Our February Leadership Academy advocate

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Top Talent, where do I begin….?  I was relatively new to leadership roles within my workplace and felt I could do with improving my leadership skills.

I had attended internal training courses, which were a good foundation, but I felt that I needed a course which was more in depth.  I had heard of the programme through other colleagues who were graduates of previous Top Talent courses and I’d also taken the opportunity to research the course from the Socitm website and spoke with others further about the course and what it would deliver for me as a leader.  After gathering the more information, I decided to apply for the course.  The course was terrifically set out all the way from receiving the invites for applicants to apply, to the graduation dinner!

The application process allowed me to self-reflect on my own skills and build a picture of where I needed to improve.  During the workshops and the separate coaching that is received, I was able to identify key areas where I felt I needed to improve my skills, self-belief and confidence. This was facilitated by reviewing our personal values and beliefs, through the discussions and the role-playing exercises.

Having attended the programme,  allowed me to step forward to present feedback about our experiences at the Soctim Scotland Conference; something completely outside of my comfort zone!  In doing this, it has allowed me to begin to challenge myself and improve on my leadership skills.  Skills I had, but never utilised fully.  This is no longer the case!

I believe the benefits of attending this course has allowed me to improve my own skill set but also enabled me to grow.  At the time of the course I was the Team Lead for ICT Support, And now, since the course, I have developed my leadership skills to focus on not only managing the ICT Department, but also other areas within the Council.  I firmly believe that without participating in this programme I would not have been able to gain the promotion to my current post within East Dunbartonshire Council as Digital & Shared Services Manager, responsible for ICT, Internal Shared Services and the
Revenues & Benefits Teams.

It was a great experience and one that I would recommend to anyone wishing to
enhance their leadership skills within government and to grab with both hands!

By Gavin Haire
Digital and Shared Services Manager at East Dunbartonshire Council

Our February Leadership Academy advocate

Our Guide to a safer internet experience

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As IT professionals, we have an obligation to provide safe and secure internet to all those who may use it within your organisation. As part of this obligation, internal training goes a long way. Go out into the main office and ask someone if they know what phishing is?  What was the response?

Providing training to staff is the first step towards making your workplace that little bit safer, by making people aware of the risks and the do’s and don’ts of the internet.

Let’s take one example – Phishing

Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

What to look out for?

  • Poor English/grammatical errors
    • One of the biggest tell-tale signs is the structure of the email
  • Who is the email addressed to?
    • Phishing emails tend to have generic titles for example Dear Sir / Madam, Dear Email@email.co.uk
  • Is the offer too good to be true?
    • Click this link to win £10000 pounds. Your long-lost relative has left you £40000, I just need your bank information

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But you will be surprised how many slip though the net.

Let’s take one more example – Online Banking
Something we take for granted, having access to your bank anywhere anytime. This level of freedom comes with risk:

  • Internet connection- when you’re at a coffee shop, do you connect to their public wi-fi?
    • Snoopers can be looking at the traffic coming from your device and steal your personal data
    • Recommendation: Use a VPN on your mobile device or use your mobile data network.
  • Public computers/work computers – when using your online banking websites.
    • Do you click remember my username/password? This means that the next person to use that device maybe able to see your information
    • Recommendation: Use an in-private browser, or incognito mode or click ‘Do not Remember username and password’

The above is just a few examples of how to stay safe online, whether it’s checking your emails or checking your bank balance.

For more information visit https://www.getsafeonline.org/ where you’ll find all the information you need.

 

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Find out more about the Safer internet Day here: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2019

 

By Adam Goldsmith – MBCS

Our Guide to a safer internet experience

Our January Leadership academy advocate

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Empowering Women Course is of huge importance to me for a number of reasons:  it helped me to build a strong understanding of my abilities and strengths, work through my personal barriers in a supportive environment and start to look ahead, plan my future self.

During the 3-day course I went on a roller-coaster of activities that were cleverly designed and carried out by our talented course facilitators and allowed me and my fellow women to take a step back and evaluate key aspects of our careers and personal goals, learn techniques on how to deal with challenges that may prevent us from taking that brave next step.

The group activities were reinforced by 1:1 tuition from an experienced coach who worked with me on the specific challenges and together we created a plan of actions that will allow me to achieve the goals I set. This is an incredible opportunity to work with a trained professional on the areas of future development underpinned by a practical advice, which completes the whole journey of personal discovery.

Having said all that, I cannot underestimate the value of the support network we created as a group of professional and strong women who are dealing with their challenges together. We worked through some tough dilemmas and personal issues that bonded us together and I now have a group of amazing women, friends that I can call for help and advice should I need them.

