Is Your Network Ready for Cloud Computing?

Cloud-based based computing adoption is increasing among many businesses.  According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Annual trends in Cloud Computing study, 60% of business owners reported having 30% or more of their IT Systems in the cloud.  Additionally, research firm IDC predicts cloud-computing solutions to total $24 billion by 2016. Why Cloud Computing? CompTIA research reports that of those businesses adopting cloud technology, 49% have experienced the ability to cut costs. Popular uses of cloud-based applications include business productivity, cloud-based email, virtual desktop, HR management, and financial management. Taking Advantage of Cloud Computing Cloud Computing Why Now? Cloud Computing Growth and adoption is driven by a number of trends in IT, including affordable broadband, Internet, virtualization, and mobile computing.  Businesses find it easier than ever to reliably and securely connect to cloud-based infrastructure.  Cloud providers use virtualization to share computing resources, which helps keep costs down and aids in migration and upgrade of hardware platforms.  Mobile users expect cross-platform connection of smart phones and tablet computers to corporate applications and their data.  These factors combined add to the appeal of cloud computing Cloud computing Deployment Scenarios Most cloud-computing deployments use public-cloud, private-cloud and/or hybrid-cloud platforms.  Selecting the right cloud architecture depends on a number of factors, including industry and regulatory compliance requirements, integration with legacy applications, security, and other considerations.  It is equally important to consider your network reliability and availability to ensure a smooth of cloud computing. Most industry analysts agree that cloud computing is here to stay.  Cloud computing is becoming an increasingly important component of IT infrastructure, and companies adopting cloud computing are deriving...

5 Things You Need to Know about Privacy Breach Notifications

Recent high-profile data breaches, such as those that occurred at Neiman Marcus and Target, have brought privacy breach notification laws into public debate.  In the event that your company’s secure information is compromised, it is important to understand privacy breach notification laws and standards. Privacy Breach Notification Regulations are Under Review Across the world, privacy breach notification laws are being updated and amended to keep up with the times.  In the United States, for example, federal standards are being discussed, but  each state may also have its own rules.  Furthermore, some states do not even have their own regulations, and laws and procedures regarding privacy breach notification standards vary depending on where your business is located. Be sure to know the regulations and standards for your own country or state. What is Privacy Data? This private information that your company may posses includes customer names, in combination with, account numbers, driver licenses, or social security numbers, although this changes from state to state and from country to country. Most laws require your business to inform customers, employees, and other stakeholders when their private information has been compromised. What is considered private information, and the timeframe in which customers must be informed of the breach, varies in each law. A Privacy Data Breach Has No Borders Many companies collect data from customers across the globe.  If a privacy breach crosses state lines or international borders, your company may need to comply with multiple standards. Failure to comply may lead to fines and penalties, in addition to customer disapproval. California laws, for example, impose fines up to $3,000 for failure to...

Avoiding Downtime by Having a Business Continuity Plan

Companies small and large are increasingly reliant on their IT systems and infrastructure. Having a Business Continuity plan is a proactive way of avoiding unnecessary downtime due to a disaster, human error, or security breach. Not only may downtime cause data loss, but also according to Gartner Research, a conservative estimate of the  cost of downtime for a computer network is $42,000 per hour. For a small business without a Business Continuity plan, such downtime could have long-term crippling implications. In case of natural disasters or IT outages, it is important to be able to calculate risks and financial losses caused by downtime in order to best allocate IT resources to get your business back online quickly. Below are suggestions for putting downtime for your computer network in perspective. Downtime of your Computer Network and Your Business Continuity Plan There are many factors that contribute to losses caused by downtime. These factors include employee productivity, financial losses, fines, legal fees, loss of revenue, and loss of goodwill. Whether it is inventory sitting on trucks, invoices that don’t go out, or cash registers that stop ringing, it is important to understand which applications and data are most important to bring back quickly. By identifying the systems that are most important to keeping your doors open, you will quickly realize where the highest risk of downtime is in your business.  Also note that losing sensitive data, such as credit card information, may attract heavy fines and loss of reputation in addition to lost revenue. How to Avoid Downtime With Your Business Continuity Plan To avoid the disastrous effects that downtime can...

Heartbleed Bug: What a Business Owner Should Know

The name Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability (aka Heartbleed bug) is as scary as it sounds. Some reports say up to two thirds of all secure websites (e.g. those with a web address starting with a green https://) are using OpenSSL.  It has been reported that Google was first to discover the Heartbleed bug  that compromised sites including Yahoo, Tumblr, Flickr, Amazon, and other websites relying on OpenSSL for security.  This security breach may provide hackers access to accounts, passwords, and credit card information. Heartbleed and Your Systems Business owners using OpenSSL for their email, website, eCommerce applications, or other  web applications should take action to prevent data loss or theft.  The fix for the Heartbleed bug should be installed on your operating systems, network appliances, and other software to ensure that confidential information is protected.  Consider having your IT professional test your public web servers to determine if they are safe. Heartbleed and Your Employees Your employees may have used websites that were exposed to the Heartbleed bug.  This means their username and password combinations may have been compromised by hackers tapping into what was supposed to be encrypted communications.  Employees should be reminded to reset passwords within the guidelines established by your company.  There are plenty of resources on creating a secure password.  Microsoft offers tips for creating a strong password on their website. The Need for IT Security Because the Heartbleed bug is pervasive, most internet users need to change passwords on sites like Gmail, Yahoo, and Facebook.  The Heartbleed bug is a wake-up call to the importance of having an IT Security policy that includes strong password...

Mobile Security: Does Your SmartPhone need a Kill Switch?

Many Smartphones and Tablet computers have access to corporate applications and their data through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and corporate-sponsored mobility strategies.  Mobile Security has become a popular topic for good reason.  According to CIO Insights, mobile data traffic is expected to increase eleven-fold by 2018. Because of increasing data traffic on mobile devices, some government agencies are looking at legislation to require manufacturers to add a smartphone kill switch to remotely wipe a mobile device if it is lost or stolen. Keeping in mind that a four-digit iPhone passcode could be hacked in minutes, this begs the question: Does your Smartphone Need a Kill Switch? Having a smartphone Kill Switch may give a sense of false security.  Adding a kill switch to protect your privacy and corporate information is reactive, rather than proactive.  If not done properly, you could wipe your employees’ irreplaceable information, such as family photos.  A Kill Switch may also make the phone entirely unrecoverable.  This means you will surely need to replace the device once the remote kill switch is invoked. Proactive Mobile Security Before you hit the Kill Switch consider proactive mobile-security measures. Smartphones and Tablets are great innovations that allow your employees to stay in touch and work anywhere.  Access to email, operational data, financial information, and customer information through a mobile device can empower your employees and increase their productivity.  Access to this information should be password-protected at all times.  Additionally, any corporate data should be encrypted in transit and at rest. Only approved applications should be allowed on the mobile device and personal data should be stored in...
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