Looking at Cyber Crime

Looking at Cyber Crime
We are hooked on the internet and demand to be connected to the digital world 24/7. Our reliance on the online world and willingness to divulge our personal information with websites creates unique opportunities for criminals to steal our data, an extremely valuable commodity that can be exploited for vast profit.

Many people fail to recognize just how much of a widespread issue cybercrime is and as a result, fail to sufficiently protect themselves against it. Every individual and business with an online presence is vulnerable.

Although cybercrime cannot be stopped entirely, we can still take important measures to prevent it, which is why the cybersecurity industry is now worth a staggering $120 billion, a figure only likely to rise over the next few years. Even free anti-virus software like Avast can help protect against malware threats, which is why every computer or mobile device should have it installed.

To learn more about cybercrime and the role it’s now playing in our world, take a look at the updraft word press plugin blog post, who have provided an excellent infographic to visually demonstrate the realm of cyber crime.

Workers in Open Plan Offices are ‘More Active’

Workers in Open Plan Offices are ‘More Active’
Workers in open-plan offices are more active and less stressed than those with desks in cubicles or private offices, research suggests. This could be because they make the effort to find privacy to talk away from their desk, the researchers said.

The US study used chest sensors to track movement and heart rate in hundreds of people in different buildings over three days. The potential health benefits should not be ignored, they said. But they said the study was observational only and factors like location of stairs and lifts could be at play too.

The University of Arizona study, published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, claims to be the first to measure activity and stress in office workers, rather than asking them in a survey.

It said office workers tended to be a sedentary group compared to other workers, making them more likely to have health issues, including heart problems, tiredness and low mood.

Being less active during working hours has also been linked to greater feelings of stress.

In the study of 231 office workers in government buildings in the US, those in open-plan offices – with no partitions between desks – clocked up 32% more physical activity than workers in private offices and 20% more than those in cubicles. And those who were more active had 14% lower levels of stress outside the office compared to those who were less active.

Participants in the study also answered questions about their current mood every hour on their smartphones during work time. Older office workers were more likely to have higher stress levels. The most stressed people at work were also those who were highly stressed at home too. On the whole, men were more active than women.

Esther Sternberg, study author and professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine, said: “We all know we should be increasing our activity but no matter how we try to encourage people to engage in healthy behaviour, it doesn’t work for long. “So changing office design to encourage healthy behaviour is a passive way of getting people to be more active.”

Although people tend to like individual offices or cubicles more because they are more private, the researchers found open plan offices could have other benefits, such as better communication, more impromptu conversations and increased awareness of colleagues.

The researchers said other design features could also affect activity levels – such as how people circulate in their offices, where meeting spaces are located and how accessible stairs and lifts are.

Is it the End of the 9 to 5 Working Day?

Is it the End of the 9 to 5 Working Day?
Traditional workplace hours of 9am to 5pm are now only the norm for a minority of workers, research suggests. Just 6% of people in the UK now work such hours, a YouGov survey found. Almost half of people worked flexibly with arrangements such as job sharing or compressed hours, allowing them to juggle other commitments, it found.

Anna Whitehouse, a campaigner whose own flexible working request was refused by her employer, said there were still misconceptions about such arrangements.

In her case, her employer refused her request for 15 minutes flexibility at the start and end of each day to enable her to drop off and pick up her children from nursery.

Mrs Whitehouse, an author and blogger known as Mrs Pukka, said the refusal prompted her to resign and blog about the experience. “My background is as a journalist so I just started writing. I’m not a campaigner or an activist, but I had a moment of frustration and went with it.”

Since then she has started the Flex Appeal, aimed at convincing firms to trial flexible working and also to make people aware of their right to request flexible working. “It’s not about parents, it’s about people. There’s so much research out there showing working flexibly is better for mental health and for productivity,” she said.

Polling firm YouGov surveyed over 4,000 adults for the survey, which was sponsored by fast-food chain McDonald’s.

The study found most full-time workers would like to start work at 8am and finish by 4pm, hours chosen by 37% of those surveyed. The second most popular choice was 7am to 3pm, chosen by 21% of those surveyed.

It found flexibility was important to people of all ages and life stages, including parents and students, for example. Those who did work flexibly said it improved their motivation and encouraged them to stay in a job for longer.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of HR industry body the CIPD, said organisations willing to offer flexible working would attract a higher number of applicants. But he said more firms needed to step up: “Uptake of flexible working is still low and most jobs are not advertised as being open to different working arrangements,” he said.

