How much is a Page 1 result in Google actually worth?

Elements of Search Engine OptimisationAlmost every week I am approached by clients who need their site to be found higher up in the Google Search Results Pages (SERPs). Quite often they have been approached by (or have approached) consultants offering to this but have balked at the fees.

Now, I know that the fundamentals are pretty easy to achieve if you have the knowledge, experience, inclination and time but many small businesses rarely have any of these and yet many still believe that good search engine optimisation [SEO] can be delivered quickly and cheaply.

If you’re confused by the SEO jargon, have a look at my SEO Glossary of Terms for clarification.

Is this possible and what’s the real value of good SEO?

Let’s take a look at the numbers. In the UK about 85% of the population use the internet. With a population of 65.64m (Worldometers) and this equates to around 56m individuals who are online. Of these, 80% use search engines to find what they are looking for, that’s about 45m people and at least 95% of them use Google as their search engine of choice, 42.75m people.

Now, let me ask the question “how much is it worth to expose your brand to a potential audience of this size?”

TV Advertising

Lets look at TV first. There is the cost associated with the production of the advert, script writing, casting, production, filming and editing.

According to the Televisual magazine, the average cost of producing a 30 second advert for TV is around £201,000.

Clock - how much does a 30 second TV ad costThen there is the cost of your slot. This will vary based on a number of factors

  • your target channel
  • whether you want a regional or national ad
  • the time of day, the product to be advertised
  • the show (s) that are on either side of the ad break targeted
  • etc

So, putting your ad on screen at peak viewing, 9pm, is going to cost much much more than a slot at 2am when the audiences will be far lower

As a very rough guide, an evening slot on ITV will cost around between £60,000 and £75,000 and this is likely to reach between 5m and 9m viewers depending on the popularity of the show.

However if you want your ad to go during something like the X-Factor then a 30 second slot cost will set you back a cool £200,000.

Radio and Print Advertising

So, you may look at radio or the print media, both of which have lower costs (production and media costs) but also have significantly lower audience figures.

In all of these cases, the costs will be for a one-off and most people with any experience of advertising know that one-off adverts simply do not work, so you have to pay for a campaign.

All of a sudden fees quoted by Search Engine Optimisers actually begin to actually look like pretty good value for money bearing in mind that if they succeed your site will be in front of the largest possible audience 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

What’s next and a Shameless Plug

Are you happy with the place your site has reached in Google? If not, get in touch today – call me on 01793 238020 or drop me an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

My SEO rates start at £150.00 + VAT per month, peanuts compared to TV, radio and most forms of print advertising.

007 in ‘For your GDPR Only’

MI6 headquartersWhen “M” has finished spymastering for the day, or pops out for a cheeky Nandos, we always see M locking the “Top Secret” files away in the office  safe. We know that’s so that no secrets will be discovered, even if an enemy spy (or the tea person) manages to gain access to the empty office.

In business, we need to be like “M”.

In a previous post I looked at Data Protection and the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). However, I didn’t make it clear that the regulations don’t just apply to digital data stored on your IT systems and network but also apply to paper records too.

Anything that contains personal data, whether paper or digital, falls under the auspices of the Act, including the recordings from your CCTV cameras, phone systems (think “this call may be recorded for training purposes”) and biometric data – such as fingerprint or iris recognition systems used to unlock systems or grant access.

Keyboard with the word 'Privacy' overlaid

This means the files on your desk, the files in your filing cabinet, your paper archives as well as your electronic records, anything that includes personal data.

To start with, you need to ask yourself

  • Who has overall responsibility for the data you have and/or use?
  • What data are you holding, why are you holding it and where is it held?
  • Are your Privacy and Data Use Policies as good as they need to be?
  • How long do you need to keep data & how will you securely destroy it when you no longer need to keep it?
  • Who has legitimate access to it and who else can access it?
  • How secure is your building, your paper records and IT systems?
  • What happens out of normal business hours?
  • Can data be exported and removed without authorisation (to a USB key for example)?
  • Is your network connected to the internet and how secure is your connection?
  • Can your network be accessed remotely – is this secure?
  • Is your electronic data encrypted so, in the event of a breach, data cannot be accessed and used?
  • Can your network prevent unauthorised intrusion (hacking)?
  • How do you manage Subject Access Requests, (when someone requests to see the data you hold about them)?
  • How will you manage a data breach, whether it’s a hack, unauthorised file copy or unauthorised removal of paper records?

So, how can I help?

