News

Imminent BIG Price Hike in Dell Servers

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Received from Dell this morning.

“We thank you for the trust you have in us.

As you know, Dell’s top priority is to offer its customers the best solutions at competitive prices.

In our industry, component costs are based on the US Dollar and the appreciation of the Dollar against the Euro, Pound Sterling and other currencies in the EMEA region has a direct impact on our manufacturing costs. (Our components are invoiced in Dollar and our finished products in £).

While the exchange rate fluctuation has affected the whole industry, we have managed to limit price increases to our customers to a minimum in the past months.

However, in parallel we have also seen a significant increase in the Industry USD costs of some components, in particular the costs of memory DIMMs. E.g. This forces us to increase the prices of Servers to approx. 10% to 20% average starting on February 6th.

These increases do not affect our current promotional offers.

In the meantime we will continue to work to improve our costs and adapt our pricing strategy as soon as we can.

Thank you for your support and understanding.”

IT Risk Alert or 2017

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

As the New Year starts we thought that we would give you our thoughts on what 2017 holds.

We are starting to see new innovations to protect against the Crypto* style viruses that plagued 2016. The Antivirus companies are having to find solutions to infections that run in memory and do not install on a device. Real time memory scans are hugely performance hungry. Some of our Anti-Virus partners are introducing solutions that actively monitor behaviour and look for violent changes on the system. However it’s likely that things will continue to get worse before they get better.

Cryptolocker was a game changer. We now have a virus that makes the creators money. Simple capitalism means that we now have well motivated and funded attackers and even if this weren’t the case it’s pretty clear that some of the attacks we saw in 2016 were State sponsored. The criminal element is certainly not going to give up on its cash cow and I’m afraid 2017 looks to hold more geopolitical upheaval than 2016 so it’s unlikely the state sponsored attacks will desist.

While we await a panacea from the AV Companies or some major design shift in Operating System design that will prevent this IT Ambulance will continue its awareness campaign amongst its customer base. Our specialist solutions probe your user base looking for those weak links amongst your staff who are disposed to click on the link or open the mail that will infect your business and educate them to be more cautious.

It seams the price of productivity must also be eternal vigilance.

IT Ambulance Ltd is pleased to have achieved its 10 Year Anniversary.

Monday, January 12th, 2015

The company was started by its Founder and Managing Director, Frank Connelly in January 2005 when requests from friends and neighbours in the village of Mere in rural Wiltshire collided with his work as an IT Consultant on Managed Services in London and the Home Counties. That ready desire to help still remains the basis of the company ethos.

The business was registered under the name Technology Gateway in January 2005 on the principle that its customers could be guarded against wasting money on poor IT Solutions with the company as its gatekeeper. Radio advertising in the company’s first branch office in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, demonstrated that it was in fact its guaranteed same hour “IT Ambulance” service, that businesses most readily grasped and the name changed to suit.

IT Ambulance was born out of specific Break-Fix need. Over a period of time the firm applied the principles and skills that its founder had learned working with Enterprise scale businesses to SME customers. Break-Fix became a more proactive service with less drama as a result. This then developed into a fixed cost proposition with IT Ambulance managing everything from Broadband to Web Hosting around the core IT infrastructure so that the customer could forget about IT and get on with their day job.

IT Ambulance has expanded dramatically over this 10 year period from a back bedroom business to a company with 3 sites at Zeals in Wiltshire, Aylesbury and Park Royal in West London as well as a speciality development team based in the Bristol area. IT Ambulance hopes to expand upon this base in the next year whilst bringing further employment opportunities to Wiltshire in support of its growth. 10 years on and the average IT Ambulance customer is much larger and with more sophisticated needs from its IT Systems. The technology has moved from Small Business Servers based on Widows 2003 to both hosted or more enterprise scale solutions, utilising virtualisation, with users in the field enjoying mobile phone, tablet or laptop access from wherever they are.

Our large multi-disciplined team now supports not only server and email solutions based on Microsoft Windows, but also Mac based devices, Linux, diverse Security Protection and Disaster Recovery products

It looks forward to embracing the change of the next 10 years.

IT Ambulance Disaster Recovery Planning Saves the Day.

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

When the IT Ambulance monitoring and management system alerted our Network Operations Centre that one of our customers servers had gone off line suddenly, the IT Ambulance support team were put on standby to resolve the issue as a standard IT Support Issue. However even after 9am we were unable to raise the site.

Shortly after this we were contacted by one of our clients senior staff trying to get to work at their head office being hampered by a fire that had closed of the High Street in Staines, Middlesex. It was clear a major incident loomed. All Telecoms and Electrical connectivity to site seemed severed. Whilst the fire had not directly hit our customers premises their building was currently ringed with buildings on fire, in various states of collapse and at risk from volleys of exploding gas cylinders. Experience of this kind of incident told us that the Incident Fire Commander, who has total control, would not allow access for some days. Typically this kind of fire takes a matter of days just to damp down.

