Featured Article : Microsoft’s March Commercial Price Rises

With Microsoft poised to increase its first substantive commercial pricing increase for Microsoft 365 since the company launched Office 365 a decade ago, we take a look at the added benefits and value and the justification behind the price changes.

Six Months Ago

Microsoft made its official announcements about which prices it would change and by how much back in August 2021. The new prices for its commercial products come into effect on March 1, 2022 and range from increases of 9 per cent to 25 per cent depending on the product. However, as the company points out, some considerable value has been added to its services over the last 10 years that may more than justify the increases.

Value-Adding Innovation Over 10 Years

It would be hard to disagree that Microsoft 365 has dramatically improved its products over the last 10 years, mostly thanks to re-investment and keeping its products relevant to business needs. In fact, since the introduction of 365, the company has added no less than 1,400 features, and 24 apps to the suites! (Microsoft Teams, Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate, Stream, Planner, Visio, OneDrive, Yammer, and Whiteboard).

Security

One extremely important challenge for businesses and organisations to tackle in today’s business environment is cyber security, both for business continuity and compliance. In fairness, Microsoft 365 has added plenty of security capabilities over the years to keep businesses ahead of prevailing threats. For example, data loss prevention (DLP) for email and documents, sensitivity labels, and message encryption help guard valuable company data and Content Search, as well as eDiscovery, and core Litigation Hold to help with compliance.

The Hybrid Working Security Challenge

Hybrid working has proven to be another big challenge to security for businesses and organisations around the world. On this point, Microsoft is keen to highlight how its “Built-in mobile device management (MDM) and other management tools like Microsoft Endpoint Manager help admins support remote and hybrid workforces.”

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is a technology that’s transforming many areas of business automation. Microsoft has also added many AI elements to 365. For example, cloud-powered AI helps create maps, charts, and tables in Excel, as well as sorting and uncluttering Outlook. Plus, AI-powered real-time translation, captions, and transcription have now been added to improve collaboration and communication.

Competition

There are, of course, other cloud-based productivity suite options for businesses such as the more browser-centric Google Workspace, Zoho Workspace, and more. For most businesses it’s a case of finding the best fit with the installed base of hardware, using a familiar environment that fits the needs and workflow of the organisation. As the marketing people at Microsoft know all too well, in respect of the classic relationship within the often-cited ‘Porter’s 5 Forces’, the company has considerable supplier power but there’s always competitive rivalry and threats of substitution, and its price rise can’t just be based on its market power.

Teams

It would also be difficult not to note the important contribution that Microsoft Teams has made to many businesses during the pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. Although by no means the only collaborative working platform around (e.g. Zoom, Slack) Microsoft Teams (launched in 2017) proved to be the right solution at the right time for many, providing a practical way forward at the most uncertain time in living memory.

It is not surprising that with staff suddenly finding themselves working remotely and businesses having to undergo rapid digital transformations, with Teams already being part of Microsoft’s suite, it proved very popular. In fact, as far back as pre-pandemic December 2019, it was reported as having 20 million daily active users, and when the first lockdown hit in March 2020, Microsoft reported that Teams saw a massive 12 million user boost in one week!

Today, Teams has become the main communications platform for many businesses and organisations across the UK and Microsoft has put some considerable effort and investment into keeping it that way. For example, in 2020 over 300 new capabilities were added to Teams (Together mode, background effects, large gallery view, and more). Also, collaborative applications in Teams have been added to help with hybrid working e.g., Power Platform, Whiteboard, Lists, Planner, Shifts, Forms, and SharePoint, plus there are now many popular third-party apps that can integrate with Teams e.g., Adobe, Atlassian, Salesforce, SAP, ServiceNow, and Workday.

Other Teams Boosts

Other ways that Microsoft has boosted the power and value of Teams are, for example, by introducing features like real-time collaboration in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint desktop apps, as well as adding and expanding OneDrive cloud storage and the Exchange Online mailboxes. Unlimited dial-in capabilities for Teams has also been introduced across Microsoft’s enterprise, business, frontline, and government suites.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Price increases are never great news for businesses but after such a long time with no substantive increases, it was to be expected. 10 years is a particularly long time in the tech world where many huge changes can take place and there’s no doubt that Microsoft has invested in (and improved) Office 365 to transform it into the Microsoft 365 of today. The use of the cloud and apps like Teams have proven vital over the lasts two years of remote and hybrid working and, as Microsoft points out, continuous innovation has been the way that it has tried to keep its products relevant, and this is the key justification behind its March commercial price rises. In a forthcoming article, we’ll take a look at the price rise figures and some of the opinions and reactions by tech commentators and in the marketplace.