I can put you in touch with reliable IT companies and trusted partners 

  • Blob figure staring, "James Bond like" down the barrel of a gunthat will be able to inventory all of your IT and data assets.
  • who’ll test your network to see how secure it is and whether hackers are likely to be able to gain access
  • who will secure your network from external threats (hacking) and ensure that your remote access requirements are reliable, easy to use and secure.
  • who will help you secure your data inside the organisation and set things up so that only appropriately authorised employees can access the data they need to do their job and no more.
  • who will secure your network so that it’s almost impossible for data to be copied onto a USB key or external hard drive and removed from the organisation
  • who will put transparent encryption in place which means that it doesn’t slow anything down but is so strong that only GCHQ or the NSA would be likely to crack it.

Take the first step now, by giving me a call on 01793 238020 or emailing andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk to find out how I can help mitigate data security risks and start preparing for GDPR guidelines.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Keyboard with the word 'Privacy' overlaidWhat is the GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the name given to the new law that will come into effect on 25 May 2018 to provide added protection and security to the data that businesses hold on, and about, individuals. It will replace the UK’s Data Protection Act (DPA).

At the end of this post you’ll find a simple glossary of terms for reference

Why do we need the GDPR?

There has been a huge change in the amount of data, and the way we use it, since the Data Protection Act came into effect 20 years ago.

Back then, a home PC was a rarity, now it’s pretty much the norm and households typically have multiple devices (PCs/laptops, phones, tablets, smart TVs and other internet connected devices) whilst the majority of businesses are totally reliant on IT and data.

As a consequence of these changes the laws relating to data needed updating and there was a strong drive to have common data protection laws across the EU due to the increased globalisation of business. Brexit will have no impact on the new regulations

What impact will the GDPR have on my business?

There will be a need to ensure that the way you collect, store, manage, use and destroy data is in compliance with the new regulations and there may be a requirement to employ new staff, outsource services or allocate new responsibilities to existing employees.

People & Accountability

Data Protection Officer

To comply with the new regulations you may need to allocate data protection responsibilities to employees or employ a new member of staff, depending on the size of your business and the data protection requirements placed on it. The following businesses MUST appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO)

  • Public Authorities
  • Businesses whose core activities involve large scale systematic monitoring and profiling activities
  • Businesses whose core activities involve large scale processing of special categories of data such as ethnic origin, political opinions or religious beliefs

DPOs can be employed or outsourced but must report to the highest level of management.

Data Processors

Current law does not apply to pure data processors, i.e serviced providers who only deal with data as directed by their customer, only applying to data controllers. If you are a mailing house which accepts data from a client for producing mail shots (land mail or email) for example

GDPR introduces direct rules and accountabilities for data processors, including

  • Keeping records of data processed
  • Designating a Data Protection Office (where required)
  • Notifying the Data Controller where there has been a breach

Under GDPR, data controllers can only use data processors “providing sufficient guarantees to implement the appropriate technical and organisational measures so that the processing meets the requirements of GDPR and ensures the protection of the rights of data subjects

Accountability and the GDPR

Accountability is all about considering risks and demonstrating that you have considered, and managed, data protection risks. You will need to have clear policies in place to show that you meet the required standards and should establish a culture of monitoring, reviewing and assessing your data processing procedures

Privacy Impact Assessments

Businesses will be required to carry out a data protection impact assessment where carrying out any processes that use new technology that is likely to result in a high risk to data subjects, required in particular where there will be automated processing (including profiling) and on which decisions which affect the data subject and for large scale processing of personal data

Privacy By Design

Businesses must take data protection requirements into account from the inception of any new technology, product, or service, that involves the processing of personal data, with an ongoing requirement to keep those measures up to date.

Notification of Breach

The existing DPA requires an organisation to notify (register and pay a fee) the ICO that they will be processing personal data. This will no longer be a requirement under the GDPR, replaced by an obligation on the Data Controller and Data Processor to maintain detailed documentation, recording;

  • Processing records
  • Data location
  • Purpose of processing
  • Lists of data subjects
  • Categories of data
  • Security procedures

However, if you have fewer than 250 employees, the requirements are less onerous and you’ll only need to comply if your processing is “likely to result in high risk to individuals, the processing is not occasional, or includes sensitive personal data. However, because the processing of employee data is likely to involve sensitive personal data there will be an obligation on all organisations to maintain documentation, no matter what their size.

With the removal of registration and fee payment, the ICO loses their main source of income and this could make them keener to catch organisations in breach and fine them.

Under current  legislation there is no requirement to notify the ICO should you suffer a data security breach. This changes under the GDPR with the introduction of a requirement to report data security breaches to

  • Data Controllers (if a Data Processor breaches)
  • Regulators – if a Data Controller breaches and the result is a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals – without undue delay (within 72 hours of discovery if feasible)
  • Affected Data Subjects – where the breach could leave them open to financial loss, for example. If the risk is high, this notification must be without undue delay.

When does the GDPR come in to law?

25 May 2018

Where will the GDPR apply?

