The Internet of Things (IoT)

The latest concept in the tech world is the Internet of Things or IoT for short! What is it I hear you cry!!

Well loosely speaking it is the concept where things, such as people, animals and objects are given their own IP address (IPv6) and information about them or too them can be sent electronically to another place and the data stored and actioned. For example, the telemetry from your car can be transmitted to a central server(s) and any problems can be identified and sent back to the car and the driver or the vehicle itself can take action to fix it. Another example might be a parcel that can keep a central system updated about its progress and location, all the way to the point of delivery and then store itself! The possibles are endless!

IoT could make the new IATA NDC Hub look old fashioned

Read the following link for more info: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things

cyber-heists involving millions of credit cards

I know this may seem a bit boring to some but Cyber security is causing increasing problems worldwide. The UK travel industry is no less susceptible than any other, in fact it is probably a real target. It offers the hacker high value databases that are relatively poorly protected.

See the BBC website for details:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/technology-29937536

 

 

Malware attacks nearly double UK travel industry beware

Malware attacks nearly doubled in the first half of 2014. With the UK (17%) suffering the largest growth in Europe, ahead of Germany (12%). Companies that hold large databases including clients financial and personal details already need to comply with existing Data Protection Laws but in 2015 UK and European regulations are to be significantly strengthened.  Fines for the loss of data which are already significant will increase to levels where no business can afford to be complacent, any longer.

Data security is a particularly vital in the travel sector as it has by it holds very large databases of client financial and personal information. New enhanced EU and UK data protection laws coming in 2015 make it even more important that the ‘Travel sector’ combats data threats and cyber-attacks. As an example; – a well know Bank had a data breach in June and only discovered it in July. Can your company afford those sorts of challenges?

Even if your Travel business already has a data security section within in its I.T. department or at least employs a security officer you are likely to need access to a ‘Security Operations Centre’ that offers the most advanced Cyber Security. The latest services will identify Cyber-attacks in the form of Advanced Persistent Treats (APT) block them and repeat attacks while defending against attacks from new directions!

The best is never cheap but it can be very cost effective. We work with Tamite Ltd to provide the travel industry with one of the very best precise treat detection services available in the world.

To find out more call us to day or see. www.tamite.com/cyber-spear/

Data secuity in the travel industry

Data Security in the travel industry still only seems to be a priority when a major problem arises! I read with interest an article in Tnooz  today about a Data breach at Viator that has directly affected over 1.4 million customers. Nearly 880,000 people had financial information stolen in the breach while 550,00 others may have potential problems with their information being possibly breached by hackers.

Regardless if it is financial or personal data the global travel industry can not longer afford to be complacent about systems security.

The use of third party Security Operations Centre’s is a really cost effective method of protecting your business. No information is sent to outside organisations but they do monitor data trends that indicate problems building and then work with your IT department to stop them developing in anything from fraud to  full blown cyber attacks. For less than the cost of a member of staff, you can potentially save your business several times a year!!

Together with a business partner we have become resellers for a top end security service that provides (excuse the old adage) military grade data monitoring and protection. It is expensive, but still less than the cost of a reservations agents salary p.a., but boy is the peace of mind worth it! Not to mention the savings of possible losses of money as well as to your business reputation. Call for a confidential discussion.

What is BIG Data to the Travel Industry?

The current technology  ‘buzz words’ are ‘BIG’ and ‘DATA’. So what is Big Data? Why does it have so many people running around?

To most ordinary travel folk the term Big Data means nothing and frankly gets ignored until someone from the I.T. department comes running into the board room getting excited! So, they say, what is all the excitement all about?

Well, in order to keep it simple, we shall keep our view of it down to the basics.  Ask the question ‘what is Big Data’ of ten people and you could well get ten different answers all of which could be correct in someway. In other words it is different things to different people. Basically we at “Travel Systems Associates” believe it to be the accumulation of a travel company’s information (data) that it gets from and about customers. The easiest example is; if your travel business has a website, social media, CMS, booking system etc. etc then all the data you get from those sources amounts to Big Data. The question then is; what do we do with it? In the past the question has not arisen as we have been too busy focusing on individual data sources not the whole picture.

