Free (Boilerplate) IT Policy templates for your IT Enviroment

If you are in charge of IT for a company, it is a good idea as part of the onboarding process a User signs a user acceptance policy like they sign their work contact. This document will cover 

  • Acceptable use of the company network, files and equipments
  • Security measures a user is expected to abide to
  • Protection of company data

It makes clear from the start of what is expected of them as a user of the system. has put together some standard documentation you can use for your environment for free

Acceptable User Access Policy

Email Policy

Remote Access Policy

You can get the user to use this free tool to electronically sign the document then email it back to you

Office 365 Document Collaboration LifeCycle

There are so many Office 365 apps sometimes customers get lost in the functionality and sometimes lose out in ways it can help their business. Some of these apps work in parallel for your Document Collaboration and building. These are the steps your document should go through



1) One Drive

 This is your personal storage like a home drive, documents here are only viewed by you. You should put all your Documents and Desktops here to protect them from accidental deletion or corruption. 



2) Teams

 This is a document storage for collaboration, e.g an Accounts Team would have a team site to work through 2018 Finances. People can upload their receipts to an accounting package or integrate into a personal one drive to a Teams folder. Once finished the accounts team would publish the accounts to Sharepoint for viewing by management.



3) Sharepoint

This is permanent storage for Organisation Company Documents

Companies should look at Data retention policies and have an information strategy to force documents to end up in Sharepoint rather than stay in personal One Drives and Team Sites.



4) Yammer

This is the solution to let companies know about changes on Sharepoint

Microsoft 365 Advanced Threat Protection VS Mimecast M2A License

A table of some of the added Features Mimecast can give you over Office 365 with ATP

POLICY 365 with Advanced Threat Protection 365 with Mimecast M2A
Impersontation Protection
Spam Filtering
URL ReWrite / Safelinks ✓ ( URL ReWrite is done at the time of receiving) ✓ ( Dynamic Rewrites )
Archive ✓ 7 second search SLA
Email Continuity ✓ ( C1 Product )
Signature Software
Disclaimer Software
Attachment sandboxing ✓ ( SLA for Speed )
Safe File Conversion
Email encryption

Microsoft 365 Business - Free Upgrades

As Of May 1st 2017 the Office 365 License "Microsoft 365 Business" got some serious Upgrades


The full final list can be seen here

Exchange Online Archiving ( Unlimited Mailbox Size ) 

Azure Information Protection (AIP) Plan 1

Data Loss Prevention

Enterprise State Roaming

In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold

Microsoft Stream

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)


What you still might need an E3 License of a P1 Azure Active Directory

  • Conditional access (based on group, location, device state, sign-in, or user risk).
  • RDS Office activation
  • Device objects two-way synchronization between on-premises directories and Azure AD (device write-back).
  • Dynamic Groups.
  • Group Naming Policy
  • Advanced eDiscovery.

DLP : Data Loss Prevention

Recently I got shown the product Tessian

A nice piece of software that stops the following using clever AI : 

  • Internal parties emailing confidential documents out to themselves or to third parties by mistake
  • Data being passed between internal ethical walls
  • Miss addressed or mistaken emails
    .....with also other customizable filters defined by the customer.

This is a fancy version of the DLP you get with Office 365 with an E3 or E5 License ( but only applies to emails instead of your business Apps suite ) 

Office 365 Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention is especially evermore important now the rules have come in about GDPR

Where companies must now legally report on any EU customer data loss. It's much better to prevent this happening in the first place using restriction rather than report on it later! You can always release emails but you can never bring them back!

