iHelp IT
Business IT Services - 100% Australian Owned and Operated

Over the many years iHelp IT has been around, we've gone through many products and services. Over time we've developed a best-in-breed suite of solutions (hardware, software, and services) which we recommend for small businesses. Our guiding principle is to deliver the best outcome for our clients. Each solution must:

Some IT providers will be a one-stop-shop, typically offering only that which is available from one supplier. This does not align with our guiding principle, as no one supplier offers the best products or services.

In this post I'll go through the solutions we recommend for our clients, and why we've selected them.


External Communications

Any business must effectively communicate with the outside world. Your web site is often the first thing a potential client sees of your business. If your web site impresses and informs then there is usually a follow up via email or phone call. All these have to work without fail to deliver clients to you.

Mail: Exchange

Over the years Microsoft Exchange has proven itself again and again. It's reliable, universally used, integrates well with other services, and configuring mail client apps is straightforward.

The integration of mail, contacts, calendars, notes, and reminders conveniently brings all this related information under one location. We use Microsoft to host, and never host on-premise. The 50 GB quota offered by Microsoft is plentiful for the vast majority of people.

Web: AWS

Unlike cPanel hosting, where your site is one of hundreds or thousands on a server, AWS hosting enables us to host web sites on it's own dedicated server, so sites on AWS are not impacted by other sites' use of resources or attacks on them.

Additionally, the AWS infrastructure is extremely stable, with a 99.99% uptime guarantee. Access to your AWS-hosted site is via security key, which is well beyond the simple password offered by standard web hosting services.

Phones: 3CX

For over 100 years, the telephone has been the #1 way for clients to connect with businesses. There's nothing like connecting with a human voice on the phone, and there's no greater failure than an unanswered phone.

3CX is the recognised leader in PBX telephony with a wide range of business critical features. Our cloud hosted solution has 99.99% uptime, and calls to business are answerable anywhere in the world, so you never miss a call.


Desktops and Laptops

Many services are moving inexorably to the cloud, so it may seem logical to conclude that whether you're on a Mac or Windows PC is not as relevant as it once was. This isn't the case. There are significant differences between the two platforms, and an analysis shows why we usually recommend macOS over Windows.

Apple MacOS

Apple's walled garden approach brings everything in-house. Hardware, software, purchases, repairs, and distribution are all handled directly by Apple. Apple's focus on quality over price results in robust and enduring devices, but at higher prices.

So while Macs having a lower market share, they are much more stable and user-friendly, have few virus or malware threats, and are cleaner and easier to support.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft largely leaves hardware manufacturer to third parties. Having multiple parties involved in sales, distribution, and repairs means wide availability, but also necessarily results in tech support complexities.

These multiple purchasing options resulting in wide adoption of Windows. That adoption means that most apps are available for Windows, but it also means that so are every virus and malware threat.

Pros
🟢 Stable environment
🟢 Long lifespan
🟢 Greater resale value
🟢 Sturdier hardware
🟢 Few security threats

Cons
🔴 Higher up-front host
🔴 Some niche apps unavailable

Pros
🟢 More price options
🟢 Niche apps available

Cons
🔴 Less stable environment
🔴 Short lifespan for low-end products
🔴 Lower resale value
🔴 Inconsistent hardware quality
🔴 Many security threats


File Sharing

While there is an occasional scenario for them, we abandoned on-premise servers some years back, and with more people working remotely - with distributed business becoming the norm - there's no turning back.

Dropbox established itself early in this space with consumers, and reinvented itself with business. The consistent product improvement and clarity of vision of the Dropbox product continues to delight. The comparison of Dropbox and the mix of Microsoft apps and services shows how far ahead Dropbox is for small - medium business.

Dropbox for Business

🟢 1 app - Dropbox
🟢 Authenticate via Active Directory
🟢 Familiar, no training
🟢 Relatively simple to setup, migrate, and manage
🟢 Documents in one place
🟢 Open architecture with 3rd party connectivity
🟢 Direct edit Office, Google, many other file types
🟢 Integrates with Slack, full Zoom integration

Syncing options
Better syncing saves HD space & network use
🟢 Smart: download and remove files as needed
🟢 Selective: only sync a selection of files
🟢 LAN: sync with local computers
🟢 Streaming: open files while downloading
🟢 Delta: open large files quicker

🟢 Remote wipe
→ Remove all company data from a device in the event it's lost or stolen, or staff are unexpectedly terminated, in seconds.

