Backup Technology to Attend BCS & Computing UK IT Industry Awards Evening

Some members of the Backup Technology team will be in attendance at this year’s BCS & Computing UK IT Industry Awards evening which is being hosted at Battersea Park Arena in London.

Backup Technology, proud member of the iomart Group, has reached the finals for the award category ‘Best use of Cloud Services’ in recognition for the implementation of their Cloud Backup and Virtual Disaster Recovery solution for Pernod Ricard EMEA.

Backup Technology has successfully rolled out their Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery services to numerous offices across Europe, Asia and North Africa for Pernod. By providing a centralised backup and DR strategy and solution, Backup Technology has helped Pernod Ricard EMEA to substantially improve its ability to ensure all its business critical data is quickly and securely protected and stored offsite.

Backup Technology face some stern competition with the likes of British Gas and DVLA also competing for this prestigious award but remain in high hopes of bringing the award back home to Leeds.

BTL’s very own Sales and Service Director Rob Mackle will be heading the team that is attending the awards evening tonight is in high hopes and is in no doubt that it will be a great evening.

Rob stated, “The awards evening is bound to be a fantastic evening. There are some strong contenders for this award but it will be a fantastic effort to win and would just help to emphasise the overall success that the project has been.”


Online Privacy: Is it achievable?

Facebook has made developments to allow their users access to the site without disclosing their identity or personal information. This has raised concerns regarding the safety of Facebook users, whether their personal information will be visible to unknown users and will the unidentified users be held accountable for their online behaviour. However, Facebook argues that this decision is allowing the site to develop further and become even more globally accessible.

Previously, Tor users could access Facebook via Tor, however the recent changes are allowing Tor users to use the service and continue unidentified, as opposed to previously, when they were recognised as hacked accounts and blocked.

In order to allow Facebook users access to the site whilst withholding their name, email address, personal details, Facebook has launched an .onionaddress.  This development has been described as an, ‘experiment,’ by the social network, recognizing  that the development is going to have flaws with regards to privacy, and that this first step will be one of several to achieve complete privacy for Facebook users.

The decision to allow complete anonymity has sparked controversy to those that find comfort in the safety and security of the service. Making the site available to anonymous users opens the door to the unknown and potential danger. This begs the questions what is Tor? And what are Tor users hiding?

Tor is an open network and free software, known as the Tor Browser bundle, which can be downloaded online. Tor prides itself on providing a service that can protect a user’s privacy and, ‘defend against network surveillance and traffic analysis.’ It anonymises users, through routing a user’s traffic in a series of other computers. It attempts to hide a person’s location and identity by sending data across the internet via a very circuitous route involving several “nodes” – which, in this context, means using volunteers’ PCs and computer servers as connection points.

This creates difficulty when trying to access Facebook because Facebook enforce security measures when a user attempts to log-in from an unexpected location. They ask a series of security questions to ensure that the account is not being used by a hacker, for example holidaymakers often find they must go through additional security steps, such as naming people in pictures, before being able to log-in while abroad. Furthermore, for a service that’s prime function for many is to socialize, and express yourself and your identity; withholding your identity and information somewhat defies the concept of social media.

Tor users continue to show as having various locations and consequently accounts were being locked out. This and several other difficulties such as fonts not displaying correctly, spurred Facebook to converse with Tor and establish ways for the two to work together, despite the concerns regarding Tor’s involvement with, ‘the dark web.’ There has been speculation that Tor has been used as a tool to pursue criminal activity; making illegal trades of arms, drugs and child abuse images accessible. However, the creators of the service argue that the service is for legitimate users that require confidentiality in their profession, such as journalists, activists, law enforcement etc.

Despite this reputation, Facebook and Tor have found common ground with regards to them both pushing for permission to be more transparent to its users about the amount of government attention they receive. The Tor project is a non-profit organisation that conducts research into authorities and large corporation involvement with social media, and the information that these bodies have access to.

Very recently this growing concern regarding online privacy has been the topic of conversation in the tech community with it being core to the debate at the Yorkshire Digital Summit. Key speakers such as Gareth Cameron, Information Commissioner’s Office, Paul Berwin, senior partner of Berwins Solicitors, Alex Craven, the chief executive of Bloom, argued a spectrum of ideas on the continually growing concern of our privacy as a result of social media and the World Wide Web. Cameron, argued that it is essential we take a grasp of our information and ensure that it does not fall into unknown or unsavoury hands, and then on the opposing side was Alex Craven.  Craven convincingly argued that online privacy is a concept of the past and that being online does leave us open to the dangers of the web.

In conclusion, there are two core reasons to why Facebook has made the controversial decision to work with Tor, allowing Facebook to be easily accessible from their page. Firstly, Facebook’s alliance with Tor makes them accessible to people where the network is blocked. Facebook’s decision will prove popular to those that want to stop their location and browsing habits from being tracked should they be located in nations where social media is not permitted, e.g. China, Iran, North Korea and Cuba are among countries that have attempted to prevent access to the site. Secondly, it would be beneficial for Facebook to further spread its net to the professional users of Tor. Tor is regularly used by professionals such as journalists, the military and law enforcement officers; they use Tor as a means of connecting with individuals exposing information that could put them in danger, members of the public that wish to keep their identity unknown for a variety of legitimate reasons.

