8 Ways to Improve The Carbon Footprint of Your Business Using IT

In an era where the call for environmental stewardship is louder than ever, businesses across the globe are seeking better ways to lessen their carbon footprint. Integrating green tech solutions and eco-friendly IT practices not only contributes to a healthier planet but also enhances brand reputation and can lower your costs, a win-win for the planet and your business.

Here are eight actionable strategies for leveraging sustainability technology to make your business more environmentally friendly.

1. Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has revolutionised the way businesses operate, offering a greener alternative to traditional on-premise servers. By migrating to cloud services, companies can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions significantly. Cloud providers invest in efficient, state-of-the-art data centres that use less energy and are often powered by renewable energy sources. This shift not only decreases the carbon footprint but also optimises operational efficiency and reduces costs.

2. Virtual Meetings and Remote Work

The pandemic has already shown us the feasibility and benefits of remote work and virtual meetings. Embracing these practices long-term can drastically reduce the carbon emissions associated with business travel and commuting. Utilising video conferencing tools and promoting a remote or hybrid work model not only supports sustainability but also offers employees flexibility, potentially boosting morale and productivity. An IT support provider can help you make the transition to remote working and cloud computing a simpler and secure process for your business.

3. Implement Energy-Efficient Hardware

Investing in energy-efficient hardware is a straightforward yet effective eco-friendly IT practice. Modern hardware, designed with sustainability in mind, often features energy-saving modes that reduce power consumption without compromising performance. Look for products with energy efficiency certifications as proof of their green credentials. This approach not only lowers your carbon footprint but also can result in savings on energy bills.

4. Eco-Friendly Web Hosting

The internet’s carbon footprint is growing, and how you host your website can make a difference. Opting for a green web hosting provider, one that uses renewable energy sources or participates in carbon offsetting programmes, is a simple switch with significant impact. This choice supports the green tech industry and lowers your own digital carbon footprint.

5. Green Data Storage Solutions

Businesses can significantly reduce their environmental impact by adopting green data storage solutions. This strategy involves using energy-efficient storage technologies and practices.

Examples include solid-state drives (SSDs), which consume less power than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), data deduplication to eliminate redundant data and reduce storage needs, and archiving inactive data to more energy-efficient storage mediums. By optimising data storage strategies, companies can decrease their energy consumption, reduce the need for physical hardware, and ultimately lessen their carbon footprint.

6. Recycling and Proper Disposal of IT Equipment

Electronic waste is a significant environmental issue. Businesses can play a part in addressing this by implementing recycling schemes for their IT equipment. When upgrading hardware, consider donating old but still functional equipment to schools or charities. For equipment that’s beyond use, ensure it’s disposed of properly through certified e-waste recycling services. This approach not only minimises environmental harm but also supports the circular economy.

7. Energy Management Systems

Implementing an energy management system (EMS) can help businesses monitor, control, and optimise their use of energy within IT operations. Such systems can identify energy wastage and improve efficiency, leading to reduced carbon emissions and cost savings. By adopting smart energy solutions, businesses can significantly enhance their sustainability credentials.

8. Encourage Green IT Practices Among Employees

Cultivating a culture of sustainability within your organisation is crucial. Encourage employees to adopt green IT environment practices, such as shutting down computers when not in use, utilising power-saving modes, and thinking digitally to reduce paper use. Educating staff on the importance of sustainability and how their actions make a difference can lead to widespread positive environmental impact.

By incorporating these eight strategies, businesses can harness IT to begin their journey to a lower carbon footprint. Embracing green tech solutions and eco-friendly IT practices is not only a step towards sustainability but also a smart business move that can lead to long-term savings and enhanced corporate reputation.

As the world moves towards a more sustainable future, ensuring your business contributes positively to this shift is more important than ever; here’s to a sustainable future!

Passionate IT Providers Helping London’s SMEs to Thrive Sustainably and Securely

We’re on a mission to help London’s businesses to thrive with better IT that empowers them to do their best work, delight their customers, and remain sustainable and secure.

Always offered with a core ethos of putting people and proactive service first, we connect technology with your goals and needs, helping you, your customers, and your team to thrive. Curious to see what 4TC can do for your business? Get in touch today and we’ll be glad to help you!

Eco-Friendly IT Practices: How To Make Your Business More Sustainable Using IT

In an era where the wellbeing of our planet is a collective responsibility, it’s essential for companies to champion sustainability, and a great way to do this is through their IT. If you’re thinking about how to make your business more green, this piece will help you take some steps in the right direction. Using technology, it’s possible to measure, improve, and scale your eco-friendly practices with your business.

Let’s get into it!

Green Tech Solutions: Using More Sustainable Technology

Green technology solutions are technologies that use energy and resources more sustainably. If you can get more from less while using tech, your business will be able to operate more sustainably. One of the key solutions helping businesses use energy more sustainably is cloud computing, which offers big improvements to the energy efficiency of computing hardware.

Adopting Eco-Friendly IT Practices

By embracing green practices in your business as an operational philosophy, you’ll be able to systematically drive a range of small but meaningful improvements to your business’s carbon footprint. For example, by making small changes like switching to more digital record-keeping, procuring energy-efficient hardware, or recycling old IT products where possible, your business can reduce its carbon footprint while continuing to grow.

Win-Wins: Improving Efficiency and Working Sustainably

Sustainable technology is not just about environmental preservation; it aligns with a leaner and more efficient way of doing business. Utilising software to monitor and optimise energy consumption can reveal unexpected cost-saving measures. Such tools provide detailed insights into energy use patterns, enabling more balanced consumption and contributing to both fiscal and environmental sustainability across your IT environment.

