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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 4th Apr 2018

Image result for Jean-Claude Biver

One on the most powerful men in luxury retailing has said it is time to stop seeing smartwatch makers Apple and Google as threats.

Jean-Claude Biver, who runs watchmakers Tag Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith, said the smartwatch will boost his industry.

Mr Biver was instrumental in reviving the Swiss industry after it was devastated in the 1970s and '80s by Japan's quartz battery revolution.

The entrepreneur also warned about the impact of a US-China trade war.

Speaking to the BBC during the Baselworld watch and jewellery fair in Switzerland, the global showcase for the Swiss industry, Mr Biver said Apple and Samsung should be invited to exhibit at the event.

But Mr Biver, now head of watches at French luxury goods giant LVMH, said traditionalists in the industry would be against it. "A lot of people wouldn't want Apple here. I know people who say this [event] should only be for the Swiss.

"The Apple watch is a watch: it's a bracelet that gives you information: hours, minutes, the date.

"But there are too many people here [in Basel] who don't think it's a watch. There are people here who say, if you're not Swiss you can't be here. It's like telling, say, Kia they can't come to the Geneva Motor Show because they are South Korean."

Mr Biver's sideswipe at sections of the industry will resonate because of his decades of experience in deal-making and reviving brands, especially after Japanese manufacturers emerged as powerful competitors with their quartz battery products.

His early use of product placements, notably in James Bond films, and celebrity endorsements are now routine in the luxury goods sector.

Apple sold about 20 million smartwatches last year, and many analysts think it will be the next big challenge for the Swiss industry.

Baselworld saw the launch of several hybrid smartwatches, which mix traditional mechanical features with connectivity.

But, crucially, the technological lead at Apple and Samsung has made them hugely popular among younger consumers.

Mr Biver said on of the biggest challenges facing his industry is getting a new generation to buy traditional watches.

"Apple and Samsung are promoters of the watch because they teach people to wear something on their wrist.

"Imagine a generation who did not wear any watch. It would be much more difficult for us to sell them something."

The traditional watch makers should embrace Apple and Samsung rather than run away because they could learn so much, the industry veteran said.

Mr Biver said a far greater threat was the current geo-political situation. A China-US trade war and growth of protectionism threatens to bring the luxury sector's recovery to a halt.

"When the mood changes to pessimism, the luxury sector suffers… At this moment, we are on the verge of something that could be damaging."

He said there had recently been a big turnaround in luxury goods sales in China, and particularly in watches among young people. "China has been the driving force in the recovery" of luxury goods, he said.

Swiss watch exports were up 12.8% in the first two months of the year, with Hong Kong and China both rising around 30%.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 3rd Apr 2018

New Data Protection Regulation

We will be updating our data protection statement. We are making this change to take into account the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which takes effect in the UK from 25th May 2018.

You can request a copy of the new Data Protection Statement for you to read which replaces any existing statement you received when your account was opened.

Please contact Sally Pearson on 01675 430080.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 3rd Apr 2018

Image result for grindr

The gay dating app has almost four million members around the world

Gay dating app Grindr has defended itself after an outcry over how it shared data with two external companies.

On Monday it emerged the app had, among other things, provided information on HIV status, including date last tested.

Grindr said the data was shared in line with standard industry practices, and that it felt the app had been unfairly singled out.

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it was investigating.

In a statement, it said it was working to "establish the scale of any impact on UK users".

Grindr said the information was not shared with any advertisers.

The companies that did get the data - Apptimize and Localytics - are paid to monitor how users interact with the software to see what could be improved.

The most sensitive information was encrypted, Grindr said - though a Norwegian campaign group said the sharing of other unencrypted data amounted to a potential privacy intrusion.

"The HIV status is linked to all the other information. That’s the main issue,” said Antoine Pultier from the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research, in an interview with BuzzFeed.

“I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status.”

'We've been singled out'

However Grindr’s security boss Bryce Case later told US news site Axios that data sharing with third-party companies with the goal of improving the app, rather than selling data, was commonplace.

"I understand the news cycle right now is very focused on these issues,” Mr Case said.

"I think what’s happened to Grindr is, unfairly, we’ve been singled out."

The BBC understands the Grindr had already stopped sharing information with Apptimize, and was in the process of winding down its work with Localytics.

Users on Grindr are given the option to share their HIV status along with the time they were last tested - an option backed, the company said, by LGBTQ groups and international health organisations.

The information is made available to potential suitors in the app. It is also used to power other features, such as reminders to be tested, and where to go.

"It is up to each user to determine what, if anything, to share about themselves in their profile," Grindr said in a statement.

It added: "Grindr has never, nor will we ever sell personally identifiable user information - especially information regarding HIV status or last test date - to third parties or advertisers."

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 2nd Apr 2018

We’ve just had a full blown argument in the office.

Flowery language. Dirty looks. The whole shebang.

All about one thing...

...Live Chat.

It’s increasingly popular on loads of websites. You’ll see it pop up in the bottom right hand corner “I’m Jack, can I help?”.

No Jack. You can’t.

I don’t like live chat. I like talking to people on the phone.

It seems I’m the only person in the office who’d choose a phone call over live chat.

Tell me I’m not the only one! What’s your view on live chat?

Send us an email and settle this debate before someone gets excluded from the tea round.


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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 27th Mar 2018

I had one of those awful situations last week. I found myself doing the one thing that makes me start looking around the office for one of those promotional stress balls that people give out at exhibitions.

I was ON HOLD.

Nobody likes being on hold. It's the worst place to be.

Nothing tells you how unimportant your call/existence must be than hearing: "Thanks for waiting, your call IS important to us" for the eleventy third time.

There are a number of things that the Gods of Hold Music can decide to do with your call, only one of them is the one you've being praying for as you watch your call time tick up:

1) They can just terminate the call for no reason once you've been waiting for 15 minutes.

2) They can put you through to someone who tells you brusquely that you've come through to the wrong department and then (before you've had chance to even say anything) put you back on hold.

3) They can deliver you to someone who can solve your problem, without sending you anywhere else, or even asking to pop you back on hold.

The third option is about as likely as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un both being invited for a picnic at Downing Street.

Nobody wants to be on hold.

That's why we don't have any hold options here at Discus. When you call us, we answer the phone and solve your problem. Just like it should be.

Give us a call before 5pm and test it out on +44 (0)1675 430080.

Talk soon.


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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 21st Mar 2018

If you want a job that rides the wave of the future, get hired by a firm that combats cyber-threats.

Criminal and malicious hackers are endlessly inventive and every day despatch novel viruses and other digital threats into cyber-space to wreak havoc.

Getting paid to tackle these is about as cutting edge as you can get.

One emerging discipline in this field of cyber-incident response tackles the most skilled and serious of these hackers - those who work for nation-states.

The UK's GCHQ now estimates that 34 separate nations have serious, well-funded cyber-espionage teams targeting friends and foes alike.

The threat from these state-sponsored digital spies has been deemed so serious that the intelligence agency has designated five firms victims can all on if they are caught out by these attackers.

"We get called when people have a big fire and we come along with our hoses and try to put it out," says James Allman-Talbot, head of incident response in the cyber-security division of BAE Systems.

"We're like the fire service," says BAE's James Allman-Talbot

That captures the fact that, more often than not, the fire brigade arrive to find a building still in flames. When it comes to cyber-fires, that means the hackers are still embedded in a victim's network and are still trying to steal data or burrow more deeply.

Unlike the fire service, the BAE team do not arrive in a blaze of lights and sirens. They have to be more stealthy.

"If the attackers have access to the victim's email servers the last thing you want to do is discuss it on there," says Robin Oldham, head of the cyber-security consulting practice at BAE, who is also part of the incident response team.

Tipping off the bad guys could prompt them to delete evidence or, if they have more malicious motives, shut down key systems and destroy data, he says.

Instead, responders first gather evidence to see how bad the incident is and how far the hackers have penetrated a network.

It's at this point that the team use the skills picked up during earlier careers. All of the team have solid technical computer skills to which they have added particular specialities.

Responders first gather evidence to see how bad the incident is and how far the hackers have penetrated a network

Prior to working at BAE, Mr Allman-Talbot did digital forensics for the Metropolitan Police and Mr Oldham has significant experience running large complex networks.

The good news about most organisations is that they typically gather lots of information about their network and often it is anomalies in the logs that expose suspicious activity.

But that extensive logging has a down side, says Mr Oldham.

