Ingram Micro names new finance VP

IMIngram Micro has appointed Gina Mastantuono as executive vice president of finance.

Mastantuono will now be responsible for the company’s financial planning, analysis, controllership, SEC reporting, treasury and tax and will report directly to Bill Humes , chief operating and financial officer at Ingram Micro.

Prior to joining Ingram Micro, Mastantuono was at Revlon for six years, serving most recently as senior vice president, chief accounting officer, controller and international chief financial officer.

Before Revlon, she held various finance executive roles, including four years with InterActive and four years with Triarc Companies,

She is also a Certified Public Accountant and has 21 years of finance experience.

Mastantuono attended the State University of New York, where she earned a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting and business administration.

Supply chain standard aims to eliminate counterfeit gear

server-racksCounterfeit iPhones, sunglasses and handbags have been around for years, but so have counterfeit IT products, and they tend to be a bit more dangerous and costly than a fake Gucci bag crafted from genuine imitation faux leather.

The Open Group has published a new technical security standard with the aim of improving supply chain safety and weeding out counterfeit products, or gear that has been tampered with. The Open Trusted Technology Provider Standard (O-TTPS) is a 32-page document containing a set of guidelines, requirements and recommendations that should mitigate the risk of acquiring counterfeit products, or products that were “maliciously tainted.”

The standard is being backed by the likes of IBM and Cisco. It should address concerns raised by governments and the US Department of Defense, which tends to be rather picky when it comes to networking gear. Junipar, Huawei, EMC, Raytheon, HP, Microsoft, the NSA, Booz-Allen Hamilton, Boeing and NASA are also on board, reports Network World.

It is still unclear when the group will start issuing accreditations, or how it plans to go about it, but the backers feel that the IT industry should get acquainted with the new standards. With such high profile names on board, the industry should listen closely.

Big outfits are expected to embrace the new standard first, but in doing so they will also reduce the risk for smaller businesses. Still, the best way of steering clear from dodgy routers and switches is to simply avoid buying gear from unknown companies altogether.

Gartner weans firms off Windows XP

framedwindowsDespite Windows XP and Office 2003 support ending in April 8 2014, more than 15 percent of midsize and large businesses are still, and will continue using the OS Gartner has said.

The company has decided to help heal the IT world and put together some recommendations on how companies can wean themselves off the OS as well as the risks associated with sticking to them.

Michael Silver and Steve Kleynhans, vice presidents in Gartner’s client computing team pointed out that not having support means that organisations’ PCs could be vulnerable to attack.

New vulnerabilities are always being found, and new vulnerabilities that are found in more current products could affect Windows XP and Office 2003, the duo said.

They warned that any unpatched device could be vulnerable to attack, even a private network  that has no internet access. They explained that this was because another device, even one running a supported product, could be infected with malware outside the private network and bring it onto the private network, infecting other devices.

Many applications will no longer be supported while running on Windows XP, which the pair said meant organisations could be on their own to resolve issues and problems leading to system downtime.

Organisations that are not almost or completely finished migrating off Windows XP and/or Office 2003 should reassess their position by reviewing their project plans and ensuring that they are on target to meet the deadline, Gartner said.

It said companies that were afraid they were unlikely to complete their migration projects by April 2014 should prioritise their applications and users so they could reduce the risks by addressing critical resources first.

Conducting several analyses on their application portfolios to help safeguard the company after XP support ends, and in preparation for Windows 7 or 8 migrations would also help businesses.

EE pledges jobs, sustainability

eeCarrier EE has published its first Responsibility Report, and we’re sure the PR cogs were working overtime to get it word perfect.

Within its musings, the company claims it has identified twelve areas that need improving, including reducing its environmental impact, keeping children safe and building further sustainability in its supply chain.

It also promised that by 2015 it will improve the digital skills of 1 million people, as well as recruit 500 apprentices into its business

The company has said it will be launching an EE graduate scheme and has committed to
supporting Plotr, the government-supported careers portal which is set to launch this year.

EE said its HR team will begin an initiative in schools, supporting 10 week-long work experience placements at its Bristol office for students from local secondary schools.

The pledges come as a new survey found that a quarter of Brits can’t be bothered to report broadband issues. According to comparison website Recombu.com/digital, of the 1447 people it asked  74 percent blamed slow internet issues on ‘heavy traffic’ and fail to report slow connectivity to their internet service provider.

