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IT CONTRACTING, SHOULD YOU TAKE THE PLUNGE?

Have you ever thought about making the move from permanent to contracting? If so, you are not alone. More and more IT professionals are switching to contract work due to the undeniable perks such as greater flexibility, better career development and more money in your pocket. In fact, there are now almost 2 million contractors in the UK today, a 36% increase compared to 2008. Being able to quickly place highly skilled, flexible professionals who are able to deliver specific results is increasingly important for businesses and their development. This means that as a contract worker you are often able to demand a higher wage than your permanent counterparts. Typically a.NET Developerin a permanent role can expect to be paidaround £60,000annuallyhowever the daily rate for the same role would be around £500. It's not just a more attractive salary that lures people into IT contracting; you can also enjoy flexible working conditions with hours to suit. There may be the option to work remotely or have selective choice over which of your client's locations to work from. As a contractor worker you also have the freedom to work on projects that interest you, structuring your working day to suit. As you move around, the experience gained increases your skill set and industry knowledge as you are exposed to a variety of professional environments. Changing projects on a regular basis gives you a chance to add some great company names to your CV, giving your career a welcomed boost. Factor in the networking opportunities available to you as you move companies and departments and you begin to appreciate the benefits that contract working can bring. There is of course a downside. As a contract worker you accept a greater degree of risk and responsibility. One such responsibility is the decision whether to operate as a limited company or through an umbrella company. Working under an umbrella company means you simply submit your timesheet and expenses and get paid in the same way as a PAYE employee. Operating as a limited company requires you to spend time managing your tax payments and expenses claims, however doing it yourself can increase your tax efficiency. If you decide to operate as a limited company, you will also need to establish if your contract is IR35 friendly. Read more about IR35 and umbrella versus limited company advice here. Should you choose to make the move over to contracting, the higher rate of pay should make up for the loss of sick pay and paid annual leave but don't forget to ensure you make provisions for all eventualities. You will no longer be in receipt of additional permanent employee benefits such as bonuses, pensions, health insurance and car allowances, therefore remember to factor in the value of these perks when considering the move. Overall changing your role from permanent to contract can be hugely rewarding if not challenging, but only you can decide if you are ready to make that move. There are pros and cons to both sides which need careful consideration. If you want to know more about contracting, speak to Fiona Eddy, Contracts Director, to talk through the options available to you.  

20 June 2016

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Digital Skills Today

When it comes to getting ahead in the job seeking game, digital skills have never been so valuable. Which is why it is worth investing the time into giving your own digital skillset a little boost. Whether you already have a few which just need refreshing, or are looking to start with the basics, there are plenty of routes to take to get you back up to speed that needn't cost you a penny. Here are just a few: LinkedIn Training Course It's no secret that LinkedIn has become the go-to place for professional networking. It's therefore well worth getting your head around the site and how it works, so you can really optimise its many resources. Learn how to make the most of your profile so you can stand out to prospective employers, as well as joining groups and contributing your own material. This course by Social Media Training breaks it all down into 26 bite-sized lessons, free of charge. Social/Digital Media Marketing Whether you are a regular Tweeter or completely adverse to the whole concept of social and digital media, one thing's for certain - it's big business and unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Employers are frequently looking for candidates who can represent the company in the online sphere, and contribute to marketing ideas. Knowing how to boost posts and increase your number of followers is actually a viable skill in this day and age. There are countless online courses that range from basic tuition to a diploma certification. Computer Science and Programming Even the least tech-minded people could learn how to code, given the right tuition. In a world starved of IT professionals, any form of computer-based skills on your CV will instantly catch employers' attention. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and into the 21st Century with a course such as MIT's Introduction to Computer Science and Programming. Google Analytics Any company with online presence (which is pretty much everyone nowadays) will benefit from the use of Google Analytics. Getting savvy in this field will therefore make you immensely valuable. If you are completely new to it all then fear not - there are courses for beginners that will get you up to speed in no time. With 20 lectures totalling 3.5 hours, this Udemy course is a good place to start. Writing for the Web Writing content for the Web is very different to producing traditional print-based media and even personal emails. Everything needs to be optimised, hash-tagged and hyperlinked. Not to mention engaging and informative. Courses such as this one from Open2Study will teach you everything you need to know.

