 100,000 cyber security professionals in the UK by 2022.

- Outsourcing cyber security is the best option for businesses these days, and it is especially crucial for SMEs that have limited budget or employees. 

- SMEs often have trouble attracting and retaining top security professionals.

- Some do not have the time or resource to deal with routine maintenance, which will ultimately lead to an inefficient security system.

Better Security Management

The cost of cyber attacks


- for small enterprises amounted to around £894

- while for medium-sized enterprises it was around £8,180

- Managed security service providers (MSSP) use a suite of detection and prevention tools and robust backup protocols to try and prevent cyber-attacks and shorten recovery time.

- Outsourcing cyber security services to MSSPs will reduce and mitigate cyber threats.

- MSSPs maintain cutting-edge security technologies to provide endpoint protection, web and dark web monitoring, security awareness training, penetration testing, vulnerability scans, firewall management and much more.

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5 Things SMEs Need to Know About Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has the potential to help SMEs address significant technology challenges. Implementation of cloud services helps SMEs procure the latest technology without massive capital investment, enabling IT infrastructure to progress with market changes. Implementing cloud computing either in a public, private or hybrid cloud scenario will help SMEs save time and money, positively impact operational efficiency, productivity and security. Below are five positive things SMEs should know about cloud computing:

Cloud Computing

Models of Cloud Computing

Public Cloud

Private Cloud

Hybrid Cloud

Definition

The most common method of deploying cloud computing is the public cloud.

A third-party cloud service provider owns the cloud.

In public clouds, an enterprise will share the server with other enterprises.

In the case of private cloud only one enterprise uses the resources of the cloud server.

The private cloud server can be located at your enterprise’s onsite data centre or the third-party service provider’s location.

Hybrid cloud is a combination of both public and private clouds and onsite infrastructure.

In a hybrid cloud, business applications and data can move between private and public clouds for better flexibility and more deployment options.

Importance of Cloud to SMEs

  • Security: Enterprise grade security at cost effective prices
  • Affordable: Access to high-end software at a manageable monthly cost
  • Remote accessibility: Globally accessible
  • Scalability: Ability to scale based on business requirement
  • Reliability: Protect business from downtime
  • Security – Enterprise grade security at cost effective prices

    When considering cloud computing, security may at first be a big concern as SMEs would expect a higher security level when using its own servers. However, the truth is that many SMEs cannot afford or justify the overwhelming cost of enterprise grade security systems when they must purchase them for their onsite infrastructure. With cloud computing, the cloud provider has already made this investment, so you can tap in to as much of this technology as you want whilst paying a relatively modest cost in comparison.

    Affordable – Access to high-end software at a manageable monthly cost

    Migrating to the cloud provides SMEs with access to technologies which earlier were only available to large corporates with significant cash flow. High-end software like SFA (sales force automation), CRM (customer relationship management) along with the latest hardware is costly making it difficult for SMEs to afford. Most cloud computing services come with the option to lease these software services on a monthly payment basis without any lock-in periods or upfront fees. By moving to the cloud, SMEs can enjoy all the facilities at a fraction of the cost of developing the same technology infrastructure in-house.

    Remotely accessibility and Globally distributed

    Compared to large enterprises, SMEs are far more agile. Cloud-computing offers the autonomy to access business applications anytime, anywhere and on any smart device. Business owners and executives are often travelling and need to work on the go which makes cloud-computing the best option. For businesses who are geographically dispersed, cloud offer the flexibility of extending the corporate IT infrastructure to regional datacentres which brings a whole host of security, flexibility and contingency benefits.

    Scalability – Ability to scale based on business requirement

    A combination of competitive business environments and an unpredictable economy makes it critical for SMEs to remain flexible and adaptable, so they can react to market changes. Cloud computing offers SMEs the liberty to scale based on their requirement. SMEs can get the right amount of IT resources like increasing or decreasing compute power, storage and bandwidth based on raw demand – negating the need to overbuy in advance.

    Reliability – Protect business from downtime

    Cloud resources offer extensive capabilities for protecting SMEs’ from business disruption and loss through Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) systems. Not only can businesses rapidly recover to traditional server outages by spinning up another server, their entire infrastructure can fail over and be running within a datacentre in a completely different part of the world within a matter of minutes. Even better, it can be designed this way from the outset by being globally distributed and protected from these types of eventualities, creating a scenario where your business could conceivably never be down.

    Whether you are looking to migrate your email to Office 365, move your file storage and applications to the Cloud or become almost bullet-proof with your business continuity and geographical reach, we can help. We are specialists in Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Office 365 and can create tailored Cloud infrastructure solutions for your business.

    To learn more about cloud computing, get in touch with an expert at m3 Networks.

