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How to protect yourself against a ransomware attack.

How to protect yourself against a ransomware attack.

In light of the ransomware outbreak earlier this month I would like to give you some information on how to protect yourself against a ransomware attack.

Firstly, what is ransomware? Well let me take it back a step and tell you what malware is as ransomware is a type of malware. Malware is a software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain authorised access to a computer system. Ransomware, is when your files are held to ransom. Ransomware can take over a computer and prevent the user from gaining access to their data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware encrypts data on a computer using an encryption key only the attacker knows. If you want to decrypt them, you have to pay. If the ransom is then not paid, data is often destroyed and lost forever.

As you have mostly probably heard recently in the news, a ransomware attack, also known as WannaCry or WeCrypt, was recently spread across the globe and is believed to have affected 200,000+ organisations. The cyber-attack struck banks, hospitals and government agencies in more than 150 countries, exploiting known vulnerabilities in Microsoft operating systems.

According to the BBC the majority of machines hit by the WannaCry ransomware worm in the cyber-attack were running Windows 7. This maybe linked to the fact that many organisations failed to apply a patch, issued by Microsoft in March, that blocked the vulnerability which WannaCry exploited.

There have also been suggestions that the reason UK hospitals have suffered is because many of them relied on programmes that required Windows XP – a version of Microsoft’s OS that debuted in 2001. Support for Windows XP was discontinued in 2014. Microsoft actually reneges on its own update policy to push out a patch for unsupported Windows XP and Windows 8 to help defend against the ransomware attack.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from ransomware;

Back up your files

The greatest damage a ransomware attack can have is the loss of files, including pictures and documents.
The best protection against ransomware is to back up all of the information and files on your devices in a completely separate system. A good place to do this is on an external hard drive that isn’t connected to the internet. This means that if you suffer an attack you won’t lose any information to the hackers.
Organisations often save copies of their data to external servers that will not be affected if their main network is attacked.

Be suspicious of emails, websites and apps

For ransomware to work hackers need to download malicious software onto a victims computer. This is then used to launch the attack and encrypt files.
The most common ways for the software to be installed on a victim’s device is through phishing emails, malicious adverts on websites, and questionable apps and programs.
People should always exercise caution when opening unsolicited emails or visiting websites they are unfamiliar with. Never download an app that hasn’t been verified by an official store, and read reviews before installing programs.

Use an antivirus program

An age-old computer security tip, antivirus programs can stop ransomware from being downloaded onto computers and can find it when it is.
Most antivirus programs can scan files to see if they might contain ransomware before downloading them. They can block secret installations from malicious adverts when you’re browsing the web, and look for malware that may already be on a computer or device.

Always install updates

Companies often release software updates to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited to install ransomware. It is therefore advisable to always download the newest version of a software as soon as it is available.

Never pay the ransom

Victims of ransomware attacks are advised to never pay the fee as it encourages attackers and may not result in files being recovered. There are some programs that can help decrypt files. Or, if you have a back up, you can restore your device from that.

If you’d like to know more about Cuskit Limited, simply give us a call on 01827 312217 or drop us an email
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2016 TMT Technology Elite Award.

2016 TMT Technology Elite Award.

Cuskit Limited have officially been selected as one of 2016’s Technology Elite by TMT News.
TMT performed extensive research throughout the UK technology sector and found that Cuskit Limited are one of the top suppliers of ERP systems to a wide range of clients and have consistently shown innovation with their bespoke software products.

Here at Cuskit Limited, all of our work is customer driven – all of our development is carried out with our customers’ needs and wants in mind. Our flagship product, the TeqControl ERP Software Suite, consists of a targeted product base which has been developed and refined over 25+ years working closely in partnership with our existing customers. TeqControl covers a wide range of mix-and-match modules including: Sales Order Management, Product Management, On & Off-Shore Manufacturing, Financial Accounting, Procurement, ManPacks, Payroll and Time & Attendance.

Along with our TeqControl ERP suite, we also specialise in Bespoke Software and Custom Web Design & eCommerce. Whether it’s a website, mobile app, a single user desktop app or a full multi-user system with on-going support – you can trust us to deliver.