Current data protection laws apply if you are located in the EU, or make use of equipment located in the EU, such as servers. The GDPR applies whether or not you are located in an EU country – it applies if you offer goods or services to EU residents or if you monitor their behavior.

If you want to transfer data beyond the EU (if you use a server based in the US to do your email marketing, for example) you need to ensure that the destination country has been recognised as having “adequate or equivalent” data protection regulations and you will have to ensure that suitable safeguards are in place to ensure the protection and security of the data you are transferring.

What happens if I don’t comply with the GDPR?

Currently, fines across the EU for a Data Protection Breach vary greatly with the UK having a maximum fine of £500,000 for a breach of the DPA.

One of the goals of the GDPR is to ensure that fines are consistent across national borders and to impose a significant increase in fines to emphasize the importance of good data management and security.

The new fines are to be split across two tiers

  • Up to 2% of annual, worldwide, turnover of the preceding financial year or EU10m (whichever is the greater) for violations relating to internal record keeping, data processor contracts, data security and breach notification, data protection officers and data protection by design and default
  • Up to 4% of annual, worldwide, turnover of the preceding financial year or EU20m (whichever is the greater) for violations relating to breaches of the data protection principles, conditions for consent, data subjects rights and international data transfers

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will also have increased enforcement powers and grounds for seeking judicial remedies under the GDPR, including a power to carry out audits and to require (demand)  information to be provided and obtain access to premises

Practical Steps to prepare for the GDPR

  • Ensure that you have the resources to plan and implement GDPR requirements
  • Identify all existing data systems and the personal data processed
  • Review existing compliance programs and update/expand as required to meet the requirements of GDPR
  • Ensure you have clear records of all data processing activities and that the records are available
  • When using Data Processors, ensure you include terms in your agreement relating to immediate notification of any data breach.
  • Develop and implement a data breach response plan and have templated notifications so that staff can act promptly
  • Put internal reporting procedures in place, have an internal breach register and train staff on notification and use
  • Ensure that you have sufficient resources to implement required changes
  • Consider appointing a DPO
  • Assess whether the organisation uses consent to justify processing
  • Develop, and implement, a policy on data storage and retention
  • Review contractual arrangements with Data Processors
  • Consider Data Protection when developing new technologies, services and goods and keep clear records
  • Ensure all policies and procedures are available and written in clear, concise and easily understood language
  • Consider how you will gain consent for the use of the ata you hold, and use, for advertising, marketing and/or social media
  • Examine your Privacy notices now and start updating them
  • Review privacy notices and other “fair processing” information given to employees
  • Review employment contracts, handbooks and policies. Is contractual “consent” sought?
  • Ensure that you can respond to Subject Access Requests within 1 month (no admin fee will apply under GDPR)
  • Train staff on data protection responsibilities

Summary

The GDPR will have a wide reaching impact on most businesses, both large and small, which make use of data within the organisation.

Within the GDPR there are many undefined phrases, such as what counts as “large scale” and what is “new technology” and it is likely that these will only be determined as part of case law i.e. when a company is prosecuted for a suspected breach and their defence (or prosecution) need an accurate description of such terms.

It is likely that things will change as we get closer to implementation. However, you should start your preparation as soon as possible and the ICO has published a useful leaflet called “12 Steps to Take Now” which provides more helpful advice.

Disclaimer

I’m a digital marketing and SEO professional, not a legal practice. As a consequence, this should be used as a guide to the GDPR and legal support sought to ensure that your business is in compliance.

Glossary of Data Protection and GDPR Terms

  • Consent – Permission to collect, store and use personal data
  • Data Controller – A person, or persons, determined the purposes for which, and the manner in which any personal data are, or are to be, processed
  • Data Portability – The ability to move data from organisation to organisation, or across nation states
  • DPA – Data Protection Act, the regulations that the GDPR replaces
  • Data Processor – Any person who processes data on behalf of the data controller
  • Data Protection Officer – Person responsible for the oversight of organisational data protection strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with the GDPR
  • Data subject – The person to whom a data set relates (you and I)
  • GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations. The name given to the new regulations relating to the way we collect, store, use and destroy data
  • ICO – Information Commissioner’s Office – body responsible for upholding GDPR
  • Personal Data – anything clearly seen as personal, including name, address, phone number but also including IP addresses, cookie identifiers and UDID (Unique device Identifiers). Expressions of opinion about an individual also count as personal data so you need to be careful what you say about colleagues or clients in emails
  • Right to be Forgotten – The right to request the complete deletion of all personal data.
  • Subject Access Request – A request that an individual can make to find out the data that an organisation has relating to them.

WannaCry, Ransomware and Bitcoin

The recent”WannaCry” Ransomware attack that hit the NHS (and more than 200,000 other victims across 150 countries) has focused attention on the CryptoCurrency called Bitcoin.

