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The Clear Threat of Ransomware Attacks

January 28, 2018

There has been a recent rise in ransomware attacks, and no organisation seems to be safe — including services that are publicly owned, such as education centres. To find out how we can prevent ransomware attacks within the education sector, we take a closer look:

Are universities prone to ransomware attacks?

Statements from a Freedom of Information request say that over 63% of universities experienced an attack by cyberterrorists where a ransom was demanded. 56% of those had suffered from an attack in the past year. Bournemouth University suffered from 21 ransomware attacks in the same year showing that ransomware attacks are common in education institutions.

With so many ransomware attacks being carried out, you would expect universities to let the authorities deal with it — however, most preferred to deal with the situation independently except from Brunel in London who reported the incident.

Knowledge is key

Understanding the influence a ransomware attack can have on a university is vital — because then, methods of defence become clearer. Speaking generally, ransomware attacks can break a business, and this is something that all business owners want to avoid if they wish to remain successful. However, this can cause a great deal of damage for those operating in the education sector. After acknowledging the problem, it all comes down to user education — knowledge is key and the correct tools should be provided to make people aware of potential risks.

We’ve partnered up with KBR, wifi in school installers to see what you can do to help prevent ransomware attacks within your organisation:

Publishing specified security policies

Specified policies on how to deal with security issues for different systems within the organisation is essential. When this is issued to individuals, whether this is staff within an education institute or students, they should be able to have a clear understanding of what it means. To achieve this, it is worth producing specific security policies for different departments so it relates to their role. Usually a policy that is created for everyone leads to misunderstanding and a higher risk of security problems.

Creating an understanding of the organisation

As the education sector sees new people coming in at a constant rate, you need to ensure that they have knowledge on the security policies in place. You should outline their personal responsibility in their contracts to show that when they sign the contract, they are aware of potential consequences they might face for any misconduct when it comes to security. This should be included in the induction stage of their contract or initiation.

Conducting regular training sessions

Training is something that should happen on a regular basis, this will lead to people within the organisation being knowledgeable when working with systems and the potential threats they could encounter. Security advice can always change, so making training a more regular occurrence in the business can be beneficial and open room for discussion and constant learning opportunities that will transfer to their role.

Enabling a report-procedure for any threats

If there is a viable procedure in place that can enable people to come forward about potential threats, they will — but if there is no effort made by management, individuals might find reporting an issue more difficult. This should be embedded into universities’ culture and make those working with the system aware that they must report any incidents.

Policies and non-compliers

After you have a final draft of your organisations policies that are made available to everyone, you should begin to determine what the consequences may be for people who do not comply.  This will lead to a more knowledgeable workforce that will put the best interests of your company’s security at the top of their priorities.

Top 10: Industries suffering ransomware attacks

Educational institutes suffered from the most majority sectors, with 23%. IT/telecommunications come in second place with 22%. The entertainment and financial services join in third place with 21%. The construction industry is in fourth place with 19%. The government and the manufacturing industries suffer from 18% of ransomware attacks. The transport sector is privy to 17% of attacks, while the healthcare sector and retail/wholesale/leisure come in at 16%.


Why is HVAC Effective as a Cooling System?

November 16, 2017

A heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) system is designed to keep a home warm when the outdoors is cold, cool when it’s hot outside, and to ensure the indoor air quality is good. Perhaps it’s best in the summertime when the heat become oppressive and staying inside is preferable to braving the hottest time of the day.

Let’s look at HVAC systems from the perspective of their effectiveness at keeping homes and offices cooler.

Remote Controlled

Do you want a system that is controllable from your armchair, so you can adjust the temperatures in your home without having to get up? There are plenty of air conditioner brands, just check out the Bryant air conditioner reviews to learn more about their excellent features vs. the competition.

Along with remote control, some cooling systems are programmable to let you decide when to turn on the AC and when to turn it off. Whether you’re thinking about your pet who is home alone during the day and doesn’t enjoy feeling the heat, or you just like to time your system to the day’s weather report, either way, this is an interesting feature to have.

Energy Efficiency

With our growing energy bills, we all like to learn about ways to reduce our electric or gas bill. With HVAC systems, the AC units all typically come with the Energy Star logo sticker confirming the unit’s certification as an energy efficient product. The energy-efficiency rating (or ratio) is typically above nine, which is excellent.

