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Your IT needs a spring clean

Much like spring cleaning a home, COLIN THORNTON, Managing Director of Turrito Networks and Dial a Nerd, believes that companies need to ’spring clean’ their IT infrastructure to reduce the chance of security breaches and vulnerabilities in old apps.

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With the carefree promise of spring, many of us are turning our attention towards cleaning out those overfull wardrobes and cluttered rooms. While this is all well and good, the place that probably requires our most dedicated spring cleaning strategy is the office – and not because it’s almost buried in paperwork. Old files, irrelevant backups, out-of-date permissions and apps and excess data bog down many IT networks. These could represent security risks at worst, and at best are slowing your IT down and hampering your efficiency. Time for a reboot!

1 – Assess Your Connectivity Solution

You may have had enough bandwidth to meet your requirements one year ago, but business needs change quickly – particularly as our use of Cloud services increases. Fibre is very widely available and has dropped in pricing enormously.  Certain highly useful (or even critical) applications like Cloud backup or VoIP require fast connections.  If you’re still on ADSL it’s definitely time to switch.  

2 – Remove old accounts and permissions

This is a common problem when IT isn’t managed regularly. Employees come and go but their accounts remain.  It’s possible you have ex-employees still accessing their mail or even worse, your network.  Even if they aren’t they might have had simple passwords and someone else can.  Do an assessment of user accounts and clean them up.  Sometimes temporary accounts are created for office automation devices like printer/scanners and these are very common entry points for hackers.  

3 – Rethink Your Security

With ransomware and other cyber threats now a daily reality, it’s time to take security very seriously. For a start, make sure that you have strong passwords, with different passwords across platforms. Also, use multi-factor authentication for key applications such as your banking. Always be aware of suspicious emails/communications and never open links within unwanted emails.  Firewalls and top-quality anti-virus programs used to be nice-to-have and they’re now have-to-have.  Don’t cut corners here – make sure you have industry leading hardware and software and make sure it stays up to date.

4 – Implement Critical Updates and Patches

Again, given the high risk of cyber-attacks and malware today, updates and patches are equally important to your overall security plan. More than one-half of all breaches occur because the organisation/user failed to patch a known security vulnerability.

5 – Be Ruthless with Network Traffic

One good way to ensure that your network is not cluttered with junk traffic, which will slow it down, is to filter with firewalls or specialized software.  Certain firewalls do this automatically and others need to be configured.  

6 – Check your backups

It goes without saying that you have backups in place but have you checked them lately?  Are they backing up the correct data?  Have you performed a restore?  Do you have backups of your backups?

The price of good backup software and Cloud backups has dropped substantially and if you’re still not doing it properly this should arguably be the first Spring clean task you undertake.

Welcome to a new dawn of more efficient computing (and working!). 

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Appdate: No wallet? No problem?

In his app roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights VodaPay Masterpass, Charge Running, South African App Integrator Directory, uKheshe Health and LocTransie.

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VodaPay Masterpass

Digital mobility is now a way of life and most are using smartphones to pay bills. 

To meet this need Vodacom and Mastercard have launched VodaPay Masterpass, which enables Vodacom customers to load any bank card into a secure digital wallet, downloaded as an app on their smartphone. Once loaded, these cards and the secure credentials associated with them are safely stored, enabling customers to start transacting immediately without the hassle of entering card details each time they make a purchase.

Vodacom customers can buy prepaid data, airtime and SMS, or voice bundles, directly through the app. They can also select the Pay Bills menu option to settle their DStv accounts, pay a utility bill or take care of a traffic fine.

With the app’s Scan to Pay functionality, users can scan a QR code to pay for goods and services wherever Masterpass is accepted, including all SnapScan and Zapper merchants. Once a QR code is scanned, users select the card they wish to use, and enter their bank PIN number on their own device to complete the transaction.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download and users will not be charged for any transaction fees.

Stockists:  Download VodaPay Masterpass for iOS here and for Android here.

Charge Running

Most running apps track data like pace and distance and, in some cases play audio designed to motivate you, but don’t give you the push you get when you run with a friend. Charge Running is an app that lets you run alongside other runners, virtually, as well as giving live coaching to help you go the distance.

