Google & Website Security

Google & Website Security
Because of website hacking and personal data theft in recent years, most Internet users are aware that their sensitive information is at risk every time they surf the web. And yet, although the personal data of their visitors and customers is at risk, many businesses still aren’t making website security a priority. Enter Google.

The folks over at Google are known for paving the way for Internet behaviour. Last month, they took a monumental step forward in helping protect people from getting their personal data hacked. The update they released to their popular Chrome browser now warns users if a website is not secure – right inside that user’s browser. While this change is meant to help protect users’ personal data, it’s also a big kick in the pants for businesses to get moving on making their websites more secure.

Google’s Chrome update
On October 17, 2017, Google’s latest Chrome update (version 62) began flagging websites and webpages that contain a form but don’t have a basic security feature called SSL. SSL, which stands for “Secure Sockets Layer,” is the standard technology that ensures all the data that passes between a web server and a browser – passwords, credit card information, and other personal data – stays private and ensures protection against hackers. In Chrome, sites lacking SSL are now marked with the warning “Not Secure” in eye-catching red, right inside the URL bar!

What’s the impact on businesses?
Because Chrome has 47% of market share, this change is likely noticed by millions of people using Chrome. And get this: 82% of respondents to a recent consumer survey said they would leave a site that is not secure, according to HubSpot Research.

In other words, if your business’ website isn’t secured with SSL, then more than 8 out of 10 Chrome users said they would leave your website.

What’s more, Google has publically stated that SSL is now a ranking signal in Google’s search algorithm. This means that a website with SSL enabled may outrank another site without SSL.

Cash Converters Reveals Customer Data Breach

Cash Converters Reveals Customer Data Breach
High Street pawnbroker Cash Converters has warned customers about a data breach on its website. The company said customer usernames, passwords and addresses had potentially been accessed by a third party. The data breach exposed accounts on the company’s old UK website, which was replaced in September 2017.

The company told the BBC it was taking the breach “extremely seriously” and had reported it to the information commissioner.

Cash Converters lets people trade in items such as jewellery and electronics for cash, and then sells the items on to others. It operates an online store that lets people buy items traded in at Cash Converters shops around the UK.

The online store was relaunched in September 2017, and the data breach affected only people with an account on the old website.

Cash Converters said no credit card information had been breached, and people who visited its stores but did not use the website had not been affected. “Our customers truly are at the heart of everything we do, and we are disappointed that they may have been affected,” the company said in a statement. “We apologise for this situation and are taking immediate action to address it.”

Google Docs Offline for ‘Significant’ Number of Users

Google Docs Offline for ‘Significant’ Number of Users
Google Docs was inaccessible for a “significant subset” of users it was reported on 15th November. The company confirmed the issue on its status page but did not offer more information. Docs is a core feature of Google’s cloud computing service.

A spokeswoman for Google would not confirm to the BBC how many users encountered the problem, but said she did not believe any customers who paid for extra storage were affected. Problems were reported by users trying to access the programs across the world.

Downdetector.com, which tracks outages around the world, suggested US users were having the most significant issues – though there were some reports in Europe, where the outage occurred at a time that was outside of typical hours for most business.

The down time lasted for between 30 minutes and an hour, during which many people used Twitter to complain. At 2209 GMT the Twitter account for Google Docs said: “Docs is back up for most users, and we expect a full resolution for all users shortly.  Sorry for this disruption and thanks again for your patience with us.”

It is the second time in recent weeks that Google Docs users have been left frustrated by glitches in the system. In October some users were locked out of a files after they were wrongly tagged as being “inappropriate” content. The company apologised for the disruption.

Cloud computing – where files are stored and edited on the internet rather than locally on your computer – is a major part of the technology sector. Those services remaining stable and reliable is crucial for businesses that rely on the software for day-to-day work.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the market leader by revenue, but it is not immune to down time – an incident at the start of this year saw more than 150,000 websites taken offline due to an Amazon fault.

On Thursday 16 November Google’s service status page said the problem had now been resolved. “We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support,” it added. “Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.”

CPG Sector Needs to Embrace Digital Transformation

CPG Sector Needs to Embrace Digital Transformation

Leading CPG players have responded to digital disruption with huge investment in eCommerce. But if they are to truly realise the massive potential growth through the channel they need to embrace an end-to-end digital transformation programme encompassing their entire business process.

New entrants using plug and play e-commerce technology and other distribution solutions to sell directly to consumers have been increasingly disrupting the traditional CPG model with the retailer acting as middleman.

With no legacy systems designed for bulk distribution to retail partners, the new CPG players serving today’s ‘little and often’ consumer have been able to steal a march on the established sector leaders for D2C online sales.

