Reflecting on a good year

10 year anniversary - Building a successful businessAs we look back over the last 12 months, there is a lot for our company to be proud of

2016 was a year that started with much optimism. We were founded in 2006 so 2016 is our tenth year of trading. We survived the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and have come out the other end thriving, nearly doubling our turnover in 2015 alone.

This year we exhibited at a number of business shows, including the British Legal Technology forum and Legalex. Reception at these shows has been positive, even if the cloud is still met with scepticism by lawyers.

We acquired two new members of staff. Tom and Paul are settling into our support team well and have already resolved more than 1000 support tickets between them. Our support team has also been bolstered by Mat, who finished his apprenticeship this year and is now a qualified support technician. The new office unit we acquired last year is already filling up and we expect to continue to grow in 2017.

After a new software release by Citrix in late 2015, we developed our 3D Design Desktop. Built for architects and designers, who have been a major part of our customer base for a number of years, 3D Design Desktop augments a hosted desktop with virtualised high-performance graphics cards, allowing 3D CAD rendering to be performed anywhere, at any time, on almost any device. This level of work freedom was simply not possible before and our customers have no shortage of positive comments about the product. 3D Design Desktop has also led us to finalist nominations in three business awards – one of which is hosted by the British Computer Society.

After the Brexit vote, much has been said about the future of the UK economy. Some positive, some not. Fortunately, we are well positioned to deal with fluctuations in the currency market and uncertainty in the economy. To echo the words of Sally Taylor MBE speaking at the Solent Business Awards “business is alive and well in the Solent region” – the area in which we are based. This is certainly our experience as we have travelled across the country this year for shows, expos, networking and awards – business is still thriving across the country. Whatever happens in the next few months and years, I am confident we will withstand anything that is thrown at us.

On the non-business front, our team claimed victory in two Go-Karting championships against other technology companies in the South, and a golf tournament against other businesses in our region. Our staff proudly display their trophies on their desks and these events have certainly improved team cohesion!

As we look back over this year, our 10th year, there is a lot for us to be proud of. A successful business is only as strong its people and our team has worked immensely hard this year, despite increasing workloads, to ensure that we continue to provide a secure, resilient and useful cloud service to our customers. As we continue into 2017 that optimism is still there, but the bar has been raised. An exciting year awaits.

Does technological progress really benefit us?

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I recently spent some time in a Tesla Model X at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The salesman on the stand at the show excitedly walked me through some of the technology on the vehicle and told me about the car’s ability to drive and park itself. I came away from that stand with newfound respect for Tesla cars – the technology on display really is a snapshot of the future of motoring. A car that is able to drive you down the motorway at 70mph in heavy traffic without any input from the driver is likely to dramatically cut the number of road deaths each year. After all, a study by Stanford University found that 90% of road traffic accidents are caused, at least in part, by human error. With Google, Uber and others working on driverless car technology, we can fairly safely assume that driverless cars will become the norm in a few years’ time.

Motoring

However, not everyone is happy about this new driverless car technology. Those who rely on driving to make a living look set to see their job opportunities dry up in the future. Taxi and lorry drivers are particularly worried about the new developments. “What of the millions more whose livelihoods depend on the truckers coming up and down the country, stopping for food, drinks and sleep? “It’s going to be a huge problem,” says Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union. There are around 3.5 million truckers in the United States alone – which means 3.5 million people are at risk of losing their jobs in the future and will almost certainly need to change their career entirely.

The motoring industry is not the only victim of technological progress.

Communication

Many of us use social applications such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to communicate. Every day, 30 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp alone. In response to pressure from consumers, WhatsApp added end-to-end encryption for messaging on their service, meaning that only the sender and the receiver of messages can know what they say. They cannot be intercepted by hackers. This is a major victory for privacy, but a catastrophic problem for law enforcement. Encrypted messages give criminals and terrorists a way to communicate and co-ordinate without any danger of being caught by law-enforcement. Whether encryption will result in more terror attacks and more crime remains to be seen, but it is a concern.

Mental Health

Furthermore, there are a number of studies which suggest that the rise of social media has also led to a rise in mental health problems, particularly among teenagers. Rates of depression and anxiety in teenagers have risen by 75% in the last 25 years. People who post to social media naturally cherry pick the best bits of their lives to show to the world. This gives people a warped perception of how beautiful a person is and how good their lives are. Airbrushed magazine covers and exciting Instagram profiles lead some people to feel they cannot compete and gives them a sense of worthlessness.