Just over a third said they only reported a problem when ‘connectivity stopped entirely’, while 11 percent stated that they ‘never’ reported issues.

Economic turmoil wreaks supply chain havoc

supply-chain-managementThe never ending economic crisis was to blame for more supply chain disruptions last year than insolvencies and horrible weather. According to a survey by Dynamic Markets, commissioned by Oracle, more than half of major companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) suffered supply chain disruptions caused by economic woes.

TalkTalk faces “doublespeak” wrath of ASA

PhoneTalkTalk has faced the simpering wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The telecoms company has been told off after it promised customers a “free” YouView box alongside a TV and phone package on a TV ad.

A direct mailing advert also had the same promise.

The complainant challenged whether the claims that the YouView box was “free” in the ads because there was a £50 installation fee.

TalkTalk said its offer of a YouView set top box was a conditional purchase offer in accordance with the CAP Guidance on the use of “free”. It explained that the price of itsPlus telecoms package was established in the marketplace prior to the addition of the free set top box.

At the time the YouView box was introduced, it said it did not increase the price of the paid-for items, for example the Plus telecoms package.

TalkTalk also tried to cover its tracks explaining that that installation of the YouView box had to be undertaken by an engineer so as to ensure proper activation of the TV service. It said The engineer installation charge had not been inflated to recover the cost of the free YouView box and pointed out that both ads made clear that there was a £50 installation charge with the free YouView box.

The ASA said it understood that the £50 engineer installation fee was payable by all consumers who opted to take the YouView box and that the YouView box and the £50 fee were inextricably linked.

However, it pointed out that when a consumer unbundled the YouView box from the telecoms subscription, they effectively paid £50 less, which was the cost of the installation fee.

Because the fee was payable to TalkTalk and not a third party, all consumers who took up the claimed “free” offer were charged £50 more than those who did not.

The watchdog said it therefore considered that because the YouView box and the £50 fee were inextricably linked, the claims that the box was “free” were misleading.

It ordered that the claims should not appear again in their current form and told TalkTalk to take care in future when describing an item as “free”, in the future.

Brother UK gets new MD

Phil Jones with PrinterPhil Jones has been named as the managing director of Brother UK.

The announcement follows Mr Jones’ promotion in March 2012 to deputy MD, a role that saw him take responsibility for the company’s 180-strong workforce and £100 million of sales.

Jones has worked his way up through the company, originally joining as a fax machine salesman in 1995,  later becoming sales & marketing director.

Commenting on the appointment, Mr Jones said he was “thrilled” to be given the responsibility to lead Brother in the UK as MD.

“Having joined the business back in the early 1990s with little leadership or business management experience, my journey really underlines Brother’s commitment to investing in people and backing talent – a culture that I’m determined to continue building during my tenure,” he added.

Mr Jones, 45, lives in Warrington with his wife and two teenage children. He is a regular speaker and blogger on leadership, innovation and personal growth and a keen road cyclist, it is claimed.

Tesco profits flag

tescoTesco is facing the same fate as many other businesses, reporting the first annual profit loss in nearly 20 years.

The supermarket giant said pre-tax profits were down 51 percent to £1.96 billion, while post-tax profits including the cost of its £1.2 billion US exit were £120 million, marking a decrease of 95.7 percent.

The company confirmed that it would be backing out of the US after its investment in 190 Fresh and Easy stores failed to make it a profit.

In Blighty the company has also announced a property write down of £804 million. This was as a result of a review by the company, which uncovered more than 100 sites, scooped up five years ago for potential stores, now lying dormant.

In a blog post, head honcho Philip Clarke said: “Much of this property was bought more than five years ago, some more than 10 years ago.

“That is before the 2008 financial crisis, before the iPhone, social media, tablet computers, before we knew how profoundly technology would change both how we and our customers live and shop.

“Technology has changed much that we all took for granted and it is still changing. The last five years have shown that change in retail can be disruptive and come in sharp steps, not a steady trend. We must anticipate change and act decisively so we looked hard at the land we own and conclude that although we have a strong and attractive network of stores, we will never develop some of this land, mostly the very large mixed-use developments.”

