The true costs of cyber security breaches starts to emerge

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We have been covering cyber security breaches and their financial costs for several years. But beyond strict fines meted out to organisations whose customers’ details are forcibly taken – what about those who sell this information on willingly? There is the cost to company reputation, additional to any fines which also needs to be considered when calculating the real cost of any cyber security breach.

Pharmacy2U, the UK’s largest NHS-approved online pharmacy, was fined £130,000 this week for selling information collected about its own customers to 3rd party marketing companies.  The ruling was simple; the online drug seller had not obtained permission from customers that their data could be sold on in any form.  Pharmacy2U has apologised, calling the sales a “regrettable incident”,  However the impact to its reputation will be a lot larger than the penalty from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

This week also saw Sony agreeing to pay up to $8m in compensation to its employees over the loss of their personal data in the 2014 hacking scandal surrounding the release of the film The Interview.  The story which we covered back in December 2014, Sony Picture Entertainment found itself the victim of a large scale cyber-attack with unreleased films leaking, in addition to personal data of 47,000 people employed or associated with Sony.  The $8m settlement still needs approval but sees Sony paying to reimburse current and former employees for losses, preventative measures and legal fees relating to the incidents.

In a further twist, this week saw the disclosure of a Sydney-based professional service business which is seeking to remain anonymous after having been infected by ransomware.  The malicious software found its way onto their system after an infected zip file from a client was opened. The virus then worked its way through their organisation locking everyone’s documents and with users being directed to a website asking for a ransom to unlock the files.  The company decided that instead of paying the ransom, they would wipe the data and recover it from their backup server. The problem with this plan was that even though all their backups which were supplied by and assured by their outsourced IT supplier as being okay, when they attempted to recover from the backups it was discovered that these had in fact been failing for some time and more than seven months of company data was lost. The business has since undertaken the tedious and time consuming task of recreating this data from emails and attachment. This has cost the business A$10,000 in man hours alone for the rebuild, but the cost in terms of damage to reputation remains hard to quantify.  In reference to the original ransomware price (currently unknown), the MD stated, “I might just pay next time”.

With the increasing costs to business resulting from cyber-attacks and a growing appetite for protection, many companies will be investigating cyber insurance, but even this is an emerging market which has its limits and will not cover all ultimate costs. For example, it could be difficult to get a pay-out due to the often vague definition of business disruption  – and cyber insurance does not cover the all-important reputation costs.  Cyber insurance can give peace of mind on large pay out fees but it cannot protect reputation and is simply not a substitute to heightened network security, employee training and regularly tested backup strategy.

Week’s technology news – 6th March 2015

Let’s get it on!  Top collaboration trends
A recent survey of over 500 organisations by an American industry analyst showed that whilst many companies have adopted collaboration tools, the difficulty for companies of all sizes is to find toolsets that meet ALL of their organisational needs.

1. 87% confirmed they used ‘distributed collaboration’ (where people can work with distance of time and space, collectively, often using complex information for a set goal or purpose) for some of their work.

2. 78% reported they were working on between two – seven projects simultaneously and most people are now part of three to five teams at work (with the larger the organisation and level of role, the greater the pull to collaborate on projects).

3. 40% advised they spent half their working time in non-decision making meetings, mainly around brainstorming or planning, with a high percentage involved in problem solving and project status meetings.

4. Top five meeting problems were:
a. No clear agenda communicated in advance
b. Stakeholders not prepared or didn’t attend
c. People bringing personal agendas to meeting
d. People re-hashing old topics and decisions + late arrivals
e. Straying from the agenda

5. No ‘behavioural metrics’ which could improve meeting value – here are the most requested metrics:
a. value for interpersonal interactions
b. number of decisions arising from meeting
c. percentage of time spent in the meeting

6. Collaboration leverage – using “the right technology for the right process at the right time with the right people” The top three processes to secure this were:

a. new product/service development
b. crisis management and decision support
c. effective sales /marketing.

7. The impact of these collaboration leverage processes sought to create the ‘ability to make better and faster decisions’ and to increase ‘the number and quality of decisions coming from meetings’.  Tools that support better, faster decision making to help meeting productivity include: Powernoodle, ThinkTank and Facilitate.com. Other tools like Clarizen, that focus on collaboration and project management, enable those in meetings to track the outcomes of their decisions and give feedback to the meeting participants.

