Digital Services Tax

Retail giantAmazon will NOT be impacted by £500m digital services tax. However the smaller retailers will be, HMRC admits. However, traders who use the site will be, the HMRC has revealed.

The Guardian claims the online retailer will only have to per a 2% charge on revenues it receives from third-party sellers trading on its marketplace. In June Rishi Sunak signed a letter alongside counterparts in France, Spain and Italy declaring that tech giants needed to ‘pay their fair share of tax’.

Seven months after the tax was announced, HMRC has revealed Amazon, paid £293million in taxes. On sales of £13.73 billion will not be affected by it.

Digital Services Tax

The Digital Services Tax was announced in March. With the hope that Facebook, Google and Amazon would make a ‘fair contribution,’ the Treasury had said. ©AP

  • Two per cent on tax on internet giants will not impact Amazon, HMRC admits 
  • Treasury said Digital Services Tax would make companies pay ‘fair contribution’
  • Business leaders say the tax is penalising smaller companies who use Amazon  

With Amazon expected to cover the cost by charging higher fees. This results in putting it at an advantage compared to the businesses that use the website.

Should the Digital Services Tax be ditched?

In August it was reported that the Treasury was considering ditching the tax. Mr Sunak concluded that the £500million a year it is expected to raise is a pinprick compared with the hundreds of billions of pounds dent to the nation’s finances caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

Business groups have criticised the levy following this latest revelation. Lord Leigh of Hurley told the House of Lords: ‘It is clear that the UK government is not taxing Amazon properly. It is allowing it to avoid tax on its own sales through the marketplace’.

‘This puts regular retailers at a significant disadvantage. The digital sales tax does not achieve its objective of yielding more revenue from the likes of Amazon. However, it is simply passed on to its suppliers in the marketplace, which have to absorb this tax in their margin.’

Announcing it earlier this year, the Treasury described the levy as ‘a new 2% tax on the revenues of search engines. Including, social media services and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users’.

Businesses should make a fair contribution

The Government department hoped the measure would ‘ensure large multinational businesses in-scope make a fair contribution to supporting vital public services,’ it wrote in March.

The British Independent Retailers Association has voiced its own opposition. They warned the tax has penalised smaller retailers while giving Amazon the edge.

An Amazon spokesman said: ‘Like many others, we have encouraged the government to pursue a global agreement on the taxation of the digital economy at OECD-level rather than unilateral taxes. Rules would then be consistent across countries and clearer and fairer for businesses.’

IT does not have to be taxing

Who is likely to be affected? Large multi-national enterprises with revenue derived from the provision of a social media service, a search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. This is you if your website turns over more than £25 million in the UK! Hats off if you fall into this category. You are one of the few as the Government had some very specific targets in mind when devising this tax, introduced by the Government as of 1st April 2020.

Unfortunately, we are unable to help Amazon with their tax problems! However, LIS clients do benefit from our years of IT experience. Contact the LIS Help Desk to see how we can help your business. With an approach based on the socially distanced human touch, our knowledgeable team will help you achieve your business goals.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Digital #Tax #ITSupport #Business

Google Assistant Features

Google Assistant is a capable helper but adjusting these options will protect your privacy and put you in control. We have put together a short guide of five Google Assistant features you should turn off right now.

Business Insider take a look how to turn off or limit Google Assistant Features, if you don’t want it listening to you all of the time.

Make life easier with Google Assistant Features

You can use Google Assistant Features to set timers, call friends or restaurants for takeout and so much more. It’s certainly convenient to have Google around to answer quick questions. It will even report on the day’s weather or control your smart home. Still, there are some things you might want to disable on your Google smart speaker or smart display. After all, every feature of Google Assistant won’t be a good fit for everyone.

Whether you’re worried about privacy or just want a more natural conversation experience, here are five things to toggle off to get a simpler and safer Google Assistant experience.

Google Assistant Features

One of Google Assistant’s most powerful features is its ability to act as the hub for your connected smart home of office.

Voice recording settings

Google recently announced changes to its voice recording privacy settings. Unless you opt in, Google won’t save your audio recordings or share them with its human analyzers to improve Google’s algorithms. However, if you opted in or have previously saved audio recordings, you can choose how long Google keeps them or manually delete them.

