Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Claritas Solutions coding advice – tips for Junior Developers

Starting a career in coding can come at a young age for some whilst for others it can be a change in career that happens further into their professional working life. If you’re looking to become a Junior Developer there is valuable advice available online to help prepare you for the role.

At Claritas, we have developers at different levels working on clients of varying sizes and industries. James Cooke is one of them and we recently caught up with our junior developer to talk coding.

James Cooke – Junior Developer

When did you first become interested in coding?

When I worked in the private healthcare sector to get some experience to improve a medical school application, I realised that the field wasn’t actually for me. I knew I wanted a career, and not just a job, so I turned towards my life-long interest in technology for inspiration. My role as a care assistant saw me working in a rapidly changing environment.
One of my frustrations was that a solution to a problem one day may be completely ineffective the next day. This is when I realised that coding could be appealing as this issue doesn’t really occur (at least at a basic level), so I took a look online to see what coding was all about and have a go at it myself. That’s when I got hooked, and enrolled on a 1 year Master’s Degree in Computing (after doing a 3yr Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Science!).

What is your career background?

My career is still in its infancy, but I have worked for 2 large multinational corporations as a junior developer prior to my position at Claritas. My initial placement was only for a very short time, but involved enhancing a system that supported the processes around organising and supporting clinical trials. I got this job right off the back of my Master’s Degree. In my second role, I took on a variety of tasks to enhance a long standing pensions administration system, whether it be everyday bug fixes, developing reports, or the addition of new/client-specific functionality.

What is your role at Claritas?

As a Junior Developer, my job is to help the development team develop software solutions as per client requirements. Typically, developers with less experience handle the development of the simpler tasks, whilst the more difficult tasks are handled by senior developers, with anything in between being handled by both. At Claritas however, any developer can take on any piece of work, simple or complex. As a junior, one day I could be adding some text and a button to a form, and the next day be making changes to complex algorithms that affect the core business logic of an application. The more difficult tasks do require more time and guidance to complete to the high standards we work to, but this type of development poses the best opportunity to learn and enhance my skillset, which in the long run is the best thing for both me and the business.

What do you enjoy about coding?

Developing software that other people are going to use to increase productivity, or to streamline a process is quite rewarding. This may sound boring when summed up in a generic manner like this, but when this concept is applied to the real world, it can mean patients can get access to the medical equipment they need faster, or police can collaborate more effectively to catch criminals sooner. That’s something to be proud of, and that’s just in my line of work at the moment. When you consider other fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Computer Aided Design, Simulation, Banking, Embedded Systems, Gaming, Music… there are endless opportunities to explore.

I also like the detective style work that is coupled with software development. At some stage something goes wrong, and I’ll have to figure out what’s gone wrong and try to fix it. Sometimes it can take minutes, sometimes it can take days! But when I’ve solved the puzzle it’s a great feeling. So many times I’ve gone home thinking I’ll never be able to solve the problem I encountered that day, but the day (or few days) after I always figure it out and I surprise myself.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking about a career in coding?

Try at it out and see what you think. There are so many online resources to look at, for people who have never written a line of code, right through to content relevant to industry experts. If you try coding and get excited about what you could build if you got better, then I’d say go for it. If I’d have known what is was like sooner, I would have started sooner. It can seem quite intimidating thinking about it at first, but when you try it you soon get into the swing of things. It’s not the wizardry and witchcraft you might think it is where you have to make sense of a computer screen packed full of rainbow coloured numbers and symbols that look like digital hieroglyphics, nor do you have to be a whizz at maths. There’s plenty of scope for the more creative person to get involved as well. Coding isn’t exclusive to a certain type or group of people, and it can be quite fun when coding with other people of a similar mind-set too.
If you enjoy logical thinking and solving lots of simple problems to solve a big problem, try your hand at coding.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I never had any exposure to coding when I was young. It was always portrayed by my friends as being boring, and dull, that only introverted types like to do. Hearing this put me off from the start (as well as not having the opportunity to learn it at school), but it simply isn’t true. My advice is to try it for yourself so you can make your own judgement what it’s like (don’t even rely on what your close friends say). As a software developer I’ve learnt loads of new skills, and met some great people. I’m constantly in collaboration with members of my own team as well as other teams. It’s actually a very sociable job, and one that is in high demand so you’ll never be out of work. It ticks a lot of boxes!

I really like this video. It’s very inspiring and it’s one I watched when I was thinking about becoming a software developer -

We’re always keen to hear from budding coders so why not connect with us on social media? We’re posting about I.T. and tech news, cybersecurity, best practice and a whole host of other topics.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

What world-class digital connectivity would mean for Britain

When you think of Britain you think of a country which, for the most part, is technologically savvy. After all, some of the world’s biggest tech companies have major offices here and London is often seen as a European hub for tech talent.

Like every nation however, the UK has areas to improve on. Although it’s within reason to say that when it comes to the digital side of things we’re okay, good even, there are certainly those who are better, and in fact, we are lagging behind many other countries.

‘OK’ or ‘good’ may be the problem. If Britain’s digital economy had a school report, it would read “good but could do better” or “room for improvement”. That’s according to industry body, techUK, which has explained that Britain’s digital infrastructure is ‘good’ but not ‘great’.

When assessing the fastest internet speeds by country, the UK doesn’t even make the top 20, sitting in a not so flattering 23rd position. Once again, highlighting the fact there is certainly room for improvement.

London particularly suffers from sub-standard broadband and 4G speeds which are threatening its success and international competitiveness, a London Assembly Regeneration Committee investigation concluded.

The UK’s mediocre capabilities for digital connectivity could be detrimental in years to come, which is why ministers have been encouraged to work more closely with the industry, local authorities and Ofcom to deliver "world-class digital connectivity".

Digital connectivity has been referred to as Great Britain’s 4th utility, however we are often cited as being behind when it comes to broadband and mobile network coverage. The Government has set out a strategy which plans to combat the shortfall in national connectivity, build world-class digital infrastructure for the UK, and make the UK one of the world’s digital leaders by 2020.

Julian David, Chief Executive of techUK, explained: "As the UK looks to reposition itself as Global Britain, improving digital infrastructure will incentivise the investment and innovation necessary to raise productivity and deliver economic growth for the whole country."

What impact would this have?

  • If improvements are not made to connectivity, it is believed to be a deal-breaker for some companies who may potentially plough resources into the UK in a post-Brexit world
  • According to techUK, world class connectivity underpins the transformation of almost every sector of the UK economy, from policing and farming to businesses engaged in "advanced and multinational manufacturing value chains"
  • The change would bring about a more dynamic environment for ultrafast broadband and wireless networks
  • The embracing of advancements in connectivity would prepare Britain for more advanced technology as we move into a new decade, throughout 2020 and onward.

At Claritas, we know the need for higher levels and greater speed of connectivity and how Britain would benefit from making these significant steps forward. The country needs to make substantial improvements as the future of many British businesses is currently under threat. The Government’s plans for 5G and digital infrastructure improvements by 2020 can’t come soon enough.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and what it means for businesses

GDPR has featured heavily in the news recently, and it’s a subject businesses of all sizes should know about. Cybersecurity and data protection are key to our business so we are keen to know how the GDPR directive will affect us and when we need to start taking action. Therefore, we thought it would be fitting to provide a quick, digestible guide on the basics of General Data Protection Regulation and what it means for UK companies.

What is GDPR?

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new bill which comes into force on May 25, 2018.

It’s an update to data protection laws and will take over from the Data Protection Act (1998) taking into account the new ways in which data is now used.

The new bill will introduce tougher fines for non-compliance and breaches, whilst giving people more say over what businesses can do with their data. It also brings data protection in-line with other countries throughout the EU. The excellent IT Pro has published a lengthy article on the extensive ins and outs of GDPR which you can read here.

Should businesses be panicking?

The Information Commissioner’s Office hasn’t published final guidance for GDPR yet but their website does have some useful information including an interactive checklist and 12 steps to take now.

It’s not too early to start preparing as there are going to be some significant changes to the law. The new regulations must be adhered to, starting in May next year, therefore businesses should now be putting plans in place and changing their practices to ensure they stick to the new data protection rules. Firms should be speaking internally now to ensure they have a concrete plan in place as well as deciding on responsibilities for a smooth transition.

Companies must be in the know, ensuring they understand the complexities of the regulations and have enough time to roll out strategy which gives each department time secure full compliance. The good news is there is still time.

What effect will it have?

The GDPR will bring about increased expectations of data privacy and will mean all organisations must commit to a common cybersecurity best practice. A business will receive a considerable fine if they don’t comply with the new regulations, therefore the GDPR should, in some way, change the way a business is run - even if this only results in small changes.

Some companies may need to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) to own the process and prevent the chance of a breach. Public authorities and organisations whose ‘core activities’ call for either ‘regular and systematic monitoring of data subjects on a large scale’ or ‘processing on a large scale of special categories of data’ must appoint a DPO as a mandate.

The International Association of Privacy Professionals estimates that this will result in the appointment of as many as 28,000 data protection officers (DPOs) in Europe and the US.

The GDPR could impact a company’s operations in a number of ways too - for ten operational impacts of the GDPR visit IAPP’s link here.

All the information available points to a consistent conclusion. It’s time companies take action and ensure they’re prepared.