03 May 2016

What Does the New National Cyber Security Centre Mean for UK Business?

The Government has just announced its new five-year plan to tackle the growing issue of cyber security on a national level, pledging to invest £1.9 billion in funding. The crux of this plan comes in the form of the National Cyber Security Centre, which aims to serve as a single point of information and authority for businesses and public services, as well as helping to protect the UK's digital infrastructure as a whole. It has been suggested that the Centre's first port of call will be to work alongside the Bank of England to thoroughly assess the current state of cyber security within the financial sector, and come up with an effective management strategy. As well as informing the entire business community and public sector about emerging threats, the NCSC aims to provide ongoing support when attacks happen as well as educating everyone on how best to stay safe online. This holistic approach intends to address all aspects of cyber security - from prevention to crisis management, whilst overseeing the landscape on a national level. Part of the funding will go towards sourcing top talent and cutting edge technology whose combined force will galvanise the UK's cyber defences. It has taken numerous large-scale attacks and threats to trigger the realisation of just how prevalent the issue of cyber security really is. Only now are governments realising the need to invest in this sphere, for the good of their nations and individual citizens - all of which are becoming increasingly connected. For UK businesses, the existence of the NCSC should only be a good thing. It is a clear message of a government now willing to take responsibility rather than leaving relatively defenceless companies to deal with attacks that could affect the wider economy. As is the case with any kind of security threat, solidarity is key in warding off potential dangers, with communication playing a central role. The NCSC aims to facilitate both of these things whilst acting as an authoritative voice on information security.  

22 April 2016

8 Qualities Employers Look for in a Candidate

Winning over prospective employers is something of a challenge for many candidates. We are often met with conflicting advice - all of which stands true. It's 'be yourself' versus 'be a certain way' and confusing to say the least. The fact of the matter is that a genuine person is always going to be more attractive in just about any situation. But there are still particular qualities that employers look for in candidates whose credentials are hard to differentiate between on paper. Willingness to Learn Strong candidates are people who demonstrate a keen interest in developing themselves both professionally and personally. They are opportunists who say yes to training initiatives as well as self-motivated learning. Flexible Very few jobs actually stay true to their original spec - especially when an organisation is going through a period of change. Employers want candidates who are flexible in their approach to work as well as their mindset as a whole. Positive It may sound like a clich but positivity really does breed positivity, and is a universally sought out quality in many situations. A positive candidate is far more pleasurable to be around and likely to be more productive too. Their energy is good for clients, colleagues and customers alike. Hard Working Hard working doesn't necessarily mean clocking as many hours as possible but rather being highly productive and dedicated to the task in hand. Employers want candidates who aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty from time to time. Reliable It's not enough to be qualified and likeable. Employers need staff to turn up on time, to respond to their emails, to attend their arranged meetings and to be happy to help out when the situation arises. Reliability is an important quality. Team Player Even the most isolated job roles are still integral to a bigger entity: the organisation. Employers look for candidates who interact well with others and whose egos don't hinder productivity or disrupt the harmony of an environment. Self-Motivated Successful candidates not only work well in a team but also on their own. They can be trusted to organise their workload, manage their time and use their initiative to be as effective as possible. Confident There is a difference between confidence and arrogance - the former being what employers are after. Candidates exuding a healthy level of self-assurance will come across as highly capable and magnetic, which is incredibly good for business. Confidence also comes in asking questions and not being afraid to speak up when something isn't right. If you are looking for a new role in the IT sector, upload your CV today and see how we can help find the right job for you.

16 March 2016

Is Britain on the Verge of an IT Crisis?