Microsoft sharing suite

🔴 3 apps - OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams
🟢 Authenticate via Active Directory
🔴 Unfamiliar, needs training
🔴 Difficult to setup and manage, costs more to support
🔴 Documents in multiple places
🔴 Closed architecture
🟠 Direct edit only Office files
🟠 No slack integration, some Zoom Teams integration

Syncing options
Fewer syncing options
🟠 Smart: partly; removal only on Windows 10
🟠 Selective: partly, OneDrive only
🔴 LAN: No
🔴 Streaming: No
🟢 Delta: yes (called Differential sync)

🔴 No remote wipe (click here) but:
→ OneDrive can remote sign out a user, in 30 mins
→ SharePoint can stop sync, but can't remote wipe
→ SharePoint has a work online only option, but this needs a constant internet connection and is slow

Screening for fever, Chengdu/China, Feb. 2020

What would happen if one of your staff was diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus? The head of accounts? The star sales performer?

The CEO?

This is the existential threat thousands of small business owners are facing right now. Coronavirus is jumping to new countries daily, and a vaccine is still in the early stages of human testing. Having a vaccine in the lab isn't enough; it'll take time to manufacture, distribute, and administer the vaccine and stop the spread of the virus.

Many people will die before then.

Even though the number of cases in Australia is tiny when compared to other parts of the world, the BBC reports that stock markets have plunged on coronavirus fears, so the likelihood that your business will be at least indirectly impacted is very high.

If you don't believe the coronavirus is a threat, then think again - just this morning the Australian government activated its emergency response plan to the impending coronavirus pandemic.

As a business owner the best thing you can do is prevent the threat affecting your staff in the first place. The second best thing you can do is minimise it's impact.

Prevent coronavirus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists maintaining social distance in it's top list of things to do to prevent the spread of coronavirus. How do people who work together maintain social distance? They're in the same office, using the same telephones, having lunch together, and touching the same door handles.

Worse... the building elevator is used by a thousand people a day, and tens of thousands are on the same trains and buses as your key personnel.

All of these risk factors are significantly multiplied when we consider that more senior staff are often the oldest. Consequently they're the ones at highest risk, and who's sickness or death would have the most devastating impact on your business.

The solution: cloud everywhere

The solution is to move your business to the cloud as much as possible, and allow your staff to work from home until this passes. No more public transport, infected elevators, and close contact with other staff. You already have your emails and web site hosted in the cloud, and many businesses have moved accounts to the cloud, in the form of Xero, so it's time to make the final jump.

Two big areas remain... file sharing and telephones, and we can move both, quickly and efficiently. Best of all, moving these services to the cloud can usually be done completely remotely.

Dropbox and 3CX

Dropbox is the business standard for cloud file sharing. It doesn't require an MS Office license, and can be rapidly deployed across a range of devices. With Dropbox for Business, your staff can access the same files from home as in the office, with the same or higher level of security, increased scrutiny, and much more conveniently.

3CX is the premier business telephony VoIP system. 3CX can be implemented on physical handsets or as an app running on your staff's iPhone or Android devices. Your business retains the same phone numbers and gains business-grade telephony features, such as greetings to direct calls, queues to ensure calls are answered by the right staff, hours of operation, voicemails, and call recording for quality control and training.

Act today

The next disaster - whether it's a global pandemic, severe flooding, or catastrophic bushfires - could come at any time. Your business needs your staff to keep working, and your staff need your business to stay open.

Contact us today on 1300 469 622 or info@ihelpit.com.au to find out how we can rapidly migrate your business to the cloud, and sidestep the current and future disasters.

A recent visit to the doctor highlighted just how much we rely on electricity, and the importance of backup power and alternatives.

There I was, chuffed that I had rocked up at the doctor’s office at 7:29, a whole minute early for the 7.30 opening. The lights weren’t even on yet. There was only one other person outside the office. “Beauty”, I thought... I’ll get this visit done quickly!