Mental health has become such a problem that the UK government pledged a record £11.7bn to mental health services in the NHS, but many feel that this is not even close to what is required to tackle the problem.

But is it all bad news?

Not at all. Going back to driverless cars, since 2012, the self-driving cars tested by Google, Delphi and Audi have logged more than a million miles on public roads, and have been involved in 11 accidents. That’s one accident every 91,000 miles – hardly a regular occurrence. As the technology improves, the number of accidents will be cut further. It is not unreasonable to expect that driverless cars will stop all accidents at some point. Given that nearly 1.3 million people die on the roads across the world annually, driverless technology is ultimately hugely beneficial.

The progression of cloud technology has allowed people to transfer information amongst each other securely and instantly. Scientists can collaborate on research in real-time, colleagues can communicate with each other across the world instantly and students can find out about that important subject for their essays without trundling through stacks of books.

Technological progress helps us to live longer, communicate better and provides us with more spare time to do the things we love, rather than tedious tasks.

The benefits of technology mean that there isn’t really a good reason to put the brakes on technological growth.

How can we make technology work for all of us?

Not all of us will benefit from technological advancement. Improvements to transportation in the 20th century killed off industrial jobs in the west, as globalisation led to cheaper, foreign industry out-competing the more expensive western industry products such as coal and steel. These communities still haven’t recovered as former miners and steel workers have been unable to find new work.

Technology works best when it augments the skills of a worker, not removes the need for one. Technology that empowers people to be more efficient benefits the workers, the employers and society. Focus on improving efficiency rather than removing labour means that wealth is spread out among society and not just concentrated at the top – removing the need for human workers depresses wages while those in power grow their wealth exponentially.

Cloud technology is a great example of this. With its focus on improving communication between workers, advancing information flows and providing the freedom to work anywhere – the cloud seeks to augment workers rather than replace them.

There is a certain inevitability that technological progress will replace workers in some sectors. For those unfortunate ones, it is important that investment in re-education occurs in order to return these workers to the labour market. That way we can avoid the depression of whole communities across the west and can make technological progress work for all of us.

The New Forest is a great place to do business – Our thoughts after the NFBP Business Awards

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On the evening of November 30th, some of the brightest and best businesses and business people congregated together at the Carey’s Manor hotel in Brockenhurst for the NFBP Brilliance in Business Awards. In its 11th year, the awards commemorate the success of businesses in the New Forest national park.

We at entrustIT have been operating out of the New Forest for all of our 10 years of trading. Our offices in Ringwood serve as a base for our operations which spread out across the country, and the continent. In ten years we have progressed from operating out of a house in Brockenhurst with only a handful of local customers, to providing services across the UK and Europe and in the USA via our office in Boston, with thousands of users accessing our servers daily and customers including Bath Store and the BBC – and all of this success has occurred in the New Forest.

As a result, we feel, as a company, a certain fondness for the area. It is our area or operations, it is our scenery on our commute and for many of our staff, it is our home. It was only natural, then, that we felt honoured to be selected as finalists for the ExxonMobil award for innovation and entrepreneurship at the New Forest Business Awards.

The evening itself was very professionally organised and although we weren’t winners on the night, we are still proud to be ambassadors of the New Forest. The evening did bring one fact into focus for us though:

The New Forest is a great place to do business.

Looking around on the night, there were plenty of exciting and varied businesses and business people. From solar-powered cameras, to haircare products and even a ‘chocolate messaging’ company – there was something for everyone at the awards.

A talk by Di Roberts from Brockenhurst College highlighted the great work the college is doing providing all these local businesses with the next generation of talent. With thousands of students and adult learners, there will certainly be plenty of skilled workers to propel the local economy forward in the years to come.

The New Forest has around 8,000 businesses within it. This is more than in Southampton or Portsmouth. It is clear to see that this is a great place to do business and so many businesses do thrive here. Furthermore, this is a great place to live and work.

We are extremely proud to be ambassadors for the New Forest. We have had a great ten years of business here and are looking forward to many more. With uncertain economic times ahead, it is clear to see that the New Forest is well positioned to continue with stable growth for many years.

entrustIT at the BCS UK IT Industry Awards 2016

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On 16th November 2016, IT professionals from across the country descended on Battersea Park for the UK IT Industry Awards, hosted by the British Computer Society. This was described by the editor of Computing Magazine as an event for the “brightest and best minds and businesses that the UK IT industry has to offer.”