There have been numerous calls to outlaw Bitcoin and other CryptoCurrencies but there’s a lot of mis-understanding and a belief that they are only used to fund criminal activities.

In fact, over the last couple of years there have been numerous articles in the mainstream media about Bitcoin. Most have focused on their use by the criminal fraternity, whether for the payment of Ransomware ransoms to decrypt company data through to the purchasing of illegal weapons and drugs on the Dark Web, including The Silk Road, a dark web site where drugs, weapons and illegal services were traded online – before the site was taken down by the FBI in 2014.

However, Bitcoin, and other digital currencies, are now experiencing a significant uplift in their use for legitimate purposes and we thought that this is an ideal time to send out an explanatory email so that you can be better informed.

We’ll be looking at

  • What is a digital/virtual currency?
  • What is a Bitcoin?What is Distributed Ledger Technology / Blockchain?
  • How do I get digital money?
  • How can I spend digital money?
  • Where do I keep my Bitcoin?
  • How safe/secure is my digital money bank?

What is a digital/virtual currency?

A virtual currency is simply a digital form of money for online transactions. Virtual currencies only exist electronically, there’s no bank notes or coins and no bank deposits, hence their description as a Virtual Currency.

Virtual Currencies bring innovation and benefits to more traditional forms of banking and financial systems. Transactions are much cheaper and faster with international payments being much simplified due to freedom from exchange rate worries and bank transfer fees.

This means there are no currency exchange barriers, digital currencies are genuinely international, unaffected by national boundaries and traditional currency issues and associated exchange rate issues – until you want to exchange them for traditional cash.

The most well known Virtual Currency is Bitcoin although other examples include Dogecoin, Ether, Dash, Litecoin and Stellar.

In the early days, Virtual Currencies were seen as a way to pay for online transactions but these days you can use them as a form of payment in physical stores. There are even Bitcoin ATMs where you can buy and sell Bitcoins from your account – there are 20 in London alone and a total of 60 across the UK

What is a Bitcoin

All digital currencies only exist in the virtual form, being recorded in a public Distributed Ledger which is basically a secure database of digital currencies and which holds a record of every Bitcoin transaction

Bitcoins were one of the earliest forms of virtual currency, first introduced in 2008. In 2013 Bloomberg effectively endorsed the legitimacy of Bitcoin by testing Bitcoin on its trading terminals and later that year the US Federal Reserve gave their apparent blessing, stating that Bitcoin “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system” and is the most well known form of Digital Currency. In 2014 our own HMRC classifies Bitcoin as assets or private money which means that no VAT will be charged on the mining of, or exchange of Bitcoin. Later that year, Microsoft started accepting payment made by Bitcoin and a 2015 HMRC report on digital currencies further marked the acceptance of Virtual Currencies by mainstream financial services.

What is the Blockchain

The Blockchain is a database that records all Bitcoin transactions. It’s basically a distributed database, is totally separate from the banking industry and free from central interference.

Transactions are recorded in the form of payer x sends y bitcoins to payee z and payments are verified and validated and added to the Blockchain

How do I get digital money

Bitcoin Mining in IcelandBelieve it or not, it’s possible to make your own, legitimate, Bitcoin through a technique called “mining” which uses high performance computers to carry out sophisticated cryptological processing to effectively make new currency that’s then added to the Blockchain.

However, it’s not as easy at it sounds and most people simply buy their Bitcoins, and other virtual currencies, through more traditional routes – including the Bitcoin ATMs mentioned earlier in this article

How can I spend digital money

You can use Bitcoins to purchase traditional currencies, products and services and you can acquire Bitcoins in a similar manner.

Small amounts of Bitcoin can be traded. They are the millibitcoin (0.001 bitcoin), microbitcoin (0.0000001 bitcoin) and the satoshi which is the smallest amount and named after the inventor (0.00000001 bitcoin)

As noted earlier, transactions follow payer x sends y bitcoins to payee z format. Although transactions on the Blockchain are open to inspection, the reason why Bitcoin is so attractive to criminals is that transactions are pseudonymous. This means that “payer x” is only identified by his or her Bitcoin address.

In 2014, Bitcoin Payment Service Provider (A PayPal for Bitcoin) started accepting Bitcoin payments for tickets and concession sales at the St. Petersburg Bowl in the USA and in 2015 Barclays started to accept Bitcoin, the first UK high street bank to do so. Over 100,000 establishments were accepting payment by Bitcoin by the end of 2015.

You can buy technology from Aria and Dell, pre-owned technology, media and games from CeX around the UK, you can sign up for language courses, buy a beer and a meal in a pub, book theatre tickets, accommodation, home and garden furniture, new windows and much more – full list of UK companies accepting Bitcoin here.

