Categories
Business Technology

Information technology security and business

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Technology has had an undeniably colossal affect on how we do business. We can now communicate with people around the world in real time, pay for goods with the swipe of a card or click of a mouse and download files from the cloud with the push of a button.

Like with most things in life though, technology does have its downsides. Historically, technological problems have centred around speed and reliability. Thanks to advances in programming, processing power and cabling, technology is now faster and more reliable than it has ever been. This is also in part thanks to more people becoming ‘tech savvy’. People expect more of technology, and more people are working to improve it. As such, the age old issues of speed and reliability which have plagued almost all forms of technology, are no longer under the spotlight. I would argue that security is now a bigger issue.

A padlock on an ethernet cableThe growth of the global tech savvy population means that more people understand how technology works, which is great in some respects, but from a security perspective, it can be concerning. If your employees know how to access confidential files you store on your server, or your customers are able to apply 99% discounts to products in your online shop then you have a problem.

In 2014 eBay was one of the most high profile victims. Vulnerabilities in Javascript and Flash code on some listing pages enabled hackers to steal users information, post fake listings and redirect visitors to fake payment pages. In 2013 Sony was fined a quarter of a million pounds by the ICO in the UK for compromising customer details in a 2011 data breach.

In it’s recently released business security e-book, Dell state that they believe many of the security problems we face today are because businesses use fragmented systems and they use a different security solution to protect each one. Whilst your payment system might be completely watertight, if it’s linked to your website, which happens to contain some vulnerable Java technology, then hackers may be able to crawl into your systems. To quote Dell’s Director of Product Marketing, Bill Evans “Patchwork solutions that combine products from multiple vendors inevitably lead to the blame game“. He goes on to say that when using fragmented systems, each vendor “is responsible for only part of the problem” making it very difficult to properly secure your systems.

There are many different solutions for companies out there. As a business you could ground yourself firmly in the first half of the 20th century and refuse to adopt technology of any kind. After all, if all the details on your client, Mrs Jones, are kept in a file in filing cabinet 35B on the sixth floor of the of your customer information storage centre, a hacker cannot squirrel their way into your network and then publish Mrs Jones’ details on the Internet. That does however mean that when Mrs Jones pops in to see you, you have to keep her waiting for 20 minutes whilst you go to find her file – as opposed to typing her name in and pulling up her details on your tablet.

There are often benefits of using software and technologies from different vendors, and it would be foolish to dismiss a good business system just because it has a few minor potential security floors. The challenge then is to find a security system than can protect your new technologies.

A security key on a keyboardUsing a single, comprehensive security system, such as Dell Endpoint Security to protect all your information technologies would help top alleviate many of the problems that arise when using a patchwork network of security systems. Using one system would instantly eliminate conflicts between security software. It can also be much easier to manage one unified system than trying to juggle several separate schemes.

Naturally each individual security system may have some specific advantages that one universal security system may not, but the fact that a universal system is just that, universal to all your businesses technology, is a huge advantage.

Dell believes that all good universal security systems should: protect the entire business both internally and externally; comply with all internal policies and indeed national laws; and enable employees to adopt technologies with confidence and ease, promoting efficiency and innovation.

What are your views on business technology security? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories
Browsers Internet

Stop using Internet Explorer

This post was going to be entitled “Why you should stop using Internet Explorer” however I didn’t think that was a strong enough title, so I changed it to the direct instruction you see above this text: Stop using Internet Explorer.

You have a choice. You can use Google, Bing, Yahoo! or Ask. You can buy Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS or Ubuntu. You can go with Apple, Samsung, Sony or RIM.

Although Google dominate the search market, there are still many other search engines out there. Microsoft dominate the computer market, but you can still choose from a [reasonable] selection of other, popular operating systems. You could argue that Samsung now dominate the global smartphone market, but there are still many other companies you can go to to get a smartphone.

You also have a choice as to what browser you use. The internet is arguably now the main function for any computer, so surely you should devote some time then to choosing which browser is right for you?

If you have tried more than three different browsers before, for a considerable length of time and have after weighing up all the pros and cons of each, have chosen your favourite, well done you. If you haven’t, read on.

If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), stop. Okay, well you can finish reading the article, but then stop using it. A simple instruction, which could do wonders for your internet experience.

Reasons To Not Use IE

There are many reasons not to use IE. Here is a list of what I think are the strongest arguments against the heavy, slow and outdated browser.

