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The ransomware problem: Why SMBs are susceptible to attack

In recent years, ransomware has become a well-liked method for hackers looking to extort money from small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The concept of ransomware, however, isn't a replacement one, and has been creating problems for little businesses since 1989 starting with the ‘AIDS Trojan’. Distributed via a floppy disc, the ransomware mimicked a software expiry notice – requiring users to pay a ransom by post so files might be decrypted. This ransomware, however, was considered easily breakable thanks to an over-reliance on symmetric cryptography, along side a but perfect distribution method, and passed without significant damage.

In today’s business landscape, we are witnessing a ransomware gold rush. This has been brought on by a mixture of both technological progression, and greater proliferation of readymade ransomware packages available to scammers through the Darknet. SMBs are a major target for hackers thanks to the high rate of return of successful scams, alongside the relative simple infiltration. Also, larger businesses often place greater emphasis on investing in security compared to SMBs, making them a harder and time consuming target.

Sitting ducks: why SMBs are least prepared for a cyber-attack

Ransomware may be a high-margin scam – especially when it targets smaller, less secure businesses. Contrary to popular belief, this sort of scam is neither difficult, nor does it require an outsized amount of intelligence from the attacker. Another problem businesses face is that thanks to the low cost of manufacturing this sort of attack, a ransomware campaign only needs a coffee conversion rate to be considered a hit . as compared , focussing resources on attacking one large company can often yield no results.

In a recent survey of UK businesses, however, over one third of these had suffered a ransomware attack, with 31 per cent admitting they might rather pay the ransom rather than losing vital data. the matter with this approach is that there's no guarantee that a business will ever receive the decryption key, thanks to the command and control server potentially being under investigation from a security vendor or enforcement . Consequently, an organisation could pay an outsized sum of cash to retrieve its data, and receive nothing reciprocally .

Creating awareness: educating SMBs on the ransomware threat

SMBs are the foremost lucrative target for ransomware attacks as they typically possess more significant financial resources than standard users, while rarely undertaking the great security policies of larger companies. Some companies make hackers’ jobs simpler by posting company email addresses online. While this is often a minimal risk with modern security solutions and continuous data protection policies, an outsized number of SMBs don't cash in of the safety available to them.

Bitdefender recommends business users and IT administrators should found out regular offline, off-site backups to critical data to stop malware from finding the network connected storage, and encrypt this data. Deploying a company-wide security solution is additionally recommended, as this may help spot malicious payloads landing via drive-by attacks or spear-phishing attempts. IT administrators also are encouraged to line up access control lists and restrict user permissions on endpoints to make sure employees don’t accidentally install suspicious or rogue software.

We predict 2016 are going to be the year of ransomware, which the amount of victims will significantly increase across the board. The increased ransomware detections we've observed not only suggest that it's become a highly lucrative business, but also that malware developers will soon begin exploiting new platforms, as seen with Linux. As malware developers broaden their perspectives by targeting operating systems that have an outsized market share, the probabilities of infection increase exponentially, making a security solution which will stay au courant a constantly shifting threat landscape indispensable.

The RoboFinance Revolution: Transforming the rear office

The news is awash with stories on the increase of automation and robotics, raising a replacement debate on the longer term of the workforce in our digital by default society. the increase of robotic process automation will undoubtedly disrupt the thought of the normal labour market – as we cannot expect a industrial revolution without change.

Despite the hype and a spotlight given to the present area in mainstream media, the concept of robotics isn't a replacement one. the primary modern use cases of those machines arose during the economic Revolution. Fast and glued machinery was created to streamline an entire host of producing tasks, removing the necessity for extensive human intervention and energy . Fast forward to the 21st century, and that we are now within the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ or ‘Industry 4.0’ because it is usually known. This revolution is characterised by the increase of latest technologies with data and computing power underpinning and influencing many business critical decisions. Businesses that fail to harness new technologies and analysis of knowledge will fail to take care of a competitive edge.

When we ask ‘robotics’ within the 21st century, we are not any longer pertaining to clunky and basic machines that purely imitate human behaviour, but instead, a replacement opportunity to re-imagine business processes and their interdependencies. Today, it's simply not a matter of plugging in ‘dumb’ machines, but fully integrating smart technology with a pre-programmed knowledge of the end–to–end processes and best practice in situ .