Then a voice comes from inside, attached to waving hands.

“There’s no power”

What?

“There’s no power. It should be back by 8. You’ll have to enter around the back”

Ok. Fine. These things happen. 50 minutes later, still no power. I’m there with 25 of my nearest and dearest medical centre visitors, wondering when this modern necessity would come back.

Without power, the doctor’s can’t turn on his computer to see your records. He can’t print your Medicare form. The staff can’t take your Medicare card. There’s no bloods because it’s not safe to do needles in the dark.

You can’t even go upstairs to pathology as it’s pitch black.

So, what’s the solution?

Like many problems, the solution is multi-faceted, and although this occurred in a specific scenario it applies to all businesses.

1. Prioritise

The first step is to work out what systems or devices will need to run during an outage. Servers, computers, phones, and internet comes to mind. In this particular case refrigerators should be included in the mix.

Everything else can wait for mains to return.

2. Divide

Not every device in the priority category is needed. Yes, the server and internet are needed, but not all phones, and not all computers.

Divide which specific devices need to work even if the power goes out.

3. Workaround

In many cases there are workarounds.

Use a laptop instead of a desktop, as they have batteries. Use a portable terminal for taking credit card payments - it’s got a battery too.

Have a 4G hotspot on hand. They are battery powered and will give internet access if it’s needed.

You may not get full functionality but your business will be able to continue as a skeleton.

4. UPS

A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) will give backup power for a while. How long depends on what's being powered. The bigger the UPS and the less devices which reply on it, the longer the run time.

Use a UPS only for the most vital systems - a server and a network switch, for example - to allow some server for the maximum time possible.

If it makes sense and can be done, use a generator for backup power.

5. Go cloud

Services in the cloud are located in secure, environmentally controlled, power-redundant environments, so it makes sense to switch services to the cloud where possible.

For example, a cloud VoIP PBX will continue to work even if your handsets are offline, with incoming calls directed to a mobile phone.

6. Test

The best laid plans must be tested. Kill mains power and see what works, and what staff need to do to implement the workarounds.

Does the UPS work? How long will it run the attached equipment? Do calls divert? Can you process credit card payments? Does the 4G internet connect? Can laptops access the internet?

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Call iHelp IT for a blackout assessment. We will give you a full report of the impact of a blackout on your business and customers, and what you can do to minimise it.

Company-owned devices should be managed.

The wide popularity of mobile devices has seen a significant increase in their use in business, meaning that almost all employees have secure company data – email, Dropbox, internal web sites, even financial information - on their mobile devices. Whether personal or business-owned, this is a business risk.

You can't stop devices being lost or stolen, dropped or drowned, and under normal circumstances you can't force employees to upgrade to the latest iOS for better security, or not install suspicious software.

So, businesses must manage these risks. Enter Mobile Device Management (MDM).

MDM lets businesses control the security of a device (including how data on the device can be used), keep devices up-to-date, configure settings such as wifi, email, and VPN, ensure employees have the apps they need to work, and lock or wipe devices in the event they are lost or stolen.

Controlling restrictions is another very important part of device management. Whether you run a school and want to stop students using FaceTime on their iPads, or you run a business and need to prevent data being copied out of Dropbox for Business; restrictions on both will help your business or institution.

Most companies, however, are slow to introduce an MDM to their operations. As a result, the past decade has seen many costly and embarrassing breaches through mobile devices whether through cyber criminals, misadventure, or treacherous staff

The best MDM for Apple devices

The best MDM solution for Apple devices is JAMF.

JAMF (Just Another Management Framework) comes in 2 flavours; JAMF Pro and JAMF Now, and which you choose depends on your needs and the size of your organization.

Smaller organizations will benefit from JAMF Now's fast deployment and lower cost, while larger organizations will appreciate the breadth of management and flexibility which JAMF Pro offers. Either way, both can manage your Macs, iPhones, and Apple TV devices.

JAMF is the leader in Apple device management, but don't take it from us. When IBM decided to allow their employees to choose whether they wanted a Mac or Windows PC, an overwhelming 30,000 of them chose to use a Mac, and IBM rolled these out at a rate of 1,900 a week using JAMF Pro to deploy.

