Tag Archives: UK

The Theory of Constraints and Cloud Backup

Dr. Eliyahu Moshe Goldratt [1] in his Theory of Constraints [2] stated that the strength of any chain, process or system is determined by its weakest link. Successful systems identify the constraints and effects, the changes necessary to remove them. Small and medium enterprises that are IT constrained must, therefore, make an effort to change their operative methodologies and harness the cloud to strengthen their business operations. Interestingly, a number of cloud based IT services are emerging to support IT constrained organisations.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) options available in the cloud allow SMBs harness expensive infrastructure at nominal costs to exploit available, in-house IT skills. Unlimited instances of servers are made available virtually and cost effectively. SMBs can use this IT infrastructure to build new versions of applications without investing in additional hardware resources. The IT resources can also be used for hosting enterprise websites and reaching out globally to customers leaving the non-core activities of website maintenance, such as traffic monitoring to experts who provide the infrastructure.

IaaS is priced on a pay-as-you-go model and organisations have to pay only for usage of instances of servers and the software environment loaded, in databases or web servers, application development environments or the amount of network traffic in and out of the server during usage.

Software as a Service (SaaS) options in the cloud are attractive to SMBs that do not want to invest money in purchasing software licenses. Software access is provided on demand and deployed over the Internet to the local system. The software runs behind a firewall on a local area network or a personal computer with the SaaS provider holding the license for the software. The pay-as-you-go model is advantageous to the user. The software is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. There is no local server installation required and can be rapidly scaled and eminently reliable. System maintenance and security improvements are the responsibility of the SaaS vendor.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivers a computing platform and a solution stack to the IT constrained organisation. PaaS is an uncomplicated offering of web-based applications and services. The user does not have to worry about the underlying hardware or the complexities of the software being used to deliver the service.

PaaS includes facilities for application design, application development, testing, deploying and hosting of application services for collaboration, web service integration, marshalling, database integration, security, scalability, storage, persistence, state management, application versioning and facilitation of a host of other services. All these solutions are provisioned and delivered via the web using the Internet.

Backup Technology Limited (BTL), based in Leeds, UK, is a globally trusted cloud backup company, which provides simple, automatic, secure, encrypted cloud backup and storage services. Visit www.backup-technology.com

[1] — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliyahu_M._Goldratt

[2] — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_constraints

NCA Launch another Cyber Safety Campaign

The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) has started another cyber safety campaign which it aims to help educate people about how to remain safe online.

The NCA has claimed that 2 out of 5 British people are leaving themselves very vulnerable to the actions of cyber thieves as they choose to ignore the threat of cybercrime and do not protect their devices.

In order to help improve online safety, the NCA recommend that security software should be installed on all devices that access the internet with updates being downloaded and applied on a regular basis. The NCA also recommend that people don’t download content from untrusted websites and to be careful when using USB drives or memory sticks.

Karen Brady who is the Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime believes that cyber-crime now poses a huge threat to the UK and that the Government has taken action to make the UK one of the most secure place to go online.

Brady stated, “The internet has radically changed the way we work and socialise, but cyber-crime now poses a serious threat to the UK, and the Government has taken action to transform the way we respond.”

Brady added, “Through the National Cyber Security Programme, we have dedicated £860 million over five years to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to go online.”

Andrew Avanessian who is the VP of global professional services at Avecto believes that it is encouraging to see the government launch another security awareness campaign.

Avanessian stated, “It’s encouraging to see the government launching another initiative to help educate and protect consumers from cyber threats. The issue has steadily worked its way up the agenda and we’ve seen real action from policy makers in recent months.”

Avanessian added, “Many cyber-attacks prey on user naivety, particularly phishing emails. That’s why education around the threats – coupled with basic security measures – can make a real difference for the average consumer. For instance, if the general public knew the importance of keeping their operating systems and applications up-to-date then we’d see the number of successful attacks drop dramatically.”

Do you think that this latest safety campaign will make a difference?

Vodafone Ranked Last for Rural Calls

In a report that has been released by Ofcom, Vodafone has been ranked last for the quality of call for mobile phone users in rural areas.

Ofcom used independent firm RootMetrics to measure network performance on mobile phones. The results were based on the quality of calls in areas which had coverage and the number of calls that failed to connect or cut out unexpectedly.

The study that was conducted resulted in network providers EE, O2, Three and Vodafone going head-to-head.

The overall results showed that EE provided the best service across the UK whilst O2 provided the best service within cities.

Overall Results:

  • 97% of all calls on the EE network were successfully connected.
  • 95.3% on O2,
  • 94.5% on Three,
  • 92.6% on Vodafone.

The results for calls made in rural areas were:

  • 93.7% on the EE network were successfully completed.
  • 87.4% on O2,
  • 86% on Three,
  • 79.9% on Vodafone.

A very unsurprising result was that more consumers in urban areas were happier with their mobile phone service that those in rural areas.

Ernest Doku, from uSwitch believes that everyone should now be able to get mobile reception, no matter where they are in the UK.

Doku stated, “In this day and age, we should all be able to get mobile reception, whether we’re in the heart of the city or out in the sticks. While it’s good to see that the majority living in cities are satisfied with their networks, this doesn’t help me if I’m in a field, in rural Wales, with a broken leg and unable to call for help.”