    Why it is Important to Fix Your IT Costs

    Organisations across the world are undergoing an extraordinary transformation. A new generation of technology is changing the way businesses maintain security, customises a product, enhances the customer experience, markets their products and more. In time, and possibly in a short period, the entire way UK companies engage with their customers will be different, or rather will be very customised. Driving this change is the rise of new technologies. UK companies which combine this with the right IT budget (which can be tricky at times) can seize this opportunity.

    Type of IT Cost

    IT budget is a combination of total information costs which include IT spending and salaries of all IT users. Information costs include buying of services from service providers, advertising agencies, consultants, and accountants to support the information workforce.

    IT Cost Segment

    Sub-Segment

    Type of Expense

    Description

    Acquisition Cost

    Hardware

    Direct

    Initial hardware purchases or lease costs. Customers can choose a cloud-based platform or build it in-house which would incur a significant expense.

    Software

    Direct

    It includes software costs with a monthly, yearly or one-time plan.

    Implementation

    Direct

    The cost associated with setting up a new system.

    Subscriptions/ Licenses

    Direct

    Either each license to be purchased separately for each user or it can be a package with access to multiple users. The cost would differ based on the type of license/subscription.

    Data migration

    Direct

    Data migration can be surprisingly expensive, so it is advised to check with vendors on what the pricing policy is and if they offer this for free.

    Training

    Direct

    Though this is considered to be the largest cost in the acquisition stage, investing in training will improve business efficiency.

    IT Cost Segment

    Sub-Segment

    Type of Expense

    Description

    Operations Cost

    Security

    Direct

    Managed security services to help reduce and mitigate various forms of cyber threats.

    Ongoing training

    Direct

    Ongoing training can be for current users looking for training on specific complex features or for new users to expand the knowledge of the platform.

    IT Maintenance

    Direct

    Overall IT platform maintenance and software upgrades comes at an additional cost.

    IT Support

    Direct

    IT support services for the installed system will come at a cost. It is advised to check with the vendor if they offer 24/7 support to keep operations running at all the time even if it comes at a premium.

    Data Center

    Direct

    Another cost to consider is the costs associated with maintaining in-house servers and hardware.

    Downtime

    Indirect

    The cost associated with productivity and revenue loss due to inaccessible systems during a disaster.

    End-user operations

    Indirect

    Productivity lost due to troubleshooting, bad end-user interface, etc.

    IT Cost Segment

    Sub-Segment

    Type of Expense

    Description

    Resource Cost

    IT staff

    Direct

    Salaries for a team of IT professionals to keep systems secure and running.

    Strategy consultant

    Direct

    External vendors/consultants offering clear and structured strategic IT planning support to businesses. Ensuring the IT strategy is aligned with the needs and demands as the company grows and develops.

    Administration

    Direct

    Salaries to additional resources to manage CRM and other marketing automation tools.

    Why fixing IT costs is important

    Effective IT spending plan: IT cost allocation is a complicated process even for large organisations. Budget constraints and limited IT expertise often keep SMEs from making effective IT spending decisions. Better visibility into the type of IT costs can help SMEs come up with a definite IT spending plan based on their business requirements.

    Cushion against surprise cost: A better knowledge of hidden hardware and software costs can help enterprises reduce unnecessary costs and reallocate resources to more critical business operations. Before investing in new IT equipment, it is essential to evaluate an enterprise’s spending history and implement best practices that will improve the bottom line.

    Balance cost among hardware, software, and services: Fixing IT cost will balance the spending among hardware, software and services. Strong systems management is the key to overall cost reduction, per a report by Gartner. The more budget allocated for direct IT expenses, like operations, training, support and services, the less budget will be wasted on lost productivity and downtime.

    Reduce total cost of ownership (TCO): Enterprises when planning for IT cost, should factor in the total cost of ownership (TCO). IT systems need to be upgraded and maintained continuously. Constant costs related to IT security, software updates, labour, repair and tech support are unavoidable. However, simplifying the IT infrastructure and management processes will increase productivity, efficiency and reduce TCO to a great extent.


    “For IT, total cost of ownership (TCO) includes hardware and software acquisition, management and support, communications, end-user expenses and the opportunity cost of downtime, training and other productivity losses.” - Gartner

    How fixing IT cost can benefit an enterprise

    Managing annual IT expenses will help in understanding the actual IT implementation cost and how to avoid costly and ineffective solutions. Estimating IT infrastructure cost over a period of time helps enterprises make better buying decisions when deciding which solution provides the best possible ROI.

    Options

    Cost

    Review

    In-house System

    Expensive

    Generally, in-house systems are built based on the company's requirement by a team of IT professional. This type of IT solution is costly for SMEs, hard to maintain, and will always be on the lookout for experienced IT professionals.