Lack of Security

IE seems to constantly be in the news for its security issues. Much of the malware out there on the internet is only made possible by bugs and holes in Internet Explorer! Need proof? Check out this section of IE’s Wikipedia page.

Speed!

In recent years Microsoft have been really working on making Internet Explorer faster, and IE 9 is much faster than IE 6 or 7 were; granted. That said, it is still much slower than the competition. For example, loading Technology Bloggers from cold (hard refresh) in Firefox, Chrome and Safari took 3 seconds, Opera took 4, while Internet Explorer took 7 seconds.

Lack of Features

Without a doubt, for features, add-ons and extensions, Firefox and Chrome are miles out in front. Safari and Opera also have a reasonable number of things you can add to your browser to customise/improve it, but Internet Explorer has only really started to embrace such features since IE 8. Apart from toolbars, Flash, Adobe Reader etc. IE 6 didn’t really do add-ons.

Inconsistency

Social buttons badly rendered by IE
How IE rendered the same code (our social buttons) on three separate page loads – neither is correct.

Take a look at the three images to the right.

Each of the images is a different variation of the social buttons on our sidebar that IE rendered. The screen size remained the same, and the loads were seconds apart.

IE managed to render three completely different versions of the same code. How does that work?

In the first image it didn’t even attempt to load the social buttons before declaring it was finished. It took a better shot in the second image, whilst in the third image it didn’t bother loading Twitter and threw Google+ to the bottom. Why?

Upon loading the blog in Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera, I saw the exact same result. Each browser displayed them as they are meant to be displayed, every time – Internet Expolorer didn’t.

Lack of Compatibility with Modern Code

Code is advancing all the time, and a good browser will keep up to date with changes, and make sure it is able to interpret and display modern CSS, HTML, PHP etc.

When the blog snows at Christmas, IE doesn’t show that, IE also doesn’t like the ‘modern’ code which makes our search box work, or the code we use to add shadows to text.

Lack of Compatibility with Older Operating Systems

IE 9 doesn’t work with Windows XP, or any Mac OS or Linux system. Only Vista, 7 and 8 support IE 9. IE 10 only works with Windows 7 and Windows 8. According to StatCounter, in the last 6 months, 26.55% of all computer users used XP, whilst 7.13% used Vista and 7.46% use MacOSX – that’s 41.14% of the market that Microsoft are isolating straight away, and Windows 7 and 8 don’t even own all of the 58.86% share of the market that is left!

Advertising Campaign

Microsoft have recently undergone a quite extensive advertising campaign for IE, to try and shake off its bad reputation. They state how ‘lightning fast’ it is compared to how it used to be, which I can’t dispute. What they don’t however say is how it compares to Chrome or Opera. They also try to reassure users that it is now secure, although that is still debatable!

Which Browser to Use?

There are loads of web browsers out there, check out this handy Wikipedia comparison table to see.

Below is a map showing in 2013 so far, which internet browser is the most commonly used by country.

Top browser by country - 2013
Browser popularity by country. The colour of the country is the colour of the most used browser – see legend.

Personally I would advise using either Chrome or Firefox. If you have a relatively standard, or slow PC, then Chrome is probably best for you. It is light, simple and fast.

I still think that Firefox had more functionality than Chrome, and it is my personal favourite. If your PC is usually pretty quick and of a reasonable spec, then I would recommend Firefox.

Chrome is owned by Google – a multinational corporate giant – whilst Firefox is non-profit and open source.

Categories
Computers Gadgets Tablets

How and why has the tablet industry grown so rapidly?

In 2011, it is estimated that 65 million tablet computers were sold globally. The population of the United Kingdom is currently around 62/63 million strong, meaning that last year alone, more tablets were sold than there are people in the UK. That is a pretty big figure!

Incredible growth

The tablet industry is a technology phenomenon, with regard to its growth rate. The concept for tablet PC’s has been around for a while now, however they have only been seriously released on the market, in force, in the last two years. Apple’s iPad launched in early 2010 (April in the USA, and May internationally) and since then the market has quite literally exploded.

Okay, there were tablets before the iPad, and concepts have been around since the 1950’s, however the tablet industry really ignited two years ago tomorrow, (the 3rd of April 2010) and it is a technology that already has over 60 million users! To put those numbers into perspective, it took Radio 38 years to get 50 million users, television 13 years, and the internet 4. Tablets reached 50 million users in just over a year. See what I mean about rapid growth?