The past three months have also not been favourable to the company, with Tesco claiming its sales, not including petrol, only rose by 0.5 percent. This was a decrease from the growth the company faced in six weeks to 5 January when the company marked a 1.8 percent rise as a result of Christmas shopping.

Measles hits distribution channel

fgwAs the measles crisis reaches dangerously high levels, a GP has spoken about under the table payments and the rush to get hold of single vaccines. Meanwhile, First Great Western is offering MMR injections to people under 25.

The now retired medical professional  also pointed out that research has both suffered and improved as a result as it is now far more regulated, while the “scare-mongering” has created a huge UK risk.

His comments come as Wales is currently experiencing an epidemic of measles. Last week the cases had risen by 73 to 693 in the Swansea area with professionals warning that the outbreak wouldn’t reach its peak for another four weeks.

The country is now furiously racing around trying to get as many teens vaccinated as possible.
First Great Western has also waded into the crisis, with reliable sources claiming the train company would be offering the vaccine to anyone under 25.

The government, which has been blamed for the outbreak, is now targeting schools and offering immunisations to 10 to 17 year olds – the age group likely to have missed out on being given the jab as a result of research released in the 1990s.

The study, carried out by now discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield’, linked the MMR jab to autism. However, after the initial hype died down, the Government, which initially backed these findings, and scientists, insisted that MMR was safe.

By this point the damage had already been done.

“The world went mad when the research about the vaccine came out all those years ago and the number of those choosing to get their children vaccinated fell rapidly,” the retired GP told ChannelEye.

“We went from packed waiting rooms to days when no one would show up, despite our reassurances that it was safe.

“Mums were running around trying to get the single inoculations, with some going as far as France to pick them up and paying GPs, maybe under the table, over here to administer them.
However, the children who didn’t have the jab are now suffering, as is a nation, which is now experiencing this outbreak.

The medical world, which has for so long backed research, is of course now more cautious about releasing research, which could have a knock on effect. Does it stifle innovation? Yes I suppose it does.

“On the flip side, it also shows research has to be carried out far more intensively before it potentially destroys communities.

“It was all scaremongering but people jumped on the bandwagon and that was that.”

However, one mum isn’t so sure, claiming her child “has never been the same” since the MMR jab.

“I don’t really talk about it because it upsets me, but he was never the same after that jab,” she said.

However, as many professionals have pointed out, the signs for autism do usually come out at around 12-18 months, the same time that the jab is traditionally given.

Telcos reap rewards in Latin America

nationalcongressWhile us Brits may shake our fists cursing at the telecom industry at large – swearing one day we’ll move to GiffGaff – in Latin America, telecoms is doing a world of good economically and socially, at least according to a report from industry analyst Ovum.

Ovum which has joined AHCIET to publish the AHCIET-Ovum Observatory of Telecoms Indicators in Latin America – or AOOTILA for short. As much of the world sank into economic doldrums in 2008, from then up to 2011 there has been overall growth in fixed and mobile internet connections by 72 and 41 percent respectively, according to the report.

Jobs, too, have enjoyed significant growth throughout the region. Workers employed by operators have increased by almost 60 percent – marking almost a quarter of a million jobs. Brazil and Nicaragua saw their telco workforce double, and Guetamala almost managed the same.

Telecom companies are increasing their capital investment – at roughly 28 percent overall- because they’re focusing on deploying access infrastructure. Without the correct infrastructure they are missing a trick on selling digital services, so it’s in their best interest.

In 2009, a year on from the onset of the global recession, Ovum noted that growing demand for fixed and mobile broadband has meant continuously strong investment – while capex grew by 28 percent on average to pass $22 trillion in 2011. Falling prices of entry level tariffs are helping to boost connectivity, too.

AHCIET secretary general Pablo Bello said that telcos are emerging in their influence and they do have a role to play in tackling poverty.

“It is time for countries to seriously consider how much faster we could close the digital divide and remove the regulatory moorings that are still hindering telecoms growth and equitable access to advanced services,” Bello said. “Our hard data shows that countries which have made the most progress are those where key players recognise the need for public-private cooperation with convergent public policies, regulations and taxation that encourage investment”.

“There are no magic spells to close the digital divide,” Bello said. “The key is to invest intensively in next-generation access networks and to educate on the sophisticated uses of digital connectivity, a challenge facing all participants”.

Sophos axes jobs

axeSophos is rumoured to be grinding the axe for another round of job cuts.

