SaaS tools have grown incredibly over the past few years. There are hundreds available that can revolutionise the way small businesses operate - and more importantly save valuable time, money and effort. However, according to research by Salesforce, only a quarter of SME’s are aware of how online applications can help to grow their business. We want to outline some of the best cloud-based applications and how they can help your small business:
Say goodbye to your slow, old and expensive accounting software and hello to Kashoo. Kashoo is revolutionising the way small businesses manage their finances with their impressive ‘anytime, anywhere’ cloud-based platform. Kashoo is available across multiple devices and allows users to carry out a range of tasks on the go including sending invoices, making payments, viewing profit and loss accounts and keeping up to date with their tax status. You can enjoy a 14 day free trial, and prices start from just $19.95 per month.
Zendesk is a simple yet powerful cloud-based customer service tool to help small businesses better engage with their customers. Apparently, it was started by 3 friends in a Copenhagen loft who wanted to bring ‘a bit of zen’ to the chaotic world of customer support and is now used by 200,00 businesses worldwide. Zendesk gathers customer queries across phone, chat, email, social media, and any other channel you can imagine, all come together in one place. You can enjoy a free trial, and prices start from $75 per seat, per month.
The days of list-making, 100+ page documents, and extensive company procedures are over. Trello is the handy one-software-does-all that manages all of your plans, projects, pipelines ranging from the largest company re-branding project down to what sandwiches to serve clients for lunch. And what’s more, it’s free! They’ve recently been acquired by Atlassian, so we’re excited to see what more is to come.
Communication and collaboration
Microsoft have recently launched their new cloud-based collaboration software, Microsoft Teams - and it certainly does not disappoint. Harnessing the power of communication, Teams is part of the Office 365 suite and allows team members to communicate via phone, video and voice - anytime, anywhere. You can live-stream meetings, co-author content and set up private chats. Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions start from just £9.40 per person, per month.
Are you already using cloud-based software to streamline your business? Let us know in the comments below.
In 2015 Ofcom announced that the UK is now a ‘smartphone society’ and that smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online. Despite this, many businesses are failing to adapt to these changes and do not have websites that are compatible with mobile devices. Here is the importance of responsive design and why it matters to your business.
What is responsive design?
Firstly it’s important to understand what responsive design actually is. Responsive design considers the way your website adapts to screens of different sizes. The dimensions of a desktop screen differ to those of a tablet, which differ to that of a mobile phone. Responsive design ensures that your website design isn’t compromised when viewed across different devices, and that the visitor still gets the optimum experience.
Why is it important?
Imagine a potential customer has just visited one of your stores and is looking for a product that is out of stock but available online. Your sales staff recommend them to visit the website to proceed with their purchase, so the customer pulls out their mobile phone and logs on to the website. The website looks out of date, the text and images are blurry, the menu is hard to navigate - let alone complete the order. The customer is put off and you have lost out on their business.
What are the benefits?
As discussed the main benefit of responsive design is to ensure a seamless transition of your website across devices, providing customers with an enjoyable browsing experience. They are more likely to revisit the site, recommend it to their friends, and hold your business in higher regard. In addition, the mobile first movement has impacted the way that search engines rank websites, and those with a good responsive design take priority in the search result listings.
How to plan for responsive design.
The biggest recommendation we can make is to plan for your audience. Take the time to research what devices they are using and when. If they are young and mobile savvy, ensure your site is compatible with popular mobile phone brands such as Apple and Samsung. If they are of the older generation, place more effort into enhancing your desktop experience. Research new trends - for example many mobile devices now have larger screens (the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus) so be sure to plan your user experience around this.
If you’re interested in investing in a responsive design for your website, Cyber can help. Give us a call on +441284 330188 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs.
Despite the rapid adoption of technology across the world, we are still experiencing businesses who run heavily on paper. Many continue in this way simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or because “we don’t understand technology”. However web-based processes don’t need to be scary, and can bring a whole host of benefits. Here are 5 reasons you should make the change:
Storing information on paper requires a large amount of space which can build up around the office or warehouse. The information can also only be organised in one way, changing that can be time consuming - it can take an incredibly long time to re-organise all those sheets, files and folders. Storing your data digitally reduces the need for space, and the data can be organised with a single click of a button. If you want to organise data by order number, customer name, purchase date - the options are endless. And just as easily as you changed it, you can change it straight back!