To adjust these settings, visit your Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. There, you’ll land on the You tab. Select Your Data in the Assistant and scroll down to Audio Recordings. Tap to see options for saving, reviewing and deleting recordings.

Continued conversation

Continued Conversation helps Google listen for follow up questions without you having to say “Hey, Google” a second time. While this is handy, the extra listening can sometimes be less than seamless, especially when you don’t have a follow up question or you’re just asking a question of someone else in the room. Luckily, you can turn off this feature.

To turn off Continued Conversation in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab. There you’ll see several options including Continued Conversation. You’ll be able to toggle off Continued Conversation and see which speakers it will affect.

“Hey Google” sensitivity

If you feel like you’re always waking up your smart speakers accidentally, the “Hey Google” sensitivity may be too high. You can adjust how well your Google Assistant responds to its wake word if it isn’t hearing you well enough or if it mistakes other words for its wake word.

To adjust the sensitivity in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab and you’ll see several options including “Hey Google” sensitivity. There you’ll be able to adjust the sensitivity for each individual speaker in your home. Select the speaker you’d like to adjust and choose from five settings from “least sensitive” to “most sensitive.”

Ask Google

You can ask your Google Assistant for info and help with everyday tasks. Ask it questions and tell it to do things.
It’s always ready to help you get things done.

Camera settings

If you use a Google-enabled smart display like the Nest Hub Max, Lenovo Smart Display or JBL Link View, you may want to keep your camera disabled when you’re not making video calls. Each display does this a little differently. While JBL and Lenovo offer physical shutter options, you don’t get a built-in shutter with Google’s in-house display, the Nest Hub Max.

Instead, there’s a toggle button on the back of the display to disable the camera and microphone. An indicator light beside the camera lens shows the current status. This is a tough one, because you’ll need to remember to switch it on and off each time you use a camera feature. Still, having the option to make sure your camera is off when it needs to be is important.

Activity controls

Like voice recordings, Google saves information on the sites and apps you use with your Google account. If you’re concerned about privacy, adjusting these settings offers some peace of mind.

In the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. Tap the three dots on the top right of your screen and select Google activity controls. There, you’ll see a page with options for controlling which information Google gathers from your online and mobile app activity. You also can turn on auto-delete and choose how often your data is removed.

Whether you adjust one or all of these settings, personalizing your voice assistant can make the entire experience much more pleasant. If you live in a large household, features like Voice Match and Household Contacts can help everyone live in harmony with the same devices.

“Hey LIS”. How can you help me?

Technology is always changing; upgrades need to be managed and don’t forget about security issues. LIS customers benefit from our years if IT knowledge. We managed their IT systems to allow them to concentrate on their business. Consider us like you PC doctor or Virtual IT PA.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options and found out how easy it is to keep your systems up to scratch.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#GoogleAssistant #ITSupport #Upgrades #Security

Upgrade your software

How Excel may have caused loss of 16,000 Covid tests in England? Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software may have led to Public Health England misplacing nearly 16,000 Covid test results. Due to the fact that the software has a million-row limit.

The story published yesterday by the BBC written by Leo Kelion (Technology Desk Editor) investigates what went wrong. This highlights that if you upgrade your software and talk to your IT provider, you will avoid nasty surpises. Are you using out of date operating system and software? Upgrade your software to make sure your business operates more efficiently and stays secure.

The data error led to 15,841 positive tests being left off the official daily figures. In addition, 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and were not told to self-isolate. PHE was responsible for collating the test results from public and private labs.

Rapid development of the testing programme has meant that much of the work is still done manually. Individual labs send PHE spreadsheets containing their results. However, the system has improved from the early days of the pandemic and it is still far from automated.

Upgrade your software

More than 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers after
15,841 positive tests were left off the daily figures. Photograph: Simon Leigh/Alamy

Excel spreadsheet error caused a huge spike in Covid cases

The weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases has soared in dozens of areas of England. Nearly 16,000 cases were left unreported because of a technical error with an Excel spreadsheet.

Manchester now has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to 1st October. The equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 223.2 in the previous week.

