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Multinationals hit with surprise tax on assets exiting State

Multinational companies (MNCs) moving assets offshore to another tax jurisdiction now face an exit tax of 12.5pc as a result of Budget 2019.

The new measure, which took effect from midnight last night, will tax unrealised capital gains where companies migrate residence or transfer assets offshore.

The “big surprise” from the Budget follows sweeping changes to the US tax code last year aimed at luring foreign intellectual property and services back to America.

The new exit tax regime, which is not expected to yield any revenue in its first year of operation, is a mandatory, Europe-wide measure that has been introduced by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe a year ahead of a deadline of January 1, 2020, for member states to comply with the European Union’s Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD).

The forthcoming Finance Bill will also provide for the introduction of a Controlled Foreign Company (CFC) regime as required by the ATAD. Together, the new rules will prevent the diversion of profits to offshore entities in low- or no-tax countries.

It had been feared that the exit tax, one of five legally-binding anti-abuse measures to prevent aggressive tax planning, could have been applied in Ireland at the current capital gains tax rate of 33pc rather than the announced 12.5pc.

“By introducing the measure from midnight, Minister Donohoe has given businesses certainty,” said John Gulliver, head of tax at leading law firm Mason, Hayes and Curran.

“It has also provided a disincentive to US-based MNCs to repatriate intellectual property to the US to take advantage of the special new US tax 13.125pc federal rate on foreign derived intangible income.

“Mr Donohoe has protected the Irish tax base by acting promptly, but with an opportunity to provide some transitionary relief in the forthcoming Finance Bill or any financial resolutions passed in the Dáil”.

Mr Donohoe said during his Budget speech that the early introduction of the exit tax will “provide certainty to businesses currently located in Ireland and considering investing in Ireland in the future”.

However, Peter Vale, tax partner at Grant Thornton Ireland, said that “the surprise element is never welcome”.

“The big surprise in the Budget from a corporate tax perspective was the introduction of a low 12.5pc exit tax,” said Mr Vale.

“While the reduction in the tax rate was not unexpected, the introduction from midnight of new tighter rules that impose the exit tax in line with more stringent EU rules was not anticipated. Under EU rules, Ireland was obliged to tighten its exit tax rules, but not before January 1, 2020. The early adoption of the new rules is a surprise.”

The onshoring of intellectual property assets into Ireland in recent years has contributed to a massive surge in corporation taxes.

Around €0.7bn of the 2018 over-performance is estimated as a “one-off”, Mr Donohoe warned yesterday, adding that he will assign a portion of the corporate tax overshoot to the State’s rainy day fund. “As these receipts are not expected to repeat next year, they do not feature in projecting receipts for 2019,” said Mr Donohoe.

One issue investors, particularly property companies, will be monitoring is the issue of transfer pricing rules, following the strongest Government remarks to date on the hot button issue.

“I have also committed to a review and update of Ireland’s transfer pricing provisions in 2019 to ensure our tax system is in line with new international best practice,” said Mr Donohoe yesterday.

At present, transfer pricing rules do not apply to non-trading companies such as property companies and other investment companies.

Any changes to the rules could affect the debt deductibility of property investment companies.

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The key points from Budget 2019

The Finance Minister described it as a “caring” budget that will secure Ireland’s future.

He spent some 75 minutes outlining the budget with spending plans amounting to 66.5 billion euro

Here are some of the key points from Budget 2019:

– Spending on health will increase by a billion euro which brings the total budget for the Department of Health to 17 billion euro.

– Some 110 million euro will be set aside for Brexit-related measures across the Government. Brexit was described as the “political, economic and diplomatic challenge of our generation”.

– There will be a 50 cent reduction in prescription charges for those aged over 70.
As day breaks over Government buildings and people make thier way to work, what can middle income earners expect from Budget 2019. Picture; Gerry Mooney
– The cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes will be going up by 50 cent, to bring the total cost of a pack to 12.70 euro.

– Duties on alcohol go unchanged.

– There will be no changes in the price of diesel or petrol.

– In a bid to tackle the rising housing crisis in Ireland, the Government is to commit 2.3 billion euro to the housing programme. Over the next four years, 6.6 billion euro will go towards accelerating the “delivery of housing supports”.

– The VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality sector will increase from 9% to 13.5%, raising 466 million euro in extra taxes.

– To ease the burden facing low and middle income earners, the finance minister said he was raising the entry point for the higher rate of income tax for all earners by 750 euro. It means single workers will not have to pay the higher rate until they earn 35,300 euro per annum.

