Already GDPR-ed Out?

Well it didn’t take long. Less than a full week in fact, for the first GDPR-related court cases to surface against none other than the biggest social tech giants Facebook and Google.

It was as if lawyers were just waiting to pounce on the tech giants for their apparent failure to protect our rights as an online users.

This pertains specifically to issues relating to data privacy and the sharing of private details mainly with third-party marketers.

Now the issue about how Facebook stores and shares data has been clarified by several intense inquiries in the US and recently in Europe. This is where the law is set to benefit users of the social media platform on that geospatial area of the world.

The said lawsuit, however, focuses on the opt-out clause that forces you and I to make a choice to comply or leave. The claimant is a privacy campaigner. He has made the Billion-Euro complaint on behalf of several users; seemingly a challenge to the likes of Facebook.

Additionally, he has launched a separate suit against Google, accusing them of “pressurizing” users into accepting their data collection policies.

This ‘comply and accept or get thrown out’ clause could leave many without their routine dose of social media consumption simply because they prefer to engage privately. Such a clause is deemed unfair.

It could cost a lot if they get their way based on the terms stipulated in the new law.

The social media giant could be fined up to a few billion or a sizeable fraction of their earnings in punitive damages.

The aim of the new law

The passing of the new regulation on May 25th, 2018, better known as the General Data Protection Regulation {GDPR} has been a long time coming.

Despite the warnings several months or even a year in advance of the “kick-in” of the regulation – many find themselves unprepared for it.

Some of the reactions to the law include that of confusion, anxiety by both large and small firms alike and plain comical hysteria!

Non-compliance now carries heavy fines and penalties, up to 20 million euros for anyone operating within the EU borders.

So, what then, is the big fuss about GDPR?

Well, it boils down to a right that has since the launch of the Internet to the mainstream, been waivered and overlooked.

The CONSENT to use your data for anything other than the reason you went public on the world wide web is now very crucial.

This has become a contentious issue as many companies have over the years, unscrupulously benefited from data acquired (mined) without your consent – Facebook only brought this into the spotlight recently.

Read more about data mining here

Who needs compliance?

If you hold a folder, database of clients whether online or on your internal server, you would have to comply with the rules which stipulate full disclosure. This includes who you share your details with, and how the information is tracked, shared and kept private/secure.

Furthermore, research in March this year showed that only 39% of the Fortune 500 companies in the UK and 47% had GDPR compliance taskforces. It is unlikely  that that statistic is 100% by now.

Another UK firm commissioned study found that our buying behaviours these days, are heavily influenced by we perceive our data is being handled by the company offering the good or service.

The consent given to use your basic information such as one’s name, phone number and email address cannot be taken for granted – even in the medical environment.

German doctors’ practices, in the wake of GDPR, are manually making their clients sign consent forms. Doctors are required to fully disclose who they share your contact information with.

This is a practice that we have always treated with levity. The new law nevertheless clearly stipulates that henceforth, it will be mandatory.

How to be compliant

There are simple ways you can stay GDPR compliant. One method is to adopt an attitude of embracing it rather than just complying with it.

Being transparent with your customers can be achieved in the following ways: Adding a cookie bar to your website. You can also add a clause/paragraph to that effect (in your website’s disclaimer) in the ‘About Us’ section.

Similarly, you must state clearly on any opt-in forms. Newsletters for example, and any forms where their data is collected, used and passed onto other third-parties must be announced. State clearly who they are and which data they have access to.

You then need to give your customer the option to select what they want to share even if it seems insignificant.

Even if such data may not be necessary for them to receive services from you.

This probably involves reviewing your relationships with third-party affiliates and partners to ensure that they are also complying with the law.

They could be jeopardizing your data compliance efforts – as Cambridge Analytica did with Facebook.

The last and most challenging step requires the action of what is promised above. This, therefore, means an upgrade of your internal software  to include security/encryption.

GDPR compliant software

You can obtain full compliance by using a GDPR-compliant package like Office 365 Enterprise E3.

This package has email software specially designed for those of you dealing with sensitive client’s data that need to be kept for long periods.  Litigation hold, heavy archiving features; as well as basic email encryption are all included.

You can add supplementary encryption software such as Azure Information Protection as an extra layer of security. This helps you to safeguard exchange-hosted emails and stored data from being lost, compromised or accidentally shared.