The efficiency certainly comes into play when deciding what BTU capacity you’re looking for in an AC unit. For instance, an 11,500 BTU capacity is going to cool a room that’s approximately 650-700 square feet. The amount of air flow that a unit puts out (measured in cubic feet per minute) also matters when cooling down a space fast is a high priority, but this will boost energy usage each time this feature is activated, which is something to bear in mind. In that sense, energy efficiency features are only as good as the user.

Running on Automatic

Whether you want a sleep mode that automatically turns off the AC at a certain time or you’re looking for a system that has some automated features, these are two features to confirm that are present in a chosen model before purchase. Not every model from a brand like GE, Frigidaire or LG will offer a sleep or auto mode, and it’ll often be restricted to their pricier models too. However, they’re good options to have for greater energy conservation and efficient management of your AC systems, so bear this in mind.

Variable Speeds

Variable speed is sometimes available which allows an AC unit to ramp up (or down) it’s cooling facility as needed. With some units, the incremental adjustment runs as low as a 1% change which is exacting. This is ideal for people who prefer to maintain an exact temperature to feel comfortable at all times and don’t want to have to micro-manage their AC system.

Whatever your cooling needs, it’s difficult to argue with the effectiveness of an HVAC system. There’s enough choice of individual units with their own pros and cons, along with system configuration options, to create the perfect home cooling, heating, and ventilation system to suit your needs perfectly.


Innovations That are Changing the Way We Work, Rest and Play!

October 5, 2017

In a technology-obsessed world, the wheel of invention never seems to stop turning. For better or for worse, there’s no denying the impact of iPhones, fitness trackers and smartwatches on our daily lives. On the plus side, people are better connected than ever before, allowing many of us to work from the comfort of our own homes. The downside is that it can be difficult to know when, and how, to switch off.

When it comes to finding that elusive work/life balance, technology can both help and hinder your quest for wellbeing. Here are a few modern innovations that will allow you to work, rest and play more successfully.

Work: Time Management Apps

Time management apps are nothing new, but thanks to their global popularity, they’re now even more seamless and user-friendly than ever before. Apps can be more useful than paper diaries, as they can sync with your calendar and contacts, allowing you to store a lot of data in one place.

Perhaps the most commonly used productivity platform out there is Evernote, an app that integrates thoughts, ideas and images with your to-do lists and schedules. Other apps like PC Work Break will help you balance your working schedule more effectively, reminding you to take micro breaks and go for short works to increase your productivity.

If you’re mindful about keeping your stress levels intact while you’re working, as all of us should be, these tools are essential.

Rest: Sleep-Promoting Headbands

Up until now, technology has not been conducive to healthy sleep, but this appears to be changing. Many people use sleep trackers, meditation podcasts and white noise sounds to help them unwind, but these sleep-promoting headbands take the sleep-tech connection even further.

The headband works by collecting data from your sleep patterns and playing subtle humming noises to help you drift off. Over time, the headband stores your data and uses it to help you get a good night’s rest, every night.

Play: Stunt Scooters

Sometimes, you just need to break away from technology and get out in the fresh air! Kids have enjoyed kick scooters for decades, but only now is scootering becoming a favorite sport among adults too.

Like everything else, the world of sport is changing, with fitness enthusiasts forfeiting the gym in favor of more adrenaline boosting outdoor activities. Allowing your body to move in its natural surroundings is essential for maintaining mental clarity, concentration and mood levels. Scootering is an excellent way to get your daily dose of fresh air, plus it is so much fun you won’t even realise you’re burning calories.

If you’re keen to follow the stunt scootering trend, Tilt models come highly recommended. Tilt is one of the most legitimate American scooter brands, known for its quality of build and lightweight ease. Tilt also manufactures a range of scooter parts including forks, clamps and grips that will make you the smoothest rider on the block. You can buy purchase these from the Skates website.

When It Comes to Work, Rest and Play, Innovation Is Your Friend

So there you have it: some of the most impressive innovations on the market. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by new inventions, but as long as you concentrate on what is useful to you and utilize it wisely, you can harness the power of technology, allowing it to enhance both your productivity and your downtime.


