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ISO27001 is an Information Security Management System (ISMS) that is a systematic approach to managing personal and sensitive information and data so that it remains available, confidential and intact. It can help businesses of all sizes, in any industry sector to keep information assets secure and avoid data breach, hacks and compromise. The key benefit of ISO27001 is that it demonstrates in a real-world way that your organisation is secure and that you can be trusted to keep data secure helping to attract and retain business.

ISO 27001 is one of the most popular information security standards in the world, with certifications growing by more than 450% in the past ten years. It is recognised globally as a benchmark for good security practice, and enables organisations to achieve accredited certification by an accredited certification body following the successful completion of an audit.

ISO 27001 supports compliance with a host of laws, including the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the NIS Regulations (Network and Information Systems Regulations).

The more you know, the better.

Implementing ISO27001 is a lengthy process with highly technical detail. Luckily, our qualified security consultants are here to help define your scope and install your ISMS, with experience in helping businesses of all sizes to identify risks and vulnerabilities, our experts can implement a robust ISMS. 

At the end of this process, we want you to be fully prepared for your audit(s) through providing expert support, therefore we’ve simplified the jargon to give you a clear understanding on what ISO27001 is.

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Discover how ISO27001, combined with our experts and knowledge, can benefit your business both financially and professionally.
  • Reduce the change of a security breach.
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  • Control your IT risks.
  • Ensure systematic detection of technical and process vulnerabilities.
  • Minimise your IT risks of possible damage and costs.
  • Lower your costs through more effective management.
  • Implement information and data confidentially.
  • Increase your level of trust with all your partners, customers and the public.
  • Gain a competitive edge with ISO27001 compliance.
  • Implement a tried and tested framework for addressing security compliance requirements.
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We solve the compliance problems that plague professional businesses. Our consultants work with you to help establish ISO27001 in your workplace.
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Training

One of the most important aspects around Compliance is training personnel to be compliant and remain compliant. People are often the weakest link, with 35% of all incidents caused through personnel whether deliberately or accidentally. This is why it is so important for your organisation to ensure that your personnel receive the compliance training that they need.

Discover how ISO27001, combined with our experts and knowledge, can benefit your business both financially and professionally.
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With us, you can skip the headache and be confident that your business is compliant. We take the pressure off of you and guide you through the compliance life-cycle one step at a time.

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Across different industries and organisations of all sizes, delivering ISO27001 successfully.​​

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You benefit from our real-world consultant expertise, not just academic and certification knowledge.​

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For most small businesses, we can put ISO27001 fundamentals into place within 3 months.

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We are flexible and modular. This means that we can flex and size according to your business requirements.

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We understand your business objectives in regard to ISO27001 and engage with the stakeholders and customers that have a vested interest in ISO27001 compliance and can help with successful delivery.

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Having understood your business objectives for ISO27001 and security, we are in a position to present what success looks like. We take on-board comments and modify as a result. The outcome is a strategy and plan for successful delivery.

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We then can present the working methodologies, tools, processes, documents and training to implement your ISO27001 compliance requirements.

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We can now support you in your final ISO27001 audit . We are available to present the ISO27001 audit on your behalf or to lend assistance.

As a result of the audit, any further improvements to your ISO27001 implementation can be quickly and easily implemented.

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Fewer than 10% of Americans are buying $1,000 smartphones, report says

Pictures of the Galaxy Note10.

Enlarge / The Samsung Galaxy Note10.

We’ve already seen indications that American consumers are holding onto their smartphones longer than before, posing challenges for companies like Apple and Samsung for whom mobile phone sales are important to the bottom line. A new NPD report reiterates that point but adds that fewer than 10 percent of American smartphone buyers spend more than $1,000, effectively ruling out flagship phones like the iPhone 11 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Note10 that gather most of the marketer and media attention.