Repeatable and regular processes are often streamlined with robotic process automation. The finance function especially , is one that's poised to profit here. believe it – many of the foremost complex and high–pressured activities within a corporation are financial ones. Even in today’s digital economy, many of those time intensive and high volume tasks rely an excessive amount of on manual effort. From invoice processing, accruals and reporting to shut , many accounting and finance teams across the country need to regularly overcome the headache of spreadsheets and manual data input to shut the books accurately and on time. Furthermore, the pressure to deliver a 100 per cent accurate close may result in regular overtime and therefore the creation of a somewhat fraught atmosphere.

This isn’t just an issue of manual effort. At many points during the financial close process, the whole close must be suspended so as to attend for the successful completion of 1 step to continue. To manage this, many businesses could also be using task lists and spreadsheets, which invites the likelihood of human error.information technology degrees More often than not, this waiting takes place because some steps need A level of manual validation of a completed process. These ‘pause’ instances aren’t just inconvenient – they are doing conceal undocumented processes and conceal the unnecessary manual intervention points. Error management is another considerable explanation for time losses. Consider all of that point spent filtering through sloppy data to manually reconcile errors – this point might be better spent if it were re-directed to permit teams to figure on more strategic and valuable analysis of the info .

Time to implement robotics

A patchwork approach to robotics isn't an efficient solution. there's little merit in replicating one task at one point during a process, then another during a different place if these systems aren't integrated with each other . A holistic approach to robotics is required to progress thinking on from an easy ‘user-centric’ model which mimics individual actions – to a ‘process-centric’ model which robotises both the appliance and therefore the system.

For the finance function, holistic robotic process automation brings the potential to streamline financial process efficiency and also standardises these processes. At the foremost basic level, automatically generated reports make sure that you'll believe data integrity with the upmost assurance. Built-in business rules can eliminate the necessity to micro-manage and allows users to stay track of processes and trigger actions, whether at their desk or on the move working remotely. Make no mistake that strong opportunities and results are to be had from standardising processes across the finance function.

Robotics as an enabler

Business leaders are able to do all of the rigour with none of the trouble , with robotics in situ . As many finance teams are going to be only too aware, compliance are often a persistent strain. longer can often be spent on meeting compliance standards than on the tasks which those controls are programmed to control . the truth is that compliance should be a natural by-product of any business process. By directly engaging with the system of a record, robots can validate, track and document complete processes end-to-end, to deliver a radical audit trail.

The true strength of robotic process automation lies in their inherent ability to drive further self-remediation and improvement. By their very nature, robots generate streams of valuable and accurate data simply as a results of executing the method itself. Once captured and stored, this information can then be analysed and exploited to review previous performances and to hone in on specific areas for improvement. In ‘Industry 4.0’, business leaders are now acutely conscious of the facility of ‘big data’. However, it's not time to align this buzzword with robotic process automation.

Performance, accuracy, analysis and productivity. The time is now for finance teams to kill inefficiencies. Working staff harder instead of addressing underlying processes should not be an option today. Business leaders that realise truth benefits of robotic process automation are going to be people who retain a competitive edge up ‘Industry 4.0’.Three magic words for cloud transformation: “Open, Hybrid & Integrated”

At Huawei Cloud Congress Europe 2016 there have been a raft of interesting talks, starting from computer game to supercomputers. Whatever technology was being discussed, however, the conversation inevitably came back round to cloud computing and therefore the challenges and opportunities it provides for businesses.

It was during one among these talks that Krzysztof Celmer, Senior IT Solution Consultant at Huawei, outlined his “three magic words” for cloud transformation: “Open, Hybrid and Integration.” Below, I’ve taken a glance at why these three principles are key for businesses of all sizes and across all industries.


It’s not just Huawei that's singing the praises of open cloud environments. The likes of IBM, Dell and Rackspace have all pledged to support open cloud standards.

It’s easy to ascertain how open cloud platforms benefit the end-user by giving them more choice and greater interoperability, but vendors also stand to profit . By opening themselves up to greater collaboration, cloud vendors gain access the vast resources provided by opensource communities. Open standards have helped to drive innovation, opening up platforms to new developers, new applications and, ultimately, new ideas.

It’s all well and good having a closed ecosystem if you'll convince enough customers that each one of your cloud offerings are best in school , but actually this is often difficult for one vendor to realize . Open standards turns competitors into collaborators and creates a win-win ecosystem for patrons and businesses alike. 


