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Facial-Recognition-Technology

Are you considering using facial recognition technology in your business?

Are you considering using facial recognition technology in your business?

If the security of your site is an issue you may be considering installing facial recognition technology.

However, there are some issues to be considered before you go ahead.

The technology is relatively new and there have been questions about its use and its accuracy both in the UK and in the USA.

In the UK the Metropolitan Police invited the University of Essex to study the force’s trials of its facial recognition software and researchers concluded that only in 19% of the 42 cases studied could they be sure the force had identified the right person.

Then there are the privacy issues.

The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) announced this month that it would be studying the use of the technology following an outcry over its widespread use at King’s Cross Station in London.

It has already warned businesses that they needed to demonstrate its use was “strictly necessary and proportionate” and had a clear basis in law.

While there are those who argue that facial recognition technology is a useful law enforcement tool for helping keep public spaces safe from criminals and terrorists, others argue that its use is a gross invasion of privacy.

Since the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) businesses and organisations have a duty of care to protect any personal data they collect from users of their services, customers and clients.

In this context it would also apply to employees. It may be useful and more efficient if employees can gain easy access to their offices and IT equipment via facial recognition technology, but you should be very careful about how much information on them you store.

Under GDPR, as face recognition technology (or FRT) collects information of a person’s facial features, its classed under biometric data, which is labelled as “sensitive personal data”.

The regulations do include exemptions which allow the use of FRT in the following circumstances:

  • If the user has given his/her consent willingly
  • If biometric information is required for carrying out employment, social security, or social protection obligations
  • If biometric data is required to protect the vital interests of the individual and he/she is incapable of giving consent
  • If it’s required for legal issues
  • If biometric data is necessary to aid in public interest such as health

So if you are considering using FRT in your business the crucial thing to do is to make sure you have user consent, that it is a positive opt-in to allow it and that there has been no implicit or explicit coercion. You should also make clear what information will be collected and name any third parties with whom it will be shared.

Above all, you must have clear documentation of all this and it should be made clear that people can opt out whenever they wish.

Environmentally-friendly-business

How to make your business environmentally friendly

How can you make your office or business more environmentally friendly?

It is becoming ever more important that businesses are seen to be doing their bit to reduce their energy requirements and help the environment.

But it also makes sense as a means of reducing business overheads and for a business’ reputation.

Sustainable offices that meet a global set of sustainability criteria are LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

This means they have energy-efficient walls, heat-efficient flooring and the latest in green lighting and fixtures. While the initial costs may be significant the savings in the long run will make up for it.

The benefits include lower maintenance costs and energy bills, and if you reduce your reliance on printers a reduction in the use of paper toner and ink.

Entrepreneur.com has a number of suggestions for becoming a “greener” office.

They include the reduction in printers, mentioned above, switching to paperless statements using e-signatures and ditching the fax machines.

You can also look closely at your supply chain and procurement habits.

For example, if your business sells products that require packaging you can source the least environmentally damaging goods.

If you have to use plastics or polythene you can try to keep it to a minimum and ensure that whatever you do use is biodegradable.

Can your business operate in a smaller space with your staff working remotely? This may be another way of reducing the business’ carbon footprint, not to mention the overheads.

Every business is different but all can employ some creative thinking toe become greener and more environmentally sustainable.

Drowning-in-Emails

Are you drowning in emails?

Email overload is a common problem in business with many managers calculating that they get as many as 140 a day.

Part of the problem is that in a multi-location business communications can be copied into other people that the sender feels need to know about the contents.

Then there is the inevitable “spam” from other businesses and services that feel their offerings could benefit the recipient.

Not only is an over-stuffed inbox inefficient it can also damage people’s health, according to Cary Cooper, organisational psychology professor at Manchester University.

An overloaded inbox is a problem that can quickly get out of control, but there are ways of managing your inbox better according to Prof Cooper.

He says that there is little point in “sending someone an email on a Friday night saying you don’t have to deal with this until Monday, because people will then worry about it and do it that weekend.”

Some businesses have acted to control overflowing inboxes by banning the use of internal emails, using a messaging service, such as Slack, documents software from Google, and a project management system.  It has proved to be much more efficient according to those who have tried it.

Another way of managing your inbox is to make yourself do something with every email you receive, whether deleting, answering immediately or marking as a priority for later.

