Tomlia Services > 2019 > September

IT resellers are overcharging businesses

At a time when IT security budgets are already falling, a new study from Probrand has revealed the scale of margins some buyers are paying out to IT resellers which shows how businesses in some industries are unnecessarily wasting what little resources they do have.To compile its new IT Product Margins Report 2019, the firm conducted analysis on over £12m worth of tech spending across 20 sectors over a two-year period. Probrand’s report highlights how some organizations have been paying staggering mark-ups to suppliers, indicating that IT buyers aren’t getting the IT deals they thought they were.The most extreme examples in the firm’s report show how organizations were found to have paid more than ten times the trade price for products. According to Probrand, one buyer in the banking sector bought Ethernet cables at a unit price of £42.32 when the trade price was 34p, representing an astonishing 12,347 percent margin.
UK businesses falling behind in digital transformationIT security budgets are fallingStaying on track and on budget using performance metrics
The Society of IT Managers’ industry best practice states that organizations should not be paying more than a three percent margin to suppliers. However, the study revealed that the average margin paid across all sectors and purchases was a little over 14 percent which is almost five times the recommended mark-up.
High margins
Probrand’s report also revealed which products drove the highest margins including a stylus pen which was bought for £73.24 despite the trade price being £5.62 (equivalent to a 1203.2% margin) and a wax printer ribbon with a trade price of £6.42 which was bought for £83.01.MCIPS supply chain director at Probrand, Ian Nethercot provided further insight on the report’s findings, saying:“12,000% profit has never been deemed fair and equitable for any product purchase, and IT buyers are fundamentally not getting the deals they expect or deserve.  The volatility and complexity of the market, with a dose of human intervention in between, is seeing IT budgets unknowingly wasted. Buyers are also consuming vast swathes of time doing their level best to manually get quotes, compare and negotiate discounts. We believe it is time for a change, buyers demand fair deals from an open and transparent market and that is exactly what the industry needs to deliver.  Ultimately, it will help IT procurers save time and unlock more IT for their money.”The report’s analysis also showed that the legal sector was the industry paying the highest margin on average with a whopping 23.61 percent average. Emergency services was found to be paying the lowest margin at an average of 9.3% but this is still three times the ‘best practice’ price.Businesses should think twice before purchasing IT products from a reseller with high prices and they should always check the trade price before completing a purchase.
We’ve also rounded up the best business accessories of 2019

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Google facing privacy probe on use of HTTPS in Chrome

Congressional antitrust investigators have raised concerns over Google’s plans to use a new internet protocol which they believe could give the search giant an unfair competitive advantage over its rivals.Earlier this month, investigators from the House Judiciary Committee sent the company a letter requesting for information about its “decision regarding whether to adopt or promote the adoption” of the protocol according to the Wall Street Journal.The new internet protocol, known as DNS-over-HTTPS, will help improve both internet privacy and security by encrypting traffic which will make it more difficult for hackers to spoof websites. However, congressional investigators are concerned that Google will use data collected through the new protocol for its own commercial gain.
Surfshark launches free Trust DNS appGoogle is driving more app downloads than FacebookA look inside Google’s security team
Google plans to have users of its Chrome browser begin testing DNS-over-HTTPS next month.
DNS-over-HTTPS
Protecting users’ privacy online has become increasingly important but lawmakers as well as ISPs are worried the new standard could alter internet competition.Once DNS-over-HTTPS becomes widely adopted, cable and wireless companies will be cut off from the valuable DNS data of their users while Google will gain an unfair advantage in user data. A company spokesperson tried to assuage concerns surrounding its new protocol, saying:”Google has no plans to centralize or change people’s DNS providers to Google by default. Any claim that we are trying to become the centralized encrypted DNS provider is inaccurate.”  Leaders of the House Judiciary Committee are currently conducting an antitrust investigation into Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook to determine whether US tech giants are engaging in anti-competitive conduct.The development of DNS-over-HTTPS is just another way that Google is working to make the internet a safer place for everyone but lawmakers clearly disagree and we’ll find out more once their antitrust investigation into the company is complete.
Also check out our complete list of the best VPN providers
Via CNET

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iOS 13.1.2 release notes detail fixes for bugs plaguing iOS 13