According to The Next Web around 150 people will be handed their pink slips as the company moves to restructure and focus on its highest growing and strategic business arms.

Although Sophos would not confirm the number, it hinted that the rumours were more than a whisper with a spokesman telling the Next Web that it was in discussion with those affected employees. It said some could also be given a lifeline and shifted into other roles.

“While it is difficult to make any reductions in our team, we are confident these actions will help to drive our long-term success, and allow us to drive greater value for our customers and partners,” Sophos said in an earlier statement.

It follows a similar round of job cuts in September last year, when 35 employees were expected to lose their jobs.

The axe grinding comes as Sophos announced job cuts earlier this year.

SMEs at centre of cyber attacks

SymantecheadquartersTargeted security attacks rose by 42 percent in 2012, with cybercriminals targeting SMEs, Symantec has found.

In its Internet Security Threat Report the company said these threats were designed to
steal intellectual property, and were increasingly hitting the manufacturing sector as well as small businesses, which were the target of 31 percent of these attacks.

Small businesses are apparently attractive targets themselves and a way in to ultimately reach larger companies via “watering hole” techniques, Symantec said, citing a threefold rise in the number of attacks on these size businesses compared to 2011.

It said that while small businesses  could feel they were immune to targeted attacks, cybercriminals were enticed by these organisations’ bank account information, customer data and intellectual property. Attackers hone in on small businesses that may often lack adequate security practices and infrastructure, the company said.

Web-based attacks increased by 30 percent in 2012, which Symantec said originated from the compromised websites of small businesses.

It pointed out that these websites were used in massive cyber-attacks as well as “watering hole” attacks. In a watering hole attack, the attacker compromises a website, such as a blog or small business website, which is known to be frequently visited by the victim of interest. When the victim later visits the compromised website, a targeted attack payload is silently installed on their computer.

Shifting from governments, manufacturing  moved to the top of the list of industries targeted for attacks in 2012. Symantec said this was because cybercriminals were attacking the supply chain as a result of finding contractors and subcontractors susceptible to attacks and often in possession of valuable intellectual property.

Often by going after manufacturing companies in the supply chain, attackers gain access to sensitive information of a larger company, the company pointed out.

On the consumer front mobiles seemed to be the worst hit, with malware increasing by 58 percent. Around a third of all mobile threats attempted to steal information, such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

Apple’s iOS had the most documented vulnerabilities, it only had one threat discovered during the same period and Android, by contrast, had fewer vulnerabilities but more threats than any other mobile operating system.

Webwise 61 percent of malicious websites were found to be legitimate websites that had been compromised and infected with malicious code. Business, technology and shopping websites were among the top five types of websites hosting infections.

A growing source of infections on websites was malvertisements – when criminals buy advertising space on legitimate websites and use it to hide their attack code.

Drug czar thinks coke loving bankers caused financial crash

scarfaceThe 2008 financial crash was caused by overleveraged banks, the collapse of the US housing market and a range of other factors. One of those factors might have been cocaine, which is rather popular in banking circles, or so we are told.

Professor David Nutt, the former government drugs czar who lost his job after he famously stated that taking an ecstasy tablet was as safe as riding a horse, believes cocaine contributed to the crash and also led to the 1995 collapse of Barings bank.

Nutt believes cocaine helped take bankers over the edge, as cocaine users tend to be overconfident and take more risks. It can also make people quite boring at parties.

“Bankers use cocaine and got us into this terrible mess. It is a “more” drug;” he told the Sunday Times. He added that cocaine is well suited for the culture of excitement and drive, which is prevalent in the banking world.

On the other hand, who would you rather leave in charge of your personal finances? An alcoholic, a pothead, or an overly confident coked-up loudmouth with a Scarface fetish?

Gartner consults crystal ball about cloud

crystalAround 10 percent of IT security enterprise products will be delivered through the cloud by 2015, Gartner has said.

Gazing into its crystal ball, the analyst house has also said that these services will also drive changes in the market landscape, particularly around a number of key security technology areas, such as secure email and secure Web gateways, remote vulnerability assessment, and Identity and Access Management (IAM).

It said as a result it expected the cloud-based security services market to reach $4.2 billion by 2016.