– Social welfare payments are to rise by five euro.

– Education spending will reach 10.8 billion euro in 2019. There will be an extra 1,300 posts in schools next year.

– From November next year, a new paid parental scheme will be introduced to provide two weeks’ leave to every parent of a child in their first year. This will increase this to seven extra weeks over time.

– Government will commit 1.25 billion euro for the delivery of 10,000 new social homes in 2019. An additional 121 million euro will be provided for the Housing Assistance Payment in 2019 to create an additional 16,760 new tenancies in 2019.

– As of January 1, landlords will be able to claim 100% mortgage interest relief on any loan used to purchase, improve or repair any residential rental property.

– Ireland’s long-standing 12.5% corporation tax will remain.
– An additional 1.26 billion euro in capital expenditure will be allocated between 2018 and 2021 to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

– An additional 40 million euro will be raised next year by increasing duty on betting firms from 15% to 25%. The Government will also double betting tax from 1% to 2% next year.

– The garda budget will rise by 60 million euro while the defence sector is to benefit from an extra 29 million euro.

– An extra 300 euro in the home carer credit will bring the total value to 1,500 euro per year.

– Extra money for rural regeneration.

– The film corporation tax credit will be extended beyond the current date of 2020 until December 2024.

– Newspaper VAT to stay at 9% while online newspaper VAT will be cut from 23% to 9%.

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No SMEs have taken up shares deal: IPSA

A share option scheme for Irish SMEs launched as part of Budget 2018 has had no uptake and needs to be modified, according to an industry group that lobbied for it last year.

The Key Employee Engagement Programme (Keep) is supposed to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hold on to talent by granting workers share options in the business without being hit with punitive taxes.

But there’s no evidence the Keep scheme has had any uptake, according to Gill Brennan, head of the Irish Proshare Association (IPSA).

The IPSA executive council includes “the majority of the service providers who would implement and put in place share schemes for public and private sector companies”, Ms Brennan said.

Council members come from KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, and McCann Fitzgerald among others.

“There have been maybe around 20 or 30 enquiries [to council members] about the Keep scheme, but no SME has actually implemented the Keep scheme to date,” Ms Brennan told the Irish Independent.

Revenue said it can not provide figures about the take-up of Keep until after next March, when the first tax returns for the scheme are due.

Ms Brennan said the current scheme is too restrictive and should be amended. She said the limits on the value of share options that can be issued, as well as the exclusion of share options issued to part-time staff, have the effect of “unfairly excluding many legitimate and interested micro, small and medium-sized Irish businesses from participation.

Representatives from IPSA and SMEs have met with Government about this and the message is clear: you need to change Keep now or no one is going to touch it,” Ms Brennan added.

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China shares weigh on regional markets despite Central Bank support

Shares in Asia slumped Monday as China’s markets stumbled in their first trading day after a one-week holiday even though Beijing’s Central Bank increased liquidity to offset the impact of an escalating trade dispute with the United States.

European markets were also set to weaken, with financial spreadbetters expecting the FTSE to open 0.07pc lower, Frankfurt’s DAX down 0.03pc, and Paris’ CAC down 0.1pc.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Sunday cut the level of cash that banks must hold as reserves, aimed at lowering financing costs as policymakers worry about fallout from the tariff row with the United States.

Reserve requirement ratios (RRRs) – currently 15.5pc for large commercial lenders and 13.5pc for smaller banks – will be cut by 100 basis points effective October 15, the PBOC said, matching a similar-sized move in April.

Asian shares were also hit on Monday as investors in Chinese stocks reacted for the first time to new pressure from Washington and a report that Chinese spies had compromised US hardware.

At 05:40 GMT, China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was 3.5pc lower while the main Shanghai Composite Index was down 2.9pc. The tech-heavy ChiNext board fell 3.08pc.

The losses in China dragged down MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which was 0.9pc lower.

James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut in Brisbane, said Chinese investors were catching up after global markets turned lower during China’s week-long National Day holiday.


“That is exacerbated by the fact that you would have had quite a few long positions going into that time-off and people just quit them and were hitting the bid today,” he said.

“We’ve been expecting for some time now the US market to start delivering volatility. We find it quite difficult to reconcile the political machinations that are going on over there being friendly to markets.”

On Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence highlighted disputes with China on issues such as cyber attacks, Taiwan, freedom of the seas and human rights, marking a sharpened US approach toward Beijing beyond the trade war.