Tech News : Phone Recordings Via App – Police Investigation

The ICO launched an investigation after more than 1,000 Sussex and Surrey police officers were found to have downloaded a free app to covertly record calls with members of the public on police-issued phones.

Google Play Store App

The app, free to download for the Google Play Store, and called ‘Another Call Recorder’ (ACR), had been approved for use in 2017 for negotiators when dealing with kidnaps/hostage and other crisis situations. The app, which reportedly works best on older Android phones is able to record and store all incoming and outgoing calls made on a mobile by accessing the microphone and the speaker’s data feeds, and by saving the recordings to the phone’s storage.

Problem – No Means To Restrict

As discovered by the ICO, the fact that any police officers were able to download the app for free from Google Play meant that its use couldn’t be restricted to just the purpose that it was originally approved for. The ICO’s investigation found, therefore, that the app had been used to make “indiscriminate” covert recordings of calls with members of the public on 700 police phones (545 installations of the app by Sussex, and 238 by Surrey). The indiscriminate, widespread, and apparently arbitrary use of the app by Police was stopped after Surrey and Sussex forces found out about the practice in March 2020 and referred themselves to the ICO and the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (ICPO) four months later.

Disclosure

The main legal issue to be investigated was that of ‘disclosure,’ i.e., whether it breached the Investigatory Powers Act by amounting to unlawful “interception” of a communication by means of a private or public telecommunication system.

Other potential legal issues relating to the use of the app could include:

– Whether the other party on the call had been warned that they were being recorded (relating to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

– Whether usage of the app may have breached data protection laws e.g., if it was used to record calls relating to a minor crime, rather than the major crime of hijacking that it has been passed for use with.

The Findings

The IPCO’s investigation concluded that:

– The app was recording the communication while it was being transmitted, which constituted recording at a “relevant time.”

– The version of the app used by police didn’t allow recordings of the calls to be automatically uploaded to cloud services i.e., didn’t make them available to a third party while in the course of transmission; it was only available to the app user once the recording had been stored locally on the device. This meant that the conduct was not sufficient by itself to render the call recording “interception”. Also, the IPCO concluded that the installation and use of the app is not interception.

– Since telephone calls are protected under Article 8, European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) the use of the app by police did constitute ‘covert’ surveillance i.e., it did not warn the other party that they were being recorded.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It is a little shocking that hundreds of members of two police forces were using a free app for years to make arbitrary, covert recordings of people, without their consent or knowledge, and did not know that this could constitute a breach of laws. It should be noted that the particular app used by the police is in contrast to apps used by businesses, such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Zoom because these do inform users when a participant records the call, and their recording feature automatically warns all other parties.

As the IPCO report pointed-out, however, both forces, upon discovery of the issue, promptly brought it to the attention of the relevant authorities and took immediate steps on their own to stop the usage of the app and remove it from devices. In this case, because the app kept the recordings on the phone itself and didn’t send them to a third-party (the cloud) it was deemed not to be interception.

In the business world, a Prospect trade union poll from last November showed that 32 per cent of UK workers are being remotely monitored and tracked by employers. There is concern about a lack of regulation at present and the issue of consent is very important. Businesses should note that under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, individuals have a non-absolute right to respect for their private and family life and correspondence, and (UK) GDPR has some important details relating to data protection and consent that need to be considered. For businesses who want to monitor their employees, however, the broad rules are that workers are entitled to some privacy at work, and employers must tell employees about any monitoring arrangements and the reason for it. Also, employers should have procedures in place setting out what is and what isn’t allowed, and these procedures should be made clear and understood by all workers before monitoring begins. Generally, employers must have a genuine reason to conduct any covert monitoring such as criminal activities or malpractice, and any monitoring should be limited, targeted and within certain times, with employers having regard for private communications.