The main point of concern raised by the NPD report, though, is 5G adoption. 5G phones will likely be unaffordable for many consumers at first, with the first wave of mainstream 5G phones in 2020 likely to cost at least $1,000 in most cases. On the other hand, consumer awareness of the imminent rollout of 5G is high, and many consumers cited that coming change as a reason they’re holding out on spending big on new phones. It could be that some consumers who can afford $1,000 handsets but haven’t made the plunge will do so when 5G arrives, provided that it offers all the benefits marketers have claimed. (That will likely vary quite significantly by city and region, though.)

And speaking of cities and regions, the report also found notable differences in smartphone buying habits across different designated market areas (DMAs). For example, the NPD claims that Americans in major urban centers like New York City or Los Angeles are more likely to spend $1,000 or more on a smartphone. It’s unclear from the data whether this is a result of comparatively high average incomes in those areas or other factors.

In any case, the NPD therefore recommends to smartphone manufacturers that marketing budgets be focused on those DMAs for those types of phones, especially as the 5G era approaches.

Write what you know

This is speculation on my part, but that geographic disparity could partially explain why flagship phones get significantly more media coverage than other phones; most media professionals are in cities like that.

However, shortage of media coverage on these lower-market phones isn’t that surprising to begin with; there’s not much interesting for press or influencers to say about phones that use two- or three-year-old technologies and work just well enough for most people’s needs but don’t make any waves or innovations. And some companies, like Apple, offer phones at lower price points that used to be high-priced flagships, so they’ve already been covered extensively in their prime.

All of this reporting on the United States is to say nothing about developing countries, which remain the biggest potential growth markets for cell phones because the markets in developed economies are so saturated. Consumers in developing markets may be even more unlikely to spend $1,000 or more on a smartphone.

There are Android phones well below that price point that Ars can recommend, and Apple’s iPhone 8 lands at a still-pricy-but-cheaper $500 or so. There’s likely room for Apple to introduce a phone that pushes the price down even more to address markets outside of major cities in rich economies. But as we’ve noted in some of our reviews, the support infrastructure (that is, Apple Stores and the like) for iPhones is often comparatively inadequate in small towns or in many countries.

There has been much talk among economists and politicians lately about a gap in the US economy between affluent major cities and the rest of the country. This NPD report on gadgets, of all things, provides some evidence to back up that diagnosis, at least in part.

Can 5G replace everybody’s home broadband?

Artist's impression of how fast your house might one day be with 5G mobile broadband.

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of how fast your house might one day be with 5G mobile broadband.
Aurich Lawson / Getty

When it comes to the possibility of home broadband competition, we want to believe. And in the case of 5G mobile broadband, wireless carriers want us to believe, too. But whether or not technological and commercial realities will reward that faith remains unclear. As with 5G smartphones, the basic challenge here sits at the intersection of the electromagnetic spectrum and telecom infrastructure economics.

When delivered over millimeter-wave frequencies and their copious amounts of free spectrum, 5G can match the speed and latency of fiber-optic broadband, with downloads of 1 gigabit per second and ping times under 10 milliseconds. But on those frequencies of 24GHz and up, signals struggle to reach more than a thousand feet outdoors. Carriers can fix that by building many more cell sites, each with its own fiber backhaul, but a fiber-to-the-block build-out may not be appreciably cheaper than fiber-to-the-home deployments. And while residences don’t move and don’t mind wireless antennas larger than a shirt pocket—unlike individual wireless subscribers—residences also have walls that often block mmWave signals. (Presumably also unlike individual wireless subscribers.)

The other frequency flavors of 5G (the low- and mid-band ones) don’t suffer mmWave’s allergies to distance or drywall. But they also can’t match its speed or its spectrum availability—which in the context of residential broadband means they may not sustain uncapped bandwidth.

So as much as residential customers might yearn for an alternative to their local telecom monopoly—or for any form of high-speed access besides laggy connectivity from satellites in geosynchronous orbit—5G doesn’t yet rank as a sure thing. There’s a promise, but many things still need to go right for that promise to be fulfilled.

