It’s an incredible responsibility running a charity…

… Don’t let the threat of a cyber attack keep you awake at night!

 

With ever-increasing pressures to secure funds, drive income and support the key stakeholders in your target communities, we understand the challenges facing the not-for-profit and charitable sector.

Last year more 22% of charities were subject to cyber attacks, with damage ranging from £300 to £100,000, eating into vital funds.

As a Government-accredited organisation, we work with the National Cyber Security Centre to help educate and support organisations of all sizes prepare themselves in an increasingly criminal cyber world.

We are passionate about working with our customers to ensure their hard-earned funds are safe from harm, and efforts and energy directed towards equipping them for the future and supporting their ability to deliver against organisational objectives.

Cyber support designed with charities in mind 

We can provide your charity with the safety blanket to operate and grow confidently and compliantly.

Our products and services help revolutionise the way the charities address cyber awareness, all the while helping keep costs to an absolute minimum.

  • Reduce insurance premiums by demonstrating cyber awareness and compliance: 
    • Full ISO audit and three levels of Cyber Essentials accreditation
    • Awareness Training for all staff
    • Managed Service for Delivery of Document sets and Updates
    • Low, Medium and High Risk Data Protection Officer Provision
    • Training and accreditations to boost your knowledge, capability and reputation
  • Protect funds by mitigating risk of attack from hackers and career criminals
    • Vulnerability Assessment, Penetration, Phishing Testing and different grades of audit
    • Full range of security measures to ensure your business network has best-in-class defences
    • Software and testing to ensure your networks are aggressively fortified
    • Expertise that ensures your business compliance and security is implemented to an industry-leading standard

For every cyber package sold, Connectus donates 5% of its fee to its nominated charity

As a strategic partner of Huawei and having spent the last week with their team in China, I wanted to reflect on the role of the company in driving forward technological advancement in light of the current storm surrounding the brand.

Go back only as recently as last Christmas, and Huawei, for most people, were nothing more than a Chinese smartphone manufacturer with a small but committed user-base. And that’s just the people that’d even heard of them. Fast-forward to today and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone that doesn’t know or have an opinion on this brooding, Far Eastern tech giant. 

Huawei gained notoriety for more than just their remarkably high-quality smart-devices back in April when information relating to a UK National Security Council meeting was leaked. The meeting had been organised to discuss the progression of 5G technology throughout the British Isles and how Huawei were to have a pivotal role in supporting with development. With Huawei being a transcontinental company struggling to contain a series of lesser known but ongoing controversies, their involvement was, at the time, stamped as ‘Confidential’. Nevertheless, the information filtered into the public domain and Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, the individual accused of the breach, was relieved of all his governmental duties.

By the time news of Williamson’s P45 had hit the media, Huawei was the brand on everyone’s lips. More though was to come. Much more.

Superpowers square up

To say that relations between the US and China have been frosty in recent years would be something of an understatement. China’s desire to break into American markets was to collide with an increasingly protectionist US administration and to the surprise of absolutely nobody, things quickly soured. Up until recently, hostilities had represented themselves as a series of retaliatory tariff applications that proved more of a nuisance to each other than anything. However, when Huawei’s involvement in the British roll-out of 5G surfaced, the US escalated matters by adding the company to a list of organisations that American firms cannot trade with unless they have a specific licence. 

Spooking the American administration was a recently enacted Chinese law stating that their organisations and businesses must “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”. The sanction means that Huawei could potentially be blocked from accessing Google services which would impact heavily on the functionality of their smartphones and so, inevitably, future sales.

This ramping up of diplomatic aggression has led to some describing the current impasse between the two countries as a ‘tech cold war’.

How do you solve a problem like Huawei? 

Because this is a problem that very much needs solving. Originally a manufacturer of just components to smartphones, Huawei began developing their own devices and soon acquired an almost cult following. Such has been their growth since, they are now the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world with only Samsung pipping them to top spot. 

In short, they have a lot of customers. A lot of lives and businesses relying on their products. Huawei have claimed that this latest move by the incumbent US administration was one they’ve seen coming hence the reason they have their own downloadable app gallery, their smartphones are powered by Huawei processors, and, according to senior figures, they have developed their own operating system to roll-out as a ‘Plan B’. But still, even the most optimistic Huawei advocate will admit that there are few positives that can be gleaned from the company being shut out of the American market altogether. 

