The Real Deal on Cybersecurity Failures

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The Real Deal on Cybersecurity Failures

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Computer Security

A 2018 study revealed that small to medium businesses increasingly face the same cybersecurity risks as enterprise and well-known corporations, but only 28 percent of SMBs rate their ability to mitigate threats and attacks as “highly effective.”

The quantity of breaches and attacks, including malware, phishing attempts and ransomware attacks is steadily rising — with 67 percent of SMBs experiencing a cyber-attack, and 58 percent experiencing a data breach in the last year. Despite that, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) say they have no understanding of how to defend their businesses from these attacks.

As this vulnerability increases, the risk of employees, vendors, and outside contractors causing data breaches or being inadvertently complicit in these attacks is simultaneously increasing — 60 percent of study respondents cited a negligent employee or contractor as being the root cause for a breach, compared to 37 percent pointing to an outside source. Still, 32 percent of survey participants stated that they could not determine the root cause of a breach or attack they experienced in the past 12 months.

40 percent of respondents say an attack occurred with the compromise of employees’ passwords in the past year, with the average cost of each being $383,365. Accordingly, 19 percent more IT and security professionals consider password protection and management to be increasingly critical in 2019 as compared to 2018.

Part of creating an environment that is vulnerable to outside attack is a failure to use strong passwords, two-factor authentication and unique passwords for every website, application and system. These steps are often inconvenient, but have stopped attacks from occurring, limited the intrusion that occurs, and even notifying of a breach before it can actually occur. In this vein, respondents indicated their two biggest password-related pain points are having to deal with passwords being stolen or compromised (68 percent) and employees using weak passwords (67 percent). Almost certainly, this is cause and effect at work. Often, human memory and/or insecure spreadsheets are used to store and protect passwords. Only 22 percent of respondents say their companies require employees to use a password manager. Of the 74 percent of respondents who say password managers are not required, more than half say their companies rely upon unreliable methods to protect passwords.

SMBs, by nature, do not necessarily have the funds or the expert staff to have effective security, and as a result 74 percent of respondents note this as a huge obstacle. The remaining 26 percent of respondents who believe they are ‘highly effective’ at mitigating vulnerabilities and attacks state that the reason for this belief is due to a higher investment in both personnel and funding to adequately face these threats. These companies also dedicate a higher percentage of their IT budget to cybersecurity efforts.

As time progresses and technology evolves, cyber criminals are often ahead of the curve, and companies, no matter how big or small, are only as strong as their weakest link and their ability to react to an ever-changing security landscape. Staying ahead of threats in this area pays untold dividends by fostering a healthy respect for security and the responsibility of being good stewards of consumer data.

 

No Hardware – No Problems

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Cloud Hosting

Beginner’s Guide To Cloud Storage

No hardware, no problems

 

Not too long ago, a virtual desktop environment was too cost prohibitive for many organizations. This offering has grown so quickly and become so cost effective that it is a right size for almost every company doing business today.

An SOS TotalCloud appliance acts like a physical desktop, except that it is centralized in a data center and streams to the appliance. The appliance can be just about any physical device with network access, along with significantly lower hardware requirements than business class PCs, for both maximum uptime and maximum service life.

When virtual desktops were first offered, some companies attempted migration without a clear understanding of the impacts to business requirements and true cost. As a result, many of those early adoptions did not succeed. Now, virtual infrastructure is much more refined, with the primary focus shifting to include not only data and security concerns, but also resource consumption, hardware uptime, and usable hardware life cycles. Speaking to that last point, the hardware on an employee’s desk becomes a non-issue: it is simply an almost disposable device, at a price point that matches, as it is basically just ‘streaming’ an active desktop. It’s not doing any real work, since that is taking place in the cloud. With the correct interface, any device, mobile or tablet becomes a consistent workstation for every user.

Applications are the lifeblood of a great many businesses. Whether it’s industry specific software or MS Office standards, software is how everything is getting done. When looking at a traditional desktop environment, all users must connect into the main network to install or update an application, shifting their schedules around the inevitable downtime that comes with either updating existing hardware, or rolling out new hardware & software for a new addition to the team. On the SOS TotalCloud, these changes are being whitelisted, and automatically installed to all users at once on off hours, with no impact to anyone. This same method is used for upgrades as well, so keeping everyone on current versions is seamless, and no longer dependent on expensive and constantly aging hardware.

Hardware expenses certainly add up over time. It’s reasonable to expect to replace roughly a third of existing systems every calendar year on a 36 month warranty-backed lifecycle. At anywhere from eight hundred to a thousand dollars per system, this cost impacts every company’s bottom line. Also included are servers, with an on average 5 year lifespan. The infrastructure required by today’s economy is very impactful, and rarely predictable.