The help and advice given during these sessions provided me the incredible insight into my work and personal life to allow me to be truly empowered.

Since attending the course and graduation I have been promoted within my organisation and I feel empowered to grow our internal talent, so I am passing the opportunities that have been given to me to my colleagues.

 

By Tanya Last

Our January Leadership academy advocate

“Clean-up your computer month” – our guide to keeping data safe.

‘Clean up your computer’ month for January, marks the importance of organisations and the workforce adhering to the principles and guidelines of data protection (GDPR) and ensuring that appropriate and adequate security measures have been implemented to protect staff, their devices and the data they use and share. In the current climate, we all individually need to take personal responsibility of being compliant with national and local policies and practices.

It is also paramount that organisations are able to achieve cost effective storage solutions through adopting these ‘good’ practice principles and limiting how much information is stored.

It really isn’t about the use of cleaning materials and rubber gloves to ensure that your device is clean and tidy! Although, there is a need to keep kit and desks neat and paper-free in-line with ‘clear desk and hot-desking’ policies.

It is really helpful to follow the advice and guidance that is made available regarding the cleaning-up of devices for the following reasons:

  • We should only keep hold of data; comprising of emails, attachments, case details and other documentation and information, to meet our specific business need. With the introduction of the GDPR guidelines earlier this year, it is even more pertinent for individuals, teams and organisations to be really vigilant about which data is retained and for how long. And we are obliged to ask data owners if they want us to keep this information through the use of the ‘privacy’ guidelines. Organisations need to clearly articulate their retention, archiving and disposal policy guidelines. (See – insert link to GDPR best practice)
  • We need to ensure that adequate, reliable security measures are in place to prevent the misuse of the data that we hold. If we need to  share data with partners and other agencies, then it can be done in a secure manner. We also need to be careful that if a device is lost or stolen, that the security protection that has been deployed will prevent access to data unlawfully.
  • It is a known fact that the more data that is kept, the more storage capacity is required. This poses a number of issues for organisations:
    • information overflow – a need to ensure that there is clarity about what is kept for how long and how this is managed and stored
    • investment in robust document management systems to ensure the electronic safeguarding of information, rather than being riddled with tons of paper! To reduce cost, it is necessary to limit how much data we keep
    • physical, virtual or cloud storage – the more we need to store, the more expensive our storage solution. As more and more organisations review their infrastructure and storage solutions, it is an ideal opportunity to reduce the amount of data that is kept, so that storage is optimised and made as cost effective as possible.

The start of a new year and the opportunity to refresh the approach to using, storing and sharing data and keeping devices secure! Please take the necessary actions to ensure that these guidelines and best practice are followed to protect yourself and any potential mis-management of data.

“Clean-up your computer month” – our guide to keeping data safe.

Friday Roundup: A Week in Tech (21/12/18)

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It’s Friday. It’s the roundup. It must be time for Facebook Disaster of the Week – and this one’s a classic balls-up.

The social network – which, amazingly, continues to operate – has revealed the discovery of a bug that exposed nearly seven million of its long-suffering users’ photos.

According to Facebook, during September up to 1,500 third-party apps gained access to a ‘broader set of photos than usual’.

What makes all of this particular poignant/gruesome is the offer Facebook made last year for users to send it their most intimate photos as part of an effort to tackle revenge porn.

I suggested at the time that only the bravest of souls would send in their most private of pics, what with the firm being submerged in a ocean of fishiness and ineptitude even then – and this year has seen that risible sea deepen to the point that I doubt even a specialised Elon Musk submarine can save it.

Anyhow, Facebook says it plans to notify the victims of the latest screwup, and explained itself thusly: ‘When someone gives permission for an app to access their photos on Facebook, we usually only grant the app access to photos people share on their timeline.

‘In this case, the bug potentially gave developers access to other photos.’

Have you been affected by this present fiasco? Please let us know why you haven’t shut down your Facebook account.

***

Poor old Uber has been found wanting by the forces of justice, and must now treat its workers like human beings.

Actually, it must now treat its workers as workers after the Court of Appeal ruled that the firm could no longer regard its drivers as self-employed; meaning – the horror! – that they are entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and the minimum wage.

Of course, these entitlements could be short-lived when the genius of Brexit crash lands into the UK mainland in March and destroys 40 years of carefully crafted employment law – but who cares anymore, right? Sovereignty! Woo! Go Brexit!