Changing the tone

Although it’s obviously not the cause of the diplomatic breakdown, the rhetoric surrounding Huawei hasn’t exactly been helpful. The casual reader could be forgiven for thinking the company is some shady government conspiracy, making cheap phones as a front for stealing state secrets. That summation though, does a great disservice to a company demonstrating some of the best practice anywhere on Earth.

Huawei employ 180,000 people of whom 80,000 work specifically within Research and Development, a proportion that dwarfs that of most other comparable companies. As well as manpower, of their $100bn annual revenue, Huawei invest 15% of it back into R&D every year. This is company that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to invention and innovation.

The commitment Huawei demonstrate to innovation and acquisition of market share is rewarded with staunch customer loyalty. In the UK, many carriers, hundreds of ISPs and thousands of public and private sector organisations continue to use their products deemed as they are to be robust, well-supported and economical to deploy and maintain. Indeed, as proud Huawei partners ourselves, the support Connectus has received with pre-sales, technical architecture and post implementation support is better than any vendor we have done business with to date.

There’s also the fact that, by virtue of being a hot news item, controversies involving Huawei are magnified to the benefit of other tech companies whose own controversies are all but ignored. Silicon Valley heavyweight, Cisco, for example has been forced to disclose more than 10 vulnerabilities in just the last two years that included the presence of hardcoded or default credentials in a range of its products. With Huawei taking the heat off pretty much everybody else, the likes of Cisco have avoided the scrutiny these recent calamities would normally attract.

Of course, far important than a relaxing of the tone used within media coverage, is that the tone of conversations taking place around negotiating tables is similarly relaxed. Recent comments from President Trump have hinted that Huawei could be involved in a future trade agreement, acknowledging the importance of their involvement should the US wish to adopt 5G too. Amidst a cacophony of tariffs, sanctions and hostile rhetoric, it is a significant olive branch and one that, hopefully, Huawei grasp with good faith.

It is no exaggeration to say that Huawei have a vital role to play in the technological advancement of mankind. We can only hope that international relations act as a conduit to their involvement in this process, and not a barrier.

It’s not something you’d add to your CV, but cybercriminal is a career for some and it’s becoming increasingly common as cybercrime continues to rise.

To make a living from cybercrime, an individual or group must be skilled, dedicated, cunning and have NO conscience as they could potentially be taking away people’s savings, livelihood or identity.

Our team of experts at Connectus has seen a huge rise in businesses and individuals contacting us when they’ve noticed something suspicious, or unfortunately have been scammed and want to protect themselves going forward.

Most cyberattacks are influenced by money, whether they take it directly from individuals and businesses or by using blackmail techniques to make you hand over what they have asked for.

Would you hand over money to a stranger in the street?

The simple answer is NO!

There are always new means being created to scam people online, the most recent is ‘impersonator emails’ which are catching out hundreds of people weekly.

These emails are sent and look like a normal email arriving in business or individuals’ inboxes despite spam and email defences.

This new breed of deceitful email can arrive in your inbox as they are sent from genuine accounts, of non-cybercriminals, that you may even know.

The content of these malicious emails varies from ransomware to social engineering, whereby you are deceived to pass over money or data to someone that you trust.

The impersonator emails could come from someone you know because their accounts could’ve been hacked, or the owner’s private details stolen.

Cybercriminals identify personal details through social engineering or by conducting a Dictionary Attack – this is when a hacker exploits a router, domain or website, and methodically tries to login using common, previously verified and hacked personal details to match the correct password, and then seizing ownership of that user’s rights.

Another form of impersonator email is when a malicious email is disguised by using convincing graphics or a HTML trick, which makes it difficult for the receiver to identify that the sender account is fraudulent. By using well known Logos, fonts, colour schemes and branding – the email can appear genuine and trick the recipient into opening it (one simple click is all it can take) and engaging with what has been asked of them.

Sneaky and threatening

Cybercriminals are clever and so is the technology they use to trick unsuspecting people or businesses of any size.

An example of the threats that these emails contain is Ransomware, which looks just like a friendly link or download. The malicious software will begin encrypting your files to copy/steal your data and your user rights, your network may also be compromised. The only way to retrieve ownership of your data and rights is to pay a ransom. Your spam defence is more likely to catch emails with ransomware or viruses within them, however, it is less likely when coming from a genuine account, and even less if it is from within your own network.

