Weekly Headlines

Our Newsletter (1)

Apple Forecasts Falling Revenues Since 2013

For the first time in more than a decade, Apple has forecasted a decline in sales. This further reinforces the observation that the smart phone market has reached saturation. According to Apple, the revenue for the first three months of 2016 will be between $50 billion & $53 billion, way under the previously estimated $55 billion. This further cements the concern that Apple has reached the peak of iPhone growth, a thought that has lead stocks to fall 20% this month.

63% of Apple’s entire revenue comes from smart phone sales. The rest of Apple’s products don’t even come close to being as profitable as the iPhone. The MacBook and iPad only brings in 13% and 8% of the total revenue respectively. Other products, comprising of the Apple Watch, iPod, Beats and headphones, are only worth 6% in total. Apple’s reliance on the iPhone and the Chinese market is a big worry for investors. The unstable Chinese economy has had staggering effects on the rest of the world. With most of Apple’s profits coming in from the Chinese markets, if China falls, Apple will most likely go down with it.

Bye-Bye Google Glass

It seems that Google Glass had bid adieu to the internet. The company behind Google Glass has been fairly quiet about the product for the past couple of the months. Now it seems that all social media accounts owned by the Google Glass have been taken down. Google+ was the only account that gave a farewell message.

“Hi Explorers, we’ve had a blast hanging out with you on G+ throughout the Explorer Program. From now on, if you have any questions about your Glass, you can get in touch with us here.” The account then gave a link to Google’s support page for Glass.

Since its launch in 2013, Google Glass was not a wildly popular product. Customers complained that it made it too easy for the user to record others without permission.  Others thought it was too overpriced and out of reach.

Google has decided to discontinue the consumer version of the product and instead sell them to surgeons as a specialist tool.

Hooray for Facebook

Facebook has exceeded expectations with a 52% jump in quarterly revenue as it made the decision to sell more mobile focused ads. Facebook is now in a strong enough position to challenge Google as the Internet’s most powerful company. Although Google is still three times larger by revenue, Facebook is rapidly closing the gap. In addition, Facebook has its fingers dipped in lots of other projects such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence. However, social networking remains the heart and center of Facebook; in the final three months of 2015, Facebook signed on a further 46 million users!

Glitchy Uber

Uber has accidently shared the personal information of one of their drivers. When several other drivers logged on to the website to download their 1099s, they were accidently sent the Florida drivers 1099. This contained her social security number, address, tax ID and earnings. Uber has confirmed that other drivers were not compromised and stated that the data breach happened due to a ‘bug’.  Uber has said that the tab allowing partners to download their tax information will be disabled until the problem can be solved. Furthermore, Uber will also help the Florida driver with credit monitoring until the issue is taken care of.

This was not the first time a driver’s personal data was let loose. In May 2014, the names and license numbers of thousands of drivers were stolen. In another incident, tax information of thousands of other drivers was released on the website.

EVERYDAY _ ALL DAY LONG

Tech predictions for 2016

Our Newsletter(2)

2015 was a mediocre year for technological innovations. Most of 2015 was spent delivering on innovations that had been first introduced to us in 2014. Smart homes, wearable technology, hoverboards, virtual reality, drones, and large-screen smartphones all either evolved in 2015 or were already promised in 2014.

Below are some talked about tech predictions for 2016. On the surface, these might not seem too ground breaking but might actually prove to play key roles in a very exciting future.

Personalization

For years, companies have been delivering products that have had an appeal to a wide range of customers. That era seems to be coming to an end. Every product has a maturity stage and the same goes for product markets. Markets which appealed to a broad spectrum of customers have matured and consumers are now looking for something more personalized. As a result, we will products that will sell in hundreds and thousands instead of millions.

Apple will have to work harder than ever.

2016 will be the year of work hard and then work even harder for Apple. Apple has been at the top of the technology game for a very long time and while it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere, Apple will have to work extra hard to maintain their position. Two-thirds of Apple’s revenue depends on the iPhone. With the global smartphone market slowing down, Apple will have to promise ground-breaking features to uphold its position at the top.