A good example would be Dollar Shave Club. Founded in 2011, it was able to solve an industry problem: razor blades are too expensive. Established products have to do a lot of heavy lifting (marketing, R&D, supply chain costs, sustainable procurement, industry competition) that doesn’t have a positive impact on the consumer’s wallet. Dollar Shave Club spotted an opportunity to differentiate but also wasn’t restricted by wider costs. It was a true disruptor…until it was sold to Unilever in 2016 for $1bn. Warby Parker is another example.

Saddled with the disadvantages of huge cost and complexity in changing traditional business practices, global CPG giants were initially slow to react to the digital transformation agenda. But the sector has latterly been investing huge resources into eCommerce.

So far this has largely been restricted to front end activity including digital marketing, although there have been some notable examples of true digital interaction with consumers. They include UK multinational alcoholic beverages firm Diageo, which launched a smart bottle in 2015 for its iconic Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky enabling personalised communication to consumers reading the tags with their smartphones and tracking of stock.

But for CPG leaders to capitalise on the huge potential growth in direct online sales to consumers, they need to go a lot further and invest in digital transformation throughout the whole ecosystem of their business.

This means fully digitising back office business processes like finance, hr, supply chain and logistics.

In 2013 eCommerce accounted for under 1 per cent of sales in packaged food and 3 per cent in non-food but by 2020 it is predicted this could rise to 5 per cent of food sales and 10 per cent of non-food sales – accounting for up to 30 per cent of total CPG industry sales growth between 2015 and 2020.*

However, a KPMG survey of 175 global retail and consumer goods CEOs published in September revealed a third were concerned they were “not leveraging digital means to connect with their customers as effectively as possible”. **

Customer-centric strategies being pursued to tackle this include digitisation through technology transformation, greater speed to market, and stronger marketing, branding and communications, the survey found.

D2C sales enable CPG firms to collect significant volumes of customer data, providing invaluable intelligence on consumer purchasing preferences which can help shape product development and targeted sales.

Recognising the benefits, the sector is now starting to examine the digital technologies which can help throughout all areas of the business.

In its report How digital reinventors are pulling away from the pack published last month, global management consultants McKinsey&Company conclude: “The reinventors are investing at scale in technology, analytics, and digital talent – not just playing on the margins – and investing much more aggressively in business-model innovations or entirely new business models.”

The report, based on a global survey of more than 1,600 executives, continued: “To find success and sustain growth, incumbents must do two things at once: digitize their core businesses while also innovating with new digital ones. Making small changes to the edges of your business model is insufficient in an increasingly digital world.” ***

HW Global Talent Partner has been helping clients transform their global digital capabilities for the past five years.

We recently completed an executive search assignment for a Sales Director for a tier one courier and logistics firm. One of his key targets is nailing last mile delivery, which has been a significant customer service issue. The company will achieve this by investing in digital technology, making it a more attractive proposition for partners and clients alike.

Other recent assignments include a global CIO search for a tier one food business. With an $18bn P&L they will ensure the organisation has the systems and MI that make it fit for purpose for the next ten years across the entire value chain. In addition, a recently placed VP for Data & Analytics for the same client will translate consumer behaviour and trends into actionable business strategy across marketing, sales, supply chain and logistics.

As an international executive search and professional interim business, HW Global Talent Partner advises many of the world’s most recognised and respected brands, among them the leaders in consumer products and services, and retail operations of all shapes and sizes.

For a confidential discussion about how we can assist you with digital transformation contact Stuart Richards, Consultant in the Global Consumer Practice, at stuartr@hwglobalpartner.com or on +44 (0) 7787 254 600.

* The digital future of CPG companies: McKinsey&Company article – Oct 2015
** U.S. Consumer Goods & Retail CEOs More Optimistic Than Global Peers About Growth: KPMG Survey – Sept 2017
*** How digital reinventors are pulling away from the pack: McKinsey&Company survey report – Oct 2017

The CPG Sector Needs to Embrace Digital Transformation

The CPG Sector Needs to Embrace Digital Transformation

 Leading CPG players have responded to digital disruption with huge investment in eCommerce. But if they are to truly realise the massive potential growth through the channel they need to embrace an end-to-end digital transformation programme encompassing their entire business process.

New entrants using plug and play e-commerce technology and other distribution solutions to sell directly to consumers have been increasingly disrupting the traditional CPG model with the retailer acting as middleman.

With no legacy systems designed for bulk distribution to retail partners, the new CPG players serving today’s ‘little and often’ consumer have been able to steal a march on the established sector leaders for D2C online sales.

A good example would be Dollar Shave Club. Founded in 2011, it was able to solve an industry problem: razor blades are too expensive. Established products have to do a lot of heavy lifting (marketing, R&D, supply chain costs, sustainable procurement, industry competition) that doesn’t have a positive impact on the consumer’s wallet. Dollar Shave Club spotted an opportunity to differentiate but also wasn’t restricted by wider costs. It was a true disruptor…until it was sold to Unilever in 2016 for $1bn. Warby Parker is another example.