The awards celebrated the work done by the IT industry in the last 12 months and kicked off in style with fireworks and a stand-up set performed by Josh Widdicombe, star of Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo.

We were up for the Cloud Innovation Provider of the Year award for our 3D Design Desktop. Unfortunately, we were not winners on the night but are still proud to be selected in the 10 name shortlist for this nationwide award, the most prestigious event in the IT calendar.

Commenting on the result, Jeff Dodd, Managing Director of entrustIT said: “This is one of the biggest events in the UK IT Industry and to be selected as a finalist is a fantastic achievement. 3D Design Desktop continues to be very exciting for us and these awards reiterate that. Our team has worked extremely hard this year and they can be very proud of the work they’ve done.”

Join in the conversation using the hashtag #UKITAWARDS

Dropbox hack highlights security risks

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In September Dropbox  emailed 68 million users to inform them that the next time they logged in to their accounts they would be prompted to change their passwords. The users in question were those who had not changed their passwords since mid-2012. When asked why Dropbox were  suddenly taking action against those users – Dropbox made their reasoning clear.

“We recently learned about an old set of Dropbox user credentials (email addresses and passwords) that we believe were obtained in 2012.”

This means that for four years, all 68 million users affected by that hack will have had their accounts open to unauthorised entry. Dropbox is often used to store sensitive information and personal photos. How catastrophic could that be in the wrong hands? Not only that, but one can assume that a username and password combination  unchanged for 4 years will have been used in other places too.

Dropbox started life as a consumer application. It is not designed with the same levels of security that a B2B  application would require. And yet, it is still used by many businesses  to store sensitive data.

For those using Dropbox, it is important that you update your password regularly  make sure that it is particularly difficult to guess – using capital letters, numbers and symbols in your passwords will help. However, for most business users, Dropbox simply isn’t secure enough to handle their company and client data securely.

That is where Citrix ShareFile comes in.

ShareFile is a secure, versatile cloud based storage application – designed for businesses. ShareFile is highly customisable so can be moulded to fit any business and offers good value for business, but most importantly it was  designed from the ground up with enterprise security requirements in mind.

An interesting option is Hosted ShareFile, which allows a third party vendor to provide and host the ShareFile application. Partnering with a good cloud vendor will mean you benefit from 24/7 support of your application, allowing you to get on with your job and let technical issues be resolved by people who understand IT.

Remember, data breaches do not only incur financial losses. They also incur reputation losses, which are more difficult to put a price on. Some firms simply cannot survive a major loss of reputation. It’s not worth the risk.

For more information on entrust SharePoint solutions, call 0330 002 0045

What could a Trump presidency mean for technology?

New York, NY USA - July 16, 2016: Donald Trump speaks during introduction Governor Mike Pence as running for vice president at Hilton hotel Midtown Manhattan

In one of the biggest underdog stories of the last decade, Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. The US election that felt as if it has dominated the headlines forever, is finally over and a new presidency will likely bring a change of direction for the most powerful country on Earth. This could have some profound implications on the technology industry across the world. In this article, I will be examining some of the claims and policies that Mr. Trump made regarding technology during his campaign and how those policies might affect the industry going forward.

Closing up the Internet

“ISIS is recruiting through the internet… we should be using our brilliant minds to figure out a way ISIS cannot use the internet. I would certainly be open to closing areas [of the internet] where we are at war with somebody.”

These are the words of Mr. Trump at a Republican primary debate in 2015. On the face of it, it seems as though this policy is quite good. Young minds across the west are poisoned by the radical extremist message of groups such as ISIS. However, locking down parts of the internet could prove to be problematic for businesses and consumers. This sort of filtering would bring the US in line with China, which blocks sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It is safe to say that such a policy would be extremely difficult to get through congress.

Encryption

Most of us will be familiar with the case of the FBI vs Apple. The FBI called on Apple to weaken the encryption on an iPhone recovered from a suspect in the San Bernardino case in order for them to extract useful information from it. Apple refused, citing that helping the FBI would weaken their security across the board and leave their customers open to hacks. The case was a particularly controversial one, and Donald Trump gave his opinion on the case:

“Boycott Apple until such a time as they give that information… I would come down so hard on [Tim Cook] his head would be spinning all the way back to Silicon Valley.”

