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NASSCOM submits feedback on Draft Health Data Management Policy

The National Health Authority (NHA) had released the Draft Health Data Management Policy (NHD Policy) for public comments on 26 August 2020. The deadline for providing feedback to NHA was 21 September 2020.

Based on the inputs received from the industry, NASSCOM submitted its feedback on 21 September 2020.

Given that the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, (PDP bill) which is currently being considered by the Parliament, is a horizontal legislation that would cover privacy of health/ medical data also, the interplay between PDP bill and NHD policy was carefully considered. Our submission was, thus organised in the following manner.

  • Key issues that the NHA may raise with the JPC to ensure that the vision set forth in the draft Policy is consistent with the PDP Bill.
  • Key areas where the NHA may advise the DPA towards framing industry codes of practices relating to mechanisms being adopted in the draft Policy
  • Standalone areas where the NHA may start implementing mechanisms recommended in the draft Policy Our submission is attached.

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Reasons Why Organizations Fail While Trying to Stay Relevant And How to Overcome Them

Every business aims to succeed and grow aggressively. The innate goal of most businesses is to gain an edge over their competitors and be agile enough to cope with the changing market trends and preferences.

However, after identifying the need to bring about significant changes in order to stay relevant, most businesses often rush through the entire process without much planning. They tend to skip the initial steps and hastily move from one phase to another, ultimately leading to futile results.

Here are reasons why organizations fail while trying to stay relevant and how you can overcome them:

  • Leadership: The leadership of a business is responsible for its growth. Ensuring proper planning and management to follow through with the execution plans, facilitating a conducive work culture, ensuring that the goals are being met all of which is the responsibility of the leadership . In order to lead a successful change, you must work towards building competencies such as learning, decision making, communication, trust-building, and strategic direction, which are the characteristics of transformational leaders. Leaders who are unwilling to enhance these competencies will find it difficult to envision a transformation for their businesses, adapt to changing environments, effectively communicate the need for change, or successfully enroll stakeholders in the process which ultimately leads to failure.
  • Planning: Poor planning and undefined goals will hamper the transformation of your business with unfulfilled targets and weak performance. The absence of a strong vision statement or an unclear definition of the future state of your organization, and confusion about the big moves creates chaos and uncertainty in the organization. To succeed, you must set a clear long-term roadmap that separates your initiatives into quick wins, big moves and breakthrough projects, allocate budget for human, financial, and infrastructural resources required for change, and define governance measures to track and manage progress. Roles and responsibilities must be assigned appropriately, and everyone should be on the same page with respect to the transformation process.
  • Agility: Businesses that are rigid and more closed in their approach often fail to adapt and evolve, thereby facing multiple challenges while transforming. Your business must be flexible and open to change while re-innovating itself. When you begin to tread the path towards change, you will encounter different situations and obstacles that will compel you to pause, reflect, and then correct your current practices and trends. In situations like these, you are likely to benefit if you are more agile and receptive to changing the status quo. Regular reviews and feedback from stakeholders will help your business to determine its flexibility as you mediate through challenges. This flexibility will help you, as a leader, to adapt yourself and your business during emergencies enabling better business continuity during uncertainty.
  • Communication: Lack of communication or poor communication creates chaos and confusion, hampers enrollment and productivity, and finally leads to failure in achieving transformation goals. Effective communication also becomes important to resolve conflicts and make decisions while addressing change. You must establish an effective communication channel within your organization where every member of the organization is on the same page. The goal is to ensure that every stakeholder understands and recognizes the need for change so that everyone is enrolled and can contribute to the process of a successful transformation.
  • Change Management: The inability to enroll your stakeholders and hasty decision-making are the biggest impediments of change necessary for business growth. If you don’t identify the exact pain points of your business and make decisions without adequate deliberation, your business is bound to be impacted negatively. Effective change management involves assessing the present situation of your company and assessing the need for change. In situations like these, you must step up, exhibit faith in your company and develop a future roadmap for the same. An important aspect of the same is the sense of ownership displayed by the leadership, stakeholders, and employees together. Businesses that don’t take the onus often fail to transform their businesses.
  • Capability Building: Transformation is not a one person jobWithout building an effective team and the required capabilities, all efforts are bound to fail. You must ensure that you build a competent team to undertake different change initiatives that you have planned as a part of your transformation process. This involves identifying if your existing workforce can be equipped and trained or whether you would need to hire an additional member or a consultant. Factors such as your domain knowledge, skills required to lead change, and industry experience will determine your capacity to change. Additionally, your determination to stay relevant and grow will determine your readiness to lead high impact changes within your organization.