We hope this article has alerted you to the basics, however, please note that when it comes to legal matters it’s important that you consult a qualified legal counsel. We’d recommend you read about the subject in more detail for you and your company and contact a professional. There’s plenty of time to do so if you act soon!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Encryption (Part 2)

In the first part of our series we spoke about the history of encryption and why right now, it’s such a big talking point globally. You can read about encryption’s origins in part one of our series here.

Today we move on to talk about the importance of encryption to businesses around the world, why it’s also important in your personal life and finally ask whether encryption is helping to make the internet a safer place.

Why is everyone talking about encryption?

The breakable, unbreakable debate has been a hot topic for some time when talking about encryption. The way that some tech companies implement encryption means that no-one apart from the sender and the recipient can read the messages. Whilst this undoubtedly assists with data security there is a genuine problem with this when it comes to law enforcement as the police and intelligence agencies cannot get access to all the information they need. This makes it easier for criminals and terrorists to plan and communicate securely.

So the question of whether encryption should be breakable or not continues to be a discussion point.

Encryption is Important to your Business

Without encryption, you are offering people easy access to your data. Whether it’s used to protect your email communication or stored data, some form of encryption should be included within your company’s security tools for precautionary measures.

Adopting an email encryption application is a good first step to protecting your company’s digital safety and privacy. Traditionally, emails are sent in plain text through the internet and local networks which means they can be intercepted by hackers who want to know their content. Email encryption applications attempt to stop hackers spying on your messages and can be an effective way of protecting sensitive business information.

Hard drives, internet traffic, cloud storage, software and USB drives can all be encrypted. However, despite sophisticated encryption, human error, insider attacks and poor implementations are challenges that I.T. teams have to overcome to ensure a company’s data is safe.

End-to-end encryption is the best defence available to keep the data and services we all rely on safe from misuse. From storing data on the cloud to online banking to identity verification, end-to-end encryption is essential for preventing data being accessed illegally in ways that can harm consumers and business.

Encryption is Important in your Personal Life

In a world where everybody, from the government to email providers, is threatening your privacy, encryption has become a necessity. Your personal information can be used to steal your identity, threaten your reputation, and undermine your professional life.

It is not only cyber criminals you need to be aware of, both the government and your email provider may also have access to your communications. Many email service providers routinely obtain data from users’ emails. Data is more frequently used for advertising purposes rather than cybercrime, however it is still an intrusion of your privacy. Email encryption software can help with this.

Encryption keeps us safe in many ways: it keeps your financial transactions secret as they travel across the internet; it keeps your personal details personal and your unwise selfies safe from prying eyes. Without email encryption software, all your private messages are an open book. Encryption allows you to communicate privately when you need it.

The Whatsapp Debate

A big encryption talking point this year has been popular messaging app Whatsapp’s policy on end-to-end encryption. The company states that “privacy and security is in our DNA” but has come under scrutiny recently from Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, who has called for its content to be made accessible to intelligence services to aid the war on terror.

Whatsapp allows contacts to send photos, messages and videos without the worry of anyone accessing the material. Naturally, this poses problems when it comes to users breaking the law and worse, terrorism.

Companies like WhatsApp and Apple, which are using end-to-end encryption, do not currently have the ability to read customers' messages at all. To allow police access to those messages, those companies would have to change the way they use encryption, and they would then be able to decode every message. That makes people using these services less secure than they were before.

However, if tech companies weaken security and allow their government access to apps, they also make it easier for other organisations to gain access.

Another consideration is that other countries may not adopt the same principles meaning that criminals and terrorists will simply move to other encrypted apps based in other countries which will allow them to continue communicating privately.

Robert Hannigan, former Head of GCHQ, warned that "building back doors" in encryption systems was "a threat to everybody" and suggested that the government and private companies work more closely together to tackle the problem.

It still remains to be seen whether WhatsApp and others companies like it will eventually make their information available to intelligence services after mounting pressure for a safer world.

Is the Web is getting Safer?

Web encryption has been around for years. The original HTTPS protocol was released in 1995 and was known as Secure Socket Layer, or SSL. It enabled companies to handle credit card transactions online by protecting payment details and ensuring that online merchants were who they said they were. Transport Layer Security (TLS) replaced SSL and is now widely used outside of credit card payments.

The volume of encrypted internet traffic is now greater than unencrypted traffic. Encrypted sites have a little green lock right next to the web address that indicates that the page you visited came to you via HTTPS, the web's secure protocol, rather than HTTP. Many big companies such as Facebook, Google and Wikipedia have all switched to HTTPS.

HTTPS is so sophisticated now however, that hackers have moved their attention away from trying to hack into data in transit instead are targeting the data at source or via the end user. So whilst HTTPS may prevent cybercriminals accessing your data online, they are constantly coming up with new ways to obtain what they want.

