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Google Monopoly: What Does It Mean?

Elizabeth Technology October 24, 2023

Proving something or someone has a monopoly in today’s era of technology is difficult – but not impossible. The Department of Justice alleges that Google is hogging advertising space and overcharging for it as a result, as well as illegally (allegedly) incentivizing popular phone brands to use Google products as their default.

On Devices

Most mobile smart devices come with a built-in browser. Even when that browser isn’t Google Chrome, the browser itself uses Google for searches until a different default search engine is set. Opening Firefox or Safari and just typing a query directly into the URL bar will almost always (unless a different default is set by the user beforehand) search that query using Google. Many android devices come pre-installed with Google products like Google Maps. Users can ultimately change their defaults, but it would be difficult with the sheer number of apps that are pre-installed. Sometimes, uninstalling an app isn’t actually an option, either, as many frustrated Android users discovered when trying to uninstall apps like Google TV or YT Music. You can download other apps that do these things, but you can never be rid of the Google version without jailbreaking the phone, which takes a bit of technical know-how and often voids warranties or violates carrier contracts. This could just be because Google is huge and its big web of services are convenient… or, as the suit alleges, it could be that Google is illegally paying phone manufacturers to never try the competition, like Bing or DuckDuckGo.

On Ads

The Department of Justice alleges that since Google has shut out rivals in the search engine game, it’s also shut out any rivals that could compete with it in advertising spaces. Since most people use Google, Google ads cost consumers more to buy them. It’s (alleged) excessive control of search prevents users from using or seeing ad serving competitors, creating a self-sustaining cycle where they are always the more valuable search engine.

Google denies this – they say that Google’s chokehold on internet searching is because Google is the superior product, not because it has shut other products out.

Stifling Competition

Google has a lot of money. It uses this money to further its own existence, a result of a shareholder system that insists the shareholders must see some new growth, or else the CEO gets kicked. It’s the natural gravitational pull of such a system in a world where money can buy or smooth over nearly anything. When a business loses control of its motives, it loses control of itself. Did Google behave unethically? Probably – it doesn’t take a trial to suggest such a system encourages unethical behavior, whether legal or not. Did Google behave illegally? That is to be determined in the DoJ’s trial.  


Threads… and Bluesky….

Elizabeth Technology August 3, 2023

Twitter’s Downfall

If you’ve been on almost any social media in the past couple of months, you may have noticed that Twitter’s reputation has taken quite a dive under Elon Musk’s reign. The blue checkmark fiasco has led to easier-to-hack accounts, plus a wave of account impersonators looking either to scam people or simply spread misinformation (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s impersonator stands out as a particularly well-made one, complete with a believable handle). The API decision, which led to organizations like the New York transit system leaving, was another kneecap to Twitter’s popularity and credibility. Most recently, a view count limit speculated to be the result of Twitter’s missed server payments (allegedly) has many people looking for an alternative; a couple have popped up, but is the juice worth the squeeze?

Lemon Juice in a Papercut: Threads

Threads, the newest social media app launched by Facebook, aims to recreate Twitter’s secret formula but without an option to focus on only the accounts the user is following. One page – a “For You” page equivalent, where followed content is mixed with algorithmic content and ads – is available. There is no option to view only the people the user follows.  

While that’s not a bad idea in today’s social media landscape, Threads’ problems start behind the scenes. If you create a Threads account, you need to have an Instagram account. If you don’t already have one, you have to make one. Once you have a Threads account, you can’t deactivate it without also deactivating your Instagram account. For people who use Instagram regularly, that’s a serious problem – they can’t leave! Threads holds Instagram hostage, and it can only do that because they’re from the same company!  

A second, even more serious issue is that Thread is blocked in the EU because of how wildly invasive the info it gathers on its users is. Threads users have everything from their niche demographics data down to their phone’s type and accelerometer data scraped into Facebook’s knowledge-hungry maw. Facebook wants to know exactly who you are, what your political leanings are, how edgy you like your jokes, what kind of phone you use, how often you drop it or speed with it in the car, how much of your phone’s storage is dedicated to pictures, how many friends you have, what their names and phone numbers are, and it’s using Twitter’s demise to gather that info. Some users allege that Facebook, the app that Meta gathers the most info with (for now), will occasionally scrape names from somewhere else and slap it on the user’s profile without asking or giving notice, leaving people who’ve set their profile names as their pen name, their business name, or an alias scrambling to fix it before too many people see. The concern around stalkers and abusers especially make Facebook an unsafe platform to use, if this is the case. Who knows who Facebook is gathering all that data for, or who it’s selling it to!