 

Royal Mail Fined Record £50m by Ofcom

Royal Mail Fined Record £50m by Ofcom
Ofcom has fined Royal Mail a record £50m for breaching competition law. The fine is for its actions in 2014 when Whistl, which was then known as TNT, was trying to become its first competitor in wholesale mail delivery.

The regulator’s investigation, which followed a complaint by Whistl, said Royal Mail had abused its dominant market position and discriminated against the company. Whistl is seeking damages, but Royal Mail said it will challenge the fine.

Ofcom’s investigation found that Royal Mail price rises in 2014 meant any of its wholesale customers such as Whistl that wanted to compete with it would have to pay higher prices in the remaining areas where it used Royal Mail for delivery.

Ofcom’s investigation found that Royal Mail’s actions amounted to “anti-competitive discrimination against customers, such as Whistl, who sought to deliver bulk mail”.

Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s competition director, said: “Royal Mail broke the law by abusing its dominant position in bulk mail delivery.

“All companies must play by the rules. Royal Mail’s behaviour was unacceptable, and it denied postal users the potential benefits that come from effective competition.”

Royal Mail said it was “very disappointed” by Ofcom’s decision and “strongly refutes any suggestion” that it had breached the Competition Act, adding: “The decision is without merit and fundamentally flawed.”

Young Workers ‘Aware of Pension Reality’

Young Workers ‘Aware of Pension Reality’
Young workers are pessimistic about their retirement prospects but are keen to make preparations to make the most of the situation, a report indicates. UK employees are among the most pessimistic in the world about their retirement finances, according to asset managers State Street.

Its survey suggested that fewer than one in 10 young workers felt financially prepared for retirement. A similar proportion thought they would be able to retire when they wanted to.

“People are interested in securing their financial future and are willing to make changes to their spending habits to make this happen,” said Nigel Aston of State Street Global Advisors in the report. “They are also realistic about their income expectations in retirement. We must use this positivity to make it as easy as possible for individuals to understand their options.”

The survey, of nearly 10,000 people globally, suggested that employees in the UK expected their retirement income to be half of their earnings in work. However, only 6% of young workers asked thought they would be able to afford the lifestyle they wanted in retirement.

This was a far more pessimistic result than their counterparts in the US, where 23% thought they would be in a financial position to live the life they wanted in retirement, as well as Germany (18%), Australia (15%), and Italy (10%).

State Street suggested that the pensions industry needed to do more to help people understand whether they were on track to meet their income expectations in retirement. This was particularly the case as pensions shift from guaranteed pay outs based on someone’s salary to invested pension pots.

The report comes shortly after a separate review suggested women faced a “glaring” gender pension gap owing to career breaks to raise children and lower pay.

Young women aged in their late 20s or early 30s faced an 11% smaller pension pot than men by the time they retired, Fidelity International said. It, too, said that the industry had failed to engage these workers, with the use of jargon a particular issue.

British Gas Increases Prices

British Gas Increases Energy Prices
British Gas is to increase prices for 3.5 million customers, its parent company Centrica has announced. The 3.8% increase in its standard variable tariff (SVT) from 1 October means the average bill will rise by £44, taking it to £1,205 a year.

This is the second increase this year, but Centrica said wholesale energy prices had risen since the last time.

The SVT was withdrawn for new customers in March and 2.4 million customers on fixed rates are unaffected. The company, the biggest energy supplier in the UK, said its average bill was still “just below” the average of other large energy suppliers.

“We understand that any price increase adds extra pressure on customers’ household bills. However, this reflects the sharp rise in wholesale energy costs,” said Mark Hodges, chief executive of Centrica’s consumer arm. Other companies had also increased their prices since April, he said.

He added that Ofgem had also announced it was raising its pre-payment meter cap – which protects vulnerable customers – from October.

The company said that until now, it had protected customers from price rises in the wholesale energy market, because it buys its supplies in advance.

Mr Hodges said British Gas was trying to focus on putting customers on fixed-price deals rather than the SVT.

While the company has 3.5 million customers on the SVT, this is down from 4.3 million at the start of the year. Customers who do not pick a new tariff when they come off fixed-rate deals are now put on its new temporary tariff, which will be priced at £1,180 from 1 October.

In July, the company said it had lost 340,000 customer accounts in the first half of the year.