8. 52% not happy with their collaboration tools as they failed to support physically distributed teams and project work.

9. Larger companies use more collaboration tools but need to review with users which work best for their workforce:

a. 86% of those surveyed use email (still most popular though decreasing with Apps)
b. 72% now using desktop video conferencing over room–based video conferencing (49%), revealing that mobile technology an increasing driver.
c. 72% use Chat/IM/Texting

Businesses can use all manner of collaboration tools.  There is no single panacea but if tools can improve teamwork interactions and communications between teams, organisations need to think about what will work best for their business in practice.  Review your collaboration techniques and technologies.  And for staff, seek to be more productive: go into meetings prepared, communicate properly, contribute meaningfully and succinctly – and finally don’t arrange a meeting if you don’t have to!

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The evolution of unified authentication

Online authentication has evolved greatly since its original implementation through internet sites and services. On a basic level, each account you hold with a particular site would be isolated with your username, password and other details sitting in their database.

As the needs and expectations of online services have grown, so has the need for a more unified attempt at tying online authentication together and this prompted the definition of ‘Identity 1.0’ (also called digital identity, a set of methods for identity verification on the internet using emerging user-centric technologies).

Microsoft’s initial attempt to streamline login was a system called ‘Passport’ debuting in 1999.  Passport worked as a middleman, by providing established identities to users which sites could call upon to authenticate access and eliminate registering for additional accounts for sites which supported the Passport authentication method.  This also alleviated the users password being stored on the site’s database and instead a single, hopefully more trusted source being Microsoft.

Like many of Microsoft’s best plans the idea was solid but ultimately failed. This was partly due to several rebrands of the service confusing consumers alike as Passport changed to .NET  in 2001 which eventually morphed to the Windows LIVE ID in 2006 (and today is simply a Microsoft account). The other reason for the lack of success was a lack of incentive for third-parties to invest in the system, as the user would get the benefit of one less login but the service provider would lose any benefit of creating their own direct consumer database.

The next evolution of digital authentication called ‘Identity 2.0’ was based from the web 2.0 theory of the World Wide Web transition. An example of this in action is the Facebook login – a popular service, where you can login to other sites or application using your Facebook name and password. This implementation went far beyond Microsoft’s Passport.  Not only does it save users from having to remember yet another password, but the services are able to request information such as a user profile picture, address or contacts after user consent and display this natively on another site.   It also works the other way around where tasks done on the associated site could relay information back to facebook, such as ‘liking’ a page, setting a comment on your profile, or potentially most importantly sending information to your friend’s Facebook pages.

‘Identity 3.0’ was defined last year by the Global Identity Foundation and hopes to address the current concerns around digital authentication.  The new principles change it so that only one identity (which is unique and private) is needed, thus eliminating the need for a body to issue or record multiple identities. The identity of one entity to another remains cryptographically unique; negating the need for user-names or passwords and minimising the risk of too much personal information being aggregated.  Also the biometrics of the individual remain within their sole control, so biometric information will not be used, exchanged or stored outside the person’s control.

The principles outlined in Identity 3.0 show similarities to Apple’s approach to authentication with ‘Touch ID’ on the latest iPhones and iPads. Users are able to authenticate purchases direct from Apple with a fingerprint. Most importantly third-party software developers are also able to take advantage of this without compromising the biometric data.  Developers can write apps that use the individual’s fingerprint for authentication, be it a purchase or as a key to unencrypt emails, without the fingerprint data leaving the device, or without the user needing to enter a traditional password. Many such new devices linking user authentication with security access at work and crossing with personal lifestyle were reviewed in our blog dated 6th February.

With newly announced devices like this week’s Samsung Galaxy S6 sporting a similar, speedy fingerprint sensor to Apple’s Touch ID, it may not be long till most people have access to an alternative login like a finger print to alleviate entering passwords altogether.

Authentication has evolved significantly over the years, but depending on the devices and services you use, your own experience – and the amount of accounts you actively use – this will vary considerably. This in theory will only improve in the years to come, but the next big challenge in unified authentication could come from getting device and platform manufacturers to play nice with each other.  Whereas specific apps are available on only the most popular platforms like iOS and Android. This could turn out the same for login options. The market as always will ultimately go for the most simple and intuitive experience for the user.