After the initial launch of major tablets, hundreds of firms started to produce their own tablet, submitting their creation to the global market. Why? Well, future trends predict that we are likely to move away from our desktops and laptops and use evermore our tablets and smartphones.


The technology research firm Gartner Inc., predict industry sales to grow to more than 300 million by 2015. 300 million tablets means huge amounts of money being spent by consumers on tablet, and for big firms like Sony, Microsoft, Apple and Samsung, that means huge profits. The industry is now so big, and with such immense growth forecasts, that it is a no-brainer for most tech firms, to enter this lucrative market.

Why tablets?

But why do people prefer tablets to desktops? Well there are a number of reasons. I like bullet points, so here we go 😉One of the many tablets on the market

  • Tablets are very portable – you can take them almost anywhere, and with the likes of Wi-Fi, cloud computing and advances in wireless charging, there will soon be no need to have a permanent workstation
  • Tablets can do so much! – Most tablets have the ability to do what most PCs can do, so why do we need our PCs any more?
  • Apps – one thing tablets have that your regular computer doesn’t is apps. Apps are revolutionary and are changing the way we live our lives, as there does seem to be an app for just about everything!
  • Price – for what they can do, and the speed they can do it at, tablets are extremely competitively priced, especially compared to their PC counterparts, and with tablets, their is no monitor, mouse, keyboard etc. it is all built in
  • Convenience – tablets often run faster than computers, and can be accessed almost anywhere, making them one of the most convenient devices around, probably why they are becoming a massive hit with businesses around the world
  • Choice – there are so many firms with a tablet released, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing!
  • Social media on the go – tablets and smartphones can provide you with access to social media when you are out and about, and given that most of us use social media, this is a huge positive

The future

Personally, in the future, I believe the device most of us will move to is the phablet. Phablet, what is that? Phone-Tablet. Smartphones revolutionised the way we communicate when out and about, as did tablets. In the future I think we are more likely to see the two come together. Basically tablets getting a little smaller, and smartphones getting a little more advanced.

Why do I think this? Well the smartphone industry and the tablet industry are two tech which are seeing major growth. Everyone wants a tablet, everyone wants a smartphone. In essence, most tablets and smartphones do very similar things, just in different ways. In the future I believe that the two will come together, share their features, and create the phablet!

Your thoughts

What about you though? What do you think about the tablet industry and its growth? Is is sustainable, or just a fad? Will we move away from our high tech craze, or does the future lie with phablets?

Categories
News Technology

Will an Apple Television ever happen?

Since the release of the Apple TV set top box there have always been rumours that apple will try and break into one of the few corners of the entertainment world they are yet to conquer: the television market.

With the Apple TV set top box offering features such as streaming from iTunes to your television as well a streaming YouTube videos its a handy little device. However that functionality is in most television sets now a days, so what’s stopping apple joining the already quite competitive market?

Well for a start competition is already well established in the TV market with companies like LG, Sony and Samsung all offering so called smart TV’s. This means that apple would have to would have to do something very different to create a unique selling point. The features and the GUI of the Apple TV are already there, meaning that surely they already have the building blocks they need.

LG's LogoIf they were to add the Siri (their intelligent voice assistant) surely this would make a very effective home entertainment system. This is something similar to what Microsoft is already doing with the home entertainment system on the Xbox but it’s not quite as intelligent as Siri! The Xbox service can only follow commands and is not able to interpret them.

Rumours about an Apple TV are on the up again due to the pending release of Steve Jobs official autobiography. In an excerpt from a Washington times post Jobs has been quoted as saying to the author that:

“He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,”

Walter Isaacson wrote.

Isaacson continued:

“‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ he told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’”

Apple hasn’t announced any TV based products in its line up and the blogosphere doesn’t appear to be covering it that much, however I personally wouldn’t be surprised if Apple decided to make the Apple TV into less of a hobby and more of a competitive product for the television market.

If they did they would probably do it with the same drive, determination and overall design quality that they have carried along with the Mac computer range, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Categories
Gadgets News Smartphones Technology

Is your smartphone too clever?

Smart phones are amazing. 50 years ago who would have predicted that you could hold a device smaller than your hand that could:

  • Take pictures
  • Connect with your car
  • Listen to music
  • Send text messages (SMS)
  • Make a video call with someone on the other side of the world
  • Track your location
  • Surf the internet
  • Understand your voice commands
  • …and loads loads more

Notice anything that could be a security risk from the list above? Well if you listen to the news, you will probably have heard the bad PR iPhone have got themselves by discovering a glitch which showed everywhere their owners had been!