Technology solutions are now emerging (like AWS analytics) that allow the tech savvy amongst us (but as time goes on simplified solutions will emerge) to program questions that identify buying patterns to emerge. This in turn will allow products to be more flexible to match the markets changing demands. For example; if your Facebook page is getting a lot questions about products or services that your company does not offer the Big Data analysis will show results clearly so your business can react quickly and make bigger profits. Equally, it might tell you that business is being lost by not responding to customer concerns quickly enough. Either way, the impact of having more information available about your relationship with customers and the market in general will be significant.

If you would like to know more about how Big Data can benefit your business, call us today to find out more!

 

 

 

Internet Explorer problems

Microsoft have said that there is a a potential problem with IE 6 – 11 security. Hackers have found a potential loophole that particularly effects those 30% of computers who still have the XP operating systems. This is because it is not longer supported so that a fix for other operating systems will be issued for XP.

Have a look at the full story on the BBC technology website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/technology-27184188

Travel technology hotspots for 2014

Travel technology solutions are developing quickly. The change in how the work place looks now compared to only a few years ago are marked!  Some areas that will be particularly important during 2014. Travel Systems Associates think that they will include the following:

Mobile: 

Christmas sales have seen a continuing and pronounced upsurge in customers buying on line. This has included the travel industry. Booking a holiday, short break, flight and accommodation are now common activities as more and more customers are prepared to buy via their smartphone or tablet.  Many of the larger tour operators, OTA and other specialists have already in new technology but are large sections of the SME arena missing out? Mobile bookable websites and Social Media are the hot topics.

Mobile communications with customers are also playing increasingly bigger roles in product delivery and business efficiency terms. Interacting with clients while they are travelling helps not only provide reminders but also to receive updates from them on their situation and requirements. Email and texting by your representatives also allows them to reduce costs and improve efficiencies by selling and advising changes quicker and with greater flexibility!

Technology updates:

More and more businesses are likely to update their technology applications to allow more employees to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work. This has impressive improvements to workplace efficiencies by providing staff with more involvement with the workplace from any location at any time. It also provides more flexibility and reduces business costs.  A further development of this concept is WYOD (Wear Your Own Device) i.e. new web enabled wrist watches etc. It is estimated that over 1 million WYOD will be sold this year. This will take the 24/7 work involvement idea on still further. Employees may not be able to escape work but it will enable them to spread work commitments more flexibly for both them and their employers.

Cloud Computing:

It looks like the cloud revolution is still gathering momentum. As travel companies invest in new technology and more flexible software to take advantage of new working methodologies ‘Cloud’ computing will be a major advantage, not just from reducing costs but also for the business efficiencies that it offers.

Desktop services are getting cheaper to use so that access to Cloud based Servers can be achieved at very cost effective prices from any location. This is ideal for Home Workers and employees on the move from divisions such as; sales, product, management and area representatives. Tour Operators are a good example where the Cloud can greatly reduce the cost of change from legacy systems but this equally applies in other sectors.

SaaS:

Software as a Service allows users to rent applications or alternatively buy them out right in order to develop them to better match their own business model and to therefore gain commercial advantage over competitors.  Many software suppliers are now selling their applications in some form of SaaS model running on both Cloud based platforms and in own Server environments.

Security:

New technology, well implemented, is great for changing the dynamics of a travel business but without security it is meaningless. In 2013 Trojans and other types of cyber-attacks caused an increasing amount of damage. Under the Data Protection Act companies are legally required to protect customer’s information and the travel industry is one sector that uses very large amounts of client data that requires protection. From mailing lists with client details to financial information; it all must be protected. Fines for failing to do so are beginning become extremely serious. The FSA is likely to be keeping an eye on ‘Travel’ business in the coming years!