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New digital technology to stop blaggers unlawfully securing jobs
Who doesn’t want to appear better on paper?  Unfortunately according to Cifas, the UK’s fraud prevention service, 63% of all confirmed employment fraud in 2014 including CV fraud, related to people lying about their education, employment or qualifications.  So recruiting an honest, qualified employee may not be as easy as we thought.

The remedies in education are dealt with by universities subscribing to the Higher Education Degree Datacheck system. This logs the detail of degrees, diplomas etc. in subjects and levels achieved.  It also picks up bogus named establishments.

For businesses though, it is far more difficult, time consuming, costly and a considerable administrative task, involving checks on search engines and social networks. As a result, many organisations do their due diligence AFTER appointing someone, because to do so prior, would make the recruitment process literally grind to a halt, as most qualifications are not readily digitised (ie. mounted certificates).    The problems get particularly acute when dealing with jobs in fields such as finance and law that have a well-defined scheme of professional qualifications.  Inevitably though, with tough competition for jobs the final choice can rest on who has the best qualifications ‘on paper’.

Where technology steps in
Pearson have come up with a new digital solution called ‘Acclaim’.  Prospects get digital badges when they complete a particular course or project.  Neatly, the badge links back to the awarding body which can verify the person actually achieved that qualification. Additionally, metadata buried with the badge offers employers further insight into the qualifications.  Started in 2014, Pearson hope to issue 1 million digital badges in 2015.

The scheme has the buy-in from a number of professional organisations as well as trusted career sites such as LinkedIn. With signatories including Adobe, Microsoft’s Sales Academy, and IT consultancy Citrix, plus schools and colleges, it should start to level the playing field and create the necessary transparency especially in the IT and Technology field.  Happily for the IT industry, where a lot is achieved based on experience vs an academic qualification, the new Pearson system embraces this and career skills can be included in the new digital certificates.

Cifas report that the number of people being prosecuted for CV and qualification fraud is on the rise.  It is a crime – and people have been jailed for falsifying their education history.  It doesn’t seem worth it – but some small lies have led to very large cover ups.

Examples of CV Fraudsters ‘MOST WANTED’

• In 2012, former Yahoo boss Scott Thompson falsely claimed to have a computer science degree and had to step down once the truth was uncovered.
• Upping the ante even further was Marilee Jones, former dean of admissions at MIT, who claimed to have three University qualifications, two degrees and a doctorate, she had not earned. It took 28 years for the falsehoods to be unearthed. Ms Jones resigned soon after.
• Alison Ryan, would-be PR manager for Manchester United, claimed to have a first class degree from Cambridge. In fact, she got a second and had been banned from practising law. She was sacked from the £125,000 a year job at the football club in 2000.

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Are Sony on solid ground?
Interviewed at this week’s Mobile World Congress, Kazuo Hirai CEO of Sony Pictures, was in an upbeat, honest mood despite being challenged on several fronts about the output from Sony recently.  When asked about the lack of impact with its Android phone, Hirai confessed Sony would keep a close eye on the profitability of its mobile phone arm, as the market was very volatile and carries many inherent risks.  If the ROI wasn’t still there, Hirai commented there were no guarantees of anything in the future – it was just the nature of the electronics business.

Neither has Sony stolen a march in the wearable technology field. Its smart ‘EyeGlass’ is clunky in comparison to its more slick rival, Google Glass.  Sony’s smartwatch and intelligent fitness bands are out there – but in a kind of ‘so what’ manner. Hirai acknowledged the market itself hadn’t yet decided what product most resonated with customers and was a challenge to all suppliers in this space – with everyone searching for the right feature and functionality set, form factor, convenience AND good battery life.

His reflections on the damage to Sony Pictures from the January cyber attack were robust but contemplative as he put the attack in context:  “The Government.. FBI’s enquiries told us that for 90% of companies, had they been attacked the way Sony Pictures were, they would also have been vulnerable, as it was not a run of the mill attack”.  Hirai added that cyber security and network security was a very high priority for them and had been for a long time since the Playstation attack several years ago.

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The Week’s Technology News – 12th December 2014

 

 

Have you planned IoT into your business strategy in 2015?
Increasingly it is now possible to connect any powered device to a network.   The Internet of Things (IoT) is an enormous technical development to comprehend let alone incorporate. However, from a business point of view, the real value in IoT will not just be in the connection of ‘things’, but the opportunity (if done properly), to manage the data and bring the customer needs into focus, alongside the product or services on offer.  This suddenly makes it a transformative technology applied through hardware and software and becomes highly interesting commercially.

Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group estimates that next year there will be around 25 billion connected devices, which will double to 50 billion by 2020 and Gartner recently suggested that IoT is peaking now in its ‘Hype Cycle’ of expectation around the subject.

If intelligent services are applied from the insights gathered from collated data and interrogated, this has the potential to radically improve customer experience and cost savings in the long run through prompt performance, increased trust and access (given the right security procedures and policies) and bond an existing relationship more more strongly between provider and customer.

Seen in practical terms, an IoT print-enabled supplier, could remotely monitor their customer’s ink levels to advise on re-supply, simultaneously run diagnostics for updates or repairs needed and advise, upsell improved models matching day-to-day needs and immediately have higher level feedback on how the customer is physically using the equipment in real-time.

From an MSP perspective applying three simple concepts, ‘connecting’, ‘managing’ and ‘engaging’ will create a proactive environment and a more bonded relationship attracting because of the intelligent assistance given.  To get there you have to have an agile infrastructure providing quick, simple and secure connections.  Some businesses worry about how to build the infrastructure to connect their devices. There are admittedly many aspects to consider ie. storage; messaging and routing protocols; security; directories; analysis; automation; and APIs to name a few.

According to a recent global KPMG survey of technology business leaders, 20% of businesses find the concept of implementing IoT too complex looked at from the outside without expert help.  However, by utilising ready-built networks, offering fast, secure and scalable connections alongside a range of tools provided as a Platform as a Service (PaaS), businesses can concentrate their efforts on creating innovative connected products.   Now that sounds like a plan!

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Sony hacked again – one week later

Last week Sony Pictures Entertainment was hit by a huge cyber-attack, leaking unreleased films and 47,000 personal records.

Since then even more data has been leaked including confidential E-mails between Sony Pictures Chair, Amy Pascal and well known Hollywood film producer Scott Rudin. The e-mails in question mock Barack Obama in an exchange of racist messages, with Pascal asking producer Scot Rudin what she should ask Obama at an upcoming event.  “Although this was a private communication that was stolen, I accept full responsibility for what I wrote and apologize to everyone who was offended.”

This week a new attack aimed at Sony’s PSN (PlayStation Network) took the service down on Monday. The attack came in the form of a Distributed Denial-Of-service (DDOS). Although the timing comes hot off the heels from the Sony Pictures attack they did not come from the same source. The PSN attack came from a group called Lizard Squad who boasted about the attack on their Twitter account.

With fresh information still leaking, including plans for unannounced films, Sony may be playing damage control for some time.  These events only highlight the need for stringent malware protection and tightened defences against ever increasing DDoS attacks, as well as perhaps a pertinent reminder to staff about the appropriate use of email content, which in this case could have saved several blushes.

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Data breach red flags for 2015
Global information services company Experian have published their Second Annual Data Breach Industry Forecast for 2015 after reviewing cyber attacks of 3,000 organisations.  In their report, Experian details a change of attitude amongst business leaders when it comes to cybersecurity.  This will affect organisations and regulators in the year ahead.

Not only is reputation critically at stake alongside security and trust, but the demand by consumers for more communication, as well as remedies in restoring the status quo, whilst ‘data fatigue’ from an expectation of resolution against personal apathy for individuals to take more vigilant steps personally.  With almost 50% of businesses having suffered at least one data breach in 2014, the need to increase investment in security technologies and policy planning and guidelines around this is paramount and accountability goes right to the top of the Board.  A company now without a data breach response plan could be the first to fall largest victim to unscrupulous criminal targeting.

New trends are anticipated for 2015.   These are anticipated to include:
• New payment technology
• The continued rapid expansion of Cloud and e-commerce
• The consistently high value of healthcare data on the blackmarket
• Employees as one of biggest threats
• Internet of Things (IoT)

1. Payment technology   The deadline for retailers to adopt EMV (Chip and PIN) credit card technology is October 2015  if they want to accept Visa or MasterCard payments. As a result, breaches may increase as the window for hackers closes.

