York Walking Festival

During the York Walking Festival (5th-13th September 2020) why not stroll in and around the city centre looking for clues in York's High Street Independents’ windows? 

Eagle-eyed participants will see single word clues in each of the windows of the 69 participating businesses.  Guess what the theme linking them is and you could win a £50 York Gift Card.  For example, if you see the words ‘goal’, ‘kick’, ‘pitch’ ‘whistle’ ‘penalty’ ‘corner’ ‘off side’ then the theme is ‘football’.  There are 7 clusters of businesses, which means you can guess 7 themes.  But you only need to guess one correctly to enter the prize draw.

See for how to enter the prize draw and other information about the York Walking Festival.

This is a jointly organised event (between Indie York and the iTravel Team) to encourage people to walk more in the city and to discover York's High Street Independents.

A great event for families and visitors of all ages to discover York's many Independent businesses and rediscover our beautiful City. Printed maps available from all businesses taking part in the treasure hunt, Visit York Information Office and available to download from the Indie York website.

‘Indie York’ - York Independent Business Association

Indie York (York Independent Business Association) is a not-for-profit association which was set up in 2016 following the Boxing Day floods of 2015; when so many independent businesses were adversely affected. Indie York have been sponsored and supported, from their inception, by The York BID, the City of York Council and Bootham School. The Association presently has just over 200 members from a range of sectors including Food & Drink, Retail, Culture, Health & Well Being, Accommodation and Services. Indie York’s aim is to encourage residents, visitors and local students to use the wonderful array of independent businesses in York. They produce a widely distributed map that is available at the Visit York tourist office and all Indie York member businesses. Indie York also has a website helping you to find your favourite independent businesses. 

"York is a city of independents with around 65% of businesses being independently owned. We have such a rich mix of independents covering all sectors which gives our city a very distinctive offer of eclectic, unique businesses. Indie York has always been about working together." Said Johnny Hayes MBE, the Chairman of Indie York.

The independent sector has always played a crucial part in sustaining York's local high street; many businesses having been established for decades or many generations of family ownership. “Indie York provides a platform for independent businesses to have a bigger voice as a collective than they would on their own. It feels like there is a genuine desire to bring real value to each and every member business.  In these current difficult times, Indie York have been brilliant at highlighting the businesses who have remained open, but also supporting those who have temporarily closed by sending regular information and guidance. For us, as a hotel and restaurant, we have obviously been severely affected and our normally lively business has been eerily quiet, so we really appreciate Indie York reminding consumers that supporting an independent business doesn’t only mean financially - a like or share online means the world to us.” Said Rebecca Hill, Galtres Lodge Hotel.

Once again York is facing a huge challenge during the Corona Virus pandemic which has affected all sectors of society. During these uncertain times Indie York has teamed up with Coaching York to offer free business coaching to their members. They have also worked with local companies to make masks which have been distributed to local businesses. The independents have been quick to diversify during this time by offering deliveries, collections and online offerings. Indie York also supports them by promoting their member news via social media.

There are some real success stories and collaborations that have come out of this crisis. The independents have really stepped up to the mark to provide what they can to support their customers and many businesses have been donating their services to support the vulnerable in their communities and also providing free meals to NHS staff at York Hospital; it is very heartening to see these small businesses making a big difference. The local community have  backed these projects and in turn are supporting the independents now, more than ever. This support needs to continue if these businesses are to survive as they face uncertain futures. A future without York’s independents takes the heart and soul out of our city” said Sara Amil-Smith, Indie York Administrator.        

The Red House
1 Duncombe Place
York YO1 7ED

Email:- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel:- 07307 209072

DDOS Attacks March 2019

The latest wave of DDOS Attacks.

