This week’s technology news – 5th September 2014

No need to be a Hollywood A-lister before you get concerned about security 
The emergence of intimate images of Hollywood celebs published on a website last week following hacking of their iPhones, was not, Apple confirmed, through weaknesses in Apple’s security.  A group of hackers led a very targeted attack on a select group of celebs to ascertain user names, passwords and easily guessed security questions, in order to change passwords, or use phishing techniques to fool those involved into giving up their Apple IDs and passwords.

This has led Apple CEO Tim Cook to announce this week that they will commence using two-factor authentication as a security measure for accessing iCloud accounts from its mobile devices, coupled with email alerts and push notifications to the user, should someone try to change a password or log in from a new device.  The two factor authentication could involve the user having to type in a short code sent via text message to their phone number as an extra security step before they are given access to their uploads.

Where human weakness is often the way that gives hackers the simplest route to compromising accounts, organisations must ensure they do their utmost to protect data and privacy at all times in the Cloud. Good governance and security policies will create the controls to thwart attempts at penetration. Equally though, educating staff about security measures and increasing understanding about why they are so critical, will increase uptake, confidence and trust, as our reliance on, and expectations around technology, increase as it becomes our closest aide in life and at work.

Amicus ITS has been delivering safe and effective Cloud solutions and Security & Governance consultancy for many years to its customers.  Our latest offering for enterprise is Amicus CSF

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Move over fingerprints – finger vein sign-in is here
Biometric sign-in technology has been around for a while – in theory at least. Despite the technology being available, there has been a distinct lack of biometric sign-in options beyond certain laptops and smart phones. Barclays is taking the lead however in bringing finger vein scanners to business users, letting them verify accounts by a finger scanner, attached to a PC via a USB.

Finger vein technology differs from fingerprint technology in a few key areas: it requires a live finger and cannot be fooled by high quality 2D or 3D print. The device itself is about the size of a tennis ball so although it is fine for plugging in to a laptop, we will not see this incorporated into tablets without a major re-design.

With information and ID more valuable than ever, finding the best way to secure it is a must and making the authentication process user friendly vs current multiple code inputs in banking is likely to win friends.  Further adaptations of biometric sensors for two step authentication in future are anticipated as this rolls out.

As biometric logins become more adopted, universal standards for storing biometric data and sharing between authentication sources will need to be properly governed and utilised. Until then, expect a different device and application to sign in to different services.

High priority for cyber security in UK business survey
The latest Information Security Breaches Survey conducted by PwC for the Department for Business Innovation & Skills for 2014 has been published.  The survey spanned 1,125 respondents across all industry sectors in the UK, where one third were IT professionals and the balance being business managers and executives.

The results revealed that whilst cyber threats had affected 81% of businesses, this was a reduction from 2013. Interestingly, the number of individual breaches had risen and the ensuing cost to business had risen.  Indeed 10% of those who had suffered a breach in the last year were so badly damaged by the attack that they had had to change the nature of their business.

Financially, the average cost to a large organisation (250+ employees) from its worst security breach of the year was reported to be £600k -£1.15m and the average cost to a small business (less than 50+ employees) for the same such breach was £65k -£115k.

Malicious software is increasingly the means for such attacks and the focus has shifted back towards large organisations.  With 73% of large organisations having suffered from infection by viruses or malicious software in the past year (up from 59% in 2013), there is a need for intelligent investment in effective solutions and preventative measures.   With large organisations now spending around 11% of their IT budget on security and small businesses spending about 15% of their IT budget, IT Managers and CISO’s need to question what is the best use of spend to maximize protection and to receive guidance.  Only though fresh objective analysis of an organisation’s existing IT infrastructure and defences, can correct assessments, recommendations and the appropriate solutions be put forward for Board approval.

The top four drivers for security expenditure remain the same as in 2013:
•        Protecting customer information
•        Compliance with laws and regulations
•        Protecting reputation
•        Preventing downtime

It should be added that whilst not in the top four across the board, protecting intellectual property is especially important in the technology, consultancy and professional services sectors.

Companies in 2014 are increasingly using remotely hosted services (ie. Cloud computing) as an affordable and easily accessible alternative to internal IT services, with 83% now using Cloud computing services.  Externally hosted websites and email are the most popular services for small businesses at 82% and 70% respectively.  Whilst only 13% of large organisations were using an externally hosted email service, they are more likely to use externally hosted payment, payroll processing, and data storage solutions. The use of Cloud services for data storage has been the biggest growth area for large organisations with a 7% increase from 2013 and an adoption rate for Cloud of around 15%.  Of interest to Managed Service Providers, 52% of organisations with externally hosted services believe these are critical to their business.

As more companies start providing the funds needed for better protection, effective information security and risk management depends on the whole organization buying in to this at every level and through every department, with the support of the Board and/or Executive Team.  However, it is not just about chucking money at IT that will return dividends, for without guidance on where to spend new funds, organisations may find themselves overspending on ineffective solutions, or underspending and making themselves vulnerable for the next year.


Working with multiple devices
Having a PC, Tablet and smartphone for work is now the norm for many.  Each device has its strengths and weaknesses, but using the right device for the right time and place, can not only make you more efficient, but work smarter. With their different use-cases you may find you have an App or messaging service on one device but not across all. When you at your desk and you need to fire a message back from an alert on your Tablet, picking it up to tap away your message may seem counter-intuitive with a full-size PC keyboard on your desk.

However, a new device announced this week by Logitech could make the workload for those juggling devices that little bit easier.  Logitech’s new wireless keyboard can connect to all three types of device at the same time, with a simple turndial determining which device you’re typing appears on. Of course you could pick this up and take it into a meeting also.

