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Whilst recent cyber-attacks have highlighted the need for all organisations to review their IT security, many business owners remain unaware how vulnerable reliance on mobile devices can leave them to cybercrime.

According to a recent report, two thirds (64 per cent) of SMEs currently rely on mobile phones for business purposes, with an increasing majority of these (49 per cent) being smartphones. However, recent reports indicate that iOS devices such as iPhones are no longer immune to malware attacks and Android-powered phones remain especially susceptible to malicious mobile apps. As a result, A&O IT One Solution (www.aoitgroup.co.uk) is urging small businesses to minimise their corporate security risk by a full audit to assess their threat levels.

With 66 per cent of SMEs having experienced cybercrime¹, the worldwide IT support and technology services specialist recognises that smartphones are not always covered within their computer and internet usage guidelines. As a result, employees may not realise that mobile malware could allow hackers to access sensitive information, from downloaded work files and confidential emails to login details.

A&O IT One Solution allows time-pressed small business owners to access the world-class expertise relied on by larger companies around the world. The new service allows companies to select the protective services they need to avoid devastating downtime, from IT health checks to cyber security advice.

Rod Moore, chairman of A&O IT One Solution, said:

“As mobile devices continue to blur the lines between traditional phone and IT devices, it can be all too easy to overlook how smartphones are an extension of your IT equipment. However, with cyber-related attacks having the potential to bring small businesses to their knees, it’s essential that SMEs ensure any phone being used for work purposes has the same level of antivirus software installed on it as office computers.”

WTM London 2017, the leading global event for the travel industry, is calling on digital influencers to apply for its hugely-popular and biggest-ever WTM London Digital Influencers’ Speed Networking event (formerly called the Bloggers’ Speed Networking).

Sponsored by Whalar, the influencer marketing platform that helps brands collaborate with content creators, the fourth edition of the 90-minute session takes place on Wednesday 8 November at 9am in the Global Stage Networking Area (AS1000). It will see 120 leading industry digital influencers hold quick-fire business meeting with exhibitors interested in increasing their media exposure.

WTM Portfolio Press & PR Manager Paul Nelson said: “The number of digital influencers attending WTM London has increased dramatically over the past few years, as their power and influence continue to grow stronger especially in the travel industry.

“The fourth Digital Influencers’ Speed Networking will be the biggest yet with 120 digital influencers taking part, with an increased focus on YouTubers and Instagrammers”.

Last year’s event saw 400 exhibitor personnel discuss business opportunities with 110 bloggers. The event launched in 2014 with 70 bloggers and expanded to 100 in 2015, and will see 120 digital influencers in 2017.

Digital Influencers will need to have registered for WTM London as members of the media to apply for a place, and then a separate application form for the speed networking is already available.

Whalar co-founder James Street said: “Working with influencers and bloggers should be at the core for any travel brand or tourism board and we hope by partnering with WTM that we can spread the message of just how powerful it can be.

“At the heart of Whalar is our matchmaking functionality so any brand can find the right influencers to reach the target audience that they are looking for.”

A new gaming app is hoping to bring the destructive combat of ‘Robot Wars’ to the streets around us – without anyone having to get their hands greasy.

Developed by students on Birmingham City University’s Gamer Camp and Interactive Entertainment courses, the app – ‘Xtreme Robot Destruction Micro’ – uses geo-tagging technology to unlock arenas set in digital versions of real world locations. In the game, players seek out opponents to take on robots in an apocalyptic future, made real with augmented reality.

At the game’s official launch on Tuesday 29 August, the Android title featured two iconic Birmingham locations; The Parkside Building, at the heart of the University’s City Centre Campus, and one of Europe’s largest inner-city shopping centres, the Bullring.

However, in order to battle against other players, gamers must be physically present in the real world locations the arenas represent, similar to players visiting a PokéStop or Gym in the popular ‘Pokémon Go’ app. As well as arenas, new robots and power ups are unlocked at certain locations in the new game.

Alongside the tablet game, the programmers, artists, producers and marketers at Birmingham City University have also developed a PlayStation 4 version – ‘Xtreme Robot Destruction’ – as part of their studies. Unlike a traditional University course, Gamer Camp and Interactive Entertainment students build real games from the ground up, operating in a studio environment over one year.

50 students have spent three months on the PlayStation 4 game, with the tablet version being delivered in just six weeks. To put this in to context, most console games within the industry are developed in 12 to 24 months, with three to six months devoted to gaming apps on average.