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Trusted Thinking Partnership between OEMs and ESPs (Engineering Service Partners)

Trusted Thinking Partnership between OEMs and ESPs (Engineering Service Partners)

Author: Dush Reddy, Global Business Head, QuEST Global

The first half-year has been extremely uncertain with the COVID-19 virus breakout impacting the global economy and causing large scale disruptions. Industries with heavy engineering dependence have been hit at large because of travel bans and lockdowns worldwide. Results are evident – worried businesses, volatile stock prices, and an uncertain future.

Customers across verticals are facing common challenges of supply chain interruptions while also managing remote engineering teams. Other challenges include reducing costs, becoming lean and agile while continuing to invest in current and new programs that are important to succeed in the changing business landscape. As a result, the needs of customers are dramatically shifting.

So, what are the evolving needs of customers? 

In the present context, the key focus of OEMs is to become lean and agile by not only reducing costs but also shifting from a fixed cost to variable cost model. This shift enables workforce/cost flexibility while not losing the capability to deliver on current and future projects. Almost all OEMs are currently faced with a similar requirement, and it is a massive transformation to manage.

While managing cost is the top priority for business sustainability, customers also have to ensure that they fulfil engineering commitments and business obligations as per the current demands. Despite their necessity to fulfil these engineering commitments, they are faced with the roadblocks of internal hiring freezes and planned headcount reductions. Even when cost optimization is important, they have to explore ways to invest in innovation and exponential technologies.

The role of ESPs in partnering with customers 

To enable customers to encounter their challenges, ESPs must reform their strategies to be on par with their customers’ changing needs. These challenges could vary from issues of cost reductions, fragmented and underperforming supply base, large pool of tactical suppliers (contractors), or a lack of strategic partnering mind-set. In such a scenario, a strategic ESP works with the customer to co-create a joint strategy for solving similar challenges. Such collaborative models can include engineering realignment, consolidation of suppliers, and best cost country strategies. Scope consolidation is also critical for end-to-end ownership and moving away from an ineffective piecemeal approach, which is also high-drag on the customer.

Such partnerships can result in more optimized engineering offloads (less staffing, more work-packages, co-developed solutions, co-investing, technology adoption), enhanced operational efficiencies, increased market competitiveness, enhanced delivery throughput, and much more.

The Strategic Partnership driving innovations 

This pandemic has paved the way for ESPs to play a more vital role with joint plans for working towards a shared vision. The future strategy requires an integrated, holistic approach to maximize savings and optimize value to build stronger strategic relationships. Both the customer and ESPs are required to provide strong sponsorship in order to ensure the necessary change management. This will ensure that their plans are implemented in a seamless, impactful way. It also requires establishing a dedicated partnership team comprising of key people from both ESP and the customer.

This kind of strategic partnership will not only reduce cost but free-up bandwidth across the customer’s organization. Today, customers are looking for cutting-edge transformations in the form of shifting from staffing to managed services, from multi-vendors to few preferred partners (supplier consolidation), accelerating innovation through technology adoption and engineering partners who take ownership of more work-scope (core/non-core realignment) – this is the new reality.

As the world is quickly transforming, ESPs have a crucial role in partnering with customers to advance society. Customers are looking for partners with leading-edge transformational ideas, solutions and not just engineering resources support. They are also looking for ways to leverage ideas and commercial innovation from other industries that can help solve their challenges. The opportunities are in abundance and I am confident that ESPs will get a larger share of the pie in this changing world. The key is to become the Trusted Thinking Partner to your customers.