On Friday, Chinese technology stocks listed in Hong Kong slumped on a Bloomberg report that the systems of multiple US companies had been compromised by malicious computer chips inserted by Chinese spies.

On Monday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.5pc and a sub-index tracking information technology firms was 0.9pc lower. China’s yuan was weaker at 6.8981 per US dollar at 05:19 GMT, compared with a previous onshore close of 6.8725 per dollar. Earlier on Monday, the PBOC set the midpoint of the yuan’s daily trading band at 6.8957 per dollar, its weakest level since May 11, 2017.

The offshore yuan was also weaker at 6.9050 per dollar.

Higher yields on US Treasuries are likely to put more pressure on the yuan as China continues to make use of targeted policy easing to energise the domestic economy.

“We expect the PBoC will continue its easing efforts to keep liquidity ample and loosen its credit control to make funds more accessible to the broader economy,” BofA Merrill Lynch analysts said in a note.

“Moreover, there is still room for further RRR cuts when necessary, though the chance for an interest rate cut is limited given the continued Fed rate hiking cycle, in our view.”

On Monday, the spread between Chinese and US 10-year Treasury bonds was 58.1 basis points according to Eikon data, compared with 150 basis points at the end of 2017.

Equity markets around the world came under pressure last week after a steep sell-off in US Treasuries, prompted by hawkish comments from US Federal Reserve officials and data widely seen as supporting further US rate hikes.

Friday’s US non-farm payrolls showed job creation slowed in September, likely from Hurricane Florence’s impact on restaurant and retail payrolls, but the Labor Department report also showed a rise in wages that could keep the Federal Reserve on track for more interest rate hikes.

Investors are also keeping an eye on Brazil after right-wing Congressman Jair Bolsonaro won nearly half the votes in Brazil’s first-round presidential election on Sunday, marking a major shift to the right in Latin America’s largest nation fuelled by voters’ anger at corruption.

In currency markets, the dollar was 0.1pc stronger against the yen at 113.83, while the euro was 0.1pc weaker against the dollar at $1.1512.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.09pc at 95.707.

Oil prices fell more than 1pc after the US said it may grant waivers to sanctions against Iran’s oil exports next month, and as Saudi Arabia was said to be replacing any potential shortfall from Iran.

US crude was down 0.7pc at $73.80 a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.9pc to $83.38 per barrel.

Spot gold fell 0.5pc to $1,196.51 per ounce.

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Startup Diary: Why it’s crucial that market demand exists for your startup

This week I’m going to write about the most difficult slide in your entire pitch deck. This particular slide outlines the evidence that you have a real business, by showing that a market demand exists.

Even if you have a real business, with real customers, and real traction, it may not be enough, especially for later rounds of funding.

At the seed stage, which is where we are now, unless you’ve stumbled upon something wonderful, you won’t even have the luxury of real, statistically significant, numbers.

I should emphasise that you need to be very careful here.

I consider seed funding to occur mostly at the pre-revenue stage. You might have some custom consulting engagements, but that’s not really revenue that proves the model.

All you’ve done is prove the need in a particular case. Some investors might want you to have shown some traction on your core business model before raising a seed round.

This is possible if you decide to monetise your Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Thus, you’ll need to make a strategy decision long before you start putting together a pitch deck.
Either you’re going to use focused pilot projects as trials to understand your customers and generate some market validation, or you’ll open the shop doors as soon as you have anything on the shelf, and try to sell as soon as possible.

Which strategy you choose is determined by who pays for your product.

We are talking about Business-to-Business Software-as-a-Service in this diary, as that’s what Voxgig is. I don’t pretend to know much about building consumer businesses.

If you are targeting small businesses, or freelance professionals, or narrow functions within a business (say, social media automation), then I think it makes more sense to monetise your MVP from the start.

If, like Voxgig, you’re trying to build a cross-functional solution, and a solution that will cross organisation boundaries, then I think it’s better to focus on pilot trials – you really need the deep understanding of the customer pain points that comes with high-touch engagements.

The evidence that you present on your pitch deck to show that there is a growth business is going to be based partly on the results of these different strategies. In the ‘monetise-early’ case, you’re really going to need to have good growth in user registrations and conversions.

You’re going to want to show how your meagre advertising budget, guerrilla marketing, and energetic hustling has delivered good growth with obvious potential for more. You may not be at product-market fit, but you should be providing some utility to your customers, and be able to show it. Think of the early days of companies like Evernote, Github, and Mailchimp.