Discover how to Get Your Business Green With Technology

Want to drive a greener and more sustainable business, but not sure how? We can help! Book a no-consultation insights session with us today and we’ll be glad to help you find actionable ways to make your business greener and more efficient.

Embracing Remote Work as a Sustainable Strategy

The shift towards remote work has stuck beyond its emergence as a necessity during the pandemic and is now a pivotal component of sustainability strategies. By reducing commuting times and opening up other operationally and environmentally friendly changes such as embracing cloud computing, offering remote work can also bolster your efforts to be a greener business, while offering additional flexibility and convenience for your team.

The Path Forward: Your Green IT Journey

Every small difference adds up to the difference when it comes to working and living sustainably on our planet. From adopting greener technologies to pursuing sustainable IT practices across your business, each step will make a difference. Stay tuned for our next blog which offers 8 specific ways you can improve your carbon footprint using IT.

Passionate IT Providers Helping London’s SMEs to Thrive Sustainably and Securely

We’re on a mission to help London’s businesses to thrive with better IT that empowers them to do their best work, delight their customers, and remain sustainable and secure.

Always offered with a core ethos of putting people and proactive service first, we connect technology with your goals and needs, helping you, your customers, and your team to thrive. Curious to see what 4TC can do for your business? Get in touch today and we’ll be glad to help you!

How hybrid work patterns change end user computing

As part of the slow return to office-based work after the Covid-19 lockdowns, IT leaders have had to address hybrid work patterns. How does IT support people who may choose not to be in the office full-time, or who mainly work remotely?

The idea of having someone trek into the office to have a PC replaced or fixed is hopefully a thing of the past. While the IT department previously had a relatively good idea of the software and hardware required by users, hybrid and remote working means more emphasis is now on collaboration and conferencing tools.

One example of how this plays out for IT buyers is illustrated in a recent article on Computer Weekly’s sister title, MicroScope, by Neil MacDonald, UK and Ireland channel director at HP. MacDonald discusses a collaboration between HP and Poly to build a “hybrid by design” product portfolio, which aims to enhance the quality of peripherals for hybrid work setups.

“Our collaborative effort offers cutting-edge video-conferencing solutions, cameras, headsets, voice technology and software, all designed to empower customers in achieving equitable meetings between remote and in-person participants,” he says.

One example is Poly Voyager Free 60 earbuds, which are designed to ensure clear and uninterrupted communication by effectively minimising background noise.

Hybrid work security

While there is a new focus on collaboration tools, IT teams still need to provide users with access to the enterprise software they require to do their work. Remote and hybrid working means there is a need to ensure teams can communicate easily and connect to corporate IT systems no matter where individual team members are located.

All of these things need to be achieved while IT security chiefs tackle enterprise data leakage and ensuring employees do not import corporate data into unvetted applications or connect to the corporate network in an unsecure manner.

User education and security awareness programmes have an important role to play, as Olivia Rofe, cyber security expert at PA Consulting, explains: “We must ensure all employees are provided with relevant cyber security training on how to work securely from home or alternative out-of-office locations.”

In Rofe’s experience, regular training should be used in a way that allows continuous development of cyber security skills and should include phishing simulations. “The days of leaving security to the IT or cyber team are gone. It is important that individuals understand the role they play in an organisation’s wider security, both in their behaviour and how they do their job,” she says.

Such training needs to work alongside security policies and a strategy architected in a way that reduces the risk of user error leading to a security breach.

Lionel Garacotche, technical office leader for IT cyber security architecture at Airbus Protect, describes three main security scenarios IT teams need to manage. The first is “no trust”, whereby IT assets can be only used with a virtual private network (VPN) and no side communication is allowed. This, he says, needs to be controlled and hardened appropriately.

Second is “partial trust”, which offers a way to provide the user with side activity controlled by a cloud access security broker or endpoint detection and response (EDR).

The third scenario is what Garacotche describes as “whatever”, which provides for bring your own device (BYOD) or uncontrolled IT assets. Here, access is only available to “public” apps or through virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to provide access to internal applications.

The challenge for IT security leaders is that hybrid work does not operate in the same way as office-based work. Rowland Johnson, president of Crest, the international not-for-profit membership body representing the global cyber security industry, warns that IT leaders cannot rely on a security operations centre (SOC) to detect anomalies and threats that come from remote workers. SOCs, he says, work on datasets of what normal traffic and behaviour looks like. Any deviation from this can be quickly identified.

“With work patterns so different and flexible now, there is no clear ‘new normal’, making it increasingly challenging for SOCs to identify normal/abnormal behaviour,” he says.

PC modernisation

Looking beyond the security implications of hybrid working, IT leaders also need to consider the IT equipment in the physical workspace required to support users and the hardware and software needed by employees who may spend only some of their working hours in an office environment.

Many businesses upgraded PCs during the pandemic and have yet to replace them, or are upgrading at a far slower rate. This has led to a decline in the purchasing of new desktop and mobile computing hardware. But remote and hybrid work patterns have resulted in manufacturers tweaking and tailoring products to cater for the greater use of online conferencing and collaboration tools that have quickly become key to employee productivity.

Upgrading older PC hardware is also being helped along by the need for more powerful processors to run artificial intelligence (AI)-powered business applications.