Going Phishing

Phishing is an additional form of an impersonator email used by fraudsters to access valuable personal details such as usernames and passwords.

These details could have a monetary value to criminals and can often be used against an innocent individual often through bogus communications.

Here are a few things to look out for and what to do if you receive a phishing message:

1. Be Aware and Pro-active

When responding to emails never give your login or personal details. If you receive an email from a company that claims to be legitimate but is requesting these details, or a contact number, tell them you will call them back. Use a legitimate contact number for the organisation they may be impersonating.

Please be aware your bank will never ask for your entire pin number, online banking security code or any other personal data via email.

2. Use Your Spam Filter

If you detect a phishing email, mark the message as spam and delete it. This ensures that the message cannot reach your inbox going forward.

3. Know Your Source

Never respond to a message from an unknown source. Take care not to click any embedded links as it could take just a simple click for the impersonator to access your details.

You must protect yourself

You are one of the biggest threats to your network and data. Your anti-virus and spam software cannot block impersonator emails because they do not contain a virus.

Cybercriminals are cruel, but they are very intelligent and unfortunately, they are very hard to catch.

As cybers security experts, Connectus works with businesses to educate them about online protection, how to detect spam emails and how to stop it from spreading to others – family, friends or colleagues.

Common Indicators of Impersonator emails include:

1. Does the email concern you? If not – DELETE it, don’t go any further with it!

2. Sender’s email – is the punctuation correct?

3. No personalisation – has the sender addressed it to you and has the tone differed from how the person usually writes?

4. Random context, attachments, poor grammar and a mix of lowercase and capital letters?

5. Bulk recipients – do you know the other recipients?

6. Surprising – would the content be more appropriately delivered in person or by phone call?

7. Subject headers – unrelated to the email content.

8. Absence of graphics and branding.

Don’t spread spam!

In the unfortunate event that you receive a suspicious email DON’T CLICK ANYTHING ON IT. Send it to spam and delete it immediately. If you’re unsure, do not forward it or reply. If you know the alleged sender, contact them via phone or in person straight away, as their account may have been hacked.

Cyberattacks are the result of organised crime, stay cautious and alert when you are online, with your emails and all other data activity.

The likes of British Airways and Facebook are amongst the big names that are currently facing the consequences of not securing their customer data adequately.

Cybercriminals maliciously attacked customer data of both companies and managed to get hold of important personal details by hacking the respective websites.

Don’t fall victim to cybercriminals…

Businesses both large and small are vulnerable to attack. Contact Connectus today for an initial penetration test. Our skilled team will attempt to hack into your systems to identify any system loopholes or gaps in security configuration to be able to prevent any potential cyberattacks.

Our team can also ensure that, should your company already have experienced a cyber-attack, you and your team are prepared and know what to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Two northern innovators have entered into a strategic partnership as they look to roll-out internet-based surveillance to businesses across the UK.
Cheshire-based NetVu, renowned as a leading innovator in the security and surveillance market, has welcomed Yorkshire-based Connectus into its installer network, providing access to a portfolio that provides access to its multi-sensory service of data, alarms and video.
With its own full fibre network, Connectus works with businesses to deliver products that are carried over the internet including voice, cloud storage and now surveillance. In addition, the business is an expert in helping business manage technology security and risk through cyber and information governance.
The partnership between the two businesses demonstrates traditional services becoming increasingly internet-based, further highlighting the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the shift towards Video-Surveillance-as-a-Service (VSaas) – an approach that moves once bulky video surveillance off-site and into the cloud.
Roy Shelton, Managing Director of Connectus, said:
“The internet and connectivity is at the heart of the Connectus business model, providing access for a host of services suited to modern-day organisations and their business challenges. Many businesses have a requirement for surveillance services and we’ve been listening to our customers and the wider market place.
“The prospect of utilising connectivity and the internet to deliver CCTV technology and working with a global pioneer like NetVu and integrating their cyber secure Closed IP solution into our extended portfolio was an opportunity we wanted to embrace.”
Pauline Norstrom, Managing Director of NetVu, said:
“In a modern business world, a combination of super-fast connectivity and cloud-based technologies have influenced how NetVu’s products are developed and now the businesses we partner with to take them to a wider market.
“Connectus is a business with connectivity at its core, and with its existing strength in cyber security and network protection, the evolving NetVu IP product set had clear synergies with the business.
“This opportunity, as well as broadening our installer network, marks an historic moment as we specify our next generation Closed IPTV 3 cyber secure Uniplex IP NVR systems – with embedded, virtualised or fully internet based options – for the first time in the UK.”

