QR codes go mainstream

Who would of thought, one year ago, that an app reliant on QR code usage would get 12.4 million UK consumer downloads in just four days. The app has helped QR codes go mainstream. The app in question is, of course, the NHS Covid-19 track and trace app.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about many changes to the way we live, work and play. Among all those remarkable changes, the acceptance of the previously much-maligned QR code is being used to great effect.

Although the NHS app has had its criticisms, it has suffered from the usual launch bug fixes. There have been several challenges caused by handset OS upgrades. As well as, millions of people who have never used a QR code before. Many users have never installed a QR code reader. They arrive at venues, pointing their camera phones at the QR code and are amazed at the immediate recognition of where they have just ‘checked-in’.

QR codes go mainstream

Create an NHS QR code for visitors to scan using the NHS Test and Trace app.
For businesses, places of worship, community organisations and events.

Opening up opportunities as QR codes go mainstream

The same users are also surprised that without even needing to use a specially downloaded app, pointing their camera at a QR code can immediately bring up the menu for the pub or restaurant they have visited. Of course, some of those hospitality venues take the process beyond the instant menu delivery – allowing you to order and pay for your food and drink order without leaving the table. An entire process triggered by a simple QR code working in combination with a smartphone camera.

The upsurge in QR code awareness and availability caused by the pandemic has seen many more people become comfortable with their usage. Businesses recognise the flexibility and scope of QR technology to make online interactions and transactions quicker, simpler and more secure.

James Cook and Matthew Field from The Telegraph, explore QR codes: What are they and how do you use them?

The pros

Space comes with a price when you invest in printed marketing materials like brochures, catalogues, adverts and signage. QR codes are a simple means to direct an audience to more information about a product, service or promotion while ensuring you don’t waste valuable print space on unnecessary details.

Track audience response with ease

You can assign and track any number of QR codes based on your specific objectives (and there are plenty of online tools that allow you to do so for free).

These are some benefits of QR codes to take into consideration:

  • Easily generated
  • Can be custom sized to fit promotional items
  • A cost-effective way to segment your audience
  • Provide insight into audience interest over multiple campaigns

The cons as QR codes go mainstream

QR codes were originally designed as a shortcut: The customer snaps a photo of the QR code with a mobile device, which theoretically takes him/her directly to relevant and more detailed information. However, QR codes require a hurdle that businesses must ensure they have accounted for before they will provide a benefit.

For example, the user must already download the necessary app to support the reading of the code. With so many different types of mobile devices supported on different platforms, it can be tough for business owners to predict which apps the customer has likely downloaded, to ensure the QR code works easily.

How can we help your business?

Implementing QR Codes for your business can be beneficial. Especially when it comes to promoting the services you offer to get new clients. Make sure your systems are secure and up to date. Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our support technicians. We offer a FREE IT audit and can discuss your requirements to help your business. You can improve the efficiency of your team and client experience.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGTIAL WORLD

#QRcodes #Covid-19 #Technology #ITsupport

 

Daily email attacks

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) receives over a quarter of a million malicious daily email attacks, according to official figures.

This data revealed under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by the Parliament Street think tank’s cyber security team. It showed 283,597 malicious emails were blocked by the organization every day over the first eight months of 2020.

The scale of daily email attacks

The data shows that the BBC receives an average of 6,704,188 monthly hostile emails classed as scam or spam. Additionally, an average of 18,662 malware attacks such as viruses, ransomware and spyware are blocked. From January to August 2020, a total of 51,898,393 infected emails were blocked by the BBCs systems.

The highest month of daily email attacks was July with a huge total of 6,801,227 incidents recorded. Of these 6,787,635 were spam and 13,592 were malware. The second highest month was March, when the COVID-19 outbreak was at its worst in the UK. The BBC received 6,768,632 spam attempts and 14,089 malware attempts, totalling 6,782,721.

Daily email attacks

The vast majority of email sent every day is unsolicited junk mail. Examples include:
Advertising, for example online pharmacies, pornography, dating, gambling.

Multiple cyber-attack incidents

In the past the BBC has experienced multiple incidents when it comes to cyber attempts and potential breaches. In 2013 the BBC twitter feed was subject to a phishing hack. It appeared to be sympathizers of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The BBC said the “phishing” emails contained what appeared to be links to The Guardian newspaper or Human Rights Watch online and brought users to a fake web mail portal.

In 2016 there was another hack. An anti-Isis hacking group claimed responsibility for downing BBC websites and services on New Year’s Eve.

Additionally, there were daily email attacks in December 2015, when the BBC’s websites were unavailable because of a large web attack. However, it is believed that a web attack technique known as a “distributed denial of service” was causing the patchy response. This aims to knock a site offline by swamping it with more traffic than it can handle.

A ripe opportunity for hackers

The data suggests that it is an ongoing struggle for the BBC to obstruct these malware, phishing and spam attempts.

Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian

Tim Sadler,
CEO at Tessian

According to Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian, The global pandemic has become a ripe opportunity for hackers’ phishing scams. We can clearly see that in reflected in the spike of malicious attacks on the BBC. In the wake of the outbreak, journalists and employees would have been busier and more distracted than usual.