The UK's IT industry is booming. So much so that the technology sector is outperforming the country's economy in terms of job creation and business activity. While this is indeed good news, it brings about something of a paradox. The fastest growing tech firms are now struggling to find the talent that they need in order to flourish. More worrying is the knock-on effect this has on Britain's core industries, whose increasing reliance on information technology puts them in a rather dubious position when faced with potential threats to security as well as any other technical challenges. The shortage of tech workers is becoming a very real problem and one that sits particularly close to home for our banks. With HSBC adding its name to an extensive list of embarrassing banking failures at the beginning of the year, it is clear that the situation needs to be addressed head on. Andrew Tyrie - the chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Committee - suggested that there is a "systematic weakness in IT infrastructure across the financial system". The issue here is not the banks' lack of awareness of their vulnerabilities, nor in their unwillingness to resolve them; but in the chronic shortage of qualified IT staff across the country. No longer is IT a niche career path. It has become integral to just about every organisation. The Internet economy alone is now worth £145 billion, which accounts for around 10% of the UK GDP. Which makes the current situation all the more disconcerting. One possible solution in discussion is to address the gender gap that dominates the IT workforce. Thus, encouraging more female tech talent to step forwards and to urge organisations to be hire on merit. Another key area for concern is the astonishingly small percentage of IT graduates who go on to actually pursue a career in IT, coupled with all the potential students who shy away from taking it as their chosen degree subject. Even the very definition of IT seems to be unnecessarily misconstrued, with many young people assuming that all careers in this sector are highly technical - which is simply not true. The answer then surely lies in the promotion and demystification of what it means to work in IT. Informing existing professionals of the possibilities to develop their career, as well as engaging with younger tech-minded students who may not realise the paths available to them. Either way, the sector must pull together if it is to meet its demand, before it's too late.      

08 March 2016

Bank Start-Ups to Get Extra Support from UK Regulators

8 years after a recession that brought global economies to their knees, the UK's banking sector is finally starting to see some interesting changes. 2013 saw regulators give the first banking license to be granted in 150 years, as well as customers being able to change their current account providers in just 7 days instead of 30. Stimulating competition is a primary focus for the regulators, who have recently combined forces and set up a unit dedicated to helping challenger start-up banks enter the playing field. The unit will be comprised of staff from the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), working to provide new banks with all the relevant information and material they need. It will also offer continued support and supervision throughout the early years of authorisation. What makes these challenger banks different is their use of technology - primarily basing all their services online thus keeping the running costs down and enabling them to give customers better interest and borrowing rates. They do however sometimes lack the experience and expertise necessary to really compete against the heavyweights who have managed to hold their ground despite losing the public's trust. This resilience is partly down to an in-depth knowledge of the complex web of regulatory rules that is near on impossible to navigate without any insider help. The New Bank Start-Up Unit will therefore offer resources that, if utilised well, may assist with a positive shift in the financial landscape. 12 new banks have now been authorised since April 2013 - a monumental change in what was an incredibly stagnant industry. As with any thriving economy, innovation is key, as is healthy competition. By aiding the start-ups, the unit will effectively help customers to assert their own authority by giving them a real option to take their money elsewhere, away from the monopolies and instead investing in new business.

18 February 2016

5 Things You Should Know About Cloud Security

As more and more businesses shift their data storage to cloud-based facilities, so the conversation about cloud security begins to heat up. While some believe that cloud is far safer than on-premise, others are contesting quite the opposite. It is therefore important to know the basic facts before making a decision on where to keep your data - be it your own personal information or your company's entire library. The cloud security market is growing Whether we like it or not, the cloud market is continuing to expand at a rapid rate, and so is the demand for cloud security. This bodes well for the advancement of security measures and strategies being made available to cloud users. It is predicted that the cloud security market will hit $9 billion by 2019. Strategy is key As with any IT solution, the only real way to keep data as secure as possible is by having a comprehensive strategy. It is no use relying solely on providers to do all the legwork if the inhouse security is not up to scratch. Hackers see cloud as a resource, not a target One particularly unnerving thing that was revealed during the attack on Sony was hackers' ability to utilise the cloud as a resource by renting out servers to launch their assault. There is also the likelihood that more hackers will start to target the cloud itself so as to access large volumes of data in one fell swoop. Storage is perceived as the riskiest cloud app The cloud is best known for its storage and backup facilities, which are used by the cloud security industry itself. More than 50% of respondents to the Cloud Security Alliance's Cloud Usage: Risks and Opportunities Report listed storage as the most risky cloud application. Finance and accounting apps came in second. Controlling adoption is difficult Cloud adoption simply means the gradual transference of data to cloud based services. With more people now bringing their own devices into work, as well as using their own applications, organisations are struggling to keep tabs on where things are being stored and accessed. IT leaders rarely get the chance to fully assess security before a service is adopted by users.