Supporting hybrid work

Global telecoms equipment provider Ericsson is one of HP’s major customers. The PC maker supports a hybrid workforce through a global arrangement covering over 90% of Ericsson’s devices, spanning some 130,000 users in 140 countries. Employees can choose from various laptop models tailored to their roles. Once selected, devices are prepared and shipped to their home or office. The user provides their email, completes multifactor authentication, and, according to Lee Elliot, HP’s Northwest Europe head of offer execution for workforce solutions, the device is ready in 10 minutes.

HP EliteBook models are equipped with 5G capabilities and military-grade encryption to support staff needing to work in any location. Applications are accessed via the cloud and an HP break/fix agreement is in place, so staff uptime is protected with devices simply exchanged for new replacements if required.

Kieren Jessop, research analyst at Canalys, believes artificial intelligence (AI) will drive up demand for more powerful PC hardware: “Roadmaps for integration of on-device AI capabilities have already been outlined, with several products showcased at the HP Imagine event [in October] and other suppliers set to follow suit. Canalys forecasts that adoption of AI-capable PCs will accelerate from 2025, with such devices accounting for around 60% of all PCs shipped in 2027.”

For instance, new Chromebook Plus devices are equipped with more powerful hardware that support features like AI-assisted background noise cancellation and video-enhancing technology for video and audio conferencing. Premium PC manufacturers have also been ramping up the AI capabilities of their devices to support hybrid working.

Printers in a hybrid world

The latest research from analyst Quocirca shows that the changing purpose of the office will continue to focus on collaboration and connection. Quocirca’s Future of work study found that 37% of participants view in-person collaboration as the most important benefit of the office. An obvious conclusion is that IT buyers will need fewer office-based printers.

Quocirca analyst Louella Fernandes believes one of the challenges of creating a hybrid work environment is setting up printers so that anyone who comes into the office can use them with ease. Cloud printing offers a way to simplify printer setup.

In the past, office space would have been organised around large, multifunction devices, which provided central access to print, scan and copier functionality. While these still exist, some office spaces are now making greater use of workgroup or A4 printers that better suit hybrid work patterns.

While printers may be visible on the corporate network, it can often be difficult for users to figure out the location of their nearest printer. Fernandes says 60% of corporate data loss occurs because paper is left in printer output trays. In one instance, she says, someone took confidential printouts to a school as scrap paper for the children to scribble on.

While Quocirca found that only 11% of organisations currently operate a paperless environment, 75% are accelerating paper digitisation initiatives. Although return-to-office policies will help print volumes recover in some sectors, Quocirca believes there is an opportunity for print suppliers to develop products and services around delivering workplace technology that supports hybrid workers.

Evolving challenges in the hybrid workplace

The pace of innovation means new products and services are constantly being developed. Some of these will inevitably gain traction among hybrid workers, especially if the new product provides superior functionality over corporate IT-approved software. AI targeting employee productivity is one such category of software.

The Quocirca research shows that 56% of organisations plan to make use of AI and machine learning. Whether they work in an office full-time or are hybrid workers, AI is likely to lead to the risk that data could be leaked from the organisation or employees may use data in a way that breaches data protection laws.

“It’s always hard to determine what the future will look like, but we know for a fact that remote working will remain. We have to focus on being sure that employees are aware and understand the increased threat level we’re facing,” says Garacotche.

Source: https://www.computerweekly.com/feature/How-hybrid-work-patterns-change-end-user-computing

AI will make scam emails look genuine, UK cybersecurity agency warns

Artificial intelligence will make it difficult to spot whether emails are genuine or sent by scammers and malicious actors, including messages that ask computer users to reset their passwords, the UK’s cybersecurity agency has warned.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said people would struggle to identify phishing messages – where users are tricked into handing over passwords or personal details – due to the sophistication of AI tools.

Generative AI, the term for technology that can produce convincing text, voice and images from simple hand-typed prompts, has become widely available to the public through chatbots such as ChatGPT and free-to-use versions known as open source models.

The NCSC, part of the GCHQ spy agency, said in its latest assessment of AI’s impact on the cyber threats facing the UK that AI would “almost certainly” increase the volume of cyber-attacks and heighten their impact over the next two years.

It said generative AI and large language models – the technology that underpins chatbots – will complicate efforts to identify different types of attack such as spoof messages and social engineering, the term for manipulating people to hand over confidential material.

“To 2025, generative AI and large language models will make it difficult for everyone, regardless of their level of cybersecurity understanding, to assess whether an email or password reset request is genuine, or to identify phishing, spoofing or social engineering attempts.”

Ransomware attacks, which had hit institutions such as the British Library and Royal Mail over the past year, were also expected to increase, the NCSC said.

It warned that the sophistication of AI “lowers the barrier” for amateur cybercriminals and hackers to access systems and gather information on targets, enabling them to paralyse a victim’s computer systems, extract sensitive data and demand a cryptocurrency ransom.

The NCSC said generative AI tools already helped make approaches to potential victims more convincing by creating fake “lure documents” that did not contain the translation, spelling or grammatical errors that tended to give away phishing attacks – their contents having been crafted or corrected by chatbots.

However, it said generative AI – which emerged as a competent coding tool – would not enhance the effectiveness of ransomware code but would help sift through and identify targets.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s data watchdog, 706 ransomware incidents were reported in the UK in 2022, compared with 694 in 2021.

The agency warned that state actors probably have enough malware – short for malicious software – to train a specially created AI model that would create new code capable of avoiding security measures. The NCSC said such a model would have to be trained on data extracted from its target.

