Google Beacon – persistent project or privacy predicament?

Just another day at the office when an unexpected parcel from Google drops on the door step… the random gift of a Google Beacon!

The organisation is pushing the initiative once more by sending businesses free Beacons to encourage implementation. Unfortunately, in today’s security conscious environment these deliveries are sparking more privacy questions than implementations.

What is Project Beacon?

Project Beacon provides proximity experiences for customers using Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology to send signals to local smart devices. The device continuously broadcasts an identifier which connects to a user’s device. Once your device has interacted with the Beacon it can then transmit its programmed action to the device.

Google Beacon

What are they and why is Google promoting Beacons?

Google is promoting the advantage of improved offline attribution with Google ads. Since the Beacons can be used to pinpoint a physical location, you can track conversion from online advertising to in store visits.

For example, if someone searches for a winter coat locally and visits a Google advertisement for your store but then clicks off before purchasing it wouldn’t have been classed as a conversion. However, with Google Beacon, the device can be tracked into the store as a physical visit.

For the customer, Beacons enable promotions to be broadcasted to receptive devices in the Beacon range to encourage in-store visits. You can read more about the features and benefits of Google Beacon here.

What does this technology mean for privacy?

The concerns around Beacon privacy and security is not just relevant to Google, but other distributors as well, including Apple. Although many may consider these threats minimal, they are still concerns according to Kontakt.io.

Hijacking

As default, most Beacons do not encrypt the data that’s transferred to them from connected devices. Kontakt.io explains a hacker could change the connected Beacon password and change it so that they have full control of the device, putting the entire IoT infrastructure at risk.

Physical tampering

Unsurprisingly, as a Beacon is a physical box, it is also subject to physical attacks. Although this is extreme and unlikely, someone could physically remove the device, take it apart to access its information.

Cloning and Piggybacking

One of the largest threats is from cloning, where an attacker listens to the device and captures Beacon data, copying the information to an external application without consent. After capturing the data, the hacker may clone it, copying the configuration and contents to another Beacon in order to mislead customers. Using a duplicate Beacon opens up an array of possibilities for the hacker, including triggering in-app payments.

As the latest drive continues and technology gets smarter, so do the hackers and the future of project Beacon is still undecided.

Infographic: A history of Ransomware

Have you ever wondered where Ransomware came from? Our latest Infographic reveals this and so much more.

What was the first recorded example of Ransomware and how was it administered?  When did it officially become ‘Ransomware as a Service?’

How was this technology spread before the Internet? These are just a few of the questions commonly asked around the latest business threat.

We’ve created this infographic to answer these common queries, but if there’s anything else you’d like to know feel free to contact the team using the contact form below.

 

a brief history of ransomware

Top challenges for software developers

As a SaaS hero, we’re sure you’ve encountered and defeated your fair share of challenges when it comes to developing and hosting your application online.

Over the last few years online software hosting has grown from strength to strength and is now undoubtedly the fastest growing element under the cloud computing umbrella. This staggering growth is due to both a change in customer demands and the efficiency of new technology.

The benefits

SaaS superheroSome of the more popular benefits from Software as a Service driving the change include; lower cost of entry for both end users and developers, pay as you grow hosting, lower cost of ownership and higher end user adoption rates.

Although SaaS is one of the fastest growing technologies, there are still a few common issues that software developers face when exploring deployment, but in the end, the benefits far outweigh the complications.

I’ve compiled this blog together to hopefully help and prepare you to make your transition to the cloud as smooth as possible.

Choosing the right partner

For the majority of businesses, partnering with a cloud hosting provider is a no brainer in terms of the cost and service benefits received, but with seemingly hundreds of providers shouting ‘pick me’, ‘pick me’, how do you narrow down your search for one that suits you?

Information is power and research is its sidekick, the only true way of knowing if a cloud provider is a natural fit for your business is to investigate them. It sounds simple but it’s actually surprising how many companies simply go for the cheapest provider, but unfortunately the well-known saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is also true with the cloud.

What reputation does the provider have? Have you looked at their terms and conditions? Are they UK based or international? What are their support levels? Are they available 2/4×7? How do they protect your data?

All these questions are just the tip of the iceberg and a reputable provider will be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss your business requirements.

Customer expectations

Customers, service providers and employers can often be a victim of crossed wires in regards to expectations. It’s important that all parties know what their role is in the transition and how it will be managed. If your existing customers are migrating over to the cloud, they need to be fully briefed on any changes that will be made and what it means for them in both the short term and the long term. This is something that personally, as a service provider, we help with, but you may have to explore this with other vendors.