BlueSky – Cool Kids Only!

BlueSky, the other major social media platform rising from Twitter’s ashes, is also gathering data, but in a different way – signing up grants BlueSky permission to scrape your tweet equivalents and feed it to AI language models. Not great, but Twitter was doing that too. The real prickly part is that BlueSky is an attempt at a decentralized social media platform with all of the pros and cons that could entail.

The pros: if you like blockchain tech, BlueSky could make it easier for different blockchains to communicate with each other about resources stored within them. The site itself is trying to avoid what just happened to Twitter by enabling many different companies to contribute features to it. While BlueSky is invite only for the moment (so I can’t actually see inside of it), it appears that it’s working off the Discord mentality, so feeds are divided by servers and not Following/Recommended tabs. Having individual servers itself has pros and cons, but it allows people who don’t want to talk to each other to simply opt out of seeing each other on their respective feeds. If a user doesn’t like discourse but wants to be part of a character fan server, they can participate without inviting argumentative essays in the comments! Allowing people to granulate is sometimes better than shoving them all into a room together, like Threads is doing by default.

As for cons? BlueSky doesn’t seem to be integrated with blockchains yet, but in the event that everyone is encouraged to sign up to a blockchain system within it, things could go very wrong pretty quickly, although it’s tough to tell from publicly available information what ‘integrating with a blockchain’ even means in this case. However, we do know for sure that any issue with social media privacy is exacerbated by a system that keeps meticulous records of everything ever added to it, like blockchains. The reason so many industry experts are wary of a Web 3.0 scenario where social media becomes completely unredactable or deletable is because it makes doxxing an even bigger problem than it already is! And with AI being used to generate scandalous voice lines and pictures of both celebrities and ordinary people, these sorts of websites have a unique potential to turn into hostile cesspits of activity for both unlikeable public figures and public figures that are liked a little too much. It’s an issue now, and website moderators aren’t tampering with a blockchain to remove sensitive data. It’s also unclear what the end goal of integrating a blockchain system into BlueSky even is, aside from getting to integrate blockchain into a social media system – who benefits from that labor? BlueSky intends to be a spot for cryptocurrency conversion in the future according to some articles, and while there’s money to be made in that, the risks they’d be taking on to do so in such a volatile space would have to have one heck of a reward in return. Some users are understandably wary, waiting to see what else BlueSky is getting out of that.

Right now, BlueSky is invite-only, and it’s not secretly tied to some other social media account that would force the user to wipe their existence from the net should they decide they don’t want to keep using it, so it has that over Threads, at least.

Additional reading:

The Fun World of Firefox Browser Addons

Elizabeth Technology October 20, 2022

With the recent announcement that Chrome is gutting ad blockers, it’s never been a better time to switch to Edge (which we recommend because it is especially easy to use) or Firefox. Edge is better for business – but if you want a smoother, less ad-riddled home browsing extension, why not check out Firefox?

Ad Blockers

Because Google sells quite a few of the slots you see online, it’s become disincentivized to let you avoid them on their browser – so Chrome will no longer block ads because that would be blocking Google from making that sweet, sweet ad money off of your views. And ads are everywhere. You scroll past them in between posts on TikTok and Tumblr. They appear on the sidebars and banners of news websites. They autoplay when you open Youtube, and speckle the progress bar with yellow. They’re obnoxious. And simultaneously insidious – you may watch a clip of a seemingly normal Instagram video only to realize after they begin pitching the product hard that it’s not a recommendation, it’s an ad, and you simply missed the little sponsor logo in the corner. Ads track you. Ad companies watch you view their ads and then determine from your behavior whether or not you’re interested. They watch the content you watch, and determine your age, gender, nationality, political affiliation, hobbies, and more from your online behavior. Even if you don’t mind ads, this tracking is often enough to justify an ad blocker in and of itself.

That said, ads can be pretty annoying. Especially if it’s disguising itself as regular content. Edge, a popular alternative to Chrome, still has an ad blocker, but does it have a sponsored post blocker? Because Firefox has both! Firefox can filter out sponsored posts from your websites alongside the normal ads you see everywhere. If you’re sick of sponsored content making up an unfair percentage of your feeds, Firefox has you covered.