“Highly capable state actors are almost certainly best placed among cyber threat actors to harness the potential of AI in advanced cyber operations,” the NCSC report says.

The NCSC added that AI would also work as a defensive tool, with the technology able to detect attacks and design more secure systems.

The report came as the UK government set out new guidelines encouraging businesses to better equip themselves to recover from ransomware attacks. The “Cyber Governance Code of Practice” aims to place information security on the same tier as financial and legal management, the NCSC said.

But cybersecurity experts have called for stronger action. Ciaran Martin, the former head of the NCSC, says that unless public and private bodies fundamentally change how they approach the threat of ransomware, “an incident of the severity of the British Library attack is likely in each of the next five years.” In a newsletter, Martin wrote that the UK needs to reassess its approach to ransomware, including by creating stronger rules around the payment of ransoms and giving up on “fantasies” of “striking back” against criminals based in hostile nations.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2024/jan/24/ai-scam-emails-uk-cybersecurity-agency-phishing

Business and tech heavyweights to boost productivity through AI

Members of the UK’s first AI Opportunity Forum have been appointed today (Thursday 25th January) – with a clear mission to boost the adoption of AI in the private sector.

Overseen by the Technology Secretary and the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Business and Investment, pioneering AI companies will join forces with business leaders to bring their expertise to bear on encouraging adoption of AI across the private sector to boost productivity, fuel innovation, and deliver growth in all areas of the economy.

The Forum will particularly focus on the AI culture and skills of organisations in the UK, how they manage governance, awareness, and risks of the technology, and the availability of data which they can tap into – a crucial component in the use and development of AI.

Despite the importance of AI for businesses being almost universally recognised, only one-in-ten organisations are currently fully prepared to roll out the technology. The Forum will tackle this problem head-on sharing best practice and identifying measures which organisations can adopt to improve their AI readiness.

It builds on the Prime Minister’s AI Safety Summit held at Bletchley Park which set a path for building a global approach to ensuring safe and responsible AI, such as the UK’s trailblazing launch of a new AI Safety Institute.

The UK’s continued international collaboration efforts through the AI Safety Institute and fora such as the G7 Hiroshima AI Process, Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), the G20, and the UN will continue to advance this conversation, ensuring the entire global community can safely realise the benefits of AI adoption.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

We stand on the cusp of a productivity revolution – one which has the potential to grow the economy in a way we’ve never seen before. So, it’s important we get it right.

This forum builds on the AI Safety Summit – putting the UK at the vanguard of AI innovation to help us safely embrace AI in a way that delivers for British people.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, said:

We want to see organisations across the UK tapping into the transformative power of AI to boost their productivity, unlock new opportunities, and drive growth.

The AI Opportunity Forum brings together our brightest minds from the worlds of AI and business to drive forward that effort.

AI develops at an incredible pace, and we’re acting in lockstep to ensure businesses and employees in every sector of our economy can take advantage of this generation-defining technology.

Members of the Forum who have been unveiled today represent a who’s who of both industry and AI expertise. Co-chaired by Secretary of State Michelle Donelan and the Prime Minister’s Business Adviser Franck Petitgas, the Forum will also feature Microsoft and Google, as well as representatives of Quantexa, KPMG, Arm, Barclays, Vodafone, Universal Music Group, and GSK.

The UK’s AI sector already contributes £3.7 billion to the UK economy and employs 50,000 people across the country with these figures set to grow. As we’ve seen over the past century, our economy and jobs market evolve with technology, with changes in technology creating new industries and new jobs.

CEO of Microsoft UK, Clare Barclay, said:

Speed of AI adoption, backed by robust industry skilling programmes, will determine just how successfully the UK embraces this generational shift in how we live and work.

The AI Opportunity Forum will help accelerate the private sector transformation we need to compete and lead in the global economy.

Managing Director of Google UK, Debbie Weinstein, said:

We’re looking forward to working alongside the government to ensure that British businesses are well equipped to harness the benefits of AI.

Google’s UK Economic Impact Report highlighted the scale of this opportunity, with forecasts showing that AI-powered innovation could create over £400 billion in economic value for the UK economy by 2030.

Initiatives like the Government’s AI Opportunity Forum are key for unlocking the transformative potential of a technology which has the potential to boost productivity, fuel creativity and drive tech-led growth across a variety of sectors up and down the country.

Chief Executive Officer of GSK, Emma Walmsley, said:

We’re very optimistic about the opportunities for positive impact from AI, not just for GSK but for the UK’s short and long-term economic growth, innovation and skills development.

The UK has the potential and talent to exploit these transformative technologies, but faster adoption is key. This new forum brings together businesses large and small with AI developers to develop practical ideas and support and we look forward to contributing.

Quantexa CEO, Vishal Marria, said:

As an AI first technology company, Quantexa is thrilled to be involved in the AI Opportunity Forum, and proud to be part of this investment in UK-based innovation that positions the UK at the forefront of AI on the world stage.

We have been investing in AI since our inception, and it lies at the heart of Quantexa technology. But what we have seen over the last 12 months – is its adoption and impact accelerate. We see AI as the biggest technological breakthrough for generations and are ramping our investment in AI because we know this is going to transform how organisations make decisions.

Understandably, there are concerns around the associated risks of AI. But, with the safe and ethical adoption of AI technology, there are huge opportunities for UK businesses across industry sectors to accelerate productivity and growth.

Chief Executive Officer of Sage, Steve Hare, said:

At Sage, we’ve been using AI to bring practical time saving solutions to small and medium-sized businesses for some time.  AI has the potential to improve the UK’s productivity and simplify everyday tasks like invoicing, managing late payments, and handling tax and cash flow issues.

