telanova Blog

telanova: the outsourced IT team that feels like your own

Providing advice, consultancy, helpdesk, monitoring and maintenance, updates, upgrades, security: all the things your in-house team would do, but better and at a fraction of the cost and hassle.

How your phone is leaking data in the physical world.

If you own a modern (post 2012) phone, then you may have had a pop up at some time on your phone when in a shop or cultural or leisure centre. It may be that you found the pop up on your phone useful, you clicked it and it led to an webpage of the place you were in and gave a coupon or information for the location.

What you may not have known is that same technology can also being used to track your movements. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) works by transmitting data to your phone over a very small distance (generally less than 7m). This is very useful in museums for instance, to tell you which room you are in and provide you with a map and information. In doing so your phone tells the beacon your MAC address (one of your phone’s unique identifiers).

Your mac address can thus be tracked as you move around the area covered with the transmitters, not all beacons will cause a popup, but it will receive your MAC address regardless to allow the tracking.

What’s the impact for the business? Tracking how people move around and where they stop allows for better product placement and keeping the flow moving. What’s the impact for you ? Tracking anonymous MAC addresses could mean that you do or don’t get offers depending on how often you are in the building. Imaging a regular shopper getting no offers, but a new shopper (new phone) being given the option of a voucher to help them become a customer.

Will you be keeping your Bluetooth on next time you enter a location, or turning it off to go stealth mode ?

#telanovaReporter

The IT Productivity Paradox and how to fight it.

 

"You see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics" - Robert Solow


It doesn't make sense, does it? The fact that even though we live in the most advanced technological breakthrough in the history of mankind, we should see an exponential curve in productivity; but we don't. It has even been argued to be in decline. With the birth of global communication and easily accessed off-the-shelf technology and software that is designed to maximise efficiency, it's hard to believe that this is the case.

But it is. Matt Richel, for the New York Times, writes, “statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused."

He goes on to explain that the big Silicon Valley firms have a monster of their own creation wrecking havoc in the productivity statistics, with employees checking emails up to 77 times a day, with mundane tasks taking up large amounts of time e.g. group emails and attachments. According to Basex, the United States alone loses up to $650bn a year due to unnecessary tasks and delays that could potentially be remedied by more efficient IT systems being implemented.

So what on earth is going on?

The answer is actually remarkably simple and is known as The Productivity Paradox, which has taken countless victims over the years. It is the unusual observation that despite further investment in IT technology to improve productivity, worker efficiency has hardly budged. This is not an anomaly however; the same technology 'paradox' has been seen before in the early 20th century.



Put yourself back to 1881. You work in a dark, humid and hot factory powered by a steam engine. The sound of mechanical machinery is deafening. Labour turnover is at an all time high due to dangerous working conditions and disease. Then, out of nowhere, Thomas Edison arrives to save the day with his brand new electrical motor! You would of thought businesses would of jumped straight onto it, no?

Wrong.

By 1900, less than 5% of factories used electrical power and instead opted for the traditional method. It took until the 1920s, over 40 years, for 50% of factories to use electrical technology. From this, we can see that despite new and exciting technology that could revolutionise the way we think and work, we still hesitate to use it - and for quite some time.

Why? Because change is difficult and stagnation is easy.

We as humans are hardwired to resist and fight change. And so, with such a radical change needed to push through required electrical motor legislation (or in this case, computer technology) and despite us knowing the immediate and long term benefits of adopting a 'new way' to do things, it's still uncomfortable for us because it will completely upend the way we think - which is understandable to an extent.

But in truth, we all need to get over ourselves and take the initiative. We live in a world of easily accessed software that is a click away. Think of it this way - you have a document you need to distribute and get multiple colleagues to append. Would your business send it on Google Documents, with live editing powered by the cloud and automatic saving? Or would your business use the same method that has been around since the 1990's, requiring all users to send you a separate document and for you to compile it all together manually? 

Now ask yourself - which of these solutions is the steam engine and which is the electrical motor?

If your business is using the steam engine, telanova is at hand to help you join the IT Revolution. 

Stealthy Trojans need the 'door bouncer' treatment on your network.

No, this isn't a blog post on Brad Pitt. 