Password Managers

Edge, Chrome, and Firefox all have versions of their own ad blockers as well as third party versions that can be downloaded to the browser – Firefox, however, will allow you to synchronize this across devices without a fee. While we like and recommend LastPass, it’s only free if you’re using it on one device, and you have to pay to sync it on multiple devices, which can be a bummer.

This is a mixed bag of a tool. On one hand, having all this stuff stored safely inside your Google account sounds great and convenient, and usually it is – except in the case of hacking. If someone socially engineers their way into your Google account, suddenly all of your other passwords are stolen too. Nightmare! A Firefox account, which does not have its own email service, is less likely to get hacked if only because it’s less immediately valuable. By dividing your email service from your browser password service, you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket.

As far as security, a really good fake webpage that trips your browser or password manager to auto-fill the password would get almost any password service, built in or not! Turn off auto-fill if you can.

Other Goodies

Firefox has tons of other useful addons as well! Tired of getting distracted on Reddit, but can’t seem to stop typing in the URL almost unconsciously? Download Impulse Control and wrest your eyes back on task. Trying to keep cookies under control? Download the extension that shortens the path to deleting your browser history right to your window. Ads still squeezing in, or threatening to break your page if you don’t turn off your ad blocker? A browser extension called DeCentralEyes promises to serve more local content that won’t slow down your page or give a ton of info to bigger third-party ad sites. You can remove ‘recommended’ content on YouTube to see only the people you’re subscribed to on your front page, and skip out on YouTube sponsorships with a separate extension from that one. Overall, you can completely tailor your experience on Firefox, and you’ll have quite a bit of privacy from the business running the browser itself while doing it.

If Chrome isn’t going to offer you privacy or add-free browsing or a customizable experience, consider Firefox!

(Those extensions:

Future of working: The growing need for robust remote working solutions

Jeff Technology, Trends February 1, 2021

What does the future of work really look like? Unlock the full potential of cloud-based solutions.

Where the first initial lockdown, back in March last year had forced most companies into an abrupt digital setting, the two that have since followed only solidified this. This transformation has now manifested itself so that companies have become significantly, if not completely, reliant on remote, digital solutions to remain functional. As a result, the growing need for robust remote working solutions has surged, causing traditional and antiquated workplace solutions to fall by the wayside.


Embracing digital transformation and unified workplaces

The evolution of digital transformation has fast-tracked the online revolution, meaning elaborate predictions of future working are now not so distant. The boundaries between working from home and in the office are now completely blurred as we find ourselves marching through 2021. The need for physical office space now seems redundant as we can work just as we did before, if not better, from home and exceed productivity and collaboration standards.


A far stronger focus is now on the availability of IT tools as workforces rely on these methods of remote solutions to remain as collaborative with their colleagues as possible. For example, proprietary business communication platforms have completely revolutionised the way we communicate, collaborate and generally work as they dealt with the majority of the population pivoting to remote working. State of the art interactive, virtual meetings via a browser promotes efficient collaboration and strengthens the performance of organizations, while necessary commutes can be reduced or in some cases avoided.


What’s more, the capabilities to provide quality engagement between employer and employees is now of utmost priority. As we navigate a more digitized year than ever before, employees should be equipped with most efficient solutions that IT managers can source within minutes, instead of days or even weeks so that effective communication internally can also benefit.


This ‘future of working’ model can be achieved through introducing personalized digital workspaces accessed through a browser of any device, anywhere in the world. Perfectly suited to the new home and office split, innovative cloud technology enables organizations and their staff to access any of their applications hosted on-premise or in the cloud, as well as internal and external web applications instantly.


Understanding the challenges

The sudden pivot to mass remote working, however, has not been as smooth sailing as initially thought after all. For companies still operating in traditional virtual environments, remote working solutions often lack flexibility to include legacy or GPU intensive applications that are traditionally running on a desktop or on-premise solutions. Though, it is not too late to innovate and take the first step towards cloud-based technologies. It cannot be stressed enough that cloud computing is here to stay and can offer these types of businesses a life line before it’s too late and fall completely behind digital transformations and breakthroughs.


Additionally, let us not forget that the internet is no doubt a dangerous place. A world now mostly operating online, puts the traditional-based IT infused companies, even more at risk. In fact, there are several emerging cyber threats with an impact that have never been seen before. Due to existing Enterprise software protection solutions that are decades old and vulnerable, many businesses are left exposed and ‘easy’ to attack. And now, with the entire UK workforce being told to work from home, where possible, investing in secure and reliable solutions has never been so crucial for the online safety of not only a business, but its workforce.