Too much hype and not enough delivery

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that in a wrestling match of automatic-brakes versus driver-less cars, driver-less cars win hands down! 2015 created a lot of hype surrounding driver-less cars that has seeped into 2016. However, this excitement of what is to come in the next 5-10 years has actually overshadowed the incredible breakthroughs that are happening in advanced driver assistance systems. While more sophisticated cruise control and lane-departure warnings might not seem as advanced as driver-less cars, they are more likely to happen in the next 12 months.

It will definitely take more than a year for driverless cars to officially be available to the public but 2016 will be the year partnerships will be made and major steps towards delivery of this innovation will be taken.

We should keep in mind that the automobile industry regularly displays products which it has no intention of actually releasing to the public.

We’re going to be hacked. Every single one of us. 

in 2014, more than a billion confidential records were illegally obtained. Similarly, 2015 was a jackpot year for hackers. Last year in November, 70 million prison phone records were stolen. Donald’s Trump’s hotel got hit by malware through which the hackers obtained customer records including credit card numbers. All in all, it seems that the cyber criminals are getting smarter, and the people in charge of our security can’t seem to keep with them. Tighten your security because you might be the next victim in 2016!

 

EVERYDAY _ ALL DAY LONG

 

Sources:

re/code

Marketwatch

ZDnet

 

Digital Security: The Password Phenomenon

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Passwords are codes made up of words and numbers or a mixture of both to keep sensitive data away from prying eyes. Passwords were first introduced to the world in the mid 1960s by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the time of its emergence, the invention of the password was sort of irrelevant because not that many advanced users incorporated this technology into their systems. The Apple II series, the very first Macintosh and IBM PC and PCjr didn’t have a logon password option and all the data on the machines was available to anyone who turned it on. While Windows 95 and 98 added in the option of a security password, it did not actually necessitate users to enter a password to log on.

Passwords became more operational when online services such as AOL and email were introduced over the internet. As communication over the internet increased, more and more users started to use passwords to keep their identity hidden. These days passwords are just as important as the information they protect. Technology and computers have become important tools to today’s work and so passwords have become more valuable and more prone to attacks. Since our e-mail accounts are connected to almost everything in our life (i.e. bank accounts, social media pages, and eBay) if a cyber criminal gains access to our password, it could potentially compromise all other accounts we have. E-mail accounts can provide criminals with access to an incredible amount of personal data and so they have become a favourable point of entry with hackers.

Hackers have an array of tools which they can use to achieve unlawful access to e-mail passwords. The “Brute force attack” is a form of trial and error system in which application programs try to decode encrypted data. A computer program ‘guesses’ and tries all possible password combinations until the right one is found. However, this method can be time consuming when dealing with long-passwords.

TIP: Use no less than 12 character codes and even try to mix up letters and numbers; as the complexity of passwords used increases, it becomes more and more difficult for hackers to crack the code.
Another method of attack is called ‘Dictionary attack’ where a computer is used to try out all common dictionary words. This is a much simpler and quicker way of finding the correct password because the computer isn’t trying out the combination of every letter in the alphabet. If used correctly, a computer system can enter all one million words of the English language in less than 24 hours!

 

TIP: Mix up letters and numbers to void this method. Common words such as daisy, ladder and butterfly will not suffice. Da1sy might work.

Alternatives to passwords

Wherever there’s a problem, there’s a solution. Companies with high-stake sensitive data are starting to bio-metricsimages (1) as an alternative to simple passwords. These include fingerprint scanners and retinal scanners (mostly used by governments). Phone manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung, and Apple have incorporated fingerprint readers that can actually be substituted for passwords.

Due to the increased attacks, Adobe, Twitter, and Apple have started using a security system called ‘two-factor authentication’ or TFA. In simple words, TFA is about knowing and having. To access accounts using TFA, users must know the passkey for that account and they must also have something. This is typically a phone containing an app that assigns random login codes for the user to enter. Some TFA systems use something that the user is. This could be physical (face recognition system) or bio-metric (fingerprint scanner). Since TFA require at least two of the above factors to be present, chances of unauthorized attacks decrease drastically.

However, TFA can sometimes be inconvenient, especially if the user has to logout and login several times a day. The TFA system provides a ‘stand-down’ option in which users have the choice of not entering the second verification code when use that device. This way they gain quick access to their information while hackers will still have to go through the two-factor authentication.

So what should you do?