- Easily updated
So you’re working with a customer, but they decide to rebrand and change their company name. This means you have to find all files that relate to their account, and either erase each section or dispose of them and create new ones. That is going to cause a lot of headaches! With web-based processes, you can simply search for that account name, and change it instantly, no headaches involved.
- Access anywhere
It’s likely that more than one person will need to access data on orders and customers. This becomes a problem when everything is kept in a single place. If sales reps are out at client meetings, managers are in board meetings or customers are calling the warehouse and require information, it can be difficult or virtually impossible to access. With web-based processes, everyone can gain access to a digital database and have the information they need at their fingertips.
- Quick search
There’s nothing more stressful than not being able to find a record of something when asked. Paper-based records can be incredibly difficult to search through in a time sensitive situation. As many people likely have access, files can be misplaced, lost or even risk being stolen. By moving your data to the web, information can be searched with the click of a mouse, and is always available when you need it.
- Legal compliance
The laws around data management and privacy are changing with the introduction of the new GDPR next month. Being able to retrieve, destroy and update the data you hold on individuals needs to be a seamless operation to avoid penalties. Keeping records on paper can seriously jeopardise your compliance and put your business at risk, however with a digitally based database you can be back in compliance within minutes.
At Cyber, we can save you time and money by enabling a move from paper-based processes to more efficient web-accessed systems. Centralising data allows you to respond faster to changes in business needs and gives visibility of the most important information from the shop floor to the board.
If you’d like to talk about your needs, call us on +44 (0) 1284 330188 or e-mail email@example.com.
So you want to build an app? That’s great! The big question is - will it be for web or mobile? Before embarking on the exciting journey of developing an app, it’s crucial to understand the key differences between the two. Apps are developed and perform differently on the web vs online, but they can also be very similar too. You may wish to develop one or the other, or both to deliver the best user experience. Here are some points to consider:
When it comes to accessing apps, ‘native’ or mobile apps are downloaded by users through a ‘store’. For example, Apple devices use the App store, and Android users access the Google Play store. Web apps are simply hosted at a URL on the world wide web.
When it comes to mobile apps, integration is one of the main benefits. For example, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat revolve around access to the phone’s camera and microphone - something that simply cannot be replicated on a web app. Take time to think about what the main purpose of the app will be, and how much integration into the device it will require.
Apps, in general, require a huge amount of maintenance and there’s quite a big difference between how updates are run on mobile compared with web-based apps. Mobile apps require updates to be carried out by the user, whereas web apps will be updated by the developer with no input needed from the user.
It’s common knowledge that mobile apps can be more costly to develop than web-based apps, so consider whether what you are planning to create can be achieved using a more cost-effective web-based solution.
Mobile apps are regulated through the download portal such as the App store or Google Play store. This gives users confidence that the apps will be of a certain standard, whereas no such thing exist for web apps as of yet.
If you’re interested in launching an app for your business, Cyber can help. We don’t build games, we build operational apps - stuff that takes your data and processes and puts in the hands of those who need it, when they need it. We use the very latest Xamarin development platform and associated technologies so the apps we build can be compiled for use on Android, iOS and Microsoft devices rapidly.
We also build beautiful web apps that save you time and money by enabling a move from paper-based processes to more efficient web-accessed systems. By centralising data you can respond faster to changes in business needs and gives visibility of the most important information from the shop floor to the board.
Give us a call on +441284 330188 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs.
The news of another hack or cyber-security breach is no longer groundbreaking and is quickly becoming the norm. The rate at which sophisticated hackers can access sensitive and highly valuable information is ever-increasing - a huge concern to companies large and small. Here are 5 simple ways you can step up your cyber-security in your business.