We hope you’ve found this blog useful. For more information about encryption tools or to discuss other I.T. security concerns, please contact us on or 08456 399 661

Friday, 14 July 2017

Some advice for young people from young people – #WYSD2017 #skillsforall

Did you know, according to recent statistics young people are almost three-times more likely to be unemployed than adults?

July 15th is World Youth Skills day, an initiative set up by WorldSkills and the United Nations to champion education and training for young people with the aim of improving their life prospects.

We thought we’d take this opportunity to speak to some of our younger employees to find out what skills they learnt before entering employment and those they have gained during employment to offer useful advice to other young people who might be considering a career in I.T.

Josh Scaife, Technical Trainee – 2.5yrs at Claritas Solutions

What do you see as the most valuable skills to gain if you are thinking about a career in I.T. and why?

I think one of the most important things you need to decide is if you would like to go down Software or the Hardware path before you begin your training.

Ultimately, I would say the best skill of all would be team work and also being able to think outside of the box to help you solve any problems that occur. If you can learn these skills it will stand you in good stead for a career in I.T.

Which skills that you have learnt, either before you started work or in your job, do you find the most useful and why?

I learnt how to build a PC and install operating systems when I was quite young, which is definitely a good place to start. Throughout my job so far I’ve learnt a lot about virtualization, networking and how applications are configured in a business environment. All of these skills are valuable for anyone thinking about a job in I.T.

Is there any other advice you would offer young people looking to gain I.T. skills?

I would probably start with building a PC and getting to know what everything does like a CPU, GPU, PSU, Motherboard etc.

I would also do your research about what career path you would like to take in I.T. as there are so many out there.

Matthew Pateman, 1st Line Technical Consultant – 3 months at Claritas Solutions

What do you see as the most valuable skills to gain if you are thinking about a career in I.T. and why?

I would say that the most valuable skills are being willing and eager to learn, not being afraid of making mistakes and being comfortable asking for help. I don’t have a particularly technical background so when I started I was learning almost everything on the job, which would have been a lot more difficult had I not asked for help or not done anything because I was scared of making mistakes.

Which skills that you have learnt, either before you started work or in your job, do you find the most useful and why?

Aside from all the technical knowledge, organisation and communication skills are the most useful. Having these skills allows me to talk with clients, vendors and my colleagues to get any issues our clients are having resolved as quickly as possible. That doesn’t just apply to my role, these skills are useful for any role.

Is there any other advice you would offer young people looking to gain I.T. skills?

Don’t be intimidated by tasks that may look complicated. If you try and push yourself out of your comfort zone you’ll soon realise that most of it isn’t unachievable and before you know it you’ll be able to do all of the things that seemed impossible just a short time ago. Finding a company that supports you and offers you the opportunity to learn and train also helps this process.

Joseph Shelswell, 2nd line technical consultant – 2 years at Claritas Solutions

What do you see as the most valuable skills to gain if you are thinking about a career in I.T. and why?

Communication is the most valuable skill to learn before starting a career in I.T. It makes every aspect of the role easier.

Which skills that you have learnt, either before you started work or in your job, do you find the most useful and why?

I’ve learnt to plan things before jumping straight in. Make sure you know exactly what the task in hand is and how you’re going to tackle it. I learnt this the hard way as in the past I’ve broken things before by not planning fully!

Is there any other advice you would offer young people looking to gain I.T. skills?

Never be shy to learn new things when you get the chance, this is an exciting industry which offers you the opportunity to expand your knowledge across a whole range of different skills.

Shaun Greatbatch, 1st Line Technical Consultant – 2.5 Years at Claritas Solutions

What do you see as the most valuable skills to gain if you are thinking about a career in I.T. and why?

Patience and communication skills as a lot of people you deal with in I.T. aren’t I.T. literate and you need to have the ability to speak to them in a way that they will understand.
Also, a logical mind-set is essential to be able to work backwards from the fault to work out what is causing the issue. Developing your problem-solving skills can be a fun way to learn this valuable skill.

Which skills that you have learnt, either before you started work or in your job, do you find the most useful and why?

Networking, hardware and Windows OS as these are things we commonly deal with on 1st line. I have also learnt a lot of more in-depth networking and Linux skills since working at Claritas.

Is there any other advice you would offer young people looking to gain IT skills?

Put the time and effort in… buy a book on the subject you want to learn and actually do it! The only thing stopping you is yourself!

We hope that this has given you an idea about which skills you may want to start developing as you start on your path to a career in I.T.