Or, as New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin phrased things in an email: “If your fundamental question is ‘will 5G allow you to dump Comcast’ the answer is absolutely! Depending.”

Verizon’s bet on millimeter-wave broadband

Consider the 5G Home service that Verizon Wireless launched in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento in October 2018 (later expanded to parts of Chicago).

At $70 a month for unlimited data—with a $20 discount if you have a $30 or higher Verizon Wireless smartphone plan—and with download speeds from 300 to 940 megabits per second, the service would compare well with cable even if so many cable Internet plans didn’t include data caps and slap on modem-rental fees.

Reddit threads about the service in Houston, Sacramento and elsewhere offer a mix of praise for its performance (including reports of upload speeds in the range of 200Mbps, significantly faster than what most cable services offer) and complaints about it not being available at individual redditors’ addresses.

Verizon's 5G Houston coverage as of December 2019, with 5G "Ultra Wideband" in dark pink. For an idea of how much of the Houston metro this covers, you can zoom out from the same location at <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Houston,+TX/@29.733833,-95.429167,14z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8640b8b4488d8501:0xca0d02def365053b!8m2!3d29.7604267!4d-95.3698028">this Google Maps link</a>.

Enlarge / Verizon’s 5G Houston coverage as of December 2019, with 5G “Ultra Wideband” in dark pink. For an idea of how much of the Houston metro this covers, you can zoom out from the same location at this Google Maps link.

“Towards the beginning of service, there were a few firmware issues with the modem Verizon provided, but they patched that within a month,” said a software engineer in Sacramento who asked not to be named. “Since then, there’s not been significant downtime that I noticed.”

“Overall I’m happy with my 5G,” wrote another 5G Home user in Houston who runs a crisis-management firm. “No downtime that I can remember. I don’t have my exact speeds but it seems pretty quick. More than enough for my TV streaming and Web surfing.”

“There were only a few short (less than 30 min?) cases of 5G service downtime that I can recall, and they were all mostly toward the beginning of my service, so I imagine they were able to fix those stability issues quickly enough,” wrote Vincent Garcia, a software engineer in Sacramento. “My speeds seem to be the same as when I first got the service: 300-600 Mbps down, 120-140 Mbps up.”

Garcia noted one other benefit: “One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that other ISPs in my area seem to have stepped up their game in terms of value (at least in terms of their initial contract period).”

One early fear raised about millimeter-wave 5G, that it would suffer from “rain fade” akin to what cuts out satellite-TV reception during showers, doesn’t yet appear to have emerged as a serious problem. Those Reddit discussions about Verizon’s service don’t mention it, while a Twitter search reveals no firsthand reports of rain-faded 5G.

Ashutosh Dutta, a research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, pointed to a 2019 study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Information Technology Kalyani and the University of Calcutta’s Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics in West Bengal, India. They found that “proper fade mitigation techniques” can keep even heavy rain from disrupting millimeter-wave communication at frequencies up to 40 GHz. Verizon’s 5G Home, at 28 and 39 GHz, sits on the forgiving side of that line.

5G won’t change everything, or at least probably not your things

Artist's impression of millimeter-wave 5G speeds.

Enlarge / Artist’s impression of millimeter-wave 5G speeds.
Aurich Lawson / Getty

The long-touted fifth generation of wireless communications is not magic. We’re sorry if unending hype over the world-changing possibilities of 5G has led you to expect otherwise. But the next generation in mobile broadband will still have to obey the current generation of the laws of physics that govern how far a signal can travel when sent in particular wavelengths of the radio spectrum and how much data it can carry.

For some of us, the results will yield the billions of bits per second in throughput that figure in many 5G sales pitches, going back to early specifications for this standard. For everybody else, 5G will more likely deliver a pleasant and appreciated upgrade rather than a bandwidth renaissance.