To make AI more effective and trustworthy, there is a need for more collaboration between the government and the tech sector to nurture the digital economy and ensure SMBs are adopting digital tools to reap the benefits of AI. The AI Opportunity Forum is a step towards this goal, aiming to bring real AI solutions to real businesses.

The government is also stepping up its plans to accelerate the rollout of AI across the public sector. Earlier this month, the Central Digital and Data Office published a new framework which will implement principles for government departments on the responsible use of Generative AI. Written in collaboration with industry, the framework also looks to upskill civil servants through free generative AI courses to ensure public servants have a robust set of skills when working with AI.

The Forum will now gather for its first meeting in February, with further meetings taking place bi-monthly.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/business-and-tech-heavyweights-to-boost-productivity-through-ai

What does a future with quantum computers look like?

Quantum computing is an exciting and evolving deep-tech sector, which could transform parts of society when it comes to fruition.

These powerful machines are capable of processing vast amounts of data and could eventually solve problems that are far too advanced for modern supercomputers, which would lead to enormous benefits for humanity.

But the journey to get there is not easy, with a variety of technological and scientific hurdles to overcome before these we can create true quantum computers.

Ulrich Seyfarth is a manager in BearingPoint’s Munich operations. He said that a lot of effort has been made to solve the issues surrounding quantum computers, but there is still a long way to go.

“Major challenges include the number of information carriers (qubits) needed and the ability to compute long-running calculations due to the impact of noise and decoherence effects which must be mitigated by powerful error-correction methods,” Seyfarth said.

“The current stage of quantum computing is called NISQ (noisy intermediate-scale quantum), more a playground to get used to quantum computing, than a stage where we can gain from powerful new solutions. That horizon however, is approaching.”

Many researchers are working to bring us closer to fault-free quantum computers. Last month, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claimed they found a new way to hit 99.9pc accuracy in certain quantum operations.

Earlier this year, quantum computing company Quantiniuum claimed it was able to accurately simulate a hydrogen molecule by using an error-detecting code.

The potential benefits

When – or if – we get to the stage of general-purpose quantum computers, Seyfarth said there are various ways these machines could be used to benefit society. One way would be to simulate aspects of nature, as “nature is quantum”.

“Quantum theory is a fundamental description of the physical behaviour of our world,” Seyfarth said. “Computers that speak the same language as nature are best suited to simulate it.

“The potential for new discoveries in physics, chemistry, biology and other foundational sciences is immense. Research will be a key application of quantum computing in revealing new discoveries as foundations for applications across many industries.”

Quantum computers could also help to break past certain bottlenecks in modern technology, such as miniaturisation. For example, Seyfarth said circuits are now operating at such a small scale that quantum phenomena are posing “significant challenges to the continuity of Moore’s Law”. This is the principle that the number of transistors incorporated in a densely populated chip will double every two years.

“We are reaching manufacturing limits, at a time when the demand for computational power is increasing rapidly,” Seyfarth said. “Many organisations are reliant on an ability to process increasing volumes of data, faster.

“A fundamental change in computation capability is necessary and this is driving the significant investment we see in quantum computing technology.”

While various challenges exist, Seyfarth predicts that the future of quantum technology is “promising” and that new quantum hardware, algorithms, processing methods and other breakthroughs will develop in the future.

“The development of quantum compilers, abstract languages and available computational power in the cloud and middleware platforms will lead to easier access to this technology – also creating new industries and ecosystems around it,” Seyfarth said.

While there is no clear prediction for when quantum computing will become truly available for businesses, Seyfarth said organisations should develop an understanding of their data processing needs for the future and the potential quantum computing may have to help them to “remain competitive”.

“Those that start early in developing their understanding of the technology and its likely implications, will be better positioned to harness its power,” Seyfarth said. “If you think that quantum computing technology is potentially relevant to your future business, a good starting point is to invest in developing some internal knowledge within your organisation.

“As the technology becomes more accessible from an R&D perspective, consideration could be given to potentially start pilot projects, though [it] will be important not to invest too heavily in a single technology provider at this early stage.”

The risks of new technology

Transformative technology also has the potential to create negative consequences when it is first introduced, such as generative AI being used as a tool to spread disinformation and boost cyberattacks.

Quantum computing is no exception to this rule and Seyfarth said organisations and society need to address the new risks that new technology presents.

“In an era where computational power is an important driver for our economy and our society – there is a possibility that access to this power becomes centralised to a small number of entities,” Seyfarth said. “This may lead to imbalances in competitive advantages in industry.

“Of course, there is also the potential for certain jobs to be rendered obsolete, while demand for other new roles is created – so there will be an onus on society to ensure that adequate supports are in place to facilitate retraining.”

Another key issue in the digital world is cybersecurity and the way new technology can shake up this landscape. Quantum computing presents a risk due to its potential to break modern cryptography – which is used to encrypt data and communications.

Experts have warned about the risk of hackers stealing and storing encrypted data, for the purpose of decrypting it quickly once quantum computers become a more accessible reality. This is sometimes referred to as ‘store now, decrypt later’ tactics.

“Secret data that must be secured for more than 10 years is already exposed to future attacks,” Seyfarth said. “Organisations should prepare risk mitigation actions, including analysis of data encryption methods in use and implementing future-proof encryption methods where necessary.

