Author: admin

Is it time to retire your fax machine?

You may have heard that Ofcom (the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on every day) is proposing changes to the rules which could render the fax machine obsolete.

Parliament has recently removed fax services from the USO (Universal Service Obligation) legislation. (The USO ensures that a minimum set of telephony services are available at an affordable price to people across the UK.)

The consultation, which is running from 1st November to 1st December 2022, proposes that the fax be removed from the USO for BT (UK communications and IT services provider) and KCOM (based mainly around the Hull area). 

What does this mean?

The current USO was set out in 2003 when fax machines were widely used and before email and instant messaging were used everywhere. At that time, it was important for BT and KCOM to provide fax services.  Almost 20 years later the migration of telephone networks to internet protocol (IP) technology means that fax machines can no longer be guaranteed to work in the same way.  However, Ofcom believe that the use of fax machines in the UK is now limited and there are a range of free, or low-cost alternatives available.

Ms Nadine Dorries – Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wrote in her statement to House of Commons on 5 September 2022:

“Ofcom noted the low usage of fax, as well as the availability of reliable alternatives (many of which are free of charge). DCMS officials conducted further investigations with the healthcare, tourism, legal, and energy sectors, and found that use of fax was minimal and alternatives are being sought where its use still continues.”

You may wish to re-evaluate if and when you use your fax machine (if you still have one!) and whether you need to retire your machine in favour of the emerging technologies.

Online fax services, (fax apps) are convenient to use, easier to work than a physical fax machine, and sometimes come with added bonuses, such as digital signature tools or the ability to send a fax by sending an email.

Privacy Policy

Firecrest IT Limited shall only use personal data collected during your use of this website in accordance with all relevant United Kingdom data protection legislation.

We may collect personal information from this site from information submitted to us such as your name, gender, mailing address, email address, telephone number and any other information specifically forwarded to us. Any personal data supplied to us may be used to communicate with you and to let you know about new features or offerings from the Firecrest IT website, for record-keeping or market research purposes (which will not identify you personally).

Except as expressly stated in this policy we will not sell, share, trade or license any of your personal information to others without your express consent. We reserve the right to disclose your information if requested by the police or any regulatory or Government authority in connection with any investigations concerning your activities while visiting the site.

We will make all reasonable efforts to safeguard the security of your information but please be aware that we cannot guarantee the security or transmission of data over the internet.

If your information changes or you wish to contact us to unsubscribe or make any other enquiry regarding our Privacy Policy please email us at

If you do not wish us to use your information in this manner, please email us at

New strain of Ransomware (WannaCry) affecting numerous PC’s across Europe

Please read the information below regarding a new strain of Ransomware (WannaCry) which has been affecting numerous PC’s and was the cause of the NHS computer shutdown yesterday.

On May 12, 2017 a new strain of the Ransom.CryptXXX (WannaCry) strain of ransomware began spreading widely impacting a large number of organizations, particularly in Europe. Wcry is demanding a ransom of $300 to $600 in Bitcoin to be paid by May 15, or, in the event that deadline is missed, a higher fee by May 19. The messages left on the screen say files will remain encrypted. It’s not yet clear if there are flaws in the encryption scheme that might allow the victims to restore the files without paying the ransom.

The initial attack vector has been email, through spam. These messages are typically fake invoices, job offers and other lures which are sent to random email addresses. Within the email is a .zip file and once clicked, that initiates the WannaCry infection.


You should be extremely suspicious of all e-mails you receive, particularly those that ask the recipient to open attached documents or click on Web links.

Windows Updates

Please also make sure that all Windows updates are installed and up to date.

  • In Windows 10 click the start button and then settings (cog icon) and then press “Check for updates”
  • In Windows 7 go to Control Panel and select the Windows Update icon and then check for updates.

In both cases allow all critical updates to download and install.

If you are affected

If you are affected by this Ransomware you should immediately disconnect your PC from any network connections and contact Firecrest IT Ltd.

Gwent Now alert regarding phishing emails to University addresses

Gwent NowFraudsters are sending out a high number of phishing emails to university email addresses claiming to be from their own HR department. These email addresses are either spoofed or in some cases using compromised university email accounts.

The email claims that the recipient is entitled to a pay rise from their department and to click on a link to claim the pay rise.

This link then takes you to a spoofed university website telling you to enter to your personal details (including university login details and financial information). These financial details can then be used by criminals, and the login details are usually passed around and sold for future fraud campaigns.

It is advisable that all universities prompt all staff and students to change any password associated with their university email/IT accounts. Due to potential data breaches, it is recommended that universities discuss with the IT departments about issuing a mandatory password reset for all users.

Please also consider the following actions:

  • Don’t click on links or open any attachments you receive in unsolicited emails or SMS messages. Remember that fraudsters can ‘spoof’ an email address to make it look like one used by someone you trust. If you are unsure, check the email header to identify the true source of communication. Information on how to locate email headers can be found at
  • Use strong passwords which include a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters, and include both upper and lower case characters. Furthermore, it is encouraged that random words as opposed to passwords with personal meanings (e.g. children’s names)
  • Always install software updates as soon as they become available. Whether you are updating the operating system or an application, the update will often include fixes for critical security vulnerabilities.
  • If you think your bank details have been compromised, you should immediately contact your bank.
  • If you have been affected by this, or any other fraud, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting

Thanks to Gwent Now

PC Performance – 4 ways to improve your Windows PC

PC Performance can be interpreted in several ways such as; the time it takes for startup, the time taken to open a particular program or the time it takes to browse the internet.

You may experience some or all of these symptoms and it can be difficult to know where to start. There are many factors that influence each of these which you can investigate individually.

There are also some very common items that will slow your PC to a crawl and leave you tearing your hair out waiting for something to happen. Below I have described 4 simple steps that will help to improve your computer without spending any money. Continue reading “PC Performance – 4 ways to improve your Windows PC”