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TMB’s 2018 Highlights And Lowlights

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We take a look at the stories that caught our eye last year.


The first week of 2019 is nearly over. The last of your new year’s hangover is finally fading, and the extra inch you’ve added to your waistline over the festive period now appears to be a permanent feature of your body. What better time to reflect on the past 12 months?

Here, in roughly chronological order, are TMB’s IT-related highlights and lowlights of 2018.

One Fine Mess For Carphone Warehouse

In January, Carphone Warehouse was fined £400,000 by the ICO, for a data breach that occurred in 2015. Thanks to its out-of-date WordPress sites, hackers were able to steal the personal data of more than three million customers and 1,000 employees. Perhaps fortunately for the firm, this happened before GDPR came into effect, which could have easily resulted in a much higher fine.

Little ICO dancing
Probably not what the ICO’s staff look like.

Sinking Chips: Meltdown And Spectre

The same month, two major design flaws were discovered that affected computer processors dating back as far as 1995. Unlike most bugs, Meltdown and Spectre are hardware problems, which means they can’t be completely fixed with software updates. How each of them works differs, but essentially they both allow access to areas of computer memory that should be secret. Several patches have been issued since they were found, which has helped mitigate the problem, but ultimately, processors will need to be redesigned to provide a permanent fix.

Government Critical Of Critical Industries’ Security

February saw the UK government announcing strict new cyber security regulations for organisations working in critical industries. Under these rules, suffering a data breach due to insufficient cyber security can land a business with a fine of up to £17 million. The same applies if they suffer a breach and fail to report it properly.

Remote Working Tools Save Us From Beastly Weather

Later that month, the UK was hit by some of the coldest weather on record – thanks to a weather system dubbed as the Beast from the East. Businesses all over the country were affected, as roads were closed and public transport ground to a halt. Thankfully, many of us were still able to work from home, thanks to remote working tools.

Remote working
Remote working saved us from the snow.

The Lost City Of Atlanta

The bigger they are, the harder they fall… and nowhere was that felt more sharply during March than in the US city of Atlanta. Thanks to a massive ransomware attacks, several public sector services were disrupted, causing chaos and long-lasting financial damage. In June 2018, Atlanta’s IT chief suggested that $9.5 million would be needed to address the problems caused by the SamSam malware, on top of the $2.7 that had already been spent.

Cambridge Analytica Get Eggs In Its Face(book)

Also attracting headlines for all the wrong reasons in March was Cambridge Analytica. Previously unheard of to most people, it soon became a household name, after it was revealed to have used Facebook to influence the US election, using millions of harvested Facebook profiles without permission. The resultant fallout from this scandal led to the eventual closure of Cambridge Analytica, but the damage caused to Facebook’s reputation has yet to repaired. Only this week, the social network’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, stopped selling off his shares, as their value continued to plummet.

The Tech Failure You Can Take To The Bank

Transferring millions of customer accounts to a new system is never going to be an easy task, but surely banks, with their vast riches, should have no problem with such a project.

If only.

During April, in what has now gone down as a legendary fail of epic proportions, TSB suffered a hugely costly and embarrassing technological meltdown that directly affected millions of customers. Accounts were inaccessible, money disappeared from accounts, bills weren’t paid, account details vanished… The list goes on.

After clinging on for dear life for several months, TSB’s CEO, Paul Pester, finally stepped down from his role.

Wetherspoons said goodbye to social media.

Wetherspoons Gets Anti-social(media)

Although marketing professionals will often sing the praises of social media, portraying it as the holy grail of advertising, not everyone agrees – including the pub chain Wetherspoons. In April 2019, it made the decision to close all its social media accounts.

Was this something other businesses should follow? The answer is it depends. If your customers use social media and you’ve got the right people running your social accounts, then it can be valuable. For Wetherspoons, though, which had a low number of followers and hardly any user engagement, it was ultimately the right decision.

Data Protection Proves Too Taxing For HMRC

Moving on to June, the thorny issue of data protection once again reared its head. This time, the UK’s tax authority, HMRC (which should really know better), was censured by the ICO for storing the biometric data of taxpayers without permission.

More Misery for Dixons Carphone

Bad news again for the Dixons Carphone group. In June, it suffered another major cyber attack. Initially, it was thought that 1.2 million user accounts were affected, but this was soon revised to a much more scary 10 million.

Man biting nails next to Dixons Carphone logo.
Oops, it happened again.

Microsoft Drops Windows 7 Forum Support

If you were in any doubt about Microsoft’s plans for Windows 7, they should have been put to rest when it ceased forum support for it in June. Customers are still welcome to answer each other’s questions, but Microsoft itself will not be pitching in any more. If you’re not using Windows 10 already, an upgrade should be high on your list of priorities.

TSB’s Big Mail Fail

Having monumentally cocked up a major data migration months earlier, TSB sent letters to its customers in June, apologising for all the inconvenience. What could possibly go wrong with that? It’s not like they were going to accidentally include the names, addresses and reference numbers of other customers… No, hold on; that’s exactly what they did.

Stride Falls Short

When Atlassian Stride was announced in September 2017, it was instantly recognised as a competitor to the popular collaboration app Slack. Atlassian has a history of disrupting markets, with tools like Jira and Confluence gaining popularity in corporate settings. But Stride, it seems, was one step too far. Less than a year later, in June 2018, Atlassian abandoned Stride and encouraged users to try Slack instead. Great news for Slack.

Chat app logos fighting
The enterprise chat app battle was just warming up when Stride dropped out.