Companies can look for intelligent cloud-based solutions that combine the benefits of streaming an online workplace effortlessly with complete trust in the solution to resolve exposure to hackers. For example, when using the cloud, client-to-site VPN connections are no longer required as a result of migrating systems to the cloud, meaning there is no point of attack for trojans. Furthermore, no end device within an organization will be able to access an application server as the direct communication between the user and the target system can be completely ruled out with cloud software.


Yet, it is all types and sizes that can be affected. Even multinational companies fall victim to cyber hacks, often involving over 1000 employees due to vulnerabilities in outdated architecture. Investing in state-of-the-art cloud solutions that include cyber insurance will become a new box to add to the IT checklist in 2021 and beyond.


What’s more, new cloud technologies have emerged and seen acceleration in adoption, thanks to the influx of home working such as Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS). This type of solution enables all IT services to be offered in the cloud for workforces as they work remotely. XaaS not only provides remote workers with advanced flexibility but ensures enhanced security due to it encompassing the likes of other solutions such as IaaS, PaaS and SaaS.


How cloud can help create the ‘anywhere office’ for the millennial workforce

Implementing an efficient cloud adoption strategy

If the multiple lockdowns have taught us one thing, it is that cloud adoption is no doubt proving to be one of the most efficient ways to secure and sustain the demands of a digital workforce. Now in 2021, we hope to reach some kind of normality as the dust will hopefully settle on the Covid-19 pandemic. Remote working is now here to stay and it will be up to business leaders to make sure they have the correct and most efficient cloud adoption strategy in place, for their employees. Armed with the right cloud solutions, businesses have the potential to simplify their IT ecosystems and procure solutions without committing to large upfront investments.


We’re Elixis Technology

In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.


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3 ways to fill worrying cybersecurity gaps

Jeff Technology, Trends February 1, 2021

As businesses of the future evolve to be more digital and more shared, the need to prepare to avert a cyber pandemic – with potential even more than the coronavirus to upend our lives – has never been more urgent.


We need to strengthen our strategic response to the risks before we invest in tactics. Our plans must work harder and smarter to address capability gaps.


A common agenda will build the confidence and competence to achieve the resilience we need.


If humanity ever needed reminding of our interdependence, the pandemic has brought that home. As we scale up our response to the crisis, through largely digital means, our interconnectedness grows exponentially. And with it our vulnerability to the risk exposures of the virtual world. In fact, businesses of the future are evolving to be more digital and more shared. The need to prepare to avert a cyber pandemic – with potential even more than the coronavirus to upend our lives – has never been more urgent.


For a moment, let’s think of the unthinkable. A world without phones and internet, with idling trucks, trains and planes because fuel pumps and charging stations are incapacitated; banks shuttered; food supply chains broken; and emergency services made all but unavailable. This bleak vision would be inevitable if electricity supplies are cut off by a cyberattack.


In a scenario such as this, we know, that the ensuing swift blackout would be crippling. Unfortunately, we also know that a crisis of this scope, sophistication and impact is not just possible but something we are currently dealing with – albeit in a different context.


Global Technology Governance Report 2021

Last month, a group, believed to be Russian, gained access to over 18,000 systems – belonging to government and corporations – through a compromised update to SolarWinds’ Orion software. We were unprepared to prevent the attack because the bad actors slipped through the exact whitelisted software supply chain we trust. Even more regrettably, the software supply chain allowed them to access the network of FireEye – the US-based cybersecurity giant known for investigating and remedying some of the world’s most high-profile breaches.


While FireEye’s customers remained largely unimpacted this time, the moral of the story is that no one and nothing is immune. Our sources of cyber-protection – software updates or defending partners – can be the Trojan Horse where everything around us devolves into chaos.


Well before we learnt these tough lessons in the final weeks of a rather challenging 2020, the World Economic Forum questioned whether our individual and collective approach to managing cyber risks is sustainable in the face of the major technology trends taking place.


Although there’s an array of resources to manage cyberattacks, we still have a long way to go before we can, as a whole, effectively counter these threats. We need to strengthen our strategic response to the risks before we invest in tactics. Our plans must work harder and smarter to address capability gaps in three areas:


  1. More coordination

Consider the SolarWinds attack. It did not directly hit its intended targets. Instead, the attackers surreptitiously built a chain of offence, that included non-government agencies, security and technology firms along with educational institutions, to inch unnoticed towards their real targets for espionage.