That doesn’t mean 5G won’t open up interesting possibilities in areas like home broadband and machine-to-machine connectivity. But in the form of wireless mobile device connectivity we know best, 5G marketing has been writing checks that actual 5G technology will have a lot of trouble cashing.

A feuding family of frequencies

The first thing to know about 5G is that it’s a family affair—and a sometimes-dysfunctional one.

Wireless carriers can deploy 5G over any of three different ranges of wireless frequencies, and one of them doesn’t work anything like today’s 4G frequencies. That’s also the one behind the most wild-eyed 5G forecasts.

Millimeter-wave 5G occupies bands much higher than any used for 4G LTE today—24 gigahertz and up, far above the 2.5 GHz frequency of Sprint, hitherto the highest-frequency band in use by the major US carriers.

At those frequencies, 5G can send data with fiber optic speeds and latency—1.2 Gbps of bandwidth and latency from 9 to 12 milliseconds, to cite figures from an early test by AT&T. But it can’t send them very far. That same 2018 demonstration involved a direct line of sight and only 900 feet of distance from the transmitter to the test site.

Those distance and line-of-sight hangups still persist, although the US carriers that have pioneered millimeter-wave 5G say they’re making progress in pushing them outward.

“Once you get enough density of cell sites, this is a very strong value proposition,” said Ashish Sharma, executive vice president for IoT and mobile solutions at the wireless-infrastructure firm Inseego. He pointed in particular to recent advances in solving longstanding issues with multipath reception, when signals bounce off buildings.

There are a lot of "5G" stock images available. Some of them are more optimistic than others. This is one of the more optimistic ones.

Enlarge / There are a lot of “5G” stock images available. Some of them are more optimistic than others. This is one of the more optimistic ones.
Photographer is my life / Getty

Reception inside those buildings, however, remains problematic. So does intervening foliage. That’s why fixed-wireless Internet providers using millimeter-wave technology like Starry have opted for externally placed antennas at customer sites. Verizon is also selling home broadband via 5G in a handful of cities.

Below millimeter-wave, wireless carriers can also serve up 5G on mid- and low-band frequencies that aren’t as fast or responsive but reach much farther. So far, 5G deployments outside the US have largely stuck to those slower, lower-frequency bands, although the industry expects millimeter-wave adoption overseas to accelerate in the next few years.

“5G is a little more spectrally efficient than 4G, but not dramatically so,” mailed Phil Kendall, director of the service provider group at Strategy Analytics. He added that these limits will be most profound on existing LTE spectrum turned over to 5G use: “You are not going to be able to suddenly give everyone 100Mbps by re-farming that spectrum to 5G.”

And even the American carriers preaching millimeter-wave 5G today also say they’ll rely on these lower bands to cover much of the States.

For example, T-Mobile and Verizon stated early this year that millimeter-wave won’t work outside of dense urban areas. And AT&T waited until it could launch low-band 5G in late November to start selling service to consumers at all; the low-resolution maps it posted then show that connectivity reaching into suburbs.

Sprint, meanwhile, elected to launch its 5G service on the same 2.5GHz frequencies as its LTE, with coverage that is far less diffuse than millimeter-wave 5G. Kendall suggested that this mid-band spectrum will offer a better compromise between speed and coverage: “Not the 1Gbps millimeter-wave experience but certainly something sustainable well in excess of 100Mbps.”

The Federal Communications Commission is working to make more mid-band spectrum available, but that won’t be lighting up any US smartphones for some time.

(Disclosure: I’ve done a lot of writing for Yahoo Finance, a news site Verizon owns.) 

T-Mobile touts “nationwide 5G” that fails to cover 130 million Americans

T-Mobile's coverage map shows that huge parts of the US are covered by 4G but not 5G.

Enlarge / T-Mobile’s 5G coverage map.
T-Mobile

T-Mobile today announced that it has launched “America’s first nationwide 5G network,” but T-Mobile’s definition of “nationwide” doesn’t include about 40% of the US population.