In 2013 a Bitcoin was worth $13 and at the time of writing a Bitcoin would cost $1,033.43 ( £830.81) having peaked in 2017 at $1216.73.

The downside is the lack of protection because virtual currencies lien outside of the established banking regulations, Bitcoin users are not protected by refund rights or chargebacks and transactions are non-reversible.

Where do I keep my Bitcoin?

Your Digital Wallet stores all the information required to transact bitcoins. Although they’re frequently described as a place to hold, or store your Bitcoins, the reality is that Bitcoins ONLY exist in the Blockchain and your Digital Wallet simply stores your credentials to access your Bitcoin holdings. It’s similar to the way your debit card doesn’t store your money but allows you to access your account and arrange for the transfer for funds from your account to that of the seller.

How safe/secure is my digital money bank

Because your Virtual Currency is held centrally, there’s actually nothing to steal, in the conventional sense.

However, your Wallet needs to be secured. You need to use a strong password – and don’t forget it because there’s no “password recovery” routine. Lose your password and you lose your Bitcoin.You should keep your Wallet backedup, preferably in a number of locations, online, USB etc. Just as you would for your other computer data

So, is traditional money dead?

Far from it, and it’s probably a long way from dying simply because each country likes to have it’s own currency regulations in place and the fear associated with the disruption that Virtual Currencies will cause.

As a result, banks are making it easier for customers to spend their traditional money. We say the introduction of cheques – now on the decline. Credit and payment cards that facilitate the easy transfer of money. Internet banking, making it easier to manage our own funds. Contactless payments speeding up transactions, Apple and Android Pay., facilitating payment by simply tapping your phone on a payment terminal and the migration of these services to Smart Watches. Soon, you’ll have contactless payment capability added to pieces of jewellery (A payment wedding ring anyone?) followed by the embedding of a suitable chip under the skin of a fingertip.
However, as world governments become more centralised, the benefits of Virtual Currencies may begin to outweigh the pressures (and costs involved) to maintain more traditional Fiat based monetary systems and all we can suggest is that you “watch this space”

OK Google, get ready for Voice Search

Amazon Echo with Alexa voice control“OK Google”, “Siri”, “Alexa” “Cortana” and soon “Bixby” are all commands that wake your device up and prime them to expect a voice command.

The reality is that your Android Phone, Google Home, Windows 10/X-Box, Apple iDevice, Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Echo are always listening, it’s just the command that alerts them that an instruction is incoming.

And because phone keyboards are harder to use than those of their desktop/laptop cousins more and more people turning to voice control and voice search purely for ease and convenience.

As a consequence, it’s vitally important that you understand what you need to do to make sure that your site is easy to find – even when the search is through voice recognition.

Voice Search and Artificial Intelligence

Google Home with "OK Google"Google, in particular, is using artificial intelligence to better understand our spoken instructions and to encourage more conversational searches, such as “Where can I get my Jeep serviced” rather than a more traditional desktop search “Jeep servicing Bristol”

According to Google, 20% of searches on Android devices are now voice searches and the number of searches continues to increase as users realise that voice recognition accuracy is improving all the time. According to KPCB Internet trends 2016 Report, the accuracy of voice recognition now exceeds 92%

Searching for local businesses

A lot of people use voice to search for local businesses, “where’s the best Pizza restaurant in Bristol” for example so, if you sell pizza in Bristol you need to ensure that your pages are optimised for “Best pizza restaurant in Bristol” and written in “natural language” (written in a similar way to the way you’d speak) which really helps with voice search results.

Optimising for Voice Search

iPhone waiting for a "Siri" voice commandWith “traditional” SEO, you’d have researched the words that people were typing when looking for your products or services and built your site optimisation around those. Now you have to get your head around the types of question that they might ask, just as if they were asking their friends, family or colleagues, as demonstrated in the above example about Pizza restaurants.

One way to start addressing this issue is to consider a dedicated Q&A page where you can pose these questions and add your answers – remembering to keep them more conversational than you’d perhaps feature elsewhere.

The pages that you have optimised for voice in this way need to feature in your Site-Map so that Google and Bing can easily find, and index, them. You do have a sitemap (sitemap.xml) don’t you?

You should even look to include microdata, schema, rich snippets and so on because these little pieces of code give the search engines even more information about your business.

Hi, I'm Cortana, ask me a questionYou’ll also need to ensure that your listings on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business is up-to date and accurate because that’s where Google and Cortana will look for the  location-specific search results. You should also check out the other business directories that have your business listed, Yell, Thomson, Yelp etc and make sure that your address details are correct. This simply ensures that there’s no ambiguity about the right address for your business.