All four network providers have agreed to work with Ofcom to develop a common methodology for measuring the rates of successful mobile phone calls.

Vodafone have responded to the results and believe that the results do not show a fair reflection as they are now outdated.

A Vodafone spokeswoman stated, “The previously published RootMetric report is based on network measurements taken between June and December last year which were disproved by more up-to-date findings in spring this year.”

Do you have to make regular phone calls in rural areas? Are you happy with the quality of calls that you make/receive from your network provider?

Cyber Security Challenge UK Searching for the Best Hackers in the UK

Cyber Security Challenge UK is on the hunt for the best hackers in the UK after setting up a series of challenges which will test the skills of each competitor.

The challenges have been based on the actions of a fictional terrorist group who have been called The Flag Day Associates.

The fictional group made their first appearance in March in a video which was uploaded to YouTube which had three masked terrorists warning of a future cyber-attack in the UK. There were details embedded in the video which provided a possible date for the cyber-attack.

The first challenge was well supported with over 1,000 people signing up to help decipher the first clue of a fictional investigation. This was based on a suspicious email being intercepted by the National Crime Agency which was then traced to an abandoned warehouse. All that was left was an encrypted hard drive.

The latest challenge has been called Assignment Flag Drive in which entrants must use their computer skills and logic to hack into the encrypted hard drive and find out who it belongs to. Details about this drive will be placed online.

Registration to take part in this second challenge is still open and will close on 14th August. Registration can be completed at the Cyber Security Challenge UK website.

James Lyne who is the global head of security research at Sophos believes that the competition will be very fun and that he is looking forward to seeing the innovated methods that competitors use.

Lyne stated, “This competition is going to be a lot of fun and include many of the key skills security professionals need in the workplace. It will have forensic and offensive aspects to it and be accessible to all levels.”

Lyne added, “Best of all is part of the game involves a collection of interesting Internet of Things devices. I’m looking forward to seeing the creative approaches the players take to overcoming the Associates.”

The highest ranking competitors will qualify for a series of reconnaissance meet-ups as part of Operation Flag Day. Those who impress the most will then move on and be asked to carry out investigations at secret locations around the UK.

The leading candidates from this will make up the final line up who will do battle against The Flag Day Associates at the Masterclass final next year.


A creative agency team, called This Place, has released an app for Google Glass, the head-worn mobile device released in the UK by Google a month ago, that lets users control the device using their mind. The app is called MindRDR, and is available for free online and sounds like the answer to all of the existing problems surrounding Google Glass – namely the methods of communicating with it – talking to your head to make it work can be unacceptable in quite a lot of circumstances. However, this does not solve the main issue with Google Glass, which is that you look a little weird whilst wearing it– this really does not help on that problem. Instead, the app uses an additional headband called the Neurosky EEG Biosensor to detect concentration levels in the brain, and then uses this to perform tasks on screen.

However, there are a couple of downsides to this method of detecting your brain waves. The first is that you have to wear even more plastic around your head, which means that you couldn’t really use it in the real world unless you have no worries about fashion (or if you never need to wear a hat). The second downside is that, in addition to the £1000 that Google Glass will cost you; the EEG Biosensor will cost £71. This means that this is only really available to people with plenty of cash who don’t care what they look like. This has suddenly and quite dramatically reduced the number of people that this would appeal to.

So far this has very limited uses and can only really be used as a method of taking pictures and then posting them to a social networking site if you want to. Other uses have been tried, but a lack of precision meant that other apps, such as games, were very hard to control resulting in massive frustration in players.

This method of controlling devices does have massive potential, as it could quite easily be used to give people with physical disabilities the same kind of control over smartphones and computers that physically able people take for granted. The system would require quite significant fine tuning before this would work though, as it would only be useful as a solution if it worked properly and could do more than just take photos.

Mobile and Internet Banking Transactions Total £1bn a Day

Recently, a study called “It’s In Your Hands” has revealed that the total transactions made by consumers has reached £6.4bn a week, reaching a peak of £1bn a day of money being transferred through only digital means in the UK alone. And, in the current climate of hacking scandal after hacking scandal, is it really wise of consumers to be putting so much faith into the internet?

It turns out that an amazing number of people are relying on technology to manage their money, with 7 million log ins a day are made to online banking services, and what if just one happened to be on a network which had a hacker on it? Or if you had a key logger on your computer? This could have disastrous consequences for you, as it could potentially give a hacker access to a lot of your money.

Another form of technology based payment is contactless payment, or NFC. This is a low-cost method of paying for shopping or car parking without needing to use money or get out your card – all you need is an NFC enabled smartphone or bank card. But what if you lose your phone? No, the thief wouldn’t be able to access your bank details. But would they? It turns out that they would. As recently revealed, it is possible to trick an NFC bank card into giving out all the details of the card and/or the account it is linked to by using a smartphone and reverse engineering it. This means that if you walk past someone with one of these devices in their pocket, they would then be able to use your card online to buy things and effectively scam you out of a lot of money. And your bank probably wouldn’t protect you from it as there is no proof it wasn’t you who bought these items.

In conclusion, internet banking has many risks but it is still growing with an amazing rate, with only 10% of all transactions reckoned to actually be made in branch this year, compared to 24%last year. And, it seems, there is no fighting progress.

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