“We are delighted to accept TMT’s 2016 Technology Elite Award as a recognition of our innovative products and long standing contribution to the technological development of the clothing and associated industries. We pride ourselves in taking time to fully understand our clients’ business processes by working closely with key members of their organisation. By combining a high level of quality, value and industry knowledge, we are able to deliver the most appropriate solutions to our individual clients, helping them to improve overall efficiency and in turn increase the profitability of their business.”
– Aaron Donohoe, Managing Director.

If you’d like to know more about Cuskit Limited, simply give us a call on 01827 312217 or drop us an email
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Top Five Signs Your Business Is Ready for an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) System.

Top Five Signs Your Business Is Ready for an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) System.

End of the month financials are becoming longer and more difficult. Sales forecasts tend to be more guesswork than actual figures. You are struggling to match stock levels with order volume, and customer satisfaction is low. If any of these sound familiar, then you should consider an ERP system.

1 Lots of different software is used for different processes.

How do staff record, track and process information? Do the sales and accounting staff use different systems that in turn makes the process of getting orders posted into accounts a lengthy and tedious task? Do warehouse staff also use a completely different system to accounting and sales staff which again lengthens communications?

When various systems are running separately it can cause havoc on business processes. Without accurate data from sales, there will be no way to keep efficient stock levels, if there is any sort of problem with accounting this can cause lots of problems, especially with anything budget based or even payroll!

ERP software brings together and integrates all these systems so every function works from the one database. An ERP system is one source of information that contains accurate, real-time data, helping staff make better more informed decisions and freeing up more working time.

2 You don’t have easy access to information about your business.

What’s your average sales margin? If you don’t know how long will it take you to find out? If you need to manually update and reconcile these it could be a long wait.

The pace of business is faster than it has ever been, this means that staff must have immediate access to key data. With an ERP system in place, a decision maker can get an overview of all business operations at any time, along with other staff who can get the information they need to do their jobs more efficiently. A perfect example of this would be a sales representative should be able to see a customer’s order history giving them the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

3 The accounting process continues to get longer and is more tedious.

An ERP system can ensure that accounts staff don’t waste their time inputting duplicate information into multiple databases. With an ERP system financial reports will be quicker and easier to produce and be more accurate.

4 Sales and customer experience are not what they could be.

Keeping the correct stock levels is key for business growth. When a business is using different software for sales, stock control and customer information it can cause serious implications. If a business runs out of a specific product, sales will be down until the next shipment arrives. If a customer calls to enquire about their order and you can’t let them know if it’s been shipped, or even if it’s in stock your business will start to develop a poor reputation for reliability and service.

5 Your IT systems are too complex and time-consuming.

If your staff are struggling to keep up with multiple systems that are each performing different business functions, an ERP system can solve this! All business functions are put onto one centralised system making things easier and more efficient for staff.

If you’d like to know more about our bespoke ERP systems, please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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Consolidating all your organisations IT systems into one brings a multitude of advantages.

Consolidating all of your organisations IT systems into one brings with it a multitude of advantages.

Quite often an organisation will be using two, three or even more systems for their day-to-day business functions. One system is often used for accounting, a separate system used for sales and yet another separate system may be used for manufacturing. By consolidating all of your IT software into one centralised system you will gain a multitude of advantages.

TeqControl ERP, our flagship product, has modules covering all business operations such as Sales Orders, Stock Control & Warehousing, Accounting, Manufacturing / Production, Purchasing, Time & Attendance and Payroll. Customers who have switched from using numerous systems to just TeqControl have seen a drastic improvement in their overall efficiency as well improved reporting and information visibility.

Consolidating all your organisations IT systems into one will give you and your organisation an array of benefits, these include:

More standardised processes. Staff across your entire organisation will be using the same system, with the same processes. Not only will this make training and best practices easier, but there is also an opportunity to reallocate staff more strategically or ease the overhead involved in short term staff cover.

Reduction in maintenance costs. Why pay hardware and licensing costs for 4 systems when you only need one?