- Update passwords regularly
Changing passwords regularly can minimise the time that criminals can access it for. We recommend between 30-180 days, with 6 months being the maximum. Ensure your password is over 8 characters long and uses letters, numbers and symbols. Apple’s ‘keychain’ function is a great tool to create super strength passwords.
- Use two-step authentication
Passwords can only provide so much protection, so we recommend making the use of two-step authentication where possible. For example, when logging into your businesses social media accounts, you can request for additional information to be confirmed in order to validate your identity and protect your account from being compromised.
- Use a VPN
Employees using open wireless networks are a big risk to organisations and increase the likelihood of sensitive information being accessed. It is recommended that you set up a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt your browsing history and prevent hackers from seizing any sensitive data or passwords.
- Be wary of third-party apps
Installing third-party apps on your devices can easily lead to a security breach if not managed correctly. Be sure to read reviews in the App Store to ensure the app is legitimate and limit the amount of access it requires to what is necessary.
- Educate your employees
Education is key. Ensuring all your employees are familiar with and understand protocols when dealing with sensitive company information is paramount. Small measures can make a big difference - consider hosting a short seminar to brief your team on the do’s and don’ts or create and share an e-mail newsletter with a handy guide.
These 5 steps may seem common sense, but the majority of breaches are due to human error. When it comes to cyber-security, you can never be over-prepared.
If you would like to discuss this issue, feel free to e-mail the team at email@example.com.
If we had to put a pound coin in a jar every time someone said “there’s an app for that” we’d be incredibly rich by now. There are thousands of mobile and desktop applications launching every day, and they are seamlessly transitioning into our modern-day lives. From banking and financial management, health and fitness, entertainment and games, the list is endless. But did you know that apps can be great for business, too? Here are our top 5 apps to help improve your business efficiency.
After using Basecamp, 89% of people said they had a better handle of their business. Now that’s something to shout about! Basecamp integrates all of your business operations and communications to create a single platform that is, as they claim, a “central source of truth”. Teams can be grouped by department or project, work can be organised using the ‘to-do’ list or schedule tool, you can collaborate via a communal message board and you can monitor the whole machine using progress reports.
Wunderlist is a simple yet effective list-making app that allows you to easily keep track of tasks. Lists can sync across multiple devices and you can set reminders for urgent tasks that have a strict deadline. Tasks can also be shared with other members who can collaborate and comment when needed. Less really is more!
This is the Google Drive we’ve all come to know and love, but on mobile. It allows you to access all your files from any device - presentations, spreadsheets and word documents. The real beauty of this app is that it allows you to easily edit, collaborate and share - on the go.
If you run a business it’s likely that you will have to present at some point, whether it’s to directors, suppliers, customers or retailers. If you want to give your presentations that extra ‘wow’ factor, Prezi is a great place to start. Hosted in the cloud, Prezi lets you work on your presentations wherever you are, on any device, and even without wifi! Plus, the stunning templates and seamless slide transition will really give your audience something to talk about.
Grammarly is a savvy app that is essentially a free grammar checker. Easily upload reports, essays, presentations and pitches to the app and it will highlight any issues that need addressing. What’s more, the desktop and mobile app checks anything you type in the browser such as blog posts, e-mails and web content. Say goodbye to hours of proof-reading!
We hope these apps will help you achieve your business goals in 2018. If you use any other apps, we’d love to hear so feel free to comment below.
We are pleased to announce we have just completed a new website redesign for Suffolk Family Carers. Suffolk Family Carers is an established charity, helping family carers of all ages across Suffolk get the support they need to live fuller lives.
The organisation provides valuable support, information and advice to carers and their families across Suffolk. They campaign on issues that affect family carers to ensure their voice is heard, and aim to drive change in communities to enable family carers to have a life of their own alongside their caring role.
The new website includes some great new features including:
- a dedicated events calendar
- information on courses and groups with a new booking facility
- an online forum where members can share thoughts and feedback
- the option for resource and space booking and payments
- a brilliant site-wide search function
- a live chat element where users can speak with the support team
Cyber’s Dominic Compagnone said “We are delighted to provide Suffolk Family Carers with a fresh, modern and more user-friendly website. We hope the new functions such as the events calendar, course booking and live-chat will provide users with an enhanced online service.”