03 February 2016

Banks Reach Tipping Point in the Fight Against Financial Crime

In light of a recession that continues to leave residue in the nooks of society, banks are working hard to regain trust and support from the government and the public alike. The biggest banks are now spending as much as £660 million a year on anti-money laundering compliance. But concerns are being voiced around the matter of effectively tackling risks in a perpetually changing financial crime landscape. A new report from LexisNexis Risk Solutions and the British Bankers Association (BBA) shows a clear frustration felt by the banks at how there is more than enough regulation but inadequate enforcement. The report provides a review of financial crime and its evolving risks and highlights several key points that need to be taken into account if banks are to succeed in the fight against corruption. Of the 200 senior banking and finance professionals who were interviewed, nearly a third think that the Fourth EU AML Directive will have little or no effect - or worse still, a negative effect - on money laundering across Europe. The interviewees identified greater regulatory burdens and increased personal liabilities on compliance professionals as the most significant barriers now blocking banks from being able to combat the challenges of financial crime. There has been talk of a culture emerging where compliance exists only for compliance's sake, and where AML compliance professionals are in short supply. Evolving crime methodologies pose a substantial threat to banks whose enforcement policies and resources are being forced to the back burner in favour of further regulation. More than a third of respondents said that preventing cybercrime was to be their single biggest area of investment over the next two years, followed by fraud and AML. The expansion of mobile and online banking however - especially virtual currencies - was named as the greatest challenge that banks look set to face in the future when addressing financial crime. In a bid to take back the reigns; banks are pushing for more freedom to collaborate with one another, as well as with law enforcement agencies and regulators. It is this collective effort that professionals hope will galvanise the industry as a whole against its common enemy - with a focus on fighting crime instead of exhausting funds on unnecessary compliance expenditures.

18 January 2016

The JM Groups IT Predictions for 2016

Year on year, the information technology industry continues to develop at an astonishing pace. 2016 looks set to be no different, with the likes of cloud-based security and analytics waiting in the wings ready to take centre stage. With this in mind, we decided to dust off our crystal ball to give you our IT predictions for 2016. Security, Security, and More Security With so many high profile hacking scandals going on and increasingly complex techniques being used to commit these crimes, it is safe to say that cyber security will be the top IT priority for most businesses this year. From increasing cyber literacy amongst staff to implementing more advanced security systems, organisations will be making some huge investments to protect their data. Big Data Gets Bigger The words 'big data' have become quite the buzz in recent months. But really we are just getting started. Almost every major industry now utilises big data to draw the most accurate picture possible, using analytics to review and optimise performance like never before. We predict that this trend will move from strength to strength, as more applications embed analytics to facilitate function and convenience. Public services will also continue to be transformed by the power of big data. Up in the Clouds The concept of cloud-based storage is older than you might think. But it is only just beginning to step into the limelight, with 2016 likely to bring it into its prime. The real question however is not how much cloud will come into its own, but who will be given the title of Cloud Service Provider. Like so many touch-and-go digital solutions, cloud storage has seen many players try their hand at the market only to see users stick to the bigger names, thus galvanising the monopoly. We predict that this year will put cloud providers in the ring for the final rounds - the winners probably having the healthiest bank balances. Less is More When it comes to IT offerings the word of 2016 is going to be 'convergence'. No more over-complicated building blocks and no more isolated IT departments. It's all about integration and simplification. Simplification means allowing business needs to define IT, and enabling IT to react quickly. It means having streamlined systems and built-in security with the aim to prevent threats rather than just respond to them.

06 January 2016

Questions You Should Expect in an Interview for a Senior Position

If you are applying for a senior role then you will likely have a fair amount of interview experience. But with a fight for a higher position comes tougher questions - some of which can be deceptively simple. You must be able to think outside the box and calculate your answers carefully, whilst remaining cool and confident. Here are a few 'typical' questions that potential senior professionals should prepare for. Why are you here? A seemingly obvious question that can lead to all kinds of danger zones, the 'Why are you here?' is prompting you to demonstrate your knowledge of the job for which you are applying, as well as your passion for the company and industry. The last thing you should do is talk about your past, and your reasons for leaving your previous job. Think forwards, and answer with direction, purpose and genuine enthusiasm. Leave no room for the recruiter to doubt your commitment. How do you resolve conflicts within the groups and teams you are a part of? This is a loaded question. The employer wants to know how you behave in a crisis, what it takes to rattle you, and how you are with problem solving on a personal level. Your answer will give them insight into your ethics, and how they might fit in with the company's own culture. It is therefore worth stating that you would first familiarise yourself with any standard company practices, before imposing your own onto a situation. As a senior employee you will be expected to exert skills in diplomacy as well as being able to hold authority pragmatically. Tell me about a difficult decision you have made A rhetorical statement that will reveal your management skills - employers need to know that you possess an ability to make decisions, sometimes independently and for the greater good. Even if you have a left-field answer, be sure to relate it back to the position at hand and how it supports your suitability for the role. Is there anything you would like to ask me/us? This question often crops up at the end of an interview and gives you the chance to show some assertion but without overstepping any boundaries. Here, you can put your knowledge of the company and industry to good use, and build a rapport with the interviewer. The subject of money and salary should be avoided at all costs.