In 6 months they were all deployed, with minimal effort by IBM's IT department.

Why iHelp IT for your MDM

Using an MDM to manage your devices is just a part of managing your IT assets and infrastructure. We specialize in Apple Support, with years of field experience with Macs, iPads, iPhones, and Apple TV support and device management.

Our Apple experience is a crucial part of the deployment and management process, enabling your staff to focus on your core business, and outsourcing these tasks eliminates lost time and money related to training your staff, particularly if Apple support and MDM are not their core competencies.

Let us manage the entire process of:

Contact us today to discuss your Device Management needs, and we can also discuss our fixed-price Apple tech support options, enabling companies of all sizes to get the best out of their Apple devices.

When you hear the word "hero" images spring to mind of capes and daring rescue.

Usually a super hero appears during some calamity, often wearing lycra, sometimes in lurid colours, and invariably handsome. These heroes are needed when extraordinary things fail, and are only in the movies.

More realistically, a regularhero might be the fireman who saves you from a burning building, or the little girl who spotted your missing cat 3 doors down from her house, or the off-duty the park ranger who just happens to be driving along the beach after you've (almost) wrecked the family LandCruiser and are in need of 2 spare tyres - which he just happens to have!

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and often just in the nick of time.

But what if a hero appears early?

Wouldn't it be great if the hero turned up well beforeyou got into trouble? Imagine you leave your house and your hero is there waiting for you, telling you that you forgot your wallet beforeyou're at the station waiting for the train, fumbling for your Opal card.

How awesome is a a pre-hero!

At iHelp IT, we don't wear capes, and we most definitely don't look good in lycra, but we can tell ahead of timeif there are certain problems with your Macs, including your server.

iCare is the pre-hero you need

Our iCare managed services product (MSP)includes advanced monitoring, which sends us alerts regarding a range of problems:

We can take action before things get worse and your work is impacted, and well beforeyou lose any data.

And the best bit is...

iCare is more than monitoring; it's fixing too! iCare includes support for most of the problems your Mac may have, day to day. If you can't print, if your network is down, or your Mac just won't boot! iCare is a complete managed services product (MSP) where we do all the heavy lifting.

So, if your Macs are an essential part of your business, and you rely on Apple and Mac support, then Contact us todayto find out how iCare can save you!

In January this year we started upgrading Mac servers to Mojave, and it's been a challenge for those of us that do Apple Mac tech support for a living.

Apple have been quietly changing their focus away from macOS Server over the last few years. The latest version is missing some vital tools, resulting in server permissions which are hard to setup and maintain.

Okay okay we get it... it's time to move away from on-premise Mac servers altogether. But what's the replacement?

Stay on-premise or move to the cloud?

For small businesses, on-premise servers make sense if you're in an industry which requires you to store information in Australia. The legal and medical industries immediately spring to mind. Additionally, businesses which have very large data files (video editing, for example) may be good candidates for on-premise servers.

There used to be clear niche-use cases where an on-premise Windows Server or a Synology NAS made sense. Features like Active Directory, virtualisation, or remote desktop services. Stuff you may not even know you use - and all of which are now available via cloud services.

But apart from all that... The biggest reasons to move away from on-premise servers are that they suffer from three intractable, fundamental problems:

All that money and nothing transformative to show for it.

It's time to move to the cloud with Dropbox

Most businesses aren't constricted to on-premise servers, so a cloud option is far more effective. There are no up-front hardware costs, VPN is a thing of the past, and you don't have to worry about future growth.

Unlike regular file servers, Dropbox for Business integrates tightly with Macs, Windows PCs, and mobile platforms like iOS and Android.

Most of all, moving to a cloud service like Dropbox means you can work and collaborate with colleagues and contractors in ways which simply aren't possible with on-premise servers. This can have an immensely significant positive impact on the way you work.

Let's look at a couple of scenarios where Dropbox can transform your business.

The School

At Maggie's school, all homework assignments are handed in online.

Each class has it's own folder, and each folder has a subfolder for each assignment. Students are given a link for each assignment, which lets them drop their work in. No student can see anyone else's assignment once inside, and no submissions are allowed after the deadline.

