11 Apr 2018

Updating website privacy statements for the GDPR


Data Protection laws are undergoing a major upgrade when the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) supersedes the Data Protection Act on the 25th May 2018. These wide-ranging changes are impacting on a number of areas, and one of these is the website privacy statement. Websites have been displaying privacy statements for years, especially since infamous EU Cookie law came into force in 2012. They often take the form of a long page of detailed text. This privacy policy is then linked to on registration forms, website footers or the annoying cookie notification pop-ups some sites decided to
27 Aug 2015

Should your website be encrypted?


When Google announced in August 2014 that it is now favouring sites that are entirely encrypted in search results, websites started switching, using the secure HTTPS protocol as default. Many sites already use encryption for key pages such as login or online purchases, but the new trend is to encrypt everything. Is this something your website should be doing? On 1st August 2014, HTTP Archive, a website which tracks trends in the World Wide Web, showed that 9% of web pages were encrypted. This figure jumped after Google’s announcement, and currently stands at 20%. One big reason behind this
17 Sep 2014

Unions & cloud-based services


Cloud-based services have been growing in popularity over the last few years. These services are delivered online and are usually paid for on an ongoing basis, with flexible pricing depending on the needs of the user. This usually results in lower costs and lower risks, combined with reliable and well-built software. While some unions are already using these services, their popularity will grow over the next few years. One cloud-based service that a number of unions are already using is MailChimp. This web-based application allows unions to email their members and can handle a huge number of
23 Aug 2012

The EU Cookie Monster


You may have noticed over the past few months that some websites you’ve visited have asked for your permission to use ‘cookies’. Not to be confused with the American biscuit, a cookie is a small text file that websites use to store data on your computer. The reason behind these messages is a controversial European Union law which came into force in May. Cookies have been used since an early web browser called Netscape introduced them back in 1994. By allowing websites to store small amounts of data on your computer, services like online shopping baskets and personalised content can be created
26 Apr 2012

The 'Girls Around Me' app


The recent furore over the ‘Girls Around Me’ smartphone app illustrates the increasing ease with which our movements can be tracked. The app was developed by Russian developer i-free and enabled people who had downloaded the app to view a map of women in the local area, along with names and even background information like relationship status, depending on the user’s privacy setting. The people who made the app were not illegally hacking into anyone’s system, but simply using publicly available information from services like Foursquare and Facebook. Foursquare is a system that lets people
06 Mar 2012

Can you Google ‘privacy’ please?


There has been a lot of coverage recently regarding Google’s new privacy policy. The company will now have access to more data regarding the searches individuals make; information they will use to target adverts aimed at each user. However, campaigners and governments alike have raised concerns about the implications for privacy and the legality of the move. Google have been collecting information about our searches for a long time now, and already use it to target the adverts that we see. So what’s changed in the privacy policy? Basically, Google are merging all the results from their
13 Dec 2011

How much Klout do you have?


One website that has been getting quite a bit of press coverage recently is Klout. This is a new service that attempts to measure online influence by monitoring social networking traffic. It allocates a score of between 1 and 100 to individuals and organisations, with the higher the score, the greater the influence. The founder, Joe Fernandez, had the idea for the site when he broke his jaw and, unable to talk, took to Twitter in order to communicate. He soon realised the influence of the medium, and saw how useful it would be to measure this. Looking through the scores, they seem to reflect
08 Nov 2011

Power of the Password


The recent News of the World phone hacking scandal illustrated how easy it can be to access poorly protected information. The investigators who hacked into the phones were not IT geniuses; they just exploited basic flaws in the caller ID and PIN systems. A few years back, a default PIN was provided for access to mobile messages – with the onus on the user to change it if they wanted to. Needless to say, many people never bothered to change this default PIN. Even when they did, it was often to an easy to guess number, like 1234 or 3333. While things have improved with mobile message security
06 Oct 2011

Cyber snooping by employers


The internet has led to an increasing clash between personal and professional lives. Once upon a time it was only your CV or application that counted when trying to win a job interview, but one new trend is to vet perspective employees using their online presence. It’s well publicised that many employees have got into trouble at work due to comments they’ve made on social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook. A lot of organisations now have strict internet usage policies, and it’s estimated that 8% of companies have dismissed staff due to their online actions. What is less well known is
07 Dec 2010

Information can WikiLeaks out


Advances in technology have made it easier to collect and organise information than ever before. Companies like Google and Facebook store billions of details from websites and online accounts, and make good money from the services they provide to people. Governments have also been developing information-centric systems, from the laudable data.gov initiatives both in the UK and the US to the more questionable collection of personal data. Once information is collected and organised electronically, it’s much easier to share and exploit. One problem this poses was illustrated by the recent release