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PRISON, FINES & REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE – THE COST OF POOR TEST DATA MANAGEMENT

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PRISON, FINES & REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE - THE COST OF POOR TEST DATA MANAGEMENT

Andrew Crouch, head of data at software quality specialist, SQS

If there’s one thing that’s going to make a business sit up and listen – its money, especially when it comes to avoidable fines. So, with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) listing over £800 million worth of fines to businesses breaching financial principles on its website this year, you would think the industry would be more careful about its conduct.

Concerns about fines should also be high on the agenda of organisations ahead of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR), which are due to be finalised in October this year and come into force in 2017. These new regulations represent the most significant change to data protection in the UK and EU since 1995.  For the first time, businesses will have to notify customers – in plain language – what information about them is collected and how it is used. Customers will also have the ‘right to be forgotten,’ making it possible to delete personal information about themselves from online services. The new rules, of course, significantly increase penalties for non-compliance and pose problems for how financial institutions manage their customer data.

With the new regulations looming, and bearing in mind the industry’s evident track record for breaching principles, IT professionals have pointed the finger at banks, naming them most likely to be the first hit by the maximum GDPR fines[1]. In response, banks are rushing to put relevant data management processes in place to comply, but there is a noticeable lack of thought when it comes to their test environments.

With the constant influx of new data sets, as a result of rapid digitisation within the industry, many financial service organisations are in a stage of constant digital development, placing vast amounts of data – including personal customer data – in test environments. However with GDPR fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) currently planned for 2 per cent of a business’s global revenue (capped at €100million) and the FCA planning unlimited fines, it is time that test data management was given the same priority as other data programmes. It’s simply not worth getting it wrong.

To ensure banks are not jeopardising their customer data in testing, they need to find out more about their data model. Many organisations, banks included, actually have an incomplete picture of their data. This is particularly the case when it comes to testing, as different data sets are saved down at different times, in different locations. Although some of this data may be structured, much of it will not be, and a data discovery exercise is necessary to locate personal data before banks can start to put a data management process in place.

Once an organisation is familiar with its data model – and has located all personal data – it can be possible to bring data processes in line with the new EU regulations by working with anonymised live data during testing. Using anonymised data can be an ideal solution for banks looking to test new software functionalities. It also has the advantage of revealing no personal details and gives banks piece of mind when it comes to compliance.

However, anonymised live data may only cover around 30 per cent of a bank’s test coverage requirements. If that’s the case, synthetic data (otherwise known as dummy data) can be used to plug the gaps. Synthetic data tools can be few and far between, so using a combination of anonymised data and synthetic data can provide an accurate test data model, whilst mitigating the risk of non-compliance.

Needless to say the security risks associated with using personal data within a live test environment, particularly within highly regulated industries like banking, are countless. Businesses operating within this sector need to ensure their test environments are entirely secure. After all, companies that suffer data breaches will be liable to provide compensation to those affected, as well as face reputational damage.

It has always been important to protect personal data but for banks, the potential fines posed by GDPR have made business leaders sit up and listen. In today’s ever changing digital environment, banks need to fully understand their data models; get to grips with their glut of potentially unstructured, potentially poorly managed data and put processes in place to comply. Carrying out testing efficiently, whilst remaining compliant, will enable the institutions that get it right to produce quality software and avoid potentially catastrophic financial penalties.

[1] Varonis, May 2015 – http://ir.varonis.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=910339

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UK business interruption insurance anguish far from over

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UK business interruption insurance anguish far from over 1

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) – Insurers in Britain have begun making interim payments or settlement offers to businesses disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic after a high-profile January court case, but concerns have been raised about low payouts, with one business offered as little as 13 pounds ($18.14).

The UK Supreme Court dismissed appeals by insurers that said business interruption insurance claims were not valid in a test case brought by Britain’s markets watchdog on behalf of policyholders.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the case could affect 370,000 policyholders and 60 insurers, with the potential for billions of pounds in claims.

Many small businesses had policies that enabled them to claim a maximum of 50,000-100,000 pounds for disruption caused by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

However, East London cafe Woolidando told Reuters by email that it had received a settlement offer totalling only 13 pounds, confirming a report in the Sunday Times.