21 December 2015

How the TalkTalk Data Breach Could be a Blessing in Disguise

On the 21st October 2015, telecom giant TalkTalk got hacked. With the personal data of 4 million customers in jeopardy, the attack served as another stark reminder of the reality in which we now live. Luckily for TalkTalk, the resulting damage was relatively minimal. 156,959 customers were affected, with 15,656 having their bank details hacked - most of which remained safe from fraud thanks to the codes not being enough for the hackers to make payments. The damage was still rife however as people's trust in security plummeted and TalkTalk estimated the financial hit of the attack to total around £35 million in one-off costs. According to the company's CEO, Dido Harding, that figure covers the response to the incident, the increased volume of calls into the call centres, and the IT and technology costs. It also accounts for 3 weeks' worth of revenue lost as a result of online sales sites being down. Two months on and we are beginning to see the silver lining in this unfortunate scenario. The attack on TalkTalk has kick-started a long awaited campaign for organisations and authorities to recognise the importance of cyber security and the serious repercussions that can come a breach of any scale. A UK parliamentary inquiry into the security of personal data online has been launched, and in the EU, new data protection laws are being discussed and reform plans being made. In its autumn statement, the UK government pledged £1.9 billion to cyber security, which will include a National Cyber Centre in GCHQ as well as a further two centres for innovation based in London and Cheltenham. Chancellor George Osborne says that the aim of these centres is to support talent and drive growth in the cyber security sector. The statement also mentioned programmes for active defence, as well as offensive cyber capability thus signalling at the role that cyber strategy now plays on the world stage. For businesses this means tightening up on security procedures more than ever before: setting aside relevant budgets and integrating security measures into each and every layer within the company; improving cyber literacy and creating strict, consistent policies. The real challenge however, will be encouraging organisations to make the changes as quickly as possible, avoiding bureaucratic stagnation so as to keep up with a rapidly evolving attack landscape.

11 December 2015

Tech-driven jobs you wont believe exist

There's no doubt that technology has changed the face of our world in so many ways, including the different options that there are for making a living. There's a whole range of weird and creative jobs that exist today that would have been completely inconceivable a decade ago. If you're looking for an inspired change in career then here are a few of the most exciting: Flying drones (or a Certified UAV pilot) For many of us, drones are something we associate with the military but they are about to have a much wider impact - everything from taking photos through to delivering packages can potentially be done by drones and with the likes of Amazon already adding them to their delivery options, this looks like a pretty secure job for those looking for a role with transferrable skills. Augmented reality architect Virtual reality is not new but this exciting technology has potential uses across a whole wide range of different industries. Whether you want to apply your skills to films, music videos or video games, or a different industry entirely, such as healthcare or property, this is one skill set that's only going to increase in value over the next few years. 3D printing The technology behind 3D printing has yet to really take hold of the mainstream consumer mindset but it's already gaining momentum with businesses looking for its efficient and economic precision. We have already seen 3D printing on the runways of the world and the potential for this technology to be applied across sectors is huge from the food industry to accessories and machinery. Given that the technology behind 3D printing can only improve and develop, it's an industry on the up and those who are able to make it happen could be in great demand. Quantified self assessment auditor This may not sound like a particularly fun or engaging job but the quantified self assessment auditor is essentially the digital driven version of the personal trainer. This role is built around an ability to analyse all the statistics that we now generate about ourselves in our daily routines, from heart rate to miles walked and calories consumed. The quantified self assessment auditor uses the data that has been gathered by an individual piece of wearable tech and uses it to produce tailored diet and fitness plans. Whether these appeal to you or not, there realm of tech jobs is a growing one - if you'd like some help finding the right role for you then get in touch with the team at JM Group.