Saddled with the disadvantages of huge cost and complexity in changing traditional business practices, global CPG giants were initially slow to react to the digital transformation agenda. But the sector has latterly been investing huge resources into eCommerce.

So far this has largely been restricted to front end activity including digital marketing, although there have been some notable examples of true digital interaction with consumers. They include UK multinational alcoholic beverages firm Diageo, which launched a smart bottle in 2015 for its iconic Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky enabling personalised communication to consumers reading the tags with their smartphones and tracking of stock.

But for CPG leaders to capitalise on the huge potential growth in direct online sales to consumers, they need to go a lot further and invest in digital transformation throughout the whole ecosystem of their business.

This means fully digitising back office business processes like finance, hr, supply chain and logistics.

In 2013 eCommerce accounted for under 1% of sales in packaged food and 3% in non-food but by 2020 it is predicted this could rise to 5% of food sales and 10% of non-food sales – accounting for up to 30% of total CPG industry sales growth between 2015 and 2020.*

However,But a KPMG survey of 175 global retail and consumer goods CEOs published in September revealed a third were concerned they were “not leveraging digital means to connect with their customers as effectively as possible”. **

Customer-centric strategies being pursued to tackle this include digitisation through technology transformation, greater speed to market, and stronger marketing, branding and communications, the survey found.

D2C sales enable CPG firms to collect significant volumes of customer data, providing invaluable intelligence on consumer purchasing preferences which can help shape product development and targeted sales.

Recognising the benefits, the sector is now starting to examine the digital technologies which can help throughout all areas of the business.

In its report How digital reinventors are pulling away from the pack published last month, global management consultants McKinsey&Company conclude: “The reinventors are investing at scale in technology, analytics, and digital talent – not just playing on the margins – and investing much more aggressively in business-model innovations or entirely new business models.”

The report, based on a global survey of more than 1,600 executives, continued: “To find success and sustain growth, incumbents must do two things at once: digitize their core businesses while also innovating with new digital ones. Making small changes to the edges of your business model is insufficient in an increasingly digital world.” ***

HW Global Talent Partner has been helping clients transform their global digital capabilities for the past five years.

We recently completed an executive search assignment for a Sales Director for a tier one courier and logistics firm. One of his key targets is nailing last mile delivery, which has been a significant customer service issue. The company will achieve this by investing in digital technology, making it a more attractive proposition for partners and clients alike.

Other recent assignments include a global CIO search for a tier one food business. With an $18bn P&L they will ensure the organisation has the systems and MI that make it fit for purpose for the next ten years across the entire value chain. In addition, a recently placed VP for Data & Analytics for the same client will translate consumer behaviour and trends into actionable business strategy across marketing, sales, supply chain and logistics.

As an international executive search and professional interim business, HW Global Talent Partner advises many of the world’s most recognised and respected brands, among them the leaders in consumer products and services, and retail operations of all shapes and sizes.

For a confidential discussion about how we can assist you with digital transformation contact Stuart Richards, Consultant in the Global Consumer Practice, at stuartr@hwglobalpartner.com or on +44 (0) 7787 254 600.

* The digital future of CPG companies: McKinsey&Company article – Oct 2015
** U.S. Consumer Goods & Retail CEOs More Optimistic Than Global Peers About Growth: KPMG Survey – Sept 2017
*** How digital reinventors are pulling away from the pack: McKinsey&Company survey report – Oct 2017

‘Bad Rabbit’ Ransomware Strikes Ukraine & Russia

‘Bad Rabbit’ Ransomware Strikes Ukraine & Russia
A new strain of ransomware nicknamed “Bad Rabbit” has been found spreading in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The malware has affected systems at three Russian websites, an airport in Ukraine and an underground railway in the capital city, Kiev.

The cyber-police chief in Ukraine confirmed to the Reuters news agency that Bad Rabbit was the ransomware in question. It bears similarities to the WannaCry and Petya outbreaks earlier this year. However, it is not yet known how far this new malware will be able to spread.

“In some of the companies, the work has been completely paralysed – servers and workstations are encrypted,” head of Russian cyber-security firm Group-IB, Ilya Sachkov, told the TASS news agency.

Two of the affected sites are Interfax and Fontanka.ru.

Meanwhile, US officials said they had “received multiple reports of Bad Rabbit ransomware infections in many countries around the world”.

The US computer emergency readiness team said it “discourages individuals and organisations from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee that access will be restored”.

“According to our data, most of the victims targeted by these attacks are located in Russia,” said Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky at Kaspersky Lab. “We have also seen similar but fewer attacks in Ukraine, Turkey and Germany.”