Responsive Website Design

Don’t forget that because most voice searches are conducted on a mobile device, you MUST have a mobile-friendly site because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly (Responsive) then Google won’t direct people to you. You can use this free Google tool to check the mobile friendliness of your website and if you need further help with your site, SEO for voice search, making your site mobile friendly or anything else related to your website then you should give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email - andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

And Finally

A bit of fun. If you use Google voice search and make an animal related enquiry, try adding “fun facts” to the end of your search to learn something about the animal you have been searching on.

How much did your last cup of coffee cost?

Cybercrime is everywhere these days, in 2016 the cost to the UK was over £1bn with more than 5.5m cyber offences taking place in the UK every year. That’s almost 50% of ALL UK crime.

There’s lots of advice on passwords, I regularly write about them, and other security measures that you can take but did you know that even a trip to your favourite coffee shop could end up being far more expensive than the price you pay for your Triple Grande Decaf Soy Latte Macchiato and blueberry muffin.

Cup of coffee and coffee beansImagine the scene, you’re between meetings and decide to drop into your favourite coffee shop for a cup of coffee, a cake and to tap into their Wi-Fi to read your emails, refresh your knowledge in time for your next meeting or simply to surf the web.

Spoof Wi-Fi Hotspot
Sign fro free wifi hotspot
When you sit down and try to log-on to the Wi-Fi there’s frequently a selection of hot-spots to choose from. How do you know which is the free service provided by the venue and which is a spoof.

It’s very easy to set up a Wi-Fi hot-spot using a mobile phone, Mi-Fi type of device or laptop and allow other users to connect through this free connection. This means that all of the traffic can then be intercepted by the person providing the spoof account – what sort of important information is passed from your laptop through this connection? It could be your details to access your online banking, the log-in to your company network or the necessary information required to access your corporate email account.

Time for a comfort break

Laptop and cup of coffeeThen the urge hits, you look around and see that everybody seems respectable enough so you head off to the toilet thinking that your laptop is safe on the table. After all, nobody would nick in sight of all those customers, staff and CCTV cameras would they?

You’d be wrong. Laptop tracking service provider, Prey, found that areas offering free Wi-Fi were the second most common target for opportunistic laptop thefts – the only riskier place being left in a visible place in your car.

If stolen, it’s not only the inconvenience of replacing the laptop, reinstalling your applications and copying back your data [you do back-up your data don’t you?] it’s the additional costs that aren’t covered by your insurance.

The Ponemon Institute, a US cyber crime consultancy, put the real cost of the loss of a laptop and it’s data at nearly £31,000. This was broken down into £4,000 for the loss of Intellectual Property, forensics and legal bills adding around £1,500 with a staggering £24,500 attributable to the loss of income, customers and competitive advantage associated with a data breach

So, the next time you stop off for a cup of coffee and decide to log-on using their free Wi-Fi, just make sure you know which network that you’re connecting to and that you don’t leave your laptop unattended.

Bluetooth Beacons

Belisha BeaconThe most well known type of beacon is probably the Belisha, the orange ball, containing a flashing light mounted on a striped pole and drawing attention to a zebra crossing.

Well, there’s a new type of beacon in town – the Bluetooth Beacon and businesses can use them in interesting and exciting ways.

What is a Bluetooth Beacon?

Basically, a Bluetooth Beacon is a low energy device (using button batteries that last for up to a year), that can be fixed almost anywhere and which transmits data and/or information to nearby “portable electronic devices” within 40-100 mtrs. Mobile phones and tablets in other words.

Major retail stores are starting to use Beacons to track customers as they move through the store. The Beacon can “push” marketing messages as customers get within range of relevant displays. Your iPhone may use a beacon to determine what section of a grocery store you’re in, see if anything on your shopping list is in that area, so you don’t forget it, and even push a discount voucher to encourage you to buy a particular brand.

Your Android phone could use a beacon to show on a map where you are and provide directions to where you want to go – in your language.

It’s not just for retail outlets though. If you are in business to business you could use a Beacon to push a message out to visitors offering a subscription to your newsletter or  encourage a visitor to install your App. Museums could use Beacons to trigger pictures, audio tracks or videos as you walk past particular displays and exhibits.

You can even use Beacons to provide keyless access, your phone could use a beacon in your car to know it’s your vehicle and send an unlock signal to it, for example.

How do you use a Bluetooth Beacon

The first thing you need to do is decide what you are looking to achieve. You could

  • Push deals and offers
  • Share news
  • Encourage Newsletter Subscriptions
  • Drive engagement at events and shows
  • Help blind people explore locations
  • Push visitor information
  • Unlock doors

Use is only limited by your imagination!

At a trade show, for example – simply place your Beacon on your stand and push your message to any attendee who comes within range of your Beacon.

