July 2023 Newsletter

Posted By: Mark Monday 14th August 2023 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

This month: Client relationships – going above and beyond; we welcome new members to our team; a hacker forum gets hacked; too many people place too much trust in AI results; gamers trick AI news generator; the growing popularity of Apple memorabilia.

Newsletter Image: No Site Too Far For LaneSystems

No Site Too Far For LaneSystems

At LaneSystems, we believe that true excellence lies in going above and beyond expectations for our clients. We are not just another IT service provider; we are partners on your journey towards growth and prosperity. Our commitment to delivering outstanding support knows no bounds, and we take pride in surpassing expectations every step of the way.

Personalised Attention, Global Reach

Our journey with clients begins by understanding your unique needs and challenges. We know that no two businesses are alike, and cookie-cutter solutions simply will not suffice. That is why our team of experts takes time to listen and tailor our services accordingly.

Newsletter Image: John O'Groats Photo

Regardless of where our clients are located, we are always ready to traverse the UK to provide face-to-face consultations.

Beyond Borders: A Tale of Support

We would like to share an inspiring example of how far we are willing to go to help our clients achieve their goals. Recently, an existing client that is a well-established luxury lodge provider approached LaneSystems with a difficult problem that their parent company, not previously supported by LaneSystems, struggled with since 2022.

Newsletter Image: John O'Groats Photo

One of their sites, a well-known destination John O’Groats Luxury Lodges faced significant challenges in accessing resources and expertise to update their IT network infrastructure. Their previous IT support company installed and configured equipment last year, but this has not addressed the connectivity issues across the site. Then, after several IT companies unsuccessfully attempted to resolve the problem, LaneSystems was approached.

Recognizing their difficulties, we took it upon ourselves to travel the distance to visit the site and assess their situation and needs. After our experts spent time immersing themselves in the site’s environment, we gained invaluable insights into their operations and issues. Armed with this knowledge, we designed and implemented a competitive and comprehensive strategy that addressed their Wi-Fi internet coverage needs.

Newsletter Image: John O'Groats Photo

Embracing Technology for Seamless Support

While we cherish the value of in-person interactions, we also understand that modern technology allows us to extend our reach further. With virtual meetings and real-time diagnostic tools, we bridge the geographical gaps, ensuring that our clients receive continuous and uninterrupted support regardless of their location. In this case, the solution we implemented for John O’Groats’ Wi-Fi infrastructure allows us to support and administer the system remotely.

Our Promise: Always by Your Side

As we move forward, our commitment remains unwavering. No distance is too great, no challenge too daunting. We vow to be there for our clients through thick and thin, empowering you with the knowledge, expertise, and dedication needed to achieve your dreams.

Remember, at LaneSystems, in addition to providing a range of services tailored to your needs, we also pride ourselves in developing a long-term relationship.

Newsletter Image: Say Hello To Our New Team Members

Say Hello To Our New Team Members

This month, we’re delighted to introduce several new members to LaneSystems team. Some you may have already met while out on call, others brand new. They bring a wealth of skills and knowledge to aid both our clients and strengthen the business.

new team member - ShaunShaun Sedgwick: IT Service Desk Apprentice

Shaun is switching careers from the motor industry to pursue a career in IT. He is very keen on learning about how IT systems work and how to apply that knowledge to providing a good service to clients. In his spare time, he likes to walk his dog and watch Formula 1.

new team member - ElaineElaine Pickering: Accounts

Elaine is bringing with her a wealth of 25 years of experience of accounts. When at home or in her free time she enjoys spending time with her 3 Grandchildren (they have her run ragged), she also enjoys cooking up different concoctions (some are nice, she tells us 😊) in the kitchen and going out for long walks with her partner.

new team member - DamianDamian Macdonald: Field Technician

Damian brings lots of knowledge gained from previous IT employment. He likes solving problems and working with technology in general. In his spare time, he likes playing video games as well as travelling to new places and he hopes to continue his travels very soon.

new team member - MattyMatty Phelan: Field Technician

Matty is a dynamic IT field technician whose passion for technology has been a lifelong driving force. Matty finds solace behind the wheel, as driving represents the perfect analogy for his approach to problem-solving—focused, adaptable, and with a determination to reach his destination. As a valued IT technician at Lanesystems, Matty brings a blend of technical prowess and a personable approach to every project.

new team member - JasonJason Weatherill: 3rd Line Technician

Jason, our skilled IT Engineer, implements top-tier IT systems, seamless networks, and efficient Mobile Device Management. With a talent for smooth cloud migrations, he collaborates closely with clients to tailor reliable IT solutions that precisely match their business needs. Embracing the forefront of cloud technologies, Jason’s passion for innovation shines through his work. Beyond the tech realm, he cherishes quality time with his wife and two adorable cats.