It means you have to be organised and efficient but being strict with yourself and setting aside specific times in the day to deal with emails rather than checking randomly when you are busy can be much more effective.

The trick is to get rid of the notion that you must be constantly in your inbox checking, deleting and sorting.

AI-Wont-takeover

AI will not take over the world

AI will not take over the world

In a recent blog we discussed the reliability of AI and automation and the fact that these systems are devised by human beings, highly skilled human beings to be sure, but human beings make mistakes.

Wired has just published two further articles exploring the issue of AI.

In the first it explores whether it is possible to make AI technology completely unbiased and also asks how many businesses benefit as much as they could from AI technology.

It reports that the return on business investment in AI has declined by 27 per cent over the last five years.

The reason, it argues, is that “companies don’t know how to make the most of AI and data analytics, and how they can apply to business problems.”

It also suggests that businesses get things the wrong way wound when considering investing in AI, so that they under-use its potential. It advises that businesses should “start by drawing up a list of business challenges and prioritise them by whether or not they can be addressed by using AI and the expected return on investment”.

The second article, by Joi Ito, director or MIT’s Media Lab, questions the assumption that AI can and will supercede humans in almost every sphere of activity.

Ito calls this assumption singularity in which those people who have succeeded in mastering the power of AI capture all the wealth and power.

This, Ito argues is “reductionist” thinking and only works for a very narrow range of learning and thinking which can lead to over-simplified ways of “fixing” humanity’s problems.

However, Ito says, most of the challenges we face today, such as climate change, poverty, chronic disease or modern terrorism have actually been the result of this reductionist thinking and we need to respect that many human problems are actually much more complex.

Machines, and therefore AI, need to be adaptive and to augment, not replace, humans. “not artificial intelligence but extended intelligence”.

Password-Security

Password security

Too many people are still not taking password security seriously enough

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has just published the results of its first survey analysing public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used.

One of its most alarming findings was that millions of users were still using easily-guessed passwords.

The most frequently found was 123456 followed by 123456789 and then 1111111.

Names were another favourite with Ashley, Michael, Jessica and Daniel top of the list.

It is astonishing given the steadily rising numbers of personal and business accounts that have been hacked and been defrauded of money that cyber security, particularly passwords, are still not taken seriously enough.

Security experts say that picking a good password is the “single biggest control” people had over their online security.

Keeping your business safe from cyber attack

Clearly password security is crucial to protect a business as hackers become ever more sophisticated.

There are some basic good habits that bear repeating and that businesses can adopt:

  1. Use a combination of numbers and letters that is not easy to guess.
  2. Change passwords regularly
  3. Restrict the information on passwords to only the key people who need access to those accounts, especially if they involve finances and payments.
  4. Ensure that all staff receive proper cyber-security training
  5. Ensure that they report suspected breaches, such as email requests for payment supposedly authorised by a named senior manager are checked and that NO links in emails are ever opened without checking with the “supposedly” authorising person.

No business can afford the financial losses associated with cyber fraud, which has been estimated to cost each victim in the region of £1,000 per case in 2018 and resulted in the loss of an estimated 50,000 jobs.

Standing-Desks

Research on standing desks do little for your heart

Cyber-Security

Cyber security in 2019 – are you insured?

Cyber security in 2019 – are you insured?

The most recent figures for the extent of cybercrime published by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) in March 2018 state that 4.5 million such crimes had been committed in the previous 12 months.

The ONS figures cover all types of cybercrime, including child pornography.

In the first half of 2018, the number of cyber breaches soared over 140% from a year earlier, leading to 3.3 billion compromised data records worldwide, according to Gemalto, an international data security company.

However, the insurer Hiscox has estimated that UK small businesses are being targeted with an average of 65,000 attempted cyber attacks every day, according to the Insurance Times.

Despite this it estimates that  only 52% of SMEs have clear security strategies despite it costing an average of £25,700 last year in direct costs (eg ransoms paid and hardware replaced) per attack.

The information cyber criminals are most interest in is Email addresses, Social Security numbers, Credit card numbers, Bank information, Product information and Birth dates.

The most vulnerable areas for businesses are online banking details, cloud servers, emails and data leaks and breaches.

One growing problem is the numbers of fraudulent emails using named individuals, such as the CEO or Finance Officer authorising payments to be made.

Business cybercrime is an ever-increasing threat and businesses should regularly conduct security audits, ensuring they have robust back-up systems and should examine and if necessary, restrict entry points into the system, only giving access codes to those within the company who actually need them.