We’ve chosen the other approach: private trials. That means we don’t have much in the way of actual user numbers. You won’t even be able to register on until January next year.

What you can use are the pilot trials themselves – if you can’t get people to use your stuff for free, there’s no hope.

You should also be in the process, or at least preparing, to turn those pilots into paying customers – they did find your product useful, right?

You must however remain painfully aware that pilots (which you probably found via your network) do not prove your business model at all.

That only comes later when people who’ve never met you visit your website and buy from you (which is just a wonderful rush, by the way). You mention the pilots, they do provide some evidence, but you’ll need more.

The way we’ve addressed this problem is to start our marketing activities long before releasing the product. That’s why we have the newsletter for public speakers and that’s why it was our first ‘product’.

The growth in subscriber numbers is proxy for demand from conference speakers for better ways to collaborate. Our success here has led us to double down on this activity and we’ll be launching a second newsletter for event organisers and a podcast, in a few weeks from now.

This early marketing activity does give us some real evidence that need exists in the market. If you are building a more enterprise-level system, necessarily you’ll be taking longer to get to the point where it can be used at all (all those base-level enterprise features, like groups and permissions, need to be built).

Early marketing activity, and I would count our little search engine MVP as part of this, can both help you understand the market, and show that it exists.

Perhaps now you see why this slide is the most difficult – if you haven’t got the evidence, then you’re reduced to putting ‘lipstick on a pig’. There’s only so much you can do with market research reports.

Unfortunately many technical founders end up in this position, where the system is relatively complete, but there’s still huge market risk – it may not exist at all.

There is nuance here that you should observe: market risk (will anyone buy?) is not the same as product risk (does the product meet the market need?).

Voxgig has higher product risk than market risk at this point in time – have we built the right product for a market that we have strong evidence for?

Our goal in 2019 is to remove this risk by reaching product-market fit.

The strategies that we have chosen in Voxgig are not the only ones you can use to build evidence.

I’ve been very lucky to provide advice to some great startups over the last year, and those founders have used some great approaches.

In one, case, the founder put in many hours participating in the target online communities where they would find their customers, becoming a trusted community leader.

In another case, the founder found a way to service a small focused market using people rather than software, validating the larger market.

In both cases, they were following the maxim of Paul Graham (the founder of the ycombinator startup accelerator): do things that don’t scale.

At first you shouldn’t worry about the technology at all.

First, you should build evidence that a market exists.

And you shouldn’t just do this for investors.

Do it for yourself. You’re investing so much of your own time, and money (in saving and lost wages), that you also, as founder, need good evidence that you have a business.

(Newsletter update: 3,939 subscribers, and an open rate of 13pc. We are back on track with improved processes and measurement. Good incident reports lead to great outcomes.)

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Comment: Economic data and sentiment are becoming detached

SMEs are the engine of the Irish economy. They make a major contribution to economic development and employment. Their performance is very closely linked with overall economic health, including to consumer sentiment – because people’s confidence in their own finances and purchasing ability influence the performance of SMEs.

Businesses’ confidence is equally important; the more confident business owners and managers are, the greater the prospects for their companies, for overall employment and incomes. Confident firms are more likely to make investment and purchasing decisions.

So how confident are Irish SMEs?

The SME Monitor shows evidence that not all is as robust as the indicators might suggest.

The latest BPFI SME Market Monitor assesses the economic environment in which SMEs are operating. The Monitor concludes that the economic environment remains considerably positive.

There has been continued improvement in the labour market, unemployment has almost halved in three years to reach 5.4pc in September and the underlying growth in the economy, as measured by Modified Domestic Demand, is a healthy 6.5pc.

Moreover, while SMEs continue to reduce their debt, the total new lending to Irish SMEs has expanded on an annual basis in each of the three quarters to the middle of this year.

However, the annual growth has moderated – from 16.5pc in the last three months of 2017 to 6.3pc in the second quarter of this year. The latest Credit Demand Survey from the Department of Finance reported that only 26pc of SMEs sought bank finance, while 89pc cited a lack of need as the reason they did not access credit. This is at odds with an economy which is expected to be the fastest growing in the EU for the fifth consecutive year.

The key area of concern is consumer sentiment. The latest ESRI/KBC Consumer Sentiment Index for September fell sharply for two months in a row, to its lowest level since December 2016.

Consumers are feeling detached from the strong macro data and are increasingly nervous about their own financial situation, as they cope with rising housing and energy costs. They are also worried about external factors, notably Brexit.

Who is thinking about how Brexit will impact the consumer?