"It can mean we have a large amount of data to work with and analyse. In some cases that means a few hundred million lines of log files."

Once incident response teams get their hands on data from a victim they start analysing it to see what has happened.

It's at this point that the allied discipline of threat intelligence comes into play. This involves knowing the typical attack tools and techniques of different hacking groups.

A stealthy response to an incident is key, says Robin Oldham

Good threat intelligence can mean responders hit the ground running, says Jason Hill, a researcher at security firm CyberInt.

"If you understand how they operate and deploy these tools and use them to attack the infrastructure you know what to look and how to spot the tell-tale signs."

In the past, nation state hackers have tried to bury themselves in a target network and siphon off data slowly.

"Criminal hackers have a more smash and grab mentality. They do it once and do it big," he says.

More recently, he adds, it has got harder to separate the spies from the cyber-thieves.

One example was the attack on Bangladesh's central bank - widely believed to have been carried out by North Korea. It netted the rogue state about £58m ($81m).

Russian groups also span both sides of the divide. Some criminal groups have been seen working for the state and often they use the tools gained in spying for other jobs.

North Korea is widely believed to have been behind an attack on Bangladesh's central bank

"The motivations of the groups have really become blurry of late," says Mr Hill.

Attribution - working out which group was behind a breach - can be difficult, says Mr Allman-Talbot, but spotting that one attack shares characteristics with several others can guide the investigators.

One widespread attack, dubbed Cloud Hopper, sought to compromise companies selling web-based services to large businesses. Getting access to a service provider could mean that the attackers then got at all its customers.

Thoroughly investigated by BAE and others, Cloud Hopper has been blamed on one of China's state-backed hacking groups known as APT10 and Stone Panda. Knowing how they got at a victim can help free the hackers' hold on a network and reveal all the places that need cleaning up.

Even with up-to-date intelligence on attack groups and their chosen methods, there will still be unanswered questions thrown up by an investigation, says Mr Allman-Talbot.

The joy of the job comes from during investigations as the team figures out how the bad guys got in, what they did and what data they got away with, he adds.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 21st Mar 2018

"It is time. #deletefacebook."

After reports of Cambridge Analytica using Facebook's user information came to light, people across social media have begun to urge others to either #DeleteFacebook or #BoycottFacebook in response.

One surprising voice has joined this movement - WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.

Mr Acton left the company in 2017, three years after Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19bn (£11.4bn at the then exchange rates) in 2014.

Skip Twitter post by @brianacton

Brian Acton@brianacton

It is time.

11:00 PM - Mar 20, 2018

Twitter Ads info and privacy


End of Twitter post by @brianacton

You may also like:

"We all moved on from MySpace. We can move on from Facebook too."

This was a typical message found on Twitter in the wake of accusations over Cambridge Analytica using personal data from 50 million Facebook users to influence the US presidential election in 2016.

The #DeleteFacebook hashtag appeared to gain traction after one Twitter user quoted a BBC Stories tweet from 2017 - an interview with Theresa Wong about Cambridge Analytica, originally broadcast on BBC Two in the series Secrets of Silicon Valley.

Four quotes were taken from the interview to infer Facebook's role in Donald Trump's 2016 US election victory, such as "Facebook was our hands-on partner," and "Without Facebook we wouldn't have won," coupled with the call to #DeleteFacebook in response.

Skip Twitter post by @TedGrunewald

Theodore Grunewald@TedGrunewald

Replying to @mikells43 and 2 others

"Facebook was our hands-on partners."
"Without Facebook, we wouldn't have won."
"Facebook really and truly put us over the edge."
"Facebook was *the* medium that proved most successful for this [Trump] campaign."https://twitter.com/bbcstories/status/896752720522100742 …

3:49 AM - Mar 17, 2018

Twitter Ads info and privacy


End of Twitter post by @TedGrunewald

This seemed to be the starting point for people to begin expressing their desire to leave Facebook, with blink-182's Mark Hoppus amassing over 6,000 likes in 24 hours for simply tweeting the words "Delete Facebook".

But the irony of using one social media account to decry another was not lost on some people.

One comment on a Reddit thread about the #DeleteFacebook movement joked "the rally cry to delete from Facebook is now trending as a hashtag on Twitter - another social media site that gathers data on users".

And a person on Twitter suggested because Instagram is owned by Facebook, "if you delete one, you gotta delete the other".