Firstly it might be helpful to define a DDOS Attack. DDOD stands for Distributed Denial Of Service. In the simplest of terms the attack is launched by a series of automated Bots from a large number of infected machines at a specific pre-scheduled time. The objective of these attacks is to drown the server which hosts a given Website in millions of page requests over a very short period of time and force it to Deny Service. Or more likely crash monumentally. There are many reasons an attacker might want to do this. Some are personal, others are much more complex, are totally impersonal and to some extent random.

There have been several large corporations and many smaller businesses attacked  by the latest version of this form of attack over the last month or so. Larger corporations are unlikely to admit that they have been successfully attacked unless they are forced by publicity to do so. Unfortunately these attacks can be as dramatic and costly for smaller businesses. They can also put the business at risk of prosecution under the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 if they are in Europe. The reason for this risk will become clear shortly.

The wave of DDOS Attacks which emerged in early March 2019 have been given the relatively bland title of “Memcached Q4”. What they are called is quite academic. Their objective is where the potential GDPR2018 liability takes effect. The reason for this specific wave of attacks is the extraction of name and email details en masse from as many servers as possible. Eventually these will find their way to “Spam List” which are supposedly segregated info specific lists based on geographic location, interest, gender etc. and are available in some of the darker areas of the Internet. Generally information gathered by form pages on websites is stored securely encrypted in a database well out of sight of any would-be extraction Bots. But as a server is overwhelmed by a DDOS attack there is a possibility for a Bot to access the databases undetected by the usual security systems as the server struggles to deal with an ever increasing but momentary spike in demand.

There are several stages to these attacks and the delivery mechanism is becoming very sophisticated.

A brief list of some steps involved in one particular attack process is as follows. (Although there are many other processes.)

(1) A Bot finds your URL by randomly generating possible Domain Names and “Spidering” those which work, looking for form pages. You are likely to receive a bunch of spam form returns which often appear to have a Russian origin and include a great deal of Cyrillic text.

(2) After determining that your site collects name and email information your URL is added to a list of possible target sites.

(3) This list is sent to another Bot which has only one objective. That is to determine the “Colour” of the Operating System your hosting server is running. A .php suffix on your URLs indicates a Linux variant. A .net suffix indicates a Windows variant. There are various other more exotic Operating Systems, but these are the two main players. The means of attack are similar, but the database systems are different and need to be targetted in different ways.

(4) Once this initial data mining is complete everything might well seem to go quiet for several months. In fact you might never be targetted as these mined lists are sold on the Black Market. If your site appears to have few visitors or is unlikely to yield useful contact data then the details are unlikely to have an saleable value. If however your site details are bought and your site attacked you'll probably suffer a brief period of outage and a few choice warning emails from your hosting provider about over quota data usage. This is the stage at which your site is attacked by numerous DDOS Bots with the intention of forcing the server to fall over.

All very clever. But also costly for you in terms of Data Bandwidth, potentially very annoying for your customers who are likely to find themselves the target of vast amounts of Spam email. Also there is the potential of prosecution under GDPR2018 as you have unknowingly allowed your customers details to be sold for malicious ends.

So what can you do to prevent this from occurring?

There very little that can be done to prevent Data Mining. It is an unfortunate fact that there are now more Bots active on the Internet than there are humans. 

However it is well worth speaking to your hosting provider and requesting the installation of “Flood Protection” Software. These packages are usually propitiatory and there will be a small registration cost. But once installed the software will detect the early stages of a DDOS attack and effectively Firewall your entire server account. “Flood Protection” software should also log the IP address ranges from which the attack originates which allows your hosting provider or in-house data manager to block IP ranges and effectively prevent further attacks from the same origin.

Upcoming changes to Facebook for Business Pages

Upcoming changes to Facebook for Business PagesFacebook have for some considerable time pretty much required business Pages to pay to 'Boost' their posts in order to gain more reach. There have been ways for businesses to circumvent this by sharing their post into local interest groups or For Sale groups. However the upcoming changes to the Facebook algorithm are likely to put an end to this, or at the least be very restrictive. We've already seen some clients ability to share into groups disabled for up to seven days for this activity. Including ourselves!