Office 365 comes with all the Sensitive information types you need to be wary of leaking:


Its not just Office 365 this comes with, you can actually enforce this with Exchange 2013 SP1 and Upwards

Data Loss Costs

The EU will be handing down fines to companies who do not comply with GDPR on top of that you will need to factor in internal costs to your company

  • Loss of clients due to their data being breached
  • Legal costs to business for insurance claims of loss of earnings
  • Loss to the business if important information such as Client Lists or information gets taken by an ex collegue

Office 365 Enterprise State Roaming

Enterprise State Roaming is a feature of Azure AD Premium (which is now included in Office 365 Business) which enables the user to roam their settings using the cloud instead of OnPrem Roaming Profiles between Windows 10 Devices

A screenshot below on a Windows 10 shows how you can control this : 

  • Theme, which includes features such as desktop theme and taskbar settings.
  • Internet Explorer settings, including recently opened tabs and favorites.
  • Edge browser settings, such as favorites and reading list.
  • Passwords, including Internet passwords, Wi-Fi profiles, and others.
  • Language preferences, which includes settings for keyboard layouts, system language, date and time, and more.
  • Ease of access features, such as high-contrast theme, Narrator, and Magnifier.
  • Other Windows settings, such as command prompt settings and application list.

Application data ( %AppData% ) Universal Windows apps can write settings data to a roaming folder, and any data written to this folder will automatically be synced. It’s up to the individual app developer to design an app to take advantage of this capability.

Shadow IT - what does it cost a company

What is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT is the notion of users of an organisation going out finding technology on their own without the backing of IT because they do not have the technology inhouse to solve a problem

Some example of this are

·        Users not being able to share files between themselves or publically with thirdparties easily so they install and move company documents to services such as Dropbox Free Edition

·        Users purchasing a new Mobile Phone with software that doesn’t support Mobile device management and wanting company email setup.

·        Users unable to chat to each other so they install Skype for calls and chat inside the office also sharing files using this

·        Users uploading and converting documents to ZamZar because they needed to quickly convert a customers document to another format such as pdf.


How does this effect my company?

Data Loss
Most of the above examples involve company data being uploaded to third party services were the company loses control of the data and possibly releases confidential customer data to the public.  

Implementing the wrong solution
Most of the time the solution implmented will be the first solution a user finds on a quick search on google. Not only does this pose a risk of a user downloading and installing malware trying to find a program to fix their problem ( something like Dropbox or Chrome does not need Local Administrator to install) but it actually could be the wrong solution in the first place. By the time other users in the organisation have jumped onboard and uploaded more data , the company could then need this application for day to day running of the business and it could then need migrating to a correct application at more cost.

Performance impacts
If everyone in the organisation installs dropbox , this not only now needs space on all computers to sync the library, but substantial bandwidth requirments on all the computers. If someone uploads a large file externally which has been shared with multiple users in the company than this can saturate the office internet connection.

Breach of License Use
An example of this is a user isn’t enabled from remote access to their computer. They install TeamViewer themselves so they can work on a document from home without having to go through the setup process of two factor authentication. All this is possible if the company has not blocked teamviewer using the firewall, but Teamviewer Free is actually not valid for commerial use , so in an license Audit the company could be found for breach of the License Agreement.


Ways to resolve

The main reason of users going out and finding technology themselves ( which is usually free as this needs no manager approval ) is they are finding a solution to a problem their existing enviroment cannot solve.  Instead of denying technology to users which causes this problem in the first place , IT should work with the company to cost out a solution that will be supported and maintained interally from the start.

When planning a service to resolve a problem, maybe due to budget requirments, a free service might need to be piloted or used. IT can make sure they use a business email account to sign up to this service so the business still retains control of the login on the users departure.

Policies can be setup for a hardware standard that is fully support and tested with the companies applications and services. Once this policy is approved by management, policies can be enabled on Firewalls to stop access to unauthorised sites and blocking of applications. A policy for BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device ) Should be formalised for so recommations can be passed down in regards to supported operating systems and hardware.

IT should always be kept up to date with new technology whether it be software/services or hardware to be able to recommend technology to the business that will ease their day to day work.


Free PDF Tools for your Small Business

Reading PDF's can be done in most browsers for free. However, editing them can require expensive software such as Adobe Acrobat

Here are some free alternatives for you to use : 


How to get a text from photos or flat PDF's. Easily convert a PDF to Doc File

Use Optical Character Recognition software online. Service supports 46 languages including Chinese, Japanese and Korean . is a free OCR service in a "Guest mode" (without registration) that allows you to convert 15 files per hour (and 15 pages into multipage files). Registration will give you ability to convert multipage PDF documents and other features.

