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Is email hurting your business?

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Email is the core of business communication. It is therefore critical for SMEs to make informed choices when it comes to the solutions available to them, writes LOUIS JARDIM, Commercial Director and co-founder of Turrito Networks.

Few could argue that in today’s world of always-on, hyper connectivity, email is the bedrock of business communication. For businesses of all sizes and across sectors, whether it is a design agency or a bike repair shop, email keeps the proverbial wheels turning within every modern enterprise.

Despite its importance, many businesses – and particularly SMEs – fail to make informed choices when it comes to the email solutions available to them. This impacts security, efficiency, productivity and long-term profitability for SMEs.

And given the escalating threat of corporate cyber fraud, with ransomware now a daily reality, security needs to be top of mind for every business owner.

So where does one start when considering email solutions for a growing SME?

Outsourcing vs. Insourcing

The first question to consider is whether to outsource the solution, and choose a cloud-based product, or to insource your email and go with a traditional on-site mail exchange service.

The cloud-based option makes far more sense for an SME from both a financial and security perspective, with leading cloud solutions from Microsoft Office 365, which has a dedicated SME bundle offering, and Google Enterprise.

The key financial benefit for SMEs is that there are neither expensive licensing costs to deal with nor long-term contracts associated with cloud-based email – which allows businesses to scale up or down according to changing needs. In addition, there are no maintenance fees and there is a guarantee that email will be up and running 99% of the time.

On-site mail exchange in contrast, requires businesses to pay for monthly licensing fees, IT maintenance and repair, and the costs associated with downtime when the server goes offline (this is inevitable).

Leave Security to the Experts

Solutions such as Office 365 and Google Enterprise have world-class security built into the offering. This enables business owners to rest assured that their email security is strong, and they can therefore focus on core business functions – keeping customers happy and growing their business..

Having an on-site email exchange, however, requires business owners to take responsibility for security, and to purchase various security solutions. They will then have to continuously update these solutions to ensure that they are relevant in addressing new threats.

Following the devastating WannaCry ransomware attack last month, it became very clear that SMEs are underestimating the threat of cyber fraud.

Contrary to popular belief, WannaCry impacted more SMEs than it did larger corporates, largely because SMEs think they are not targets, and often turn off automatic security updates and patches.

With cloud-based email solutions in place, SMEs benefit from high-level IT security at minimal cost, and are well protected against the growing number of ransomware attacks now threatening businesses everywhere.

Guarding Against the Threat Within

All too often, business owners fail to realise that the end users within their own environment are the biggest security concerns. When employees are retrenched, disgruntled or about to resign, there are very real threats around losing critical intellectual property and company data.

For example, if an employee sends out highly confidential and valuable information to a competitor, does the business have a way of flagging such emails? Sometimes, employees are unaware of their error, and can release sensitive data unwittingly and in a non-malicious manner.

Increasingly, cloud-based email solutions offer sophisticated gateway and mail filtering features that protect against data leakage and ensure both visibility and compliance across the business. With intellectual property laws (e.g. POPI) and data protection becoming increasingly critical, such solutions must be incorporated into SMEs today.

No more he said, she said…

Another important component of an email solution is archiving. This allows businesses to be not only compliant and gives them the ability to retrieve legacy emails if called upon.

So, for example, if an employee deliberately deletes his/her entire mailbox when leaving the business, there is a way to quickly and easily retrieve everything using an archiving solution.  This becomes a valuable capability in disputes over whether an email was sent before a certain deadline or not.

When submitting documents for competitive tenders, for example, businesses are often told that their information/application wasn’t submitted in time. This can be as a result of servers being down, bad connectivity, or simple deceit/misinformation on behalf of the receiver. But with Email Archiving, the business has a way of proving otherwise.

As the sheer pace and complexity of business heightens in a digitally driven world, SMEs need to ensure that their IT solutions are a help – not a hindrance to growth.

By starting with reliable and secure email solutions, SMEs can focus on their core purpose – and in so doing, drive innovation and expansion.

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SA consumers buy 3.2m smartphones in Q1

Smartphone sales in South Africa grew by 12.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, reaching around 3.2 million units for the period.

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However, the value of the smartphone segment increased by 22.8% as sales of entry-level devices to low- and mid-income consumers continued to drive the market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa.

GfK South Africa’s data reveals that telecommunications retail enjoyed a strong start to the year, with revenue growing 22.4% year-on-year. The growing popularity of phablets and higher unit prices (as a result of a weaker rand) helped to drive this increase in revenue, against a backdrop of low or negative growth in many segments of the consumer technology market.

“The mobile device market showed good growth in the quarter, despite rising prices during the period under review,” says Norman Muzhona, Solutions Specialist for Telecommunications at GfK South Africa. “In addition to the exchange rate, the introduction of popular, new mid-tier devices by several leading vendors helped to drive higher retail revenues in the telecoms market.”

Information technology retail revenues for the quarter contracted 4.8% compared to 2017, largely because of decreasing monitor prices and a 38.9% decline in tablet revenues. However, desktop computer revenues grew 39% and mobile computing revenues grew 6.5% year-on-year, thanks to higher prices and increased sales of higher-end products.