Project Leader, Valeria Petruzzelli, from Bari in Italy, said: “Collaborating across various disciplines, I have grown so much as a professional throughout this course, and now we have two fantastic products we are all really proud of.

“People come from all over the world to study on these courses, so I am privileged to be working with, learning from and getting to know people from not only here in Birmingham and the wider UK, but also from the far corners of the globe – reflecting the international nature of the games industry. I see my course mates all as family now.”

‘Xtreme Robot Destruction’ was launched in Birmingham City University’s £62 million Parkside Building. Students showcased both versions of the game to gaming industry and marketing professionals, including representatives from Chapter, Codemasters, Microsoft Rare, NaturalMotion and Playground Games. The industry leaders also led a roundtable event, where various issues affecting the contemporary games profession were discussed.

‘Xtreme Robot Destruction’ is a button-bashing, metal-grinding, arena battler, where players are free to smash, ram and saw their way through opponents using their chosen bot.

Project Leader, Neal Mclean, who originates from Toronto in Canada, said “The PlayStation 4 game sees the carnage of ‘Robot Wars’ come face-to-face with the scale of destruction seen in ‘Godzilla’, through a seamless combination of intense robot battles and environmental obliteration. With destructible locations and the in-game wager system, players must smash their way to being number one by annihilating any bot who gets in their way.

“Getting the opportunity to work with professional-level equipment and software has allowed us to create high quality products that can impress. Birmingham City University has provided me with space to work in a studio environment that is as close to the industry as we can get.”

Gamer Camp was one of the first five courses in Europe to be given PlayStation 4 development kits by Sony.

 

Brits typically spend more time picking their new sofa, laptop, car, watch, wedding dress and even deciding what to eat than they do on viewing a property before making an offer to buy it.

New research by Zoopla has found most people spend less than 30 minutes in a house before deciding to buy it. The figure was lowest in the East Midlands, where just 25.9 minutes are needed before the average buyer places an offer, while the time is 26 minutes in the south-east and 26.2 minutes in the south-west. Those in the east of England spend the longest – an average of 31.8 minutes – in a property during viewings.

In comparison, a typical person spends 34 minutes each day considering what to eat, up to 90 minutes choosing a new sofa and more than 70 minutes buying a laptop or PC.

Kevin Shaw, national sales director at property specialist Leaders, says: “Almost a quarter of people make their minds up within 10 minutes of entering a property for the first time and, on average, it takes three times longer to choose a new car than a new home.

“As a seller, this means you have only a short time to grab the attention of buyers so make sure your home is presented at its very best before opening the door to viewers. A good estate agent will be able to advise you on exactly what buyers are looking for and how you can ensure your property ticks all the right boxes.

“If you are looking to buy, it is undoubtedly true that acting quickly can help you to secure a home ahead of the competition. But it is also important to take your time both during viewings and when doing your homework on a particular property. After all, this is likely to be the largest purchase you ever make and getting it right is key.”

While the amount of time spent on viewings is short, an average buyer in the south-east spends a huge 73.5 hours browsing property advertisements on online portals.

Kevin adds: “This underlines the importance of working with an estate agent that will promote your property on all the major portals and go the extra mile to take eye-catching photos that are sure to stand out and appeal to prospective buyers.”

Prepare for an onslaught of undead horrors, zerg monstrosities, marauding demons, and wasteland warriors! Blizzard Entertainment today unveiled a hoard of brand-new game content that will be playable at the Blizzard booth at gamescom 2017 in Cologne, Germany.

A “Blizzard at gamescom 2017—Preview” video is now live on www.youtube.com/blizzard, giving gamers around the globe a first look at everything the company will showcase at the leading European trade fair for digital gaming culture, which takes place from Tuesday, August 22 to Saturday, August 26.

In addition, at 18:00 CEST on Wednesday, August 23, members of Blizzard’s game development teams will take the main stage at the Blizzard booth to dig deeper into the games and debut new cinematics and other content in the Blizzard Reveal Ceremony—viewable via live stream on Twitch and at http://gamescom.blizzard.com.

Throughout gamescom, visitors to the Blizzard booth in Hall 7 of the Koelnmesse will have the chance to enjoy playable content and activities for Heroes of the Storm®, StarCraft® II, StarCraft®: Remastered, World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Overwatch®, and Diablo® III.