Essex County Fire & Rescue Service Procures Cloud Backup Via G-Cloud

Essex County Fire & Rescue Service (ECFRS) is using Backup Technology (BTL) to safeguard the data it generates as it protects local people and property.

ECFRS is one of the largest county fire services in the UK, protecting a population of more than 1.74 million. Its firefighters attend over 24,000 emergency incidents every year.  After its existing backup solution became too difficult to manage, ECFRS chose BTL via the UK Government’s Digital Marketplace for G-Cloud services, to provide an improved managed service.

Jan Swanwick, Head of ICT for Essex County Fire & Rescue Service, explained: “Traditionally procurement has been a long, protracted process. With G-Cloud it is very straightforward because all the supplier and product information has already been collated and validated.”

BTL, which is part of cloud company iomart, protects more than 22TB of data for the fire service using a Public Cloud Backup solution from Asigra.

Paul Hill, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Safer Communities said: “Saving lives isn’t just about putting out fires and attending emergencies, it is about using the data we collect during our work to protect the people and property of our county. We spend a huge amount of time analysing the data we collect so that we can target our services in the correct and most efficient way. Knowing that this data is protected by Backup Technology is vital to the success of everything we do.”

Rob Mackle, Sales & Service Manager for BTL, said: “The fully managed solution encompasses every aspect of the backup contract from configuration and installation through to the daily monitoring and restoration support of the backups.”

Asigra is the world’s leading online backup software developer and BTL its largest global partner.

Eran Farajun, Executive Vice President of Asigra, said: “Essex County Fire & Rescue’s mission critical operation is a perfect example where data availability can have a real impact on an organisation’s quality of service. BTL understands this and relies on our award-winning data recovery software to provide customers with best-of-breed backup services. This recent deployment highlights the continued momentum of cloud-based data recovery throughout the region.”

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Data Breaches on the Rise in California

The annual California Data Breach Report has indicated that the number of data breaches that occurred in California in 2013 has increased from 131 cases in 2012 to 167 cases in 2013. What is more staggering is that the actual number of people affected by the data breaches increased by 600% during the same period. As a result, over 18.5 million people were actually affected by the data breaches.

California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, believes that the current statistics are troubling for the California State as in 2012, 17% of the total number of data breaches to occur in the United States happened in California.

Harris stated, “With the world’s eighth largest economy and more than 38 million consumers, California is uniquely impacted by data breaches. In 2012, 17% of the data breaches recorded in the United States took place in California – more than any other state. Even more troubling, the number of reported breaches in California increased by 28% in 2013.”

The retail sector accounted for the largest number of data breaches (26%) which were followed by the finance and insurance sector (20%) and the healthcare sector at (15%). In 2013, malware and hacking contributed to 53% of total breaches to occur within the Californian state whilst physical loss or theft of storage and computing devices containing unencrypted data made up 26% of the total data breached. Unintentional misuse and deliberate misuse by insiders contributed 18% and 4% respectively.

The retail sector has significantly contributed to the overall statistics, mainly thanks to the two large data breaches that affected Target and LivingSocial customers. These two incidents can also be contributed to the huge increase in the number of people affected.

Such statistics show the importance of ensuring that data is stored in a secure format. Kamala Harris has urged the state’s retailers to utilise chip-enabled point-of-sale (POS) systems and encryption after large amounts of customer data was compromised during a stage where it remained in its raw format.

Call for Social Media Websites to Provide Data

The new head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, has called for social media websites to work more closely with intelligence agencies to help reduce the threat of terrorist organisations.

The GCHQ is an intelligence and security organisation which aims to keep Britain safe.

Hannigan believes that the use of social media websites have become one of the primary methods of communication that terrorist organisations use in an attempt to avoid surveillance due to the reluctance of many social media companies to work with surveillance organisations.

Hannigan stated, “However much they [tech companies] may dislike it, they have become the command and control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us. The challenge to governments and their intelligence agencies is huge – and it can only be met with greater co-operation from technology companies.”

Hannigan added, “GCHQ and its sister agencies, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web.”

Jamie Bartlett who is the author of the book The Dark Net: Inside The Digital Underworld, believes that it is a very difficult issue to deal with due to the sophisticated methods that the organisations use to try and avoid censorship.

Bartlett stated, “It is incredibly difficult for them [intelligence agencies] and the police and indeed on the big internet service providers to actually get a handle on just how much propaganda, how much material is being produced and shared by Islamic State and other terrorist groups on these platforms.”

Bartlett added, “What we’ve seen with Islamic State and indeed every other terrorist group is quite a sophisticated way of avoiding censorship. Islamic State has been really very good at creating hundreds of different accounts on Twitter and Facebook and every time they’re closed down, they simply start again.”

There will always be a problem with just how much information people and service providers believe is a suitable amount to provide intelligence and security organisations.

It is therefore very important that whatever information you provide to a social media website, that you are happy and understand that it may find its way to an intelligence and security organisation.

Do you think that social media websites should be made to work more closely with intelligence and security organisations?

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