Our standard “denial of premises” planning had already kicked in. On site the servers would run on UPS support until the batteries were depleted and at a predetermined battery life remaining they would begin an automated shutdown, in an elegant manner, to preserve data integrity. As soon as the mail server became unavailable our email continuity solution had automatically kicked in, email being stored in the cloud until the servers became available again, with webmail available until that time. We were able to immediately give access to this vital communication media so that our customer could maintain contact with their customers throughout this event.

Our team at IT Ambulance, Park Royal, London NW10 began the process of preparing machines from of our stock of DR Loan Servers ready to restore from the off site back up. They delivered a full recovery onto this alternate hardware that day, ready to take to site if possible but the decision was made to host these in our own Data Centre with remote access to our customers team working from home. Our design utilising virtualisation of this infrastructure utilising Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology really lends itself to this kind of rapid recovery. IT Ambulance continuously maintains the capacity to host this business continuity infrastructure and provide connectivity on standby for just such situations.

The following day the Incident Commander granted very limited access to the site to assess damage and critically this offered the opportunity to recover the on site IT Infrastructure. IT Ambulance were able to support the checking and reconfiguration of the hardware to support our customers relocation to temporary accommodation nearby without any delay. This saw the customer back to “Business as Usual” in new premises within 48 Hours of being alerted to the event.

From an IT and operational perspective there was very little in the way of downtime throughout this event. Email communications were maintained and our customer had a number of options to choose from in how their business continuity was supported to suit their evolving situation. IT Ambulance has a well proven “Playbook” for these situations that really shows its worth in an incident of this scale.

It is estimated that the Industrial Estate will remain closed for some months.

How would your business have faired in the same event? Could you use IT Ambulances expertise in DR Planning or in execution of your plan mid event?

Some great pictures of the havoc this fire caused in Staines can be found here:

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/staines-fire-homes-evacuated-town-8203278

Fake Microsoft Calls sweep Backmore Vale again.

Friday, November 14th, 2014

01747 Phone numbers seem to be getting hit heavily this week with fake Microsoft Phone calls yet again.

If you get one of these calls they will ask for access to your PC and say they can fix a problem. Cost varies but they will get you to put your credit card details in on screen. Once they have your credit card details there is no end to the fun they will have with them.

“I don’t have a computer” is probably the best answer and seems to get the least repeat calls. Alternatively you can waste their time and drag the call out as long as possible. The current record is 17 Minutes before letting them know you don’t own a PC.

Please let us know if you beat this!

‘GameOver Zeus’

Friday, June 6th, 2014

‘GameOver Zeus’ is an attack that made National News in the UK on Monday this week and far from having 2 weeks to prepare IT Ambulance dealt with its first infections on Tuesday.

‘GameOver Zeus’ is a very sophisticated piece of malware that has spread world wide. It is referred to as a botnet as once infected all of the computers can be controlled from a single location to perform whatever action they want. It maliciously sends out spam emails and attacks websites but perhaps the most damaging aspect of this infection is that once you have been infected any of the details stored on your computer from the passwords saved on your browser to your online banking details can be stolen. It also has the ability to evade some of the most common Anti-Virus programs and lie completely dormant giving no sign that you are infected, even though it is consistently harvesting your details.

This is a very real threat.

IT Ambulance has taken a number of steps to protect its customers.

To help to make sure that everyone can stay secure we are recommend you should run a free scan from here: http://www.mcafee.com/uk/downloads/free-tools/stinger.aspx

New Security flaw puts ALL Internet Explorer users at risk, exposes Windows XP

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

New Security flaw puts ALL Internet Explorer users at risk, exposes Windows XP

If you’re still using Windows XP, a new security flaw discovered in Internet Explorer should be a real concern. Microsoft published a security advisory today warning its customers that a vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer (6 to 11) could let hackers gain full user permissions on your desktop, allowing them to install programs, view and delete data, and much more simply from visiting a website.

Anyone using Internet Explorer on a modern version of Windows will likely see a patch soon. However as Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8th, it will not be patched to protect it. This is the first known security flaw since that support deadline passed, and it bears true the warnings voiced previously voiced.

Windows XP is no longer secure, and it’s time to move on.

2014 Fleet Change for IT Ambulance

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

IT Ambulance has today placed a contract to replace its fleet with Nissan UK through local dealer FJ Chalke Wincanton. It is anticipated that the new vehicles will be seen on the road in March after livery by local supplier Kiwi2000.

Why Nissan?

IT Ambulance has previously favoured Volvo and Vauxhall with its fleet, latterly in an effort to support UK PLC we focussed onto buying a car made in Britian.