About the Author

Dush Reddy, Global Business Head, QuEST Global

Dush has more than 20 years of experience in building and scaling engineering services partnerships with Fortune 100 companies. He specializes in scaling partnerships, building best-in-class technology hubs, and providing progressive engineering value to customers. As a Global Business Unit Head, Dush drives company’s business growth by building highly efficient customer centric teams. He spearheads engagements with customers, and has been leading the efforts to nurture and scale them to establish delivery centers across US, Europe, and Asia. Developing customer-centric Product Lifecycle solutions and building long-term, Trusted Thinking Partnerships are his core strengths. Over the years, Dush has sharpened his expertise in integrating high-technology local engineering companies with the global best-cost engineering teams to deliver a comprehensive, unique Local-Global solution that addresses the innovation requirements of customers in various industries.

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What to expect in cloud telephony in 2020?

What to Expect in Cloud Telephony Technology 2020?

Businesses nowadays are curating innovative methods to create a superior customer experience. Cloud telephony is one such technology that can revolutionize the way a company and customer interacts. With the rapid change in the market trends, one can also witness a change in consumer behavior perspective. Therefore, to offer a seamless and happy customer experience, implementation of cloud telephony solutions will retrieve effective outcomes. But before that it is vital to understand what it is and how it works.

What is Cloud Telephony?

A cloud telephony is an advanced technology that allows to connect various communication devices and software applications on a single platform. That platform is known as a hosted service which is offered by a service provider. The extraordinary feature of this technology is that it does not require any “on-premise devices, as in no CAPEX requirements. It can simply be configured on any device through a quick plug and play method via CRM integration. Also, the uniqueness of this technology is that you can get it installed in your existing CRM tool, meaning you do not need to switch to a new tool. It only makes your existing tool faster and smarter.

Benefits of Using Cloud Telephony

Inclination of Companies towards creating a superior impact has pulled them more towards data analytics, real-time analytics, remote access, automation, AI and Machine Learning. Thus, every business can outperform with their services to excel in creating a cost-effective solution that will serve them in the longer run.

  • Easy to use/User-friendly: It allows you to stay connected from anywhere & anytime via a single secured login in real-time. A simplified online dashboard that allows the relationship manager and its agents to be connected on the same platform.
  • Customized Solutions: Cloud telephony can be easily integrated with any leading CRM and helps you get started within hours, without switching to a new CRM tool. And due to this feature, there are added benefits of customizing the solutions as per the business needs.
  • Data Security: Get access to a secured platform that maintains the data privacy of the customers as well as the company. Also there are additional features like restricted account login for every agent to limit the access of customer information.
  • Scalability: The best part of using cloud telephony is its scalability advantage. You can scale up and down your operations as per your requirement, Hence, an intringed opportunity to scale at ease.
  • Real-time Insights: Getting access to live monitoring and reports via real-time analytics dashboard will always keep you ahead of your competitors. It can also help you in strategic decision making as well.
  • Automation: By automating your sales and operations process for speedy closure of every day business will ensure customer satisfaction as well. This will also offer you to put in your strategy and efforts in other departments. AI also plays a role here in curating an explicit customer experience.

How various Industries are leveraging Cloud Telephony in Curating Unique Experiences?

Adoption of cloud telephony into multiple industrial verticals has proved beneficial in terms of creating a smooth customer engagement platform. Industry verticals like Education, E-commerce, BFSI, Logistics, Hospitality and more have implemented cloud based solutions and the outcome is magnificent.

Education industry is applying cloud telephony in getting quality prospects for admission and counselling. The complete process was conducted through smart solutions like Click to call and Cloud contact center.

E-commerce industry is using cloud telephony through cloud contact center and SMS software to serve their customers needs faster. Also, offered instant resolvement of queries by adding multi-level IVR system. It is a way of automating the communication process where a carefully curated multiple sub-menu is added through a human-like voice & it saves time as well.

BFSI industry is offering a secured line of communication between its customers and the relationship managers through Click to Call and Cloud Contact center with Number Masking and IVR system. This simplifies the process of communicating with the customers while maintaining data security as well.

Logistics industry has been embracing smart technology by incorporating solutions like inbound and outbound contact center with multi-level IVR system. It allows the customers to get their queries resolved quickly.

Thus, reinventing your customer communication experience will improve efficiency in serving your customers better.

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21st Century Workplace Automation : Beyond Bots!

  • By Mr. Vikram Kumar, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SRV Media Pvt. Ltd

Speaking in general, automation is the use of technology where human involvement is at minimal. It can include everything like IT, marketing, business process, industrial and even covers areas like personal application automation and home automation.