While the economic environment is strongly positive, there are undoubtedly a number of challenges for SMEs, not least Brexit.

There is no clarity on what will happen at the end of March and no prospect of any clarity any time soon.

Yet we know that a number of sectors have already been heavily impacted by exchange rate developments since Brexit, notably the agri-food and beverage, traditional manufacturing and retail and wholesale sectors.

The prospects of tariffs and/or onerous regulatory arrangements after Brexit, whatever the ultimate deal is, are likely to give rise to many challenges for SMEs, particularly those in the most vulnerable counties most dependent on the sectors which are most at risk.

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US Reit gets go-ahead for €400m Dublin data centre

A MAJOR stock market-listed US real estate investment trust, CyrusOne, has been granted planning permission for a massive €400m data centre in Dublin.

It will be the Dallas-based company’s first data centre project in Ireland and will significantly boost its global data centre footprint.

Nasdaq-listed CyrusOne, with a $6.6bn (€7.5bn) market capitalisation, currently has more than 40 data centres across the United States, Germany, the UK and Asia.

The planned Dublin data centre will extend over 32,419 sq m (349,000 sq ft) and be separated into two adjoining blocks. It will represent about an 8pc increase in CyrusOne’s current 400,000 sq m of total rentable data centre space.

The data centre will be built at the Grange Castle business park in the capital, where Microsoft and Google already have similar large-scale facilities.

The project is expected to involve up to 250 building personnel during its roughly 18-month construction period.

The Reit is planning to build the two-storey data centre and associated office block on a 9.2-hectare site.

That includes a 6.3-hectare site owned by South Dublin County Council within the Grange Castle Business Park, and an adjoining 2.9 hectares that form the plots of three residential properties that will be demolished to make way for the development.

The project will also include the construction of a new electricity substation and the installation of 32 back-up generators.

The data centre is expected to consume 56.5MW of power when operational.

CyrusOne joins a data centre surge in Ireland that has seen giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook invest billions of euro in such facilities here in the past number of years.

CyrusOne was founded in 2001 and is the third-largest data centre provider in the United States.

CEO Gary Wojtaszek told CNBC this week that the data-centre industry continues to deliver robust growth.

“Our customers, which are predominantly Fortune 1,000 customers, are deployed everywhere globally,” he said. “So if you really want to be helpful to the customers’ needs, you have to have a global platform and if you don’t you’re really in an inferior position.

“We look at all the success we’ve had in the States over the last decade and we feel really comfortable that we’ll be able to export that same success internationally,” he added

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Everything, including CAP, will be hit if there is a hard Brexit

Everything will be hit, including CAP, if there is a hard Brexit, RTE Europe Editor Tony Connelly told a recent Brexit conference.

“The EU budget would be impacted and CAP would come under attack,” Mr Connelly said, adding though, that he was of the view that the Commission didn’t want a radically cut CAP budget because of Brexit – but that was under the scenario that there would be a withdrawal agreement.

“I think everything will be hit if there is a hard Brexit,” he added.

Tariffs, currency fluctuations and corporation tax were among the concerns raised by more than 230 small business owners and interest group representatives at the event this week.

The event held in Loughrea, Co Galway, and organised by Supermac’s, was also addressed by IFA president Joe Healy.

Mr Healy said that some people questioned whether Ireland had allowed itself to become too dependent on the UK as an export market for food.

However he pointed to fact that when Ireland first joined what was then the EEC in 1973, 70pc of agri-exports were going to the UK. Today this figure is around 40pc.

Nonetheless, the agri-food sector is set to be disproportionately impacted by Brexit. Mr Connelly noted that within weeks of the Brexit vote taking place, five mushroom businesses in Ireland went to the wall, due in part to the impact of the fall in the value of sterling.

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Thousands left without welfare payments after system crash causes delay

A European payments system crash left thousands of people without vital payments.

People who receive social-welfare payments, such as child benefit and farm assist, found there were no funds in their accounts yesterday morning.

An industry-wide issue affected European payments across a number of banks.

People whose payments were due to be paid into accounts in Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB, EBS and An Post were left without money.

The issue was resolved later in the day and frantic efforts were made to credit accounts yesterday afternoon.

People who receive their payments over the counter in a post office were not affected.

Among the payments that were affected were disability allowance, the household benefit package, deserted wives payment, working family payment, jobseeker’s payment, injury benefit and farm assist.

However, weekly State pensions payments were not affected.