How Smartphones can Benefit the Workplace

September 28, 2017

Where do you stand in the ‘using your own smartphone at work’ debate? Merging business with technology is not always easy but it’s especially problematic when it comes to personal devices. In January 2017, the Labour Force Survey discovered that there was around 32 million people in employment, while until December 2016, it was estimated that there were around 42.4 million UK residents using smartphones.

The smartphone trend is almost certain to rocket, so it’s crucial for employers to know how this might affect staff and work procedures. A past consensus view was that using personal smartphones makes workers inefficient and easily distracted. But is this true? To help separate fact from fiction, United Carlton (a print solutions firm in north-east England) has researched why it might in fact be profitable and productive for companies to let their staff incorporate smartphones into their day-to-day work.

Smartphones outside of working hours

It’s speculated that the UK will have approximately 48 million smartphone users by 2018, according to Statista (an online statistics company). But how do smartphones affect our free time? Younger people are especially influenced by the rise in smartphones, with research suggesting that 70% of 18 to 24 year olds even check their phones in the middle of the night. This might seem unimportant, but this post-digital generation is the future workforce and they are almost certainly going to shape the way smartphones are incorporated into working practices in the future.

The pros of the workplace smartphone

BYOD is the nickname for Bring Your Own Device and describes the policy of letting workers use their own phones, laptops, tablets, and other personal devices at work. There are several proven positives when it comes to allowing employees to use their own smartphones, although it’s generally assumed that many employers are against the idea and claim it’s terrible for efficiency. Arguably, this depends on the type of work and tasks. But if employers just give the BYOD culture a trial run, they might find that it saves time and helps productivity.

In fact, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group carried out a study that found that the average BYOD user saves 37 minutes per week due to using their own devices. This is because these users are working on the go and between ‘dead-times’.

How about completing tasks without having to be sat at your desk? For example; if staff use a Toshiba printer, they can connect their individual smartphones to the company network and print documents without having to install additional software or be stationed at their desk. This flexibility frees up time during the day and can make communication and completing paperwork more efficient.

How is BYOD received internationally?

This research isn’t limited to UK workers. Even looking overseas, we can see a similar positive trend. Users in the USA saved 81 minutes per week by using smart technologies on the job, while those in Germany saved four minutes per week. In other research, smart device users appear to be working an extra two hours and sending an additional 20 emails a day. Since they’re able to introduce their own technologies into their working practices, it’s arguable that users are also more likely to complete tasks at home, which could explain the extra work.

What do employers really think about smartphones at work?

Unfortunately, many employers appear to have a suspicious or even hostile attitude towards BOYD. Research conducted by the University of Surrey found that 80% of employers believed that it was inappropriate to read or send text messages in the company of other colleagues or their boss, while 11% thought that it was unacceptable for a mobile phone to be turned on during a meeting.

Even many staff would agree with the above thoughts, but these scenarios shouldn’t prevent BOYD from being implemented positively at work. Although employers can introduce company policies, many are hesitant to create a companywide document on mobile phone usage. One small business expert claimed that business owners are ‘worried staff will spit the dummy’ at a mobile phone policy. To counter this, they suggested that employers should ‘simply show them the math’ as staff are likely to co-operate to keep the company going and protect their job.

The potential harm of not getting in on the BOYD trend

Smartphones are everywhere and you’d have a much harder job keeping them out of the workplace than trying to incorporate them in a way that benefits how we work. If companies are willing to kick-start a BYOD culture, then they may see benefits such as:

  • 23% upsurge in job satisfaction.
  • 16% improvement in productivity over a 40-hour week.
  • 21% increase in company loyalty.

Not implementing smartphones into work procedures might be a dangerous trick to miss out on.


The Digital World: Past and Present

September 25, 2017

Those born between the mid-90s and 2010 are known as Generation Z. Unlike the baby boomers, this generation grew up through trying financial times and a lack of stability.

These youths are determined to become successful, wealthy and have the most stable life possible for themselves and the rest of the planet. In order for them to do this, technology will be a vital part of how employees will work and live within the future of the workplace.

Team building activities might be something that this generation aren’t so familiar with.