In an unusual software update cadence, iOS 13.1.2 is now available with more bug fixes for the fresh mobile operating system – which applies to both iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.This might feel a bit like deja vu since iOS 13.1.1 was only released to the public a few days ago on Friday. Today’s update doesn’t contain any particularly notable front-facing features, according to 9to5Mac. It’s mostly fixes to minor annoyances. What’s interesting is the frequency at which these updates are coming to the general public to fix Apple’s iOS software.Among the iOS 13.1.2 release notes, bug fixes for iCloud, Bluetooth, HomePod, and the display are mentioned.
Fixes a bug where the progress bar for iCloud Backup could continue to show after a successful backupFixes an issue where Camera may not workAddresses an issue where the flashlight may not activateFixes a bug that could result in a loss of display calibration dataFixes an issue where shortcuts could not be run from HomePodAddresses an issue where Bluetooth may disconnect on certain vehicles
Despite the rapid updates to iPhone’s and iPad’s software, there are still things that remain broken for developers. Marco Arment, developer of the podcast app Overcast calls out the UISearchController-UINavigationBar corruption bug which he says, “totally screwed my app.”
The iOS 13 beta launched June 3 at Apple’s WWDC 2019 keynote, however, even after more than three months of testing and the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro launch, it’s clear that even more time is needed to patch the software update. 

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HP tiptoes into consumer VPN space, partners with ExpressVPN

The global VPN market is red hot; weeks after after Cloudflare and Mozilla unveiled their privacy solutions, ExpressVPN has scored a major win thanks to a partnership with computing giant HP. Its VPN service will be bundled with HP’s new Flagship, the Spectre x360 13 with buyers being able to use the VPN – which tops our best VPN list – for 30-days before opting for a full subscription.
These are the best business laptopsCheck out who comes first in our best antivirus listThe number one solution on our best cloud storage article could come as a surprise
We’ve been told that this is not a traditional “load-and-forget” OEM software deal which is usually construed as being bloatware. Instead, it is a deep product integration that took many months of work for teams from HP and ExpressVPN to complete, including a rigorous security review process.HP went as far as pinning ExpressVPN to the taskbar, a clear indication of the amount of trust the PC giant puts into the VPN brand. Whether HP wants to add this VPN service to other product lines remains to be seen.Other than a bundled VPN, the Spectre x360 13 also includes a 30-day trial to a password management, a dedicated mute mic key, a webcam kill switch and optionally, the latest version of HP Sure View, a privacy screen due to launch in January 2020. 
Here are the best password managers

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Intel Cascade Lake-X benchmarks leak out, but it doesn’t beat the Ryzen 9 3900X

It’s no secret that Intel has been playing catch-up with AMD over the last few months as Team Red pulled ahead with Ryzen 3rd Generation – Team Blue has itself admitted this. But, some leaked benchmarks of Intel’s next high-end desktop (HEDT) platform suggest it will fall behind AMD’s mainstream platform.This is all according to a leaked GeekBench 4 entry spotted by the folks over at Wccftech. In these results, the Intel Core i9-10920X scores a multi-core result of 44,046, compared to the 44,160 scored by the Ryzen 9 3900X in our review. If this leaked benchmark reflects reality, it won’t look too good for Intel when Cascade Lake-X launches later this year.
Check out the best gaming PCsPair your HEDT chip with the best graphics cardThere’s a whole world of PC components out there 
Now, it’s important to note that HEDT and mainstream processors aren’t directly comparable, as they target different segments of the market. However, because HEDT chips are targeting high processor (CPU) performance for creatives and professionals, they’re expected to crush mainstream silicon into the dirt – and the prices reflect that.For instance, the last-generation Intel Core i9-9920X retails for $1,189 (£1,049, AU$1,799). So, if its successor is around the same price, which we don’t know for sure, it should be able to beat AMD’s mainstream flagship that’s about half the price at $499 (£531, AU$809). It’s true that the Ryzen 9 3900X is facing increased prices right now, but they’ve not increased that much.It is also true that this leaked GeekBench 4 result is better than an AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2920X, but that processor is a year old, and new Threadripper chips are right around the corner.Either way, these leaks may not represent reality, and we won’t know the details of what Intel’s Cascade Lake-X can do until Team Blue reveals its next desktop processors. Until then, all we can do is look at these leaks and try to guess what will happen next. At the very least, the PC components space is alive with competition once more.
Did you know that PC Gaming Week is going on right now?