“Post-quantum cryptography, a technology that is similar to current cryptographic solutions, but with higher requirements computational power and key sizes could serve to minimise risk – another area to keep an eye on from a standards maturity perspective.”

Source: https://www.siliconrepublic.com/machines/quantum-computers-simulation-bearingpoint-deep-tech

Scalable IT Solutions for Sustainable Growth – Cloud-Hosted VoIP

As your business expands, it’s vital that your IT system is able to grow in parallel. To achieve this, you need scalable tech solutions that can quickly adapt to the changing demands of your business. This ensures that your employees have the technology and resources they require to work unhindered and at maximum productivity.

Why Scalability Matters

IT investments used to require significant capital outlay on new hardware and infrastructure. The rationale behind such investments, was that return on investment would be achieved over the hardware lifecycle, with costs recouped in the form of productivity gains and efficiency savings. However, a common pitfall with legacy solutions is their inability to adapt to the dynamic and fast-changing needs of a business as it grows and evolves.

Today, modern, scalable tech solutions allow you to match your IT costs with the point-in-time demands of your business and provision new resources at short notice to accommodate rapid expansion. The result is IT that supports your growth journey, keeps your team productive and connected, and offers optimal value for money.

4TC Managed IT Services – IT solutions and Support for Businesses Across London and the South East

Here at 4TC, our mission is to help SMEs across London and the South East reap the benefits of tailored, secure and expertly managed IT solutions. Scalability is vital to ensuring cost-efficiency and high ROI in any IT project. In this short blog series, we want to highlight the benefits of some of the most compelling, scalable IT solutions available to businesses, starting with a technology that’s of particular relevance at the moment: Cloud-Hosted VoIP telephony.

What is Cloud-Hosted VoIP Telephony?

VoIP – meaning ‘voice over internet protocol’ – refers to a set of standards and technologies that enable the transmission of voice and multimedia sessions over the internet. You’ve probably used VoIP technology in some form already, perhaps through video conferencing applications like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

So how does VoIP differ from traditional telephony?

Traditional telephony products use technical standards that allow voice data to be carried across the varied circuits of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). While some aspects of this infrastructure have been modernised over the years, the PSTN contains copper cabling and other aging components that struggle to meet the data speeds and bandwidth requirements of modern businesses. As such, the decision was made to fully decommission the public switched telephone network, with BT Openreach aiming to fully digitise the UK’s telephony by the end of December 2025.

The switch from the partly analogue PSTN to a fully-digital broadband system, means traditional telephony products, such as ISDN, will stop working in the coming years. If your business currently uses an ISDN phone system, you’ll need to adopt a ‘Digital Voice Service’ sooner rather than later to avoid being cut off when the PSTN switch off happens.

Cloud-Hosted VoIP – The Smart, Scalable Business Phone Solution

Combining the features and capabilities of a PBX phone system with the convenience and cost-efficiency of cloud hosting, cloud-hosted VoIP is a compelling option for businesses looking for scalable and futureproof telephony. Cloud-hosted VoIP gives you access to a full-featured phone system without the installation costs and maintenance overheads of a traditional system. Instead, the cloud VoIP provider manages the host infrastructure on your behalf; you simply sign up and connect to the system using a compatible device or a VoIP desk phone.

Offering all the advantages of an office-hosted phone system without the drawbacks, we believe cloud-hosted VoIP is the smart choice for SMEs looking for a future-ready and scalable phone system in 2024 and beyond. Here are 5 reasons it could be the optimum choice for your business.

It’s Scalable

Adding new lines to a phone system was once a challenging and occasionally disruptive task. The process involved reaching out to your provider, scheduling an installation date, and often enduring weeks of waiting for the project to be completed.

Cloud-hosted VoIP puts an end to this lengthy process, allowing you to add new lines in minutes, with subscription-based billing ensuring you only pay for the capacity you need at any given point in time. Various admin tasks can be completed through a centralised management portal, giving you the ability to add new lines, assign phone numbers, and manage billing through a convenient and intuitive online interface.

In short, cloud-hosted VoIP puts you in control of your phone system, allowing you to adapt quickly to the changing demands of your business, and benefit from affordable, flexible billing.

Unified Communications

Most modern businesses use multiple communication channels to deliver customer service and explore new sales opportunities. For optimum results, communication across these various channels should be carefully orchestrated to ensure consistent messaging, and to support an efficient, streamlined experience for customers. Customer relationship management software (CRMs) is often critical to coordinating sales outreach and customer service engagements across numerous communication channels, including social media, email, instant messaging, and telephone.

Many cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems enable the integration of CRMs and multiple communication channels to create a single, unified interface for business communications. This allows employees to conduct all communication within a single application, enhancing productivity, and giving staff the data they need to create managed and consistent conversations with existing and prospective customers.

Reduced Costs

Compared to traditional telephony products, Cloud-hosted VoIP is almost always cheaper to run, and the costs manifest in various ways. In terms of calling costs, reports suggest that VoIP services are 40% cheaper on average than traditional telephony products, with savings rising to as high as 90% for businesses that make a high volume of overseas calls. Hosted VoIP services offer a variety of billing regimes, ranging from flat-fee subscription pricing to usage-based charges, which makes it easy to find a call plan to suit your needs and budget.

But lower calling costs are not the only area where savings arise!