Tech News : New Graphene-Based Batteries Could Be Fireproof & Safer

Los Angeles based Nanotech Energy claims to have developed a fireproof, graphene-based lithium-ion battery that could be safer for Electric Vehicles.

What Is Graphene?

Extracted from graphite, graphene is a single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms, tightly bound in a two-dimensional, hexagonal honeycomb lattice nanostructure. First observed through electron microscopes in 1962, it was re-discovered in 2004 (although Nanotech says 2002). Graphene has exceptionally high tensile strength – 10 times that of steel, electrical conductivity, transparency, is the thinnest two-dimensional material in the world, and is the second-strongest material in the world (to Borophene).

What Causes Fires With Traditional Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Volume changes (expansion) of lithium-ion battery electrodes during charge and discharge can cause an internal short circuit, which can lead to a fire. Also, lithium-ion batteries can catch fire if they have been improperly manufactured or damaged, or if the software that operates the battery isn’t designed correctly. Lithium-ion batteries can sometimes also simply overheat during charging.

In the case of using lithium-ion batteries in EV’s, the use of organic liquid electrolytes (the battery’s most flammable component), which can be volatile and flammable when operating at high temperatures can increase the fire risk e.g., if a car-crash causes a chemical leakage.

How Is A Graphene-Based Battery Different?

The new graphene-based battery from Nanotech is reported to be different because:

– It has graphene electrodes i.e., the positive (cathode) and negative (anode) terminals. This helps the battery to withstand its volume changes during charge and discharge, thereby reducing the potential fire risk. Also, with graphene being a highly effective conductor of electricity, it can help the battery to keep a lower internal resistance and temperature, thereby helping to prevent overheating during charging.

– It uses a non-flammable, stable, and inexpensive proprietary electrolyte solution, called Organolyte™. A non-flammable electrolyte means a dramatically reduced fire risk.

– It has a new proprietary separator. The graphene battery electrodes must be separated by a material through which the ions transfer. Instead of using a typical polyolefin separator Nanotech Energy has developed a new separator material that improves stability and makes the battery safer.

Performance

In terms of performance, Nanotech reports that the battery retains more than 80 percent of its rated capacity through 1,400 cycles and can charge “18 times faster than anything that is currently available on the market”. The battery is also reported to be able to maintain performance at extreme temperatures (-40 to 140 degrees F), hold charge at temperatures as high as 350 degrees, and won’t catch fire if damaged with a nail or heated to more than 1,300 degrees.

Easy To Manufacture And Better For The Environment.

Other reported benefits of the new battery are that it doesn’t require exotic materials and can be relatively easily manufactured on existing equipment in various form factors (cylindrical, pouch, etc.). Also, Nanotech says that using graphene-based batteries could help develop more cost-efficient, environmentally friendly personal electronic devices to create a more efficient way to harness renewable energy.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

EV’s are the way forward for domestic and commercial transport, but one of the big challenges that EV manufactures have faced is developing a battery that requires infrequent charging, charges very quickly, is durable, can go a long way on a charge, and is safe. This new graphene-based battery certainly appears to address the safety, fast charging and durability issues, and the fact that it is relatively easy to manufacture using existing equipment (keeping costs down) is also a big bonus. This discovery could go some way to helping push the EV market forward if widely adopted, although initial production looks set to concentrate on the consumer electronics market rather than electric vehicles pending more testing time. This means that these batteries may not go into big commercial production for another year, and there are still other EV challenges to overcome, such as meeting the charging network demand.

Tech Insight : How To Check Your VPN

In this article, we take a look at some of the ways users can assess how good their VPN really is.

What Is A VPN?

A ‘Virtual Private Network’ (VPN) is used to keep internet activity private, evade censorship / maintain net neutrality and use public Wi-Fi securely (e.g., avoid threats such as ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks). A VPN achieves this by diverting a user’s traffic via a remote server to replace their IP address while offering the user a secure, encrypted connection (like a secure tunnel) between the user’s device and the VPN service. This should mean that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or anyone else cannot read what you’re doing while using your VPN.

VPN services apps are downloaded to devices and connected when they are needed, for example, for security when using public Wi-Fi and/or when working remotely.

Other VPN Uses

In addition to security, VPNs can also be used for:

– Hiding where and how you browse from your ISP so the details can’t be sold to advertisers or accessed in a data breach of your ISP.