A source from the Hiscox Action Group of policyholders said he was aware of an even lower offer being made, while other members of the group have yet to receive offers or interim payments.

“We are paying claims as quickly as possible in line with the Supreme Court judgment,” Hiscox said in an emailed statement. “In total, we expect to pay out $475 million in COVID-19 claims, including for business interruption.”

After the court ruling the FCA asked insurers to start making payments quickly.

Six insurers, including Hiscox, were directly involved in the case. Of the other five, RSA last week told Reuters it had started making payments.

QBE on Monday said that it has also made payments while MS Amlin said it had assigned a loss adjuster to all open claims and was contacting policyholders.

Argenta, meanwhile, referred to a statement on its website that it would apply the judgment in respect of all outstanding claims.

The other insurer, Arch, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

SHORTFALLS

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said some of the trade body’s members had received interim payouts of 25,000 pounds each or settlement offers for the maximum 100,000 pounds permitted under their policies, though their losses were even higher.

However, smaller businesses that have yet to receive offers fear they might receive low payments while insurers not among those directly involved in the court case are still contesting liability, Kill said.

The FCA has also warned insurers against blanket deductions of government support from money they owe to businesses.

Woolidando said part of the reason its settlement offer was so low was that deductions were made for government furlough payments.

“As (furlough payments) do not cover a loss incurred by the claimant, (they) should not be included in any claim,” the Association of British Insurers said.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by David Goodman)

 

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Pent-up demand driving global factory revival

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Pent-up demand driving global factory revival 2

By Jonathan Cable and Leika Kihara

LONDON/TOKYO (Reuters) – Demand for manufactured goods drove extended growth in factories across Europe and Asia in February, but a slowdown in China underscored the challenges countries face as they seek a sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic blow.

Restrictions imposed around the world to try and quell the spread of the coronavirus have shuttered vast swathes of the services industry, meaning it has fallen to manufacturers to support economies.

But vaccine rollouts and a pick-up in demand provided optimism for businesses that have grappled for months with a cash-flow crunch and falling profits.

IHS Markit’s final Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to a three-year high of 57.9 in February from January’s 54.8, beating the initial 57.7 “flash” estimate for one of the highest readings in the survey’s 20-year history. [EUR/PMIM]

German factory activity also reached a three-year peak last month and in France the pace of growth accelerated. Italy and Spain also saw a pick-up.

However, lockdown measures disrupted supply chains and factories struggled to obtain raw materials, leading to a big increase in delivery times.

“International shipping delays and strong global demand for raw materials have slowed manufacturers worldwide,” said Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Factories in Britain, outside the euro zone and the European Union, reported the slowest output growth since May last month. Disruptions and rising costs linked to Brexit and COVID-19 limited their ability to respond to a modest pick-up in orders. [GB/PMIM]

ASIAN RECOVERY

Manufacturing activity in Japan expanded at the fastest pace in over two years and South Korea’s exports rose for a fourth straight month, suggesting Asia’s export-reliant economies were benefiting from robust global trade.

On the flip side, China’s factory activity grew at the slowest pace in nine months, hit by a domestic flare-up of COVID-19 and soft demand from countries under renewed lock-down measures.

“In all, the softer pace of activity in today’s (Chinese) manufacturing print is likely to be temporary, and we expect the growth momentum to pick back up on the back of a broadening out of the domestic demand recovery and a pick-up in global demand,” said Erin Xin, an economist at HSBC.

“However, household consumption, while recovering, has not yet fully reached pre-pandemic levels of growth due to continued labour market pressure.”

China was the first major economy to lead the recovery from the COVID-19 shock, so any signs of prolonged cooling in Asia’s growth engine will likely be a cause for concern.

With the global rebound still in its early days, analysts said the outlook was brightening as companies increased output to restock inventory on hopes vaccine rollouts normalise economic activity.

“The recovery in durable-goods demand is continuing, which is creating a positive cycle for manufacturers in Asia,” said Shigeto Nagai, head of Japan economics at Oxford Economics.

“As vaccine rollouts ease uncertainties over the outlook, capital expenditure will gradually pick up. That will benefit Japan, which is strong in exports of capital goods,” he said.