They knew they’d find their mark through our digital interconnectedness. We can turn this same intertwining of infrastructure to our advantage. Research tells us that hackers attack computers with Internet access—every 39 seconds on average. If we all shared threat intelligence, across borders, across the private and public sector, across industries and competitors, the collective intelligence could only move us forward faster.


An invaluable first step would be to develop more open systems, while adopting common standards and taxonomy in cybersecurity. This will serve us better to integrate and train our teams to drive holistic security. Global spending on cybersecurity solutions is projected to exceed $1 trillion cumulatively over the five-year period from 2017 to 2021. We must reprioritize these budgets to align with shared goals including collaborating to overpower organized cybercrime and the private-sector technology nexus with nation-state attackers.


  1. More sophistication

The Global Risks Report 2020, articulated how the digital nature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies is making our landscapes vulnerable to cyberattacks. For example, it is estimated that there are already over 21 billion IoT devices worldwide, slated to double by 2025. Attacks on IoT devices increased by more than 300% in the first half of 2019 alone.


The report, observes how “using ‘security-by-design’ principles to integrate cybersecurity features into new products continues to be secondary to getting products quickly out into the market.” Our current approach of bolt-on security needs to be reimagined to create stronger build-in standards, including SDLC-security quality certification, that makes software partners more accountable for security assurance. Along with this discipline in securing the supply chain as meticulously as we secure our products, we need better design architecture to tackle the challenges at hand.


  1. More human capital

At the same pace that AI is growing useful in cyber defence, it is also enabling cybercriminals to use deep learning to breach security systems and harness data sets to improve response to defence.

While we can battle machine with machine, nurturing a strong pipeline cybersecurity talent, will give our defence an edge. We need better problem finders in greater numbers to work with our problem-solving machines. And this time, they need to be embedded in the complete lifecycle of our processes. Every person in the ecosystem must understand his or her role with respect to cybersecurity and be accountable to deliver to metrics and standards for cybersecurity quality. As of 2019, there were an estimated 2.8 million cybersecurity professionals worldwide, against a need for over 4 million.


If there is one lesson from dealing with the pandemic, it is the need to take each other along as we move forward into a more secure future. The very nature of a pandemic is such that no one is really safe unless everyone is safe. A cyber pandemic is no different. It is in shared trust and a common agenda that we can build the confidence and competence to achieve the resilience we need.


We’re Elixis Technology

In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.


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IMSA launches remote cyber security assessments

Jeff Technology, Trends January 25, 2021

Vessels worldwide are now facing compliance with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) cyber security requirements. In response, the International Maritime Security Associates (IMSA) has developed a suite of cyber security tools and services for the maritime industry.


The company has recently launched the capability to conduct basic shipboard network vulnerability assessments without sending personnel on board.

“This capability is necessary in today’s current COVID environment,” comments Corey Ranslem, CEO of IMSA. “We know it isn’t always easy, practical or cost effective to send people on board a vessel to conduct a cyber security assessment, so we’ve developed this amazing remote assessment tool. Through this tool, our cyber specialists can conduct a remote assessment at about half the cost of sending personnel on board. This tool helps our global clients with IMO 2021 cyber security compliance along with protecting passengers and crew.”

This tool is part of a larger suite of cyber security tools IMSA has developed to support vessels and maritime facilities with expanding their cyber security defences.


Some of these cyber security tools are part of the ARMS software platform. Through ARMS, IMSA can monitor a vessel’s critical systems and networks remotely in real-time through its SOC (Security Operations Centre). This capability protects vessels from real-time threats to IT, OT, and other critical network systems.

“IMSA is continually enhancing the levels of protection we provide our clients,” adds Ranslem. “Through ARMS and our 24/7 operations centre, we provide a variety of client-focused services to ensure the safety of your voyage and critical systems.”


We’re Elixis Technology

In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.


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Remote working – striking a balance

Jeff Technology, Trends January 24, 2021

Presenteeism has long been associated with working life in the city, viewed by many employers and employees as essential for getting known and getting ahead.

However, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have had to cope with an abrupt move to mass remote working, in a way many never would have imagined feasible only a year ago. In many industries it has proved to be manageable. And, even before the pandemic, it was recognized that endorsing agile working was becoming a significant factor in driving forward a successful, modern business, capable of attracting and retaining top talent.