All said and done it is likely that if you are a bigger firm, you would either need to create the position of a data security officer internally (if your lawyers are not up to date with digital laws), or to outsource the service.

This should make you fully compliant thereby having to avoid issues with the data compliance authority altogether.
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Forex on steroids!

With all the negative and positive commotion surrounding the Crypto market – it still begs the question, for those still curious. What does it take to engage in the trading of Cryptocurrency?

And by trading, we are not referring to the price speculation in a portfolio as one would with the price of a company’s shares or even CFDs. 

We are rather referring to trading it as a commodity against other ‘Cryptos’ in a properly regulated online market setting. Similar to how a Foreign Exchange (Forex) market operates.

As with trading traditional fiat currencies, the price is purely determined by good old supply and demand for the currency and monitored by the availability versus volume traded.

It is therefore just a medium between traders where they can set limit orders to buy/sell Bitcoins for a certain price.

So, in the true approach of Debunqed, we will decipher Crypto-exchange trading by looking at what you need to do to get into it, and what you stand to gain.

Here are the quick steps:-

The first step would be to open a secure Crypto wallet to physically purchase (own) some altcoins. Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin are the main coins offered by Crypto wallet providers.

They hold the most value and can thus be broken down into smaller denominations (Altcoins). The same way the dollar is used as the main exchange for other fiat currencies.

This example helps to put things into perspective.

Make sure you do your research into which wallet you will use. Obviously if you are mining a certain Cryptocurrency you would naturally purchase them directly from that software provider of the Altcoin.

Using Ripple mining as an example, the platform is supplied by RippleNet and naturally, it follows that the Ripple company mines all the volume and controls its supply.

Getting the digital currency into a wallet can be a quick exercise. It can take as quickly as between 5 – 20 minutes via a peer-to-peer Bitcoin marketplace connecting buyers with sellers like at Paxful.

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Make sure you deal with reputable sellers.  This wallet provider rates suppliers based on how reliable they are so only deal with sellers of the highest ratings.

The actual purchase (mostly conducted via online chat) can be made via a Credit/Debit Card, online banking or convenient money transfer facilities like (Europe-based) N26 Bank, Skrill or PayPal.

You can even purchase and send gift cards from Amazon for instance, to the seller (to the value of the currency being purchased) for the seller to release the Altcoins.

Security and storage

The actual coins are stored in as an alpha-numeric key code – with the currency value in the wallet once acquired.

This after the wallet-broker takes a small fee for the transaction. This code/key needs to be kept secure – backed up online and offline (highly recommended). This is possible on special flash-drive (Crypto wallet) like the Trezor or a Ledger Nano. The device would hold the deposit key if you were transferring it to another wallet or to an exchange to trade.

Time to go shopping!

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Finding a good exchange

The next step would be then to source a robust and user-friendly platform to trade your newly acquired currency on.

The best cryptocurrency exchanges would allow you to swap fiat currency such as dollar/euro for the digital currency directly. Naturally, you can  trade one digital currency for another as well.

There are quite a few to choose from so it is good to read the reviews. You should then select one based on the number of deposit/withdrawal methods, the fee structure level, number of countries served, availability of security tools and features.

The last aspect is a huge determining factor exchanges can be prone to hacking, or loss from outages. Lastly, their margins and exchange trading functions are good to observe too.

Binance

For serious and equally secure trading, you will likely need to use an exchange like Binance that requires the user to verify their ID before being opening an account. Make sure you have all your documents ready and up to date!

Trading

When it comes to the actual trading, let’s take a scenario where two people want to sell an altcoin but not for the market price. One sets a limit order for lower and the other for a slightly higher price. So, the best price to purchase Bitcoins, in this case, would be the median of the two prices.

If the buyer wants to purchase more than one altcoin, they will continually take the lowest price available. By doing this, the “price” of the altcoin will increase as the lower-price sell orders are no longer available.

You will then, as with Forex, purchase pairs of where you think your digital currency will be stronger against another e.g. BTC (Bitcoin) vs XRP (Ripple).

This combo would look like this on the exchange: BTC/ XRP – 0.00011960. What this means is that one Ripple coin is worth that much Bitcoin for instance.

The little details

This type of trading, like commodities or forex, requires constant attention and the monitoring of prices. But there are tools that can also help you set prices and have the trades auto-execute.