The app includes features such as:

·       Unlimited access to live running classes and virtual races  

·       The ability to compete with runners anywhere in the world in real-time

·       A live leaderboard that shows where you are in the pack to keep you pushing

·       Live, personalised feedback from professional trainers 

·       Group chats with coaches and fellow runners throughout the run

·       On-demand runs for times when you can’t join the live groups 

·       A choice of difficulty levels and race types 

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free seven-day trial; thereafter R150 per month

Stockists: Visit the Charge Running site here for downloading instructions.

South African App Integrator Directory

The South African App Integrator Directory from Xero is designed to solve the complexity of choosing apps for small business owners.

The directory is now available in South Africa with six partners, including Realm Digital, Radical Cloud Solutions, Nimacc, Insights, Iridium Business Solutions and Creative CFO. According to Xero, these are all organisations with a proven track record of successfully integrating marketplace apps into Xero businesses. There are also currently over 700 apps in Xero’s App Marketplace worldwide, 21 of which are South African born.

As small businesses become more tech-savvy, they need to know exactly which apps to install on their devices and how the apps will help them. They also need to be able to install these apps from a trusted integrator so they know for what they are paying. 

Platform: Any device with an up-to-date Internet browser.

Expect to pay: A one month trial version is offered, after which the App Integrator ranges from R125 to R245 per month, depending on the company’s needs.

Stockists: Visit Xero here for downloading instructions.

Click here to read about uKheshe Health and LocTransie.

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Prize offered for drone films

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DJI and SkyPixel, the world’s most popular aerial photography community, have announced the first short film contest inviting users to submit cinematic stories shot with camera and gimbal products. The 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest will accept entries until 14 October 2019. It welcomes submissions from all creators, ranging from hobbyists to social media users and professional videographers. around the globe.

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The 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest consists of three storytelling categories—‘Big Moments Start Small,’ ‘Make Your Move’ and ‘Adventure Starts With You.’ There is no restriction on the type or brand of equipment participants use, and they can submit as many videos as they wish.

A total of 100 winners can win a range of prizes totaling $48,600 USD in categories including Recommended Films, Best Editing, Best Story, Nominated Entries, People’s Choice Prize as well as This Week’s Most Popular, sponsored by the partner SanDisk and WD brand from Western Digital Corp. This year’s Best Short Video winners will each receive the new Ronin-SC Pro Combo, Osmo Action as well as WD 2TB My Passport Wireless SSD.

Winning entries will also be showcased on the SkyPixel website as well as to DJI’s millions of fans and followers across its social media platforms.

“DJI has redefined how people capture stable video for all of life’s moments. The compact size, portability and powerful imaging system of our Osmo and Ronin series have also made it possible for anyone to take their creativity and inspirations to the next level,” said Basile David, Director of Brand and Content Partnerships at DJI. “With this contest, we hope to encourage more people to embrace and share their own creative way of storytelling.”

Since 2014, the SkyPixel online community has attracted 16 million professional aerial photographers and content creators from more than 140 countries, growing into the largest aerial photography community today. Over the past five years, SkyPixel has received over 150,000 submissions, becoming a go-to platform for original aerial masterpieces and extraordinary footage powered by other gimbal products focusing on various themes.

Details of the 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest

The short film contest consists of three categories:

Big Moments Start Small: Create a video showcasing the small, lightweight design of your camera device and your best cinematic scenes. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Osmo Pocket or other devices.

Make Your Move: Create a video showcasing the stabilized footage from your device. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Osmo Series or other devices.

Adventure Starts With You: Create a short, cinematic narrative film to showcase your creative skills and visual effects. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Ronin Series or other devices.

*Video submissions should not be longer than three minutes in length.

Submission Details

Submission Start Date: August 15, 2019, 2:00 AM (EST)

Submission End Date: October 14, 2019, 2:00 AM (EST)

Award Announcement: October 31, 2019

Interested participants can visit the 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest website for more information on contest rules and guidelines. For more information, contact: Skypixel.campaign@dji.com

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