You can view the new site now at: www.suffolkfamilycarers.org.
If you are interested in a new website or a redesign, please feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +44 (0) 1284 330188.
You may or may not have heard about the GDPR in the news, online, or on social media. If you don’t know about it, it’s about time you get up to speed.
In 7 months time one of the biggest pieces of privacy legislation in over 20 years will come into effect across the EU. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on the 25th May 2018 and aims to give consumers more power when it comes to controlling the use of their personal data. The new legislation aims to ‘harmonise’ a variety of current EU laws into one overarching law that covers the whole of the EU. And yes, the UK is still expected to comply despite our Brexit transition.
Any country in the world handling data on any EU citizen has to comply, and the UK plans to adopt GDPR, with some additions, into UK Law under the UK Data Protection Bill which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.
All firms that manage customer data will be affected - so in this day and age pretty much every organisation, big AND small. Some smaller firms will have a tougher time with compliance due to a lack of in-house IT and legal capabilities, so it’s important they pay extra attention. According to law firm Collyer Bristow, 55% of small businesses are still unfamiliar with the legislation. The more unsettling fact is that if these firms were hit with the maximum fine for non-compliance, 18% would be insolvent.
With this in mind, here are some key points to be aware of:
• Consumers will have the right to request a legible copy of all information a company holds on them.
• Consumers will have the right to request that a business deletes all of the data it holds on them, also known as the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ however this is subject to any legal obligation to hold that data.
• Businesses will require clear consumer ‘consent’ in every case when gathering their data, and additional consent for third parties including marketing, maintenance and support. It’s no longer a ‘one tick box for all’ situation.
• Cyber security will need to be integrated at the design stage, rather than an afterthought. Organisations will need to provide proof that this has been implemented.
• All businesses will be required to give notification of a cyber breach. Regulators also require all companies to put a solid procedure in place to show how a breach will be dealt with.
To help, the ICO has put together a handy guide on 12 steps all businesses should take now. You can view it here.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to understand what is required and to prepare. As they say, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’.
If you would like any further information or advice feel free to contact us.
You may or may not be aware of our new software offering, Scanalytix. In a nutshell, Scanalytix delivers simple, clear Google Analytics reports directly to your inbox on the 1st of every month.
Why did we launch Scanalytix?
A few years back, we decided to build a tool that allowed us to provide clients with their most important website data. Our main motivation was that simply providing access to Google Analytics wasn’t enough. With a few major exceptions, most of our clients were small to medium businesses and some were an owner/operator setup. These people simply don’t have the time to learn how to retrieve the information they really need. We wanted to solve this issue, and so we set to work.
Skip forward a couple of years, a few changes, a new name, a product identity and finally a connected subscription service. Scanalytix was born.
How does it work?
This new automated monthly service presents your Google Analytics data in a simple, clear and easy to read report. Delivered to your inbox on the 1st of every month, Scanalytix analyses the previous month’s analytics to give you the earliest opportunity to review and to act upon the data provided. The reports identify the most relevant information in a clear, concise PDF direct from your Google Analytics account that can be used in reviews, presentations, management meetings or just for reference.
What are the benefits?
1. It’s straightforward.
You are provided with the basic information to help you understand how many visitors you had, where they came from, how they used your site and how long they were there.
2. It’s valuable.
Scanalytix simplifies the data and removes all the jargon so you’ll be able to see the true value in getting to know how your customers use your site. Scanalytix speaks plain English and presents information in a beautifully simple and clear format.
3. It’s insightful.
From your very first report (which you get FREE!), Scanalytix will provide brilliant insight into how your visitors are engaging with your website. From that, you’ll be able to make faster decisions about how to improve your site and increase the business it generates for you.
4. It’s measurable.
The beautiful charts in Scanalytix make it really easy to see the results of your actions month on month and, if you’re more of a numbers person, you’ll get those too!