Connectus has announced a new voice proposition following a sequence of strategic industry partnerships.
Building on its exclusive UK-relationship with Swedish-based technology firm Advoco, the firm has built a communications platform based on supporting businesses adopting working practices that aren’t bound by geographic location or cumbersome telephone equipment.
With a mobile-first approach, through an integration with Dubber and AWS, the new platform gives Connectus’ customers and partners access to features including GDPR compliant online call recording and data retrieval, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) for training and marketing.
Working with data centre provider UK Fast via Cirro, multiple site resilience and failover are in place. And with its Session Boarder Controller upgrade (SBC), capacity has been updated and increased for improved security and enablement of AI and recording features.
Duncan Shaw, CTO of Connectus, said: “It’s no secret that many businesses are now choosing to host their communication services using cloud technology and making them accessible to a number of devices, whether fixed or mobile, irrespective of time or location.
“We have designed this platform around those modern business needs, listening to customers and partners that are looking to their technology investments to help build knowledge, train new staff and utilise features such as AI to build business opportunities.
“Working closely with Advoco we have developed our offering to bring a powerful combination of experience and expertise, now overlaid with the additional services from Dubber and UK Fast. We’re looking forward to helping customers reap the benefits in a rapidly changing business landscape.”
Kajsa Lundfall, CEO of Advoco said: “Advoco is looking forward to working with Connectus in the UK market. This is a perfect match as both companies share a common view of bringing a simple and yet powerful and modern cloud telephony solutions for the mobile worker. With Connectus we have knowledge and experience in place and can bring a powerful solution to customers”

Ends

Connectus, the Doncaster headquartered technology provider, has announced ambitious growth plans following the appointment of industry leader Roy Shelton.
With product development, key hires and the strategic acquisition of cyber and data specialist Cybersity, the business is looking to drive organic and acquisitive growth over the next three years.
Connectus was formed following the acquisition of Eximus Solutions 12 months ago. And following the retirement of founders Maurice Lee and Elaine Gellion, who this month left the business following 15 years in situ, serial telco founder and CEO Shelton is now leading the business in his role as Managing Director.
Working with the existing technical and engineering team, the business has bolstered all areas, supported by its £150k investment from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) by FW Capital in December.
As part of the new team, ex-Daisy Group director Kate O’Brien leads marketing, Andy Marsden leads sales and Scott Taylor leads the new compliance and security team. Jessica Murray has joined and will lead the finance function.
With its own full fibre network in Doncaster, the business has evolved and enhanced its existing product suite to focus on services delivered over IP including voice, as well as CCTV and detection. Following its December acquisition of Cybersity – a specialist in helping business to use technology safely and securely and support with compliance and regulation – the businessis now offering cyber services.
With its sights set on organic growth in the SME and Mid-Market, Shelton has re-built the IT and Communication provider’s proposition, and with his new team is embarking on ambitious plans, utilising Connectus’ own fibre network, its preferred supplier status with the government’s BDUK voucher scheme as well as its key vendor relationships.
Shelton’s vision is very much one based around innovation and partnerships, helping businesses to access fibre and drive efficiencies and services by utilising the speed and bandwidth, with a security wrap.
Paul Ruocco, Chairman of Connectus, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Roy into Connectus. This is a business with strong foundations from which we are looking to grow, and that is testament to thank Maurice, Elaine and the team. I’d like to thank them immensely for their hard work and leadership during their tenure.”
Shelton said: “I am delighted to have joined Connectus. The business has a great history, diverse customers and with a keystrength in connectivity and our own network across Doncaster, the business is well positioned to for growth. This is a really exciting time to be joining the company.
“We have heavily invested in our infrastructure, vendor relationships as well as our people. We have vast experience with the appointments of Kate, Jessica and Andy. Coupled with the strategic acquisition of Cybersity and our team of engineers, I believe we can offer a real point of difference to both our customers and partners.”