“America gets its first nationwide 5G network today, covering more than 200 million people and more than 1 million square miles,” T-Mobile’s announcement said.

The US Census Bureau estimates the population to be more than 330 million people. T-Mobile hasn’t actually forgotten about the other 130 million people in the US, as a sentence halfway through the carrier’s press release notes that “T-Mobile’s network covers more than 60 percent of the population.” At 1 million square miles, the carrier’s 5G network also covers about 28% of the country’s 3.53 million square miles, and it’s far short of the geographical reach already provided by T-Mobile’s 4G network.

We asked T-Mobile to explain why it defines “nationwide” as “60 percent of the population.” T-Mobile did not answer that question.

T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network covers more than 325 million people.

US coverage map is mostly 4G

T-Mobile said its 5G network today reaches “more than 5,000 cities and towns all across the country,” and the company published a list of those places. There are 19,495 incorporated places in the US.

Despite its actual coverage, T-Mobile’s announcement uses the word “nationwide” to describe the current reach of its 5G network a dozen times while admitting that “coverage [is] not available in some areas.” In the coverage map provided by T-Mobile, which is at the top of this article, you can see that the 5G areas displayed in a darker shade of pink don’t include huge portions of the country covered by T-Mobile 4G. Alaska is excluded entirely.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere today posted a tweet announcing the “first nationwide 5G” network and a video in which he says that “nationwide 5G is live.” But Legere did not specify in the tweet or video that the nationwide 5G excludes 40% of the US population.

The 5G service T-Mobile announced today isn’t much faster than T-Mobile’s 4G service. That’s because the “nationwide” 5G covering 60% of the population uses the same 600MHz spectrum that T-Mobile already uses for 4G. The big speed increases on 5G are expected to come from millimeter-wave spectrum, but those higher frequencies don’t travel as far and are being used primarily in densely populated urban areas.

AT&T acknowledged last month that its 5G service on low-band spectrum offers only 4G-like speeds this year, with actual speed increases coming next year. Verizon has said that 5G on low-band spectrum will be more like “good 4G,” and T-Mobile said in April that millimeter-wave 5G “will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.”

Update at 3:28pm ET: T-Mobile sent us another reply after this article published, saying that “‘nationwide’ for wireless networks is defined by the National Advertising Division as covering 200 million people.” We were able to confirm this in a November 2014 National Advertising Division (NAD) statement that “In general, a wireless network can claim to be nationwide or coast to coast if the provider offers service in diverse regions of the country and the network covers at least 200 million people.” The NAD’s 2014 statement said it came up with this standard 10 years previously, or in 2004—when the US population was 293.7 million instead of the current 330 million. Since the standard apparently hasn’t been updated to reflect today’s higher population, it’s now much easier for carriers to claim they are nationwide without violating the National Advertising Division standard. The NAD is the ad industry’s self-regulatory body.

Bloomberg alleges Huawei routers and network gear are backdoored

5G Logo in the shape of a butterfly.

Enlarge / PORTUGAL – 2019/03/04: 5G logo is seen on an android mobile phone with Huawei logo on the background.

Vodafone, the largest mobile network operator in Europe, found backdoors in Huawei equipment between 2009 and 2011, reports Bloomberg. With these backdoors, Huawei could have gained unauthorized access to Vodafone’s “fixed-line network in Italy.” But Vodafone disagrees, saying that while it did discover some security vulnerabilities in Huawei equipment, these were fixed by Huawei and in any case were not remotely accessible, and hence they could not be used by Huawei.

Bloomberg’s claims are based on Vodafone’s internal security documentation and “people involved in the situation.” Several different “backdoors” are described: unsecured telnet access to home routers, along with “backdoors” in optical service nodes (which connect last-mile distribution networks to optical backbone networks) and “broadband network gateways” (BNG) (which sit between broadband users and the backbone network, providing access control, authentication, and similar services).