5. It’s effortlessly reliable.
Once it’s set up, Scanalytix is delivered on the first day of every month as a beautiful PDF direct to your inbox so you can act on the information immediately.
How do you sign up?
You can find out more and sign up on the website here. For just £10 a month you will receive a beautifully presented, automated report direct to your inbox. What’s more, we’ll give you the first month FREE when you sign up! If you’re interested but not sure it’s for you, why not download a sample report here.
(This is the first time we've produced an article in both written an audio format. If you'd like to listen rather than read, please just click the play button on the player below.)
Think back to your digital business in 2009. For some of you, your business may not have existed then. For others, your website may still have been in the transition to ‘Web 2.0’: The advent of dynamic, user-generated content instead of static pages. Others will have fully adopted this and be reaping the rewards and the rest probably didn’t have a website at all.
2009 is an important year in the progression of web design and development but the chances are, you won’t know why.
In 2009, a guy named Luke Wroblewski, a designer who’s worked at the NCSA, eBay, Yahoo and also started several tech successes, first coined the phrase ‘Mobile First’. Very simply this is the notion that website and software owners should develop for mobile devices first and then build out feature and functionality for desktop.
Remember, in 2009, the iPhone wasn’t the powerhouse it is now: It was the third generation 3GS. Blackberry was still the go-to enterprise standard. Samsung had just released the Omnia: At the time, smart phone development was comparatively early-stage and browsers on these devices were poor.
But Wroblewski seemingly saw past what they were and looked to what they’d become. He was perhaps able to see to where we are now – a moment in time where more than 80% of UK adults have a smartphone. Where device adoption and development continues at a pace. With 4G connections now standard and super-fast 5G, expected just a few years ahead. Device screens getting thinner, sharper, brighter, larger and requiring lower and lower power. Pocket processing power thousands of times greater than the once largest Super Computers and that social media, which was itself in its infancy, would deliver advertising revenues of more than $50bn just 7 years later.
Perhaps what he saw however, was far more simplistic. Apple and other smartphone manufacturers had ramped up their investment in smartphone devices. As their adoption grew, so too did the potential for them to get bigger and better. That would only lead to greater adoption, more features and functionality with consumers relying on them more and more as their ‘go to’ device. Ultimately, this moment in 2017 where they are the norm, not the exception. That development brings huge opportunities: Among them, an ability to deliver web content specific to those devices. It’s been possible for years but, even in 2017, it’s not the adopted standard – and it’s only just starting to show real signs of going that way.
Referring to the fact that device users tend to be multi-tasking, for example walking down the street while searching, or scrolling while talking, Wroblewski said ‘Partial attention requires focused design’
But why is all of this important and why should you start paying attention?
Let’s look at websites and let the stats speak for themselves.
According to Google, 61% of users said they would be unlikely to return to a website they had difficulty using on a mobile device and 40% would visit a competitor site instead. Think about those two numbers alone in the context of your website visitor statistics: What a wasted opportunity! And if that wasn’t enough, what about this: smartphone conversion rates are up 64% compared to desktop conversion: Simply, people are more likely to convert on mobile device.
57% of people say they wouldn’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site.
88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device will call or go to that business within 24 hours.
And, if you still need convincing, how about this? 72% of consumers that land on a poorly designed mobile site will NEVER VISIT AGAIN.
Think about your own device use just for a moment: How many day to day tasks do you carry out on your phone. How many times in a day do you unlock your phone. If you want to search for something, do you walk to a desk or simply reach into your pocket? And if you search on your phone and the website you land on doesn’t render properly, what do you do? Persevere or go to the next site that works for you. The one that lets you search for what you want or navigate in just a few clicks to the purchase you want to make.
Now think about your customers. They are no different from you. But while you read this, knowing your site is probably not as optimised as it could or should be, you might have just lost a sale or an opportunity to get the contact details of a lead.
We speak to potential clients regularly and it still surprises us how few of them have considered a mobile element to their websites at all, let alone focusing on mobile first and it’s only when we talk about some of these statistics or look at their Google Analytics data that they suddenly see the need to do so.
