it horror stories

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ICT horror stories: 

By Jason King ICT horror stories


What’s the worst that can happen and how can you make sure it doesn’t happen to you? A scary checklist for voluntary organisations By Jason King of ICT horror stories


First, let us discuss seven real-life ICT horror stories that happened to a voluntary organisation, maybe near you… Case studies ICT horror stories


A volunteer created a charity’s website for them. He did a great job and the website became very popular, to the extent that most of the charity’s new clients came via the site. The success of the site meant it needed to be updated weekly but he couldn’t find time to do this. The charity suggested someone else help him but he disagreed: the website was his personal project and looked good on his CV. He was asked for passwords but didn’t give them out, saying the site was in safe hands. The volunteer died unexpectedly in his sleep after doing a charity fun run. It took the charity several months to find out the passwords and regain control of the website. Q. How could this disaster have been avoided? 1: In safe hands?


A charity had seven computers. The computers had three different versions of Microsoft Windows and three different versions of Office. An important legal document relating to a client was drafted in Microsoft Word and saved on a floppy disk. The disk was taken to another computer and changes made. It was then given to the director on another computer. But all that the director saw was a mess of random characters: the work of weeks was gone. Q. What do you think happened? Q. How could this disaster have been avoided? 2: We’re incompatible


A charity had four computers. Two were donated five years ago and two were recently given to them by a local college after many years of use in a classroom. All ran slowly. One had viruses. The ones donated by the college had no CD drives so software could not be installed. When one of the computers started crashing, the local computer shop asked for the Microsoft Windows CD that came with the computer at the time of purchase. The charity didn’t have it. Q. Have you had computer equipment donated? Q. What are the risks and benefits? 3: They came from somewhere else


The Poetry Society unexpectedly lost its web address. Visitors to their website found not poetry but offers for Viagra pills and hair-loss treatments. The site had been legally bought by a Hong Kong-based company after The Poetry Society failed to renew its registration of the domain name The society had spent five years building up the site to the point where it was award-winning. It now had to restart dozens of school initiatives and change all its stationery. It also faced costly international arbitration to secure the return of the domain name. The full cost of damage limitation was estimated at £20,000. Q. Do you know when your domain needs renewing? 4: Web woes hit poetry promoters


A charity had twelve computers, eight of which used Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition. While they were all configured to receive virus definitions from the server, the server itself wasn't scheduled to get virus definitions from the Internet, because whoever set it up forgot that small - yet vital - detail. And if the virus definitions are two years out of date, the software is useless. Some of the computers started acting strangely – because the Bugbear virus in the network. It only got in because none of the computers were getting virus definition updates from the server. Q. What should the charity do next? Q. Has your computer ever caught a virus? If so, what did you do? 5: A common bugbear


A worker at a local voluntary sector group regularly wrote correspondence and did the group’s accounts using her home computer. Unfortunately her son also used the PC. He installed software called 1,000 Great Games for Windows. After which the computer wouldn’t even start up. Mum had to pay to take the machine to a computer shop to get it fixed. Q. Do you know how to prevent other people installing software on your home computer? Q. What other IT problems could occur when staff work from home? 6: Mum I broke the computer


A voluntary group had a computer go faulty so they sent it back to the manufacturer to be repaired. It turned out that the hard drive was broken so the company removed it and replaced it with a new one. When the charity switched the computer on they found that although it now worked perfectly well, all their documents were missing. Q. Is this a disaster or not? 7: Dell wiped my memory


Here is a checklist to help you avoid a similar disaster happening to you and your organisation… ICT horror stories Checklist


ICT is costly so: include ICT costs in all your funding bids don’t forget maintenance and insurance costs the lifetime of a new computer is 3 to 4 years you need a budget for your website anything that is free will have a hidden cost Money

Quality isn’t cheap: 

Quality isn’t cheap


Create a paper folder for your IT documents for all passwords andamp; instructions for your website andamp; email andamp; server andamp; PCs keep all the CDs that came with your computers Start a paper logbook of errors and faults state the date and time, the computer and the problem Documentation

Protect against viruses: 

Viruses install anti-virus software (Norton, McAfee, AVG, Symantec etc) configure it to automatically update virus definitions schedule regular scans Malware install Windows Defender from Protect against viruses


Backup your computers how much work could you afford to lose? That’s how often you should schedule backups use software to automate the process don’t just backup My Documents, what about your emails and your website? store the backups in a fire-proof safe and keep one off-site test that you can restore files if you need to Backups


Use the Windows Control panel to ensure that: Windows Firewall is switched on Windows Updates are set to install automatically each user of the computer logs in with their own password not all users have admin privileges to install software Windows

Donated hardware: 

Think twice: if the donated computers run slow, are they worth it? will you also get the software licenses and the original installation CDs? wouldn’t it be better to find a relatively small amount of funding to purchase new machines? when you dispose of your old equipment, could it go to a community recycling scheme? Donated hardware


Install software: only if you need it for work purposes only if you bought it legally or own a license for it To avoid software conflicts: install the same version on all your computers if you buy new computers, budget to upgrade the software on the older ones Software

Staffing issues: 

Your staff: should receive basic training in software they use should sign up to your organisation’s acceptable use policy for its computers should not be able to install their own software If you are the accidental techie: consider what the organisation would do without you knowledge, passwords and procedures should be written down, in case you leave Staffing issues

You need an appropriate use policy: 

You need an appropriate use policy


Volunteers should: also sign up to the acceptable use policy not be given long-term IT tasks such as building databases or looking after the server not create your website unless they have the same skills as a paid professional Volunteers


Avoiding website disasters: purchase your own domain and hosting and register it in the name of the charity know the date they are due for renewal keep passwords and documentation safe and secure don’t rely on your hosting company to backup the site, learn how to do it yourself using simple ftp Websites

Planning for disaster: 

Before disaster strikes ensure you: regularly take a copy of your backup off-site have a copy of all your passwords off-site have insurance After disaster strikes: make a list of your priorities e.g. email, documents, website and consider paying for IT support to get them working again Planning for disaster

When good computers go bad: 

If your computer goes wrong: don’t panic! don’t press any buttons!! check it’s actually plugged in don’t assume your 12 year old nephew knows how to fix it ask a professional for help When good computers go bad

Don’t be afraid to ask for help: 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Sources of advice: 

Useful websites: Useful phone numbers: The HAVS IT Team 01895 442 722 The ICT Hub helpline 0800 652 4737 Sources of advice


By Jason King ICT horror stories THE END

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