If these or any other technology issue are causing your travel business an issue, call us today. +44 (0)1403 210630

Invitation to Lunch during Travel Technology Europe or Business Travel Show 5th February 2014

Our business partner “interacterable Ltd” (yes that is how they spell it!) is holding a demonstration event of their ‘Groupdia’ mobile app software on 5th February 2014. If you would like to book a one to one session or attend a general demonstration during lunch (it is on us!) please see their website to book a place.

www.interacterable.com

If you are attending either Travel Technology Europe or the Business Travel Show at Earls Court London on Wednesday 5th February why not come over to the Atlas Pub conference room in Seaborne Road just across the Earls Court Road from the exhibition halls. Enjoy lunch and see a unique mobile communications software app in action. ‘We get you into the hands of your customers via their mobile device’

 

Latest version of Trabacus travel management software

The latest version of ‘TRABACUS’ reservations and management software is being released in January 2014. Using OpenERP version 7 the latest update to Trabacus features new graphics and quicker software functionality to give tour operators and Online Travel Agents even more reasons to change to new technology.

The software is still available to rent or buy and now provides a bigger range of GDS and XML supplier links. These include Amadeus and Travelport plus online accommodation booking from Kouni and many others.

Call Travel Systems Associates for more information.

Watch out for CryptoLocker trojan

My Colleague Gary Johnson told me about the extent of this Trojan today. I thought it best to share!!

 

No its not time for my message of goodwill, that can wait a couple of weeks. This is a message of goodwill of an entirely different kind.

 

You may have heard in the press about a Virus (Technically it’s a Trojan) doing the rounds called CryptoLocker.

I came across it for real at one of my customers yesterday fortunately everything turned out well for them but it was potentially very serious.

The Press are notorious for getting their facts wrong and creating scare stories from fairly innocuous stuff, well in this case I think they may have under played it.

Cryptolocker is what is known as ransomware, it infects your machine and demands a ransom of 300 Euros to undo the damage.

Up until this point ransomware has usually been easy to deal with, unfortunately the people who designed CryptoLocker are seriously organised criminals with access to serious IT resources.

If you are unfortunate enough to catch this virus it will

1. Uninstall your antivirus

2. Encrypt all the documents it finds on your PC, Word Docs, Excel Docs, Images, Access Database Files, Your email and lots more.

3. It will look for mapped network drives for shared folders on other PCS or Servers etc on your network and encrypt anything it sees on these.

4. Encrypt the contents of any drop box services it can find.

5. If your backup is provided by copying your files to a device either plugged into your Server / PC or another device through a mapped drive it will in all probability encrypt your backup at the same time.

6. Because the people behind this are seriously resourced the latest version of the Virus won’t get spotted by your Antivirus, whatever make you use as they are evolving it all the time to stay one step ahead.

 

The encryption it uses is proper Military grade encryption, if your files get encrypted your only hope of ever getting access to them again is by paying the ransom. I can’t help you and nobody unless they have access to a Super Computer with access to some state of the art encryption breaking software will be able to either. So that rules out everyone I know apart from possibly the CIA or GCHQ.

 

What can you do to protect yourself.

 

1. Don’t open emails or social networking messages containing attachments particularly Adobe Acrobat .pdf  even if you know the person who sent it to you. Remember if that persons PC has been infected it may be using the address book to send infected files to you. If you really think you need to open it you may want to call them to make sure they actually sent it to you.

2. Backup your data. Now is the time to back it up We can sort this out for you if you haven’t already got a backup in place and if you are already doing a backup make sure it is actually running regularly, hasn’t failed and is backing up everything you need to restore your business. If in doubt call us.

3. Make sure you have an off site copy of your data, if you are backing up to an external hard drive remove it when the backup is done and only re-connect it to backup and restore.

4. If you suspect you have opened something you shouldn’t have, power the machine off ASAP.

5. Do the same stuff at home as like me you probably have all the family pictures on your home PC.

 

As an additional protective measure I can use a tool called Cryptoprevent that will run a routine that will stop the encryption process if you do get infected, give me a call it is something I can do remotely and it may help.

Even if you are doing regular backups make sure it is scheduled and not doing a live synchronisation as this will mean that your backup will also become encrypted.

Do please take this very seriously, as it has the potential to destroy or  at least do serious damage to a business. Can you carry on operating if you don’t have access to any records?

 

I have seen lots of viruses but none has come close to this one.