Mentality is shifting. It’s a slow-burn not a sea-change. Even public bodies such as the NHS have begun issuing tenders with a mobile first focus because they can see how patients are using their services differently and that drives an urgent need for change in their online provision.
Our clients are increasingly aware that even if they have 70% of desktop users now, that probably won’t be the case in 1, 2 or 3 years from now and changes to their sites should be made sooner rather than later in order that they don’t fall behind. We’re rebuilding a number of sites for clients right now for this reason.
Again, think about your own device usage and then think about your business website and then call me.
My name is Dominic Compagnone, I’m Commercial Director at Cyber, a web and software development company and you can always contact me by mobile first: 07989 555775 or if you are one of the 79% of people that reads and replies to email on their smartphone, email@example.com
I’ll be publishing this blog in a number of places including LinkedIn and, to make one final point, that makes it likely you are listening to, or reading this on a mobile device…because that’s where more than 60% of their traffic comes from!
I’ll leave that with you and I hope to speak to you soon!
Many people with Google Webmaster Tools accounts, will have started to receive emails with this subject line - "Chrome will show security warnings on" and then their website domain name.
The email is alerting people that Google will start placing a warning on websites with any type of input field on them, that do not have an SSL certificate installed. Input fields are on registration forms, email contact forms, newsletter signup forms - basically they have many, many uses.
Starting October 2017, Chrome (version 62) will show a 'NOT SECURE' warning when users enter text in a form on an HTTP page, and for all HTTP pages in Incognito mode.
It looks like the process started back in May, and now Google is formally alerting website owners that they need to take action.
What do you need to do?
This is fairly straight-forward. Install an SSL certificate on your website. Something anyone with an e-commerce website should of had for many years now. An SSL certificate verifies that the site is who/what they claim to be, and encrypts traffic between your browser and you. It is important for the general security of the internet.
How do I install an SSL Certificate?
This is where it can be really easy, or more complicated. A lot depends on your website host - who you pay to have your website online. Many of these offer 1-Click installs for SSL certificates, quite often for free thanks to Lets Encrypt, SSL for Free and other similar services.
Some don't have this option, or if they do its a chargeable service. You might be quite capable of doing this yourself, you might need some help. Its straightforward, but there are risks if you get things wrong, and you definitely want a good support desk available if you run into trouble. There is also a decision to make as to whether you have a free certificate, that usually needs renewing every 3 months, or a commercial one that you can buy for many years at a time, offers a wildcard, and often provides a warranty for the end user.
Alternatively, you can have someone do all the hard work for you. If you have any questions about installing an SSL certificate on your website and what sort you need, please get in touch and we'll be happy to help.
It can be difficult to know and take into account every factor that affects your e-commerce website, attracts visitors and keeps them interested in your products.
Here is a select list of some of the most important factors to keep in mind:
Making sure the customer does not have difficulty navigating and buying products may sound like an obvious point to make; however, many websites unintentionally let this happen due to overloaded pages with long load times, inconvenient menus and unnecessary clicks.
With the high number of e-commerce websites available for customers to use, there is huge competition to attract visitors to choose your site over others. Ensuring your website is accessible to as many users as possible – including those with disabilities or who aren’t familiar with technology, for example – will help give you a boost in this area.
When visitors first come to your website they should be able to tell what it is selling by how it looks and instantly understand the products that are available. Not being able to tell from the outset what they can expect to find, visitors will often leave for another website.
If you are interested in discovering more about what you can do to make your website a success, why not take advantage of our free review? We put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and use our expertise of having run some of the most successful online sales platforms in the world to help you identify areas where you can improve and ensure those improvements are made smoothly.
Give us a call on 0203 657 2560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your free review and find out more about what we can do to help.
Cyber is a plain-speaking, creative digital services agency. However, our customers don’t like the term ‘digital services agency’, and we agree!
We are creative technology engineers for desktop, web and mobile apps, using our expertise to create amazing ideas and experiences to help you achieve more. See some information on our services below:
We integrate systems, manage data and automate processes that have previously taken valuable resources. Pretty cool of us, right?