Cloud-hosted VoIP is inherently infrastructure-lite. In fact, sometimes there are no hardware requirements whatsoever, as most systems operate via computer and mobile based software programs called ‘softphones.’ These allow users to access the phone system through existing devices, including desktop PCs, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. VoIP-enabled desk phones and headsets could be beneficial to provide a better user experience, but ultimately, VoIP lets you access the benefits of a PBX phone system without the cabling and server infrastructure that such systems traditionally entailed. Moreover, considering the VoIP provider’s role in system maintenance, this results in an exceptionally budget-friendly phone system that delivers an impressive return on investment (ROI).

Access Your Phone System Anywhere

Unlike a traditional phone system which is tied to a fixed physical location, cloud-hosted VoIP provides a virtualised, location-independent experience, allowing you to take your phone system with you and access it from virtually any location. Leverage one phone number as your business’s single point of contact, and transfer calls seamlessly across your business, regardless of where your team are working from. Your customers will benefit from a smooth, frictionless calling experience that keeps you contactable whether you’re working from home, on the move, or even out of the country.

Extensive Features

The affordability of cloud-hosted VoIP doesn’t mean you have to compromise on functionality. In fact, most systems come packed with features that support efficient call handling and a smooth, unencumbered inbound calling experience. VoIP providers usually offer packages at various price points, allowing you to choose an option that best suits your needs and budget. Some of the features on offer include:

Call Forwarding

Redirect calls seamlessly across your team to share the call-handling workload. Conditional or sequential call forwarding can be configured to keep wait times to a minimum during periods of high demand.

Call recording

Many hosted VoIP systems support call recording, a helpful feature that allows calls to be recorded and retained for training or compliance purposes.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

IVR provides inbound callers with an interactive menu of options, allowing them to route themselves to the appropriate call handler or department based on the nature of their query. IVR makes for a more efficient experience for inbound callers and makes it easier to manage high call workloads.


Voicemail-to-email functionality ensures you never miss a call back by sending a transcript of voicemails to your email inbox.

In Summary

Offering affordable pricing, unparalleled mobility, a rich range of features, seamless mobility and the ability to add and subtract phone lines in a matter of minutes, cloud-hosted VoIP phone systems deliver an array of business benefits and support the seamless call experience that today’s customers have come to expect.

For more insights into scalable tech solutions, stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll examine the growth-enabling benefits of hosting your IT services in the cloud. 

4TC Managed IT Services – Uniting People, Processes and Technology 

Secure, stable and optimised IT infrastructure is critical to the success of all businesses in our information age. 4TC helps businesses across London and the Southeast realise their potential through the delivery of expertly managed IT services and support, and solutions that solve business challenges by achieving perfect alignment between people, processes, and technology. Get assistance with your IT challenges today by getting in touch, we’ll be glad to assist you!  

Guarding Against Holiday Cyber Scammers

Rachael Medhurst, Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in Cyber Security NCSA, University of South Wales

The festive season is a time for joy, family and festive cheer. However, it’s also a prime target for cybercriminals. As online shopping ramps up, so does the risk of falling prey to cyber-attacks. That’s why it’s crucial to be extra vigilant about your cybersecurity during this time.

Here are some essential tips to safeguard yourself and your data during the festive period:


Phishing is when criminals use scam emails, text messages or phone calls to trick their victims. Their goal is often to make you visit a certain website, which may download a virus on to your computer, or steal bank details or other personal data.

This type of scam tends to increase at this time due to the amount of people having bought or received new gadgets and technology.

Look out for there being no direct reference to your name in any communications, with wording such as “Dear Sir/Madam” or other terms such as “valued customer” being used instead. Grammar and spelling mistakes are also often present.

Be wary of any suspicious links or attachments within emails too, and don’t click them. It’s better to contact the company directly to check if the message is genuine. You can also report suspicious messages and phishing scams to the government’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Shopping safely online

The convenience of online shopping is undeniable, especially during the festive season. However, it’s crucial to prioritise your security when buying online.

Before entering your personal and financial information on any website, ensure it’s legitimate and secure. Look for the “https” in the address bar and a padlock icon, which indicates a secure and encrypted connection.

When creating passwords for online shopping accounts, use strong, unique combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, as a breach on one site could compromise all your others.

As with shopping in the real world, be cautious when encountering offers that are significantly below usual prices or which make extravagant promises. Always conduct thorough research on the seller and product before making a purchase. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

And if you are out shopping in towns or city centers, there will often be a large number of public Wi-Fi options available to you. However, criminals can intercept the data that is transferred across such open and unsecured Wi-Fi. So, avoid using public Wi-Fi where possible, especially when conducting any financial transactions.

Social media

While social media platforms provide people with a means to keep in touch with family and friends over the festive period, they are often a goldmine for scams and malware (software designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorised access to a computer). In the spirit of the festive season, people often share an abundance of personal information on social media, often without considering the potential consequences.

This trove of data can make people vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Scammers can exploit this information to gain unauthorised access to social media accounts, steal personal information, or even commit identity theft. To protect yourself, be mindful of what you share.

Be wary when interacting with posts and direct messages, especially if they contain suspicious links or attachments. Before clicking on anything, hover over the link to verify its destination. If it shows a website you don’t recognise or seems unrelated to the message, do not click on it. If you receive a message from someone you know but the content seems strange or out of character, contact them directly through a trusted channel to verify its authenticity.

Likewise, be wary of messages containing urgent requests for money or personal information from businesses. Genuine organisations will never solicit sensitive details through social media.

There are many buy and sell platforms available on social media. But while such platforms can be a great place to find a unique gift, it is also important to remember that not all sellers may be legitimate. So, it’s vital that you don’t share your bank details. If the seller sends a link to purchase the item, do not use it. When meeting to collect an item, it’s generally safer to use cash rather than transferring funds electronically.