Past and present

Generation Z are completely different to those born in the 1950s as they would prefer to learn new skills as they work rather than being specifically trained for a particular job and staying in that role for a long period of time. By furthering their specific interests within the workplace, this generation learns by focusing in on online courses, online books, articles, videos and other digital mediums to learn and progress as they go.

It is thought that those labelled as Gen Z will be able to adapt to different working environments more efficiently as they will be able to accumulate information quicker if their role was to change.

Can the youth of today work in a team?

Although Gen Z are always looking to further their skills and improve their own development, how does this relate to building a team? Together with Impact International, specialists in team development, we explore the differences between how Gen Z feel towards teamwork and the workplace within a digital landscape, compared to past generations who relied on face-to-face communication.

Young people are social media savvy, using the platforms to communicate with family and friends. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re always ready to engage in teambuilding in the traditional sense.

A more accurate description of this demographic who work with each other would be ‘team-orientated’.

By participating in team activities, millennials feel as if they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. This is unlike workers of the past, who would usually work together in less isolating environments so that a job was completed. In more horizontal forms of management, where responsibility is spread over a number of individuals, to become influential takes time and effort on the individual’s behalf so that other workers can recognise the importance of their contributions.

Although millennials seem to be less team work focused, they can identify work culture and put themselves in the picture. 79% of millennials feel that culture-building activities in the workplace are vital when it comes to their progression. However, only 41% of baby boomers aged 51-60 felt the same, which suggests that although Gen Z want to be individuals, their identity is linked to the work that they do every day.

At the workplace

Supervisors at work should be more trusting to the younger staff members and allow them to be more flexible! This is so they can express their creativity and stand on their own two feet. If employees within this demographic feel as though they aren’t able to innovate and progress, this will lead to their performance being stifled in the workplace – contributing to a lack and motivation, or an attempt to leave the organisation.

Employers are now beginning to realise that the younger generation will be able to work up to higher roles within the workplace and will be able to cope with any situation that they might face.




How to Find the Best Electronic Cigarette for You

September 14, 2017

If you’re new to vaping, then you must know how daunting it can be to choose electronic cigarettes. You need to consider several things before deciding on the best product for your needs. There are dozens of manufacturers and countless e-cig designs to pick from, so we’re here to help you out by suggesting which factors to consider when shopping for the best electronic cigarette.

1. Learn about the Main Options

The cigarette’s size, shape, and functionality are some of the first things to look into when choosing your e-cig. There are three primary types of products you should know about:

  • Mini electronic cigarettes. These are some of the most popular today and mimic the appearance of a normal cigarette. They are a simple transition from traditional cigarettes for first-timers and have the advantage of being small and easy to use. However, they have limited battery life and don’t perform too well.
  • Mid-sized e-cigs. These are for the more experienced users and are a better option than the mini models. They are larger but they tend to last longer and you enjoy more vapor.
  • APVs or Mods. If you’re looking for the ultimate vaping experience, then these electronic cigarettes can provide just that! However, they are larger and not so easy to use. They last longer and offer the strongest vapor production. But let it be noted – they are not for novices.

2. Buy Them from Trustworthy Websites

There are many scammers out there and it’s easy to get fooled into buying a faulty product or one that does not match the description on the seller’s website. With so many merchants not passionate about e-cigs and not taking the time to review and test the products themselves, you need to pay careful thought to where you buy your cigarette.

Choose an online shop that offers you all the information about the product that you need, whether it’s e-cigs, mods, or e-juice. Make sure they have pictures and even videos of the e-cigs and that there’s a high transparency when it comes to product costs, extra charges, and delivery costs. And you can always tell a shady seller from a serious one from the effort they put into the design of their website and their track record. Auster, for example, have a nice, user friendly platform that’s extremely easy to navigate and a good track record of delivering a great product.

3. Check Battery Life

Ultimately, you will want a battery that lasts for a very long time. Generally, e-cig batteries last for 200 to 300 puffs. Longer and thicker models usually provide the most usage before you’re required to charge the battery. The good thing is, most starter kits come with an extra battery.

Now you know the first things you need for when purchasing an electronic cigarette. If you have your eye on a model that seems to be “the one”, the next thing you need to do is read user reviews to ensure you’re making the correct decision.