Eric Ahlm, research director at Gartner said demand remained high from buyers looking to cloud-based security services to address a lack of staff or skills, reduce costs, or comply with security regulations quickly.

He said the shift in buying behaviour from the more traditional on-premises equipment toward cloud-based delivery models offered “good opportunities for technology and service providers with cloud delivery capabilities.”

He warned that those without such capabilities needed to act quickly to adapt to this “competitive threat.”

Gartner referenced a security survey from January which  it said showed high demand from security buyers for cloud-based security service offerings. Security buyers from the US and Europe, representing a cross section of industries and company sizes, stated that they planned to increase the consumption of several common cloud services during the next 12 months.

The highest-consumed cloud-based security service is email security services, with 74 percent of respondents rating this as the top service.

Furthermore, 27 percent of the respondents indicated they were considering deploying tokenisation as a cloud service, while another area cited for growth was security information and event management (SIEM) as a service.

Gartner is now advising value-added resellers (VARs) to supplement product implementations with cloud-based alternatives that offer large customers reduced operational cost and thereby increase the likelihood of customer retention in this market segment. VARs that fail to offer cloud-based alternatives might experience a decline in implementation revenue from customers seeking cloud-based solutions in certain market segments.
Around 10 percent of IT security enterprise products will be delivered through the cloud by 2015, Gartner has said.

Rubbing its crystal ball the analyst house has also said that these services will also drive changes in the market landscape, particularly around a number of key security technology areas, such as secure email and secure Web gateways, remote vulnerability assessment, and Identity and Access Management (IAM).

It said as a result it expected the cloud-based security services market to reach $4.2 billion by 2016.

Eric Ahlm, research director at Gartner said demand remained high from buyers looking to cloud-based security services to address a lack of staff or skills, reduce costs, or comply with security regulations quickly.

He said the shift in buying behaviour from the more traditional on-premises equipment toward cloud-based delivery models offered “good opportunities for technology and service providers with cloud delivery capabilities.”

He warned that those without such capabilities needed to act quickly to adapt to this “competitive threat.”

Gartner referenced a security survey from January which  it said showed high demand from security buyers for cloud-based security service offerings. Security buyers from the US and Europe, representing a cross section of industries and company sizes, stated that they planned to increase the consumption of several common cloud services during the next 12 months.

The highest-consumed cloud-based security service is email security services, with 74 percent of respondents rating this as the top service.

Furthermore, 27 percent of the respondents indicated they were considering deploying tokenisation as a cloud service, while another area cited for growth was security information and event management (SIEM) as a service.

Gartner is now advising value-added resellers (VARs) to supplement product implementations with cloud-based alternatives that offer large customers reduced operational cost and thereby increase the likelihood of customer retention in this market segment. VARs that fail to offer cloud-based alternatives might experience a decline in implementation revenue from customers seeking cloud-based solutions in certain market segments.

4G auction probed by National Audit Office

ukflagA complaint from Labour MP Helen Goodman, shadow minister for media and communications, looks like it will lead to an investigation from the UK’s National Audit Office about the “value-for-money” of the 4G auction.

A letter seen by the Guardian from NAO’s auditor general Amyas Morse to Labour MP Helen Goodman confirmed that the Office intends to “conduct a value-for-money study of Ofcom’s recent auction of 4G spectrum”. The NAO is apparently getting the investigation ready, prompted by Goodman’s complaints, which raised Ofcom chief exec Ed Richards’ concerns that the Coalition hadn’t focused on maximising auction revenues.

Goodman told Morse that “by not making maximising the auction’s revenues an objective for Ofcom, the government has failed to get value for money on this project”.

The Treasury forecasted £3.5 billion from the auction, a small amount next to 200’s 3G auction which raised £22.5 billion.

Auction bidders themselves have stated the auction had been poorly designed – as Ofcom didn’t raise the amount the government was looking for, or make sure spectrum went to everybody who wanted it, an anonymous bidder told the Guardian.

The NAO will not be able to force another auction, however, a report will go to the Commons public accounts committee – which can grill chancellor George Osborne for a response.

However, Ofcom claimed the auction was a success which “will deliver the maximum benefit to UK citizens and consumers in line with Ofcom’s statutory duties”. The body insisted the auction will create satisfactory competition which will lead to further investment. “The auction was designed to promote competition and ensure coverage, rather than to raise money,” an Ofcom spokesperson said.