Handing over the reigns

So you’re all ready to migrate, everything is planned and scheduled but you have to release control of the hosting to your new provider. Even if you’ve selected the best provider in the world to host your software, there is always going to be a bit of reluctance to the change! Taking a leap of faith will pay off in the end, as SaaS is only anticipated to grow, it would be crazy not to try it and the right vendor will be able to mitigate all of your concerns.

Want to SaaS?

If you’re interested in exploring software as a service with virtualDCS, we’re more than happy to offer you a free proof of concept and for you to try the solution for free, with free business advice and no setup costs.

If you’d like any more information about software as a service or how to migrate your systems to the cloud, feel free to contact the team using the form below or call us on 03453 888 327.

 

Yorkshire risks pouring £4.4 million profit down the drain

Another widespread Ransomware crisis such as WannaCry would cost the region millions, as staggering survey results show that Yorkshire is unprepared for a widespread ransomware attack.

The recent attack on the NHS was devastating to all involved, but it is only one of thousands of viruses that can hold and destroy business information at will.

virtualDCS - disaster recoveryThe outbreak brought a significant amount of attention to the threat of cyber-criminals but businesses still need to be aware of other risks to their data, such as natural events and IT incidents as recently witnessed at British Airways.

In both of these cases, a comprehensive Business Continuity plan could have had the organisations productive again within minutes.

Coincidentally these events happened around the time that virtualDCS decided to repeat its investigation into Yorkshire Disaster Recovery preparedness. Participants were asked to complete a survey and number of questions based around their existing strategies.

Currently, in Yorkshire, there are 200 medium sized businesses actively working and contributing to an impressive regional turnover of £27bn. From emails to invoices and images, these businesses need their data to function successfully, however, virtualDCS discovered that around 144 of these businesses are currently at risk due to a lack of Disaster Recovery preparedness.

Out of all the participants surveyed, only 41% of businesses were confident that they had a Disaster Recovery plan in place. What’s even more concerning is that nearly half of those surveyed had already lost or potentially lost important information over the last two years and have chosen to leave themselves unprotected.

virtualDCS - disaster recoveryCurrently, almost three-quarters of businesses within the region are happy to lose over 24 hours’ worth of business data at any time which, given a widespread disaster, would cost the region at least £4.4 million profit.

If participants were struck by flooding, a virus or hardware failure they may be unable to operate – putting both the business and employees at risk.

This frightening statistic doesn’t only apply to SMEs within the region, as 28% of those surveyed had a business turnover of over £10 million, with 44% having 51+ employees.

Despite these concerning statistics, there has been a positive change within the region overall, with the number of businesses that continually protect their data has increasing by 8%.

Businesses were also generally more confident in their overall continuity plans than the previous year, with a 2% increase in businesses with an active recovery plan in place.

The results also uncovered that:

  • If an IT incident was to occur, 28% of companies don’t know if they’d be able to restore their information.
  • Only 29% of businesses continuously protected their data.
  • 13% of businesses knew they wouldn’t be able to recover all of their data after an incident. Last year this figure was 15%.

We’ve created an infographic to break down the results and compared them to last year’s findings.

VIEW FULL INFOGRAPHIC HERE

For more information contact virtualDCS on 03453 888 327 or email enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk

Wannacry and the importance of patching

A blog by Ross Devine, head of technical support.

I’m sure that you’ll all of heard about the outbreak of the ransomware WannaCry which was widely reported in the UK media due to the devastating effect it had on parts of the NHS.

wannacryThis Ransomware was propagated via a vulnerability that was patched out by Microsoft back in March.

We completely understand that patching has typically been regarded as a bothersome task that people would rather put off until tomorrow.

Hindsight, however, is all good but had the organisations and bodies kept up to date with their server and client patching they would not have suffered at the hands of the criminals that released this Ransomware into the wild.

This outbreak has shown us all that patching, no matter how mundane, should be placed at the core of our security plans rather than at the periphery. We advise all of our customers and businesses, in general, moving forward, to review their update schedules.

For all our customers that take Proactive Support, this is a task that we will be happy to assist with where required.

What this has done is thrust the importance of server patching for any organisation, or end user’s IT systems into the public consciousness, no doubt the next time you have an outage your MD or end user will be asking if the servers have been patched, what will your answer be?

 

For information on security and managed hosting services contact virtualDCS on 03453 888 327 or by emailing enquiries@virtualDCS.co.uk