The same holds true of our purchase of Nissan’s Note model but this car is both designed and built in Britain. Nissan directly employs 6000 staff in the UK, up from 4000 in 2008. Its wider supplier base is thought to employ 50,000 people, many of them in and around Wiltshire.

IT Ambulance decided to provide its field based team company cars after one of its staff was involved in a horrific collision with an Armoured Personnel Carrier in Iwerne Minster, Dorset in October 2007. It was only luck that saved our team mate.

The Nissan Note is NCAP 5 star rated, the highest accolade for safety both to driver and pedestrian. It has a number of innovations that are attractive to us as a fleet operator. Integral Bluetooth phone connectivity and Sat Nav saves us time and improves communication with our team on the road. The Note has an innovative rear seat sliding mechanism and improved rear headroom that allows our Technicians more flexibility when carrying a load but at the weekend it becomes a comfortable and economical family car which is important to our team. The Nissan 1.5 DCI engine boasts an impressive 25% more Torque than our existing 1.6 Petrol Astra fleet whilst delivering no less than twice the Miles per Gallon. Yes our new fleet will use half the fuel of our existing fleet and puts IT Ambulance in a position where the net effect of the company is now believed to be Carbon Neutral (subject to assessment). Servicing will be via a dealer network that is local to our offices.

The new fleet will serve the company for the next 3 years. We hope you enjoy spotting them about as much as our previous vehicles.

 

Nissan Note Layout.

 

 

CryptoLocker Virus Sweeps Britain:

Monday, November 25th, 2013

TooLate

The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) has issued an alert to computer users about the threat posed by the CryptoLocker Ransomware.

 

Following a similar alert issued last week in the USA the UK’s NCA has published a warning that criminals are engaged in a major operation to hijack Microsoft Windows based systems and hold  computer data hostage pending hundreds of pounds being paid as ransom.

 

This Trojan infection has been seen frequently in emails styled as coming from Amazon and other delivery companies such as DHL. This will change but the key method of infection seems to be from .zip files. (a commonly used piece of compression software) However to the user this might look not to be a .ZIP file but a .PDF or similarly harmless attachment.

 

Encryption
Once infected, CryptoLocker scans for a wide variety of files which it starts to encrypt using and advanced encryption method. It will do this on your hard drive and any other connected drives, including mapped file shares on your business network possibly folders that you might synchronize to like DropBox.

 

The file extensions that CryptoLocker will encrypt includes those commonly associated with documents, pictures, your email data, drawings and other typically critical forms of data.

 

Often the first sign of infection is the page shown above at which point it is too late.

 

This demands payment by a number of untraceable methods such as Bitcoin. The attack has been so successful that the value of BitCoins themselves have been affected through supply and demand.

 

Should I pay?

 

In the early days of this outbreak it was possible to pay the many hundreds of pounds and have the data decrypted. However the powers that be are working hard to shut down the attackers servers and as such removing the means of recovery so quickly that if you did pay the chances are not high that your data will be restored to you.

 

So what can I do?

 

Most up to date anti-virus software will now detect and defeat CryptoLocker virus so the key is prevention. Keep your Anti-virus up to data and run scans more frequently.

 

If you see a mail that you do not expect then do not open it or any attachment. Simply delete it.

If you are unlucky enough to become a victim of this Ransomware attack then it is not currently possible to decrypt the data files infected. All we can do is recover your data from your back up.

 

All computers in a business network should have their data held centrally on the server and this will be backed up daily. The previous days back up may be the only option for recovery so ensuring good back-ups is a priority. Blocking .ZIP Files and restricting user privileges to the minimum or preventing them running .EXE Executable files may be an option.

For home users the same is true. Windows 7 and Windows 8 users should use the back-up and restore facilities within their operating systems frequently and back up to a USB drive or similar which should be disconnected after the back-up is run.

 

No matter how tempting it is do not attempt to pay to get your data back.

 

The police have requested that all infections of this virus be reported actionfraud.police.uk

No Power – No Problem

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

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Fleet Change For IT Ambulance

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

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IT Ambulance HQ to Move

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

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UK VAT Rate changes in Sage

Friday, January 1st, 2010

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12 Scams of Christmas Warning

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

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Welcome to Windows 7

Friday, October 16th, 2009

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Top Entrpreneur Award for IT Ambulance MD

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

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This Weeks Dumbest Idea

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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Swine Flu Policy at IT Ambulance

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

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Should we buy a Server?

Friday, April 10th, 2009

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Same Hour IT Support in the Snow!

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

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It’s Criminal

Monday, December 1st, 2008

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OH COME ON!

Friday, November 21st, 2008

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Microsoft Supports “M” in SME

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

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Now Is A Good Time To Lease!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

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We Make Remote Backup Not So Remote

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

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IT Ambulance Head Office Move

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

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Microsoft Partner Press Release

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

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IT Ambulance chooses Volvo

Monday, April 7th, 2008

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