So will it endure?

Perhaps one of the biggest barriers to remote working has been trust; employers simply did not trust that people working from home were actually working, that service standards could be maintained, that confidential information would remain secure. Many of these issues have been dealt with by enforcing best practices around regular communication and updating and enforcing detailed home working policies.

And so, as and when we are allowed to return to work in the city, employers can no doubt expect many more employees to exercise their statutory right to request flexible working. Refusals are likely going to be much more closely scrutinized and potentially lead to formal grievances. Management and HR should be proactively planning their approach in advance.

Of course, remote working is not everyone’s preference and it has its downsides. It can be lonely and isolating, having a negative impact on employees’ mental health and workplace collaboration and diversity. In particular, junior employees can miss out on developing vital skills and a professional network.

Therefore, striking the right balance inevitably seems like the best way to future proof both businesses and individual career progression. In our view, it is not a question of if but when will we return to the city; but expect that most employees will not want to spend as much time there as they and we once did.


We’re Elixis Technology

In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.


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Thinking about going remote-first, forever? Do these 5 things beforehand

Jeff Technology, Trends January 4, 2021

In recent years, flexible working has become synonymous with modern business management and a distinctive trademark for hip tech companies.


However, since COVID, it has become vital for most companies to adapt their work settings to social distance practices and to strive for a higher degree of digitalization. 


In a matter of months, telecommuting, remote working, teleworking, working from home, working from anywhere, and flexible workplace have entered our vocabulary – and are very likely here to stay.


As we witness this epochal transition, employers and employees wonder, how should we come prepared to meet the inevitable challenges? Here is a to-do-list for all the companies that are considering going remote-first!


Organize the tools, systems, workflows

If you are approaching remote working for the first time, you should consider yourself very lucky! The technology that is available on software and on cloud nowadays is (in most cases) sufficient for you and your employers to keep constantly in touch and organize your streams of work in the most efficient way. So much so that several companies will never go back to now obsolete in-office work arrangements.


Examples of online tools that can make your work-from-home life easier include (among many others): video cloud-based communication software programmes, time and tasks management apps, corporate training platforms, cybersecurity toolkits.


Also, here you can find EU-startups-approved lists of AR and VR startups that are helping us work remotely and of several tools for jazzing up your online and work meetings.


Assign clear roles and responsibilities

Another important step to make remote working ‘work’ is to set clear roles and responsibilities among your co-workers or employees. As mentioned before, the appropriate online tools and a constant flow of communication between team members can help everyone understand what’s expected of them within the group. 


A fixed hierarchy and clear tasks are particularly important in a remote working situation as they encourage your employees to take ownership for their work and their success (and, very importantly, to acknowledge their shortcomings).


Also setting up clear goals and KPI’s is important for a group that works from different places – and sometimes on a different schedule or even a different time zone. Check the next item on the list for advice on how to set KPI’s from a distance.


Review KPIs

Whatever the working arrangement, monitoring performances and detecting areas for improvement is key to success. In a remote working scenario, setting KPI’s becomes all the more important to measure whether your collective efforts are effectively being carried out.


Some simple advice for carrying out a performance assessment for out-of-office work includes: 

  • Tracking milestones in relation to the final product (or intermediate versions) with an Agile Project Management process framework
  • Keep a steady flow of information by sharing feedback and notes
  • Use virtual boards and keep them updated, that should help keep you workers motivated


Ultimately, your employees should feel comforted by the fact that the workflow remains unaffected.


Start building a positive working culture

Positive attitude in the workplace is everything! Make sure to outline the advantages of a remote position to your employees. Remote working needs some adjustments but should never feel like a demotion or a punishment. Instead, it holds tangible advantages: when employees can manage their time autonomously, you reduce the risk of them contracting the virus, and they feel safer, more motivated and trusted.


Also, set out values that are important for both parties, such as defining free time slots, and prioritizing employees’ mental and physical needs. During quarantine and social distancing times, feelings of isolation and distress are very common. That is why building an effective and positive working culture includes finding the right work/life balance.


Check-in with your employees

Make your employees feel heard and seen – even if only via a computer screen! Make a habit of getting regular, virtual coffee breaks with them and meetings that aren’t strictly work-related.