Package delivery scams

As well as being a time for giving and receiving gifts, the festive season is also ripe for cybercriminals to exploit the excitement surrounding package deliveries.

Scammers often pose as legitimate delivery companies, sending emails or text messages claiming that a delivery attempt was unsuccessful or requiring additional fees for processing, or even customs clearance. Typically, these messages contain links or phone numbers that, when clicked or called, lead to fake websites or automated phone systems designed to collect personal information or payments.

To protect yourself, always verify the legitimacy of any delivery notifications you receive. Check the sender’s email address or phone number against the official contact information for the delivery company. If the information doesn’t match or seems suspicious, don’t click any links or provide personal details.

Legitimate delivery companies will never ask for upfront payment or sensitive information through unsolicited messages or calls.

Remember, cybercriminals are skilled at manipulating the festive spirit to their advantage. Stay vigilant, exercise caution, and don’t let your excitement for gifts and deliveries compromise your cybersecurity.

Source: https://nation.cymru/news/how-to-protect-yourself-from-cyber-scammers-over-the-festive-period/

AI Poses Growing Threat To Next General Election

Advances in artificial intelligence pose a growing threat to the integrity of the next general election in the UK, Britain’s cyber security agency has warned.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said countries such as Russia would likely seek to meddle with the outcome of the poll – which must take place by January 2025 – as well as other major elections in western democracies in the coming year, including in the United States.=

In an annual review of a broad range of cyber security issues, the agency, which is part of GCHQ, warned about the prospect of increasingly realistic, deepfake videos and other forms of disinformation designed to influence voter preferences.

“While the UK’s use of paper voting in general elections makes it significantly harder to interfere with our elections, the next election will be the first to take place against the backdrop of significant advances in AI,” it said.

“But rather than presenting entirely new risks, it is AI’s ability to enable existing techniques which poses the biggest threat.”

This included fabricated online posts at speed and deepfake campaigns spread across social media at great speed.

“Any interference or attempts to undermine our political discourse are completely unacceptable and the UK government is committed to enhancing our capabilities and countering the threat from online harms, such as disinformation,” the NCSC said.

It described how the “threat landscape” had evolved “significantly” since the last UK general election in 2019, in particular in the wake of Russia’s war with Ukraine.

People at Shefford Town Memorial Association to cast their vote in the Mid Bedfordshire by-election. Picture date: Thursday October 19, 2023.

That conflict “has made the prospect of influencing the political discourse in democracies ever more attractive to state actors”, the agency said.

It also warned about the emergence of cyber actors that are aligned with malign states such as Russia and share the same ideological goals but can act with less restraint, calling this category “a new class of adversary for the UK to counter”.

“The NCSC assesses that democratic events, such as elections, almost certainly represent attractive targets for malicious actors and so organisations and individuals need to be prepared for threats, old and new,” the NCSC said.

In response, the UK has set up a Defending Democracy Taskforce and a Joint Election Security Preparedness unit.

As well as a focus on Russia, the NCSC report agency also flagged the ongoing cyber threat posed by China, Iran and North Korea.

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/ai-poses-growing-threat-to-next-general-election-warns-uk-cyber-security-agency-13007659

Google DeepMind Solves Unsolvable Math Problem With AI

Recent advances in large language models (LLMs) have made artificial intelligence more adaptable than ever before, but that comes with a drawback: lies. Generative AI tends to make things up, but Google DeepMind has devised a new LLM that sticks to mathematical truths. The company’s FunSearch can solve highly complex math problems. Miraculously, the solutions it generates aren’t just accurate; they’re entirely new solutions that no human has ever found.

FunSearch is thus named because it searches for mathematical functions, not because it’s fun. Although, some people might consider the cap set problem a real hoot—mathematicians can’t even agree on how best to solve it, making it a genuine numerical mystery. DeepMind previously made advances in AI with its Alpha models like AlphaFold (protein folding), AlphaStar (StarCraft), and AlphaGo (playing Go). These systems were not based on LLMs, but they did reveal new mathematical concepts.

With FunSearch, DeepMind started with a large language mode, a version of Google’s PaLM 2 called Codey. There’s a second LLM layer at work, which scans Codey’s output and prunes incorrect information. The team behind this work didn’t know if this approach would work, and they’re still not sure why it does, according to DeepMind researcher Alhussein Fawzi.

To start, DeepMind engineers created a Python representation of the cap set problem, but they left out the lines that described the solution. Codey’s job was to add lines that accurately solved the problem. The error-checking layer then scores the Codey solutions to see if they are accurate. In high-level math, equations may have more than one solution, but not all of them are considered equally good. Over time, the algorithm identifies the best solutions from Codey and feeds them back into the model.

DeepMind logo

DeepMind let FunSearch churn for several days long enough to generate millions of possible solutions. This allowed FunSearch to refine the code and produce better results. According to the newly published research, the AI came up with a previously unknown but correct solution to the cap set problem. DeepMind also turned FunSearch loose on another difficult bit of math called the bin packing problem, an algorithm that describes the most efficient way to pack bins. FunSearch found a faster solution than those calculated by humans.

Mathematicians are still struggling with integrating LLM technology into their work, and the work at DeepMind shows a possible path forward. The team believes this approach has potential because it generates computer code rather than the solution. This is often easier to understand and verify than raw mathematical outputs.

Source: https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/google-deepmind-solves-unsolvable-math-problem-with-ai