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Cyber-Insurance

Protect your business from the consequences of cyber-attacks

Protect your business from the consequences of cyber-attacks

Cyber-attacks into companies’ IT databases, email phishing scams and website hacks with accompanying ransomware demands are regularly in the news these days.

They can cause untold disruption to the individuals whose personal data is stolen, especially if that data includes bank details and money is taken by the hackers.

But what about the costs to business in lost working hours as well as repairing their IT systems to ensure there are more secure?

A fairly new form of insurance is now available that can help to protect businesses from the consequences. It’s called Cyber Liability Insurance Cover (CLIC for short).

With the introduction of stricter data protection rules (GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations) due in May this year this cover is something businesses would be wise to consider.

Among the cover they may provide for are:

  • Data breach and privacy crisis management: Examples include expenses related to the management of an incident, the investigation, the remedial action that needs to be taken, data subject notification, call management, credit checking for data subjects, legal costs and regulatory fines.
  • Multimedia/Media liability cover. Third-party damages such as specific defacement of your website and theft of intellectual property.
  • Extortion liability cover – in the event of a ransomware demand.
  • Network security liability. Third-party damages as a result of denial of access, costs related to data stored with third-party suppliers and costs related to the theft of data from third-party systems.

You will need to find a well-informed specialist broker to advise you as this is still a fairly new form of policy in the insurance market.

Given that all businesses are different, you may only need certain types of cover and it would help to give your broker estimated costs and expenses that are likely to affect your business in the event of a security breach.

Also, it is always wise to check for yourself the small print, exemptions and the details of exactly what cover the policy provides.

In the new age where businesses rely so heavily on their IT systems CLIC is certainly something for businesses to consider.

Nintendo-Switch

Nintendo Switch sales soar

Nintendo Switch sales soar

In just 10 months since it was launched, sales of the Nintendo Switch have outsold the Wii U.

Total Switch sales have reached 14.86 million, more than the total of 13.56 million Wii U units sold between 2012 and 2017, when it was discontinued.

Tech gaming experts speculate that ultra-high definition gaming such as the new Xbox and PlayStation versions have had little effect on Switch sales and argue that it is because Nintendo has concentrated on really entertaining new versions of much-loved games.

Others argue that, although hardly an impulse buy, Nintendo priced the Switch cleverly to be more affordable than the Xbox and PlayStations, as well as managing supply to stimulate appetite without building potential buyers’ frustration with long waiting times.

In addition, the Switch is a hybrid of a handheld and home console and it is easy to switch use between the two options so that it has little competition.

But could it also be down to nostalgia?

Two Switch games, Super Mario Odyssey and Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, have been widely praised and both have won awards.

Certainly, nostalgia plays a part, but according to the website polygon.com a big selling point for the Switch is that it is something that parents feel safe in buying for their children: “Nintendo doesn’t just make games that are universally enjoyable, but it also builds in easier modes so that kids and parents can play together and have fun”.

New games planned for 2018

Here’s a selection of more than a dozen already announced: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition – due in spring 2018, The World Ends With You – Final Remix – no date yet,  Dark Souls Remastered – due in May 2018, and later in the year a new Yoshi game, which is still a work in progress.

Website-Design

New Year New Website?

New Year new website?

December and January are traditionally the time of year when business owners review performance over the previous year.

The next step is developing business and marketing plans for the coming year.

Perhaps the plan is to grow the business with its existing services or products.  Perhaps opportunities have been identified to add to the range of what the business can offer.

Whatever the goals the business has set, for them to be successful will mean a fresh look at their marketing.

These days, there is hardly a business that can exist without a website, even if it is the most simple and basic.

Research has shown that potential customers will almost certainly head to the website first if someone has recommended a company for a product or service they are seeking.

So as part of the marketing plan, which can cover every aspect of online communication, from social media to e-newsletters to websites, it is worth considering whether it is time to refresh or redesign your website.

This will be especially important for those businesses who offer services that do not change significantly and frequently as it can be a challenge to keep them at the top of online searches when search engines like Google place a high priority on regular additions to a site when assessing them.

It is also true that designs start to look tired after a few years and can benefit from updating their look, while also making them easier to use.

If you feel it’s time to refresh your website please contact Ross IT, for advice, a quote and to talk through your options.

Christmas-Greetings

Christmas Greetings

We wish you all

A very happy Christmas

and a

Prosperous New Year

The end of the year is often the time when business owners can sit back, reflect on their past year and plan ahead for the next year.

If you are considering starting the new year with some changes or additions to your website, or even having a new one built we’re happy to help and advise.