Newsletter Image: Hacker Forum Gets Hacked

Hacker Forum Gets Hacked

We talk a lot about data breaches, data theft, data leaks and other hacking events related to people and businesses, but a cybercrime forum was, itself, the victim of a cyber-attack that extracted the database containing thousands of user records.

The infamous BreachForums, was recently closed down after FBI raids led to the arrest of its owner, along with the seizure of equipment, servers, data and domain names. However, it has emerged that months before the law enforcement intervention, a rival hacker breached the forum and took the database containing the details of 212,000 user records. A sample of the database has been shared with the HaveIBeenPwned data breach notification service, for authentication purposes. Another ex-administrator of BreachForums has since confirmed the legitimacy of the data.

HaveIBeenPwned said:

“In November 2022, the well-known hacking forum ‘BreachForums’ was itself, breached. Later the following year, the operator of the website was arrested and the site seized by law enforcement agencies,”

“The breach exposed 212k records including usernames, IP and email addresses, private messages between site members and passwords stored as argon2 hashes.”

Hacked Hacker Forum Database Up For Sale

The threat actor, who goes by the handle “breached_db_person” has since put the database up for sale for between $100-150k. Bleeping Computer says it confirmed that the database is 2Gb in size and contains all tables, including those for private messages, payment transactions, and the member database.

The site was well-known for harbouring the sensitive data of major data breaches, involving the likes of Twitter, the RobinHood stock trading platform, Acer electronics, Activision games, the United States ‘No Fly List’, an FBI database called InfraGard, as well as the medical details of users from an online health insurance market called DC Health Link, and personal information of US Members of Congress.

While the FBI gained access to the database after it’s seizure, access to the information is of interest to both cybersecurity researchers and other cyber criminals.

In their reporting of the data breach, Bleeping Computer says:

The private messages table is valuable as it contains messages sent privately between the different members of the forum, potentially revealing information on past attacks, identities, and other useful information.

Samples of the payments table were shared with BleepingComputer and contain information on payments made to purchase forum ranks (membership levels with extra benefits) and credits (a form of currency used on the forum).

These payments were processed through CoinBase Commerce or Sellix, with the Coinbase transactions including links to order confirmations containing sensitive information, such as cryptocurrency addresses and Coinbase payment IDs.

This cryptocurrency data can be useful to blockchain analytics companies, who can use the cryptocurrency addresses to link threat actors to criminal activity.

Nobody is safe from cyber attack, not even those threat actors who partake in such cyber crime.

As ever, now is a good reminder to implement robust cyber security protocols and good cyber practices within your organisation. If you’re a business in Teesside, Tyne & Wear, North Yorkshire, County Durham, or anywhere around the North East of England, contact LaneSystems for your IT support and cyber security needs.

Newsletter Article: Too Many Users Trust Generative AI Results

Too Many Users Trust Generative AI Results

The 2023 Deloitte Digital Consumer Trends report finds that a majority of people in the UK (52%) have heard of Generative AI, while more than a quarter (26%) have actually used the emerging technology in some form or other. Unfortunately, a whopping 43% of those users mistakenly assume that it always produces factually accurate answers, while 38% believe that answers generated are unbiased. The research is based upon feedback from 4150 UK adults between the ages of 16-75.

Generative Artificial Intelligence, or Generative Large Language Models (LLMs), are the current battlefield for ‘big tech’ market share. ChatGPT, the Microsoft-funded AI offering developed by Open AI, was launched as a web interface last winter, with quick user uptake. Google has responded by further opening up its Bard chatbot development to the public. ChatGPT is already integrated into Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and is being further integrated into its 365 suite of business applications.

Generative AI used for Personal, Educational & Work Purposes

The Deloitte report carries on to say that 70% of users did so for personal use, with 34% having used it for education purposes. In the 16-19 year-old age bracket, 56% had used Generative AI for education reasons.

In the workforce, 32% of people admitted having used it for work purposes, which would equate to four million workers. Only 23% of those respondents actually thought their bosses would approve of their use of the AI technology. It’s worth noting that many giant tech companies, including Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Accenture, have banned the technology from being used in their workplaces.

Around two-thirds of those who’ve heard of Generative AI believe it will affect the number of jobs available in the future, while 48% think it will likely replace some of their roles.

The Dangers Of Taking Generative AI Results at Face Value

Possibly the most concerning area in the research found that 19% believe Generative AI always produced factually accurate responses, which rises to 43% from those who have actually used the technology. 18% of respondents see the tools as unbiased, with a rise to 38% for actual users.

This flies sharply in the face of the facts of some quite unfortunate, shoddy, and plain wrong results being generated. Some unassuming real world users have been taking results at face value with embarrassing results.

Experts in many fields find the results of AI generated content to lack depth, detail and substance. People knowledgeable in various subjects can spot errors and shoddy information, casual users, less so. For example, Stack Overflow, a message board where coders and developers could ask for help, had to introduce restrictions and guidelines related to the posting of code snippets generated by AI, because the quality of the code was so bad.