Teachers can then collect and grade all assignments online, saving time and paper.

The Reps

Susan's 11 staff are mostly in one office, except for Alan and Louise, reps who are on the road.

The office workers and reps all need access to the company files needed to do their job. With Dropbox for business, the reps have the documents they need on their laptops and iPads, all the time without any complex VPN. Moreover, they don't need to bother their colleagues to "send the latest version".

And if a device is lost, company data can be quickly removed.

The Builder

Tom runs a building company, typically working on 3-5 projects at a time. Each project has it's architect, plans, and contractors.

Dropbox lets Tom silo each project into it's own team folder, inviting workers as he needs them. There's no emailing documents around, no time lost just to keep people in the loop, and no mistakes due to old plans.

As each party's work is done, Tom removes them from the team, which deletes the project documents from their devices.

Contact us to find out how to Dropbox can transform your business

A warp speed Mac?

You sit there, staring at your Mac's screen. First it's the startup screen, then you're waiting for Word to launch. Then you need Photoshop, so you wait for that too. You wait and wait and wait, wondering who's the boss here. You avoid restarting your Mac because it takes so long to do so. You can't work like this anymore.

You need your Mac to run faster! At least as fast as it was when it was new, and (if possible) even faster!

Well, you're in luck. iHelp IT can make it run as fast as new, and maybe even much faster!

As part of our Apple tech support work, we frequently see situations where slow Macs are stealing hours of productivity from staff. Whether it’s a long startup, taking the scenic route to opening a file, being leisurely about saving documents, or the steely-eyed face off with the colourful wheel of death, it’s always a time thief.

Why is my Mac slow and what can I do about it?

The reasons for a slow Mac, and what you can do about it, boil down to 3 possibilities:

Spinning HD

Spinning hard disks slow everything down, so replacing your spinning hard disk with a solid state disk (SSD) will speed up everything.

Bloated Software

Often slow-downs are due to software; old, bloated, unneeded. Updates may fix problems, but sometimes a rebuild is needed.

Corrupt Data

A slowdown which occurs during a specific task can be elusive to locate, and will take time to resolve. Once the cause is found the slow-down can be fixed.


The best way to speed up your Mac: SSD upgrade

iHelp IT can replace the existing hard disk in your Mac with a new solid-state disk (SSD). An SSD has no moving parts, so the process of getting data to and from the disk is really fast. Everything runs faster!

Best of all, prices are coming down down down for SSDs:

The total price will vary depending on how much storage you want, and your Mac model, but we guarantee to breath new life into your Mac.


Take advantage over a holiday

The best time to upgrade to SSD is when you've got less work to do. Call iHelp IT today on 02 8213 4225 or send us an email at info@ihelpit.com.au, telling us your iMac serial number and current storage used, and we will quote on upgrading you to SSD.

Apple recently upgraded their popular iPad Pro line of tablets, and - for the first time - the marketing message has significantly changed. Apple wants you to ditch your "normal" computer and use an iPad instead.

Apple's marketing tells us that "it will make you rethink what iPad is capable of" and "what a computer is capable of". But is it actually capable of replacing your Mac?

Evolution

Rethinking what a computer is capable of has occurred multipe times in the past, because computers have been evolving since the 60's. The iPad Pro you buy today does - fundamentally - the same electronic stuff as it's mainframe ancestor: obtain information and commands from you, process data, present results.

However, the change in form factor, incredible increase in processing, introduction of the internet, and birth of the cloud have resulted insignificant paradigm shifts, with each shift having had 3 fundamental impacts:

Whether it was the move from punchcards to terminals, from command line to the GUI, from the isolated to the connected, every change has had the same 3 fundamental impacts, and affected more and more people.

Where we've come from

Apple has purposely kept their disparate product lines separate; macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS. They are all suited to a specific form factor and use scenario. With the new iPad Pro, Apple is blurring the line between iPad and Mac.

When Apple released the original iPad at the start of 2010, it was lauded for it's form factor but derided for it's lack of compatibility and connectivity. It could run iPhone apps at original or 2x the size, but there were few iPad apps and it couldn't run macOS apps. It couldn't make phone calls. There was no keyboard and no expansion. Heck, it couldn't even print!