Loadsamoney For Microsoft

Also finding cause for celebration in July was Microsoft, whose profits exceeded $100 billion for the first time ever, helped in large part by the success of Office 365.

Free Version Of Microsoft Teams? Yes Please!

And speaking of Office 365, July also saw the release of a free version of one of its best applications: Microsoft Teams. Although it has some limitations compared to the full version available with Office 365, it still offers plenty of useful features, and it enables businesses to essentially try before they buy.

Go Go Surface Go!

Microsoft also attracted praise for the release of the Surface Go tablet / laptop hybrid. Designed as a budget alternative to the top-end models, it offers similar functionality as other Surface products but at a significantly lower price.

Twitter Twit Has A Bit Of A Fit

In less auspicious news, Elon Musk used Twitter to accuse a British cave diver of being a paedophile. Why? Because they disagreed about the potential effectiveness of a submarine his company had built, which Musk offered in the rescue of children trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Large Scale 5G Lands In The Midlands

In September, the government revealed that trials of 5G mobile broadband would be trialled in three cities across the West Midlands: Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

Ozzy Osbourne.
We have no way of knowing, but we reckon Ozzy would approve of 5G in the Midlands.

Microsoft Extends Windows 7 Support In Certain Circumstances

Businesses dismayed by the upcoming end-of-life date for Windows 7 were given a lifeline, when Microsoft announced Windows 7 ESU (Extended Security Updates), which will continue support up until January 2023. It will, however, come with a fee attached, which rises every year. That if you even qualify: there are various restrictions on which businesses can apply. In many cases, the most cost effective solution is simply to upgrade to Windows 10.

The ICO Says I See You To Delinquent Firms

Almost all businesses in the UK should be paying the Data Protection Fee, and failure to do so can result in hefty fines from the ICO. In November 2018, the first ever fines for non-payment were issued. Having sent 900 letters to companies that hadn’t paid the fee, it eventually fined a hundred of them for continued inaction in the regard.

Teams Proves It’s Not Slacking Off

Rounding off a great year for Microsoft, news broke in December that Teams had overtaken Slack in user numbers, taking second place in the collaboration tool stakes. Number one in the league table was another Microsoft product: Skype for Business.


What were your IT-related highlights of 2018? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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TMB Privacy Policy

Why do we hold personal data?

Like any business, TMB Group has to keep personal data about staff, clients and potential customers. When you fill in the contact form on our website, for example, we need to keep a record so we can get back to you. Data is also held so we can deliver our services and so we can provide useful information, such as security update news.

What data do we keep?
Depending on our relationship with you, we’ll hold information such as your first and last names, your email address, your phone number and your postal address. We will also possibly have details about your business and those who work for you. If you’re a customer, then we may have some of your banking detail so we’re able to accept payments for the services we provide.

How is your data stored?

As a responsible IT company, TMB stores personal data on secured computer systems. Anything that is archived will be placed on encrypted drives.

We do use third-party customer management software, Autotask, which means data may be stored on their servers, but only the data we need to deliver our services. The same goes for the Microsoft services we use, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which store information on Microsoft’s cloud servers. We also use Mailchimp for marketing purposes: to send emails and to manage subscriber lists.

These third parties are not permitted to share your data or to use it for marketing purposes. You can find Autotask’s privacy policy here: https://www.autotask.com/privacy-policy. Microsoft’s privacy policy for Office 365 is here: https://www.microsoft.com/online/legal/v2/?docid=43. Mailchimp’s policy is here: https://mailchimp.com/legal/privacy.

How long do we keep your data?

We will keep your data in our systems until it is no longer relevant to our business, but you can request that we remove or update it at any time. We will also inform any relevant third parties of your request.

Access to your information

The key thing to remember is that your data belongs to you. That means you can request copies of your personal data any time you like, or to access and update it. You also have the right to be forgotten, so if you ask that we delete your data, we will do so or provide a valid reason why we are unable to. We will, of course, require proof of your identity before addressing any such request.

Depending on your request, your information may be provided to you electronically. In such cases, it will be provided in a commonly used format.

Unsubscribing and deletion

Unsubscribing is not the same as a request for us to delete personal data. If, for example, you unsubscribe from a mailing list, it is necessary to keep your email address on record to prevent marketing email from being sent to you. If we were to delete that information, we would have no way to tell if you have unsubscribed. Nevertheless, you still have the right to request erasure of your personal data.

Your right to complain

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the way your personal data is treated by us, you have the right to complain to a supervisory authority. In the UK, that would be the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Website analytics

Anyone who visits our website will automatically have data about them collected via Google Analytics. This gives us broad information about what people are doing on our website and which pages they are looking at. It does not provide us with personal information that could be used to identify individuals.

Cookies

Cookies are small text files that web browsers receive from websites. They are stored on your computer, and they enable sites to do things like remember if you’ve visited before, if you’re a customer, what your preferences are and so on. You are entitled to view our website without them, but you may lose this kind of functionality if you do so.

International data transfers

Information that we collect may be stored and processed in and transferred between any of the countries in which we operate in order to enable us to use the information in accordance with this privacy policy.

Data controllers and processors

TMB is the controller for marketing activity and personal data/special category data we hold on our own employees, but we are the processor when processing our customers’ personal data (e.g. buying a licence for a named individual).  We  may use sub-processors for processing data given to us by customers.

What we won’t ever do is sell your data. And if you sign up to our mailing list, you’ll only receive marketing material from TMB as a result – no one else.

For any questions regarding your data, contact TMB’s technical director, Richard Shuker, at info@tmb.co.uk or write to us at A1 Endeavour Business Park, Penner Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 1QN..