2. Cloud technology   With the increased adoption of Cloud technology, businesses can do much to ensure they protect theirs and their customer’s data, as the value of consumer online credentials continues to grow.  A great starting point is to take extra steps to safeguard passwords, as hackers will be seeking to target progressively more Cloud data as the volume of data explodes exponentially by companies in the Cloud.  This involves the capability and measures to re-set passwords on an enormous scale and to communicate with affected users to advise them to maintain transparency as part of maintaining trust in the relationship.

3. Healthcare data   In the US, the increased number of access points to Protected Health Information (PHI), sensitive data via electronic medical records and increasing popularity of wearable technology, makes the entire healthcare industry vulnerable and attractive for cybercriminals.  On top of this, the FBI reportedly sent a private notice in 2014 to the healthcare industry that their cyber security systems were lax compared to other sectors.  Given the budget constraints facing the healthcare sector in the UK, it would be remarkable given how many have legacy IT infrastructures and constant downward pressure on budgets, to be able to avoid breaches entirely.

4. Human error   One of the least reported issues is the impact from employee breach – either through human error or malicious endeavour.   They remain the leading cause of breaches, accounting for 59% of reported cases – and companies should therefore take the necessary steps to have policies in place to circumvent or minimise any impact.

5. Internet of Things   With the expansion of the Internet of Things, businesses will be seeking to benefit from reviewing data to optimise performance and consumerisation response.  So with more devices being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors that create the opportunity for everyday items eg. car keys, alarm system or wearable devices – these will relay confidential information over the Internet and communicate with each other. Cyber attacks will therefore likely increase via data accessed from third-party vendors.

Takeaway – so, what action is required?  There will be an expectation for Board members to have a better understanding of their organisation’s data breach response plan and comprehension of new technologies and security protocols in the workplace, along with a clearly defined chain of response should such a breach occur.  Currently less than 17% of Board executives surveyed knew if their organisation had suffered a breach in the previous 12 months. Alongside this, should be security awareness training for employees as legal and regulatory scrutiny is anticipated to increase in 2015.

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The Week’s Technology News – 5th December 2014

Outsourcing priorities changing
The latest Forrester Research report across 435 Europe-based IT decision makers has found that whilst 60% of European businesses are satisfied with IT infrastructure service providers, there is a subtle shift in focus from simple cost reduction desire (66%) to businesses offering  services to help increase sales and improve customer experience (71%).

The overall feedback stats should give serious food for thought to MSPs when marketing and servicing their offerings:
• 34% said cost savings were lower than expected
• 29% said service quality or delivery was inconsistent or poor
• 26% said there is a lack of innovation and/or continuous service-level improvements
• 23% said there is a lack of flexibility in changing volume, scope, business needs or pricing models
• 22% said service providers lacked a fully developed and functioning global delivery model.

“Faced with this customer demand for better, faster and more cost-effective infrastructure services, and increased competition from emerging and India-centric suppliers, Europe’s leading providers are forced to bring new offerings and delivery models to the market,” said Forrester analyst Wolfgang Benkel. “The good news is some of them are finally listening to their customers.”

Businesses which have moved to cloud services are benefiting from accessing more flexible services and MSPs need to ensure that to deliver the most for their clients they have a) the right technical skill set b) the business skills to think strategically around the business objectives of their clients and c) the experience, diligence and ability to adapt to create a more innovative approach with their offerings, in order to stand out from the crowd.

The Euro responses indicate that just meeting an SLA is no longer what is needed in the MSP marketplace and that evidencing and thinking about all ones added values will be the key to retaining customers and winning new business in 2015.

Modular mobile phone developments and corporate tailored opportunities
Google was first out of the gate with a modular mobile phone announcement with Project Ara, planned for release in 2015, but not without competition. Finland based Circular Devices has announced its own plans to create and sell a modular smart phone called Puzzlephone next year.

The Puzzlephone approach is a simpler one with the smart phone being detachable into 3 parts; the spine (the main structure including the screen), the Heart (a large piece that slots into the bottom half of the back – this includes the battery and secondary electronics) and finally the Brain (This slots into the top half of the back – includes the processor and camera).   Google’s Project Ara approach is a lot more customisable with prototypes having 8 smaller, changeable parts – compared to Circular Devices larger 3.  However, it is possible that the simpler solution could win out with users finding Project Ara a bit too complex to get their head around.