The present article will focus basically on workplace automation while touching upon its origin, gradual evolution and finally exploring the workplace automation in the 21st Century and the future trends.

Interestingly, the term automation has its origin way back in 1940  at the Ford Motor Company when it meant automatic handling of the parts used in metalwork processes.

The term gained a broader meaning by Norbert Weiner, an American mathematician during the development of cybernetics ( dealing with the science of communications and control systems in machines and animals).

With the development of powered machinery and introduction of powered equipment in production, operations and manufacturing processes, automation gradually evolved to control systems like production, handling and distribution. Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) were the next big things automation offered.

Modern workplace automation began in around 2005 with the introduction of Business Process Management (BPM). It helped in automating, monitoring and optimizing business processes using software to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

Likewise, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) used software bots to perform repetitive, routine tasks that knowledge workers need to perform. Reducing the time from months to mere hours. An IBM study reveals 91% of organisations use some sort of basic workplace automation.

2011 brought a new chapter of automation when Apple’s Siri used artificial intelligence, a trend that started moving away from physical robots to more sophisticated, computerised automation using AI software.  A drift that gradually started redefining workplace automation.

Modern Business Workplace Automation

Integration Automation

The next level of workplace automation is the integration automation where machines mimic human tasks and repeat them once these are defined in the machine rules.

An example includes Intelligent Automation which is a combination of RPA and artificial intelligence (AI). What RPA does is just automating the work without any variation. But intelligent automation integrates the capabilities of RPA with the bots that use AI to learn and adapt to data in real-time.

Around 27% of organisations are using intelligent automation to automate workflows across various systems needing complex calculations involving discrete AI functions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) automation

The most advanced and complicated level of automation or the culmination of automation till now that the 21st-century businesses are using is artificial intelligence automation.

Here machines can actually “learn” and make decisions taking cues from past situations encountered and analysing them.

Around 12% of organisations are using AI automation where robots with autonomous decision-making capabilities are employed that can interact with humans by way of using advanced algorithms and various types of artificial intelligence.

AI automation can scan millions of documents in the blink of an eye helping in various processes like reviewing legal contracts, giving medical treatment suggestions, claims analysis and much more.

Companies use AI intelligence to personalise customer experiences, improve business decision making and forecasting.

Future Trends

Evolvement of new software along with RPA will help machines to observe better, learn from human patterns and optimise them.

Machine learning is definitely going to revolutionize work and the workplace, both. Some forecasted trends could be:

Hyperautomation

Hyperautomation is a term used to describe the merging of machine learning, software and automation tools to maximize automation processes in the workplace to augment productivity fast.

By combining a range of cognitive processes with automation technologies it will deliver intelligence and power both and the power to convert intelligence into action.

Minimal or No-Code Workflow Software

Workflow software will require minimal coding to make the process automation more accessible to the entire organisation

Intelligent & Augmented Capabilities

AI-based systems will remember, reason and predict, leading to improved ability to learn and interact.

While these are just a few possible trends, more could be in the offing just waiting for the time to unfold.

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NASSCOM Submits Feedback on the draft National Health Data Management Policy

The draft National Health Data Management Policy (draft Policy/NHDM), was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) for public consultation in August 2020. The draft Policy follows the path set out by the Government of India under the National Health Policy, 2017 (NHP), envisioning the creation of a seamless nationwide digital health ecosystem, and sets forth a framework to ensure “privacy by design” in the implementation of the National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE).

NASSCOM reached out to members for their inputs on the draft Policy on 7 September 2020. Subsequently, NASSCOM organised an online policy round-table on 17 September 2020 to discuss the feedback received. Earlier yesterday, NASSCOM submitted its feedback on the draft Policy (full submission is attached).

In the submission, NASSCOM highlighted the key role played by the National Health Authority (NHA) as a specialised implementation agency for the components envisaged under the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) and attaining the goals of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM). Accordingly, NASSCOM urged the NHA to play a key role in the formulation of the Codes of Practice to be issued by the Data Protection Authority (DPA) proposed to be set up under the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (PDPB 2019), on issues relating to health data.