Bad Rabbit encrypts the contents of a computer and asks for a payment – in this case 0.05 bitcoins, or about $280 (£213).

Cyber-security firms, including Russia-based Kaspersky, have said they are monitoring the attack.

The malware is still undetected by the majority of anti-virus programs, according to analysis by virus checking site Virus Total.

One security firm, Eset, has said that the malware was distributed via a bogus Adobe Flash update.

Researcher Kevin Beaumont has posted a screenshot that shows Bad Rabbit creating tasks in Windows named after the dragons Drogon and Rhaegal in TV series Game of Thrones.

The outbreak bears similarities to the WannaCry and Petya ransomware outbreaks that spread around the world causing widespread disruption earlier this year.

Public Fails to Report Investment Scams

Public Fails to Report Investment Scams
The BBC News website is reporting that more than a fifth of those approached by investment fraudsters fail to report it, according to a survey conducted for the Financial Conduct Authority. Amongst a group of over-55s surveyed, only 63% said they would tell the authorities if they thought they had been targeted by scammers. Significantly more – 81% – said they would report fly-tipping.

The FCA is urging the public to speak up if they are contacted by people offering fraudulent investments. “By reporting suspicious investment schemes to the FCA people are having a direct impact in helping to stop fraudsters exploiting others,” said Mark Steward, director of enforcement at the FCA.

The FCA said reporting such approaches informed what steps, including legal action, the regulator would pursue.

Research conducted by Yougov on behalf of the FCA consulted more than 1,000 over 55-year-olds with household incomes of at least £30,000, a group the FCA said received a higher number of unsolicited approaches from fraudsters.

Of those surveyed and who thought they had been approached by scammers, 22% said they had not reported it, with the most common reason given that they did not know who to report it to.

The FCA said last year it received over 8,000 reports of potential scams, with Londoners filing the highest number of complaints, followed by Birmingham, Belfast and Guildford.

A warning list is published on the FCA website identifying firms that operate without authorisation. There are currently 4,000 firms on the list the FCA advises should be avoided.

UK Economy Grows by 0.4%

UK Economy Grows by 0.4%
The UK’s economy grew more than expected in the three months to September – increasing the chances of a rise in interest rates in November. Gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter rose by 0.4%, compared with 0.3% in each of the first two quarters of the year, latest figures show.

The services industry was behind most of the rise but manufacturing, helped by car production, also helped.

Industrial production rose in July and August but construction output fell.

Netflix to Raise $1.6bn for New Films & Shows

Netflix to Raise $1.6bn for New Films & Shows
Netflix is raising another $1.6bn (£1.2bn) from investors to finance new shows and possibly make acquisitions. The video streaming service plans to spend up to $8bn on content next year to compete with fast-growing rivals.

Netflix will issue bonds to investors, although the interest rate it will pay has yet to be decided, the company said in a statement. They plans to release 80 films next year, but some analysts are wary about its cash burn and debt interest costs.

The company’s latest debt fundraising is its largest so far, and the fourth time in three years it has raised more than $1bn by issuing bonds.

Earlier this month, Netflix said it would raise prices in countries including the UK and US for the first time in two years. The price rises come as Netflix faces growing competition from Amazon and other sites such as Hulu and Disney in the US.

Netflix has spent heavily on original programming such as The Crown, Stranger Things and House of Cards. One movie, Mudbound, was described by  Variety as “an epic about race and poverty in the 1940s Mississippi Delta”, and stars Mary J. Blige and Carey Mulligan. Some critics say it is a contender for the Academy Awards and would be the first Netflix feature to be in the Oscars race.

Netflix’s share price has risen more than 50% this year on the back of subscriber growth that has beat expectations. The company now has more than 109 million subscribers globally, adding 15.5 million so far this year.

The move to take on more corporate debt comes amid expectations that borrowing costs may increase in coming months. The US Federal Reserve is weighing another rate hike by the end of 2017.

Amazon Receives 200 Plus Headquarters Proposals

Amazon Receives 200 Plus Headquarters Proposals
Amazon says it has now received 238 proposals from places vying to be the home of its next employment hub. The bids come after the e-commerce giant said it was looking to build a “second headquarters” in North America, where it would invest $5bn (£3.8bn) and hire as many as 50,000 people.

The locations are vying on factors such as workforce talent, tax breaks, and proximity to an international airport.

Amazon said it will decide on a location next year. Amazon has seen major growth. The firm had nearly $136bn in sales last year and employs about 380,000 people globally – adding about 39,000 since the start of 2017 alone.

Politicians are eager to attract the economic engine to their home towns.

The proposals come from all but seven US states, most southern provinces in Canada and three states in Mexico, as well as Washington DC and the territory of Puerto Rico, according to a map published by the company. The places competing include sites in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Newark and Toronto.