Give us a call or email if you want some guidance and help:

Contact us here

protect-yourself-online

FREE service to protect yourself online

Will consumers use a new free service to protect themselves from dodgy websites?

A new, free service has been launched by IBM and two other industry bodies, the Packet Clearing House and the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), with the aim of helping consumers and businesses to avoid websites that are known to be malicious.

Quad 9 uses 19 lists of web-based sites to identify those known to be used by phishing gangs.  It works by getting users to re-set their routers’ DNS settings to 9.9.9.9.  This blocks people from visiting known bad sites and helps users to avoid falling victim to phishing scams using websites that appear to be reputable financial organisations.

“Anyone anywhere can use it,” said Phil Rettinger, GCA’s president and chief operating officer.

The service, he says, will be “privacy sensitive,” with no logging of the addresses making DNS requests—”we will keep only [rough] geolocation data,” he said, for the purposes of tracking the spread of requests associated with particular malicious domains. “We’re anonymizing the data, sacrificing on the side of privacy.”

There is more information about the service here https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/11/new-quad9-dns-service-blocks-malicious-domains-for-everyone/

Security experts are doubtful whether users will take advantage of the service.

According to an article on Quad 9 by the BBC: “Independent security expert Graham Cluley said relatively few people fiddled with the settings on their routers to change the way they found web addresses.

Getting across the benefits of switching would be a ” big challenge”, he said, given how reluctant people were to adopt other useful security technologies.

He pointed to the difficulties there had been in getting people to use password managers or VPN (Virtual Private Networks).

But as the numbers of people who have had money stolen through phishing scams continues to climb, perhaps it is time to take security a lot more seriously.

SNES-Classic-Mini

SNES Mini

“a charming little relic of a distant time”

These are the words of one reviewer of the latest games console released by Nintendo, the Classic Mini SNES, at the end of September.

Retro-gaming has become a popular activity as first-generation gamers, now adults and parents, want to share the delights of the characters and games on consoles they remember so fondly to their children. Not only this, but it brings game playing back into the living room and something to be shared with friends or family.

But the newest addition from the company, whose fortunes have been revived by the Nintendo Switch, is in short supply.

Although the company has promised to manufacture more and to block multiple pre-orders in an effort to prevent the supply problems that saw last year’s NES Classic selling on sites like eBay for considerably more than their actual store retail site, so far these measures seem not to have worked.

Bearing in mind that Christmas is on the horizon that may mean queuing in the early hours at an actual retail store when the next shipment is due in, unless you want to buy one online at almost double the actual retail price.

Another drawback is that the console does not include a plug, which you will have to buy separately.

It will, however, be worth it, according to reviewers.

The mini is a faithful small-scale reproduction of the original console and controls, although it now plugs into modern TVs through an HDMI cable and has additional suspend and rewind features so that you can stop playing and return later. While you cannot download or expand the games available the Classic Mini SNES comes with 21 traditional games that so delighted past generations, including Final Fantasy VI and Super Mario World, Super Mario, Castlevania IV, Super Metroid, Zelda and Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts.

The Guardian’s Keith Stuart says: “The greatest thing about the Mini SNES is that it will allow the original purchasers to quickly and easily share these memories with their children, their siblings or their old friends once again.”

Super-Mario-Odyssey-Update

Super Mario and Nintendo Switch

Super Mario and Switch update

It’s official!  Nintendo has announced that Super Mario is not as we have all believed a plumber!

As revealed in the Independent recently the cuddly Italian’s profile has been updated and he is now “all-round sporty”.

For those of you hooked on the loveable retro-game character, who have now embraced the Nintendo Switch, there is still a while to wait for the latest adventure Super Mario Odyssey featuring the loveable former plumber and his new friend Cappy.

It’s not due for release until October 27 when Mario gets some new moves that will include being able to throw Cappy.

Super Mario and CappyIn the meantime, perhaps the latest adventure, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, will keep you going.

According to a review, again in the Independent,  it is not as awful as people might fear.

The storyline sees the Mushroom Kingdom overrun as a result of a freak scientific experiment, which has merged two worlds together.  The Kingdom has been taken over by the evil Rabbids and only Mario, together with two partners, can rescue it.

It is basically a combat game, where players travel through stages to defeat Rabbids armed with everything from guns to huge concrete slabs.

But it takes co-operative strategies and planning to combat the different enemy battle styles so it is clearly a multi-player game if you fancy a session with friends.

According to the review there’s also a good deal of humour for when the pace slackens.