With two companies now in preparations for a modular phone launch next year, making reality from the concept is s significant step closer. These devices should appeal to tech enthusiasts and organisations.  The potential for modular phones in the workplace is huge. Organisations would be able to create their tailored smartphone using selected prioritised modules according to their business need and deploy to employees. This would both have the benefit of cutting costs on unneeded or unused features but also being able to add in requested features such as larger capacity batteries or fingerprint scanners.   Another advantage of the modular approach is when things go wrong. Currently if a particular part of a phone fails, the whole unit has to be replaced or sent off to be repaired.  With a standard modular build, fixing future issues could be as simple as swapping the faulty part with stock.   Modular phones will be arriving next year, but their success will be dependent not only the cost of the phone and its modules, but how well the platform is supported by manufacturers providing unique hardware.  Over then to the android market and the likes of Samsung, HTC and Sony for part two of this evolving story…

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Sony hacked again – leaking unreleased films and 47,000 personal records
Sony is no stranger to data breaches, infamously having to pull down their Playstation network in 2011 for 3 weeks after 77 million customers were potentially compromised, later to be fined by the ICO.

Now Sony Picture Entertainment is the next division to fall under cyber-attack. The attack itself appears to be malware and has been used not only to steal data, but also wipe machines at Sony.  With hugely damaging commercial potential, four unreleased films have been leaked online pre-launch with personal details of 47,000 people including Hollywood stars such as Sylvestor Stallone exposed.

Since the Sony attack, the FBI has sent an alert out to US businesses warning them of malicious software that matches up with reports from the Sony Pictures attack. The report warns of malware that overrides all data on a computer’s hard drive including the master boor record, preventing booting up successfully afterwards.  The geographical origin of the attack remains unknown, but a group calling itself Guardians of Peace is claiming responsibility.     With both the risk of data leaks and data deletion, the importance of both a truly secure infrastructure and multiple data stores is more important than ever. For Sony this is another huge wake up call for a household name, swiftly becoming synonymous with susceptibility to cyber-attacks.

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Radio heads up some surgical changes for 5G
The race is on to deliver the fifth generation of our mobile network.  The build in excitement around 5G may in fact be wholly worthy of the buzz, if the latest news on this joined-up superfast technology pans out, as vaunted by Professor Rahim Tafazolli of Surrey University’s 5G Innovation Centre.  This means the opportunity for properly connected smart cities, remote medical surgery, driverless cars and the “internet of things”.  The thought of stalling videos and apps and load delays becoming a mere footnote in tech history would be thrilling news.  Prof Rahim Tafazolli says, “5G will be a dramatic overhaul and harmonisation of the radio spectrum”.

The difference comes from the 5G networks transmitting data via uninterrupted radio waves bouncing off small masts with improved antenna technology.  The waves split into bands (frequencies) with each band reserved for different communications ie.  one for TV broadcast, one for mobile data, one for aeronautical signals etc.  The system has got messy with new technologies squeezed into the gaps.  Now, the regulators, the International Telecommunications Union (ITG) are restructuring parts of the radio network used to transmit data to make more space whilst simultaneously creating efficiencies in the traffic flow, whilst 3G and 4G use carries on.  The network which scientists hope will kick in by 2020, will need to cope with vastly increased levels of communication. Through The Internet of Things (IoT), devices will ‘smarten’ and dynamically switch between three TBC ‘lanes’ (bandwidths) in order to avoid frequency overload and will rely on lower latencies (timelag between action initiation and response).  Ericsson predict that 5G’s latency will be around one millisecond – unperceivable to a human and about 50 times faster than 4G.

So what?  Well 5G is anticipated to run faster, much faster. In 2013 when Samsung announced it was testing 5G at 1Gbps, journalists reported that a high-definition movie could be downloaded in less than half a minute.  A speed of 800Gbps would equate to downloading 33 HD films – in a single second. This is 100 times faster.  To do this, it will need capacity – and lots of it.  By 2020 it is thought that 50 billion to 100 billion devices will be connected to the internet.

Whilst there is great competition between the giants Ericsson and Huawei, both are investing hugely in this research phase and despite the obvious rivalry and associated costs, each is co-operating with the other to bring on the technology to enable product development to advance.   Samsung hopes to launch a temporary trial 5G network in time for 2018’s Winter Olympic Games, whilst Huawei is racing to implement a version for the 2018 World Cup in Moscow. For Managed Service Providers and businesses alike the vast potential of 5G is a major game changer, but harnessing and directing opportunity to create an ‘intelligent’ and more intuitive commercial response for customers will be the real game changer for business.