NASSCOM appreciates the emphasis placed by the draft Policy upon the need for an interoperable health-data sharing framework, based around the principle of primacy of individual consent, and exploring mechanisms for a consent management framework, by inter alia recommending the creation of a consent manager framework, and creation of consent-artefacts that capture a data principal’s consent relating to his/her health and medical records. Likewise, given the nascent stages of the framework, NASSCOM appreciates the voluntary nature of participation in the NDHE, and the emphasis placed upon the principle of non-exclusion.

Moreover, NASSCOM noted that there are several aspects specific to health data that have been considered under the draft Policy, such as the recognition of the distinction between health and medical record data, and identifier data, which could be vital inputs towards finalising the PDPB 2019. Accordingly, NASSCOM suggested that the MoHFW may consider raising such inputs with the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) currently tasked with reviewing PDPB 2019 and recommending amendments to the PDPB 2019.

Accordingly, our specific recommendations relate to:

1. Key issues that the NHA may raise with the JPC to ensure that the vision set forth in the draft Policy is consistent with the PDP Bill;

2. Key areas where the NHA may advise the DPA towards framing industry codes of practices relating to mechanisms being adopted in the draft Policy;

3. Standalone areas where the NHA may start implementing mechanisms recommended in the draft Policy.

Overall, NASSCOM highlighted the need for greater harmonisation with the PDPB 2019, while keeping in view concerns specific to the management of health data in the NDHE. Should you have any queries in relation to the submission, please write to Jayakumar@nasscom.in or indrajeet@nasscom.in.

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Ecommerce Platform Market Share in 2020

As new ecommerce businesses are started daily and more and more existing companies adopt ecommerce to extend their customer base beyond just the people living close by, the question of which ecommerce platform to select becomes very important. Different platforms have different functionalities and integrate with different external services. Some must be self-hosted, while others offer integrated cloud hosting. Some do a better job of scaling to large businesses than others. Choosing the right platform can make a huge difference in the success of any business that sells over the Internet.

No matter which ecommerce platform a company chooses, they all offer far more customization options and lower costs than selling on a marketplace like Amazon, although businesses with their own ecommerce storefronts must market their websites to attract customers. A variety of suggestions for how to start an ecommerce business are discussed in another one of our guides.

In this article, you’ll learn about the relative popularity of a number of common ecommerce platforms, in addition to information about advantages and disadvantages between them. The market share figures are calculated from the top one million website domains across the world using data from Datanyze and Alexa.

WooCommerce: 32%

While no ecommerce platform singlehandedly controls the majority of the ecommerce market, WooCommerce captures the largest market share. As a plugin for WordPress, WooCommerce takes advantage of the huge number of WordPress installations around the world. Website owners who already use WordPress can easily add a WooCommerce store to their existing website without revamping their technology stack. Given that WordPress powers over 30% of the web, it’s no surprise that WooCommerce is used by such a high percentage of ecommerce websites.

The functionality included out of the box in WooCommerce is somewhat limited compared to other ecommerce platforms, although it boasts a large number of third-party extensions, making it competitive with other solutions like Shopify and Magento. In general, WooCommerce is a safe choice for smaller stores and those with relatively limited needs, resulting in its large market share.

Squarespace Commerce: 17%

Squarespace is a popular way for small businesses to build websites with limited technical resources. Their ecommerce functionality allows site owners with Squarespace-based websites to easily add an online storefront. Due to the sheer number of Squarespace sites used to power small businesses, Squarespace Commerce controls a significant portion of the ecommerce market. Squarespace Commerce plans are also relatively inexpensive compared to some other options, making it accessible to a wide variety of store owners with different budgets.

For the most part, Squarespace’s ecommerce functionality is targeted at ecommerce businesses with relatively limited needs. For this reason, Squarespace Commerce does not integrate with advanced third-party services or offer extreme customization abilities. Businesses requiring relatively limited ecommerce functionality and do-it-yourself customization would be well-served by Squarespace Commerce.

Shopify: 15%

Shopify offers cloud-hosted ecommerce services to a huge variety of companies. Shopify oftentimes powers larger companies than either Squarespace or Wix, although it is also popular with small businesses. Like Squarespace, Wix, and most Magento configurations, Shopify stores are not hosted on computer systems operated by the ecommerce business itself. While this means that Shopify requires less maintenance than options like WooCommerce, it can also be a fair bit more expensive and restricted in many cases.

