Emojis in the Workplace: Unprofessional or Acceptable?

Emojis in the Workplace: Unprofessional or Acceptable?

Here are just a few factors to consider before you hit “send.”

1. Some emojis are more work appropriate than others. A simple smiley will likely be well received in a work email or text. However, there are some emojis that definitely shouldn’t show up in professional messages, like the infamous eggplant.

2. Less is more. An emoji is kind of like an exclamation point. Once in a while they’re merited, but your colleagues will become annoyed and even concerned if you overdo it and flood their inboxes with strings of heart-eyed faces, high fives, hearts, and palm trees.

3. Make sure you really know what you mean. Just like it’s best not to use a word or acronym if you aren’t quite sure of its definition, don’t throw around an emoji unless you’re positive you understand its meaning. Otherwise your attempt at humor and lightheartedness could go horribly wrong and earn you a visit with HR.

4. Keep your audience in mind. Your coworker who you regularly trade snarky remarks with might not mind emojis in your emails, but a serious-minded boss or potential client might find them unprofessional. Consider your relationship with the recipient before you introduce emojis into your dynamic.    

Whether you love them or hate them, emojis are everywhere these days, and it doesn’t hurt to know how to use and interpret them in the workplace. Are you an emoji enthusiast who uses them as much as possible personally and professionally, or do you dislike and shun the symbols? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.

Kevin Rubin is president and chief operating officer of Stratosphere Networks, a Chicago-based multifaceted IT managed service provider focused on delivering comprehensive technology services and solutions to meet and exceed the always-changing, diverse business needs. Visit www.stratospherenetworks.com for more information.

Canada’s tech sector expected to get boost from fears about Trump election

Nervousness in Silicon Valley about Donald Trump’s election could give Canada’s technology sector a competitive edge if new labour restrictions ratchet up the war for high-skilled talent, say industry experts.

In an open letter sent during the campaign, senior executives at some of America’s top tech companies called Trump “a disaster for innovation.”

They expressed concerns about the president-elect’s trade proposals and anti-immigration stance which some fear could result in visa restrictions that would make it harder and costlier for them to hire foreign IT workers.

Each year, tens of thousands of foreigners with specialized skills, such as coders, are granted temporary H-1B visas to work in the United States. While the industry has sought increased numbers of visas, Trump has offered mixed signals as he seeks to protect domestic employment.

Meanwhile, the Trudeau government is changing its immigration-selection system as of Saturday to make it easier for international students and some high-skilled foreign workers to become permanent residents.

Together, these changes could increase Canada’s drawing power for those no longer able or willing to enter the U.S., said Patrick Hopf, president of Montreal-based SourceKnowledge, a firm that builds technology to track the success of advertising works for digital videos.

“You might see a seismic shift in technology in Canada,” he said.

Trump’s unexpected victory has prompted some disenchanted U.S. technology sector workers to consider heading north.

Hopf said he received a few such applications in the days since the election.

Hootsuite founder Ryan Holmes said he’s fielded calls from five people in the U.S. looking to move to Vancouver.

“Is this the reversal of the talent diaspora that Canada has historically seen and beginning of the U.S. brain drain?” he posted on Twitter.

Tightened U.S. border controls and visa requirements would provide Canada a short-term benefit in attracting more skilled immigrants, said Larry Smith, adjunct associate economics professor at the University of Waterloo’s Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre.

“We’ve always had a reasonably good draw but America is a powerful magnet for people around the world and now the magnet will be dimmed,” he said.

However, Smith said a far bigger threat to the global tech sector are Trump fiscal policies and expected reduction of regulations that could destabilize financial markets and hurt venture capital which is the lifeblood of both startup and growth tech companies.

Not everyone thinks Trump will make dramatic changes to visas. Ian Lee, assistant professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, believes Trump will focus on curtailing illegal immigration without restricting professional workers.

Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute, said the next president can’t afford to alienate the tech sector, one of the strongest areas of the U.S. economy that is headed by some of the world’s most valuable firms.

Mullin doesn’t foresee a mass exodus from the U.S. by Canadians returning home, but said U.S. policy changes could prompt Canadian startups to think twice about chasing their dreams down south.

And more U.S. companies, helped by a low loonie, may expand their Canadian research and development operations to circumvent immigration restrictions, he said.

Even before the election, General Motors and Thomson Reuters vowed to hire hundreds of software engineers and other skilled workers at innovation centres they plan to set up around Toronto.

“At the very least that trend won’t stop and it may accelerate for Canada given that we’re one of the few countries in the world where you can bring talent and openness and inclusivity and diversity,” he said.


Smart-Technology set to change the insurance industry

Smart-Technology set to change the insurance industry

Excerpted article was written by Paul Mitchell | Stuff

The way your insurance premiums are calculated could be in for a massive overhaul that relies on big brother technology.

Flocks of driverless cars and fridges that report on their owners’ eating habits are some of the innovations a Massey University academic is predicting will affect premiums in the near future.