“Using clever social engineering techniques, cyber-criminals’ prey on people’s desire for information during uncertain times. They bank on the fact that busy, distracted and stressed employees may miss the signs of a phishing email. As a result, they fall for their scams. Organizations, therefore, must have security measures in place to automatically predict such email threats and warn people before they click or download an attachment.

What do these daily email attacks means for business?

The various malware, phishing and cyber-attacks on the BBC acts as a warning for all businesses. Criminals will never let a good crisis go to waste. Employees are now connecting to their organizations from home in large numbers. This allows cyber criminals to target businesses in many more ways. These tactics have always existed. Therefore, as Tim Sadler advises, organizations must have the security measures to detect such email threats.

At LIS our clients benefit from the latest anti-spam and anti-virus solutions. They also take advantage of our Office 365 Security Package. This allows them to stop advanced threats and stay compliant. As well as being productive and keeping their data safe. Contact the LIS Help Desk to make sure your business is safe and secure.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Security #Emails #CyberCrime #ITsupport

Attacks from ransomware

Ransomware PDF Guide

Ever wondered what attacks from ransomware are? You’ve heard about it at the office or read about it in the news. Maybe you’ve got a pop-up on your computer screen right now warning of a ransomware infection. Well, if you’re curious to learn all there is to know about ransomware, you’ve come to the right place.

Download our new guide and know how to keep your business safe.

Attacks from ransomware

What is ransomware?

Ransom malware, or ransomware, is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their system or personal files. The cyber-criminal will demand a payment in order to regain access. Developed in the late 1980s, ransom payments were sent via snail mail. Today, ransomware authors want to recieve payment in cryptocurrency or by credit card.

How does a ransomware attack happen?

After your home gets broken into, it may be obvious the intruder came in through a window or smashed down a door. Shattered glass and forced entry are signs that lead you to conclude that there has been a burglary. In the cyber world, these signals might not be as evident. Your first clue might be a pop up saying please pay money to regain access to your computer.

What went wrong? 

Attacks from ransomware happen to a business when they fail to follow common cyber security 101, such as:

  • Choosing strong passwords
  • Enforcing access management controls
  • Security awareness training for employees
  • Using EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response) or antivirus software
  • Updating operating systems and hardware

Cyber criminals use several methods to access your network by exploiting vulnerabilities. However, to prevent attacks from ransomware, businesses need to understand them and be proactive with stronger cyber security.

How can I prevent them?

Follow the advice in our guide. Address the security threats for your business and educate your colleagues. Protect your business from ransomware with effective cyber security solutions and avoid disruption to your business!

However, if you would like to save some time, we can analyse the risks for you, develop a security strategy to enable your business to dig a moat and pull up the drawbridge.

Would you like to learn more about how we can help protect you from ransomware and emerging cyber threats? Contact the LIS Help Desk and one of our friendly and experienced technicians will be able to help you.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

 #FreeGuide #GotMalware? #HiddenIntruder

Upgrading your software

Upgrading your software can cause issues

Upgrading your software is a huge decision for any business. When an automatic update appears on your screen, should you press update? Recently, some of the big software companies have released updates that have caused issues. Here are four stories that were in the news recently.

A Windows 10 update that was only released 2 weeks ago is breaking some PCs. Matt Hanson from TechRadar take a look.

An Unexpected’ iPhone and iPad update threatens app glitches. James Clayton & Leo Kelion, Technology reporters from the BBC publishes a recent article.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs into Boothole patch trouble. Steven Vaughan-Nichols for Linux and Open Source wrote an article for ZDNet.

Norton Antivirus fails to update on Windows 10. Aleksandar Ognjanovic a Troubleshooting Expert  wrote a story for Windows Report.

Upgrading your software

Given upgrades are here to stay, the key is not to regard them as a nuisance, but to recognise that by investing in them, you will benefit your business.

The pros and cons of upgrading your software

To help you make the right decision we’ve created a list of the pros and cons involved:

Pro: Security

New software is always more secure than its predecessors, because the longer a piece of software is on the market, the longer hackers and other bad actors have to figure out its weaknesses. With cyber-security being one of the biggest threats to businesses today (In 2016, 36% of all crimes were “cyber enabled fraud”, while “computer misuse” accounted for a further 17%) that’s a PRO you can’t ignore! Upgrading your software will help your systems with threats from cyber crime.

Con: New software costs money

Software costs can fluctuate between developers and product versions. Some programs might include a discounted price for future upgrades, or you may have to buy the software outright, which can quickly add up when you have to upgrade multiple computers. Making this kind of bulk purchase comes down to whether you have the budget, which can easily dictate how realistic software upgrades are for your company. To overcome these hurdles, Clockwork IT also offers a rental option to its customers allowing them to implement a new system with minimal upfront costs.

Pro: New capabilities

How do businesses justify charging you for an updated piece of software? By providing something that’s substantially better than earlier versions! The latest programs will undoubtedly address previous flaws, increase functionality, and take user feedback into account.