China’s Caixin/Markit Manufacturing PMI fell to 50.9 in February, the lowest level since last May but still above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

Activity elsewhere in Asia remained brisk.

The Japan PMI jumped to its highest since December 2018. In South Korea, a regional exports bellwether, shipments jumped 9.5% for a fourth straight month of increase.

India’s factory activity expanded for the seventh consecutive month on strong demand and increased output, though a spike in input costs could weigh on corporate profits ahead.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam also saw manufacturing activity expand in February, a sign the region was recovering from the initial hit of the pandemic.

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable and Leika Kihara; editing by Shri Navaratnam, Larry King)

 

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How to Find LLC Owners with Business and People Searches

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How to Find LLC Owners with Business and People Searches 3

In any business, it is important that records are kept in the interest of transparency. When somebody becomes the director of a company or starts an LLC there will likely be a record of this, meaning that people can search for those who are involved in companies. This can be a way to check peoples’ assets or find out who you need to contact within a business.

Strategies to Find Business Owners

There are a number of steps you can take in order to find business owners. Some of them are relatively simple but if you have to delve a little bit deeper then it can be more complex.

  • Make a call. This is the most simple way of finding business owners. If you have a contact number for the company, give them a call and simply ask for these details. You may or may not get what you are looking for.
  • Check the company website. Similarly, company websites often have staff pages or information about the corporate structure of a business. You may find the owners here.
  • Do a little social media digging. Who is an admin on the Facebook page? Is there information listed on the “about” section of Facebook? This kind of digging might be required to find LLC owners.
  • Domain lookup. You can look up the owners of a domain to see what name it is under. This will often be the company owner. These are sometimes switched to private.
  • Read the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Reports. The BBB allows data about businesses to be collected for the transparency of customers and finding trustworthy business owners. The reports might outline who is involved in the company.
  • Search State Databases of Registered Businesses. In the US, each state has its own registry. Check what is available within the state where you live, as you might be able to find the information on the database.
  • Contact Local Business Licensing or Regulatory Agencies. Some businesses require a license, and disclosure on the owners of the LLC involved. The regulatory agencies may have a public database showing the owners of the business.
  • Use Public Records to Find More Information. There is some skill to finding the right data. You might need to look at state records such as court records of incorporation. If the company is British, UK publicly available data includes the company’s house, which shows directors and director changes and is searchable by anyone.

Which Records are Accessible to the Public in UK?

There are different laws dictating what is available in different parts of the world. People have a right to privacy, to an extent, but if you are involved in a company you must also be accountable.

The Freedom of Information Act allows access to a number of different records. This is all about transparency, and giving people the chance to check information such as court records and those involved in certain businesses. These records come in useful in many different scenarios including probation, or as an employment check to establish someone’s history. They can also show you LLC owners.

A people search might allow you to see all businesses that someone has been involved in as a director. Details on the electoral roll may also be kept and made available.

Registered Business Structures

Business structures can dictate how much information needs to be provided. For an LLC, articles of organization with the company structure must be filed with a state and may become public record.

Different business structures have different levels of responsibility when it comes to publishing details. So, a sole proprietor might not have to make the same level of information available.

When and Why You Might Need These Data

There are a lot of different reasons why you might need to find LLC owners. For example, you might need to know who to pursue in legal proceedings.

Alternatively, you might want to check that someone is being legitimate before signing a contract or lease with them, so that you don’t get scammed. Public records can help with this.

If an LLC owes you money, finding the individuals involved might allow you more routes to pursue in terms of getting money back.

Law Regulations on People Search

The laws are different for each state, but there are some regulations on what you can or cannot use the information for. Public data is available for the sake of transparency. It doesn’t mean that you should be able to stalk people. People may also have the right to request some public records are taken off the records. Things like court information are likely to stay public, though.

Check your local state law to see what information is made public under the Freedom of Information Act.

Conclusion

People who run businesses should be accountable, and the fact that you can find the owners of an LLC by using a public search ensures that people cannot get away with breaking the law or trying to scam you anonymously. Often, it is incredibly easy to find this kind of information online or using a public records search.

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