If the juggling of devices is getting too much, maybe it is worth considering combining two of them. Microsoft’s Surface Pro range combine both PC and tablet into the one device means that not only do you have one less device to charge, but also it is easier in device setup and app maintenance.

How many devices you need and their sizes will vary greatly depending on the type of work you need to get done, when and where. Before your next purchase, businesses should consider how it will help the workforce get the job done and hopefully increase productivity.


Your first stop for this week’s MSP news in technology

MDM? Not without MSP’s help  

Even though the BYOD trend is gaining significant momentum, some organisations are still refraining from implementation.  Adopting MDM requires investment in technology, training, staffing and policy creation, meaning organisations can’t justify the funding.  However we believe there is a solution to this problem; introducing MDM through a managed service provider.  MSP’s can offer all the MDM benefits including 24×7 managed support, but save customers time as well as costs.  This will allow even small businesses to work more mobile.

Looking into the future in the Tablet market

The big three: Microsoft, Google and Apple are now all runners in the tablet market share race.  In recent months Apple has seen its sales decrease due to the increased popularity of cheaper Google devices. At this pace we may see Android over take Apple in Q2 2013. As Microsoft’s devices have only been on the market for less than a quarter, we are expecting a slow and steady uptake.  As more devices and apps come over to Microsoft’s new platform next year, we predict the market will shift.

‘Appy’ Christmas

Microsoft has announced that their Windows Phone app developers will be hard at work this festive season.  Since the launch of Windows Phone 8, mobile app requests have increased by 40%, seeing a recent surge in the last couple of weeks.  However, some companies refuse to jump on the bandwagon. Google have declared they have no plans to develop apps for either Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8. We believe that Google might be missing a trick.  As Windows 8 adoption grows momentum in 2013, we are predicting Microsoft’s app store will take off in a big way, enabling both a consumer and a corporate environment.

Microsoft release Cloud Deployment programme

Microsoft has released a new Cloud Deployment programme designed at educating partners as to how they can get the most out of Office 365.  Organisations have currently been viewing the Cloud as a threat to their security rather than an instrument for success.  With Microsoft’s latest partner programme, MSP’s will be able to offer management tools and expertise to help consumers understand the Cloud.  We believe that this will give MSP’s the opportunity to add value to the Cloud, helping customers with its set up and running.

This week’s news from the MD of Amicus ITS

Let’s end the confusion on Windows 8  

Since the launch of Windows 8, consumers have been primarily focused on the impact Microsoft’s latest OS will have on mobility. Although this plays an important role, the other key components of Windows 8 must also be explored.  Next week Amicus ITS are holding a Windows 8 event at Microsoft’s HQ in Reading, to demonstrate all of its offerings.  The event will feature what Windows 8 can offer to the corporate world through demonstrations, as well as explaining how to effectively manage a mobile work environment. 

Top Malware trends of 2013

With the recent increase in global security breaches, MSP mentor have revealed the top malware trends of 2013.  Trends for 2013 include; increased attacks on Google Chrome, malware that has the capability to invade virtual machines, and the introduction of native 64-bit Windows malware.  We believe organisations need to take a good look at what procedures are currently implemented and what they need to change.  

Mobility brings big changes to the market

The release of Microsoft’s latest device, the Surface Pro, is just around the corner.  As more and more users are taking advantage of mobility and connectivity on-the-go, we think the market is set to change.  Consumers now want to accomplish more with their tablet, performing the same tasks (including Word and Excel) that they could in the office. However, this doesn’t just refer to devices; applications play a large part too.  As users turn to alternative online communications tools, such as free messaging and email, SMS messaging has seen its first decline since mobile phones began.

 SME’s need to embrace the Cloud  

Gartner have recently suggested that Cloud Computing is set to be one of the biggest trends of 2013, and with a vast amount of SME’s yet to embrace the cloud, there is still great opportunity for growth.  The Cloud offers numerous benefits for SME’s, including cost effectiveness, operational efficiencies and scalability.  We believe that with clear education and a protected security procedure put in place, Cloud Computing can change not only large corporations but SME’s as well.

Amicus ITS – Our views on this week’s new

Apple’s profits – The Bigger Picture

Research firm, Statisa have announced Apple’s profits amount to more than Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, eBay and Yahoo combined.  Their $47.1 billion profits are primarily thanks to the popularity of their well-designed, fashionable, mobile devices and the growing impact on the work environment.  Whilst we love the iPad and the iPhone, can Apple maintain this lead by using their design and phenomenal budgets to drive consumers to the next big thing?

The end of XP

This week saw the start of the 500 day countdown for the end of XP support, giving Windows 8 a fighting chance in gaining significant sales figures.  Although Windows 8 has so far seen a slow start, we think Microsoft’s big gamble will pay off.  As mobility grows, organisations will look to the best solution to meet their OS needs and we think Windows 8 will come up trumps.

Windows Phone anyone?

Microsoft is placing all bets on the new Windows 8 ecosystem to push sales of its phone division.  The new device comes with a similar look and feel to its desktops, tablets, Xbox and phones, in the hope that users will enjoy the experience on one device and try another. We think this is a smart move for Microsoft and predict that by the end of 2014, we may see the market share spilt between Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Security breaches enhance corporation’s awareness

In recent months, hacking has increased.  Many big names are currently in the firing line; Google, Yahoo and Microsoft becoming the latest.  As industry leaders succumb to security breaches, the rest of the world becomes increasingly concerned as to how secure their IT infrastructure really is.  Organisations need to step up their game and will look to managed service providers for help.