Certain applications could also be better suited to a public cloud environment et al. private. With this in mind, many businesses are moving to a hybrid cloud approach so as to understand the simplest of both worlds. Huawei’s FusionCloud offering makes use of OpenStack cascading technology to attach public and personal environments. Business must have the upmost confidence in both, so as for his or her hybrid deployments to achieve success .

Hybrid cloud recognises that combining the pliability and scalability of public cloud with the safety of personal cloud represents that ideal infrastructure for several organisations. Increasingly, this suggests blending platforms from multiple vendors, which brings us to the third magic word.


As the cloud market opens itself up to a wider range of vendors and niche applications, the mixing challenge becomes more pressing. What’s more, businesses must make sure that cloud platforms not only work together, but also with their existing on-premise technology. In fact, a recent survey indicated that 81 per cent of respondents think that cloud applications must be fully integrated with one another also like on-premises software so as to experience the complete rewards of cloud computing.

The integration challenge is additionally multi-faceted. Businesses must remember of where their data sets are located so as to satisfy compliance standards and to get vital insights. API limitations can also scupper your integration plans and businesses must confirm that they need the expertise to beat this hurdle. Fortunately, many cloud vendors are now making integration a priority, particularly as competition between vendors intensifies. Some businesses are even offering Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) as a way of delivering additional value to their customers.

Although there’s no magic formula for cloud computing success, keeping in mind the three key principles of “open, hybrid and integration” will definitely assist you when choosing your cloud vendors.

London could also be a tech powerhouse, but it’s not best for business!

Location, location, location; geography has always been a crucial factor for businesses, indeed choosing the proper spot are often the difference between success and failure. the proper environment can place organisations within the absolute best position to serve their customers, expand their reach, increase rock bottom line, or literally ensure they're within the right place at the proper time!

There are variety of things when considering what makes a city ‘business ready’, and our recent study, analysing a variety of state and third party data to rank 10 major UK cites, threw up variety of surprises. For a start, Cambridge was named ‘best UK city for business’, closely followed by Oxford and Brighton.

Is the Capital losing its grip?

Long hailed because the epicentre of business activities, it's going to come as a shock that London did not make it into the general top three. However, when delving deeper into the research the results become painfully obvious. Who, for instance , is surprised to listen to that London office rent prices are the very best within the country? Or that employment rate is low as compared to other cities? However, despite being hailed as a hub for brand spanking new businesses, the united kingdom capital could only manage ninth place when it came to start-up survival rate. a mixture of the aforementioned factors, plus the high concentration of already established businesses is clearly hampering start-up survival chances.

Rise of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’

While southern cities still dominate the general rankings list, the findings highlight variety of areas during which the North is computing technology for instance , York came out on top for start-up survival rate, helped by schemes like the Whyte Knight Fund, which provides organisations the financial help and support that they have to determine themselves within the market. With numerous start-ups vying for business, it might be argued that the North inspires and helps nurture the type of entrepreneurial spirit that finds it difficult to survive within the capital.

Flying the flag still further for the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, Leeds was also placed highly, ranking favorite when it involves access to graduate center technology With this thriving start-up culture within the North, cheaper rent and lower crime rates, the region is well placed to draw in skilled workers. And, in an environment where access to the proper skills remains a challenge, the North is putting itself at a plus .

For tech, London remains ‘Top Dog’

Despite the good start-up culture, both Leeds and York subsequently took rock bottom two places when it came to average internet download speed. Having access to a quick and reliable internet connection is extremely important to all or any businesses – especially now that each organisation is predicted to be ‘digital by default’. Although clearly not holding these cities back, this might be a problem which will got to be addressed if the North wishes to completely establish itself as a tech hub, or to match with more favourably endowed regions of the united kingdom . Both Northern cities ranked low when it came to their ability to combat cyber security issues.

It is during this space that London comes into its own, with the capital emerging because the most resilient location when it came to combating cyber security breaches. With Silicon Roundabout hosting almost eight times as many tech firms as anywhere else within the UK, it seems that London remains making good use of its technology talent.

Ultimately, it seems that there's no such thing because the perfect location for business, with the findings showing room for improvement and investment in some area for each region within the UK. With the complex IT landscape facing UK businesses today, it's unrealistic to expect one region to excel on all fronts. so as to succeed businesses should seek to figure with experienced partners to assist them identify and plug any gaps they'll have. regardless of the town during which they could be based.