Neither Twitter nor Instagram are accused of using personal data in a similar way to the dispute concerning Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, although one person suggested an extreme approach to data security as the solution.

Skip Twitter post by @SonnyBunch

Sonny Bunch✔@SonnyBunch

If you are worried about companies using data to target you, then you need to delete your Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and stop buying things from Amazon and stop searching with Google and cancel all your credit cards and stop donating to charity and cancel mag

1:10 PM - Mar 19, 2018

Twitter Ads info and privacy


End of Twitter post by @SonnyBunch

A spokeswoman for Privacy International warned that privacy concerns extend beyond Facebook as "your data is being exploited all the time".

A person on the technology subsection of Reddit agreed, saying removing Facebook "doesn't solve the long term problem [because] consent to data use is very weakly protected online right now".

And one Twitter user seeking regulation of Facebook said having the ability to delete an account is "a privilege".

Skip Twitter post by @sheeraf

Sheera Frenkel✔@sheeraf

If you want to delete Facebook, go ahead. Just know that's a privilege.
For much of the world, Facebook is the internet and only way to connect to family/friend/business. That's why its important to have a real discussion re Facebook's security/privacy issues.

6:45 PM - Mar 18, 2018

Twitter Ads info and privacy


Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 21st Mar 2018

Image result for Is leaving Facebook the only way to protect your data

People increasingly want to know how much information tech firms have on them

Allegations that research firm Cambridge Analytica misused the data of 50 million Facebook users have reopened the debate about how information on the social network is shared and with whom.

Data is like oil to Facebook - it is what brings advertisers to the platform, who in turn make it money.

And there is no question that Facebook has the ability to build detailed and sophisticated profiles on users' likes, dislikes, lifestyles and political leanings.

The bigger question becomes - what does it share with others and what can users do to regain control of their information?

Want to see what you look like as a Hollywood star? Click here.

Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix told MPs it used data from "Facebook surveys"

We've all seen these quizzes - offering to test your IQ, reveal your inner personality, or show you what you'd look like if you were a glamorous actor.

It was information from one such Facebook quiz - This is Your Digital Life - that Cambridge Analytica is alleged to have used to harvest the data of millions of people.

Many such quizzes come with reassurances that your data is safe.

These games and quizzes are designed to tempt users in but they are often just a shop front for mass data collection - and one that Facebook's terms and conditions allow.

Privacy advocates Electronic Frontier Foundation said the way these quizzes collected data reflected "how Facebook's terms of service and API were structured at the time".

Facebook has changed its terms and conditions to cut down on the information that third parties can collect, specifically stopping them from accessing data about users' friends.

It is not yet clear exactly what information the firm got hold of - this is now subject to an investigation by the UK data protection authority, the ICO.

What can users do to protect their information?

  • Log in to Facebook and visit the App setting page
  • Click edit button under Apps, Websites and Plugins
  • Disable platform

This will mean that you won't be able to use third-party sites on Facebook and if that is is a step too far, there is a way of limiting the personal information accessible by apps while still using them:

  • Log into Facebook's App settings page
  • Unclick every category you don't want the app to access, which includes bio, birthday, family, religious views, if you are online, posts on your timeline, activities and interests

Digital fingerprints are getting bigger as people share more information online

There are some others pieces of advice too.

"Never click on a 'like' button on a product service page and if you want to play these games and quizzes, don't log in through Facebook but go directly to the site," said Paul Bernal, a lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property and Media Law in the University of East Anglia School of Law.

"Using Facebook Login is easy but doing so, grants the app's developer access to a range of information from their Facebook profiles," he added.

How else can you protect your Facebook data?

There really is only one way to make sure your data remains entirely private, thinks Dr Bernal. "Leave Facebook."

"The incentive Facebook will have to protect people more will only come if people start leaving. Currently it has very little incentive to change," he told the BBC.

It seems he is not alone in his call - the hashtag #DeleteFacebook is now trending on Twitter in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

But Dr Bernal acknowledges that it is unlikely many will quit - especially those who see Facebook as "part of the infrastructure of their lives".

Can you find out what data on you is stored?

Mr Schrems has been involved in a series of complaints against Facebook since 2011

Under current data protection rules, users can make a Subject Access Request to individual firms to find out how much information they have on them.