– Accessing the latest film or series in a country where there are content restrictions in place.

Performance

A VPN should be fast and easy to operate and, obviously, secure, as well as being the right price (free ones are available).

Possible Issues With VPNs

Some of the possible issues with VPNs that could affect their performance include:

– Not being fast enough.

– Leaking a user’s IP address and/or DNS requests when the user goes online.

– Having broken features that may not secure a user’s true Internet Protocol Version 6 address (IPv6), which could expose the user’s details to third parties.

– Not having a good VPN ‘kill switch’ (Network Lock), thereby not keeping data secure if the connection drops for any reason. 

– As highlighted by a 2019 VPN Pro study, almost one-third of the most popular VPN services are secretly owned by Chinese companies that may be subject to weak privacy laws.

Checking

Ways you find out if your VPN is satisfactory include:

– Using speed test tools such as the new open-source speed-test tool from NordVPN that allows users to compare the speeds of different VPN services. See: https://nordvpn.com/vpn-speed-test/ for details. Other VPN speed test tools include SPEEDTEST online https://www.speedtest.net/ or app – SPEEDTEST VPN (https://www.speedtest.net/apps/vpn), or by checking online rankings e.g., CNET’s comparison (speed and privacy) https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/fastest-vpn/.

– Check for DNS leaks / perform a DNS leak test to help discover if your VPN is private. For example, see https://www.dnsleaktest.com/, https://ipleak.net/, or https://surfshark.com/dns-leak-test. Connect to a VPN server and load ipleak.net in your internet browser, manually (disconnect) while the VPN client is running and then load some test websites while the VPN is reconnecting. This may identify brief reconnection leaks.

– Check for IP address leaks such as DNS IP leaks (see dnsleaktest.com or dnsleak.com), Torrent IP Leaks – if using Torrent( see http://checkmyip.torrentprivacy.com/), WebRTC IP Leaks from the web browser (use a Chrome extension e.g., such as WebRTC Leak Prevent or WebRTC Prevent Shield), or an email IP leak (see https://emailipleak.com/).

– Check whether censorship can be bypassed e.g., the user switching their VPN on and off while trying to access restricted content.

Limitations With VPN Testing Tools

It should be remembered that VPN testing tools may not be entirely reliable due to limitations such as a lack of transparency in how speeds are measured, their reliability and the verification of their results, and whether they work for a wide range of different VPN providers.

Reviews and Trusted Brands

For many people, a little online research of reviews, rankings, comparisons, and opinions is the most effective way of assessing the comparative effectiveness of a VPN. Also, many people may simply prefer to go with personal recommendations or go with well-known trusted brands when it comes to allaying fears about making the wrong choice or tackling feelings of post-purchase dissonance.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

A VPN is one of several security tools that are now widely used by businesses/organisations and individuals. There is a wide choice available, and although it seems a fairly simple operation to sign up to one and start using it, making the wrong choice of VPN tool could potentially have serious consequences. Assessing just how good a particular VPN can, in reality, be quite complicated and time-consuming. Online measuring tools and apps can provide a reasonable idea, although they can also lack transparency and reliability. For many users, it’s a case of looking at different online comparisons or sticking with/switching to trusted, paid-for brands, or going with personal recommendations.

Tech Tip – Making Your Browser Remember Your Passwords

Your browser may have a Password Manager but sometimes an issue (e.g., conflicting extensions) may cause the browser not to save or remember your passwords. Here’s how to fix the issue for popular browsers Chrome and Edge:

For Google Chrome:

– Open the Chrome menu (the three dots top right) and select ‘Settings’.

– Select ‘Autofill’ on the sidebar.

– Choose the option labelled ‘Passwords’ (left side of the Settings screen).

– Turn on the ‘Offer to save passwords’ switch.

For Microsoft Edge:

– Open the Edge menu (the three dots top right) and select ‘Settings’.

– Select ‘Passwords’.

– Turn on the ‘Offer to save passwords’ switch.

Tech News : From 7 Mins Download … To 0.12 Secs (ish!)

Nanjing’s government-backed Purple Mountain Laboratories claims to have made a 6G breakthrough by recording the fastest real-time wireless communication speed ever recorded.