Shopify is also quite expensive compared to Squarespace and Wix, although it includes a large number of built-in ecommerce features that makes it worth the price for a lot of companies. Shopify extensions are also somewhat more limited compared to the functionality available with Magento and WooCommerce plugins, especially with regards to custom integrations.

Magento: 4%

Magento is popular with medium businesses and enterprises, although it also scales down to small businesses. In terms of architecture, Magento is most similar to WooCommerce. It offers a huge number of themes and custom extensions, can be molded to fit nearly any set of business requirements, and includes a large set of features useful for stores of all kinds.

Compared to WooCommerce, Magento includes more functionality out of the box, making it more tightly integrated. Additionally, shipping integrations, fulfillment software, accounting systems, and other advanced third-party software can be integrated into digital storefronts using Magento, with ease. Magento development services offer advanced automation for complex promotions and all sorts of other use cases that many of the other ecommerce platforms might struggle with. Magento pricing includes three different Magento versions. Depending on your business needs, you can choose between the Open Source version, downloading it for free, Magento Commerce with advanced features and high scalability and Magento Commerce Cloud with Cloud hosting and easy customization.

Wix Stores: 4%

Like Squarespace Commerce, Wix Stores is an ecommerce platform connected to an existing do-it-yourself website builder. It specializes in allowing small businesses with existing websites built using Wix to add ecommerce functionality without paying for an additional ecommerce solution. Wix itself offers quite a bit of customization functionality and is occasionally even used by web designers, so it can be a good option for companies looking to achieve websites with unique visual designs without hiring external developers or designers.

Medium and large companies or businesses with specific requirements would be unlikely to find Wix suitable for their needs, although it is a good option for many small businesses looking to keep technical complexity low.

Starting Your Ecommerce Business?

It’s your decision as to which ecommerce platform best suits the needs of your business. Although switching between ecommerce platforms is doable if a company outgrows the capabilities of one service, it can be expensive to make the change without losing some functionality or data from the old platform. Because of this, it’s usually a good idea to select an ecommerce platform with future needs in mind from the start, so that a conversion will be unnecessary later on.

Read Next: 7 hacks for creating design systems

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The growing problem associated with adware and how to stay safe

Millions of computers all around the world are bombarded with advertisements every time users try to find something on the Internet. These devices become slower and sometimes freeze. If your computer shows such symptoms so, most likely, it is infected with adware.

What is adware?

Adware is a term that describes unwanted (and often harmful) software that displays ads on computers and mobile devices. Some experts call it – an adware virus or a potentially unwanted program (PUP). Such programs are usually installed without the user’s permission. Adware interferes with the user’s browsing experience and displays excessive amounts of pop-ups, banners, text link ads, and sometimes auto-plays video commercials. The goal of any adware is to generate income for its creator by displaying all those excessive ads.

Different types of adware

There are two main adware types. Classification is based on the penetration method:

  • Type 1 – adware penetrates the device together with freeware
  • Type 2 – adware penetrates the device via infected websites

Free programs that are massively available on the Internet are not completely free. They often come bundled with adware. To fund the development and distribution of free programs, their creators must monetize them by adding additional programs to the installation files. This type of adware is not really malicious, but it can be very annoying.

Adware is sometimes confused with spyware. The latter works, similarly, but it represents a separate program. Such malware also gets downloaded without user knowledge. Spyware tracks user’s browsing actions on the Internet to display targeted advertisements. This, of course, involves the collection of different (sometimes private) information about users.

The second type of adware is often associated with web browser hijacking. Infection happens when users visit an infected website that has malicious scripts resulting in unauthorized adware installation. Once infected users browse their favorite sites, they are actively shown ads. In this case, users think those advertisements come from the websites they are viewing at the moment, but actually ads are being shown as a result of the adware activity that was installed on the device.

Adware activities

People are so used to banners and various pop-ups when they browse certain sites that it is often hard for them to distinguish whether the device is infected with adware or not.