So, a platform which provides such tools conveniently allows you the time to do other important things. Like paying attention to your spouse, formal job or family and friends. Tat would be ideal.

If you have the cash, time, expertise and financial clout, it is even possible to run you own Crypto Exchange!

This is another benefit of a decentralized currency system that will allow you to earn some cash by charging for the usage of your robust platform.

Well, this maybe until the fiscal authorities’ crackdown on all of the platforms with restrictive legislation.

Finally, like many platforms that provide opportunities to purchase a something, the software must be stable and be cost effective to use.

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Run your business on cruise control

Are you running your business like you did in the eighties, nineties? If so, you are probably working like a donkey and probably for the same kind of income – if you are even making any!

Business automation is something that has developed albeit quite slowly, over decades and accelerated significantly via the “www “.  And now even more so the with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Ways of doing business

Let’s begin looking communication – a key pillar in running any successful venture. Getting in touch with clients can now occur in numerous ways.

We have come a long way from shouting “extra, extra read all about it” on street corners, to invading places of comfort and abode with door-to-door sales visits.

We can now get in touch physically (though rarely unless required such as in a shop setting), via phone, Skype, Emails, online chatting, video-conferencing, and social media.

And though it may sound like overkill, using these tools can actually help save time and target your product offerings and marketing campaigns.

This makes them efficient and worth every penny/cent spent on them.

Hosting email nowadays does not require the expertise of IT professionals.

Likewise, IT pros are now discovering they have more time to perform administrative work (much needed productivity reports). This rather than the mundane tasks of backing up servers, or grudgingly coming out of their dark holes to walk from PC to PC installing software.

Such ‘exercises’ can consume hours during the day and, probably gets on the nerves of people trying to get work done.

Hands-free IT

As an IT pro, you can now administer and carry out IT-related tasks from the comfort of your office. You can even do it remotely (at home or while attending a conference) via your PC, laptop and even on your smartphone!

Emails can now be hosted with a few clicks and run smoothly on desktops, mobile phone, and tablets with a simple syncing feature. This is made possible by a newer mail protocol known as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

You can now synchronize your emails, calendars, and events as well as your contacts on all your devices, for instance, using Microsoft Exchange Online services.

This are strenuous tasks that an IT professional would have had to manually create using special scripted rules via PowerShell, patches, domain routers  to a normal physical server to enable such functionality.

The cloud has made this all possible and while we will not get into the intricacies and workings of the cloud, we have in our working experience, seen a massive uptake of it.

Companies of all sizes, countries, and industries (including healthcare, education, financial and governmental institutions) are moving to the cloud.

This uptake of cloud services is happening on a regular basis as old servers are being made redundant and getting subjected to creative destruction in the IT industry.

Software for hire

Software as a Service (SaaS), which is what it is called, is basically the hiring of software rather than owning it and leaving the (usually costly) maintenance to the software provider.

Major cloud players such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon, IBM, Google Business, for example, offer their clients the software just as a front-end and user-friendly application.

The tech giants  will then take care of the back-end operations such as backups, updates, and upgrades, maintenance, security and compliance for an annual or monthly fee.

You can liken this to hire-purchase or the car leasing services that the automobile industry offers its clients.

The car servicing and maintenance is performed timeously by the manufacturer. You just drive it and pay for your own fuel on top of the monthly leasing fees. Such a service can even be monetized using Cryptos such as IOTA.

Great collaboration tools

Another daunting yet integral task in running a business is the act of hosting meetings. Business meetings are often rescheduled as easily as procrastinating a spring cleaning exercise in the middle of summer whilst on holiday. This is mainly because of the availability of participants or lack of the material required to make a presentation to participants. stress-2883648_1920

Tools that foster online meetings such as Skype for Business or G-Suite’s Hangouts for example, allow you to schedule meetings from a calendar entry. That is, set up in your email application e.g. Outlook.

This will send you and your meeting participants a reminder. Then, with a click of a button you can join, host or participate in a full-on HD video or audio conference type call.

This can be done from wherever you are on the globe as long as you have a good enough broadband connection.

The kicker with this tool is the ability to present your full (hopefully clean and avoid any embarrassing items) desktop, to all participants.

So, you can present an Excel spreadsheet of financial data, discuss the design of a brochure or flyer for marketing, or run a PowerPoint presentation. The apps come even complete with an infrared pointer!