For reference, 6G is likely to be around 50 times faster than 5G, which itself is around 20 times faster than 4G. Whilst this is very approximate, this could mean that a film that may take (say) 7 minutes to download via contemporary 4G would take 6 seconds with 5G (the newest standard currently being rolled out) and circa 0.12 seconds with 6G.

Highest Ever Reported

Working in collaboration with Southeast University, Pengcheng Laboratory, Fudan University, and China Mobile, the lab claims to have achieved a single-wavelength net rate of 103.125 Gbps and a dual-wavelength terahertz wireless transmission (in a lab environment) with a net rate of 206.25 Gbits/sec. As well as being the highest transmission terahertz real-time wireless communication ever publicly reported, this has the potential to increase the speed of 5G transfers, which are already 20x faster than previous standards

What Does This Mean?

Purple Mountain has said that this terahertz frequency band (300GHz~3THz), is considered to be the foundation of 6G mobile communications. The implications of the lab achieving a speed/wireless transmission rate this high could be:

– The replacement of the existing mobile optical fibre network, reducing the amount of data centre cables and power costs, and integrating with the existing optical fibre network to bring ultra-high speed outdoor and indoor wireless access.

– Installation on satellites, drones, and airships to help boost wireless communication between satellite clusters, the sky, and the Earth, or between separate satellites.

6G

6G is expected to be around 50 times faster than 5G with faster data rates and lower latencies. Even though 5G wireless technology is still only just being rolled out in many countries, 6G is expected to be its successor. Huawei Technologies Co estimates that 6G will enter the market around 2030 but an agreement is still to be reached on the technical standards that could support 6G frequencies, signal modulations, and waveforms.

Others Testing 6G

Purple Mountain Laboratories is not the only one to be testing 6G and claiming breakthroughs. Back in August, for example, LG, in partnership with Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute in Germany, claimed to be the first company to successfully transmit data across 6G outdoors. Also, back in June, a Samsung prototype was reported to have demonstrated successful 6G data transmission on terahertz (THz)/6G frequencies.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For UK businesses, it’s likely to be frustrating that 5G hasn’t been successfully rolled out yet and there’s already news of the development of its successor 6G and how businesses in other countries (e.g. China) look set to be able to benefit from it. In global terms, it is of course good news that there have been breakthroughs in wireless technology that could, in several years, bring many advantages. Lack of agreement, however, on standards to support 6G frequencies or any kind of official road map for 6G are also challenges to businesses being able to start using and benefitting via 6G any time soon.

Tech Insight : What Was New at CES?

In this tech insight, we take a look at a selection of the latest B2B and B2C tech products and gadgets on show at the recent CES® tech trade show.

Examples

The more business-focused devices, hardware and software on show included:

Laptops And Other Devices

As you may expect, many new laptops and other devices were unveiled at CES®. These included new EliteBook 605 Series PCs (aimed at hybrid workers), and Lenovo’s new ThinkPad Z Series laptops (134 and 16) aimed at the business market.

New Routers For Small Offices/Remote Working

Netgear’s new tri-band Orbi Pro SXK50 mesh router is designed to give rapid Wi-Fi speeds for small offices and remote working, and offers 5.4 Gbps, has Wi-Fi 6, and can manage up to 75 concurrent devices with a coverage area of 12,500 square feet.

TP-Link ‘s new Wi-Fi 6E router has antennas that rotate automatically to give the best signal based on the location of the user’s devices and can deliver total speeds of over 10 Gbps.

New Webcams

Examples of new webcams previewed at CES® include Jabra’s PanaCast 20 4K HDR video business-focused webcam which uses AI to ensure that the user is always perfectly in frame with the right lighting levels. Also, the Anker Video Bar comes with its own adjustable lighting, as well as a built-in mic and speaker array making it ideal for video conferencing.

New Monitors

Dell’s new UltraSharp U3223QZ business monitors include a new 4K webcam built-in, two echo-cancelling mics, two 14W speakers, IPS Black panel technology, and are certified for collaboration software Microsoft Teams. This clearly positions them as products aimed at improving remote/hybrid working.

Docking Station For Multiple Monitors

Plugable’s new docking station can support three 4K monitors at once, has three 4K HDMI ports and three 4K DisplayPort ports, plus the docking station lets users mix and match monitors with different connectivity standards.

Blackberry Security Software

Blackberry showcased the fact it has shifted from being a smartphone company, through a range of partnerships, to supplying the BlackBerry Jarvis software composition analysis tool. Its job is to help embedded software developers whose products are used by the US Federal Government to spot any potential security issues.

Some of the many ‘gadgets’ on show at CES® included:

Immersive “Virtual Ride” OLED Fitness Bike From LG

LG’s “virtual ride” immersive fitness bike sits the user on an exercise bike in front of three, large, arched, 55-inch OLED panels which bend vertically over the user. The high-quality visuals e.g., riding along a forest path give the user the feeling of cycling through a real environment. The panels are an alternative to a VR headset, but the user would need somewhere with plenty of space to set up this particular product.

Smart Dog Collar

French company Invoxia’s ‘Smart Dog Collar’ claims to be the “first biometric health collar for dog”. The collar monitors a dog’s vitals, activity, and location 24/7. It has already won 2 CES® Innovation Awards and allows the owner to track their dog’s heart and respiratory rate, check their activity levels and eating habits, and uses a radar, a buzzer, and GPS to track a dog and/or locate the dog if it’s lost or stolen.

Samsung C-Lab’s Zamstar Digital Guitar

The Zamstar guitar from Samsung C-Lab uses LEDs on the fretboard to show finger positions and an accompanying app to help users to learn their favourite riffs and songs.

Health Tracking Lightbulb

The smart, health-monitoring light bulb from Sengled uses radar sensors to track the heart rate, body temperature and other vital signs of people in the home. If several Smart Health Monitoring Light bulbs are used in the home, for example, they can connect via Bluetooth to create a health-monitoring map of the occupants of a house.

Finger-Nibbling Animal Robots

Japanese company Yukai’s cute, cuddly animal robots use different algorithm-driven nibbling patterns such as “Tasting Ham”, “Massaging Ham”, and “Suction Ham” to give the user the feeling that a baby or pet is nibbling their fingers when they put their fingers in the robot’s mouth.

The Lili Lamp For People With Dyslexia

Lili’s lamp, which the company says is “based on French scientific discoveries” emits flashes of light, almost invisible to the naked eye, which are designed to make the perception of writing more precise for the majority of people with dyslexia, and help their reading to become smoother, faster, and less tiring.

iPhone-Finding, Eco-Friendly Backpack

The Cypress Hero Backpack with ‘Find My’ technology built-in is an eco-friendly backpack that allows the user to ping their iPhone if they’ve lost it and set up geofencing alerts which sound an alarm if the backpack is moved out of a certain area.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The effects of the pandemic on working have clearly affected the types of new products (and their marketing) being released with many companies focusing on their usefulness for remote and hybrid working. Also, as expected, the continued growth of the IoT with a variety of smart gadgets, many of which have a health focus, and the inclusion of AI technology were very much in evidence. This reflects how important the IoT and AI have become in our business and home life and what a big market there is now for health-related wearables. Although some big companies were not ‘in-person’ at CES®, it was still able to reveal how tech companies can innovate and use multiple technologies to create new products, enhance existing ones, and help businesses and consumers to meet needs in new and interesting ways. The hope is, of course, that Covid will not prevent in-person attendance at the next show although the tech industry is probably the best prepared to go virtual if needed.

Featured Article : The Essentials Of A ‘BYOD’ Policy

In this article, we look at what BYOD is, why a BYOD policy is important, and what elements form the essential blueprint of a BYOD policy.

What Is BYOD?

The term Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been around since 2004 when it was first coined as an expression. With BYOD, employees can bring and use their personally owned laptops, tablets, sometimes USB drives and smartphones to work and use them for work-related activities. The activities could be accessing company emails and information, connecting to the company network, and accessing company apps and data, and using their own device to solve work problems. Smartphones are the most popular BYOD device.

Types

It should be noted that there are different types of BYOD. These include corporately owned/managed, personally enabled (COPE), choose your own (company) device (CYOD), personally owned, partially enterprise managed, or personally owned, with managed container application.

Why?

The benefits of BYOD underpin why it has become so popular. For example:

– Convenience. We now have more personal devices and that these devices have the capacity to do many of the things that work PCs would have done. Most people, for example, now bring at least their own smartphone to work. LaptopsDirect research found that 84 per cent of British employees now use their smartphones at work. The same research showed that those in the marketing, information and communications, creative and photographic industries (and within professional services) are the top smartphone users. Also, many businesses, particularly smaller ones, have simply come to rely on the fact that employees’ own devices are available for work use.

– Increased Productivity. Employees often work faster (with less training needed) using their own devices and, therefore, becoming more productive.

– Costs savings. For example, a much-quoted Cisco report from 2016 estimated that with a BYOD policy in place, companies save an average of $350 per year.

– Speed. It has been estimated that using portable devices for work can save employees 58 minutes per day (Samsung + Frost and Sullivan).

– Harnessing the skills of tech-savvy employees.

– Innovation by finding new, better, and faster ways of getting work done.

– Improved morale and employee satisfaction, and productivity gains.

– Reduced IT Dependence. BYOD typically means fewer IT-related issues for the business to deal with, therefore saving on IT resources.

Why Do You Need A BYOD Policy?

Having a BYOD policy is a way of ensuring that employees use the right, approved security practices when connecting to the company network. A BYOD is a document that outlines how employees (and who) are permitted to access corporate digital assets using their personal devices.

Setting out the company’s/organisation’s rules of acceptable use of the technology, how to operate it and how to protect the company from cyber threats in an enforceable BYOD policy, which employees must agree to comply with. For example:

– Protect the company/organisation’s infrastructure and data from cyber threats e.g., ransomware, hacking, data breaches. 

– Ensure legal compliance and meeting contractual obligations.

– Enable the smooth running of flexible, remote and hybrid working.

– Give users the ability to use IT confidently and comfortably.

The Essentials

The essentials of a BYOD policy, and developing that policy, should broadly include the following:

– An audit of the existing system to establish threats, risks, and opportunities for using BYOD.

– Establishing goals for BYOD based on the audit.

Based on these two stages, a BYOD policy that works for both the business and the employee can be developed which could incorporate:

– A statement of the aims of the policy to help employees understand its purpose and importance.

– An outline of the scope of the policy i.e., who it applies to (which staff and/or third parties), and the systems it applies to.

– A definition of what constitutes the acceptable use of personal devices for business activities. This could include, for example, the types of supported mobiles/devices that have been approved by IT, and the approved security software that must be installed on the user’s device (mobile device/application management tools).

– Permitted and non-permitted tasks.

– Other security measures that must be taken e.g., password requirements, verification and encryption requirements, biometric security, and any time-out period to locking.

– User responsibilities relating to how their device is used when accessing the company’s/organisation’s network. This could include informing IT if they leave employment and compliance with relevant legislation (including not using BYOD while driving).

– A statement of who is responsible for cost, e.g. for the purchasing, running, repairing, and replacing of personal devices used in BYOD plus the nature of any incentives or cost reimbursements offered to employees who use their personal data plans in the course of using their device for work activities.

– The company’s/organisation’s position on liability for any loss or damage of personal devices and data used with BYOD.

– How monitoring will take place e.g., checking the make and model of devices and whether operating systems are up to date, and any spot checks. This statement could also include details of what IT personnel can access e.g., details on usage of corporate applications via the BYOD, not personal details.

– Control limits over devices e.g., whether they can be accessed and wiped remotely by managers.

– Details of enforcement measures, what happens if employees fail to comply with the policy e.g., access to BYOD services being withdrawn.

– A definition of the termination policy and an exit plan for employees who no longer wish to participate in BYOD.

Guidance

There are many online resources providing guidance and help with BOYD and developing an effective policy. For example, both Microsoft and Google have provided online guidance for BYOD:

Microsoft – Office 365 UK Blueprint – BYOD Access Patterns.

Google – 6 ways that G Suite helps IT admins safely use BYOD.

Also, there is the UK National Cyber Security Centre guide.

Solutions and Software

There are also many different solutions and software options to enable the management of BYOD. These include CrowdStrike Falcon for mobile, SolarWinds RMM, ManageEngine Mobile Device Manager Plus, AirWatch Workspace One, and more.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

With remote working and hybrid working, having an effective, well-communicated and regularly updated BYOD policy in place has never been more important for businesses. It should be remembered that having a good BYOD in place doesn’t just help with security but can also facilitate improved productivity and can make for a smarter, more agile business. The starting point of developing a BYOD policy is a full assessment of the risks, challenges, costs, and resource implications, plus an understanding of its goals and benefits. An effective BYOD policy should be designed to work for both the employee and the business and be supported by appropriate and effective monitoring, feedback, and enforcement.

Tech News : Want a Payrise? Apple Boss Earned $100 Million in 2021

A filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Apple CEO, Tim Cook, earned $100 million in 2021.

1,477 Times Higher Than Average

The filing showed that his pay, fuelled by stock awards, if compared to the new median pay for employees of $68,254, was 1,447 times that of the average employee at Apple.

Considerably Higher Than 2020

The filing appears to show that Mr Cook’s $98.7 million salary was so much higher than his $14.8 million in 2020 because he received $82.3 million in stock awards, $12 million for hitting Apple’s targets, and $1.4 million for air travel on top of his $3 million basic salary.

Home Working Has Boosted Demand

Apple was reported to have first become a trillion-dollar company as far back as August 2018, and in its first day of trading in 2022 became the first company to hit a $3 trillion stock market value (albeit briefly as stocks dipped at the end of the day). The company’s revenue received a considerable boost of more than 30 per cent to $365.82 billion in 2021 due to increased demand for its products thanks to the home working caused by the pandemic lockdowns.

First Since 2011

Mr Cook taking over for Steve Jobs in 2011 led to an initial 1,000 per cent stock surge, and Mr Cook has not, until last year, received restricted stock units since 2011.

Donate Wealth To Charity

Back in March 2015, Mr Cook announced that he planned to donate his $800m fortune to charity before he dies, with the money to go to many social causes, and to his nephew’s education.

Not The Richest

Tim Cook is certainly not the richest man compared if to Tesla founder Elon Musk whose fortune was boosted recently by a $ 32.6 billion rise in share price due to strong Tesla car sales in 2021 to $ 304.2 billion.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Evidence of the personal wealth and salary increases of big tech company bosses, particularly over the last 2 years, highlights the strength of the market position of their companies, the increased demand for tech/digital products and services with home working during the pandemic, and of course, obvious inequalities in society. Apple has clearly strengthened its market position during 2021 and Cook has been rewarded for his leadership through stock units, albeit for the first time since he took over. It’s difficult for many business owners to imagine the kind of remuneration figures that big tech bosses and rich-list people receive although, thankfully, it is not unusual for some to spend substantial amounts on worthy causes (Bill Gates), and it is heartening to hear that Tim Cook plans to donate so much to social causes, albeit after his death. Apple’s good profit news is a far cry from its 2020 fine for the ‘batterygate’ scandal and, with its new ‘Business Essentials’ service and ‘Self-Service Repair’ programme for iPhones beginning this year, plus the continued demand for its products, 2022 looks set to be another good year for Apple and its CEO.

Tech Tip – 3 Top Google Maps Tricks To Try

The Google Maps mobile app now has many useful and surprising features. Here are 3 top Google Maps tips you may like to try:

1. Remember Where You Parked

– When using Google Maps on Android, on reaching your destination, tap the blue location dot.

– Select ‘Save your parking,’ which adds a label to the Maps app, identifying where you parked.

– Tap that to add details e.g., car park level, or amount of time left before a meter expires (you can also set meter reminders or add a photo).

– To find your car later, tap the search bar up top and select ‘Parking location.’

– For iOS, tap the little blue location dot when you arrive, in the pop-up, tap ‘Set as parking location.’

– In the app, a ‘P’ icon will appear alongside a note that says, “You parked near here.”

2. Add Multiple Locations e.g., If You Have Several Stops To Make

– In the Google Maps mobile app, enter your starting point and your ultimate destination.

– Click the three dots (top-right).

– Select and click on “Add stop” and add details of the next stop on your route.

– Different stops can be dragged and dropped within your itinerary.

3. Measure Any Distance

– Right-click on a point on the map.

– Select ‘Measure distance’ from the list. A dot and a black line will appear.

– Click anywhere else on the map, and the distance between the points will be calculated (multiple points on a route can be added and the total distance calculated).