“The children’s allowance and social welfare payment due to be paid into the bank in the morning were not there, which has left me and my family of six with 33 cent in the bank,” one concerned mother said.

It is just the latest payments glitch to affect consumers. Just weeks ago, Ulster Bank had another payments issue.

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection said a bank payments issue affected European payments, which delayed some social welfare payments due to be paid into customer bank accounts.

“The department can confirm that it processed all its payments as usual.”

AIB and Bank of Ireland account holders said they were not affected the payments breakdown.

Later in the day, the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland said that payments processing had recommenced and all customers were due to receive payments to their accounts.

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Dublin Information Sec 2018: Secure your company smartphones to guard against data breaches

A little over a decade ago, the most popular mobile phone in use in businesses was the humble Nokia 6310i, famed for its near indestructibility and a battery life counted in days not hours.

Today, everyone has a powerful computer in their pocket with the capability to connect to the internet, access work and personal emails, to store files and images relating to friends, families, or customers. It will be impossible to do justice to all angles of this challenge in this article.

Article 32 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) restates some age old principles of information security. However, it is important for organisations of all sizes to have considered how they will prevent unauthorised access to or disclosure of data, how they will respond to such issues, and how they will meet their obligations to notify affected individuals and the Data Protection Commission in the event of a data security breach involving a mobile device.

Enable encryption on your devices and set a pass code

This is “entry-level” security and is the minimum anyone should be doing. Encryption is on by default on iOS devices but needs to be enabled on most Android devices through system settings. Combined with a passcode (and one longer than four digits where possible), you create a barrier to your phone being accessed by third parties. Use of fingerprint readers is increasingly popular, but it does raise challenges in the context of data privacy as it is a biometric identifier.

Check what data is being accessed and where data is being stored.
It is a worthwhile exercise to regularly review the apps you have installed to verify what data they can access from or write to your device. If you find you have apps you simply are not using, it is worth deleting them so their access is revoked.

The proliferation of messaging apps in recent years has resulted in an increase in sharing of images or files through these tools. It’s worth checking where these apps download their photos or files to and, if you don’t want data saved to your device, adjust the settings accordingly.

Update your operating system regularly

Both Apple and Google frequently push out updates. However, Android update roll-outs depend on manufacturers. As of September 3, reported that more than 72pc of devices were not running the latest version of Android.

Compare this to iOS which, as of September 19, had 80.5pc of users on version 11 or higher.

Use a VPN

Whether you are using your mobile service provider’s network or public wifi, a VPN client on your phone or mobile device is a useful security precaution to keep your data safe.

This is particularly the case if you are using public wifi or shared wifi networks to keep your data usage down on your bills. There are a range of good VPN clients out there for individuals and organisations. Freedome from F-Secure is one I use personally.

Enable Two Factor Authentication on your accounts

Devices are a gateway into your organisation’s data and increasingly they are being targeted for phishing attacks, as the design of mobile email clients and messaging apps allows for email headers to be hidden and makes spoofed email addresses harder to spot.

The use of SMS and messaging apps as attack vectors make it easier for attackers to “personalise” attacks. According to research by Lookout, mobile phishing attempts have increased 85pc year on year since 2011. Research from security vendor Wandera found the average mobile user was 18 times more likely to encounter a phishing attack then a malware attack and were three times more likely to fall for phishing on mobile than desktop. Two-factor authentication creates an additional layer of security to prevent human fallibility exposing your organisation.

Put in place a device management policy and supporting tools

Be clear with staff what will happen if a device is lost or stolen. This is particularly important where the device is used for both work and personal life. Mobile device management tools can help with enforcing encryption and device locking/wiping policies. More advanced solutions can create a “walled garden” for work apps that can be controlled separately from the rest of the phone. As ever, GDPR and common sense require you to consider what is the appropriate level of security and controls for your organisation’s data.

Staff leaving with data on devices

This is an often overlooked risk with mobile devices but is a very common challenge. Staff (or volunteers in a not-for-profit organisation) need to be aware that the personal data they are given in the course of their role with your organisation is given to them for specific purposes and is not their data to take when they leave.

Unless the data is very clearly given in a personal context, any use of that data by the former staff member or contractor could constitute a breach of Section 144 or Section 145 of the Data Protection Act 2018. In any event, it would constitute a breach under GDPR. Have clear policies and procedures around deletion of data and recovery of data on personal or devices of former staff. In conclusion, treat devices as the small computers they are, and remember they are often a key gateway into your organisation for staff and malicious actors alike.

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