If you have any questions or you would like any further advice, please feel free to contact us here:

Follow our social channels for up to date content and tips from the world of I.T.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Encryption: Part 1

Encryption is a hot topic in the media and amongst politicians at the moment; in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Britain and a European Parliament committee’s proposal to enforce encryption across all digital communication.

But what is encryption and why is it important in both your private and professional life? Claritas has pulled together a two-part blog series which will give you an overview of everything you need to know about encryption - from how it all started, to practical advice to ensure your information is protected.

What is Encryption?

Basically, encryption is a system that encodes a message or file so that it can only be read by certain people. Data is scrambled using a programme called an algorithm. A cryptographic key is applied and works like a password to protect the file. Once the data is encrypted, it looks like nonsense to anyone trying to access it! The only way to read it is by using the cryptographic key to decrypt, or unscramble, the data.

Encryption is used on many portals and websites for everything from protecting your emails from hackers, to guarding top secret government documents. Encryption is considered by many to be the only technology that can make the internet truly secure.

The History of Encryption

Although mechanical encryption is a modern invention, decoding messages goes back thousands of years. Many cultures used different methods to disguise their messages throughout history. As early as 1900 B.C., Egyptians used coded hieroglyphics to disguise their messages. The Hebrews and Greeks also had their own methods of cryptography.

Early mechanical encryption was introduced hundreds of years later, in 1455, by Leon Battista Alberti in the form of a polyalphabetic cipher machine. In short, these machines used a series of disks, each featuring letters of the alphabet, to create coded messages.

The Enigma machine, used by Nazi Germany is the most famous cipher machine of all time and was used to encrypt communication during World War II. The Allies managed to break Enigma which allowed them to listen in on communications, and outmanoeuvre them.

Modern Day Encryption

Encryption comes in many forms, with key size and strength generally being the biggest differences from one variety to the next. The original Data Encryption Standard (DES) algorithm, developed in the early 1970s, was cracked by hackers with relative ease. Following that, The National Institute of Standards and Technology held a competition in 1997 for a new cipher. They wanted an algorithm that was easy to implement, and resistant to both brute force attacks and other code breaking techniques. The Rijndael algorithm won, and became the basis for the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). AES is still used today for many things including business records and top secret government data.

There are other widely used algorithms such as RSA, Triple DES and Twofish, all which have their own benefits but as cyber-attacks are constantly evolving, security specialists are continually having to develop new ways to keep data safe.

Why has encryption been in the news recently?

A European Parliament committee is proposing that end-to-end encryption be enforced on all forms of digital communication to protect sensitive personal data from hacking and government surveillance. The committee believes that EU citizens are entitled to personal privacy and this includes online communications.

This contradicts the UK Conservative Party’s recent election campaign that included a statement that tech firms should provide the authorities "access to information as required" to help combat online radicalisation. That has led to some confusion among tech industry leaders as to whether the government wants some kind of "backdoor", a way to have end-to-end encryption disabled in specific cases. Many consider that this would be worse for computer security and citizen’s rights to personal privacy.

It's a debate that is sure to rage on between all parties interested, and will continue to occupy news slots for the coming months. In part two of our encryption series we look at why encryption is important for your business and also why the internet is actually getting safer. Don’t miss it.

If you want to keep up with the latest news in I.T. why not follow our social media channels:

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Women in I.T. – why you should embrace I.T. when it finds you

Last week we discussed why now is the right time for women in I.T. We considered statistics from a recent report and talked with two of our leading I.T. ladies at Claritas - to dispel preconceived myths and motivate other women to consider a career in the industry.

Today, in part 2 of our series, we explore the management side of the business. Speaking with our Finance Director and Sales Manager, we discuss why I.T. is an exciting and fulfilling career for those who work in the industry but are not programmers or developers, arriving at the conclusion that when I.T. finds you, you should embrace the opportunity.

Kirsty Sutton, Finance Director, 12 years in I.T.

Could you give me a brief summary of your role at Claritas?

I’ve worked in I.T. for 12 years and at Claritas for 3.5 years. I’m responsible for the day to day running of the financial operations of the company, including accounts preparation, cash flow, payroll, operations, customer and supplier relationships to mention a few.

What made you decide to go into I.T.?

I was given the opportunity to move out of practice into industry, working for a company I had been involved with for their audits. This was 12 years ago and they just happened to be in I.T., and I’ve never looked back.

What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

I enjoy the fast moving industry where there is always something new to learn and/or develop.

What would you say to encourage more women to go into I.T. as their chosen career path? / Do you have any advice to give other women looking at a similar career?

I just happened into I.T. by chance but I’d say that once you’re in the industry you really learn so much. It’s a fascinating job and one with plenty of career development opportunities.

Andrea Olsen, Sales Manager, 18 months in I.T.