Says Berno Mare, Solutions Specialist for IT, Office Equipment and Value Added Services: “Retailers introduced new computing devices priced in the R3000 band during the quarter and enjoyed surprisingly strong demand for these entry-level units.

“Telcos enjoyed robust growth in mobile computing retail sales, thanks to credit deals, subsidised contracts and attractive data offers. However, South African consumers are heavily indebted, which may dampen growth for the rest of the year.”

With consumers rapidly migrating to smartphones, sales of traditional mobile phones continued to decline, down 1.6% year-on-year to around 2 million for the quarter. However, the exchange rate and the introduction of higher-priced brands helped to drive a 8.9% year-on-year revenue increase in mobile phone revenues during the period under review.

This follows the 21% drop in mobile phone unit sales in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. “Operators continue to lead the transition from feature phones to smartphones as they pursue higher data revenues,” says Muzhona. “The entry-level market for smartphones is fiercely competitive, and the minimum specs of lower cost smartphones is improving all the time.”

GfK South Africa expects the migration from mobile phones to smartphones to accelerate in 2018. However, it remains to be seen if the introduction of 4G-enabled, Voice-over-LTE-ready feature phones will have any impact on the South African mobile phone market.

Sectors of the consumer electronic market that showed strong growth for the first quarter of 2018 include loudspeakers—revenues up 21.6% year-on-year, thanks to demand of Bluetooth-enabled product—and ultrahigh definition (UHD) panel TVs—where revenues grew 33%, thanks to the growing affordability of the technology. UHD unit shipments were up 76%, while the average selling price of the products fell 24%.

Other market highlights for the first quarter of 2018 include:

  • Photo category revenues were up 8.1% year-on-year.
  • Small domestic appliance revenues grew 8%, following a 10.3% decline in Q1 2016 over Q1 2015. Hot air fryers sold well, as did kettles and toasters.
  • Major domestic appliances showed small year-on-year growth over Q1 2016, despite a decline in average selling price in many sub-categories of this market. Cooling products continued to make the highest contribution to growth in this segment.
  • Office Equipment revenues declined 18% year-on-year, led downwards by lower printer and cartridge sales volumes.
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What kids want online

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Kaspersky Lab’s latest report on the online activities of children – based on statistics received from its solutions and modules with child protection features – highlights children’s online activities and the importance of protecting them when online. For example, video content globally, comprised 17% of searches over the last months. Although many videos watched as a result of these searches may be harmless, it is still possible for children to accidentally end up watching videos that contain inappropriate content.

The report shows anonymised statistics from Kaspersky Lab’s flagship consumer solutions for Windows PCs and Macs that have the Parental Control module switched on and from Kaspersky Safe Kids, a standalone service for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

In South Africa, communication sites (such as social media, messengers, or emails) were the most popular pages visited by computers with parental controls switched on – with users in South Africa visiting these sites in 69% of cases over the previous 12 months. Software, audio, and video accounted for 17% of searches. Websites with this content have become significantly more popular since last year, when it was only the fifth most popular category globally at 6%. The top four is rounded off with electronic commerce (4.2%) and alcohol, tobacco, and websites about narcotics (3.9%), which is a new addition compared to this time last year.

The report presents search results on the ten most-popular languages* for the last 6 months. The data shows that the video & audio category – including requests related to any video content, streaming services, video bloggers, series and movies – are the most regularly ‘googled’ by children (17% of the total requests). The second and third places go to translation (14%) and communication (10%) websites respectively. Interestingly, games websites sit in fourth place, generating only 9% of the total search requests.

We can also see a clear language difference for search requests: for example, video and music websites are typically searched for in English, which can be explained by the fact that the majority of movies, TV series and musical groups have English names. Spanish-speaking kids carry out more requests for translation sites, while communication services are mostly searched for in Russian.

More than any other nationality, Chinese-speaking children look for education services, while French-speaking kids are more interested in sport and games websites. In turn, German-speaking requests dominate in the “shopping” category. The leading number of search requests for porn are in Arabic, and for anime are in Japanese.

“Kids in different countries have different interests and online behaviors, but what links them all is their need to be protected online from potentially harmful content. Children looking for animated content could accidentally open a porn video. Or they could start searching for innocent videos and unintentionally end up on websites containing violent content, both of which could have a long-term impact on their impressionable and vulnerable minds,” says Anna Larkina, Web-content Analysis Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

As well as analysing searches, the report also looks into which websites children visit or attempt to visit that contain potentially harmful content which falls under one of the 14 preset categories** for the last 12 months.

The mobile trend is again highlighted in the figures for computer games, which are now in fifth place locally on the list at 3%. As kids continue to show a preference for mobile games rather than computer games, this category will only continue to decrease in popularity on computers over the coming months and years.cleardot.gif

“No matter what they are doing online, it is important for parents not to leave their children’s digital activities unattended, because there’s a big difference between care and obtrusiveness. While it is important to trust your children and educate them about how to behave safely online, even your good advice cannot protect them from something unexpectedly showing up on the screen. That’s why advanced security solutions are key to ensuring children have positive online experiences, rather than harmful ones,” adds Anna Larkina.

The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps containing inappropriate content. In turn, the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution allows parents to monitor what their children do, see or search for online across all devices, including mobile devices, and offers useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.

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