Less is never more when it comes to passwords. Use long passwords and mix letters, symbols and numbers together to make them harder to crack; even use a mixture of upper and lower case letters. Most email providers such as Microsoft will warn users if their password is too weak.

Do not use easily guessable passwords such as your name, birthday, mum/pet’s name or 123456789 (yes people still do this).

It is never wise to have the same password for all of your accounts. Usually when someone hears that a website such as Amazon has been hacked, they will immediately change their passwords. But forgotten-passwordwhat if they have the same password for Hotmail/Twitter/Facebook/eBay? Users might not think to change other login credentials and chances are that some passwords will be viable for all of those sites.

Frequently change your passwords and avoid reusing old passwords. In fact, companies have security policies in place which require employees to change their passwords every 14 days. However, forcing employees to change their passwords too frequently can lead to them forgetting their passwords. In that case, users might write their passwords down which can actually increase the chances of a security breach. Some companies will fire you if they find that you have written down passwords that provide access to company information. Some companies will allow the use of password management apps which require passwords of their own but the advantage is that user will only have to remember the master key they chose for the app.

Digital Security: Don’t get Phished

phish

The internet is a wonderful place. Loved by most, used by all, the internet has made our lives immeasurably easier. Our friends can take us with them on their holidays by sharing photographs of their vacation. A wealth of information on music, medicine, science, math, art, travel and so much more is right at our fingertips! We have immediate access to every public record ever made thanks to the internet. It’s so easy to connect with friends living hundreds and thousands of miles away and to build societies based on similar interests. Imagine if you will, a gigantic virtual neighbourhood where houses are replaced by laptops, all connected through the World Wide Web. The constant connectivity and availability of information can seriously compromise your digital security. I say seriously, because this is not some inconsequential concern that should be brushed off. Millions of pounds are spent in an attempt to keep resources and confidential information from being stolen. In the wrong hands, any personal information such as banking or social security details can be used to bring about devastating and life changing consequences. Criminals are waiting for a mistake that will give them the access they need to steal your information.what-is-phishing

It’s not only these criminals that we need to watch out for though; there are other, less dangerous and less ill-intentioned parties that like to impose upon our privacy. The government and other corporations are interested in monitoring how the public spends its time on the internet. While they may not be looking to steal your passwords, it is always better to protect yourself. In today’s blog, we will do just that. After all, prevention is better than cure.

Don’t get phished: Stay out of the ‘phisherman’s’ net!

Phishing is the fraudulent act of sending emails in order to get the recipient to reveal personal information. The recipient of these emails gets caught when they take the bait presented by the phisher, such as a request by their IT department to change the password of one of their accounts or by their credit card company to verify their banking details. These emails can be made to look so legitimate that often the victim does not realize that they are being scammed. One of the most common forms of phishing is an email which has an embedded link in a message that looks genuine but actually comes from a fraudulent party. The email address and hyperlinks are only slightly changed so that they look right at first glance.


Phishing is a well-crafted technique that blends together company logos, colours, grammatical language and design to mimic the style of emails sent to workers and customer in order to fool the victims. Organized phishing groups are experts at gaining and exploiting internal affairs. For example, if a company is undergoing any kind of IT related change, the employees will expect rather than suspect emails requesting password changes. Timing is often the key to successful operations.

The above is an example of long-line phishing where the attacker’s main aim is to snare as many victims as possible. Spearphishing’, however, is targeted towards specific people, organization or companies, making it the more dangerous type of phishing. Email is not the only way to approach victims. Attackers can use ‘smishing’ (sms phishing) where they try to obtain information by sending text messages. Another form is ‘vishing’ (voice mail phishing) where victims receive automated voicemails that can be tailored to sound like genuine bank reminders. Twitter and Facebook are not immune to phishing attacks. Any post asking to “click for free tickets” or free anything is probably a scam because let’s be honest, who gives anything away for free? Another different version of phishing is ‘USB-ishing’ where attackers usually try to lure victims to use unknown USB devices on their laptops/computers. Attackers will leave high-capacity drives in public areas such as restrooms. When a phish connects the drive with a device, the drive automatically installs a malware onto the device without the user knowing.

 

So what can you do?


In order to not fall victim to these scammers, everyone should make sure to zealously guard their personal and confidential information.

Any email asking for the following information should immediately raise red flags.