The argument of encryption divides people. Some believe that their private data should not be allowed to be shared with their (or foreign) governments regardless of the security implications, whereas others feel that data should be shared with government to ensure that that terrorists and criminals don’t have a safe haven to communicate and coordinate.

By forcing companies with servers in the US to share that data with the FBI and the NSA, it could compromise data security. Personal data could be shared with government without your permission, which goes against the ethos of most technology companies. Removing encryption could also leave your communications and data open to be intercepted by hackers. Although some feel that is necessary to protect us from terrorism.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is the principle by which internet service providers (ISPs) treat all web traffic equally instead of creating so-called “fast and slow lanes”

Some argue that ISPs shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas as it encourages competition.

However, others argue that allowing ISPs to charge more for preferential treatment will result in faster internet and more innovation and that market demand should control priority of content on the internet.

Donald Trump has hinted that he may be against net neutrality in the past, tweeting: “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.” In 2014.

Whether abolishing net neutrality is a good or bad thing will depend largely on your point of view. It will, however, likely cause big internet companies to get bigger using their financial clout at the expense of smaller companies.

Global Warming and advances in ‘green’ technology

Technology has progressed to provide more green solutions. For example, Tesla have used technology to create electric cars that are actually desirable, and advances in Technology have led to more efficient ways of doing things, that result in fewer carbon emissions.

Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax and is quite vocal about that opinion. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in an effort to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

Trump has pledged to increase America’s fossil fuel output by ditching subsidies offered to renewable energy efforts. The hard work and effort that we have made to improve clean fuels and green technology will be halted. Climate change is real and is backed up by countless evidence. Ignoring the facts is counterproductive and damaging.

There is an element of uncertainty for the technology industry at the moment. Silicon Valley worries that if it is strangled by regulation and litigation then it will dwindle in power. The next four years will be crucial.

Microsoft announces price increases for 2017

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Microsoft have recently contacted all partners to notify them of a price change for UK users for on premise and cloud enterprise software.

Posting in their TechNet UK Blog, a Microsoft spokesperson writes: “Effective January 1, 2017… British Pound prices for on-premises enterprise software will increase by 13% [and]… enterprise cloud prices (Office 365 and Azure) in British Pounds will increase by 22%.” Customers with Office 365 contracts (usually 12 months) will see the price rise at renewal of their contract; Azure users will see the change for all services consumed after the 1st January 2017.

The price rise was put down to “harmonising prices for enterprise software and cloud services within the EU/EFTA region” due to the falling value of Sterling after the Brexit vote.  This is the second time in 5 years that Microsoft have applied double-digit changes to pricing as a result of exchange rate fluctuation.

Regarding the news, Jeff Dodd, Managing Director of entrustIT comments: “We recognise that cost predictability remains an important reason for cloud migration and our contract customers will not see any uplift to their charges despite the Microsoft change.  For potential customers, the message is clear : Sign on before January 1, 2017 to benefit from our current price structure because for new customers after the 1st January 2017 operating costs will rise”

Microsoft is not the only tech company to increase its prices after the Brexit vote. Apple have also increased prices by 22% due to the weakened value of the pound.

Are your apps a security risk?

communications concept: girl using a digital generated smart phone. All screen graphics are made up.

Do you own a work phone? Do you install apps onto it? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you’re not alone. Apps are such a vital part of our lives on our smartphones now that if you didn’t use apps on your work phone then chances are you can’t actually do your work.

But could those apps pose a security risk?

Jon Huberman, chief executive of file sharing company Syncplicity seems to think so. “If the enterprise doesn’t provide the users with the tools they expect to do the job, they’ll find the tools themselves” he says, “It’s a huge issue for the company – data leakage is a big problem.”

Perhaps you use Dropbox to store work files and have the app installed on your phone. If your device was stolen, how easy would it be for someone to get into your Dropbox account?

Maybe you have installed Instagram or Twitter on your phone. These two applications hoover up data such as email addresses, phone numbers and full names from your phonebook. Or perhaps you use WhatsApp, which now shares data with Facebook in order to send you targeted advertising.

There is also the risk of apps infested with malware. This is generally more of a risk on Android devices, as open source apps are easier to install on Android devices, via a process called sideloading. A recent study found as many as 10 million Android phones were infected with some form of Malware.