It could access the internet and emails, which obviously included Facebook, but if you bought the wifi-only version you couldn't even do those while on the road.

It could do exactly the type of stuff grandma and kids everywhere wanted to do. And there lay the magic. Shortly after, with new apps, a much wider audience was reached; one which didn't traditionally have a smartphone, or let along an actual, real, computer.

Suddenly, the iPad was an educational tool, and had some scenario-specific use in business.

Enter Windows 8

iPad wasn't a computer replacement. Seeing the limits of iPad, Microsoft took a different path with tablets and phones, by deciding to bring the same interface to all form factors.

When Windows 8 was released at the end of 2012. Microsoft omitted the Start menu, a cornerstone of Windows, and introduced tiles, to reach it's interface goal. The interface was great for tablet and phone users, but sacrificed too much for desktop and laptop users. Multiple workarounds were published against this abhorrence.

Thought the reasoning was sound, the implementation was a spectacular failure, and the resulting backlash made users run to Windows 10 when it was released, Start menu back in tow.

Where we're going

Today, Microsoft users have a consistent experience across desktops, laptops, and tablets (though don't mention Windows Phone). Apple users do not, and it's increasingly prescient that Apple must address this divide across the blurring laptop and tablet categories.

Apple is pitching the latest iPad Pro as a computer replacement, using a combination of powerful hardware, a new interface device, and forthcoming new apps, but without changing the skin of iOS.

So, is possible to ditch your computer for an iPad? Yes, if you qualify.


Here's what you'll need to make iPad Pro your main computer

Migrate to DropBox for Business or another cloud file server.

Move to a cloud accounting service like Xero.

Check your printer supports AirPrint; most of them do.

Invest in Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio for your typing needs.

Apple Pencil is a must have when note-taking and for drawing.

Avoid complex use of Word and Excel, and use no add-ins.

Use the camera and apps to scan, especially receipts.

Check that apps you need are available on iPad. No Mac apps run.


Can iPad Pro be your main computer?

Making the jump to iPad Pro as your full-time computer isn't going to be possible for everyone. We know Tim Cook doesn't want to bring the macOS and iOS platforms together, but our opinion is that at a very near point in the future there will be no choice. Windows is blitzing it in this crossover category.

Yes, more macOS apps are coming over, but file management, server connectivity, and lack of powerful apps are real hindrances. Also, UI inconsistencies and limitations must be addressed.

So let's break it down, segment by segment:

Home users

★★★★★

YES because you bank online, your photos and music are in the cloud. You socialise via FaceBook, Mail and WhatsApp, watch Netflix, and use Numbers for your household budget.

Tradies

★★★★

MOSTLY, because your van is your office, one device takes photos, creates mockups and quotes, sends invoices, and can use augmented reality apps to win jobs.

Office workers

★★★

MAYBE, because of MS Office, but some apps aren't available, accessing the server is hard, you can't use normal scanners, and your printer may not have AirPrint.

Creatives

★★

NO, because although you can be creative anywhere not all pro apps are there, or they're missing features, you can't have multiple screens, and WordPress editing is hard.

Analysts

★★★

MAYBE because MS Office is available, but not if your documents are complex, you need specific Mac apps or Office plug-ins, or you rely on EndNote.

Tech workers

NO because even through Teamviewer is available, dev tools aren't, you can't run MacOS or servers, can't create virtual environments, and there's no terminal.


Conclusion and test drive

An iPad Pro is a perfect fit for some segments, and useful for all. Of course, your specific circumstances will vary.

If you want to give iPad Pro a try, take advantage of Apple's no-questions-asked returns policy. As long as your iPad Pro is in the same condition it was when you purchased it, and you have everything in the box, Apple will refund your money.


Make the switch

If you'd like guidance on making iPad Pro your main computer, please call iHelp IT on 02 8213 4225. Our Apple support professionals can help you decide if iPad Pro is for you, work with the Apple Store to procure your iPad Pro, and prepare your environment for the switch.

The latest scam we’ve seen – “I know your password” – is both beautiful and scary. Read on to find out how to beat it.