How to Utilise Cloud Storage Effectively

August 22, 2017

Cloud storage now provides more than a space to upload and download files. Nowadays, you can do so much more with the innovative software, such as collaborating on documents, integrating data with a third-party app or synchronizing files with a local system.

Despite the many advantages cloud storage now offers, many users are failing to use the software to its full potential. Find out how to utilize cloud storage effectively.

Look Beyond Storage Space

We recommend selecting a cloud storage provider that offers so much more than cloud storage alone. Pick a provider who is willing to offer extra features to help grow your business. For example, you can buy Office 365 from Bytes to access all Microsoft Office platforms, depending on your package. Not only that, but Microsoft also provides 1TB of One Drive storage space for every Office 365 users, which you can download onto one PC or Mac computer and one smartphone.

Document Collaboration

Are your team sending external files to one another via email? Improve productivity by encouraging employees to start collaborating on documents together online. The likes of Office 365 allows users to share and collaborate on the same document at the same time.

It’s also possible to send file permissions to take control of access to critical files. Many often come with the following three level permissions: View only, view and comment only and edit only.

View only is ideal for sharing one document with many users, so they can read the document but will be unable to make any changes or modifications, either by mistake or deliberately. However, view and comment only is beneficial if the document owner requires feedback, but does not want a user to change the data. Editing privileges should therefore only be provided when multiple users want to collaborate on one file.

Data Encryption

Data security should be of paramount importance to every business owner, even if they are using the cloud. Take advantage of the additional feature and opt for data encryption when selecting a cloud software package. This will ensure your sensitive data cannot be intercepted by an eavesdropper when sending files over an untrusted network, such as the internet.

Data encryption will limit access to the files, as not even a cloud storage provider will know what data you have stored on their server. Yet, you must protect the data encryption key to ensure you can access your sensitive files. You will also have to download the files and enter the encryption key before you can preview the documents. While it might seem a little inconvenient, it will provide the security and privacy your business needs to grow.


Cloud storage can improve your company’s online security, productivity and creativity, which is why millions of businesses have chosen to migrate to the cloud. Take the time to learn more about the cloud storage features to ensure you utilize the software like a pro, which could help your business grow from strength to strength.



The Useful Apps You Need Right Now

June 28, 2017

It’s hard to remember a life without apps. Growing in popularity in recent years, we use them on a daily basis, whether it’s updating our social media accounts, tracking our calorie consumption or gaming on the go.

App stores are congested and competition is rife. Don’t waste your time with trial and error downloads — take a look at our list to find a host of must-have apps that will actually make your life easier.

Evernote Scannable

Paperwork has been on the way out since we don’t know when, yet we still end up with a pile of papers, invoices and business cards. Make sense of them with Evernote Scannable, a clever app that helps you organise your most important documents.

Using your smartphone camera, you can scan the documents to create a digital library. As you’re never without your smartphone, it means you’ll always have the essential information you need to hand. What’s more, the app will even pull in details from LinkedIn and match them to your business cards, providing a more comprehensive contacts list.

Out of Milk

Co-ordinating a household can be difficult at the best of times, especially in the grocery store. Writing a shopping list can be difficult, especially when your better half fails to remind you that they’ve used the last of the milk.

Out of Milk is an app that puts an end to it all. Available to Android users, it allows you to create a digital shopping list that multiple people can add to and update. By updating your shopping list in real-time, there will be no risk of buying the same thing twice.

True Potential Investor

Forget queuing at the bank to deposit your cash — True Potential Investor makes organising your investments easier.

Created by Stocks & Shares ISA provider True Potential, the app is a self-directed investment service that lets you set goals, create budgets and invest directly from the app. Choose from a range of investment Portfolios* based on the level of risk you’re comfortable with and start working towards your financial goal.

*With investing, your capital is at risk. Investments can fluctuate in value and you may get back less than you invest. Tax rules can change at any time.

7 Minute Workout

Getting to the gym can be tough. If your membership has been languishing in the drawer for months, it’s time to cancel the subscription and download 7 Minute Workout.

The app takes you through a selection of high-intensity workouts lasting only seven minutes. Say goodbye to hours at the gym and hello to short, intense fitness sessions in your own home. They’ll easily fit into even the busiest of schedules and are great for keeping fit and staying trim.