Insurance researcher Dr Michael Naylor is predicting “smart” technology will drastically shake up the insurance industry by 2030.

Every device and appliance in our daily lives is becoming “smart”, embedded with data-collecting sensors and connected to the internet.

This allows your devices to communicate – an electronic key-fob might unlock your car door when you get close and cue-up your favourite music playlist from your phone or ipod.

The flip side is all those devices will be gathering data on their users, and companies are going to want this for their benefit.

That’s where Naylor sees the insurance industry heading.

“Through the connection of objects to the internet, it will be possible for insurers to know how healthy the food in your fridge is or how often you exercise. Imagine how accurately they can then predict your health risk for insurance purposes,” he said.

“You have to agree to share this information, of course, but if you do and you are healthy, you should see your insurance premiums plummet. But if you don’t agree to it, you’ll be classed as high-risk and your premiums will be very expensive.”

Consumer Institute spokeswoman Jessica Wilson said under the Consumer Guarantees Act and current New Zealand insurance industry guidelines, insurers had a responsibility to deal fairly and reasonably with customers. If they were deemed high-risk unless agreeing to share data, consumers would be able to challenge the decision.

But there was a need to have a closer look into standards and regulations in this area, Wilson said.

“Consumers will need assurance that if insurers are collecting that data, it’s robust and accurate and they are being transparent about how the data will inform their risk calculations.”

The car insurance industry is likely to be the first to see major changes, Naylor said. He predicted car insurance premiums will fall as much as 90 per cent by 2030.

Self-driving cars are expected to reduce crashes. And developments in voice and facial recognition may mean future cars won’t start unless they know you – making them harder to steal.

Research, by Volo, found nine out of ten crashes are caused by drivers making mistakes or getting distracted. This will be avoided by driverless cars.

“You don’t even need 100 per cent self-driving cars. Just with adaptive cruise control and automatic parking the crash rates drop by half.

“That’s not the future, that’s happening right now. Most newer cars have those features already.”

Insurers need to adapt to the new industry all these changes will bring or they will go under, Naylor said.

Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said insurers were aware there were challenges. Some firms had set up laboratories specifically to consider how new technology could be used more effectively and what changes would need to be made, he said.

“It depends on how adept they are at changing to meet the demands that new technology brings. But this is not an industry that is a dinosaur asleep at the wheel.”

Facebook blocks insurance app

Facebook blocks insurance app

By James Titcomb | The Telegraph

Facebook has blocked Admiral from scouring social media profiles to set car insurance prices, forcing the company into a hasty climbdown.

The internet giant said that Admiral’s contravened Facebook’s privacy policies, preventing the launch of the technology just hours before it was due to be launched.

Admiral had planned to use Facebook status updates and “likes” to build up a “risk assessment” of first-time motorists, offering insurance discounts to those likely to be safer drivers.

We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibilityFacebook spokesman

As privacy campaigners criticised the move as “intrusive”, the company dropped the plans and said the Firstcarquote app would have “reduced functionality”. Facebook vowed to protect its users’ privacy and said that Admiral’s app would now only be able to use the social network as a way of signing users in.

The move represents a setback for the insurance industry, which hopes to gather growing amounts of data about its customers to set prices in future.

“Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us. We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility,” a spokesman for the social network said.

“We have made sure anyone using this app is protected by our guidelines and that no Facebook user data is used to assess their eligibility. Facebook accounts will only be used for login and verification purposes.

“Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to assess their eligibility.”

While Admiral’s app would only have used information that users had consented to share, Facebook’s policies bar companies from making “decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on loan”.

Privacy campaigners had attacked Admiral, warning that its plans could be a step towards widespread discrimination.

“We need to think about the wider consequences of allowing companies to make decisions that affect us financially or otherwise based on what we have said on social media,” said Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group.

“Such intrusive practices could see decisions being made against particular groups based on biases about race, gender, religion or sexuality – or because their posts in some way mark them as unconventional. Ultimately, this could change how people use social media, encouraging self-censorship in anticipation of future decisions.”

Edited for ILSTV.

U.S. self-driving sensor maker Savari announces partnership with China’s SAIC Motor

Savari Inc, a U.S. maker of sensors for autonomous driving, on Tuesday said China’s largest automaker, SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, has agreed to manufacture and distribute Savari’s sensors in China and some Southeast Asian markets.

California-based Savari did not disclose financial terms in a statement announcing the deal.

Savari makes V2X sensors that connect vehicles to other vehicles and infrastructure, a critical component for self-driving car functions.

The company also said a self-driving test project in Shanghai will equip more than 10,000 vehicles with Savari sensors.

(Reporting by Jake Spring and Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

10 Tips For Businesses: National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Now is a good time for businesses to review their cybersecurity practices. It is tempting to think that “it can’t happen to me”, but in the wake of Yahoo’s recent admission that personal data was hacked, it is clear that this can happen to anyone.

Of course, technological safeguards are critical to security, however operations and policy play a crucial role as well. The steps outlined below focus on tips  that involve measures that go beyond technology.