    Enterprise Suite

    Expensive

    Enterprise Suite usually is an enterprise CRM as the core technology stack and requires different custom integrations with third-party systems. 3P systems may include sales automation, social media, project management, website tracking, predictive analytics, among others. Purchasing different platforms from different vendors and user training for individual platform makes this option an expensive one.

    Integrated Solution

    Moderate

    CRM platform integrating marketing, sales, customer service, operations, etc. into one single platform. This complete solution offers a much more profitable ROI when it comes to technology purchases as all the tools come in one package. Enterprise's all data and information are stored in one location, which is accessible to employees of different departments. These features make this option a better choice as compared to option one and two.

    Managed Service Provider

    Affordable

    Among the four options, the best is outsourcing IT services to a Managed Service Provider (MSP). MSP is often recommended as the cost-effective IT solution for SMEs. For a minimal fixed monthly fee, MSPs provide customised IT solutions and services based on the business need.

    5 Benefits of a Managed Service Provider (MSP)

    SMEs have aggressively followed technology to stay competitive. In the process, they have invested significant resources in building IT infrastructure and services. Managing these IT services is costly and has become a burden for many enterprises, draining essential resources from strategic planning and delivery. As per a report by Gartner, 70% of IT support services for infrastructure services can be managed from a remote location which can reduce labour costs from 10% to 50%, depending on the delivery location resulting in 5% to 30% overall net savings.

    In a rapidly changing technology landscape, managed service providers can help enterprises remain agile, control costs, quickly respond to competitive opportunities and align IT with evolving business objectives. Here are the top five benefits of how outsourcing managed IT services can impact a company’s business goals and the bottom line.

    Affordability and Fixed Monthly Cost

    Outsourcing IT services to a managed service provider is extremely cost-effective. With managed services, enterprises can reduce operational costs, preserve capital budget and lower their IT operating expenses. Per a Capgemini study, 34% of SMEs in the UK find it challenging to invest in IT as the cost is always high, while 30% of SMEs spend less than 3% of their overall funds on cyber security. So, outsourcing IT support and services to a reputed managed service provider is the best option as MSPs offer comprehensive solutions at a very affordable and predictable monthly cost. Also, MSPs mainly operate on a subscription-based model where enterprises pay annual or monthly fees for services, which allows them to foresee if it is viable to remain within the target budget.

    Improved Cyber Security

    According to Statista, the cost of cyber-attacks on micro/small enterprises amounted to an average of £894 while for medium-sized enterprises it amounted to an average of £8,180 during the last 12 months. Enterprises have sensitive data and information worth stealing and attackers often take over one system as a platform to launch a cyber-attack on another system to cover their tracks. Per a report by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, almost half of UK businesses including SMEs (43%) suffered a cyber-attack in 2017-18. Managed service providers (MSP) use remote network monitoring and clean backup protocols to prevent an attack and shorten the recovery time. Reputed MSPs provide cyber security services to help reduce and mitigate various forms of cyber threats by continuously monitoring dark web, offering end-user security awareness training, penetration testing and SIEM, among others.

    Access to trained, qualified and certified experts

    A painful fact for many small and mid-sized enterprises is the shortage of skilled IT professionals. The UK alone is estimated to have a shortfall of around 100,00 experienced IT security experts by 2022. When recruiting for an in-house IT role, they likely cannot differentiate a good applicant from a bad one and when in the post, it is challenging to assess their productivity due to the complex nature of IT services. But, with a managed service provider, even small enterprises can access highly qualified IT personnel without doing the tedious work of recruiting them. MSPs usually possess deep expertise in the field of IT, therefore giving enterprises the best services.

    Disaster Recovery

    When everything goes wrong, enterprises need confidence that data is backed up safely and securely.  Disasters may strike in different forms, but whatever event takes a customer’s site down, managed service providers are well-placed to help prepare for emergencies. Whether it’s a physical disaster such as a storm, fire or flood, or a deliberate one, like a ransomware attack, MSP plan carefully to help clients come out shining on the other side.

    Per a report by Daisy Group, on average UK's SMEs experience 45 minutes of downtime each week which is approximately £500 per employee, per year, in lost productivity. Also, according to a study by IDC, 40% of small and mid-sized enterprises in the UK do not have a data backup infrastructure in place and if they do then around 50% of the backups are only partially recoverable.

    Part of the reason to outsource services to a managed service provider is to prepare for those costly downtimes. An off-site managed service provider can provide remote backup and offer both local and cloud-based backup solutions to support business-critical operations during a disaster.

    Access to latest state-of-the-art technology

    Reputed Managed Service Providers (MSPs) use the latest technologies and equipment to deliver services. IT services are updated regularly with no additional cost to enterprises. MSPs bring the advantage of quickly implementing new technology into client’s businesses thus eliminating the risk of obsolete IT infrastructure.

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