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HP tiptoes into consumer VPN space, teams up with ExpressVPN

The global VPN market is red hot; weeks after after Cloudflare and Mozilla unveiled their privacy solutions, ExpressVPN has scored a major win thanks to a partnership with computing giant HP. Its VPN service will be bundled with HP’s new Flagship, the Spectre x360 13 with buyers being able to use the VPN – which tops our best VPN list – for 30-days before opting for a full subscription.
These are the best business laptopsCheck out who comes first in our best antivirus listThe number one solution on our best cloud storage article could come as a surprise
We’ve been told that this is not a traditional “load-and-forget” OEM software deal which is usually construed as being bloatware. Instead, it is a deep product integration that took many months of work for teams from HP and ExpressVPN to complete, including a rigorous security review process.HP went as far as pinning ExpressVPN to the taskbar, a clear indication of the amount of trust the PC giant puts into the VPN brand. Whether HP wants to add this VPN service to other product lines remains to be seen.Other than a bundled VPN, the Spectre x360 13 also includes a 30-day trial to a password management, a dedicated mute mic key, a webcam kill switch and optionally, the latest version of HP Sure View, a privacy screen due to launch in January 2020. 
Here are the best password managers

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Microsoft will now encrypt new SSDs with BitLocker

Although Windows ships with its own full volume encryption tool called BitLocker, SSDs that claimed to offer their own hardware-based encryption were trusted by the tool and left alone.Now though, after a recent update to Windows 10, Microsoft will assume that connected SSDs don’t actually encrypt anything.In a Twitter post, SwiftOnSecurity described why the software giant has decided to no longer trust SSD manufacturers, saying:“Microsoft gives up on SSD manufacturers: Windows will no longer trust drives that say they can encrypt themselves, BitLocker will default to CPU-accelerated AES encryption instead. This is after an exposé on broad issues with firmware-powered encryption. “
Windows 10 adds security feature to ensure encrypted SSDs aren’t compromisedThese are the best SSDs of 2019New Samsung SSDs for servers double in speed and can ‘never die’
A report released in November of 2018 revealed that self-encrypting drives have a number of security flaws including the use of master passwords set by manufacturers. This means that those who purchased SSDs which were supposed to help keep their data secure might as well have purchased a drive that did not handle its own encryption instead.
SSD encryption
Users who purchased self-encrypting drives were actually worse off than they thought as Microsoft set up BitLocker to leave these drives alone completely. This was done to help performance without compromising the security of these drives as they could use their own hardware to encrypt their contents instead of using a system’s CPU. However, now it seems as though Microsoft will no longer trust SSD manufacturers to keep customers data safe on their own.In its release notes for the KB4516071 update to Windows 10, the company explained the changes it had made to how BitLocker handles self-encrypting drives, saying:”Changes the default setting for BitLocker when encrypting a self-encrypting hard drive. Now, the default is to use software encryption for newly encrypted drives. For existing drives, the type of encryption will not change.” While it would be nice if self-encrypting SSDs were as secure as they claim to be, at least now users can rest easy knowing that BitLocker will secure their drives.
We’ve also highlighted the best encryption software of 2019

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Best controllers for PC 2019: the best PC game controllers you can buy today

Purists will tell you that a gaming mouse and keyboard is the only way to play PC games, and, until recently, they were mostly right. Customizability options in strategy games and more precise aiming in shooters make them a perfect solution to playing the best PC games. Now, though, many AAA games are designed with console controls in mind, and PC gamers often find themselves turning to controllers for some of the more dexterity-demanding generes out there. Sports, action-RPGs like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and fighting games are among the best reasons to invest in a decent controller for your PC for when a keyboard simply won’t cut it.  The hard part, though, is settling on one controller. There are hundreds of viable options to fit every budget, and many sport a host of features that may or may not be appropriate for your situation. We’ve collected five of our favorite PC game controllers below, ranging from budget-friendly options to expensive, premium devices. And, while we haven’t done a full review of every controller on this list, we’re PC gaming experts, so you can trust that each PC game controller on this list will be worth your time and money. We’ve also included our exclusive price comparison tool to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.   

Microsoft’s Xbox controller has been the ruler by which other PC game controllers are measured since the Xbox 360 days, and for good reason. It’s comfortable and weighty with a button layout that feels natural. The most recent version – designed for the Xbox One console – iterates on everything that made last generation’s model so great by adding clickier shoulder bumpers and a vastly improved directional pad.The built in bluetooth wireless makes pairing it with your desktop a breeze, and the price point is very attractive for consumers on a budget. It also comes in a variety of colors and patterns, meaning you’re likely find something that matches your rig. And, even if there isn’t a color scheme you’re into, Microsoft will let you customize it through the Xbox Design Lab. This controller is as universal as they come, making it a fantastic choice for just about any setup.    

