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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

One good reason for good Computer back-up

The current Ransomware attack has paralysed many organisations around the world and many more may follow.

Ransomware is a worm that infects a computer system; it identifies critical files and documents and then encrypts them.  The first indication is a notice that your system is infected and your files are unavailable.  The crook then demands a payment in Bitcoin (usually £250) to supply the decryption key.  Sadly there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will result in regaining access to your files.

There are two ways to protect your systems from this type of attack:

  • Take regular and comprehensive back-ups of your systems and ensure that these are validated. In the worst case you can wipe the system and then reinstall everything from the backup. Many organisations take “an image” and this enables the entire system to be restored in the event of a malfunction.
  • Ensure that your systems are kept up to date with all patches and updates incorporated. It is a false economy to keep old computer equipment which will not allow newer operating system to be used.  I have seen Microsoft Windows XP, and in one case Microsoft Windows Millennium being used.  Microsoft has not been supporting these systems for some time and it is these which have been most vulnerable to attack.

I know that it is very clever in hindsight but cyber security should be high on the agenda for everyone.  Too often capital expenditure is cut and computer equipment and software purchases are put off.

There WILL be further attacks of this kind and the gossip suggests that financial organisations will be next.    This is a wake-up call to industry, lets hope it is heeded.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

More scams

We have all been used to the telephone call which tells us that our computer is infected by a virus and if we give the caller access to our system then he/she will fix it free of charge but the newest one is purportedly from BT saying that a virus has infected the broadband and it will be cut off if we don’t react within twenty minutes.  All false of course but it pays to be vigilant.

A new one on me was an email saying that my car had been parked in a prohibited place and a fine was due to be paid.  If I paid within 24 hours I could deduct 50%, but if it was not paid in 7 days it would double.  We have all had genuine parking fines and the one thing they have in common is the Registration Number of the car; this was not present on the email.  The secure payment portal was also false so any money would go straight to the scammer.

As the crooks get smarter and they receive funds from those taken in they will continue to try and compromise as many people as possible.

Don’t let them get away with it.  If in doubt don’t pay.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Clock is Ticking

The revised standards for Quality and Environment, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 were published in September of 2015 and it was decided that there would be a three-year transition period for organisations certificated to the old standards. 

September 2018 seems a long way off but it is important to remember that the systems must be transitioned and a period of operation allowed before the actual transition can be carried out.  This means that any organisation leaving it all to the last-minute risks having their certification cancelled if the transition assessment stages are not complete and any non-conforming elements corrected and accepted by the certification body. 

UKAS have stated clearly that any organisation not completing all the stages by 14 September 2018 will automatically be de-registered.   There can be no extension and no grace period will be permitted.

Organisations not meeting the deadline will lose their certification and will have to make a fresh application for assessment and certification; this will take a considerable time to achieve and of course there would be a break in certification.  Organisations that need ISO9001 and/or ISO14001 as a prerequisite for tenders or contracts may find that business is lost.

Organisations holding the Aerospace Standards, AS 9100, AS 9110 and AS 9120 will also need to transition to the latest Standards, but these were published at the end of 2016.  Sadly the drop dead date for these Standards has been aligned with the ISO Standards and will require all the transition to be completed in under two years for 14 September 2018.  In addition, no assessment or surveillance may be carried out to the old Standards after June 2017.

We all have a busy time ahead.

Monday, 3 April 2017

ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Standard

Back in June 2015 we advised readers that the replacement for OHSAS 18001 had been refused at the final draft stage; there were some 3000 comments raised and this meant that it was not possible for the Standard to proceed in that format.  It was back to the drawing board.

We now understand that a rewrite of the Standard has taken plane and we are awaiting release of the final draft again.  If it is accepted by all signatories then it will be published towards the end of 2017.  Some optimists think it may be as early as September 2017.

The Standard will follow the Annex SL format with ten sections:

  1. Scope
  2. Normative references
  3.  Terms and definitions
  4. Context of the Organisation
  5. Leadership
  6. Planning
  7. Support
  8. Operation
  9. Performance Evaluation
  10. Improvement
Naturally there will be sub-sections to suit the new  Standard.

We will of course keep you posted.

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