Festive season holiday bookings coming in thick and fast

The tourism and hospitality industries let out a collective cheer when the adjusted alert level 1 lockdown was announced. Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group Hotels and Resorts says that up till then, many holiday-makers had adopted a “wait and see” attitude before confirming their festive season holiday travel plans. “The easing of the restrictions however has catalysed a flurry of activity. In fact, we have been thrilled to see that some of our properties are almost booked to capacity.”

Description automatically generated with low confidenceHe adds that it has been a tough 18 months, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. “Based on conversations with guests, we know that they have been raring to go for months now but have been hesitant to pull the trigger on their December booking in case Lockdown was prolonged. Fortunately for us all, guests have been given the all-important greenlight and like us, hospitality establishments across South Africa can look forward to a busy, full-filled holiday season.”

If you have yet to book your December accommodation, Shaun advises that you shouldn’t rest on your laurels any longer. “South Africa is a popular tourist destination for good reason. It offers a smorgasbord of gorgeous holiday destinations, for both local and international travellers. So, if you are looking to get your foot in the door this Festive season, it’s best to book now to avoid disappointment.”

If you, like many others, are working on a tighter-than-usual budget, when planning your festive getaway, Shaun suggests that you consider booking directly with your hotel or resort of choice. “Gone are the days where Online Travel Agencies offer the best deals. Worldwide, the perks of dealing directly with hotels and resorts are starting to far outweigh any other savings you may find. Most leading hotel groups have sweetened the deal for travellers to book directly so that they can deliver better overall customer experience from booking right through to check out,” Shaun explains.
“Planning a holiday and looking forward to making magical lasting memories with friends and family is something that we all need right now, and First Group is excited to welcome guests with mask-hidden smiles and industry-defining standards of cleanliness designed to keep its guests safe,” Shaun concludes.

To book your December holiday, visit www.firstgroup-sa.co.za.

Mitigating Cloud-Based Attacks

Sandton, October, 28, 2021 – Microsoft recently issued a warning to some of its Azure Cloud customers that a security research team had discovered a flaw that could have allowed unauthorised access to their data. Fortunately for all involved, it seems that this flaw had gone unnoticed by cybercriminals and was quickly fixed by Microsoft. This could have led to a catastrophic data breach as many large corporations such as Boeing, Samsung, and eBay use Microsoft Azure. Customers were notified to change their login credentials as a precaution.

Cloud customers who were using specific security software may have been able to detect a malicious attack, and these events would have shown up in their logs. This incident highlights the shared responsibility that both Cloud providers and customers should have to manage IT security risks. Although Cloud architecture is generally regarded as safe, there is an increasing incidence of Cloud-based attacks by well-funded organisations, including governments, to steal sensitive Cloud data.

Cloud technology allows for sharing resources over the internet and has dramatically improved operational efficiencies, especially during lockdown when many people were forced to work remotely. However, it remains susceptible to cyber-attacks, which Cloud developers and users need to be aware of and take precautions against.

It should go without saying that Cloud data must be protected outright – from the initial source, during transit, and through to its final storage stage on the database. Besides Cloud service providers implementing and adhering to industry best practices, users and IT departments must take a layered security approach to protect their sensitive data.

Other considerations should include;

Improved IT Security Policies

IT software vendors and clients should be fully aware of each other’s scope of responsibility and take the appropriate security measures from their respective sides.

Strengthened Authentication and Access Management
Multi-factor authentication should be implemented by developers and IT Managers alike, as stealing passwords is one of the most common ways to access and steal data. Cloud developers should also enable Cloud users to assign roles to different administrators – limiting capabilities according to job roles and responsibilities.

Fully-Managed Cloud Intrusion Detection
All Cloud solutions must have a reliable intrusion detection system to monitor the network and forewarn service providers and users alike about any potential intrusions.

Although Cloud computing has many advantages it also comes with its own set of vulnerabilities. An awareness of how cyber-attacks are carried out and a preparedness to counter this will allow users to protect their data assets better while continuing to enjoy the benefits that Cloud computing brings to their daily business operations.

Westech, a leading professional IT company in South Africa, has the expertise to assist companies in conducting a complete IT Security Audit to understand their vulnerabilities better and implement the correct security solution.

Being a ‘senior’ doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still plan and save for a great future

For most individuals, finding themselves in the ‘senior’ age category comes as something of a surprise. For one, many are still leading vibrant and full lives in their late 50s and 60s, so the ‘senior’ label hardly feels appropriate. Some also feel like the senior part of their life snuck up on them far too quickly.

The good news is that approaching, or reaching, retirement age is by no means the end of your life as you may have lived it; it’s merely the start of a new chapter. That’s according to Sisandile Cikido, Head of Retail Investments at Nedbank, who points out that, while many people have financial concerns as they get older, with a little planning and some good money management, this stage of your life can be just as fun, exciting, and rewarding as those that went before.

‘Financial uncertainty is the most common fear we see among the majority of our clients aged 55 plus and individuals approaching their retirement years are worried about whether they have saved enough to ensure that they won’t run out of money,’ says Cikido.

She says that the fear is understandable, given the sudden transition that retirement represents from having financial control over your finances while you’re working and earning a steady income, to suddenly having to rely on the resources you’ve put in place to provide you with the income you need. ‘Many people experience fear as they enter retirement because they feel like they have lost control of their money, and when you add rising costs of living, increasing healthcare expenses, and the reminder that Covid-19 provided of how vulnerable our money and investments can be, the financial stress that many people associate with getting older is understandable.’

But Cikido urges older South Africans to transform the fear and uncertainty about their financial futures into proactive plans for their future, emphasising that being in your 50s or 60s doesn’t mean that it’s too late to see your money differently, and take decisive action to secure a better financial future. That’s especially true when you have a proven financial partner to guide you, an array of top-class savings and investment solutions at your disposal, and many options available to you to continue earning, or supplementing, an income in retirement.

‘The way we think about retirement today is very different from the understanding that previous generations had of it, which means that our plans for our senior years also need to evolve and transform.’

She says that while the foundation of any retirement plan still obviously needs to be a sound investment strategy, the idea of hanging up your work clothes on retirement day and then spending the rest of your days sitting on the couch are long gone.

‘Today’s seniors are healthy and dynamic, with so much experience, insight and value still to offer, which means that most of them have no desire for a traditional retirement, preferring instead to find ways of staying active and continuing to earn an income.’

Cikido adds that acting on this ability to supplement your retirement income is an excellent way of addressing any fears you may have about outliving your money, because it means that you can leave your retirement savings invested and growing for a number of years longer, before you have to begin dipping into them. She explains that having such a financial buffer in place is also a good way of ensuring that you are not forced to access your retirement savings when markets are performing poorly, which could result in a loss of value, as many people discovered when the markets declined suddenly due to Covid-19 early in 2020

‘Of course, a side hustle is not the only way of generating additional income in retirement. An even better option is to have a long-term retirement savings plan in place, that includes a diverse range of savings and investment accounts. These could include fixed-term savings with capital protection, like the Nedbank Optimum Plus fixed deposit, to more liquid day-to-day savings accounts and, of course, a tax-free savings vehicle for efficient long-term growth with quick and easy access to your money after you retire.’

She also points to the importance of sound advice from a trusted financial partner as being one of the cornerstones of a successful plan for secure senior years. ‘Nedbank is much more than a product provider; we’re a trusted partner to all our clients, and we especially recognise the value and importance of walking with our senior clients on their pre- and post-retirement journeys.’