Con: But do you need it?

Of course, while the newest software may be the best, there is no guarantee that you need it. If your “old” program still works fine, and none of the new features will be useful to you, why throw money away on an updated product? In this case, there will almost certainly be something better to spend your money on!

Pro: Productivity and efficiency

The bottom line is this: as software functionality improves, it should deliver greater gains in productivity and efficiency. Some companies could save thousands of hours of work with a simple upgrade – at that point, the question becomes one of economics. Upgrading your software will keep your business up to date with the latest technolgu. This will ensure your team can produce the best product and service for your industry.

Con: Hurdles

While new software tends to be better, and can improve productivity, there will always be a “learning curve” to take into account. If the new programs are very different, it will require significant man-hours to understand. As well as major input from IT specialists, you may want to ask yourself: is it worth it? In other words, do the productivity gains you think you will reap from installation outweigh the height of the hurdles you will need to jump to get to them?

Managed updates

At LIS, we only roll out new software and updates when we know they can help make your business more efficient. This will save you time and money. Our clients benefit from managed upgrades.

If you would like to learn more about the software solutions that could be helping your business towards a more profitable future, contact the LIS Help Desk.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#microsoft #updates #BlueScreenOfDeath

Mini Computer Upgrade

New Micro:Bit Mini Computer Upgrade

The new BBC micro:bit ‘mini-computer upgrade’ is given to school children, with AI and machine learning support. It was launched in 2016 as part of the BBC ‘Make it Digital’ campaign. Four years later over five million have been used by schools and children around the world. The project is no longer run by the BBC. It was taken over by the Micro Bit Educational Foundation, a non-profit group setup to make coding more accessible.

The new mini computer upgrade features include a microphone and speaker. It can help with listening out for doorbell sounds to playing back voice recordings. The device will include a touch sensor that could count how often a fly lands on a pad.

The new mini computer upgrade version of the palm-sized device is expected to be available from the middle of November. Other new sensors on the device including light, magnetism and temperature, to create a wider range of applications.

Micro Bit Educational Foundation said the changes were in response to requests from teachers around the world over the four years since it was first released.

‘The purpose of the micro:bit is to help children unlock their creative potential and learn how to shape the world around them,’ Gareth Stockdale, chief executive of the Micro Bit Educational Foundation, told BBC News.

Mini Computer Upgraded

BBC micro:bit to get its first major update since launching in 2016 including a new built-in speaker,
microphone and touch sensor and support for artificial intelligence

‘Learning coding and computational thinking can enhance their life chances in the 21st Century.’ 

The micro:bit is a similar concept to the Raspberry Pi but is much simpler and is more of an educational aid than the computer on a chip Pi. Both can be used for ‘maker’ style projects – in that you can attach sensors and other items to create real world projects. But the Pi is much more advanced, with slots to plug in monitors, keyboards and other ‘full computer’ devices.

The new micro:bit is a more powerful device combining all the same features of the original and extra features to enhance learning in the classroom, the foundation said. As well as new hardware features, the latest update includes a new technical platform adding support for AI and machine learning.  It is a palm-sized circuit board and has 25 LED lights that can be programmed to show shapes, numbers and letters. It also has a bluetooth chip for wireless connectivity.

BBC Director General Tim Davie said the micro:bit project has the same qualities that form the core of the BBC – to ‘inform, educate and entertain. Since its launch through our Make it Digital campaign, it has helped transform digital skills and learning,’ Davie said.

Five million micro:bits in use

There are more than five million micro:bits used in classrooms around the world, used to teach the basics of coding through interactive projects. It started as a way to support computational thinking in the UK, but since then the BBC micro:bit has gone on to global success. To use the device users write code on a computer, tablet or even a smart phone then transfer them to the device to make it perform tasks.

The previous version could flash messages and record movements . The new version now includes a microphone, more memory, speaker and touch sensor. The new device can do much more, including responding to sound.  It is estimated that about 25 million children have learnt computing skills on the device since 2016. The campaign is successful and is used in 60 countries.

The device is used in primary and secondary schools. As well as libraries and has even been used in universities to demonstrate coding applications.

“The [micro:bit] has a low floor and high ceiling – you can make it as advanced as you wish but it can also be very basic,” Keith Quille, a lecturer at the Technological University Dublin, told BBC News. “We teach it at primary schools and at university degree level. You don’t need lots of other tools to make it work, it’s very easy to use.”

The foundation says it transforms ‘students’ engagement with technology’. As well as building teachers’ confidence in leading digital skills and creative computing education.

Time for an upgrade

LIS clients benefit from our extensive knowledge and expertise. Clients who are on a monthly support contract receive remote support and software upgrades. As well as the latest security and access to upgrade their hardware.

Does your computer system run slow? Fed up with slow Internet speeds? Can you work from home like you do in the office? Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT Audit. Our team will be able to recommend the most cost-effective solutions to bring your system up to speed.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technology #computers #education #microbit