Is the iPhone Safe?Apple have denied that they have been tracking users, but if someone got hold of an iPhone they would be able to download a list of every place that that phones (and probably it’s user) had been to, via the use of GPS.

Do you think that all these flashy features come at a price? Is the security of our private information being exposed more and more in this modern-day ‘technology powered’ world?

The thing is, it isn’t just the iPhone – the iPad has also been tracking users locations!

If you want to find out more, check out this online Q and A page on Apples website.

Another privacy issue…

A few days later Sony announced that it was taking down its PlayStation Network service, due to hacking which affected 77 million gamers!

Sony say that that the data might have fallen into the hands of an “unauthorised person” following a hacking attack on its online service. This data it thought to include things like names, passwords, addresses, date of births and email addresses. Another reason why it’s very important not to use one password for everything.

If you think you might have been affected by this other breach in security, check out Sony’s blog post on the issue.

Your views

Are we too dependant on technology? Do we give away too much information (often sensitive) about ourselves? Do firms really need all this data from us, and do they need to take a greater responsibility in implementing more measures to keep our info safe?

Categories
Gadgets News Smartphones Technology

Is your smartphone too clever?

Smart phones are amazing. 50 years ago who would have predicted that you could hold a device smaller than your hand that could:

  • Take pictures
  • Connect with your car
  • Listen to music
  • Send text messages (SMS)
  • Make a video call with someone on the other side of the world
  • Track your location
  • Surf the internet
  • Understand your voice commands
  • …and loads loads more

Notice anything that could be a security risk from the list above? Well if you listen to the news, you will probably have heard the bad PR iPhone have got themselves by discovering a glitch which showed everywhere their owners had been!

Is the iPhone Safe?Apple have denied that they have been tracking users, but if someone got hold of an iPhone they would be able to download a list of every place that that phones (and probably it’s user) had been to, via the use of GPS.

Do you think that all these flashy features come at a price? Is the security of our private information being exposed more and more in this modern-day ‘technology powered’ world?

The thing is, it isn’t just the iPhone – the iPad has also been tracking users locations!

If you want to find out more, check out this online Q and A page on Apples website.

Another privacy issue…

A few days later Sony announced that it was taking down its PlayStation Network service, due to hacking which affected 77 million gamers!

Sony say that that the data might have fallen into the hands of an “unauthorised person” following a hacking attack on its online service. This data it thought to include things like names, passwords, addresses, date of births and email addresses. Another reason why it’s very important not to use one password for everything.

If you think you might have been affected by this other breach in security, check out Sony’s blog post on the issue.

Your views

Are we too dependant on technology? Do we give away too much information (often sensitive) about ourselves? Do firms really need all this data from us, and do they need to take a greater responsibility in implementing more measures to keep our info safe?

Categories
Business News

What happens in Japan stays in Japan?

Some say that despite Japan being the third largest economy in the world, what happens in Japan, usually stays in Japan. After the recent Tsunami, this seemed to be the case, initially.

However now that most of the countries industry has shut down, the effects are really being felt around the world. Why? Well, Japan is a major exporter of electrical and motorised goods – after all companies like Honda and Sony are based there.

A Busy Japanese Street - Representative of the Japanese EconomyOften the Japanese factories make some of the parts and then the final goods are assembled closer to where they are going to be sold. This is great as it increases capacity due to specialisation, but it does have it’s problems too.

Due to the Japanese parts of such businesses currently being shut down, the entire supply chain for such goods has ground to a halt, as nobody can get the parts they need out of Japan.


Around the world Japanese firms are shutting down their plants, due to a lack of parts. Toyota are actually now withdrawing their UK operations due to the Tsunami – among other things.

Japanese Car Logos
The logos of well known Japanese cars

Sony are in a similar situation, as their firm is considering a complete shut down for 2 weeks due to power shortages. No doubt other firms like Panasonic, Nissan and Fujitsu wont be far behind too.

It looks like the shifting of a few tectonic plates might have caused a lot more than a devastating earthquake and tsunami, but also a slowdown in the global tech industry – leading to a large loss of jobs worldwide 🙁

What are your views on this, will the world really struggle without Japan?