02 December 2015

Why the UK Needs more Digital Skills Training

Given the digital revolution that the UK has encountered in the last decade you might be surprised to discover that the one thing our workforce - and potential workforce - really lack is digital skills. A House of Lords report from February of this year entitled Make or Break: The UK's Digital Future found a shortage of medium and high-level digital skills in the UK that could soon begin to affect the wider economy, rather than simply being limited to individual career paths. Digital skills training, said the House of Lords report, is required at all stages in the UK talent pipeline, including primary, secondary, further and higher level education. Digital jobs are on the rise We have begun to move more and more of our lives online and businesses are increasingly digitising more and more of their processes, so it makes sense that in the very near future a vast proportion of available jobs will require someone to have a good set of digital skills. Without skills training we risk alienating people from significant sectors of the working economy. Staff shortages will be a problem It's not just issues for individuals that are likely to crop up if the UK doesn't improve its digital skills training but many employers will most likely feel this bite too. The 'right' candidates may become few and far between and better incentives and more competitive packages could be the only way to ensure that the best quality candidates are recruited. Computer science graduate numbers are dropping It's an odd fact to see the numbers of those doing such a relevant degree falling when all around us computers are (potentially) taking over much of the business and consumer world. However, in 2011 there were just 56,025 UK people who graduated in computer science - that represents a fall of 23.3% over a decade. A lack of digital skills could stunt growth. While some believe that the only sector to be affected by this skills shortage will be the tech sector, in fact the problems are likely to be spread much wider and to have a knock on effect on many other industries too. Recent estimates indicate that the UK is already losing a potential £2bn per year from unfilled roles requiring digital skill and this can only rise as the gap between availability and need gets wider. For those looking for roles in the digital sector the JM Group has a wide range of options - contact us for more information or take a look at our website.

23 November 2015

DevOps Spending Hits 1m for a Third of UK Organisations

DevOps is a word on the tip of many tongues right now. It has taken the IT industry by storm and blasted its way into some of the world's biggest organisations. But what is it exactly? Why have a third of UK organisations dug so deeply into their pockets to get DevOps on their side? By definition, the word DevOps is a clipped compound of 'development' and 'operations'. It is the intersection of software engineering, technology operations and quality assurance, and is a method that acknowledges the interdependence between these areas. When employed within an organisation, the purpose of DevOps is to help produce software products and services, and to improve operations performance - more efficiently and effectively than the traditional means of several segregated departments. Its primary focus is on the communication, collaboration, integration and automation across each component. The reason behind DevOps dramatic rise in demand is its commitment to four universal elements, crucial to the success of any business: speed, quality, control and cost. Results pay, and DevOps is continuing to prove its worth with almost every client. In the UK alone, more than a third of organisations are now investing a 1million minimum into DevOps, with 77% of businesses setting aside some sort of dedicated budget. Its popularity sits on a global scale too, with an estimated 80% of Global Fortune 1000 organisations expected to adopt DevOps by 2019. For those working in the sector, things can only get better. Employment is up and so are the salaries and overall job security. Anyone with proficient skills in DevOps-related tools such as Puppet and Chef has a strong hand in the game of IT recruitment, and many organisations are overlooking conventional qualifications in favour of an aptitude in the DevOps field. The JM Group specialises in Digital and IT sector roles so speak with one of our trained consultants or check our website for details regarding the last DevOps roles.

09 November 2015

The JM Group joins forces with Staffing 360 Solutions

The JM Group has become part of Staffing 360 Solutions, a NASDAQ listed company in the recruitment industry with operations in the US and UK. In the UK the business is known as Longbridge and like The JM Group, is a very client focussed business with experienced consultants who specialise in finance, sales and marketing and law. The JM Group saw a good fit in terms of culture, style of business and commitment to client service. Key facts The JM Group will continue to be led by its current senior management team The JM name and brand, with its strong reputation built over 35 years, will not change The high levels of service provided by JM consultants will continue and their new colleagues at Longbridge can offer additional areas of recruitment expertise.

