2017 Cyber Security and Marketing: Understanding Ransomware

2017 Cyber Security and Marketing: Episode 1 - Understanding Ransomware

2017 definitely has seen its fair share of cyber security news stories, this current day and age we live in is filled with a plethora of cyber security threats, from uncountable sources. It is partly because of these malicious threats that saw the need for an update in the ways company store and process data, hence the introduction next year of GDPR (to learn more about GDPR contact us to recieve our GDPR Whitepaper)

Just to give you a starting point statistic, according to a report from pandalabs, in Q3 of 2016 18,000,000 new malware samples were captured in that quarter alone, averaging out at approximately 200,000 a day. The scary part is this is the statistic only for the malware that was captured by one single company; the totality of malicious malware that bypasses the system is unknown, and continuously growing on a daily basis, which is why it’s harder and harder for companies to combat it.

Have you heard about the concept of ransomware? Ransomware is now the number one security concern for organisations across the world. It is a sophisticated malicious attack which unlawfully gains access to devices and files, it blocks access to them by encrypting them and displays message on the user’s screen to pay X amount to regain access to those encrypted files. It spawned in Russia between 2005 and 2006, and during its early years of conception mainly targeted smaller files like images and word documents,

To give you an example of a wide scale ransomware attack, it happened very recently. A cyber-attack known as ‘WannaCry’ caused an incredible amount of havoc across the NHS in May, which not only led to patients not being seen, but also caused for urgent operations to be cancelled. Within just 3 days ‘WannaCry’ had targeted around 200,000 organisations across the world. The hackers found a flaw in Microsoft software, and used this to spread across networks encrypting all the files.

Another enormous area for concern when it comes to company cyber security is phishing and whaling. We will discuss these areas in next weeks blog episode!

Mid-Year Tech Trends Review part 2

Mid-Year Tech Review Part 2   

AR Painting

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is another fantastic example of content being the key indicator on how popular it can become. With last year’s introduction of a mainstream mobile game that introduced VR to the general public, the general feeling from tech experts was that augmented reality will play a large role in this year’s technology trend. Although there have been some great developments within the AR industry this year, it still hasn’t completely reached the point where AR is a part of our daily lives, which I do thoroughly believe one day it will! In terms of the promotional market there are some great indicators that AR could work well in our industry, with some promotional product suppliers beginning to integrate AR products into their offering, branding the physical product and the software the drives it.

Wireless Headphones

Wireless EarphonesOut of the 5 trends I predicted would be popular this year, I definitely think that wireless headphones have become the most established in the consumer market. With another large smartphone manufacturer dropping the headphone jack, more and more emphasis is being placed on Bluetooth wireless headphones. All of the top headphone producers have released wireless headphones at all different price points, making them not only increasingly popular, but financially accessible too. Wireless headphones aren’t only popular and affordable in the consumer market; they are incredibly popular in the promotional market also. One of the predications I made in my blog at the beginning of the year was the introduction of ‘airpod’ style products into the promotional market. It didn’t take long for before my prediction to be true, within days of releasing that blog, we had a supplier visit, who showed us they had three products, in that styling due to hit the promotional market later on in the year.

Smarter Technology

SpeakerIn the time since writing my original blog, I have personally purchased several smart home assistants for my own use at home and as presents, simply because they provide that wow factor you want when giving a great gift. Whilst keeping up to date with all the latest technology I noticed a great trend beginning in the world of smart assistants, I have notice more and more products are being released with the incorporation of the smart assistant technology. One area of technology we are seeing this working incredibly well is with Bluetooth speakers. Bluetooth speakers are incredibly popular in the promotional product world, we sell Bluetooth speakers at all different price levels, and the thought of selling a branded Bluetooth speaker with the added unique selling point that it contains digital personal assistant software is amazing.  A trend we may not see this year, but is definitely one we could see in the years to come is personalised assistants, with voices, start up sounds and software integration all targeted to specific companies takes the personalised branding experience to the next level. 

Mid-Year Tech Trends Review part 1

Mid-Year Tech Trends Review part 1

At the beginning of the year you may have seen my blog series on the tech trends; at the beginning of each year what I like to do is research and evaluate what I think will trend in the world of technology in the coming year technology, not only in the world of consumers, but in the promotional world also. After completing my research, I then combine my findings with the knowledge and judgement from the viewpoint of a self-proclaimed ‘techie’ (aka myself), and then from this derives my top 5 trends. Now we have reached August, with over half the year over, we can revisit just how influential those technology trends have been so far…

USB Type C

USB Type CWith one of the biggest smartphone companies releasing their flagship device with USB Type C charger in April, it is safe to say USB Type C is definitely here to stay. Other large smartphone manufacturers have either already made the transition or will make the transition with their next release. More and more people are learning about USB Type C and its benefits and could easily reach mainstream adoption by the end of the year. We are also seeing an influx of USB Type C products in the promotional merchandise industry too, from multi charging cables that include USB Type C, to Type C only flash drives and Powerbanks.