Dominating web space

Big companies dominating web space

The “Big Three” dominating web space

Think of website searching and what name springs to mind? – Google

What about social media? – Facebook

Online selling? – Amazon

Despite the best efforts of IT innovators, these three effectively now dominate their niches, far outstripping the likes of Bing, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp. In fact, Facebook now owns both Instagram and WhatsApp.

There is also speculation among tech experts that Google may be preparing to buy Snap, the company behind Snapchat.

According to BBC Tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, the dominance of the big three means that while LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat will have substantial audiences they will struggle to make much money.

What does this mean for businesses and marketing?

Leaving aside LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft and is a specialist niche for businesses and organisations for both conversational groups and for recruitment, business marketing will need more than ever to have a presence on both Facebook and Google.

This means paying attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) so that the business’ website is easy to find when its service or product is being searched for.

It means regularly updating website content, something Google particularly now monitors and for those businesses selling services that may not change dramatically or often, unlike products, one of the best ways to do this is to add regular blogs on topics of interest to potential clients and customers.

It means that businesses should understand who their target customers are, what motivates and interests them, and cater to their requirements.

It also means defining clear goals for any marketing on social media, which is often about creating an identity so that potential clients and customers remember the company’s name and see it as having a solid reputation for the quality of its customer service and reliability.

It also means developing a trustworthy reputation, so that there are secure means of making payment online, if appropriate, and a very clearly-stated policy of conforming to the new rules due to come into force on 25 May 2018 (GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations) on protecting people’s personal information.

Nintendo-Switch

Nintendo Switch – a happy marriage of innovation with nostalgia?

Many of Nintendo’s original fans are now adults who still have a sneaking affection for the Nintendo games and their characters.

Perhaps this has been a factor in the successful March launch of the company’s newest games console – the Switch, which sold three million units in its first month.

But the success must also be due to its innovative three-way features, which allows the console to be as a handheld device or as a table top gadget when travelling, or when at home as a console via the TV.

Reviewers have been generally positive about this versatility and the ease of being able to “switch” mid-game from one mode to another mid-game.

But it may be that the nostalgia element will guarantee Switch’s longer-term popularity as those same now-adult fans introduce their children to the joys of Super Mario and Zelda.

The Switch version of Zelda, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is “one of the best games ever created”, according to one review by the BBC

A new and already popular game, Arms, is out this month. It’s a fighting game with ten cartoon characters to choose from. Their weapons are their arms, which are stretchy and each with their own special characteristics. According to reviews who have tried it managing the creatures requires a good deal of skill with the controls:

“Nintendo’s nifty controllers offer enough precision that a twist of either wrist arcs your virtual blows left or right, useful for trying to land punches on moving enemies.” (Wired)

“Arms is unique, colourful, and accessible, with enough complexity to tempt a competitive scene but not so much to make anyone feel alienated.” (Guardian Tech)

Who doesn’t love Super Mario?

The next game to be released will be Super Mario Odyssey in October this year. According to the BBC review, players will be able to roam around and do tasks on their own, follow the main story, or divert into other missions.

Not only that, but Mario has a new hat, called Cappy, and players can use the Switch dual-motion controllers to throw the cap in any direction either to defeat enemies or to interact with other objects.

All Nintendo games are produced in house and consoles do not accept games designed outside, but it looks like there are enough innovative developments in their well-known games to keep the next generation – and their parents – happy.

4G Coverage

Another survey from Which? This time 4G coverage

As more and more people access the internet and their emails via their mobile phones, coverage and download speeds can be of crucial importance to businesses if they want to be competitive.

It is particularly important for businesses in the service sector, such as restaurants and other venues, that often rely on a percentage of their “impulse buy” custom from people either visiting an area or out and about.

Some timely new research has investigated 4G coverage in the UK and found that varies significantly in different parts of the country and that its overall availability at 65% puts it in 54th place globally, behind Estonia and Peru.

The research, carried out by the consumer group Which? and analyst OpenSignal measured data from mobile phones across 20 cities in the UK.

The top five for 4G availability were Middlesbrough with 82.7% availability, Sheffield (79.3%), Sunderland (79%), Leicester (78.6%) and Leeds (78.2%).

The bottom five were Bournemouth, Southampton/Portsmouth, Cardiff, Nottingham and London.

The study, which analysed more than 500m data readings from mobile phones taken from more than 30,000 users between December 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017 via an app, also looked at download speeds with Stoke-in Trent the fastest and Brighton the slowest.

According to Ofcom, the communications technology watchdog, its rules mean that “virtually all UK premises must receive a 4G signal by the end of this year.”

It remains to be seen whether this will happen.

You can find out about 2G, 3G and 4G coverage in your area with this Which? map here.