What’s the likely cost

Avvel X BeaconBeacons can be pretty inexpensive – the Avvel X Beacon (left) for example –

  • runs off a CR2477 button cell which lasts for up to 30 months,
  • has a range up to 100m,
  • is waterproof,
  • is easily programmable
  • 42mm square and 13.4mm thick
  • From £20.00 + VAT


The Next Step

Well, I’ve just ordered one of the Avvel X Beacons to see how it works and what can be done and as soon as I’ve learned how to get the most from it, I’ll post an update here.

In the meantime, if you need any help – get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me a line, andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk

And remember.

Beacons just send out information, they don’t know who you are, don’t connect to your device, can’t harvest mobile phone numbers and don’t steal any data

Worries with WordPress and what happens if you don’t keep up with updates

WordPress Logo

You might have a website that’s been build using WordPress. No one will blame you, after all it’s free and has become probably the most used Content Management Systems (CMS) out there.

You might have built the site yourself or paid a developer to design and build it for you. You might not even know that your site has been built using WordPress.

It’s popular because it’s free and pretty easy to use – well it is when compared to some of the alternatives out there anyway. Although popular and free, it may not be the best and although it It is OK it does have a number of issues.

WordPress Editing screenBecause it’s so popular it’s become a top target for hackers. This means that the people behind WordPress have to be on their toes, always on the lookout for weaknesses & flaws that the hackers can exploit to break into a website and create mayhem. When the WordPress developers come across such a flaw they create a patch and release a new version of WordPress. As an example, the current version is 4.7. However within the next couple of weeks there will probably be a new version. 4.7.1 and then 4.7.2 and so on and so on and so on, releasing updates as and when flaws are discovered.

You and your web developer need to be on top of this by making sure that you’re running the latest version of WordPress. The newer versions,  if setup properly, should update themselves automatically but you need to keep an eye on things “just in case”. Older versions had to updated manually, by clicking the “Update Now” link so it all seems pretty straightforward. But it’s not!

Why things may not be as easy as they seem

WordPress MenuMost websites using WordPress use a number of “Plug-Ins”, small pieces of software that add extra functionality to the website and make it easier to manage. However, you need to exercise caution when updating – especially if you use a lot of plugins to manage different elements of your site because some of the plug-ins may not have been updated to work with the latest version of WordPress. This means that hitting the “WordPress Update” link might cause a plugin to stop working and this could break your website.

But what happens if you don’t update WordPress?

Well, you might find that your website gets hacked and will start to do things that you wouldn’t want to be associated with. It could start to download malware to the computers of all the people who visit your site – malware that could monitor their keystrokes and pass banking details back to criminals in Eastern Europe or China, for example.

Or you could find – as one news website found out to their embarrassment at the end of November – a lot of unsavoury spam being inserted into the first paragraph of every news story on their website.

Hacked WordPress pageHow did this happen?
The company were very lax – their site was built using WordPress and was last updated in June 2012. Since then, there have been 114 updates to WordPress, some to improve performance and some to improve security.

By failing to keep up to date this gave the hackers and “easy in”. The hackers were able to use automated tools to find websites using WordPress and to find out which version was being used. From there, it would have been simple for the hackers to target a known weak spot and break in. From there, it would have been the work of moments to install their own spammy code.

What should the website do?
It’s easy to cure – all they have to do is identify and delete the malicious software and then update to the latest version of WordPress, although they are so behind with their updates that they might find their site gets broken by the update so they might be caught between a rock and a hard place.

If you are worried about WordPress, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop an email to andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk for a free, confidential and obligation free chat.

Why worry about Accreditations?

I do a lot of work for an IT support company in Bristol – Bristol IT Company – and at the bottom of their website is a list of badges, icons and logos, there’s a couple of ISO related ones and the rest come from well known (and less well known) brands in the IT sector but why are they there and why should you be concerned?

Bristol IT Company accreditationsWell, ISO’s easy, it’s a way of demonstrating a certain credibility by being assessed every year to ensure that we remain up to scratch. A lot of businesses have ISO9001 which is a quality management certification that demonstrates their commitment to consistently provide products and services that meet the needs of our clients. ISO27001 is an information security standard that demonstrates commitment to information security, both their own and that of clients.

The other accreditations come from manufacturers such as Cisco, Microsoft, Dell, Aruba, Cyberoam, VMWare and Veeam and demonstrate that the Bristol IT Company has the necessary skills to not only supply their equipment but to ensure that it is properly installed, configured and supported.

Why is this important
Let’s take a look at the security of your network – they have 2 vendors that are accredited with in this area, Cisco and Sophos. You can buy some Cisco & Sophos equipment on Amazon at competitive prices, have it delivered pretty much the next day and get it up and running very quickly. This might make you feel secure, after all Cisco are a market leader in networking and security – right?

Is this the right way to do things?
Probably not! Even assuming that you order the most appropriate device for your needs, installing equipment using the default settings could cause you a whole heap of pain.