For many, the worst a phone hacker can do is get hold of your text messages or your selfie collection. But for some, the data stored on your phone could be extremely damaging if it fell into the wrong hands.

What practical steps can you take to protect yourself and your company?

Firstly, it is important that corporate IT managers have some sort of idea of the sort of apps you’re installing on work devices. Those IT managers must also make it clear to staff what data can and cannot be shared with third-party apps and should provide staff with the necessary tools they require to do their job, so that they aren’t tempted to look elsewhere (Microsoft SharePoint is a more secure alternative to Dropbox for example). Finally, educate your staff to identify risky behaviour and particularly how they avoid falling victim to phishing emails.

By putting these points into practice, you can avoid a damaging security breach in your workplace.

Popular websites disrupted in brutal cyber attack

 

Keywords in this article:

DDoS: Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks make online services unavailable by overwhelming their servers with traffic from multiple sources. DDoS attacks can target important resources such as banks, news websites and utilities.

DNS: Domain Name Servers (DNS) act as the internet’s phone book. They facilitate your request to go to a certain webpage and ensure that you get to the right place.

Malware: Software which is specifically designed to disrupt or damage a computer system. 

You may not have noticed it, but the internet was hit by a large cyber-attack on Friday. In Europe, the effects were modest. But in the US, the attack was far reaching. Popular websites such as CNN, Twitter, Spotify and PayPal were all taken offline on Friday afternoon by a DDoS attack on the servers of Dyn, a major DNS host.

Since Friday’s attack, a Chinese firm that builds internet connected cameras – Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology – has admitted that its products were inadvertently behind the attack. The cameras were ‘hacked’ on a large scale due to security vulnerabilities, particularly weak default passwords and used to force traffic towards Dyn simultaneously, taking servers offline.

Hackers used malware known as Mirai to gain control of the cameras, and then cause them to send large amounts of internet traffic to Dyn. A spokesperson for Dyn said on Friday that the attack was “well planned and well executed, coming from tens of millions of IP addresses at the same time.”

Fortunately, this sort of attack is unlikely to have resulted in any losses of sensitive data, as so many cyber-attacks are these days. Instead, it is more an attack of inconvenience. Forcing offline a number of websites that people use and enjoy daily. However, the attack is a major setback for the ‘internet of things’. As more and more devices become internet connected, such as kitchen appliances, security cameras and other home gadgets, the number of things that can be used in cyber-attacks increases exponentially.

This attack is also a stark reminder that cyber-security should be a key priority of all businesses operating over the internet, which these days is virtually all of them. The Chinese firm mentioned earlier blamed weak default passwords for allowing hackers to gain control of their cameras.

Using that information, ask yourself how your cyber security is doing. Are your passwords easy to guess? Do you regularly patch and update your servers? If your answers to those two questions are ‘yes’ and ‘no’ then perhaps Friday’s attack might act as a stimulus to get protected. After all, hackers wanting to access your office computers would potentially be able to steal sensitive data, rather than simply knocking your website offline for a few hours.

Too often cyber-security is overlooked. Take action to protect your business before it is too late!

www.entrustit.co.uk 

Runner up at Solent Business Awards 2016!

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Despite gloomy news reports about the UK economy following the Brexit vote, it is clear that business is alive and well in the Solent region of the south coast of England.

On the evening of the 20th October 2016, the Hilton Ageas Bowl was filled with what Sally Taylor MBE, presenter of BBC South Today, called ‘the brightest and best businesses in the South’. The Solent Business Awards is a multi-category awards event that is the largest in the South Coast region.

entrustIT was a finalist in the ‘Best Use of Technology’ category for our latest product, 3D Design Desktop.

After a rousing keynote speech from political journalist Gavin Esler, describing his career interviewing some of the most famous faces in British and American politics, it was time for the awards to begin.

entrustIT finished as a ‘highly commended’ runner up in the ‘Best Use of Technology’ category, with the judges commenting that they were impressed by the productivity increases that architects and designers were likely to gain from the product, as well as being impressed at the speed of uptake among new and existing customers.

Commenting on the result, Jeff Dodd, Managing Director of entrustIT said: “It was a fantastic evening and to be selected as a finalist for this award is testament to the hard work that our team has put in this year. The business has been propelled forward by the engagement of our staff who put in so much effort every day. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved this year.”

Join in the conversation using the hashtag #SolentBA