• Employee ID
• Bank account information
• Passwords to any account you have online (yes even your password to World of War craft)

Always remember that there is no such thing as a private email. No matter what security software you have, private emails don’t exist. Therefore, never give out any of the above information, neither via email nor via telephone (unless you actually called the bank and not vice versa).
If you are ever asked to click a link in an email, examine the link address closely. Hover your mouse pointer over the link to check where the link will take you before you click. Study the end of the web address to determine whether or not it is a legitimate address. Contact your IT department to confirm the email or if it’s an email from your bank, call the number on the back of your credit card or billing statement to confirm from a genuine source. Most banks tell their customers beforehand that they will not ask for private information via email.
Don’t just rely on yourself to catch a fake email, ESET security system takes all the necessary precautions to make sure that all phishers stay away from you and your personal data. To read more about ESET, click here or contact us to request an assessment.
Beware of any email that contains an attachment from a sender you do not recognize the attachment could contain a malware such as a key logger which will record your key strokes to steal your password and send the information back to the phisher.

Phishers tend to employ scare tactics to ensure that panic takes over the victim and they momentarily lose all common sense. If you get an email stating that your bank will be closing or freezing your account unless you click on a link and confirm your account, then you can bet your fishing pole that that is a scam. It is illegal for banks to freeze your account just because you failed to respond to an email.

 

Over all, cautiousness when using email is advised. Never give out any information over the internet and make sure to check that the website is a secure website (the URL will begin with https instead of http and will have lock right next to the URL). Never use a USB driver that you found lying around and be cautious when giving your USB to someone and then getting it back.

If you failed to recognize the signs and end up getting caught in the net, then immediately change your password and contact your IT department. However, if you have given away your bank details, you have to contact them immediately and let them know.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we will talk all about passwords! Meanwhile enjoy this witty comic courtesy of Google search!

phishing_cartoon

The Importance of Technology and Cloud Computing for SMEs

plugTechnology is inarguable one of the highest contributing factors in the success of a business. And technology is advancing at an alarmingly fast rate. Although it might seem like large organizations are the ones more inclined to be attached to technology, it is in fact SMEs that need their technology to grow and advance with their business.

Due to the recent downfall in economy, many have turned towards self-employment as a way of income and this has led to the birth of small and medium sized enterprises. 99.3% of the private sector in the UK is comprised of small firms. These firms collectively employ 15.2 million people and account for a turnover of £ 1.5 trillion! Clearly, the recovery and stability of the economy and the future of technological innovation is in the hands of SMEs.

A study done by Oxford Economics of 2,300 SME executives claimed that 60% of the executives believed that technology was a key driver in the success of their business. Over all it was concluded that technology and innovation extended a competitive advantage to SMEs that was critical for business growth.cloud computing

One of the technological innovations that the respondents named as being of high value was cloud computing. Cloud computing is a way of managing, storing and processing data on remote servers instead of a local server. Cloud computing gives SMEs enough weight in the industry that they are able to level the playing field and compete with large enterprises. Cloud computing comes with cost effective and IT-efficient infrastructure which holds many advantages for businesses. This not only cuts costs but also lets executives manage their business strategies instead of spending time on IT. If done properly, cloud computing can help restructure and link key business areas such as marketing, sales, finance and inventory.

Email cloud solutions and file sharing platforms such as ACRONIS and MaxBackup are examples of cloud solutions which aim to expand businesses without the use of new equipment and unnecessary infrastructure.

BBritish-inventionsecause cloud computing is usage based, costs can be effectively anticipated and planned. Besides being cost-effective, cloud computing also offers the benefit of customization; users can configure systems to adapt to the needs of their business. Cloud computing also reduces the need for personnel and users have experienced a drop in IT related overhead.
Cloud solution offers 24/7 access to data from anywhere and any device such as laptop, phone, PC or your tablet. This means more flexibility for the business which leads to efficiency and better standard of performance. Another major advantage of cloud computing is the sophisticated security protocol that makes sure that sensitive data stays out of wrong hands. Security breaches in the cloud are not frequent and users enjoy the peace of mind that their data is safe and secure.

In conclusion, one of the most advancing technologies that SMEs should everything they can to benefit from is cloud computing. ACRONIS and MaxBackup are some of the cloud solutions that will help SMEs save time, money and stress.