A premium version of the Xbox One controller, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller certainly earns its moniker. It features an enormous number of upgrades over the standard Xbox controller, such as an interchangeable component layout and paddle buttons on the reverse side. There’s also a trigger governor that you can toggle for more sensitive trigger pulls. It’s more than double the price, though, so this is a product aimed squarely at those among us who truly want to take advantage of keyboard levels of customizability. The Elite controller includes some truly impressive software functionality, which lets you tweak and fine-tune nearly every aspect of play. Here, you can customize many different profiles, of which the controller can hold two at any time, letting you change between them with the flick of a switch. If you’re looking for the most feature-packed controller available for your PC, this is your best bet, provided you’re willing to shell out the cash.Read the full review: Xbox Elite Wireless Controller 

If you’re in the market for a truly budget controller, it’s tough to beat Logitech’s F310. It may be basic in its execution and functionality, but there’s something to be said about the no-frills nature of this cheap option. Just plug it in via USB and you’re ready to go. Considering the glut of customization options and features of all the premium controllers out there, the F310 is oddly refreshing. It also boasts an admirable directional pad and a great button layout.As might be expected, the price point comes with a number of tradeoffs. First, the controller is rather lightweight, which lends an unfortunately flimsy quality to the experience of gaming with it. Also, with no wireless functionality, the cord interface may be less than ideal for some. It’s also a tad small and larger hands are likely to struggle a bit. Still, given these caveats, the F310 is a fine choice for an inexpensive alternative to a mouse and keyboard.

The PlayStation 4 is Sony’s best controller to date, and lucky for us it’s compatible with Steam’s entire library of games. Very comfortable in the hands, the DualShock 4 boasts tactile analog sticks with just enough resistance, and perhaps the best directional pad ever. It also features motion technology that’s compatible with with a surprising number of games, allowing you to steer in racing games or aim in shooters by moving the controller around.There are a couple issues, though. Most notably, the exposed shoulder buttons make it easy to accidentally bump them on the desk. The rubber on the analog sticks also tends to rub off after extended use. Still, Sony’s controller ranks up there among the best options for controller-based PC gaming.Read the full review: Dualshock 4 Controller 

Peripheral manufacturer 8BitDo has made its name on retro designs that lean heavily on nostalgia, and the SN30 Pro wears its inspiration on its sleeve. Modeled after old-school Super Nintendo controllers, it’s ideal for the PC’s ever-growing library of retro-inspired games, even if it doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. The button layout will be instantly familiar to anyone who grew up with 2D platformers and JRPGs.The craftsmanship on the SN30 Pro is surprisingly sturdy, especially considering its budget pricing. It also sports a pair of analog sticks should you want to use it for modern shooters or action games, though we wouldn’t recommend that. Its small form factor makes it uncomfortable in the hand during extended sessions and more twitch-based games. Regardless, there are a number of games that would benefit from the authentically retro touch that the SN30 brings to the desk.   
Welcome to TechRadar’s PC Gaming Week 2019. We’re celebrating the most powerful gaming platform on Earth with in-depth articles, exclusive interviews and essential buying guides that showcase everything PC gaming has to offer. Visit our PC Gaming Week 2019 page to see all our coverage in one place.

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German authorities shut down illegal data center in former NATO bunker

German authorities have shut down a data center set up inside a former NATO bunker which was used to host sites dealing in drugs and other illegal activities.Seven people were arrested in a recent raid but the main suspect of the long-running investigation is a 59-year-old Dutchman who is believed to have acquired the former military bunker located in the town of Traben-Trarbach in western Germany back in 2013.After acquiring the bunker, the suspect turned it into a very large and heavily secured data center which he maid available to clients to use for illegal purposes. According to regional criminal police chief Johannes Kunz, he had links to organized crime and spent most of his time at the bunker despite being registered as having moved to Singapore.
Hackers leak details of German politiciansCybercrime costs could hit trillionsHackers launch phishing attack disguised as DocuSign document
In total, thirteen people aged 20 to 59 are under investigation, including three German and seven Dutch citizens. German authorities have arrested seven people involved in the illegal data who they believe may be a flight risk.
Illegal data center
The data center within the former NATO bunker was set up as a “bulletproof hoster” meant to conceal illicit activities from the eyes of the authorities according to investigators on the scene.A number of illegal online platforms were hosted from the data center including the drug-dealing portal, Cannabis Road, the world’s largest online criminal marketplace for drugs, hacking tools and financial malware, Wall Street Market and sites dealing in synthetic drugs such as Orange Chemicals.A botnet attack which disabled 1m Deutsche Telekom customer routers in late 2016 also appears to have originated from the illegal data center.Regional criminal police chief Johannes Kunz explained that the raid on the complex was a huge success for the authorities, saying:“I think it’s a huge success … that we were able at all to get police forces into the bunker complex, which is still secured at the highest military level. We had to overcome not only real, or analog, protections; we also cracked the digital protections of the data center.”
We’ve also highlighted the best antivirus software of 2019
Via AP News

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