2016 a year in IT

Probably the latest in terms of news is the incredible announcement from BT Yahoo that 1 billion accounts on their servers may have been breached, that is a sixth of the planet if we had an account each!! I say news but the breach actually happened in 2013 and Yahoo themselves only found out this year when law enforcement agencies told them. This is the second time (according to Yahoo) as in September this year they reported that possibly ½ a billion account details had been stolen in 2014! Yahoo will no doubt announce to all that “they take security very seriously” and that all users should change their password. Shutting the gate after the horse has bolted is a poor idiom more like not noticing the whole stable was stolen until it was served up for Christmas dinner, then shutting the gate. Seriously if you have a BT email account, regardless of what type, CHANGE THE PASSWORD.

Amazon move one step closer to its aim of delivering all lighter packages via PrimeAir within 30 minutes from order. Early Dec Amazon trialled a delivery of one package via a drone to a customer close by their Cambridge fulfilment centre. Completely autonomous, guided by GPS flying at 400ft straight to the door (actually garden). This will be expanded locally to start with and rolled out if trials go well. Obviously there are the usual safety concerns and I assume where you live is going to be a factor. Also there must be many others to consider, not least the fact that these drones have to land to offload the parcel (very Thunderbird 2), the cost of each of these is estimated to be around $3000 – well you can see where I am going.

For the first time ever 2016 saw advertising spend on digital media surpass TV advertising in the USA. 72 billion on digital and 71 on TV. With Netflix, Amazon Prime and newcomers like Hulu now with over 100 million subscribers it is not difficult to see why and some of the online ads are amazing – Boeing award winning Space Station ad is one.

Self-driving cars are here! In Oct 2016 Tesla announced that all their vehicles have all the hardware needed for self-driving. Yes, this is the same company and base technology involved in the well-advertised crash in Florida. Actually that is unfair Tesla tell us the new generation kit is far superior and updates are automatically downloaded, I just hope it is not a Windows based system. The technology cannot be used in the UK as yet but is legal in certain states and other countries. The UK does have a road map and aim to allow “hands off” self-driving by 2018 and automated driving by 2021. I can hear the groans about trusting technology and I am with you as I am an excellent driver. However, I also believe that many of the other drivers I meet every day could be replaced by a Casio calculator and still make a better job of parking in Waitrose.

Pokemon Go – has to have a mention even if it is just for bringing gaming out of the bedrooms of teenagers into the “real world” and confusing the older generations by congregating in odd places staring at their phones then jumping up and down with glee or frustration. For those of you who have no idea what I am writing about, you should either ask your grandchildren or be welcomed to our planet.

Virtual Reality – Very much not a new technology as invented in the 1960’s. But as with a lot of tech it is back in 2016 with a bang. Genmar are coming to Jackson Sq. in early 2017 to showcase the technology. But if you want to see some peoples experiences just google funny VR videos. We will be hoping to replicate this in Stortford next year so keep an eye out for us.

Malicious software or malware is the term used to cover all areas of virus and other digital nasties and of course no surprise that 2016 has seen an increase in these. However, worth pointing out that Ransomware – a virus that demands payment – has seen a threefold increase! It is estimated that maybe £1billion has been generated by criminals using this type of infection. This can be an automated payload delivered via an unsecure website or infected email or someone calling you on the telephone pretending to be from BT or Microsoft or some such demanding access to your PC. The virus then encrypts all files on your system and presents you with a pop up screen telling you to pay £x to receive an unlock code within a small timeframe or your data will be locked / deleted forever. Businesses are being targeted more this year as they tend to pay. If you have an appropriate offsite secure managed backup routine in place you can recover but with downtime if not, you will have to pay (oh yes we provide this for 100+ businesses nationwide J)

Broadband and specifically in our area has been in the news with the government and other “authorities” throwing about figures like “98% of business premises to have superfast broadband by 2018” “£13.9 million to be spent in 2017 via the Connected Counties project” Philip Hammond announced that £1billion is to be spent ensuring that millions of homes and businesses have access to “gold standard” allowing us to download a full box set series in less than a minute. The thing is that most of us still have trouble downloading an email from our kids due the appallingly slow and erratic connections at home and work. Villages surrounding Stortford are mainly in the same broadband-boat they were in some years ago. Businesses we find are now having reliability issues with the superfast connection they eagerly waited years for and are now having to upgrade to more expensive options. The issue is the underlying infrastructure the whole shebang relies upon. In the UK BT own and maintain pretty much all the hardware that connects you to the various backbones and international links required to access the internet. As it was all installed about the same time Jesus was about, like our railways we are now suffering from the incredible underinvestment and neglect of the last 20 years. Incredibly some of BT’s infrastructure still in use today is 140 years old! No wonder then that despite the government insisting it wants the UK to be a leader in superfast broadband, we are currently 20th in Europe starting the year at 19th, having declined from 17th in 2015. So it seems their tactics of jumping up and down and poking their tongue out at BT may need re-visiting.

The good news is that despite the minefield that is IT and all the baggage of horrors it entails Genmar are still here after 20 years in Stortford ensuring your “user experience” is as good as can be whether at home or at work. This is not only down to our excellent service by our professional team or the emphases we put on taking the fear out of IT but more to do with the continued support of all our customers new and old, commercial or residential. So thank you and all the best for 2017.

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