Good broadband is key

Again, these services obviously require great Internet connectivity. This might also be the only stumbling block deterring many smaller companies and some big data-sensitive firms from taking on the cloud.

But as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and now local governments are now actively getting involved in making broadband (Wi-Fi and fibre cable networks) a necessity for all.

The problem of adequate broadband connectivity will, therefore, not be an issue in the near future.

So, you see, just from this highly compressed explanation and examples of two tasks carried out by businesses. There are endless possibilities that the cloud and good software, in general, can offer a business.

For more solutions, have a look at the previous blog on sales software and CRM systems. to understand a bit more about how SaaS can help grow revenue for the business.

This is also in no way advocating for substituting human personal interactions with technology.  It will, nevertheless, help you to find ways to bridge the gap when you find that personal contact is not possible.

No one wants to spend hours in traffic leading to stress at work or home. You also wouldn’t want to spend large budgets on unnecessary travel, marketing and communication tools that are not effective.

Allow software automation to help you!

Rise of the machines

As a young man born in and living in Pretoria South Africa, multi-billionaire Elon Musk, who is better known for pioneering the battery-operated motor concept, was shunned by the Industrial Development Corporation several times.

His innovative ideas were denied financial backing so he moved to the USA for better support. The rest as we all know is history.

The futuristic thinker, however, took a rather sceptical and worrisome handbrake-turn when it came the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and its benefits for society.

When a man like that with so much insight into technology warns of its potentially harming effects  it warrants notice. Musk warned that its use would foster the coming of a third world war. We have to for such reasons,  delve a little deeper into the topic.

We have rapidly progressed from longer periods of Stone, Iron, Industrial, Space, technological/information ages. The world is now apparently fused between the latter three.

We have crept into the age of automation. This despite still dealing with the ravages of poverty, disease and other human imbalances such as the negative impact we have on the earth.

Automation & AI usage

Automation is helping business through software like ERPs that take over traditional back-office finance and operations.

In the IT industry, the Internet of things (IoT), cloud services such as hosted emailing and file-storage and general Software as a Service (SaaS) has made the tasks of IT professionals effortlessly pleasing.

You can therefore, oversee and attend to more pertinent issues and tasks (hopefully not just stream movies and play games on duty), that contribute to productivity.

While seated comfortably, you will be able to now perform tasks such as deploying new software, installing/removing updates on multiple machines/devices simultaneously. All with a push of a few buttons.

Trading bots

In the high-risk investment scene, automation has given traders more room for better research and analysis Thus relieving you from the known stresses and mundane tasks associated with trading.

For many trading houses and brokers, AI has even completely taken over the mundane task of making and executing trades.

If you haven’t already, read this great book entitled: The Fear Index (thriller by Robert Harris). Though fiction, it illustrates the use of a machine learning tool using algorithms to help a hedge fund company generate billions for its investors.

The use of AI can lead to costly system-generated errors like the trading error a few years at Goldman Sachs cost the firm $100 million and other cases.

Other use cases

It can still, on a ‘micro’ level, help free human capital (individuals) from PC-related issues like stress, headaches, backaches and lack of time spent with family and friends.

In the industrial and manufacturing sectors, the advent of AI and automation creates even more of a fear and a concern due to the numbers (staffing) of redundancies it could pose when broadly introduced.

But this would require careful planning to ensure that those blue-collars ‘replaced’, are compensated. More so, they would need to be incorporated into different areas of businesses.

Limits of robotics

Obviously, not every task need to be automated or performed by robots. We (as humans) are still required to check-up, inspect and perform quality checks for instance.

We can, as a result, deal with inter-personal jobs that require more empathy like in a Callcenter for instance.

Human resources or getting into corporate social responsibility (CSI) projects that reach out to communities.

Embracing it

Most crucially, policies by governments will need to focus ever so more on job-creation. They now must adopt innovative means of creating jobs or fostering and supporting entrepreneurship that embody creative destruction projects.

Projects like those of Mr. Tesla/Mr. PayPal/Mr. SpaceX  have created thousands of new jobs.

As for the use AI in weaponry and military defence systems, the less said the better.

When it comes to privacy and security concerns we can only hope that rogue politicians do not get unregulated access to such technology. In such a case we would only be able to protest and hope we do not end featuring in a real-life James Cameron sequel to Judgment Day.