360 Video

360 CameraIt was interesting to see after the excitement of VR goggles and 360 video from the early adopters, how popular it may have become. The buzz around virtual reality, although not as prominent, still exists, I would say, although it hasn’t quite reached main stream adoption, it is slowly but surely on the right track. In the same manner as marketing, the important element is content… when it comes to 360 video, this is not a fast process, like all great things, it will take time. One element that has sped up this process is the fact that many large technology companies, famed for their smartphones are also creating and selling 360 degree cameras. Whether they are bought stand alone, or as an accessory with new phones, these 360 cameras are providing people with the technology to speedily create the said content we mentioned earlier. A great example of this gaining traction is the fact that you can now upload and view 360 video on the biggest social network in the world. We have also seen 360 video used in experiential marketing for movies, with one of our staff given, a promotional viewer in association with a new movie release. It is this area of 360 video where the promotional product industry will definitely benefit, VR viewers are not only popular on the promotional market, but they are also becoming more and more affordable.

When is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

When is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Happy 25th of July everyone! What significance does the 25th of July hold? Well it’s the world renowned phenomenon that is ‘Christmas in July!’ This celebration isn't a new concept, in fact 125 years ago in the French Opera ‘Werther,’ a group of children are portrayed as rehearsing a Christmas song in July, to which one of the characters exclaims (in French) "When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season."

Christmas MerchandiseBeing in the promotional products industry we think that Christmas should never be rushed... as a matter of fact we actively encourage companies to start thinking about their Christmas merchandise as soon as feasibly possible! We understand that many merchandise buying professionals are busy all year round, but what we want to avoid is something we see all too often, many companies leave their Christmas merchandise buying too late. This leads to them often panic buying, limiting themselves to products with short lead times. 

So why think about your promotional Christmas merchandise in July? Firstly you can plan and outline a full Christmas based strategy, the promotional products market has hundreds of thousands of products, each ready to be branded with your chosen Christmas message. Obviously some products will be more Christmas orientated than others, and by getting your orders in early you’re making sure that your chosen products are in stock and leaving plenty of time for them to be branded and delivered to your customers. By placing your orders as early as July you may even obtain better pricing as products don’t need to be rushed logistically, and can be economically delivered.

I can tell you now bespoke products aren’t as expensive as you'd expect, in fact some of our silicon moulded options are budget friendly and look amazing. The factor that impedes people from this option is lead times, with bespoke products taking anywhere from 4-8 weeks. Undoubtedly the results worth every penny and every working week for them to arrive. Bespoke products are perfect for companies who are precious about their brand guidelines and Pantones, not only would they be brand unique, but will look superb with some creative branding options.

Whatever you choose for your Christmas campaign, even if it is too early, we definitively recommend avoiding the December rush and considering Christmas merchandise earlier this year (with some of our clients already placing orders this week!).


What does a messy desk mean?

What Does a Messy Desk Mean?

Promotional Messy Desk

When it comes to a messy desk, I will hold my hands up and admit my desk isn’t exactly the tidiest, as a matter of fact I prefer to use the terminology ‘organisation in chaos!’ If you are like me and have stacks of papers and books with pens, stationary and other random objects of interest sprawled across your desk, have no fear, thanks to a recent study it has been found that there is method to our madness. Messiness is traditionally mistaken as a sign of laziness, but the truth is it has actually been found (when it comes to your desks) that it could be linked to being a creative genius.

The study fundamentally tested two groups of people, one group operating in a disorderly working environment and the second working in a tidy environment. The results showed that although both groups of people produced the same level of work in terms of quantity, but when the quality was concerned, the creativeness and interesting elements were far superior in the work produced by the people in the disorderly work area. It wasn’t just creativity that differed, the same researched also showed that people with messier desks are more likely to takes risks, opposed to those with tidy desks who are prone to following strict procedures, and working in an orderly manner.

“Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” researchers said. This isn’t particularly a recent thought, it also resonates through history, some of the world’s greatest minds were famously known for having cluttered and unkempt desks; possibly because geniuses would rather concentrate on producing new and creative ideas, than spend time putting everything away in a complicated filing system. When you have everything on your desk it is all within arms-reach, allowing you to let your creativity run wild. But I totally get it, there are two definitely still geniuses with immaculate desks, I think ‘horses for courses’ is the best analogy when it comes to the tidiness of desks.

Like I mentioned organisation in chaos is my chosen desk strategy (that’s my argument and I’m sticking to it!) and although to outsiders, it may look messy, to me it is organised, and maintaining that organisation is important. On the promotional market there are some fantastic, desk organisation tools which would look amazing on all desks. A great example of these is the foldable smart cube as shown in this video. When fully packaged arrives in cube form then when unrolls provides you with small compartments, pen pots and sticky notes that would look fantastic on any desktop, messy or tidy!

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