There are ways you can still reach your existing customers and those who have 'Liked' your Page, but it does require some interaction from them. In order for your potential customers to see all your business posts it is necessary for them to select the 'See First' option. It may well be worth encouraging them to follow the steps below before these changes come into place:-

  1. Find your Page on Facebook.
  2. Click the down arrow on the 'Following' tab
  3. Change the 'In your News Feed' preference from 'Default' to 'See First'

Obviously not all businesses use Facebook as a promotional tool, but it is expected by the public for most types of business. Although the Boost post option will undoubtedly bring considerably greater numbers of views to a given post it is not the most targeted approach. For example, if you choose to boost within a certain geographic area this approach is similar to the old fashioned leaflet drop. You know for a fact that at least 90% of those leaflets will end up in the bin unread. On Facebook this can be a somewhat damaging one way street. Once a Facebook user has selected 'Block all from.....' you will never be able to present your products or services to them again, unless they change their preferences.

Many local businesses are now actively researching alternatives to Facebook. Many of whom are showing considerable interest in listings sites such as Gumtree. Once a very clunky and underused service Gumtree has not been stagnant. Vast improvements have been made over recent years resulting in a much more user friendly interface and considerably greater numbers of regular users especially in the UK. We are not suggesting that you put all your eggs in any specific basket, but you would be well advised to reappraise your approach regarding Facebook as a cost effective tool.

The official Facebook post can be found here

The Plastic crisis?

Northern Living - Counter The Plastic crisisThere are vast concerns about the amount of single use plastic which ends up in landfill, in our seas or simply blowing around your area when it's windy and the re-cycle bins blow over. Rightly so.

But have any of us actually stopped and thought about who is responsible? Presently we have a 5p “Tax” on single use plastic bags at Supermarkets. The revenue is supposed to go to local Environmental Causes. Have you heard of any of your local Supermarkets giving large sums of money to local Environmental Causes? Has your cause benefited in any way shape or form? I fear generally the answer is no.

Let us put a slightly different angle on this.

When you go to the Supermarket to buy a lettuce, have you ever found the words “ I don't want that one, the half plastic cover has come off” slipping inadvertently through your clenched teeth? I'm guessing not, unless you happen to be shopping at your workplace after shift and have been subliminally programmed. They will tell you that the plastic covering is to preserve freshness. All lies, I afraid. It's all about profits. It they can force their suppliers it insert said lettuce in a half plastic covering before boxing them for them all the better. They will also be obliged to stick the label on the plastic for them which carries the four digit product number and a bar code. How does this increase profit? Well they don't need staff training for the checkout operators to tell the difference between an Iceberg, Red Leaf Lettuce or indeed a Spring lettuce . Because they've burdened their supplier with the packaging and presentation the staff simply need to lay the tray on the shelves and let the customers take what they want. Bonus, they can send the cardboard back to their suppliers to dispose of and they'll never see the plastic again. Win -Win.

Extend this concept to plastic cocktail sticks, plastic straws, plastic coffee cups, plastic once only use water bottles, plastic meat trays and coverings, frozen goods bags......

The next proposal as a “tax” on once only use coffee cups. When an organically waxed degradable paper cup would do the job just as well.

So who should pay? Not you the consumer, I'm quite sure. You didn't request all the excess plastic packaging.

So how is this for an idea? Make the coffee chains and supermarkets pay the “tax” themselves and guarantee that they cannot pass the cost to you, the consumer. Stand at the checkout and simply say “Not I don't want a 5p bag or a bag for life, I want a paper bag with handles free of charge” and stand your ground. Or in the coffee shop simply say “It's to go, in a paper cup if you please”. You might be defeated on the first few visits, but if you start stripping all the plastic off your goods and leaving them behind they will soon get the message. Especially if we all do it....



There is no room for profit over people. There is less room for profit over the planet....


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