Trust them with their tasks and make sure that they feel safe while performing their duties. Losing one’s job is a dreadful fear and can impact their performances. Plus, it can worsen an already aggravated mental state. It is in fact proven that a high level of economic anxiety has been generally registered during the pandemic. And this is not only true for people who are unemployed but also for those who are employed and in fear of being laid of.


We’re Elixis Technology

In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.


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These cybersecurity tactics will help businesses survive 2021

Jeff Technology, Trends January 4, 2021

Security professionals take three steps: threat detection, immediate action and long-term defence. All companies should look to do the same, no matter their industry.


During 2020, institutions of all kinds were forced to adapt to a dynamic world where the usual projections and five-year marketing plans did not apply. Economic reports show marked GDP reductions of greater than 20 per cent in many countries, with a continued decline into 2021. Businesses and workplaces will increasingly turn to models of work in dynamic fields – such as cybersecurity – to make them more resilient.


Organisations that emerge out of the pandemic and the ensuing economic turmoil will have spent 2020 continually adapting to previously unimagined circumstances. This is a very familiar environment for people working in security, and particularly cybersecurity because quite often we don’t know what the next couple of hours will look like. Businesses of all kinds will discover the need to adopt fluid models and frameworks developed in a dynamic field and use them to redirect money, personnel and resources rapidly.

Typically, most businesses rely on static, predictive data analysis for growth and sustainability. The study insights and information from the previous few weeks and base predictions on them. However, these statistics can be rendered virtually useless within the next hour. Instead, businesses must start using data as they get it, proactively seeking out problems that could pose danger – just as cybersecurity specialists do.


Many cybersecurity frameworks can be modified to suit businesses more broadly. One example is data orchestration – where information that has been siloed in various parts of an organisation is collated and made available for rapid analysis.


Another is the concept of common vulnerability exposures (CVEs). This is a standardised identifier for known vulnerabilities, such as a weakness in a certain kind of encryption or exposure such as a large data breach in the last two years. Lists of these are available for any organisation looking to improve its cybersecurity. A version of this approach for other industries – known issues with certain suppliers, for example – could be used to make all kinds of firms more resilient.


In cybersecurity, we often take a three-pronged approach: detect what the potential threat is; take immediate action to protect information; and establish long-term defences to systems, such as new kinds of encryption. Businesses will find that adopting these processes and tools – especially their emphasis on the early detection of potential threats and the sharing of information when necessary – will help future-proof operations.

Early adopters will be the winners here. Workplaces and organisations that embrace the reality of a dynamic environment, rather than yearning for static working and legacy business models, will outperform their competitors. In 2021, companies and institutions that adopt principles such as data orchestration and CVEs, will find they’re in a better position to survive.


We’re Elixis Technology

In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.


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Microsoft Set to Block SolarWinds Orion Binaries

Jeff Technology, Trends December 16, 2020


Microsoft is preparing to quarantine malicious versions of the SolarWinds Orion application used in recent nation state attacks, in a move that may crash systems.


The computing giant had previously released detections to alert customers of its Windows Defender security product if they were running the malicious updates. Although it was recommended that such customers isolate and investigate any such devices, the decision was down to them.


However, in an update yesterday Microsoft effectively said it was taking the decision out of the hands of its customers.


“Starting on Wednesday, December 16 at 8:00 AM PST, Microsoft Defender Antivirus will begin blocking the known malicious SolarWinds binaries,” it said.


“This will quarantine the binary even if the process is running. We also realize this is a server product running in customer environments, so it may not be simple to remove the product from service.”


Over the weekend reports emerged that a previous attack on FireEye was part of a much larger Russian intelligence plot to steal sensitive information from US government and countless other unnamed organizations.


The vector was Orion updates which the attackers managed to seed with malicious binaries used to install the Sunburst (aka Solarigate) backdoor malware. SolarWinds confirmed to the SEC that 18,000 customers were affected.


However, as the product performs crucial network management operations, Microsoft’s decision could theoretically cause some disruption.


“It is important to understand that these binaries represent a significant threat to customer environments,” it argued. “Customers should consider any device with the binary as compromised and should already be investigating devices with this alert.”


Microsoft urged victim organizations to immediately isolate affected devices, identify accounts used on the device and assume they have been compromised, reset passwords, look for lateral movement tools and more.


We’re Elixis Technology

In the ever-changing, technology-centric world we live in, it’s vital to have an I.T. solution source you can count on. At Elixis Technology, it is our mission to help businesses — big and small — produce the results their customers demand, with technology that actually works.


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