The problem has led to a delay in efforts by NHS Test and Trace to find the contacts of those who tested positive for the virus, in some cases by around a week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to say on Monday morning how many contacts of positive coronavirus cases had been missed.

IT experts ‘surprised’ at PHE use of Excel for Covid-19 data

IT experts have questioned why Public Health England used Excel for a scheme as large as NHS Test and Trace. Once the technical error led to nearly 16,000 cases going unreported. Computing experts and academics said it is “very surprising” that Excel was used for something of this scale and not adequately tested” they said.

“It is very surprising to hear that an enterprise scale system, presumably developed by professional technologists, is expected to run on Excel,” said Adam Leon Smith, fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and chair of BCS’s special interest group in software testing.

“Many large organisations refer disparagingly to Excel-based applications as ‘end-user driven architectures’. They spend lots of time trying to decommission them for reasons relating to security, control and stability”.

“This is mostly because Excel is designed for end-users not complex systems. It has well-known scalability limits. Excel can’t handle unexpected situations in a way that interacting systems will be able to recognise”.

“It sounds like these limitations have manifested in real problems in this case. This is exactly why databases are normally used in enterprise applications”.

“Even if presented with a system that did rely on Excel, one of the first things that should have been identified through a testing process was a limit to the data volume it could process.”

Covid Testing

A sign in Bolton, UK reminds people of the need for testing Credit: Adam Vaughan/Shutterstock

Excel has limitations

Dr Peter Bannister, executive chair for the Institution of Engineering and Technology Healthcare Sector, said limitations of commercial off-the-shelf products such as Excel for medical uses are well-known.

“It’s disappointing to read that a lack of awareness around the limitations of a consumer software product has led to such a negative impact for all those who are relying on the Covid testing programme,” he said.

“It’s widely known within medical device development that the use of commercial off-the-shelf products, such as Excel, requires additional testing to ensure that they are able to meet the stringent requirements of use in a healthcare setting.”

The Excel spreadsheet reached its maximum file size. New names could not be added in an automated process, he advised. The files have now been split into smaller multiple files to prevent the issue happening again.

Consider file size

Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of communications systems from the University of Cambridge, said file size is a “basic consideration”.

“One would think that a software engineer would have considered a worst-case test scenario for any system design – on paper before you even get to writing code – just to make sure it wouldn’t blow up in any way like this,” he explained.

“The limitations of Excel in terms of big data, which is generally a very decent piece of software, are well-known – if you look at how many people are expressing astonishment at this online, you can see that.”

He continued: “There are many big systems in Government (e.g. DVLA’s or HMRC’s) that work at this scale so there’s no excuse.

“Also, a simple sanity check on the data or error checks in the system might have told them when they hit this limit instead of discovering it after the event.

“This sort of thing is standard in sixth form or undergraduate computer science training too.”

Upgrade your software for efficient business

Has your organization been considering an upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 from on premises Office/Exchange? Perhaps you’re holding back because the word, “upgrade” is enough to scare anyone away. Most companies upgrade software when they are forced to. But in the case of Office 365, the benefits you’ll get from upgrading are delightfully easy and without doubt worth the commitment.

Contact the LIS Help Desk about how we can upgrade your software to Office 365. Take advantage of tools like Intelligent Edge, PowerApps and Flow. These tools ensure  your data is tied to the same cloud system. This enables you to access your email addresses without additional setup and configuration, as well as other benefits.

Office 365 Security Package
Our Office 365 Security Package is a bundle of software tools. The package works continuously on Microsoft Office 365 accounts. They provide genuine protection benefits that EVERY business ought to have. We manage EVERYTHING for you. It’s all in our hands, which is exactly how it should be. However, once we upgrade your software, you will have peace of mind to allow you to focus on your business.

Download our Office 365. A Risky Business? booklet to find our more.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Excel #Covid #Office 365 #ITSupportEssex

Keeping your business data safe

Keeping your business data safe: The GuideThis is the ultimate secret to keeping your business data safe. Whenever you hear of the term cyber-crime, you probably associate it with big businesses and corporations. After all, why would anyone target your small enterprise? Thinking like this could prove to be damaging and possibly catastrophic.

Small businesses are increasingly becoming the victims of cyber-attacks. In fact, Symantec reported that out of all the cyber-attacks perpetrated in 2015, , 43% targeted small businesses. Their report also indicated that the attack on small businesses has been on the rise with 2011 having 18%, 2012 having 31%, 2013 having 30%, and 2014 having 34%. That’s why we’ve written a brand new guide. To tell you about the ultimate secret to keeping your business data safe. You won’t believe how simple it is. Download your copy now.

The trend indicated above is worrying. But, remember, the reason for the increased attacks is because hackers have realized that small businesses apply little to no effort in the securing of their data. So, what is data security and how does it protect your business from potential threats?

How to keep your small business data safe?

Data security or protection, put simply, is the procedure employed to ensure that your data cannot be corrupted or accessed illegally.

The idea behind securing your data is to protect your business’s data while ensuring that it stays private. Data includes all personal and business files that are stored in the database. The process of securing data generally follows these three steps:

  • Encryption. For any data to be of any use, it has to be understandable on a human level. Encryption counters this by using a set of algorithms and mathematical schemes to scramble the information into an unreadable format. This encrypted text can only be decoded by someone who has the decryption key.
    To take it up a notch, end-point full encryption is employed. It encrypts every last bit of data in your hard disk thus giving you a very high form of protection.
  • Strong user Authentication. We encounter user authentication on a daily basis. Every time you try to login into your computer or social media account, you are required to go through a one-step verification process. One-step verification is weak and is easily hacked. A strong user authentication process will often involve multiple stages of verification making it very difficult to hack.
  • Data Backup. You have to be prepared for when the worst happens. Securing your data will never give you 100% assurance. There is always the chance that there might be a loophole in the system which may include an inside job. That is why the process of securing data also includes a backup plan. The backup will ensure that although the information may be stolen, you can always restore it.

Keeping your business data safe

Now that we know why it is important to secure your data, here are seven data security tips for small business:

  1. Adopting EMV

EMV initials stand for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. EMV is an encrypted payment system that uses microchips in the credit card to process transactions. In addition, it also protects the information in the card. This ensures that both parties are free from fraud. Upgrade the payment system in your business to accept EMV cards. Not only will this protect your business, but it will also absolve you from liability in the event that fraud does happen.

  1. Securing your wireless network

Wireless networks attract more hackers than a moth to a light bulb. While your standard network encryption key might keep your next door neighbours from accessing your network, hackers could log into it in their sleep. This is why you need to use the strongest encryption setting in your router to protect your business. Additionally, disable the broadcasting function in order to make your network invisible. After all, they cannot hack what they can’t see.

  1. Perform background checks

At times, we might get caught up in securing our businesses against outside intrusions and fail to protect it from what is happening right in front of us. Inside jobs are the biggest threats to a business apart from cyber-crime. Price Water Coopers reported that employees orchestrated over 70% of frauds committed to small businesses.

This is why you need to be extra vigilant when it comes to selecting the right employees for your business. Check their backgrounds as these will often give a clue on what kind of person they are. In addition, be observant of what is going on with your employees. Changes in character should be duly noted as changes in their performance will often accompany these.

  1. Decentralize password access to sensitive data

Never allow one person to have access to all the passwords. The levels of entry should be distributed to different employees to minimize the risk of the data being breached. Maintain the central access key yourself.

  1. Shred business documents

Physical documents need to be safeguarded. Access to the documents should require authorization from the necessary source. This should ensure that in case a document goes missing, you can easily trail the theft process, or at least there will be someone to be held accountable.

Additionally, old records that have their information in the database should follow the correct process of discarding. The best way to achieve this is through shredding by a particular person.

  1. Upgrade your software

Buy the necessary software that will help you in this quest. These include encryption software and excellent anti-virus programs.

Good corporate anti-virus programs come in handy because hackers nowadays have automated their hacking systems. These means that bots will try to infiltrate your system, a good antivirus should take care of this. Plus don’t forget your smartphone. You should also look into protecting your mobile from viruses and this is even more important if you do work on a phone and that includes just answering emails.

  1. Data backup of your business data

Like we previously discussed, backing up your data is preparing yourself for the worst. It will save you a lot of hassle in case something does happen.

