PC Express Invests in the Future and Celebrates Double Award Win

Steve and Joanne Maz of PC Express celebrated their success at the Altrincham and Sale Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2018.

PC Express won the acclaim of their clients whose votes placed them in the top categories for:

  • Small Business of the Year and
  • Business of the Year.

The judge said they received the highest number of nominations.

The achievement marks a period of growth for PC Express who support clients in their own expansion as they seek to upgrade their IT systems to take advantage of latest technology.

Sale based PC Express has been successfully providing IT services to local and UK-wide businesses since 2007.

Starting out as a local computer repair shop in Washway Road, Steve set up the company to help people in the local community with their computers and IT equipment. Since then, PCE staff have repaired over 25,000 faulty laptops, iPhones and electronic devices. The company’s popularity has grown to an impressive 9,625 clients. They have an enviable reputation and an extremely high success rate for repairs.

Steve Maz said, “We survived the 2007-09 recession and wanted to help other local business people thrive.”

“We turned our skills to helping people get the best out of their IT while protecting them from the ever-increasing risks of cybercrime.”

“Every client gets a free and comprehensive review of their IT systems and the technology they’re using to make sure they are up-to-date, reliable and secure.”

Steve announced the appointment of an apprentice who will be trained in-house.

PC Express has scaled up due to their continued success, with a focus on helping clients to manage their IT infrastructure during expansion and restructure. The repair shop incorporates an IT support office.

The PC Express client base includes recognised and successful local and national businesses.

  • Long term client Apple blinds is the Northwest’s largest blinds retailer with 8 shops and offices. PCE manages their IT and systems security using Cloud-based technology.
  • One of their first clients, Medical Gas, is a multi-million-pound business delivering NHS contracts. PCE began by supporting a single on-site server and now deliver a scaled-up IT system using Exchange, Azure, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams in the Cloud.
  • A client since 2007, Jack Russell, one of the UK’s largest debt collection firms, uses Cloud technologies in all the regional offices to run a CRM database (for which we wrote the software), lead generation and advertising campaign management systems.
  • PCE have supported JUS, a gas utility contactor throughout their expansion from a single business server to a multi-VMware server setup after the company restructured.
  • Local clients include: Potential Recruitment, Sale Insurance, Wilde and Sons flooring contractors, Keller Kitchens (and many more).

Supporting local communities

It’s important we continue to support the local sports community and we sponsor Altrincham FC Girls and Lancashire Junior Lacrosse.

What does the future hold for PC Express?

Steve revealed: “New opportunities are opening up nationwide.”

“My wife Joanne Maz, who has been looking after our Social Media channels for the last 5 years, is taking her service ‘to the next level’.”

Something of an entrepreneur herself, Joanne runs PCE Social, a social media training and management service under the PC Express umbrella. She’s acquired local clients, two of whom are The Starving Man and Aviary Golf and has received an overwhelming response for the service. As more businesses recognise the power of social media, PCE Social is one to follow.

“We are constantly focusing on delivering an excellent service for our clients. That’s why it means so much to have their votes as we continue to grow.”

Double award winning Business of the year

It was an honour to be nominated for the Small Business of the Year, and Business of the Year at the Altrincham & Sale awards this year, and even better to have won both categories.

We are literally cant believe it! and appreciative to everybody that nominated us. We do provide an A-class service but that’s who we are, we love our work, and do anything for our customers, so to be received these awards just confirms that we doing the right thing by our community.

Special thanks to:

  • Martin Hambleton – for the photography
  • Altrincham & Sale Chamber of Commerce – for hosting the awards
  • Best Western Cresta Court Hotel for the amazing food your hard work
  • You guys! thank you so much
Photography by Martin Hambleton

GDPR – Are you ready?

The new EU data protection law is fast approaching and yet a lot of us are still unsure how it affects us? If you’re an SME business and are yet to act, here are some key points to push you in the right direction:

Data mapping – Know what data you are keeping

The first step when tackling GDPR is to map out what data you keep. Grab a pen and note down all the places where customer and employee data is stored and whom and what programs (such as CRM systems) have access.