Edit PDF's in Browser or Program

PDF Escape allows you to edit PDF's in browser or you can download their program

Azure SQL Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) can save you being hacked and plastered on

People who code their own login forms and database-backed apps available publically should be careful of the SQL famouse Injection : 

'OR 1=1

For poorly coded forms this changes an SQL Query searching for a Username/Password to list all the logins

SELECT userid
FROM users
WHERE username = ''OR 1=1/*'
    AND password = ''
    AND domain = ''

You only need to look at Troy Hunts site and method to hack databases  to see how easy and how many people have been effected.

Azure SQL Advanced Threat Protection can detect these kinds of attacks for you stop or notify you as soon as they happen as well as let you know the hack 


Other Features is can help you with 

Vulnerability to SQL Injection:

This alert is triggered when an application generates a faulty SQL statement in the database. This may indicate a possible vulnerability to SQL injection attacks. There are two possible reasons for the generation of a faulty statement:

A defect in application code that constructs the faulty SQL statement

Application code or stored procedures don't sanitize user input when constructing the faulty SQL statement, which may be exploited for SQL Injection

Potential SQL injection

This alert is triggered when an active exploit happens against an identified application vulnerability to SQL injection. This means the attacker is trying to inject malicious SQL statements using the vulnerable application code or stored procedures.

Access from unusual location:

This alert is triggered when there is a change in the access pattern to SQL server, where someone has logged on to the SQL server from an unusual geographical location. In some cases, the alert detects a legitimate action (a new application or developer maintenance). In other cases, the alert detects a malicious action (former employee, external attacker).

Access from unusual Azure data center

 This alert is triggered when there is a change in the access pattern to SQL server, where someone has logged on to the SQL server from an unusual Azure data center that was seen on this server during the recent period. In some cases, the alert detects a legitimate action (your new application in Azure, Power BI, Azure SQL Query Editor). In other cases, the alert detects a malicious action from an Azure resource/service (former employee, external attacker).

Access from unfamiliar principal

This alert is triggered when there is a change in the access pattern to SQL server, where someone has logged on to the SQL server using an unusual principal (SQL user). In some cases, the alert detects a legitimate action (new application, developer maintenance). In other cases, the alert detects a malicious action (former employee, external attacker).

Access from a potentially harmful application

This alert is triggered when a potentially harmful application is used to access the database. In some cases, the alert detects penetration testing in action. In other cases, the alert detects an attack using common attack tools.

Brute force SQL credentials

This alert is triggered when there is an abnormal high number of failed logins with different credentials. In some cases, the alert detects penetration testing in action. In other cases, the alert detects brute force attack.


The cost of around  £11.18/node/month with a 60 day free trial, You will be needing to use a Managed SQL instance ( PaaS ) fo this feature


Office 365 - Advanced Security Management

What is it?

Briefly Office 365 Advanced Security Management enables organisations to create Policies based on user activity or predefined, AI detections . Not only can you alert on these , you can also action such detections by suspending the user accounts and alerting 365 administrators. It is also another level to Office 365 Audit Log for storing audit data and getting useful insight on the Office 365 usage in your company.

What tools do I get?

  • Threat detection— Uses AI to algorithms to detect suspicious activities such as below, e.g an Administrator forwarding emails to another party using an unknown IP Address.

  • Enhanced control—You can create policies for specific user group and actions which automatically suspends user accounts due to threats, so in realtime, you can stop intrusions.


Discovery and insights— Deeper insights into user actions that you do not see in the Audit log off office 365 without the need to install software on user machine.

How much is it?