When Austrian privacy advocate Max Schrems made such a request to Facebook in 2011, he was given a CD with 1,200 files stored on it.

He found that the social network kept records of all the IP addresses of machines he used to access the site, a full history of messages and chats, his location and even items that he thought he had deleted, such as messages, status updates and wall posts.

But in a world where Facebook information is shared more widely with third parties, making such a request gets harder.

As Dr Bernal says: "How do you ask for your data when you don't know who to ask?"

That is likely to change this summer with the introduction in Europe of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which aims to make it far easier for users to take back control of their data.

The threat of big fines for firms that do not comply with such requests could make it more likely that they will share this information, which must be given to consumers "in a clear and readable form".

How long is data kept?

Can you remove your profile from social media?

Data protection laws in Europe suggest that firms should only keep user data "as long as necessary" but the interpretation of this can be very flexible.

In Facebook's case, this means that as long as the person posting something does not delete it, it will remain online indefinitely.

Can you delete historic data?

Users can delete their accounts, which in theory will "kill" all their past posts but Facebook encourages those who wish to take a break from the social network simply to deactivate them, in case they wish to return.

And it must be remembered that a lot of information about you will remain on the platform, from the posts of your friends.

One of the biggest changes of GDPR will be the right for people to be forgotten and, under these changes it should, in theory, be much easier to wipe your social network or other online history from existence.

Source: bbc.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 20th Mar 2018

Despite the failure of Google Glass, the company is still investing in augmented reality

Google invests $14.5m in UK-based augmented reality start-up Blue Vision

Blue Vision's augmented reality app in action

Google has confirmed plans to plough $14.5 million into augmented reality (AR) software start-up Blue Vision Labs.

GV, Google's investment arm, better known by its former name of Google Ventures, along with private equity firms Accel, Horizon Ventures and SV Angel have all invested in the company.

Based in the UK, the company is working on a collaborative augumented reality platform that will enable experiences similar to Nintendo's Pokemon Go.

The company explained that it will use the investment to create a new cloud AR platform that enables users to create and share interactive AR experiences using their smartphone cameras.

This will be one of the company's first major products since 2011. It is looking to tap into what it claims is the growing popularity of mobile AR gaming and AR entertainment applications.

It recently detailed the Blue Vision AR Cloud platform, which "enables the building of city-wide, shared and persistent applications where everyone sees the same thing for the very first time".

Peter Ondruska, co-founder and CEO of Blue Vision Labs, explained: "We are opening it for developers to help them redefine how people interact with their technology, their environment, and each other in gaming, social and collaborative AR applications that were previously impossible to build."

In the future, users of the platform will be able to interact with AR objects in real-life settings. These will be placed throughout the app by collaborators.

The experience will work in a similar way to Pokemon Go, but the main difference is that the designers of the latter are responsible for distributing objects.

Blue Vision Labs is also working on AR developer tools. "It took us years to perfect this technology and we are making it available today," wrote Ondruska in a blog post.

"With our easy-to-use SDK you can build shared and persistent AR experiences for multiple devices within minutes."

He said the company's recent investment will allow it to "empower developers to build widespread AR applications using our platform, and to grow our team".

Ondruska added: "We plan to use our underlying technology to open new possibilities in AI, machine learning, robotics, self-driving and other applications.

"Our goal is to enable a better future where both AR and robotics technologies can be enjoyed by everyone."

Source: v3.co.uk
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 20th Mar 2018

It’s official. Discus has gone GLOBAL!

From our humble barn here in Hampton in Arden, we’ve only gone and become an international IT Support company.

But if you’re thinking that maybe we’ve opened a second office in some far-flung, sun filled paradise, hold your horses.

We haven’t.

But we DID have a call from Poland.

That makes us international? Doesn’t it?!

The Polish company manages the international IT support for a huge multinational business, and they needed some ‘remote hands’ in Birmingham.

So we jumped on a plane drove to Birmingham.

All of 10 minutes. Didn’t even need a passport.

Becoming an international IT Support business wasn’t quite as glamorous as I’d hoped it might be!

Still, it’s good to know that when our Polish friends turned to Google and asked for the very best IT Support company in the Midlands to work on their biggest client, they chose us.

Wherever you are in the world, your IT would be in safer hands with Discus, give us a call and we’ll dust off our passports.

Talk soon

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