Andrea has been with Claritas Solutions for 18 months managing the sales and account management team to bring in new business and maintain solid relationships with existing clients.

What made you decide to go into I.T.?

I.T. found me! I previously worked in the healthcare sector for 10 years and needed a new challenge.

What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

Being part of a team that provides solutions to varied and interesting organisations from SME’s to some of the largest National enterprises and even government sectors. I.T. is at the heart of every organisation so I enjoy assisting Claritas in being an integral part of the company’s I.T. team. The nature of the job requires keeping up to date with emerging technologies and I enjoy being at the forefront of the latest developments. I also enjoy being exposed to so many different industries. It makes my position varied and interesting.

Do you have any advice for other women looking at a similar career?

Don’t be intimidated by the I.T. industry being dominated by males or be under the false impression that it is dull. Being at the forefront of technology is far from it! Also in an era when cybersecurity is becoming more of a threat to us all every day, being part of an industry that is constantly developing new ways to prevent this is both challenging and rewarding.

A big thanks to the Claritas ladies who have contributed to our posts and provided us with insight into the industry for women.

Something to consider is the findings of the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study Benchmarking Workforce Capacity and Response to Cyber Risk. The report recently forecast that the industry is on pace to reach a cybersecurity workforce gap of 1.8 million by 2022, a 20% increase over the forecast made in 2015.

In light of this news, it’s clear that it’s now more crucial than ever that I.T. draws in the brightest brains and we want to encourage more women to take on this challenge. Moving into the industry could just be the next step in your career.

Need more advice? Talk to us on social media.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Why now is the right time for Women in I.T.

News in recent weeks has put women in the spotlight when it comes to the I.T. industry. Assessing the space in a recent survey, KPMG & Harvey Nash stated that still only 10% of the I.T. workforce globally are women. But times could well be changing.

Some countries are undoubtedly outperforming others in this area, for example, in the UK the figure is just over 20%. Additionally, in 2016, more female CIOs received a pay rise than their male counterparts - a first for the industry and a significant indicator of a positive future to come.

The recent survey found this result reflected in not just one area, but appeared to be the case across many sectors, including financial services/banking and business/professional services.

The I.T. and tech industries respectively have, in the past, been seen as a very male dominated space. We know this to be different at Claritas and the truth appears to be finally coming out - there are fantastic women in I.T., have been for some time, and will be more and more moving forward. We as a company want to encourage more women to enter the industry and we want to dispel any preconceived notions.

So, let’s talk to some of them. This week and next we’ll be speaking with the ladies of Claritas both development and management side, discussing the reasons why now is a great time to work in the industry.

Jackline M'Arimi, Software Developer, 7 years in I.T.

What made you decide to go into I.T.?

Technology seemed to be the way forward for most industries, at the time when I was making my University major choices, most companies were starting to integrate their business processes with new automated technology. Software was the one commonality in all systems. This sparked an interest in knowing how to program a system to perform actions and an interest in seeing an idea translated into a working system.

What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

The potential to keep learning new technologies and possibility to work within different industries made I.T. one of the best career decisions yet. I mean you could be working in I.T. within government, health, gas & oil, environment - the possibilities are endless.

What would you say to encourage more women to go into I.T. as their chosen career path? Do you have any advice to give other women looking at a similar career?

I.T. is not scary, it’s one career that has potential to progress in numerous paths. Yes, most of what people hear is that I.T. is all software programming, hardware assembly or helpdesk, but there is much more to I.T. we have tester, project managers and business analysts who all work within I.T.

Vaishali Pant, Application Test Analyst, 16 years in I.T.

What is your role at Claritas?

I have worked in I.T. for more than 16 years, starting with academics and later, moving to Software Testing.

I have been with Claritas since August 2010. I deal with all kinds of software testing. I work alongside developers to make sure that we deliver a bug free application to our clients. My role includes creating various test documents for clients and making sure what we deliver is bug free and coherent with the specification. I suspect developers may not like me at times because I am constantly trying to break the software which they’ve created!

What made you decide to go into I.T.? What do you enjoy about working in I.T.?

I always found computers interesting in college and I was lucky to get an opportunity to teach computers straight after. Later on, I decided to move on to Software Testing and I am still enjoying it very much. I have an eye for the detail and aesthetics and I think that’s the key for testing.

Do you have any advice to give other women looking at a similar career?

My advice to other women looking for a similar career would be that if you have flair and an attention to detail then it is a great career for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions, so you know the application inside out, and that’s the only way you can test it correctly. Look out for simple mistakes, developers usually focus on big issues and forget to fix the little ones!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Be yourself, be confident! One of my favourite quotes is just right to sum it up:

Be seen, be heard and be memorable in a way you can advance not just your career but the careers of the women around you.
Erin Sweeney

A great way to finish off the first instalment of our Women in I.T. series.
We’ll be back with the second instalment, discussing Sales and Financial Management in I.T.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Child safety week: Keep your child safe on the internet

The internet is an incredible resource for children, allowing them to connect, communicate, research and be creative in many ways. However children need guidance and protection when it comes to using the internet to ensure they are using it safely, legally and appropriately.