For Business Essentials or Business Premium, Microsoft 365 Business Office 365, Enterprise E3 Microsoft or 365 Enterprise E3 its £1.50 / Month / User

For Office 365 Enterprise E5 or Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5 it is included in your subscriptions


Costs of Azure VS AWS for Virtual Tape Library and Veeam


For organisations wanting to ultilse a VTL setup for Veeam instead of Veeam Cloud connect , they should be aware that VTL won't be able to roll up incremental backups into synthetic fulls, meaning every full back you are going to do will copy then entire full backup set to AWS.


Each virtual tape is limited to 30MB/s of upload throughput. To get up to the gateway maximum of 120MB/s, you need to have 4 virtual tapes running simultaneously


Amazon vtl is 20-30 megabytes per second

Gateway : Maximum of 95 GBP / Month

Archive Glacer Storage : 0.0034 GBP per GB / Month


You will need a Starwind VTL Virtual Machine running ( is free software ) 

You will need to pay for this VM in Azure : 133 GBP / Month

Azure Cool Storage : £0.0079 per GB ( first 50TB ) 

Office 365 Threat Intelligence

What is it?

  1. Making it easy to identify, monitor and understand attacks

  2. Helping to quickly address threats in Exchange Online and SharePoint Online

  3. Providing insights and knowledge to help prevent attacks against their organization

What tools do I get?

  • Display Name Spear Phishing Attack: Microsoft has now their own tool for internal testing users against phishing attacks so you can test then and train where needed

  • Password Spray Attack: Let microsoft try commonly use passwords across your entire organisation to find out weak entries a hacker could use
  • Brute Force Password Attack: Let microsoft try and bruteforce specific accounts internally and externally to make sure you have adequate lockouts assigned to your user accounts

How do I get it?

Threat Intelligence is included with Office 365 Enterprise E5 and Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5 for free

Business Essentials or Business Premium Microsoft 365 Business or Office 365 Enterprise E3 or Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 its a £5 monthly add on / user / month

Critical Microsoft Exchange Patch - CVE-2018-8154 patch

Microsoft has released a update to address a critical vulnerability for all Exchange versions

A remote code execution vulnerability exists in Microsoft Exchange software when the software fails to properly handle objects in memory. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could run arbitrary code in the context of the System user. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts.

Exploitation of the vulnerability requires that a specially crafted email be sent to a vulnerable Exchange server.

The security update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how Microsoft Exchange handles objects in memory.

Exchange 2007 will not be patched by Microsoft so if you are using this version its highly recommended you update or migrate to Office 365

Why use Office 365 Microsoft Teams

What is Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a free platform ( if you are an office 365 customer ) for communication and collaboration for teams inside your organisation to enable staff to interact better. Most organisations will have the following departments:

  • Finance
  • HR
  • IT
  • Sales
  • Marketing

Each of these departments and subteams will be communicating with each other currently using some form platform such as CCing Group Email , skype for business chat or phone calls.

Microsoft Teams enables you to use all the above methods and colloborate with documents at the same time.

Hows does it work

When you create a Microsoft Team for a department, it creates :

  • Sarepoint Site for Document Storage and live collaboration

  • A Team Mailbox for live Chat Communications
  • OneNote file for note collaboration.


You can then break down a Team into different Channels for example Different Projects inside a Department.

Best Features

Fully Synced Between your devices

Microsoft Teams can be accessed via

  • An installed Application on your Computer or Mac

  • The Web
  • An App on your phone with Push Notifications

Everything is synced between these so nothing is missed when using another device or on the move


Sync and collaborate on Files in Teams use External Providers such Dropbox/Box/Sharefile and Google Drive



Saving files

Each Channel in teams gets a specific email address, if your group is working from a shared mailbox , rather than forward that email to a group who then have to download it , you can forward it to your department channel and ask the question there.


