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UK Watchdog makes some cloud service providers think again – it’s about time!

The UK watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, has decided to crack down on some of the biggest names in cloud data services by enforcing a stipulation for fairer and more transparent contracts. By recognising the the need for improvements in the contractual terms that the major providers offer, the CMA has given a boost to the protection that users of these services can expect. Click here for more detail.

The majority of them, of course, are still opaque as to where their data is stored. Even those that claim to hold their customers’ data in the UK are still very vague as to whether backups are held exclusively in the UK, or shipped to overseas data centres where capacity may be more readily available or less expensive. If data is moved outside the United Kingdom it can fall under the jurisdiction of countries whose data privacy laws do not offer the same level of protection.

Since 2010 Safe4 has provided a highly secure UK-only data storage service, making use of ISO 27001-accredited data centres. As well as levels of security and availability that are among the best in the industry, Safe4 customers enjoy the certainty that their data does not leave the UK. And Safe4 has not needed a market watchdog to enforce the offering of fair and transparent contractual commitments to its customers. Contact us for more information.

Safe4 and IT Farm to work together, with a focus on the UK professional services sector

Safe4 are delighted to announce that they are to work closely with IT Farm, a Manchester-based specialist cloud services provider. With a long history of offering cloud services in the UK, IT Farm have been providing high quality outsourced IT support services, including hosted desktop and telephony solutions, to the professional services sector in the UK.

This complements the experience that Safe4 have gained in the financial and professional services environment. With customers in the banking, legal, accounting and insurance sectors, Safe4 are ideally placed to work closely with IT Farm to deliver a range of complementary solutions. IT Farm’s customer base includes a number of organisations that will be able to take advantage of the highly secure document delivery and storage facilities offered by Safe4.

Ben Martin, director of Safe4 Information Management, believes that working closely with IT Farm is a natural step. “The emphasis we have placed on security since the company was formed in 2010 allows professional practitioners and others to share documents in complete confidence with clients, partners, associates, suppliers, employees, and other professional firms. This forms an essential element within a range of IT solutions that modern practices are now demanding, and creates an opportunity for integration with practice management, finance and accounting, and other business applications. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with IT Farm, who are able to bring together a number of complementary solution providers. Our SRA-compliant service will thus enable law firms in particular to take advantage of a range of opportunities for secure and effective integrated information management.”

Please contact us for more information on the benefits of adopting the Safe4 service.

US may be set to change data privacy laws – again!

The Safe Harbor data privacy agreement between the US and the EU was deemed to be ineffective in 2015, and was subsequently replaced with a Privacy Shield arrangement – which is still considered by many to be inadequate. Recent announcements by the new US administration suggest that the internal data privacy laws in the US will be subject to further change, affecting those who are not US citizens or permanent residents in the US. Please click here for more background on this development.

Safe4 decided back in 2010 that all of the data held within its secure document delivery and storage service would be stored in UK-located data centres, accredited to ISO 27001. This offers maximum protection to our customers and their clients, employees, suppliers, partners and associates. Reliance on US-hosted data storage could be seen to carry unnecessary risk of misuse or disclosure of personally-identifiable information, hence the benefit of keeping all stored data onshore within the UK.

For more detail on the measures that Safe4 applies to keep information secure, please contact us. We would be very pleased to speak with you.

Email phishing scams increasing rapidly – what is the answer?

Almost everyone who has an email account will have received large numbers of unsolicited emails from an unknown sender requesting that the recipient “click here” to gain access to a website or service that offers something of interest or value. Some of these are laughably inept, and are so obviously scams that they can be deleted immediately. However, an increasing number are from criminals who purport to represent a reputable and trusted party, often cleverly formatted in a way that makes it very difficult to differentiate between the scam and the real thing.

In 2015, the last full year for which there is appropriate data, instances of phishing emails of this type rose by 21% in the UK, as reported in the media by Silicon.  As the article suggests, the organisations that have been falsely represented most often in the UK are BT, Apple and HMRC. The Apple emails in particular are very realistic. Clicking the link as requested will normally result in ransomware or some other form of malware being downloaded on to the recipient’s computer, leading to problems that can be very damaging and difficult to deal with.