Improved reporting. Tightly linked data from all areas of your company can be combined and reported with the click of a button. Need to know which sales order a production order is for? No problem!

Increased security. Instead of having your company data spread out across a number of different systems all data is kept in one system, allowing for easier backup, replication, uptime and maintenance.

Improved customer relations. Having a single view of all customer data speeds up resolution of customer queries or NCRs. CRM has never been so easy!

One single helpline to call. Whether it’s a new and complex report you’d like or an obscure product code from 5 years ago that you only remember vague details for, simply give us a call and we’ll do everything we can to help you get you what you need.

If you feel that your business could benefit from a single centralised system that covers all of your day-to-day operations, then the TeqControl ERP ticks all the boxes.
If, however, you’d prefer to stick with your current financial system, or payroll system, or even ecommerce system, TeqControl can easily integrate with any or all of them – bringing data from each of the separate systems together. As long as the information is available we can work with it!

If you’d like to know more about our bespoke ERP systems, please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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The rise of more bespoke ERP solutions.

The rise of more bespoke ERP solutions.

It’s only natural that companies will look for the most cost effective ERP system. SMEs are realising that although all round larger ERP systems are impressively powerful, they are often spending money on functionality that they will neither need nor use. This has led to the rise of more bespoke ERP systems as suppliers are realising the value of meeting customers long term needs with tailored and even sector specific ERP packages.

Here at Cuskit we provide bespoke ERP systems so you can chose as little or as many modules as you would like, all our development is done with the customer in mind. All of our systems are built from the ground up which adds the real bespoke element for each customer, this also allows us to eliminate the initial large license fees. Some other vendors may supply customers with Microsoft Dynamics NAV – a global enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, which may then involve more cost for the customer through integration to current software or data.

If you’d like to know more about our bespoke ERP systems, please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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The top 5 benefits of an ERP system.

The top 5 benefits of an ERP system.

Implementing an ERP system comes with many advantages, here are the top five most common benefits that our customers have reported:

1. Efficiency. An ERP system can eliminate the need for repetitive processes thus reducing the need to manually enter information. An ERP system can also streamline your businesses processes making it easier and more efficient to collect data.

2. Centralized easily accessible information. Instead of having data scattered across different databases all information can be stored in one location, kept consistent and up-to-date.

3. Reporting. An ERP system helps make reporting easier and more customizable, making it a lot easier to respond to complex data requests. Users can also run their own reports. As long as the information is there it can be reported on!

4. Customer relations. Providing top quality customer service is made much easier when using an ERP system, through faster and more accurate information it is easier to interact with customers and improve relationships with them.

5. Security. An ERP system will improve the accuracy, consistency and security of data. Restrictions to the access of information can also be enhanced.

If you’d like to know more about our products or custom software solutions, please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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What is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)?

What is ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)?

If you are wanting to integrate all aspects of your business into one central user friendly easy to use system, you should look at an ERP Enterprise Resource Planning solution. ERP Enterprise Resource Planning refers to both the tools and software that a business uses to manipulate and manage information. All the information is stored in one database so that the user(s) can see how everything is running.

Our flagship product TeqControl ERP has modules covering Sales Orders, Stock Control, Financial Accounting, Purchase Management, Production, Time & Attendance and Payroll. TeqControl ERP then takes all the software and applications used to run each of these modules and converts it to one software application. Our goal is to ensure that everything is running to optimal efficiency and is sync with each other.

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A quick blog to give you some guidance on getting demonstrations from potential suppliers.

Your place or mine?

Surprisingly, some purchasers never visit a potential supplier – its imperative not to miss out on this! A visit is a chance to see your potential purchase in action, with the data volumes you envisage. If you plan to buy a multi-user system, then only seeing the software on a single-user portable PC isn’t always very representative.

It can also be quite fun, and very informative. You can have a good poke round their place and see their facilities. Talk to their support people. For example, suppose one of your suppliers existing customers main server breaks down right this minute, do they have a spare one (or even better, half a dozen) ready and waiting? Is their support area crazily busy, or does it look as though they could handle more queries (maybe yours) as well?

How many demonstrations are needed, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5?