Connectors allow you to connect third party lists such as 

  • Twitter feeds
  • RSS Feeds
  • News

Into your teams site so its a one stop shop for information


You can intergrate helpful bots inside your chat windows for example

  • User : “Bot pull up sales figures for Customer Contoso “
  • Bot : “Beep Beep - Sum of sales from salesforce for Contoso X$”
  • User : “Bot does Customer Contoso have any outstanding amount due”
  • Bot : “Beep Beep - Xero shows Contoso has an outstanding amount of X$ overdue 5 days”

List of current bots available here : as well a a development library to program your own



New Business Features Windows 10 ( 1803 ) Download Link

Microsoft’s new version of Windows, Windows 10 is forever improving through feature updates released every quarter for its customers.

The update can be downloaded here and but released out via Windows Updates ( WSUS ) from the 8th May

Focus Assist

In today's distractive work environment Microsoft has come up with technology to snooze all alerts so you can concentrate on your work per below : 


Have you ever worked on something and totally forget the name of the document or what webpages or other documents you were using at the same time? Windows 10 Timeline now lets you navigate through your previous 30 days of computer history, just like going back in time, to bring up your previous documents, webhistory and applications. It’s the perfect way to pick up where you left off between one computer and another.

This even links your Windows Phone history or online 365 useage

Social Engineering of Two Factor Text Messages

Now you have Two Factor Authentication Enabled on your system a hacker will try and Social Engineer other methods to get your codes if he has your password as well.

One of this  is Sim Card Hacking Per Our Article here

The next method seems to be messaging you pretending to be the Two Factor Service


Of course above is the hacker sending your a Text Message when he submit login trying to get you to reply with your Code. Its clever but pretty obvious. 

If goes with out saying you should never SMS back your Two Factor Code to anyone of enter it anywhere apart from the legitimate website requesting it 

UK National Lottery Hack - Customers information breached

The Uk National Lottery operator Camelot is urging all its online customers to change their passwords as it suffered an online hack the telegraph reports that Millions have been hacked

However more newsworthy reporting such as The BBC New reports this was only 150 Customers

“We have directly contacted those players whose accounts have been affected. We are advising players to change their password as a precaution, particularly if they use the same password across multiple websites.”

No money or credit card information has been stolen

Camelot said it had reported the security breach to the police and the Information Commissioner’s Office and was liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre.

Service Status

Here's a service status page for our cloud suppliers

BT Service Status:

Easynet Status:

Zen Broadband

Office 365 Service Status

Dropbox Service Status

Sales Force Service Status

Google Apps Service Status

Cloudflare Service Status

123reg service status

Here is a service you can check to see if a website is down for just you or everyone


Office 365 will drop TLS 1.0 and 1.1 Support starting 31st October 2018

Microsoft has announced that as of October 31st ( Moved from the 1st March ) it will be dropping TLS 1.1 Support and only allowing TLS 1.2


What you need to do

1 ) Check for 2008 R2 and Windows 7 Devices and make sure this KB is installed :

Make sure this Reg key is set

2) Make sure you are not using any of these devices which do not support TLS 1.2

  • Android 4.3 and earlier versions
  • Firefox version 5.0 and earlier versions
  • Internet Explorer 8-10 on Windows 7 and earlier versions
  • Internet Explorer 10 on Win Phone 8.0
  • Safari 6.0.4/OS X10.8.4 and earlier versions

3) Check your devices e.g. MFD and Phone Systems support TLS 1.2

Network Access Control Systems and Solutions

Network access control systems are tools used for controlling and managing network access based on compliance with a network and its policies. These policies are devised based on various parameters like user identity, device location, device health, among others.

The same philosophy is someone requiring a username and password to connect to your Network remotely via VPN, or use a Wifi Password or Domain Credentials present some sort of  Network Access Control. But what happens when you look at the Physical layer , what happens when someone brings their home computer and plugs it into the network or even worse an attacker plugs in?

NAC systems present an authentication layer on the physical port so only devices with a working AntiVirus and Windows patches and correct credentials will be presented on the company network. You can even present a two factor authentication to this incase the user details get compromised. If any of these tests fail they will be redirected to the Guest Networks

Systems that help managed this are HP's Aruba ClearPass or Cisco's ISE

Contact us today if you need a quote for a NAC system or the supporting of an existing one