Heroes of the Storm

  • The latest long-awaited Hero to join the Nexus—Kel’Thuzad, the Warcraft series’ undead Lord of Naxxramas—will be playable for the first time. Additional details on Kel’Thuzad will be presented during the Blizzard Reveal ceremony on Wednesday, August 23.
  • Heroes of the Storm players at gamescom will get a glimpse at brand-new skins, including Death Knight Sonya, Dreadlord Jaina, and Crypt Queen Zagara.
  • Community personalities and pros will compete in live show matches on the main stage during the Heroes of the Storm: Showdown. Team Liquid and Team expert battle on Wednesday, August 23, and Germany’s popular YouTubers ApeCrime and PietSmiet duke it out on Friday, August 25—see the blog post for details.

StarCraft

  • Primal pack leader Dehaka, the newest Zerg co-op commander for StarCraft II, will be playable for the first time at the Blizzard booth.
  • Attendees at gamescom will also be able to play StarCraft: Remastered, Blizzard’s recently released modernization of the classic award-winning real-time strategy game and its Brood War® expansion.
 

World of Warcraft

  • Gamers will be able to group up with other gamescom attendees and travel to Argus to run through a dungeon from World of Warcraft’s upcoming Patch 7.3. Details about this content update will be unveiled during the Blizzard Reveal Ceremony on Wednesday, August 23.
  • Twelve top-ranked Arena teams will battle it out in the WoW® European Championship Finals on the World of Warcraft stage from Wednesday to Saturday for a share of the $100,000 USD prize pool and the chance to compete in the WoW Arena World Championship Finals at BlizzCon later this year—see the blog post for details.
  • Visitors to the Blizzard booth will be able to attend a live Darkmoon Faire, which will include activities like an airbrush makeup station and photo opportunities with iconic WoW statues and items.

Hearthstone

  • Hearthstone players can enjoy an early look at new Fireside Gathering features during gamescom, where they’ll join forces in a whole new kind of Fireside Brawl: a group raid against the Lich King.
  • We’ll find out which country’s card-slingers will rise above the rest as the Hearthstone Global Games Finals play out live on the Hearthstone stage on Friday and Saturday, August 25 and 26—see the blog post for details.
  • To celebrate the latest Hearthstone expansion, Knights of the Frozen Throne, gamers in Cologne will be able to grab a frozen treat and participate in activities at the gamescom city festival—where the Hearthstone traveling ice cream truck will be making its final European stop on the Ice Cream Citadel tour on August 25 and 26 from 15:00–23:00.

Overwatch

  • For the first time, visitors to the Blizzard booth will be able to play an all-new Overwatch map, Junkertown—a shut-down omnium now ruled by the Junker faction, and former home of Roadhog and Junkrat. Watch the just-released “Junkertown: The Plan” video to catch up on the duo’s hijinks, and learn more in our map preview video.
  • The world premiere of a new Overwatch animated short will take place on the main stage and via live stream during the Blizzard Reveal Ceremony on Wednesday, August 23.
Diablo III
  • Attendees at gamescom will be able to command legions of the risen dead and wield the dark arts with Diablo III’s Rise of the Necromancer pack, playable at the Blizzard booth on PC and PlayStation 4
In addition to these games and activities, gamescom attendees will be able to enjoy a variety of live entertainment on Blizzard’s main stage, including crowd-favorite dance and cosplay contests, showmatches, developer signing sessions, quizzes, and much more. Video Games Live will be performing on Thursday, August 24 and Friday, August 25 at 18:00 CEST. A full schedule of activities can be found at http://gamescom.blizzard.com.

Xbox One X, the world’s most powerful console, will make its full UK playable public debut exclusively at EGX 2017.

Set for release on the 7th November, the Xbox One X boasts 40% more power than any other console to offer an immersive 4K gaming experience.

Visitors to EGX will be able to get hands-on with a wide selection of games on the Xbox One family of devices including first party titles Forza Motorsport 7, Sea of Thieves and Super Lucky’s Tale as well as the eagerly anticipated Middle-earth: Shadow of War from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Origins.

Xbox One was available to play first in the UK at EGX 2013 and we’re delighted that Microsoft has again chosen EGX to demonstrate its cutting-edge hardware first. It’s a further demonstration that EGX is the number one UK event for launching new product,” said David Lilley, MD of Gamer Events.

EGX 2017, powered by Virgin Media, takes place on the 21st-24th September at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the event which will feature all aspects of gaming culture including big budget blockbuster games available to play before release, innovative titles from the thriving indie scene, thrilling esports action and much more.