We build beautiful web apps to help save you time and money by enabling a move from paper-based processes to more efficient web-accessed systems. Who doesn’t want more free time?
People are going crazy for mobile apps; unfortunately, we don’t build games. However, we do build awesome operational apps that take your data and processes, putting them in the hands of those who need them, when they need them. Much better than any game, don’t you agree?
At Cyber, everything works better if we start with ‘why’, because by knowing ‘why’ we can show you ‘how’ and then deliver the ‘what’ and it doesn’t need to cost the earth. That’s the Cyber way.
Get in touch if you would like to know more about how we can help you and your business. For further information, please contact us on 0203 657 2560.
The recent outbreak of the Ransomware affecting businesses across the world is an important warning for those running out of date or un-patched software.
We had a busy weekend checking every machine we support and every system we’ve ever built. Not to be complacent, we’re delighted to have been ahead of the game this time with zero breaches.
Ransomware is showing worrying trends: Malwarebytes show an increase from 17% in 2015 to 259% in 2016. WannaCry spreads by infected machines joining a network, rather than the traditional ransomware attack vectors, which previously required each machine to be infected separately through malicious attachments. It is approaching 200,000 global infections with the worst areas affected being Russia and Europe. The USA is starting to also heat up.
It uses a known Windows exploit called EternalBlue, created by the NSA, and released to the public in April 2017 by a hacking group known as the ShadowBrokers. Microsoft did fix the problem in April but it seems that many system administrators have not updated their systems with the latest Windows patches. What is really scary is that an organisation like the NHS are running 15-year-old operating systems such as Windows XP. These have been unsupported for three years, although Microsoft have taken the unprecedented step of releasing patch fixes for Windows XP on this occasion. The powerful feature of this malware is its ability to perform network scans over TCP port 445 (SMB) and compromise other machines. The result is encryption of files and the demand of a ransom payment in the form of Bitcoin. It also installs a persistent backdoor to access and execute code on previously compromised systems allowing for the installation and activation of additional software, such as malware.
The spread of the attack was brought to a sudden halt when one UK-based cybersecurity researcher found, and inadvertently activated, a “kill switch” in the malicious software: It turns out that the virus was coded to check to see if an obscure website address was registered and live and to halt if this was the case. This could easily be overcome in a modified release, which is what has already happened. Yes, this has indeed slowed the initial attack but this is only the first wave of such wormable ransomware attacks.
The warnings that cyber security experts have been sounding for years has finally come to the attention of the public. To remain secure, more money needs to be spent on cybersecurity and organisations need to ensure they use only modern patched operating systems. They also need to educate their staff in safe computing and, of course, to simply back up. Either regular off premises, or non-network attached, backups would have limited the damage of this modern nightmare.
Similar risks apply to software and services running older unpatched versions of PHP, MySQL, .NET, Perl. All manners of services and applications that businesses rely upon are all at risk if they are not maintained and secure.
At Cyber, we remain concerned. We too have some longstanding clients who have yet commit to up-grading from some of oldest versions of Microsoft .NET, SQL and PHP. We are working with many of them to address these issues now.
Cyber always recommends monthly checks of frequent security updates and complete annual reviews of software in use within a business to ensure it is up to date and any major version changes are assessed and implemented accordingly. With the risk at it's highest, these frequencies should be dramatically shortened
Get in touch if you would like to know more about what software you are running in your business, discover if you are at risk and find out how we can help. For further information, please contact us
If you'd like a PDF copy of this briefing, please click the button below.
* Some data provided by Dr Kevin Curran, senior member of the IEEE and professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University.
As a successful leading-edge, design-led, software development company, we have grown by listening to the needs of our clients. By providing specialist teams delivering cross-platform and cross-browser apps for desktop, web and mobile we have broadened our offering considerably in recent times. As we plan moves into exciting new areas of development it’s important that our branding clearly reflects our core skills and business ethos. As a result, we are announcing the arrival of Cyber, the trading name of Portcullis Digital. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing news of the exciting new product development launches we have planned from a very creative software business. We are Cyber.