05 November 2015

Data Manipulation: The Latest Cyber Threat

The dominating fear surrounding cyber crime has always been one of data theft, and rightly so. The biggest cyber attacks so far have involved data theft on monumental levels, bringing about all kinds of threats and consequences. But security experts are now voicing their concerns towards a new possibility - one potentially far more sinister - and that is data manipulation. The theft of data has always posed two significant compromises: the confidentiality and availability of information. With manipulation now perching on the horizon however, a third compromise looms - the integrity of information. By changing and manipulating sensitive digital data rather than just stealing or deleting it, cyber criminals have the power to affect critical infrastructure systems. This in turn then affects the ability for authorities to make decisions, if they cannot trust the information they are receiving. With more advanced threats comes the need for more advanced security measures, which is in itself a precarious talking point that triggers much debate between governments, organisations and the general public. For all a government can do to protect its country, there remains a fine line between what is acceptable and what is a violation of personal privacy. In this, the jury is still very much out. One thing is certain - it is more important than ever for people and organisations to adopt a holistic approach to their cyber security, and to embed it into their culture. This means accepting cyber security as a part of everyday life, taking responsibility and not leaving everything to IT experts. With the Internet of Things continuing to expand, so does the window of opportunity for data theft and manipulation. Many data breaches are a result of human error and could so easily be avoided, simply by increasing cyber literacy amongst the general population. Something that all security experts agree on is the need to get off the back foot and start taking things more seriously. Cyber security should not be employed as defence but as prevention, and innovation to get ahead of any upcoming threats. If you are cyber security professional looking for a new opportunity the JM Group trained advisor can find you a role to match your skill set. Check out our current roles or contact an advisor.

02 November 2015

Is HMRC Revoking Contractors Rights to Expenses?

The last few years have seen several legislative changes brought into play in a bid to clamp down on unscrupulous practices by a number of payroll firms. In the Autumn Statement of 2014, the Government went on to highlight the growing use of overarching employment contracts by some service providers, which allow their employees to benefit from tax relief on things they would not ordinarily be able to claim. On paper, this may seem all fair and well. However, following the release of this year's budget, it was announced that tax relief on travel and subsistence expense is going to be greatly restricted for employees of umbrella and limited companies, who are under the 'supervision, direction and control of the end user'. This latter phrase has become an underlying cause for concern amongst many contractors across the UK - the main issue being the dubious ambiguity of HMRC's definition of SDC, and who exactly should fall into its category. Even at face value however, the knock-on effects could extend beyond the contractors themselves and right into the hearts of their relevant industries as more contractors become liable for PAYE and NI. For example, the costs of hiring a contractor in the IT industry could rise two-fold. Firstly because there will be less contractors as the market shifts to more permanent opportunities. Secondly, contractors who fall within the SDC division will increase their rates to account for the loss of expenses and increase of PAYE and NI costs. One potential outcome is that end clients will have to take responsibility for advising recruitment consultancies as to whether the roles fall within or outside the scope of SDC. Meanwhile, contractors who are declared as working within SDC are likely to request a pay rise, change contracts to a non-SDC assignment, or even start to look for permanent opportunities. The document itself - Employment Intermediaries and Tax Relief for Travel and Subsistence is still in its consultation stage, and can be commented on until the 30th September.

22 September 2015

Are IT Salaries on the Rise?

Working in IT has long been recognised as a means of earning a decent income. But recent shifts in the market have led to an increase in average salary across a wide range of IT roles and there is evidence to suggest this trend could continue. It may be an obvious thing to point out, that technology advancements coupled with years of underinvestment are driving business change in the UK. The growth and innovation that has come from this change however is prompting the need for additional IT talent across multiple sectors. Investments are being made to expand and galvanise infrastructures, with budgets extending to enable systems implementations, network upgrades and new security initiatives. In a bid to meet these more demanding in-house IT requirements, recruitment levels for technology professionals are at an all-time high across almost every industry and sector. Another element of change comes with the shift towards more permanent and well-paid positions; accounting for on going projects and initiatives, as well as continual IT risk security and domestic expansion. Further to this, is the growing number of businesses looking to nearshore or reshore their IT functions back into Europe and the UK. The result of all this appears to be that technology professionals are in strong demand and short supply, thus putting the ball firmly in the candidate's court. According to Computerworld's 2015 IT Salary Survey of IT professionals in the US, 74% of participants named an increase in salary as the biggest influential factor in changing their job. The survey also revealed that 64% had received an internal pay rise in the last year. These internal pay rises set against the increased average salaries hint at employers getting savvy to the wants and needs of IT pros who are, at the present moment, sitting rather pretty. The only thing that technology buffs need to be aware of is that all of this is only applicable to the top talent. So if they are to really cash in, they must be at the top of their game and able to demonstrate the skills and technical expertise that companies are so desperately looking for. If this is you and you want to find out more about what jobs are on offer, as well as reviewing your current salary, simply speak with one of our trained consultants or check our website for details.