Below are several signs that indicate adware is installed:

  • Web browser’s home page has been changed without user’s permission
  • Advertisements appear where they ordinary should not be placed
  • Websites redirect visitors to unanticipated pages
  • The web page layout is displayed in a different way each time users visit the web page
  • The web browser is awfully slow and often malfunctions
  • Unwanted programs get installed automatically
  • New plugins, toolbars, or extensions appear without user consent
  • PC resource consumption (like CPU usage) is not steady and jumps all the time

How dangerous is adware?

Most adware pieces are more annoying than really dangerous. Annoying activities have mostly to do with a constant display of text ads, banners, and pop-ups that appear inside the browser window while users search for some information. Random pages or bookmarks may unexpectedly open. The computer begins to work slower, and more different malfunctions occur.

At the same time, there are some cases when adware collects the user’s data. In this scenario, the developer will try to sell the user’s ad profile that contains browsing history and includes IP address, performed searches, and visited websites.

How to prevent adware from infecting devices?

To stop adware from being installed, it is important to exercise caution when visiting web sites that look suspicious. Users should also be incredibly careful while downloading free software and download all programs only from trusted sources. While downloading freeware, the installation wizard may show small pre-checked checkboxes that indicate you agree to install additional “bundled” software. These pieces often represent the adware family.

When browsing the Internet, it is better not to click any ads, alerts, or notifications. For example, cyber crooks like to show alerts that say this PC is infected with serious viruses, and therefore an antivirus scan is strongly recommended. A lot of people fall victim to this cunning deception and unwittingly install adware.

In addition to the above tips, users should ensure that their operating system as well as all other software, are regularly updated. Non-updated software is vulnerable to many types of hacker attacks as malware may exploit their security holes.

Certain security settings that are available on Windows, Apple, and other devices can be enabled to protect users from downloading adware. One such precaution has to do with configuring the web browser to block all pop-ups. It is also particularly important to carefully check each file that gets download from the Internet, Online scanners like Virus Total may help here. The best antiviruses like AVG or Avast can also provide real-time web protection.

How to remove adware?

Those users that have adware installed on their devices, and they are tired of constantly closing pop-ups and tabs, especially on smartphones, where these things eat battery power, should take immediate action. It is recommended to use special antimalware solutions like Malwarebytes to get rid of adware.

About Author:
David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 17 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs Privacy-PC.com and MacSecurity.net projects that present expert opinions on contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, malware, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy, and white hat hacking. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with the recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.

Read Next: Ten things startups need to know about cybersecurity

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How to use Python to scrape data effectively

When you hear terms like “Python coding”, “data science”, and “web scraping”, your mind might conjure up images of complex code being run by expert hackers. It’s actually far simpler than that. Thanks to how easy and intuitive Python is to learn, you can master the art of web scraping in a relatively short amount of time.

When getting into web scraping with Python, you might think it’s all about using RegEx, but it’s more about how you understand the data structure and layout of the website, much of which can be found in the CSS and HTML. So, if you have experience in HTML / CSS for website design, you’re halfway there.

This is because what you’re really doing with Python is telling it to display only the useful bits of information from a website’s HTML / CSS source code, depending on what type of information you need to extract.

There are a lot of scenarios where web scraping makes sense, such as:

  • Checking retail websites for discounts and promos or competing products.
  • Compiling trending topics from aggregation websites.
  • Scraping contact details of businesses and individuals.
  • Finding how many times a keyword is used on a page.

Getting ready to scrape

One of the first things you should do when planning to scrape is to analyze the target website. When getting into web scraping with Python, you might think it’s all about using RegEx, but it’s more about how you understand the data structure and layout of the website, much of which can be found in the CSS. Our basic tutorial below will cover some very simple HTML extraction, but you can learn a lot more in-depth stuff from this tutorial (bookmark it for reference).

For example, say you want to scrape the data from page headers, or buttons of different colors. These are things found in internal CSS, so analyzing the website’s architecture before you start spending a lot of time on your code will be very helpful.

Suggested Reading: Is Web Scraping Legal? : The Definitive Guide [2020 update]

Basic scraping tutorial with Beautiful Soup

To give an extremely basic example of scraping with Python, we’ll be grabbing the title from a website. It’s best to try this on your own website, even if you make a free WordPress blog or something.