Increasingly the criminals have turned their attention to banks and their clients, and social media services such as LinkedIn. Safe4 have recently worked with Investec, one of the financial sector’s most respected specialist banking and asset management service providers, to offer solutions to this ever-worsening problem. This involves using the Safe4 service to create a highly secure vault, into which clients can place their own important documents, and which can also be used as a means of distributing bank-generated documents to clients. It will thus become possible to inform clients that if any unsolicited email is received bearing the bank’s branding, it should be deleted immediately.

Investec, headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, also have a substantial presence in the UK and in other locations internationally. The Safe4 integration project was carried by the Investec Digital team in Johannesburg, who worked closely with the Safe4 developers in the UK and South Africa. Investec are no strangers to innovation, and are constantly seeking ways to improve their clients’ banking experience, and importantly to increase the level of protection offered to clients.

Safe4 offers a highly secure facility for distributing documents to any recipient outside the sender’s own IT domain. Using UK-located data centres only, accredited to the ISO 27001 international security standard, Safe4 has been independently ranked among the 0.8% most secure site on the internet, out of millions tested.

Contact us for more information on the Safe4 service, and for ideas on how using Safe4 can enhance the security of your communication with the outside world.

Does it matter where your cloud data is stored?

Many millions of people now are using online systems that are hosted in the cloud. However, do we all know what that means, or the location where our vital information is being held?

The dramatic rise in the use of social media in the last decade has meant that a vast amount of personal information is being stored in cloud-based platforms, not all of which regard personal security or privacy as their top priority.

A recent article on the BBC website helped to highlight this – click here to read the article. The uncertainty over the location where data is stored, and the privacy laws in the jurisdiction that governs the use of that data, gives rise to a potentially major concern.

For this reason, Safe4 decided back in 2010 that ALL data stored within its servers would be held securely in a UK location. Because Safe4 does not allow its service to be used for advertising or any other form of promotional activity, the content of stored data and documents is completely safe. Unlike several of the major providers named in the BBC article, the business model of Safe4 does not permit the penetration of “confidential” information in customers’ accounts so that it can generate advertisements to the user based on their content.

The hosting partner of Safe4 was selected using different criteria. Because we know our customers need to be able to trust us to keep their information safe, we chose to work with a world leader in the provision of highly secure services, with an excellent record of 24/7 availability and reliability. Using ISO 27001-accredited data centres in the UK only, Safe4 has built a reputation for high quality of service and security levels which are among the highest in the industry.

For more information on how Safe4 secure information delivery and storage services can assist your organisation, please contact us.

Proposed successor to Safe Harbor is “inadequate”

The EU has indicated that the replacement to the US – EU Safe Harbor data privacy arrangement, known as Privacy Shield, is inadequate, and does not offer sufficient protection for confidential data being shared by organisations who operate on both sides of the Atlantic. More detail is available: click here.

The risks associated with holding confidential information in jurisdictions that do not apply the same data privacy approach as the UK was the primary reason why Safe4 hosts all of its data in UK data centres only, accredited to the ISO 27001 security standard. Together with annual penetration testing performed under the UK Government’s CHECK scheme, and sophisticated encryption of all stored data, Safe4 offers a highly secure environment for the sharing and storage of confidential information.

For more information on the security measures taken by Safe4 to protect customers’ information, please contact us.

Health data services moving to the cloud?

Discussions over the suitability of the cloud for the storage and management of confidential information have grown in intensity in recent years, as the use of cloud-based resources has increased dramatically.

There has long been resistance to the use of cloud data services to handle clinical information relating to individuals’ health, based on concerns over the levels of security that cloud service providers offer, despite some cloud services being demonstrably more secure than many internally hosted systems. There is indeed an argument that maintaining health data relating to certain conditions in the cloud can help to save lives. This concept is being trialled internationally, with interesting results – click here for more information.

Safe4 provide cloud-based information management services for a number of organisations in the UK and internationally for whom security is of paramount importance – using only UK-located data centres accredited to the ISO 27001 security standard.  For more information on how using Safe4 might benefit your organisation, please contact us. We would welcome an opportunity to talk with you.