They should also take out cyber insurance, something that was hardly I existence ten years ago, but is now becoming increasingly important.

You should check that the policy includes practical support including legal advice, forensics and reputation management to help get a business back up and running as quickly as possible.

Digital-Predictions-for-2019

Digital predictions for 2019

Christmas giveaway and what do the digital experts predict for 2019?

We’ve had a look at some of the developments in digital technology that experts think we might see becoming more widespread next year

Chatbots: Using natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analytics is likely to improve and if it does it could be much more widely adopted by the service industry.

This is about about all the services that could be provided without humans—fast food lines, loan processors, job recruiters!

NLP allows companies to gather insights and improve their service and an estimated 40% of large businesses have or will adopt it by the end of 2019.

Connected Clouds (Public, Private, Hybrid): going completely public cloud, private cloud, or data centre isn’t always the best option. Sometimes, companies need a mix of all or both and connected clouds are continuing to develop to meet companies’ changing needs—whether they want to cloud-source storage, networking, security, or app deployment.

GDPR: the start of a more global trend that will hold companies accountable for how they treat privacy and personal data.

Augment Reality (AR) enhances environments. Expect to see more AR use in enterprise workforce training.

Cube satellites: tiny satellites are being developed that could drastically reduce the cost of launching and using them in space for all sorts of things from running telecommunication systems or keeping space missions on track.

Digital editing tools: face swaps, lip syncing or even puppetry could be used to produce realistic videos that could have you believing something when it isn’t necessarily true – think fake news!

Information about our bodies – and everything wrong with them: has become far easier to collect, using wearable technology.  It could revolutionise healthcare in 2019.

Click here for more predictions from Wired

Christmas giveaway! We are giving a Cadbury’s Selection tray to every customer who purchases a laptop or has a repair from December 1 to December 24.

Microsoft-News

Microsoft news

Microsoft will be ceasing to support Windows 7 from December 2018 in line with its police of only supporting older versions of Windows for two years or less from release.

For some of you this may mean investing in a more powerful PC or laptop because the Windows 10 operating system is considerably more space hungry.

Meanwhile the company has this month released its last Windows 10 update for this year.

It features a large collection of 157 new emojis for those who like them, as well as better links to your phone and a smarter SwiftKey-powered keyboard.  It also has enhanced security and privacy.

Among the new features are revamps to better integrate text and photos with mobile phones, both Android and iOS. This will mean that mobiles will have access to photos and text.

Another new feature is the ability to embed 3D animations into both PowerPoint and Word documents.

Microsoft says the reboot will also eliminate some annoying issues by being up to 31% faster to update, 40% smaller to download, and now being smarter about when to actually install the updates. This, it says, will prevent your machine from coming to a halt during upgrades.

However, early in October the roll-out of the update had to be paused after some users reported that it had wiped files from their Documents and Pictures folders — in some cases resulting in the loss of years of images and work, according to the website techrepulic.com

While the problem appears to have only affected a small number of users, they are advised to contact Microsoft support, who say the company has ways of restoring those files.

In other news:

Sadly, the death of the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, 65, was also announced in October due to a return of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, for which he was treated in 2009.

His Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said: “I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends… Personal computing would not have existed without him.”

Microsoft-Windows-10-Surface-Go

A tablet that is good for work purposes

The new Microsoft Windows 10 Surface Go has received good reviews for use with a detachable keyboard for work purposes.

It is described as a “budget”, ie low cost model, which means it does have some limitations, according to the Guardian’s Samuel Gibbs, who describes it as better for work than for play. This means that it is not ideal for anyone wanting media consumption as it has no apps for such things as Sky Q, Amazon Video or Google Play Movies.

However, when working on the move, Gibbs says that paired with the Type Cover keyboard it is very good work machine, easier to use on a lap, plane or train table.

Wired, too, gives the Surface Go a decent review.

It makes the same point as Gibbs, about media consumption: “if you want to take Netflix, Fornite and the rest of your favourite apps on holiday this summer” it would not be a good choice.

However: “if straddling between spreadsheets, emails and, well, other more boring stuff is a greater priority, then Microsoft’s Surface Go should be your first port of call.”

The tablet could not be used as your main work machine, but according to these reviews it would make an ideal, lightweight and compact substitute for those times when you have to be on the move and still able to work.