I'm hopeful you've heard of the mythical story of the Trojan Horse? Where, in 1194 BC, the Trojans built a gigantic wooden horse that was disguised as a gift and left it outside the City of Troy's gates. The people of Troy celebrated the peace offering and took the horse inside its impregnable walls. Little did they know, the horse was full of Trojan's best warriors - and at night, they jumped out; opening the gates to the Trojan army where they plundered and razed the city.

The same ruse is now being used to enter our networks and steal our sensitive data. All it takes is a user to open or download a link sent from a malicious email that is disguised as secure and safe. A study in 2011 showed that a 69.9% of all malware attacks are Trojans.

Once downloaded or opened, the malware infects your network or local computer. Attackers can then steal data such as credit cards, financial information, email accounts, passwords and emails, and even send thousands of emails to clients from your own email with the same link or file, creating a snowball effect that is hard to stop. Whatever is saved or used on your network is at risk.

It's a network's Achilles heel.

Thankfully, whilst Trojans are getting sneakier and craftier as technology gets more complex and advanced, so do the deterrents and prevention we can put in place. These prevention's act the same way as a bouncer at a club; checking ID's and making sure no unwanted visitors get in.

That's what Telanova is; a bouncer. We monitor remotely and seamlessly in the background, allowing you to get on with the important work at hand without having to worry and lose sleep over network security issues. Contact us to find out how we can protect your network's city walls from attacks.

Would you trust a HTTPs verified site?

Oh, you think you're so safe with your little green padlocks, huh?

Think again. PhishLabs have recently published research where they have found a staggering 24% of phishing sites use HTTPS, an otherwise well known protocol that used to establish trust and privacy of using a site.

Over the years, we have seen a massive push towards encryption of everyday services. Browsers now display a warning for sites that aren't encrypted and half the web now uses standard encryption for their websites. So why fight the competition when you can just join them?

How many times have you visited a website and trusted inputting your sensitive financial data just because your browser says its safe? It's time for that behaviour to change!

How to stay safe online

Create complex passwords. Yes, I know, you've heard it all before. But the reason you've heard this before because it is the forefront of security, and arguably the most important part. Having a strong password (e.g. complex, numbers, capitals, special characters) can save you from a world of trouble.

Be overly cautious. If its too good to be true, it probably is. Don't enter or give any information to anyone unless you can authenticate who they are. And, for whatever reason, don't click random links on the internet.

Look into active web protection. In a day and age of increasing number of cyber attacks, we also fortunately have an increasing number of methods to protect ourselves. Look into installing some form of active web protection that blocks possible malicious websites e.g. McAfee

 

Your teams are being targeted

Sharks circling targeting users

Like spearing fish in a barrel.

The sharks are circling.

Advances in technology have seen great benefits to humankind as a whole. Each step forward for mankind, sees an additional step forward for the criminal underground.

Machine learning is becoming more wide spread. If your company uses Adwords, you may well be using their own machine learning on which of your adverts performs better based on the demographic and information of the person they display the advert to.

In the past many of us will have received an email purporting to be from a bank or parcel carrier that we’ve never used. You may well have become accustomed to saying to yourself, but I don’t have a Western Union account etc.

What now if the machine learning was reading your public social media, of you and your friends and tailoring the email or social post to match what you wanted to see. Imagine if you suddenly saw a post on your social feed that said
yourname
I know you went to insert place last year and I wondered if you’d seen these photos of the place insert sample image ,
catch up soon
insert a name of a friend

  • How closely would you look at the poster's signature
  • Would you click and check out the photos ?
  • What if it said update your Adobe Reader / Gallery Pack software when you did ?
  • Did it all seem legit ?
  • What if on the gallery page you visit theirs more social engineering, such as donate to just giving page ?
  • What would your employees and friends do ?

In research published this month shows that by using machine learning to facilitate socially engineered phishing campaigns they are achieving a 5-14% better rate of return.

  • How does a 5-14% higher chance of breach fare with your company?
  • When and how did you last assess your risk of attack?
  • What action have you taken to reduce that risk ?
  • Are you ready for the onslaught ?
  • What actions have you already taken to upskill your employees?
  • What packages are there that can assist you ?
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