In response to Bloomberg, Vodafone said that the router vulnerabilities were found and fixed in 2011 and the BNG flaws were found and fixed in 2012. While it has documentation about some optical service node vulnerabilities, Vodafone continued, it has no information about when they were fixed. Further, the network operator said that it has no evidence of issues outside Italy.

The sources speaking to Bloomberg contest this. They claim that the vulnerabilities persisted after 2012 and that the same flaws could be found in Vodafone-deployed Huawei equipment in the UK, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. In spite of this, Vodafone continued to buy equipment from the Chinese firm because it was so cost competitive.

The sources also claim that the story was not so simple as “Vodafone reports bug, Huawei fixes bug.” Vodafone Italy found that Huawei’s routers had unsecured telnet access, and the company told Huawei to remove it. Huawei told Vodafone that it had done so, but further examination of the routers found that telnet could be re-enabled. Vodafone told Huawei that Vodafone wanted it removed entirely, only to be told by Huawei that the company needed to keep it for testing and configuration.

The Bloomberg report doesn’t offer any detail on the other alleged “backdoors” in the gateways or service nodes.

When is a front door a backdoor?

The accuracy of Bloomberg’s report hinges on the distinction between a vulnerability and a backdoor. A vulnerability is an accidental coding error that permits unauthorized parties to access the router (or other hardware). A backdoor, in contrast, is a deliberately written piece of code that permits unauthorized parties to access the router. While a backdoor could be written such that it’s obvious that it’s a backdoor (for example, one could imagine an authentication system that allowed anyone to log in with the password “backdoor”), any competent backdoor will look either like a legitimate feature or an accidental coding error.

Telnet access, for example, is a common feature of home routers. Typically, the telnet interface gives greater control over the router’s behavior than is available through the Web-based configuration interface that these devices usually have. The telnet interface is also easier to automate, making it easier to preconfigure the devices so that they’re properly set up for a particular ISP’s network. Even Huawei’s initial response to Vodafone’s request, which allowed users to re-enable the telnet service, isn’t out of the ordinary: it’s common for the Web front-ends to allow telnet to be turned off and on. Vodafone’s assertion that the telnet service wasn’t accessible from the Internet is also likely to be true; typically, these telnet services are only accessible from the local network side, not from the Internet IP address.

As such, Vodafone and Huawei’s posture that this isn’t a backdoor at all is entirely defensible, and Huawei has done nothing that’s particularly out of the ordinary. This is not to say that the hardware is not backdoored—routers with unauthenticated remote access or bypassable authentication have been found in the past and are likely to be found in the future, too. But there’s no indication that these particular Huawei issues are an attempt to backdoor the routers, and nothing in the Bloomberg report corroborates this specific claim.

What there is, however, is a concern fueled by the US government that Huawei wishes to compromise or undermine networks and systems belonging to the US and Europe, as well as a concern that the company tries to unlawfully use intellectual property taken from Western countries. Among Chinese firms, Huawei is viewed with particular suspicion due to its ties to the Chinese military.

Huawei’s CFO was arrested in Canada on behalf of the United States, which says that Huawei has violated the US sanctions against Iran, and the company has also been indicted for stealing robotic phone-testing technology from T-Mobile. The US government has pressured domestic companies to not buy or sell Huawei hardware, and more broadly, the US has pushed its allies to avoid Huawei network hardware. Examination of Huawei’s firmware and software by the UK government has revealed a generally shoddy approach to security, but these problems appear to be buggy code that was carelessly written and leaves systems hackable rather than deliberate insertion of backdoors.

This pressure is particularly acute when it comes to deploying 5G networks. Huawei’s 4G hardware is already widely deployed in Europe, and Huawei’s 5G hardware is aggressively priced and seen as critical to the timely deployment of 5G infrastructure in Europe. Vodafone, for its part, continued to buy Huawei gear until January of this year; further purchases have been paused because of the concerns about the company.