Anyhow, the action was brought by two former Uber drivers, one of whom is Yaseen Aslam, chairman of the United Private Hire Drivers branch of the IWGB union, and he had this to say: ‘I am delighted today’s ruling brings us closer to the ending of Uber’s abuse of precarious workers made possible by tactics of contract trickery, psychological manipulation and old-fashioned bullying.’

Hard to put it any better than that – however, responding to Uber’s plans to appeal the decision, thus further delaying the implementation of the treat workers well edict, Mr Farrar outdid himself with: ‘This is nothing more than a cynical ploy to delay inevitable changes to its business model while it pursues a record breaking $120bn stock market flotation.’

Greedy, greedy Uber! Just like Facebook, very greedy and very sloppy with its users’ data. Rich, sloppy, disdainful and shady. We’ve let these firms take over our lives, folks. What are we thinking?

***

And now it’s time for a look back over the year that everyone’s calling ‘2018’ – not all of which has been about Russia, China and Facebook.

Things kicked off with the disconcerting news that many CPUs are vulnerable to hackers. AMD, ARM and Intel chips were all apparently prone to a number of weaknesses. Interestingly, the story seems to have gone very quiet over the last six months, which means they either fixed it or everyone lost interest because of Brexit. Probably the latter.

In far more alarming hacking news, it was revealed that America’s gargantuan nuclear arsenal is also susceptible to hackers, in another story that has since gone incredible quiet, possibly because of most people’s attention being drawn to the deranged Donald Trump.

At the end of January, friendly Facebook announced plans for a child version of Facebook, while simultaneously claiming it was very concerned with the effect social media is having on the young. No shame! None at all!

In February, then digital minister Matt Hancock released an app – which was immediately implicated in a data privacy breach fiasco. I wonder whatever became of it?

The end of February bought moon news. 4G moon news.

(Only the end of February? This is going to take ages.)

I’ve zipped to April (not that much happened in March, honest) when the notoriously tech-illiterate Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced £9m to fight cyber crime. Whatever happened to her?

Lots of our focus this year was concerned with the hateful Cambridge Analytica. Here’s one of many stories about the scandal-filled enterprise.

In June, I couldn’t find a single World Cup-related tech tale, so had to make do with stuff like this.

July started with shock and horror! Social media firms are actively trying to make their networks as addictive as possible!!! Who would have thought it possible??!!

In mid July I got a bit maudlin with this effort about the strange story of the trapped teenagers and Elon Musk.

August brought some pretty good news: the demise of spite hive InfoWars. Well, not demise exactly, but hopefully all the frenzied liars involved in the dirty enterprise felt their pockets pinched a little bit.

Apple and Samsung got some massive fines for deliberately slowing their phones down. As for me, my October was reasonably enjoyable.

Which brings us to November and news that Google lost loads of its IP addresses for a short while – and China has built a literal fake newsreader.

That’ll do it. Didn’t enjoy compiling this at all. 

***

Anyhow, this is the last of my Friday roundups. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. Have a great Christmas and a happy New Year.

 

by Max Salsbury

Friday Roundup: A Week in Tech (21/12/18)

£1.5m to support council cyber resilience

A significant number of English councils have applied to the Local Government Association (LGA) for a share of £1.5m in Cabinet Office funding to address cyber security issues following a recent stocktake research exercise.

The LGA and a group of local authority cyber security professionals will review and assess bids during December, after applications closed on 30 November. They will prioritise those councils rated as red or amber-red, the bottom two of five categories, in their assessment.

Siobhan Coughlan, LGA programme manager, told a meeting of Socitm’s Local CIO Council (LCIOC) that the stocktake had indicated that councils are relatively well-protected in terms of technology and standards, with three-fifths gaining the top two green and amber-green rating. But only one in 10 received these positive ratings for training and awareness.

Coughlan said this showed IT professionals were rising to the cyber security challenge. “But they can’t sort this out on their own,” she told the meeting, held in London on 5 December. “Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility.”

Individual assessments have been sent to each council and will not be shared with anyone, with only aggregate findings from the stocktake published. For the small number of councils which were rated as red or amber-red, the LGA has contacted both their chief executives and their elected leaders to offer support in creating an improvement plan to help them address the issues identified for their council.

LCIOC members said this was an effective approach in drawing leaders’ attentions to the issues in their council, as well as to help engage them and to get the necessary work done.

LGA cyber security: https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/efficiency-and-income-generation/cyber-security

A longer account of the LCIOC meeting will shortly be available for Socitm members in the publications section of the website.