Barclays seeks (again) to improve customer experience
Barclays is leading the way again in banking technology by seeking to deliver a more personal form of assistance to its customers.  Barclays Beacon service called ‘Barclays Access’ is being trialled in Sheffied and will work through an iPhone app.  iBeacon which uses Bluetooth to detect when a person using the app enters the branch will trap personal details, information on their requirements, plus the option of a photo, to assist with speedy ID on arrival.  An iPad at the front desk picks up the alert.  All of these touch points can then alert bank staff to react promptly, discretely and courteously when a customer with an assistance need arrives at the branch to improve the overall customer experience.

Previously, Barclays pioneered customer banking transfers using only a mobile number, plus enabling some businesses to swap PINs, passwords and authentication codes for fingerprint scanners.  Technological advances have not by themselves caused massive behavioural changes to get customers to switch or stay loyal, but a combination of technology and personal intervention with insight creates a whole new level of customer care.

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This weeks round up from Amicus ITS

£250,000 penalty for Sony
The Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) has fined Sony Computer Entertainment Europe £250,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act, The data breach penalty relates to the hacking of the Sony PlayStation Network Platform in April 2011, which compromised the personal information of over 77 million customers. At the time Sony took down their Playstation network for over 3 weeks, to rebuild a more secure online platform, with over 77 million world-wide affected this was one of the biggest security breaches in history, who will be next!

Office 365 Home Premium launched
Microsoft takes Office into the cloud and for the first time lets consumers pay via monthly subscription. As well as the ‘modern’ look, users also get perks such as extra SkyDrive storage and free worldwide Skype calls to landlines. This is a unique way of marketing the Office package, it makes Office very accessible through a price point that everyone can afford and in addition the ‘always connected’ features of the Cloud helps Microsoft fight software piracy, a win win for all I feel!.

Blackberry 10
RIM who recently changed their name to ‘Blackberry’ launched their latest and long awaited new platform Blackberry 10 in the UK on the 31/01/13. They decided to launch in the UK first as Blackberry’s UK’s market is one of their strongest, this launch is fundamental for the future of Blackberry. The Z10 and Q10 both look good and take the Blackberry style into truly modern phones. We believe it is unlikely to be enough to truly gain significant market share, but if there’s one market they will crack it will be the UK, so this is definitely one to watch.

A managed service providers guide to this weeks news

iPhone 5 set to boost BYOD trend

iPhone 5 tops over 2 million pre orders in the first 24 hours, more than double its iPhone 4s predecessor.  With Apples upgraded features and increased popularity it’s no wonder the forecast predicts a growing number of devices will soon be flooding through company doors and connecting to organisations IT infrastructures. Is your company ready to support this generation of smart devices?

Windows 8 predicted to increase sales of tablets by over 10 million in coming quarter

With the release date of Windows 8 looming, predictions are already being made as to the impact Microsoft’s latest update is going to have on the world.  A survey by IDC states how tablet sales are likely to increase by 10 million this year.  Windows 8 will be partially responsible for this increase; however Apple and Android devices will remain the top players impacting this climb in sales.

Security breaches hit high profile companies – could yours be next?

With a number of high profile organisations becoming the subject of recent IT security breaches (Dropbox, Sony, E-Harmony), it’s clear that organisations need to step up their game to ensure their companies IT infrastructure is secure. According to recent findings from Florida Tech University, cyber-crime is on the increase, with around 14 crimes being committed every second at a cost of around $411 billion.

Microsoft wins battle over infringement laws against Google

Last week Microsoft saw themselves win their third legal battle against Google in the recent months.  A court in Germany heard how Google’s Motorola had been accused of infringing a Microsoft patent.

Office 365 offers greater opportunities for MSP’s

Microsoft has now released their ever anticipated preview of Office 2013 and Office 365.  Many of the changes that have been made are unsurprisingly in correlation with the imminent release of Windows 8.  One particular new feature that stands out is Microsoft’s deeper integration of Office 2013 with their cloud service SkyDrive.  With the BYOD generation growing bigger than ever it is no wonder that Microsoft have ensured a much more mobile and tablet friendly software, and with a much cleaner, less cluttered look the new Office is bound to be a hit.