In an age where children have access to an endless number of apps and websites, it is imperative that parents teach their children how to make suitable use of the internet and avoid its potential dangers.

Claritas Solutions has 20 years’ experience in I.T. and cyber security solutions so has used its expertise to pull together these tips to help keep your children safe online:

Monitor children’s online activities

There are a number of ways parents can help protect their children online, including using parental controls with filters that can block certain sites and content. Software is also available that can highlight what websites your children are visiting. We strongly advise using these tools. You can get more information about setting up controls on different devices from the UK Safer Internet Centre and mobile providers.

Set up request games and contacts features

Adjust the setting on your child’s devices to ensure they cannot access apps and games without your permission. This can help you control the safety of your child’s activities, it can determine whether the material is age appropriate whilst also keeping you up to date with any service, email, game or website they are intending to use.

Turn off app installation and purchasing on devices

Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by advertising and marketing schemes, which can also mean inadvertently spending money online. Our advice is to passcode protect the Installing Apps function on smartphones and tablets and restrict in-app purchases.

Check age restrictions

Familiarise yourself with the age ratings for games and apps as they can help to indicate the level and suitability of the content. Age restrictions have been set on various games, websites and social media channels for a reason. We advise that age guidelines are followed. In addition, online reviews from other parents may be helpful, if available.

Teach your child to be careful who they trust online

When your child is ready for social media make sure that only friends can see their profiles, and explain the risks of engaging with people they don’t know. Children should be taught that people who want to be their friend or follow them online may not be who they seem to be, and may present a danger. Children should be encouraged to chat online to real world friends and family only. Regularly reviewing lists of friends and removing unwanted contacts is a useful step.

Restrict the hours that children can use the internet

By limiting the time children spend online you can make sure you are around to monitor their usage. This also has the added benefit that it is healthier to restrict how much time children spend looking at screens.

Discuss the limits of sharing personal information

It is important that children are aware that many websites and apps allow anybody to access the information that they have posted. Children should be taught that when using the internet, it is important to keep personal information safe and not share it with strangers. That includes anything that identifies the child, the family, the school, telephone numbers, address, birthdays and family photos. Turning off the camera in games that are accessed over the internet is also advisable.

Keep the lines of communication open

Talk to your child about what they’re doing online and discuss the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages, images and behaviours. Encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone is pestering or bullying them online to enable you to intervene as quickly as possible. Parents should inform the police and the child’s school if any inappropriate activity is suspected.

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Thursday, 25 May 2017

How robust is your Disaster Recovery strategy?

How robust is your Disaster Recovery strategy?

With the recent Ransomware attacks on the NHS and 150 organisations worldwide, how confident are you that your business will bounce back in the event of a cyber-attack or lost data? Do you have a solid Disaster Recovery (DR) strategy in place or could you benefit from tailored help?

In a recent survey of 6,000 IT professionals by the Ponemon Institute, 86% claimed their company had one or more incidents causing downtime in the past 12 months. Typical downtime was 2.2 days costing an average of $366,363. And it’s not just the cost, significant damage to reputation is also a major cause of concern. It’s no wonder 81% of smaller businesses suffering such an attack close their doors within three years.

Businesses of all sizes are increasingly reliant on the data stored on their servers. 1 in 5 UK businesses has been hit by cyber-attack, a recent survey by The British Chamber of Commerce has revealed. Loss or corruption of business data can also occur from a number of other reasons including failure or damage to hardware or human error. Having a solid and reliable Disaster Recovery plan in place and ready to go the moment disaster strikes is your best defence mechanism.

Disaster Recovery planning is now more important than ever and presents a challenge for many organisations. The substantial cost, required preparation and question marks over accountability are some of the reasons why a DR strategy is often neglected by businesses. All businesses need a robust response plan in place to ensure business operations are not severely impacted if disaster strikes. Without one it could jeopardise your company’s I.T. infrastructure and incur costly downtime. It’s time to stop putting it off and take action!

