January 2019 Newsletter
newsletter

Learning from Facebook’s Mistakes

It’s fair to say that Facebook has been having a bit of a rough year.

Unless you’re a conspiracy theorist convinced otherwise, it has largely been both carelessness and insufficient security systems that have led to these embarrassing moments for the world’s largest social media platform. In many cases, it is likely that the sheer size of Facebook makes it difficult to track and defend against those trying to take advantage of it.

Cambridge Analytica

It was announced in March of 2018 that Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm that worked on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, stole the data of over 50 million users. This data was used to categorize and influence specific populations of voters. For instance, with data such as name, gender, age, occupation, place of residence, pages followed and countless other details, it is easy for data analysts to take advantage of the beliefs and political affiliations of users.

After five days of complete silence, CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, finally offered apologies and admitted that mistakes were made. Perhaps a bit of an understatement.

Taking Advantage of Bugs

In September another estimated 50 millions users had their profile compromised. It is alleged that the attackers could see everything in a victim’s profile but it is unclear whether or not private messages could be accessed, or how the data may have been misused. Unlike the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the September breach allowed for the attackers to take full control of the compromised profiles.

As opposed to the Cambridge Analytica scandal where a third-party company erroneously accessed data, the September attack was made possible by bugs in the Facebook code. In the first case, it was carelessness in regards to background checks and monitoring of third parties and in the latter instance it was an insufficient security system.

Of course being the largest social media platform in the world, with over 2.23 billion active users worldwide, makes you a very large target for opportunists and hackers, but it serves as an important lesson for any website that gathers and keeps any personal or private user data.

Lessons to Learn

So what does this matter to you? Well, it depends what you have to lose.

As an individual, the Facebook blunders should act as a cautionary tale against putting too much of yourself online, or at least too much of yourself in one specific place. For instance, on a personal account with only close friends and family, most people wouldn’t lose much if their page was hacked. Yet having an account hacked that has multiple personal and business emails, telephone numbers, credit cards and administrative access to a corporate page would be a nightmare.

As a company owner, the amount of data you keep about both the business and your clients will often dictate how attractive of a target you are to attackers. Although you obviously don’t have the amount of data at Facebook, you may keep things like credit card information, social insurance numbers, along with login names and user passwords.

Data is one of the most important aspects of any business, and it needs to be treated with due care and full protection. Don’t get caught looking like Facebook’s CEO; protect your data and make sure you can trust whoever you share data with.

Levis Media Client Spotlight: Notified Right

Helping Families During Difficult Times

Notified Right offers a service that is very close to their hearts.

Following a short battle with cancer, just months after retiring, Melissa and Michael Massing lost their Dad. Along with the terrible grief they felt following the sudden death, the family was completely overwhelmed by the staggering amount of paperwork to be done.

The bank and funeral home offered general checklists, but nothing that provided specific instructions on how to deal with the estate. Paperwork dragged on for months.

Melissa and Michael knew that there had to be a better way to help guide families during these difficult and often confusing times. They created Notified Right as a way to honour their Dad’s memory and to help alleviate some of the stress that follows the death of a loved one.

Notified Right is a database with a library of documents for over 600 Canadian organizations for families and executors to use. The database includes an organized and searchable list of government contacts, health care organizations, pension fund details, social media, banking, insurance, clubs, reward memberships and much more.

You are able to build a personalized checklist of that comes with detailed instructions, contact informations, tips, required forms and templated notification letters. Notified Right keeps you organized and all the data is in one safe location.

Check out NotifiedRight.ca to learn more.

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partners in innovation

Innovation Place: Collaboration in the Tech Industry

With Saskatoon continuing to prove itself as a hotspot for innovation in the tech sector, it’s amazing to see how the prairie mentality of helping your neighbours continues to shine through. Because of the collaborative efforts of many different organizations, institutions and successful start-ups, a vibrant community has formed in Saskatchewan’s technology sector.

One of the major organization that has facilitated the thriving growth of tech start-ups is Innovation Place, located on the University of Saskatchewan campus. Innovation Place is home to over 140 business tenants that collectively employ over 3,700 people. The tenant businesses are all “tech-focused,” a blanket term that includes things such as: software development, biotechnology, agricultural technology, mining technology, health, pharmaceuticals, and chemistry.

Collaboration between different tech companies is not only encouraged, but in many cases, needed for mutual growth. Mike Wolsfeld, Collaboration Specialist at Innovation Place, says, “We often sub-cluster similar types of tech companies so they can be accessible to each other and learn together. There is a real acceleration of growth in some cases where someone runs into a major hurdle that their neighbour already knows how to solve; so instead of working for 6 months on a problem, it can be fixed with a conversation.”

Along with providing affordable space for start-ups, Innovation Place hosts a wide variety of events, such as “Lunch and Learn” seminars, meant to benefit small businesses in the tech sector. Experts share knowledge in a variety of business development areas such as marketing, human resources, business legal and other specialized areas that these small businesses may lack the resources to hire on their own.

There is also an emphasis on networking events that have two goals in mind: creating a cohesive community, and aiding businesses in recruitment. Wolsfeld says, “Especially in the tech industry, recruitment is a big issue because most tech companies are looking to compete globally instead of locally, so they need to compete for talent on a global level. This means that they need to be able to be as attractive to potential employees as a company in Silicon Valley or New York or Toronto.”

With a thriving community focused on helping each other to be successful, Saskatoon’s tech sector will continue to expand and attract new people and ideas to the province of Saskatchewan. To find events that are open to individuals and businesses outside of Innovation Place, check out their website: innovationplace.com/thescene and also co-labs.ca.

THANKS FOR READING

This is our first newsletter and we hope to keep making it grow over time! Our goal is to create a useful hub of information for businesses and individuals interested in tech, marketing and new innovations in digital media.

With that in mind, do you have something you'd like to know about? A story you can contribute? Are you up to something that you'd like to highlight to our clientele and contacts? Get in touch! 

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