I mentioned that we went to meet a client in Elgin last week, they were interested in getting Vicky to do a free penetration test on their network. I assumed that the work she would do for this would just go over my head but I was glad to find something I was familiar with. Phishing emails. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s basically a scam email claiming that you’ve won money in a competition or some other kind of scenario but in reality, they have some kind of malicious intent. What we were going to do was a bit different than the generic “You’ve won £5000!”, we were going to do a targeted phishing email with our client from Elgin as the target.
The Benefits of Office 365
Office 365, Cyber Essentials, Modern Apprenticeship work and even some ethical hacking. It’s been a busy week. I’ll start with Office 365.
As expected some small problems did arise after the migration, for example, some emails were getting let through our client’s spam filter. The Apprentice Store currently aims to not only support but to educate people so our solution to this was to create user guides so that’s what I did. I also made a user guide covering how to use the Excel spreadsheets I mentioned in the last blog post. I do think they help me a lot, you have to know a subject well to teach it. Later on, I did a bit of Windows PowerShell, I seem to be using it more and more so I plan to invest some time learning it in the future.
My Experience at The Apprentice Store
I am now on my sixth week of work experience with The Apprentice Store and have recently been given certain tasks I need to do each week, such as a 500 word article for the end of each week on whatever topic I think is appropriate and then followed by eight posts relating to the chosen topic I’m working on for The Apprentice Store social media, these are to be written one week then posted the next. It’s all in preparation for the coming week.
This week the Office 365 cutover migration I mentioned in an earlier blog post was taking place so that’s what most of my work was oriented around. So, for the first part of this week I was using a lot of Excel.
It quickly became clear to me, even though I had respect for Excel, that there is so much more to it. David taught me how to use PivotTables and lookups so that the data our client received could be interpreted within minutes rather than hours. We also wrote some Visual Basic code that scanned down a spreadsheet filled with Names, Usernames and passwords and sent an email to them. I had always considered Excel a pretty boring piece of software used for finances and graphs but sending almost 100 emails in a matter of seconds? That’s actually pretty cool.
This week I was working from home, Airan had a week off and David was on a Business trip. The first task I decided to tackle was a presentation comparing a Business Essentials and a Business plan for Office 365. I thought that business essentials only costing £3.80 user/month would mean it wouldn’t have much to offer, I was wrong. I worked on this for the majority of the day but not to completion. The next day I continued to work on it but being overwhelmed with the huge amount on offer within this plan I decided to divert from this and take a trip to the office as I needed to take some photos to complete apprenticeship work on health and safety. I came back, worked on the presentation but, yet again, not to completion.
This week we were focusing on data normalisation and preparing for an Office 365 migration, which is essentially taking their existing email system and putting it into the cloud. Oh yeah, Airan has got a PC to work on too however certain parts of the taskbar are frozen so we also had the task of troubleshooting this.
So, the data normalisation, we were working on the Apprentice Store database. I was still struggling with the whole concept of normalisation so a lot of time was spent simply just practising this. I did try to implement what I had learned into Access and I was semi-successful.
Day 1 – Work Experience Guy
We’ve got a new addition to the Apprentice Store, Airan Mackenzie! He’s going to be with us for 8 weeks and he’s writing a blog of his own. So, the first part of today was mainly spent trying to figure out what to do with these two routers David had found us. After a bit of trial and error we finally connected to them only to be prompted with “WARNING: SOMETHING SOMETHING BT EQUIPMENT!!!” so the investigation of the routers stopped there. In the afternoon we headed to the UHI to watch some 3rd year degree computing students presentation. Why? Because one of the group’s projects was to design a web application for us. It was an interesting experience and I was highly impressed with the work displayed.
Day 1 College presentation 02/05/17
After meeting and talking to David and getting to know Matthew we were tasked with factory resetting a Cisco 1841 and a Cisco 1941 router a lot of it was discussing with David and we didn’t get a lot of time to try get into it especially because the program we used wasn’t working for either router. Eventually we had to stop and head to UHI college to watch 3 groups present their final year project which was a web application they had 12 weeks to work as a team and design, one of the groups project was to make an Apprentice Store website and thus why we were there. After we got back to the office we talked together about our experience at the college and how the groups performed and David mentioned he was filling in at the Stem Hub and would be doing a presentation about cyber security and wondered if we didn’t mind helping.
Day 1 – But it’s a Tuesday
Coming back from the holidays I was still slightly overwhelmed and somewhat worried at the fact that I was going to get exposed to even more information. I’ve really started to realise now that some of these concepts you only really need an awareness of and there will come a point in time where you’ll learn it. Today was like most other days, a lot of reading and learning and a couple client meetings. One of which was about penetration testing, an area that interests me. Turns out it’s not as common as I thought. It’d be rare for us to carry something like this out but it does seem like a good bit of fun.
First time writing a blog, first time in employment and my first week at The Apprentice Store. That’s what I’ll be writing about today.
Day one – New job
So, day one. I had been in before for 3 days which was basically like a long job interview so I had a rough idea of what to expect but still had no idea just how little I knew about the mystical world of IT. The day was spent firstly introducing me to the job, the kinds of things I would be doing, fire safety, my employment contract that sort of thing. After that it was time to create an Office 365 account for me and then simply discussing any kind of questions I had. The rest of the days followed the same kind of layout, a brief discussion in the morning, a task or set of work for me do and in depth discussions of any questions I had throughout the day but I’ll tell you about them anyway.
The Apprentice Store are excited to be attending The Big Apprenticeship Event being held at Inverness Royal Academy today, 9th March 2017. We’ll be there to chat about how you can get involved in our shared apprenticeship programme as an apprentice, a mentor or a business.
Be sure to come and visit us and have a go at our “CRACK THE PASSWORD” game!
The Chamber of Commerce does a great job in providing networking opportunities for local business and commerce.
We are very supportive of the work that Andy Maxton is doing with the Developing the Young Workforce programme and hope to be more involved in the near future.
Keep up the good work!
While writing up a report this week for a client for their Cyber Security strategy I took a call from a UK number with a very kind and polite person from Microsoft calling me to assist me with a problem that my computer is suffering from. I knew very quickly that this was a scam but I wanted to see how mature this was so I put some time into this but also playing hard to get by constantly questioning what they were asking me to do and asking if it was a scam to give them a chance to end the call.
I have had cause to review a number of support contracts since releasing the article ‘Why do I need a contract?‘ with one in particular highlighting many things that I thought would be of interest to those who contacted me about this subject. I will not mention any names to protect the privacy of my client and the supplier but all of this is genuine extraction from a contract that covers data backups where it appears in quotes and italics. This particular contract is a general outsourced IT support contract aimed at the small to medium sized business without an internal IT resource and I understand that this contract has been used across a reasonably large client base.
We have all been in the position where we have needed to call a help desk and once we have managed to traverse the automated call handler, we should hopefully get to speak to someone about our problem. Subject to the type of service that you are calling and the contract that you operate within, you should get either a call logging service that uses a script or get to speak with someone who can actually help you. You may find that your help desk hides behind a web based support portal or operates an automated email monitor but the result should be the same. In every support case you should fall into a support process that formally logs the incident and you should get an incident reference number. You will note the word ‘should’ is being used a lot in the opening and that is because many help desks do not operate this way, which is the topic of this article from my From the Trenches series.
I regularly find that problems that I speak with clients about are due to poor change management when I asked to review risk management within their business data systems. I would suggest that this problem exists in equal quantity where businesses outsource or insource their IT services. Where Cloud or hosted services are being used there is generally a good level of change management in that service but this is not always the case and should not be assumed.