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PROTECTING YOUR DATA SECURITY BLINDSPOT

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PROTECTING YOUR DATA SECURITY BLINDSPOT

Security breaches will be top of mind for all business professionals in 2017 and especially for those in financial services where the ramifications of a breach can cost an organisation millions of pounds.  However, contrary to what the flurry of news over cyber-attacks would have you believe, the majority of these breaches were not caused by hackers, but by lost or stolen laptops and mobile phones. While hacking accounted for 1 in 5 of all breaches, lost or stolen laptops were responsible for more than a quarter.

 Confidential data stored on business systems such as laptops is both an asset and a liability. As with any asset, the data should be protected, and like any liability, it requires mitigating. Personal identification numbers, payment information, passwords, customer information and intellectual property are just some of the types of sensitive data that’s stored on servers and employees’ laptops.

 The challenge is that laptops can easily be lost or targeted for theft. Employees risk misplacing confidential, personal or company data, which could get into the wrong hands, demonstrating that accidental data loss can happen to anyone at any time. Laptops are a high-value item in the second hand market, and more astute thieves are aware of the bigger value the data may have over the hardware.

 Sensitive data is a high-value target for hackers and data thieves, and you must assume the worst should an employee’s laptop go missing in the event of an accidental loss or theft. Therefore, it is crucial that you take steps to keep your data safe, should it end up in the wrong hands.

 The best way to protect the data stored on laptops is to encrypt it at the hardware level using self-encrypting solid state drives (SSDs) – this important data security step is often overlooked. New models often come with low-grade preinstalled hard drives that lack encryption technology. There are some that are sold with pre-installed hard drives withencryption, however it’s usually software-based – one of the weakest forms of encryption. Software-based encryption slows down a computer system’s performance and productivity, whilst also putting the data at risk of being compromised. This is because the software protocol relies on the operating system and remains vulnerable to rootkit attack.

Self-encrypting SSDs, on the other hand, use top-level AES 256-bit encryption technology that’s built into the storage drive to encrypt all data at the hardware level. This is the type of encryption the most risk-prone industries (financial services, for example) need to use as it helps enhance security and minimise liability.

If your organisation does become the victim of a breach or data loss, then the repercussions can be severe. Under the Data Protection Act, all organisations are liable to receive a significant fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for losing customers’ sensitive data. Risk management frameworks, such as ISO 27001 and COBIT, gives financial services organisations guidelines on how to best comply with data protection laws, which will become more stringent.

 Next year the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become enforced. This act will allow the ICO to enforce penalties which could reach the upper limit of €20m or 4% of an organisation’s global turnover – whichever is higher. For example, if the Tesco Bank hack from last November happened after GDPR goes into effect, this would have meant that Tesco would face upwards of £1.9bn in fines. Soon a breach will more than a public relations nightmare, but a huge financial setback or even bankruptcy.

Financial services organisations rely on confidential data, which includes sensitive customer data, company financial records and authentication or access controls. Using self-encrypting SSDs to lock up the data in laptops helps protect the integrity and confidentiality of your organisation’s data, and as an added benefit, can improve business productivity by eliminating the use of slower mechanical hard drives.Studies have concluded that SSDs are six times faster than traditional hard drives, meaning organisations can work faster and improve productivity, whilst also ensuring data security.

With so much focus on cyber attacks, there is a risk of overlooking data security at the hardware level – making this a dangerous blindspot for financial services organisations. Putting the right safeguards in place for data security requires extra precautions. Doing so will help prevent losing data that your organisation has a legal requirement to protect. Protect your organisation’s sensitive data by swapping out vulnerable preinstalled hard drives, and encrypting the data at the highest level. Your data is an asset and a liability – don’t let it get into the wrong hands.

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Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart

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Oil rises on positive forecasts, slow U.S. output restart 1

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Tuesday, underpinned by the likely easing of COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, positive economic forecasts and lower output as U.S. supplies were slow to return after a deep freeze in Texas shut down crude production.

Brent crude was up 36 cents, or 0.5%, at $65.60 a barrel by 1212 GMT, and U.S. crude rose 39 cents, or 0.6%, to $62.09 a barrel.

Both contracts rose more than $1 earlier in the session.

“Vaccine news is helping oil, as the likely removal of mobility restrictions over the coming months on the back of vaccine rollouts should further boost the oil demand and price recovery,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said optimistic oil price forecasts issued by leading U.S. brokers had also contributed to the latest upswing in prices.

Goldman Sachs expects Brent prices to reach $70 per barrel in the second quarter from the $60 it predicted previously, and $75 in the third quarter from $65 forecast earlier.

Morgan Stanley expects Brent crude to climb to $70 in the third quarter.

“New COVID-19 cases are falling fast globally, mobility statistics are bottoming out and are starting to improve, and in non-OECD countries, refineries are already running as hard as before COVID-19,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.

Bank of America said Brent prices could temporarily spike to $70 per barrel in the second quarter.

Disruptions in Texas caused by last week’s winter storm also supported oil prices. Some U.S. shale producers forecast lower oil output in the first quarter.

Stockpiles of U.S. crude oil and refined products likely declined last week, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.

A weaker dollar also provided some support to oil as crude prices tend to move inversely to the U.S. currency.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore; editing by David Evans and John Stonestreet)

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UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says

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UK-Japan trade deal settled nerves for Japanese firms, Honda executive says 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s trade deal with Japan settled the nerves of a lot of Japanese businesses in the United Kingdom and gives them confidence about their future prospects there, a senior Honda executive said on Tuesday.

Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has since the 1980s made the United Kingdom its favoured European destination for investment, with the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Honda using the country as a launchpad into Europe.

But Britain’s shock 2016 decision to leave the European Union had prompted Japan to express unusually strong public concerns. Their companies and investors warned that a disorderly exit from the EU would force them to rethink their four-decade bet on Britain.

“We welcome very much the Japanese trade agreement which as a Japanese businesses was very welcomed,” Ian Howells, senior vice president at Honda Motor Europe, told a parliamentary committee.

“On the point around confidence, that certainly amongst my peers in Japanese companies was very much welcomed, and probably settled a lot of nerves in terms of their trading prospects in the UK going forward.”

Britain and Japan formally signed a trade agreement in October, marking Britain’s first big post-Brexit deal on trade. It has also made a formal request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Japan is also a member.

(Reporting by Kate Holton)

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UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says

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UK retailers see sharp fall in sales and mounting job losses, CBI says 3

LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales fell in the year to February as stores cut jobs at a rapid rate, with only supermarkets reporting any growth during the latest COVID-19 lockdown, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Confederation of British Industry’s gauge of retail sales stood at -45, up only slightly from January’s eight-month low of -50. The measure points to falling sales and is below the consensus forecast of -38 in a Reuters poll of economists.

Retailers’ expectations for March – when non-essential shops will remain closed to the public as part of lockdown measures – fell to -62, the lowest since the series began in 1983.

In another sign of a changing consumer habits during lockdown, the survey’s gauge of internet retail sales hit a new record high.

“With lockdown measures still in place, trading conditions remain extremely difficult for retailers,” said Ben Jones, principal economist at the CBI.

“Record growth in internet shopping suggests that retailers’ investments in on-line platforms and click-and-collect services may be paying off, but the re-opening of the sector can’t come soon enough to protect jobs and breathe life back into the sector.”

Job losses among retailers accelerated according to a quarterly question in the survey. For the distribution sector as a whole, which includes wholesalers and car dealers, employment fell at a record rate, the CBI survey showed.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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