It’s quite a good idea to have a quick “first round” of demonstrations to see what’s on the market. Then revise your requirements as appropriate. Then later, go back to the better one(s), to check that they have all the features you saw elsewhere.

The standard sales spiel

Try your hardest not to fall for this, the supplier has done lots more demonstrations then you have. It’s natural that they’ll want to show the strengths of their products, not the weaknesses. Agree and set an agenda!

8 Do’s & Don’ts for a demonstration

1) Yawn warning! It’s said that the average person has a concentration span around 15 minutes. So within this time the potential supplier should’ve shown you the software and made you understand what it is all about. If you have had a previous meeting, this presentation should DIRECTLY relate to the points discussed, and hopefully not just be a standard demo. Ideally, a show around the computer screen -> how it works -> solutions to the points on your checklist.

2) I’m lost! Deduct some points if the demo runs to fast or to slow, is too confusing, or if questioning is cut short or if questions are not understood. Also points deducted if they don’t actually show you the software in action – slide shows, diagrams, clever chat and videos are generally used if the software is not up to scratch.

3) Who’s attending? At least one of your most senior people / decision makers should attend one demonstration of the system you plan to buy.

4) The agenda! Tell the potential supplier what you would like to see.

5) Be precise! Don’t beat around the bush about a specific point – how exactly does the system handle a specific query?

6) Be picky but not too picky! Don’t be palmed away with things like “if it’s good enough for Jaguar Landrover it’s definitely going to do all that you want isn’t it?” However don’t be too awful to them, good suppliers can easily decide they don’t want your business.

7) Check the original checklist! If you have altered what you wanted since the last demonstration, let them know!

8) Ask questions! Simple as it sounds.

Here at Cuskit we are always available to come out and meet you and show you a demonstration of our systems, if you would like you could come onto site of one of our current customers and see the system in action! If you’d like to know more about our products or custom software solutions, please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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How to choose a server.

How to choose a server.

There will come a point when your business will grow large enough that it is essential that you buy your first server. Buying a server is a big decision, so it is important that some research is undertaken. Hopefully this blog post will help you decide what type of server will best fit your business.

Server Basics.

Although visually a server can look very similar to your above average desktop PC, it is manufactured to run very different tasks. A desktop PC is designed for a single user who needs a user friendly operating system to run desktop applications such as a word, excel, emails, and a web browser. Whereas a server has a specialised operating system that is designed to support multiple users across multi-user applications such as email, messaging, and print servers, shared calendar programs, databases, ERP & CRM software.

A server has a central repository for all documents, images, contacts and other important files, this makes it easy for all users to collaborate and share data. Along with this a server can host a company intranet which can be used to share information quickly and efficiently. A VPN (virtual private network) can be set up so that users can access data that is on the server remotely from anywhere you have internet access. Another feature of a server is that it can automatically backup both desktop and laptop systems, so you’ll never lose critical data if one machine fails or is lost or stolen. Servers are built to be secure, reliable, tolerant of faults, and with multiple storage options. Depending on the size and direction of your business will depend on whether you should look at servers that a scalable and can grow alongside your business.

Choosing The Right Server For Your Business.

Oracle, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, and Lenovo are all big players in the server market. Choosing the right server depends largely on the specific applications that are going to be run on it. If all you are intending to do is file share, client backup, and some remote access a Windows Home Server should be considered. If your business has 10+ employees, if you are going to be operating an email or print server, managing a large database, or run server based applications such as a ERP or CRM, you have large storage requirements, you’ll want a more robust server such as a tower, rack or even a blade server.

The Cloud.

A big argument could be “why not put everything in the cloud”? There are some great services such as (AWS) Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Windows Azure, and Rackspace Cloud Hosting. Cloud alternatives don’t involve a significant capital outlay and you won’t need specific staff to manage the running of the server. There is also no need to worry about the equipment or software becoming outdated or unusable either.

However the cloud has many, many limitations. Arguably the main concern is the stability and reliability of the service provider chosen. If the service provider was to go out of business or experiences a loss of data this would mean your business would grind to a halt. Moving on from this you could lose access to all of your data. If your internet connection is lost, you will be cut off from all applications and data, and your employees will be unable to access and share files. In effect all business is ceased until internet connectivity is restored.