A partner you can trust

Unfortunately, these security threats against your data information are unlikely to end anytime soon. This is because the world has all but embraced the Internet. Failing to have a website for your business is just bad business practice. The caveat is that this puts your business at risk of hacking. It is therefore imperative to secure your business in all ways that you can.

Contact the LIS Help Desk today to arrange your IT Audit. We will investigate your existing systems and advise the best way forward to make sure your keeping you business data safe.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#FreeGuide #CyberSecurityTraining #KeepYourBusinessProtected

Best tech for the home office

It looks like working from home is still going to be big in the future, with many of us staying at home indefinitely. So, we need all the right tech, don’t we? The Financial Times have suggested some of the best tech for the home office.

Best tech for the home office

Transforming your bedroom, living room or spare room into a home office space until further notice?
These are the top best tech for the home office picks worth investing in now

Working from home brings its own set of challenges but having the right tools on hand can help you stay productive. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is setting up a home office with the right tools. However, once you have got everything in place, it’s easier to get your work done.  

Even if you do not have a ton of space or a dedicated room to turn into a home office, you can still have a comfortable and productive work-from-home setup. All you need is a table, chair, and a few key pieces of tech.

Best tech for the home office: The essentials

We have compiled this handy list of the best work-from-home tech to help you increase your productivity. The main tech essentials everyone needs to work remotely are reliable internet and a laptop, but we also recommend getting a monitor, so you have a bigger screen to work from as well as a decent keyboard and mouse. With these gadgets, you will feel much more comfortable working than you would if you had to squint over your small laptop screen all day.

Beyond those main tech gadgets, you may also want to get a few more accessories, so we have added others that are enjoyable to have, including everything from headphones and speakers to webcams and smart lights.

Wireless mouse Wireless mouse

Logitech’s MX Master Wireless Mouse is our top pick for the best computer mouse for good reason. With an ergonomic design that is comfortable to use for hours on end and you can customize the functions of its buttons and the speed of the scroll wheel. It helps limit the amount of wrist and hand fatigue at the end of a day. It’s also wireless, so it’s an excellent mouse to have in your home office

Bluetooth keyboard Bluetooth keyboard

Logitech’s K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard has a compact design and the keys are responsive for typing. It does not have a number pad as this is a no-frills option. It is wireless, too, so for the small home office setup doesn’t look cluttered by a bunch of cables.

Gel wrist rest for your mouse Gel wrist rest

To limit wrist fatigue use Kensington’s ErgoSoft Wrist Rest. It is essentially a small gel-filled wrist pad that you can position exactly where you need it. The sticky underside keeps it from shifting around on the table. Ideal to have the option to angle it or remove it as needed throughout the workday.

A conference speaker phone conference speaker phone

Unless it is a quick call, using headsets or a phone against your ear is not ideal. Terrible sounding speakers on a phone or laptop is also not great. Use the PowerConf Bluetooth Speakerphone from Anker. Designed for group conferences and is portable. Due to the sound quality it produces and that has six microphones, it can pick up voices clearly regardless of where in the room.

A comfy office chair to plant your bottom office chair

Are you dealing with back pain? Long sitting hours in your office chair could be a killer. Why don’t you think about something else?.

It’s entirely too easy to spend a fortune on an office chair. An affordable option is the Space Seating Professional AirGrid.

A mid-back managers chair is upholstered with an AirGrid mesh-back with black eco-leather seat. Features built-in lumbar support, pneumatic seat height adjustment, and 2-to-1 synchro tilt control with adjustable tilt tension.

Advice from the experts

Some of the best tech for the home office you need to work effectively from home is obvious. Powerful laptop: check. Reliable printer: check. Fast broadband: check. But there are other gadgets that, while you can get the job done without them, will make a difference to how effortlessly you breeze through your to-do list.

However, how do you choose the best option to suit your needs? What do you do when your tech stops working? Have you got the right solutions in your office to keep you work effectively and securely? Contact the LIS Help Desk to discus the best options for your business. With 25 years’ experience, we are here to help, advice and listen to our clients. Le us be part of your team and help you run your business.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#WFH #AnywhereOffice #TopTech