  1. Plan on a Prudent Response. In a 2015 study commissioned by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, only 41% of surveyed companies stated that they had policies or procedures in place that dealt with data breaches where there was a compromise of customer personal information. If an Incident Response Plan is made ahead of time in order to deal with a cybersecurity breach, a company will be in a position to respond quickly in a manner that mitigates harm to the business and to third parties (such as customers). Companies who do not make such a Plan are often caught flat-footed and fumble through an incident, and increase the risk of complaints to regulators and class action or other lawsuits.
  2. Build an Effective and Safe Cybersecurity Workforce. Robust recruitment processes that properly vet candidates will help ensure that the hiring of problematic employees is avoided. Unfortunately, many attacks come from inside an organization. Background checks are an important tool in the screening process. Employees play a key role in helping to prevent cybersecurity incidents. Proper training is key, and will enable employees to spot suspicious activities and events, and report them to the appropriate personnel. Employees are the single most important group of people who can help to reduce unintentional errors and technological  vulnerabilities.
  3. Make Continuing Education a Practice. It was recently reported in the news that the World Anti-Doping Agency was hacked by a Russian cyber group known as “Fancy Bear”. The group accessed confidential medical data of athletes because a password was obtained through spear phishing (generally an e-mail that appears to be from someone the recipient knows and trusts – such as someone in a position of authority in the recipient’s company). News reports about incidents like this should be shared and discussed with employees as they provide an opportunity for companies to educate and share information with personnel about cyber risks.
  4. Create an Incident Response Team. If a cybersecurity breach occurs, a business must act quickly. The establishment of an Incident Response Team will make the business nimble and mitigate harm. Key stakeholders to be included on the Team may include executive leaders/decision makers, IT and security, marketing and business development  (media and other third-party notifications), legal (breach and notification obligations and protection from potential litigation), privacy and human resources.
  5. Have a Lead Person. The Incident Response Team needs a lead who is primarily responsible for dealing with an incident and whose duties include (i) conducting an initial immediate assessment of an incident, (ii) determining the extent to which the information, system or network is impaired, (iii) reaching out to the Incident Response Team (and other appropriate personnel) depending upon the initial assessment, and (iv) being the main point of contact.
  6. Create Relationships with Third Party Service Providers. It is best to retain third-party contacts for the purpose of a cyberbreach response before the incident occurs. Common sense dictates that it will be less expensive and more efficient if third-party engagements are considered by a company and finalized before (as opposed to after) a cyberbreach. Potential service providers include legal (assess and deal with breach notification obligations to third parties), public relations firms (deal with reputation management) and forensics.  In-house IT resources are useful to take the machines/system offline and preserve evidence – but third-party forensics may be required to investigate and remediate the incident to get the organization back in business.
  7. Consider Cyber Insurance. Traditional insurance coverage may help deal with risks and potential losses posed by cyber risks to a certain extent, but cyber insurance policies extend coverage. Cyber insurance may be purchased separately or may run parallel with existing insurance at an increased premium. Both first-party coverage and third-party coverage are available. First-party coverage insures the policyholder from a loss resulting from a cybersecurity incident and third-party coverage covers the policyholder regarding liabilities to outside entities as a result of an incident. Third-party coverage may help with crisis management including public relations expenses related to dealing with a response to the incident. First-party coverage may also extend to payments to cyber extortionists who threaten to disclose sensitive confidential information unless their demands are met.
  8. Be Careful About What You Say Today. Sometimes online privacy policies and other publications of a company make statements about security such as the company has “implemented reasonable and appropriate means to protect personal information against unauthorized access.” In a US case, a court held that the foregoing statement was deceptive in light of the company’s actual cybersecurity practices. A company risks liability if it makes statements to the public about cybersecurity that are not readily justified by the facts. Be wary about merely copying and pasting text into privacy policies and other publications.
  9. Be Prepared – Identify Disclosure Obligations. It is best to keep abreast of privacy breach notifications and obligations imposed by legislation in each jurisdiction where a company does business.  The rules are not uniform, and some preparation will help a company to respond to an incident efficiently. The legal landscape is changing. Canada’s Digital Privacy Act passed in June, 2015 will require an organization to notify the Privacy Commissioner and affected individuals of any “breach of security safeguards involving personal information under the organization’s control, if it is reasonable in the circumstances to believe that the breach creates a real risk of significant harm to an individual”. It is anticipated that these data breach disclosure obligations will come into force when final regulations are passed.
  10. Work on “Operational Security” (OPSEC). OPSEC is a term originating in the military. In the context of cybersecurity, it involves (i) identifying the information that is most critical to successful business operations (such as customer lists and other contact information), (ii) analysis of the likely cyber criminals who may attempt to obtain critical information, (iii) identification of the potential vulnerabilities regarding the protection of critical information (such as poorly secured mobile devices that have access to the critical information), (iv) investigation of measures to mitigate each vulnerability, and (v) implementation of measures based upon the cost of implementing each measure against the harmful effects of a cybersecurity breach.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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