Security policy – Let your clients and employees know

In your terms and regulations, set out what client data you keep on file, and for how long; note that if you use 3rd party vendors and need to pass on customer data, it should be included in your terms. An example may be, if you use a courier to send out goods then the customer’s address will be passed to the vendor. It goes without saying this is an essential procedure for you to complete your contract of sale, you should be covered if it’s within your terms and conditions. The same applies with your employees, review the contracts of employment, make sure you are covered for the data you hold on them and checks you may do, such as email monitoring, CRV checks, or social media activity monitoring.

Security agreements – Know that your vendors are covered

Just as you need to protect yourself, you need to be sure your vendors you use are covered too. Obtain a copy of their data protection agreements to make sure they are compliant.

Data retention – Procedure for the removal of data

Data should not be kept indefinitely, formulate a procedure for the removal of data that has surpassed your retention policy. Note that the legal requirements for duration will vary depending on what data you hold.

Email marketing – Consent

Well this is a big subject, there are a lot of ways the GDPR relates to how you obtain data and how it can be used. I won’t be going into detail at this time, but I have 2 essential points for you to be looking at:

  • Always have an ‘opt-out’ option of any marketing flyer or email.
  • If you obtain a personal email i.e. rob@mycompany.com, request that they ‘opt-in’ to receive newsletters before adding them to a mailing list.

Brexit – Will we still have to comply with GDPR after we leave?

Yes, GDPR is a EU requirement, however even after Brexit, GDPR will still be applicable, as we will still have to deal with the EU.

I hope you found these basic tips useful, GDPR is essentially about transparency & accountability for the data you hold, if you want to know more, or would like to discuss if we can help you in your business, then please just get in touch.

 

MESSAGE FROM NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY CENTRE (NCSC)

Since the global coordinated ransomware attack on thousands of private and public sector organisations across dozens of countries on Friday, there have been no sustained new attacks of that kind. But it is important to understand that the way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected, and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks.

This means that as a new working week begins it is likely, in the UK and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale.

Our national focus must therefore be on two lines of defence.

The first is to limit the spread and impact of the attacks that have already occurred. Due to broad government and partner efforts, a variety of tools are now publicly available to help organisations to do this. This guidance can be found on our homepage – ncsc.gov.uk – under the title Protecting Your Organisation From Ransomware: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/ransomware-latest-ncsc-guidance

We know already that there have been attempts to attack organisations beyond the National Health Service. It is therefore absolutely imperative that any organisation that believes they may be affected, follows and implements this guidance. We have set out two pieces of guidance: one for organisations and one for private individuals and SMEs which can be applicable regardless of the age of the software in question. It will be updated as and when further mitigations become available and we will announce when updates have been made on Twitter (@ncsc) and elsewhere.

Secondly, it is possible that a ransomware attack of this type and on this scale could recur, though we have no specific evidence that this is the case. What is certain is that ransomware attacks are some of the most immediately damaging forms of cyber attack that affects home users, enterprises and governments equally.

It is also the case that there are a number of easy-to-implement defences against ransomware which very considerably reduce the risk of attack and the impact of successful attacks. These simple steps to protect against ransomware are not being applied by either the public or organisations as thoroughly as they should be.

Three simple steps for companies to undertake which are also set out on our website (https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/protecting-your-organisation-ransomware) and can be summarised as follows:

Protecting your organisation from ransomware – NCSC Site

www.ncsc.gov.uk

How does ransomware infect your system? Computers are infected with ransomware via a number of routes. Sometimes users are tricked into running legitimate-looking …

1.      Keep your organisation’s security software patches up to date

2.      Use proper anti-virus software services

3.      Most importantly for ransomware, back up the data that matters to you, because you can’t be held to ransom for data you hold somewhere else.

Home users and small businesses can take the following steps to protect themselves:

1.      Run Windows Update

2.      Make sure your AntiVirus product is up to date and    run a scan – If you don’t have one install one of the free trial versions from a reputable vendor

3.      If you have not done so before, this is a good time to think about backing important data up – You can’t be held to ransom if you’ve got the data somewhere else.

In the days ahead, the NCSC, working closely with the National Crime Agency in support of their criminal investigation, and with international partners in both other governments and the commercial sector, will continue our round-the-clock effort to get ahead of this threat. We would like to reassure the public that resources from the Government, law enforcement and public and private sector organisation are working together to manage further disruption from the current attack and to increase protection against any further attacks in the coming days. The country’s security and law enforcement agencies are working round the clock to protect the public. Private sector efforts have made a very significant contribution to mitigate the cyber attacks so far and to prevent further disruption.