Storing your business data on equipment that is outside of your control brings up privacy and security concerns. And even though you are not paying staff costs, maintenance costs, and investing in new equipment directly these are reflected in the license fees. The cloud may not be the right option.

What’s a Virtual Machine?

A virtual machine is a computer program that creates a virtual computer system, complete with virtual hardware devices. The virtual machine runs as a process in a window on your current operating system. You can install an operating system inside the virtual machine and the operating system will actually think its running on a real, physical machine. Whenever you would like to use the operating system you can just open the virtual machine and use it in a window on your current desktop.

At Cuskit Limited, we build software to run happily on any and all of the above server configurations.
If you’d like to know more about our products or custom software solutions, please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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How (and how not!..) to buy new software.

How (and how not!..) to buy new software.

What is this blog about

This blog aims to help anyone considering a new computer system, or new computer software, to help run your business. This blogs intent is to give some hard “inside” information that will help keep you on track, avoid any possible pitfalls, and get your company the system/software you need.

Target audience

This blog post is aimed at anyone who is even slightly thinking about buying software for your business.
In your newly purchased system you may want dozens of menus, or just one or two, you may want to have the purchases orders from all your customers, or just your midlands based ones. Realistically you’ll be spending somewhere between £10,000 and £200,000+ dependent on what exactly it is you are after. You may have bought a computer system in the past, and need a new one because the old one is outdated, or it is too expensive to upgrade, or because your business needs have changed. Or even the wrong system was bought in the first place, in any case this blog post will give you an insight to getting it right.

Setting out your requirements!

The laziest (and best!…) way to start looking for a new system.

Get the most senior people in your company to write an outline of what they want the computer to do to help them for both their own and the company’s areas of responsibility. You can then use these to:
• Ensure that everyone’s had his or her say.
• Use as a document to pull together a checklist.
• Send the specific requirements to a potential supplier.
• Get rid of any potential conflicting demands.
• Also from an internal point of view, see how people view their responsibilities.

Writing a checklist

• A checklist should cover the basic areas (sales ledger, purchase ledger etc) that’s needed along with any specific features needed for your company.
• Be brief, if there’s a report or document you must have your new system produce, create it from your old system (or even type it in a word processor) this is the best specification.
• Qualify and quantify your wording – avoid using words such as “user-friendly”, “integrated”, “quick”, every system will claim to be all of these.
• Be flexible, if you rigidly specify features you might miss out on a system with new features, which makes it all irrelevant. Be ready to adapt after a first round of demonstrations.
• Be unambiguous – “I want to be able to send a cutting list of parts from the system to the machine tool electronically” is perfect.
• Your main interest should be the software – it’s easy to be diverted from this fact. If the software is easy to use and is just right for what you want, all other considerations (hardware, support etc) become much less relevant, you’ll need less training, less support, and fewer alterations.

Finding potential suppliers

Four places to find some potential suppliers

• Trade exhibitions
• Keeping a record or email content
• Recommendations from your more efficient suppliers / customers
• Google!

Initial evaluation of suppliers

It’s always best to ring them up! You can be fairly vague at this stage. You may reject some suppliers on the basis of size (too big / small) or the suitability of the software. A good idea is to ring multiple potential suppliers, they should be able to answer promptly, grasp your needs and give ballpark costs. If they sound okay, invite them round!

The first meeting

Some people miss this stage, and go straight to demonstrations. A meeting at your own site first will help a demonstration show areas of your particular interest. Even a brief walk round your site will help a supplier to gain some background to your business. A good supplier should welcome the opportunity, or even insist.

Getting the shortlist down to one

Even after the first meeting you could have your chosen supplier. You don’t have to pursue a handful of choices until the day before placing an order.

Here at Cuskit we are specialist in providing bespoke software and web based solutions for all your business needs. Our services include business analysis, consultancy, training, implementation, hardware sourcing & maintenance, project managements, custom made software solutions and web design & hosting.

Please contact us on either 01827 312217 or drop us an email

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