Online systems have been compromised, and a new scam is taking advantage of this
Online systems have been compromised, and a new scam is taking advantage of this

Recently, some of our clients have reported receiving strange emails. These are more than the run-of-the-mill spam, they are from persons unknown claiming to know one of your passwords.

And here’s the thing – they do know one of your passwords. It’s there, in the email, in all it’s uncovered glory.

The sender usually uses this information and claims that they have infiltrated your computer with some sort of malicious software, which then used your webcam to record you while on the internet; typically claiming you’d visited some salacious web site or other.

And along comes the blackmail… pay $1,000 in bitcoin (or some variation) or else!

The “or else” usually involves telling the world your dirty little secrets.

Don’t be a scam victim

Most people freak out – and rightly so – because the password shown is genuinely one which they use, and human nature (working the way it does) leads people to be easily convinced that the sender has accessed their computer and will carry out their threat. Even if the receiver has done nothing wrong and visited no seedy web sites, the fear of what might happen is terrifying.

So, let’s pull back the curtain to see why this happened, and what you should do about it.

Many online systems (LinkedIn, Yahoo, and eBay, to name a few) have been hacked in recent years, and if you have an account on these systems it’s possible that your password was stolen. You should use this web site to see if you’ve been a victim of one of these password thefts.

If you have, then a bunch of your information would have been lifted; your name, password, possibly address and date of birth. Credit card information is usually not taken from these sites, as that information is kept separately.

In and of itself having a password stolen from an online system is not a good thing, but the real issue is if you use the same password on multiple systems.

Once the hack is done, the scam begins.

These thieves will try your email and password combination to login to other systems, and if you use the same combination elsewhere then those systems can be accessed by them. Increasingly, systems include 2-factor authentication to stop this; logging in requires more than an email and password for these systems, but most don’t.

Scammers will try many attacks, but the softest target is you.

What to do

If you receive this type of email DO NOT IGNORE IT.

The scammers most likely haven’t installed any software on your computer; their real target is money.

The #1 thing to do is change your password to any online systems which have been compromised; again, check this web site to see if you’re a victim of these.

The #2 thing to do is install anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer. iHelp IT can help you with that, as part of our iCare Essentials package.

And finally, the #3 thing to do is to not visit any of those web sites…

Protect yourself

Contact us at info@ihelpit.com.au to find out more about protecting yourself with iCare Essentials

Right now the Australian government is practically throwing money at you in the form of tax benefits. What are they and how can you take advantage of them? Read on!

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post titled Replace or Die, showing a number of recent hardware failures experienced by our clients, and when you should look at replacing your computers (hint: it’s 5 – 7 years). No matter how good your equipment is, these failures invariably happen to good businesses!

Since writing the original blog post, we’ve had 2 more client computers experience sudden hardware issues, so the trend continues. True, as an Apple tech support company we do see more than our fair share of hardware issues, but our IT support experience guarantees us that it will happen to you, sooner or later.

The great news is that it’s the perfect time to replace your Mac, Windows PC, and any computer related equipment you may have. Read on to find out why.

The tax reward, and how to get it

The Australian Federal Government is letting small businesses claim the depreciation of any asset purchased in this financial year (to the value of $20,000 per asset) in one hit. This is great because normally assets are depreciated over several years.

To qualify, all you have to do is:

Example

Peter runs a marketing business which had a potential tax bill of $85,000 in FY 17/18. Peter decided to replaces his 5 desktop computers, 4 notebooks, 2 iPads, projector, colour laster printer, and server. Each item is under $20,000, and in total Peter spends $29,000 on the gear. This saves Peter $7,975 in taxes, reducing his tax bill from $23,375 to $15,400, while at the same time refreshing his entire office IT.

Peter doesn’t have to think about depreciating the gear over 3 years; it’s all done in one step.

Of course, this is just an example, so please always consult your accountant regarding any tax or other implications and benefits for your business.

Why now?

June is the obvious best time of the year to do this, as it’s the last month of the financial year, an purchases made now will minimise the time gap between buying your new assets and reaping the tax benefit.

Hurry!

There isn’t much time until the end of June 2018! If you have a shopping list ready, or even just want to investigate what you should buy, contact us at info@ihelpit.com.au, or call us on 1300 469 622 and we can help you get the ball rolling.

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