A superfast broadband provider has received £150,000 worth of funding from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, managed by FW Capital and part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
Connectus Group provides fibre optic broadband cabling and end user products including broadband, VOIP, mobile, telephony, data storage and CCTV. The company works with a host of blue-chip clients such as BT and Peel Holdings, as well as numerous SMEs.
The £150,000 investment from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance will fund a premises refurbishment, additional staff, and marketing and website development to support the further expansion of the business.
Connectus Group achieved a turnover of £500k last year, and this is expected to rise to £1m in 2019. The company currently employs nine staff, with two more full-time roles being created by the end of this year.
Paul Ruocco, Connectus chairman said: “Following our acquisition of Eximus Solutions Ltd at the beginning of the year we applied for funding from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance to be used to support the continued growth of the company and the further deployment of our full fibre network around Doncaster.
“We were delighted with the £150,000 investment from FW Capital it has been used to create five new full-time roles and the continued growth of the company.
“The funding will also allow us to address the unprecedented demand for Gigabyte Fibre connectivity, VOIP telephony solutions and cyber security services to business across the north of England.
“The entire process of working with FW Capital has been smooth and transparent with great support and we would highly recommend working with them.
FW Capital investment executive, Loz O’Connor said: “BDUK has launched a £67m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which businesses can access if they invest in fibre optic broadband. This will encourage businesses to put broadband improvements high on their agenda and will provide lots of opportunities for Connectus. Our funding will enable the company to deliver on increased demand for its services and we are very pleased to support Connectus through this significant period of growth.”
Grant Peggie, Director at British Business Bank, said: “This investment will allow Connectus a greater presence online and to recruit additional staff. Connectus has established an impressive client base within the telecoms and technology sectors, and we hope that the funding from NPIF will enable the firm to expand even further.
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

We’re lagging behind – and that’s a problem.
The FTTH Council Europe, which campaigns for the adoption of gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH/P) broadband technology, published its 2017 global ranking – and the UK doesn’t even appear in the list.
And when it comes to download speeds, Cable.co.uk’s worldwide review found the UK languishing in 31st place out of 40. That’s behind countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Thailand.
The UK Government’s response? A pledge that British homes and businesses will have a legal right to high-speed broadband, believing that only a universal service obligation will make this happen.

Supported by industry, the Government is stepping up to the mark to meet the ultrafast challenge. Those efforts began with a £200 million scheme to extend the UK’s full fibre infrastructure.
In November 2017, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched a pilot Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. This allowed small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in areas such as South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside to claim up to £3,000 each to upgrade to a gigabit-capable service.
Now the scheme has been running a year, thousands of companies have taken advantage and companies can now access funding worth £2,500 still!
The vouchers can even be pooled for a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) solution delivered to multiple SMEs, for example business parks.
This scheme fit perfectly with our mission to liberate businesses from poor connectivity and digitally transform and future-proof them.
As a registered supplier for the scheme, we provided businesses with free installation on our full fibre, gigabit-capable services, up to the value of £3,000.
Government initiatives such as these, alongside vital investment from ISPs in their own infrastructure, are having an impact, and undeniable success. This step in the right direction was boosted in March 2018 with the UK Government’s announcement of the national roll out of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
We help businesses gain access to ultrafast, more reliable internet services by investing in and running our own high-performance fibre infrastructure, targeting poorly connected business and science parks.
Meeting the UK’s ultrafast broadband challenge isn’t going to happen overnight – and interim solutions are needed as a stepping stone to full fibre. We’re leading the way with our ground-breaking G.Fast technology, a hybrid-fibre technology which delivers ultrafast broadband over copper lines, offering comparable speeds to FTTP technology, at a fraction of the costs and lead time.

The UK’s fibre challenge has to be met with a mixture of private and public investment, with public funding being provided within a policy framework of national strategies.
“Vital investment from alternative ISPs in their own infrastructure as well as Government initiatives are helping to improve market sentiment and in turn are creating the right climate for more investors to respond.
The industry needs to be more transparent about the amount of money that is needed to put UK provision on a par with countries such as Sweden and Denmark.” Ben King, CTO, Glide.
Schemes such as the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme are a good step towards meeting the cost challenges of providing access to ultrafast broadband across the UK.
With the Department for Media, Culture and Sport taking the pilot scheme nationwide on at the start of the year, businesses have unmatched access to the next-generation connectivity that can take them to the next level.
The Government has a £67million pot to help the nation’s SMEs access gigabit-capable broadband, and we’re ready to help them make this a reality.