Even the boss of Google’s UK department, Debbie Weinstein has been quoted as saying people should check the results of information provided by its own Chatbot, for accuracy, before relying on it.

Joanna Conway, partner and internet regulation lead at Deloitte Legal said:

“Governments, policymakers and regulators are looking to tap into the potential of AI, while also managing its risks. As more lives and jobs are impacted by AI, the technology must be trustworthy, ethical and as accurate as possible for all of its benefits to be felt.

“Generative AI has the potential to be a powerful tool, but it is imperative that its risks are managed. It is therefore unsurprising to see generative AI regulation emerging across the globe. Through clear and effective rules around data risk management and the key issues of safety, bias, accuracy and liability, policymakers should aim to encourage growth and productivity through AI in a safe and controlled way and to safeguard its users.”

Newsletter Image: WOW gamers trick AI Content Scraper

WOW gamers trick AI Content Scraper

In this current age of generative Artificial Intelligence being used to create content for search queries, instructional information, chatbot help, and other content filling, the ethical debate goes on.

In a small victory over suspicious content generation, the BBC reports about a gaming community recently outed the use of AI as stealing their words to write content for a gamer site through its publication of a completely made up article.

Suspicious Gamers Set Trap For AI Bot

When members of a World Of Warcraft subreddit suspected their comments and posts were being scraped and used by a bot to generate stories for the Zleague website, users decided to test their theory by setting a few traps using ‘news’ about an upcoming feature called “Glorbo”. They waxed enthusiastically in posts, and even expanded into chat about extra features, such as an “epic quest to depose Quackion, the Aspect of Ducks,”” and the “small, cosy island” of Zoop.

Of course, all of this information then appeared in a subsequent Zleague article, vindicating the group’s suspicions about the post recycling. To much mirth and celebration, Zleague was outed. The article was deleted, along with others that had been flagged as suspicious by users.

Although Zleague, have not confirmed the articles were AI generated, it is noted that the ‘author’ of the articles was supposedly generating dozens of articles per day for the site.

Can AI Replace Human Authors?

While this can be seen as a bit of fun, it highlights a potentially worrying future of AI-generated news content. People are worried about the degradation of quality content in their field, not only the gaming community. Many well-known websites are laying off staff, with many owners enthusiastically embracing the potential AI could have to fill job roles that previously needed Human involvement.

Senior Contributor, at Forbes said:

“As someone who writes about video games for a living, I am deeply annoyed/terrified about the prospect of AI-run websites not necessarily replacing me, but doing things like at the very least, crowding me out of Google, given that Google does not seem to care whatsoever whether content is AI-generated or not.

“The only way this will ever be stopped is if Google steps in and dramatically deranks or bans AI-based sites like this, as begging for Google traffic crumbs is the only reason these sites exist in the first place. But since Google has its own very obvious vested interest in AI, I am not holding my breath.”

Newsletter Image: The Growth Of Apple Memorabilia

The Growth Of Apple Memorabilia

Since college dropouts, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founded Apple Inc in 1976, many a classic machine and desirable device has been produced. They probably had no idea that, many years later, there would be a collectable market for vintage electronica produced by the Cupertino behemoth.

Although a relatively new collecting category, Apple memorabilia can go for serious money. An Apple 1 MacBook, for example, can be worth hundreds of thousands, depending on condition, completeness and packaging. A 1st Gen iPod, still sealed in box, can be worth as much as £35,000.

July saw a couple of noteworthy items hit the major auction houses.

LCG Auctions, in America, recently sold a first-generation iPhone for $190,372.80 (£145,416). The factory-sealed, 4Gb, phone received 28 bids and sold for almost 400 times its original retail price ($599), smashing all previous records.

It’s a more sought after version of the first-generation release because most people bought the larger 8Gb model, with the 4Gb version discontinued after only two months due to poor sales.

The auction site described the item as: “exceedingly rare, factory sealed, first-release 4GB model in exceptional condition. Virtually flawless along the surface and edges, the factory seal is clean with correct seam details and tightness”.

Meanwhile, at Sotheby’s auction house, a pair of Apple trainers are up for sale on their website for the princely sum of $50,000 (£38,969). The size 10.5 Omega Sports Apple Computer Sneakers come complete with the rainbow Apple logo on the tongue and side.

These shoes were never available to the public, being custom-made, one-time, giveaways to employees at a conference in the 1990s. They are the first pair to be put up for sale to the public.

Sotheby’s describes the item as “one of the most obscure in existence and highly coveted on the resale market” and although new in box, “the shoes’ condition is consistent with age, imperfections include yellowing around the midsoles and glue, and light marks on the toe boxes.”

With interest in Apple products showing no signs of waning, Apple-related collectibles are likely to gain further value.

Recent Posts