 

By SA Mathieson, editor of Socitm In Our View magazine

£1.5m to support council cyber resilience

Friday Roundup: A Week in Tech (14/12/18)

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Christmas is on the way! Are you feeling suitably festive? Well, let me ruin that burgeoning joy with more astronomically appalling stories from the world of big tech…

Twitter. The word has come to conjure up feelings of such…emptiness. So, what’s happened this time?

The social media network’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, has been busily promoting genocide hotspot Myanmar as a cool and groovy tourist destination.

The apparently utterly oblivious Mr Dorsey rabbited on in a series of tweets about a recent mediation retreat he attended in the country, preening that the ‘people are full of joy and the food is amazing,’ and urged his followers to pay a visit.

I know we’re all desensitised by now and nothing matters anymore, but still: Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority have been and continue to be oppressed, dispossessed, humiliated, tortured and murdered by the country’s ruling elite, with thousands killed and nearly a million driven from their homes and into neighbouring Bangladesh.

But hippyish billionaire tech lord Dorsey wouldn’t appear to be the sort of man to let a detail like a lake of human blood interfere with quality transcendental relaxation time.

And he’s got form. Last month, the tech boss complained about a new tax aimed at improving the lives of homeless people in San Francisco, claiming that the move isn’t ‘the best way’ to ‘fix the homelessness problem’.

A small note: billionaire Mr Dorsey based his firm in San Francisco because the city gave him a massive tax break.

And while we’re on the subject of social media billionaires and mass murder in Myanmar, it’s worth reminding ourselves that earlier this year Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook was exposed for hosting deeply racist and inciteful material calling for the slaughter of the Rohingya people.

Social media: bringing the world together. Pass the prozac.

***

And while the scent of Facebook is hanging in the air, let’s have a quick look at its weekly disgrace.

Journalists brought in to fact-check the drivel pulsing around the social media network are abandoning their posts, claiming that the firm is ignoring their advice on tackling fake news.

One particularly displeased fact-checker is Brooke Binkowski, former editor of excellent nonsense-quelling website Snopes, who has accused Facebook of essentially using journalists ‘for crisis PR,’ adding that ‘they’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck. They clearly don’t care’.

Making themselves look good? Clearly don’t care? Can this be the same Facebook we know and love? Of course it is!

Even more damningly, Ms Binkowski told Facebook ‘over and over and over’ about the wave of hate speech, lies and genocidal propaganda that appeared on the blue pages in connection with the oppression of Myanmar’s Rohingya people, but the network ‘were absolutely resistant’.

The company started reaching out to news outlets after the ridiculous 2016 US presidential election, which was bathed in an ocean of often bonkers fake news. Attempting to cover its ass, I mean protect democracy, Facebook asked hacks to flag drivel and stem the flow of mendacity.

But it doesn’t seem to have worked out very well, with some lie-hunters perturbed by recent revelations that the social media outfit paid a PR firm to smear its critics by erroneously linking them to billionaire George Soros – a move coincidentally used by anti-Semites the world over.

One disgruntled fact-checker said: ‘Why should we trust Facebook when it’s pushing the same rumours that its own fact-checkers are calling fake news?’

Why indeed?

But let’s leave the final word to another despairing fact-checker who, I don’t believe, could have put it any better: ‘They are a terrible company and, on a personal level, I don’t want to have anything to do with them.’

***

I was going to conclude today by covering Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s quiz session in front of the US House Judiciary Committee, in which he insisted that the search giant hadn’t ‘programmed’ its algorithms to be biased against conservative views.

Republican senators are apparently genuinely baffled/suspicious that dozens of images of President Donald Trump appear in Google Images if the word ‘idiot’ is searched for, and would seem to actually believe that Google would have to contrive such an outcome. I can’t be bothered to go into it. Read all about it here.

So, let’s wrap things up with some mild fun. A Russian ‘robot’ has been exposed as a man in a suit.

‘Robot Boris’ made an appearance at a state-sponsored tech event from whence its dance moves and vocal abilities were broadcast on Russian state TV.

However, eagle-eyed journalists began to question various aspects of the thing’s properties and it was ultimately revealed to be a man wearing a £3,000 costume called Alyosha the Robot.

What does all this mean? I dunno. But if you run through today’s roundup, you might detect a familiar pattern, or flow, or model. It goes: Twitter/Facebook > Trump/Russia > Tech/Deception.

And I can’t see any of that changing in the near future.

 

by Max Salsbury

Friday Roundup: A Week in Tech (14/12/18)