Claritas Solutions has pulled together ten important steps to effective Data Recovery to help your business prepare for the worst:

  1. Get planning.In the event of an attack, the key to getting your business back up and running as quickly as possible, is a sound recovery plan. Your Disaster Recovery plan should outline your company’s critical data and applications, how your data would be recovered and the recovery time
  2. Back-up your files.It is imperative your business takes time to regularly back up all files whether this is an hourly, daily or weekly basis
  3. Make copies.We recommend multiple copies of your critical data. To truly have DR and data protection, you need to make sure that the replicated copies of data reside at a different geographical location from the production data to protect against scenarios such as power outages and natural disasters
  4. Consider secure UK cloud hosting.Storing your data off premise in a highly secure environment gives you the assurance that your data is in the safest place possible if disaster strikes. The cloud allows flexibility in the amount of data you can back up and is cost effective as you do not have to buy large pieces of hardware, you just pay for the cloud storage you require at that time. Claritas’ UK cloud guarantees 100% uptime and that your data will not leave the country, is controlled by you and can only be accessed by you
  5. Clarify your Recovery Point Objective (RPO).The RPO refers to how often the system is taking a backup of the data. This is important as the RPO represents the amount of data that could potentially be lost as a result of a cyber-attack. For example, an RPO of 8 hours would backup three times a day. In the event of cyber-attack your business could potentially lose the last 8 hours’ worth of data
  6. Define your Recovery Time Objective (RTO).This refers to the amount of time it takes to recover data following a disruption. For businesses using tapes, RTOs can be in days or even weeks depending on the logistics of locating and rebuilding the tapes. The RTO refers to the amount of time it takes before users can access and use their systems and applications following a disruption. This needs to be defined within your DR plan
  7. Disaster Recovery Testing.You should make time to regularly check that your company’s DR plan is up to date and working effectively. Testing enables your business to prepare for the worst case scenario and helps employees know exactly how to react
  8. Move quickly.If you haven’t already got a DR plan in place, act now! You don’t have to do it all at once but make a start as soon as you can as you never know when disaster could strike! The cloud has really become a great way to implement quick, efficient, and reliable DR and data protection for your applications. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions can be implemented quickly and you can start with your most critical applications and data and add to it over time
  9. Call the experts.Disaster recovery can be a successful, reliable and less painful process if you incorporate an expert I.T. company such as Claritas Solutions. We can help you manage your DR from applying the right policies and determining effective UK based back-up locations right through to monitoring and alerting you to potential issues
  10. Contact Claritas Solutions today! To help protect your organisation against error, failure or breach call us on 08456 399 661 or email us at

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Ransomware: Act Now or Pay Later

Ransomware: Act Now or Pay Later

Almost half of UK companies have been hit by Ransomware in the past year. You could be next! How can you prevent your company from being the cybercriminals’ next victim?

For over 30 years, Ransomware has been an increasing problem for organisations worldwide. Cybercriminals are not discriminatory, everyone is vulnerable. Hackers want to target as many people as possible to obtain the highest profit.
Ransomware attacks are on the rise, with over 50 known strains in circulation. Businesses are particularly vulnerable as they are likely to pay to retrieve sensitive data and ensure business continuity.

If an organisation is infected by Ransomware, critical data could be compromised, systems knocked offline and an organisation’s existence put at risk. Paying a ransom fee doesn’t guarantee that an organisation will get its data back. Prevention is essential.

What is Ransomware and what types are out there?

Ransomware is malicious software that takes control of a user’s computer and encrypts the data on it, rendering it inaccessible. Cybercriminals then demand a payment in exchange for handing over a decryption key to restore the data.

Types of Ransomware:

Encryption - personal files are encrypted and deleted

Lock Screen - locks the computer screen and demands payment

Master Boot Record (MBR) - changes the computers MBR so that the normal boot process is interrupted and a ransom demand displayed in its place

Ransomware encrypting web servers - encrypts files on the webserver via vulnerabilities in CMS

Mobile Device Ransomware - infects mobiles through downloads and fake Apps

Steps you can take to protect yourself
  1. Back up your files. We recommend you make two copies of essential data; one on an external device and one in the cloud. Once Ransomware worms have infiltrated your system there is little you can do, unless you have a back-up of your data. So backing up is the most essential step to mitigating the risk of Ransomware
  2. There are technologies that will protect you. A comprehensive, up-to-date, security solution will help protect you from a variety of malware types and attack vectors

To pay or not to pay?

In reality, if you back up your files, you don’t need to pay.

Paying the ransom fee will not necessarily resolve the problem or ensure data is safely returned. In addition, the more successful the Ransomware is in obtaining large sums of money, the longer cybercriminals will use this sort of activity to exploit businesses.

And it’s not just the cost of paying the ransom. There are other detrimental costs to the business of a Ransomware attack: loss of reputation, disruption to the business, lost days’ work, substantial man hours to restore lost data. The list is endless.

Claritas Solutions has everything you need to protect your company. Call Andrea Olsen on 08456 399 661 or email for more information. 

Alternatively, visit to request more information.