Most hackers worth their salt know, and understand, these default settings making it really easy for them to penetrate your business’s network. It’s almost like advertising that you’ve installed the best locks in the world but have left a key under the doormat.

Not only that but the default settings are a “one size fits all” option that are unlikely to be best suited to the way your business works and could actually slow your network, and internet connectivity, down if left untouched.

You could probably find hundreds of internet forums where people discuss the settings but which ones are the best for your particular needs? Which ones speed things up without compromising security and which ones increase security without compromising speed and which ones are actually posted by hackers looking to lure you into making your network even more insecure?

Accreditation
That’s where accreditation comes into play. By buying your equipment from an accredited supplier, Bristol IT Company will first of all advise you on the correct product that most closely matches your existing and future needs, possibly saving you money – certainly saving you pain.

They then ensure that your network is made as secure as possible by changing default settings to something much more secure and applying their training, experience and skill to ensure that your network is as secure as it can be by optimising the setup and performance of your kit.

Still think accreditation’s just an icon on a website? Well, give them a call on 01173 700 777 or email andy.poulton@bristolitcompany.com to find out that there’s much more to it than a pretty picture

Microsoft and Linkedin, a purchase made in heaven – or the Cloud at least

Linkedin Logo Microsoft LogoI’ve been a Linkedin member since August 2005, apparently was one of the first million subscribers and have found it an invaluable tool for network building, staying up to date with, and in contact with, my Connections and even generating enquiries.

Linkedin History
Linkedin was started in 2002 by Reid Hoffman with money his stake in PayPal when it was sold to eBay. From that small beginning Linkedin has become the No.1 business networking site, a Facebook for business if you like and now has more than 440m subscribers.

In 2011, Linkedin went public (IPO) at $45 per share, raising $350m and valuing the company at $9bn, making it one of the most successful public offerings since Google in 2004.

Linkedin’s share price very quickly doubled and continued to rise, peaking at $269 in early 2015. After that it’s been a bit up and down and fears of a downturn earlier this year saw share prices falling to $101 in February after which there was a recovery to $135 in May

Then, to everyone’s surprise, in June 2016 Linkedin was bought by Microsoft for $26.2 billion (a significant $61 premium on the share price), in an all cash deal, making it Microsoft’s largest acquisition by a long way

Why did Microsoft buy Linkedin, where did it see the value and what will it do with this highly respected business networking site?~
Although Microsoft and LinkedIn don’t, at first glance, appear natural partners, they are closer than you might think. Under Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, there has been a strong move away from consumer software and operating systems (Windows) to business and cloud subscription services such as Office 365, enterprise solutions like Microsoft Dynamics and cloud storage – Onedrive and it’s possible that this, allied to the fact that Linkedin has over 440m active users, helped in the decision making process, that’s just over $59.54 per user.

The addition of Skype (Microsoft owned) to LinkedIn could make the platform even more attractive, allowing voice and video conversations to take place within Linkedin (possibly limited to Linkedin subscribers).

Potential Benefits
Linkedin already has some really basic Customer Relationship Management tools built in to “My Network” which enables you to add Tags to your Connections so that you can search by your own custom categories as well as directly Message groups of contacts.

Now, imagine how much more powerful this would be if there were full CRM functionality.

  • Send emails to your Connections with a click with the contents held in the Client account
  • Have incoming emails automatically added to client records rather than a simple folder in Outlook.
  • Grouping sent and received emails together, in your Contact records
  • Click to call via Skype
  • Click to Video call via Skype
  • Click to open pre-templated documents through Office 365 and have them stored in Contact records

The reality is that the world is their oyster – with a little thought, good programming and over 430m pre-existing accounts there’s a great deal for Microsoft to leverage..

Lynda.com an “Outstanding Resource for Learning”
It’s also easy to forget that Linkedin owns lynda.com. An online education provider with more than 3,000 online learning video courses, created by industry experts and covering topics across business and leadership, creative and technology.

A service that was described as “an outstanding resource for video based learning” by PCmag

What happens Now
Although the deal has been approved by both boards and is expected to be finalised by the end of this year it still needs approval from a number of regulatory bodies

Microsoft have said that “Linkedin will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence” which is good news for fans and users, although analysts at Credit Suisse have said “We recognise that Microsoft will be able to realise several strategic synergies”

A side effect of the sale has pushed Twitter shares 5.5% higher on speculation that it will be next to go, perhaps to Google – which has expressed interest on several occasions in the previous 4 years.

What actually happens is still to be decided but I’ll keep you up to date as, and when more news becomes available.

In the meantime, if you need help with Linkedin and want to learn how it can really help you grow your business just get in touch for a free chat, give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop me an email at andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk