Transforming the Channel

Growing a successful Channel business today is a tough job for even the most seasoned entrepreneur. The industry comes with a minefield of challenges and the competition just seems to get tougher. This is the first of many articles where we take a look at some of the initiatives Comms Business is delivering in the lead up to Channel Live to enable readers to maximise their growth potential, whilst avoiding some of the major challenges being thrown at them right now.

If you have spent any time reading the mainstream news this month you will have come across some, probably several, stories of a large organisations getting hacked by cyber criminals. In the cyber-world, your personal data is the new currency and it is not a question of if, but when will you get hacked.

That may sound like a bold statement to some but when you consider the likes of Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Apple have all been attacked and had customer data stolen at one point or another then there is little hope for the rest of us.

Those are the top technology firms in the world and yet somehow cyber criminals have managed to work their way in via holes in security defences or by playing on every company’s biggest weakness, humans.

Colin Tankard, Managing Director, data security company, Digital Pathways, commented on the recent global ransomware attack, dubbed WannaCry, which has infected over 200, 000 computers. He said, “It would not surprise me if other organisations were affected too but have not publicly declared it.”

“The malware was delivered through spear-fishing emails which, when opened, triggered a cyber-contagion on the internal network. Being a hybrid design it had a worm element, allowing it to spread through internal systems for maximum reach and effect. What was interesting is that the infected system’s settings were scanned to work out the user’s language, then displayed the ransom demand in the correct language for the victim.”

Language recognition? That sounds like borderline customer service! These are not your typical criminals.
Ryan Barrett, VP of Security and Privacy at Intermedia said “This global ransomware attack is further proof that ransomware continues to evolve at dangerously fast speeds. Ransomware needs to be recognised as a very real threat to organisations of all sizes and types. The next attack could target government institutions and incite cyber warfare. And, ransomware no longer infiltrates one computer at a time, but takes entire businesses, including hospitals as we saw today, offline for extended periods of time. Now more than ever, companies need to prepare for a ransomware attack by implementing fully-formed business continuity plans that incorporate off-site, real-time cloud backups which allows for quick recovery in the event you do fall victim to a ransomware attack.”

“Ransomware needs to be recognised as a very real threat to organisations of all sizes and types. The next attack could target government institutions and incite cyber warfare.”
Ryan Barrett, VP of Security and Privacy at Intermedia

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware’ refers to a particular subgroup of IT viruses, or malware attacks, and has been prevalent for the last couple of years. Cybercriminals launch an attack, often via a phishing email, that encrypts files stored on your PC or network, and then they demand a ransom in order to have the encryption reversed. The ransom is often time sensitive and the attackers will tell you that the fine you will have to pay will double after 24 hours. Demands vary from a few hundred, to several thousand pounds, and they demand payment via bitcoins, making the whole process very hard to police.

Who Ya Gonna Call?
The question the Channel needs to ask themselves is ‘how do I build myself a profitable security portfolio which protects me and my customers?’ Comms Business will be addressing these issues in depth at Channel Live in order to educate partners on where the threats are and how to combat them.

Gary Watson, Founder and VP of Technical Engagement at Nexsan commented, “Ransomware attacks will continue to occur more frequently as it is a highly lucrative business. Even with careful IT departments and precautions in place, anti-malware products are not infallible. The NHS will either be forced to pay the ransom or continue business operations without the use of computers that hold vital patient data, or phone lines. Ensuing patient care is crucial and the NHS needs to be prepared so they continue to run a fully operational service. As this trend increases, it will become even more critical that organisations arm themselves with a second line of defence that protects data from corruption and deletion, minimising the impact of malicious cyber-attacks such as this.”

“The regular shows will crescendo at the Channel Live trade show where we will host a live show with some of that audience.”
Andrew McLean,
Director of Compare the Cloud

Comms Business Live Launches
This month we will be kicking off our first ever live stream where we will be interviewing key members of the IT and Communications industry in order to try and answer a number of pressing market questions. Editor David Dungay and Director of Compare the Cloud Andrew McLean signed an agreement recently which will see Comms Business Live reach our audience in a new format.
On the agreement David Dungay commented, “Comms Business Live will be another industry first and will revolutionise the way we deliver content to our audience. It’s important we keep pushing the boundaries of the way we do things and I think live streaming is a perfect fit for the Channel. The stream will culminate with a live show directly from Channel Live in September.”

Top Cyber-Security Tips

  • Ensure that all your servers, pcs and laptops are covered by the latest software patches. Patches are released by the software vendors, to address system vulnerabilities, so it’s important that you keep machines up to date.

  • Ensure that you are using a corporate grade firewall.

  • Ensure that you are using a commercial Anti-Virus product.

  • Replace out of date software.

  • Ensure that you have an enforced password policy. You should have network controls in place that force users to update their passwords regularly, using complex password strings, and that the network prevents brute force attacks by blocking accounts that repeatedly attempt to login with an incorrect password.

  • Train your staff to recognise phishing emails.

  • Ensure that your data back-up meets your organisation’s needs. It is normally possible to recover encrypted data from back up, to avoid the need to pay the ransom demands.

Andrew McLean and David Dungay sign a ground-breaking agreement

Andrew McLean and David Dungay sign a ground-breaking agreement

Andrew McLean, Director of Compare the Cloud, spoke to Comms Business about the arrangement and what viewers can expect over the next few months.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM):
Hi Andrew, can you give us your side of this arrangement?
Andrew McLean (AM): Comms Business are well respected in their industry – they have a good audience, a good knowledge of their sector and tell a good story. We wanted to amplify those stories using new mediums such as online streaming and social media. It’ll be interesting to see the merging of old and new audiences and the types of conversations which will take place around ICT.
The premise is to take the ICT messages that Comms Business has and transport them to live streaming. To give the audience a chance to interact and keep up with the trends as they’re happening. The regular shows will crescendo at the Channel Live trade show where we will host a live show with some of that audience.

CBM: What does streaming bring to the audience over and above other media platforms?
AM: Video is cool, we’ve done a lot of video in the past. But it’s all a bit… slow. You go, you set up, you do takes, angles, you edit, you go for checks, find some filler footage, play with the sound, counter-checks, dump it on YouTube and, more often than not, nothing. The tech industry is forever changing, a lot of people want raw – they want the people discussing the tech to be humans, the content to be relevant and fresh. Like the news. Conversations should be live. Will they be perfect? Probably not – but that’s what gives it the buzz. Live streaming takes the message from the studio straight to the eyeballs of the viewer. We’re also not stuck to a single platform – we can be broadcasting out to a load of social media platforms all at once, or tailor the content for the audience you’re targeting. It’s all very fluid. And if your audience can communicate with you whilst you’re broadcasting – even better.

CBM: What do you get out of live events like Channel Live?
AM: We love taking the live shows on the road. Setting up a studio at a trade show is an amazing experience. Channel Live is all about the trends in the ICT market – that’s why people are there, to have a conversation – to learn. So for us, it’s about bridging a gap between those at the show and those watching from afar. Getting the best out of the guests and find out what’s actually going on in the industry. We’re looking forward to it.

How To View

When: Starting Monday 12th June
What: An informative chat show
Who: See the website for updates


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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine