A significant technological advance will benefit businesses in the near future
The internet is a technology that has rapidly become indispensable. It has facilitated new businesses, enabled sharing of information, streamlined all sorts of transactions and communications – if you have a relative in Australia you can see their new baby on Skype, for example, which would have been difficult to arrange in the past. Vast companies have arisen – Amazon, Google, Facebook, which were just a gleam in a few geeky students' eyes not long ago.
There is a downside to all this: trolling, cyber attacks, identity theft, and various other new crimes, but most people would agree that these amazing technologies have benefitted the majority. That's not just in the wealthy West: smartphones have enabled Africans, for example, to use bankless mobile money transactions, enabling them to transfer money and even start businesses which they couldn't have done without the internet and its web of connectivity.
The world wide web is the foundation for many technologies, for example skype, cloud computing and peer-to-peer networks.
Another really major advance is on the horizon. The blockchain.
Most of you have probably heard of the blockchain in relation to Bitcoin, which is a “cryptocurrency” - that is non-centralised money which is both an investment and a medium of transaction, but instead of being held in banks the accounting is distributed all over the internet.
It is called the blockchain, because each transaction builds on the last, in an unbreakable chain. There isn't the space to discuss this in depth here, but it is the blockchain as a concept that is important, not bitcoin, which may or may not succeed, although it does have first-mover advantage, but recently it has had scaling difficulties. By using encryption and peer-to-peer distributed “accounting”, transactions avoid banks, are low-cost, and highly-resistant to fraud.
But the blockchain can be so much more. For example, many artists, musicians, creative people struggle to make a living, because their work can be pirated and it is almost impossible to receive income from it. We can envisage, in the future, where if you wanted to reproduce a blockchain copyrighted artwork on your website, some bitcoins would automatically be deducted from your bitcoin account and sent to the artist's wallet, via programming built into the blockchain without any human intervention. Many people have suggested micropayments like this, but the centralised banking structures are too high cost to make deducting say, 5p from your bank account feasible, but it is with a blockchain-based system. Those 5ps would add up. It would be the same for any digitally-enabled business.
Potentially myriads of different usages can be encrypted into the blockchain. Another new cryptocurrency, Etherium, envisages itself as a medium for this, rather than strictly as a currency.
With Wandsworth being one of the major London hubs for new businesses, many of which are highly digital and networked, there is a need to raise the awareness of how altcoins (as the various cryptocurrencies are called) could be a beneficial method of building up a business, raising funding, or expanding the reach of products and services via the network.
As famed science fiction writer William Gibson said, “The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.” The Economist, 2003.
Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce's resident blogger and copywriter - https://julianj.journoportfolio.com
Dangers for businesses from hackers
Most people know not to click on attachments sent to them in emails from people or businesses they've never heard of. It is well-understood that if you download files from dodgy sites there may be a payload of malware inside too, as a little bonus. Mostly this is annoying apps that redirect your searches or show rubbishy adverts. Irritating, but not actually harmful. Of course, if you are unlucky, your computers might be infected with ransomware, which could encrypt your files and demand payment to decrypt them.
The lesson of that is always to have regular backups so you can restore your files. Even if you pay the ransom, there's no guarantee that the cyber criminals will actually let you have the key to get your files back.
Unfortunately there is a new threat emerging: fileless malware, that is attacks on your computers and networks that do not involve opening an attachment or downloading files. These attacks involve finding vulnerabilities in the computer system and exploiting these to plant viruses in the system. As virus protection has got better, so the criminals and hackers have to up their game to find new avenues to attack computers and networks.
The cyber criminals can
There is no need to panic, however. It is not easy to accomplish these attacks, particularly if all software is up to date. However this can be a weakness as people often do not update software regularly to keep security patches active.
For example, fileless malware can use vulnerabilities in outdated flash plugins to infect a computer's browser and then attack the computer that is running it.
The best way to negate fileless malware is to stop it before it happens
Level 1: apply security updates for your applications and operating system.
Level 2: block the pages hosting the malware, with an active security application
Level 3: block the malware delivery with the same application
Level 4: block the communication between your PC and the attackers’ servers: this will mean that the attackers won't be able to exploit the infection, even if they have placed it on your computers.
Business and home users need to keep their protection up to date. They also would be wise to invest in an application which is able to negate these potential threats as an ounce of preparation is worth a ton of regret afterwards and cheaper too.
More information: https://www.mcafee.com/mx/resources/solution-briefs/sb-quarterly-threats-nov-2015-1.pdf
Author: This article was written by Julian Jackson, Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce's resident blogger and copywriter - www.julianjackson.co.uk https://julianj.journoportfolio.com
Wandsworth Chamber Helping Members Achieve GDPR Compliance
What is GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation is a new set of rules that governs the privacy and security of personal data and replaces the Data Protection Act.
GDPR will apply from 25th May 2018 and from this date, all companies must be fully compliant.
Any fines imposed for not being compliant are required to be effective, proportionate and dissuasive and can be up to 20 million Euro or 4% of turnover, whichever is the greater.
The definition of 'Data' is more detailed than before and includes online identifiers such as IP addresses.
GDPR applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems where personal data are held.
In summary, if you keep any customer or staff records you will need to comply with the new rules.
For processing of data to be lawful under GDPR, you need to identify a lawful basis before you can process the data. You need to identify the lawful basis for the processing and document it, before the processing takes place.
You are expected to put in place comprehensive but proportionate governance measures and in some circumstances, privacy impact assessments and privacy by design are legally required.
These measures are aiming to minimize the risk of data breaches but will mean that more policies and procedures are required.
How can Auditel help your business?