You’ll need a few (free) packages for this, which are:

  • Requests
  • Beautiful Soup
  • LXML

You can install these easily with ‘pip install requests’,pip install beautifulsoup4’, and ‘pip install lxml’ on Windows, or ‘pip3 install x’’ on Mac. This should be followed by “import requests” and “import bs4” to get us started.

The reason we need these packages together is because Beautiful Soup cannot make requests by itself onto a webpage, so we need the Requests package along with it. LXML is a feature-rich library for processing XML/HTML in Python, so it’s also very useful to have.

Create an object with “res = requests.get(https://websitename.com’)

Now if you just type “res.text” it will display literally the entire contents of the webpage, kind of like what you would see if you clicked “View page source” in your browser. This isn’t really usable, so you need to extract the useful information from it, which is where Beautiful Soup comes in.

So, if you typed in your console:

soup = bs4.BeautifulSoul(res.text, ‘lxml’)

type(soup)

<class ‘bs4.BeautifulSoup’>

Hi = soup.select(‘title’)

So, what we did here was create a variable that instructs Beautiful Soup to extract the ‘title’ tags from the webpage’s source code. You could also pass on the anchor tag, for example, but it’s not a favorable strategy for extracting all of the links from a website.

So now if you simply type ‘hi’ in your console, it should output something like:

<title>Your website title here</title>

And so now it’s just a matter of experimenting and going through the data you extract in this manner, looking for patterns. For example, you could extract and display all of the header tags (H1, H2, H3) and find keywords being focused on, much faster than actually visiting the website in your browser and scrolling through the page yourself.

So, this is just an extremely basic example tutorial of what you can do with Python for scraping data. To go even deeper and get into the more complex stuff, you should experiment on your own website, and maybe take Python courses online that are specifically focused on web scraping.

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How COVID has impacted Asia and its road to recovery

Asia will forever be known as the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which has spread rapidly across the globe and caused an estimated 583,892 deaths from 13,530,628 reported cases (as of July 16th).

This means that nations such as China and others in Asia were the first to implement and subsequently lift its lockdown measures, meaning that they’ve blazed something of a trail for others to follow in terms of socio-economic impact and recovery.

But how exactly has Covid-19 impacted on the Asia-Pacific region, and what does the road to recovery look like in the near and longer term.

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Asian Economy

Following the initial lockdown in Wuhan, China (where the outbreak first originated), it was thought that 80% of all local employees were impacted by the lockdown measures.

This has had a dramatic impact on businesses in Wuhan and indeed throughout China, as economic productivity stalled considerably throughout the first quarter. While this trend has gradually begun to reverse during the second quarter, it’s currently estimated that China’s total GDP will decline by approximately 8.5% by the end of 2020.

This is largely being underpinned by a vast reduction in consumer spending, as individual households have been hit particularly hard by job losses and business closures nationwide.

This trend has been replicated throughout the whole of Asia, thanks primarily to the level of supply chain reliance that exists between China and many neighbouring countries. In this respect, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia have been particularly affected, with the Asian region’s growth forecast for 2020 revised from 4.3% to just 3.8% since March.

Of course, the trend has also been exacerbated by the ascent of the Covid-19 outbreak into a truly global pandemic, with the production capacity in the world’s manufacturing capital having been negatively impacted by school closures and subsequent childcare issues.

This was also borne out by the outsourcing of production from China to nations such as Turkey, which took a huge chunk out of the economy in a short space of time.

The Long Road to Recovery

Fortunately, the road to recovery has already begun, and in this respect, the Asian market has been helped by its diverse range of growth markets.

For example, the decline in consumer spending impacted on travel and tourism particularly hard, while passenger volumes on Japanese trains declined by 50% during Q1 of 2020 alone. At the same time, Singapore and Asia remain prominent hubs for international supply chains, and this has impacted negatively on global exports and currency values.

However, other sectors have been far more resilient, particularly food (groceries), household services and IT, and this has allowed economies to refocus and remodel their efforts in a bid to optimise short-term growth.

For countries like Vietnam that rely on tourism, the government has also taken direct action by investing in local facilities and employment in a bid to drive a higher demand for domestic travel.

This type of proactive thinking, when allied with ongoing control measures such as wearing masks and promoting the importance of social distancing, can help Asia to continue its extended recovery from Covid-19 while simultaneously minimising the risk of further outbreaks.

About Author: Ed Smith

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