07 September 2015

Is Information Sharing Key to Security Success?

In May this year the Wassenaar Arrangement got its first proper airing, introducing new export regulations with the intention of extending restrictions on export and sale of intrusion software and software vulnerabilities. The changes could affect a very broad number of businesses, from those that are offering penetration-testing packages through to those producing software that scans for vulnerabilities. The wide-ranging nature of the extension has been very publicly criticised by Google, which has stated that it believes it to be "dangerous broad and vague" and, in basic terms, simply just not practically feasible. Tens of thousands of export licences Of course, Google has phrased its objections in a fairly broad context, drawing attention to the "significant negative impact" the regulations would be likely to have on the open security research community. But Google's objections are not just in the interests of the community in general but with respect to its own administrative burden too - the new regulations would put Google in the position of having to request perhaps tens of thousands of export licences, something that would be hugely costly and take up significant resources. Difficulties with vulnerability disclosure The search engine giant also makes the point that the consequent demands of the new regulations could introduce huge delays with respect to bug vulnerability disclosure processes and the like and states that "you should never need a license when you report a bug to get it fixed." Google's solution is "standing license exceptions for everyone when controlled information is reported back to manufacturers for the purposes of fixing a vulnerability" as this would protect those researching and reporting vulnerabilities, exploits, or other controlled information. Google's argument is that the Wassenaar Arrangement could otherwise result in vulnerability disclosure becoming too difficult so that those who are discovering issues look to less above board sources to generate a return for what they've discovered. Information sharing Information sharing is another much more credible alternative as far as Google is concerned. It believes that multi-nationals should be able to engage in multi national information sharing on intrusion software, without the need to obtain a licence for it as is proposed. We all know that, in theory, licensing seems a logical way to structure and control the vulnerability market but there needs to be a balance between disclosure, internal company policies and realistic expectations in order for any changes to work. Most of all, Google has insisted that clarity is the most important element - or we could just end up with one big, costly, global mess.

24 August 2015

What is the future of SDN?

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is still a relatively emerging architecture that allows network administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. This abstraction is ideal for efficiently developing new applications, making SDN a great tool for delivering innovative services in a more timely way. SDN also centralises the intelligence of a network system and this makes network utilisation more flexible and, as complexity is hidden from operators, SDN is also easy to operate and maintain. It was perhaps with Google's step onto the SDN bandwagon in 2011 that this technology started to really become a telecom technology trend, rather than an obscure academic idea. Google's intervention illustrated how SDN is able to go beyond its data centre origins and introduce WAN cost and efficiency benefits and this triggered a hive of activity around using SDN. Companies such as Verizon Communications, AT&T, NTT Communications Corp and Telstra Corp have all announced the incorporation of SDN in some way, shape or form over the past two years. With this stage has come the really hard questions that need to be answered if SDN is to progress from being simply a technology trend to architecture that can be properly implemented, integrated and commercialised. As a result of the stage that SDN has reached, it's still hard to determine exactly what the future will be and drawing concrete conclusions is almost impossible. However, there are a number of issues that will affect what happens to the future of SDN that are worth taking a look at in order to get some idea of its potential longevity. Security Cyber security is a frontline issue for just about everyone right now but the security of SDN and NFV networks has not really had a lot of airtime. Given the way that SDN is developing, however, this is likely to become one of the main issues in the very near future. Real life examples For some time it hasn't really been clear what might be possible with SDN, both economically and technically, but there are now some compelling real world examples, with a significant concentration around WAN automation in general. Overcoming IP and optical integration IP and optical layers can be logically integrated through software control and management using SDN, providing a new option for this architecture. SDN overcomes multi-vendor interoperability, which has always been the missing link when it comes to uniting these different layers.

13 August 2015
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