Looking at SOS TotalCloud, these costs reduce dramatically, practically overnight. Say goodbye to the mystery of unanticipated costs. You’ll know exactly how much it costs to replace a TotalCloud appliance, or to bring on a brand new one, ready to go from Day 1, for the same price every time.

 

Fixed costs, 99.9% uptime, reduced IT expenditures without the mystery. SOS TotalCloud works.

 

Typing Out Loud: Business Messaging Apps

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Blog, IT News

laptop

When the first human being had something worth saying, there’s a good chance that they didn’t say it very well. In the 21st century, quality communication still isn’t second nature to us. It’s a challenge for some organizations, maybe a bit simpler for others, but even that is dynamic. What works today may not work for a different team tomorrow. Or even the same team once personnel promote, or change roles. However, humans love to talk. So how do we do it better?

In the early days of the internet, AOL instant messenger gained huge traction, based solely how easily it brought people together to discuss anything and everything, from video games to history to music. One could type a quick message, rather informally, and receive a quick message back. The conversation continued almost in real time. It is neither time-consuming, nor complicated. This paradigm eventually that gives rise to SMS text messaging, and now anyone can choose from an array of images to convey everything from love to sarcasm, that much quicker.

How does this work in the modern business climate? As millennials occupy an increasing share of the workforce, so too does the number of people who still use phone calls as the primary method of communication. This can be reflected too in the quantity of emails sent every day: 205 billion, or more easily stated as 29 emails daily for every man, woman and child on Earth. Email has many advantages, but for quick, internal communication, those advantages don’t work. Email isn’t seen as immediate, often causing delays & bottlenecks in decision making when more and more of the workforce doesn’t occupy the same space.

Enter the team chat apps.

These apps encourage quick, brief messages to transmit messages on a total ‘opt-in’ basis. Even in a group chat, you can parse what you need and get back to another task, or contribute to the conversation as you see fit. If someone specifically needs an individual, there are ways to alert them through the app to get their attention. Also, messaging apps create an ongoing and persistent conversation among multiple contributors simultaneously, either based on need or topic.

Slack, Microsoft Teams, HipChat, and Google Hangouts have grown in popularity primarily for the need for instant communication that was missing in the workplace. And while each one has their advantages and disadvantages, they all provide a baseline of instant communication with varying features, depending on an organization’s operations. Software development teams tend to use Slack, or HipChat, because of their seamless integrations with other applications & tools that developers use often. If you already have Office 365, depending on your plan you already have Microsoft Teams available, and that is useful to almost any business for instant chat communication, from retail stores to supermarkets to doctor’s offices.

If you’d like to know more about which app is right for you and your business, talk to our expert engineers today.

Infrastructure as a Service

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Cloud Hosting

data archiving

There are some major advantages to utilizing infrastructure-as-a-service, especially for businesses concerned with up-time and scalability as they grow in their respective markets. IaaS goes beyond simply virtualizing infrastructure, by also adding a software management layer with single pane of glass administration to allocate resources, both external and internal, and to maximize support.

‘Going to the cloud’ is a phrase you’ve no doubt heard before. But does the experience live up to the hype in technology circles and current best practices? These questions are important enough to have decision-makers question whether they can really benefit from the Iaas model.  The Benefits include:

Cost savings – At the first sight, any good look into long term cost-savings are not that obvious. However, cost saving is going to be tangible, although not necessarily direct. Overall costs are bound to go down- you will require less people, streamline your operations and have time and resources to focus on business growth.

Cutting edge technology – Because of their own competitive market constraints, datacenters and data architects are feeling the pressure to always provide the latest and greatest at an easy-to-adopt cost platform.

IaaS saves IT staff time – In examining time savings, it is important to factor in the benefits of automation that some service providers offer. In some cases, automation will not only offset the operational costs, but also optimize the way your data is loaded and saved. This automated optimization can save a lot of money in direct storage and compute costs, as well as the time spent on data prep by your staff.

Focus on business growth – The savings in time and resources, along with the added benefit of knowing fixed costs of expansion of employee needs, enable an important shift in focus, allowing your team to keep critical business imperatives front-and-center.

Scalability and elasticity – IaaS provides an extraordinary level of flexibility and scalability in response to an enterprise’s requirements.  .

Support for Disaster Recovery (DR)/Business Continuity (BC) – IaaS services provide high-level, consolidated DR/BC solutions, further reducing costs and increasing manageability.

The current generation of IaaS providers is all-in on managing complexity by helping businesses optimize with the help of machine learning and the latest developments in artificial intelligence, as well. This last generation includes self-optimizing analytics infrastructure in the cloud, adapting to ever-changing data needs from across many different industries and verticals. These technologies aim to abstract away the vast complexity of components and configurations required to maintain a robust infrastructure allowing companies to instantly utilize their data, processes and environment, no matter what size they happen to be. Easy migration and rapidly decreasing costs make a cloud infrastructure as a service a viable option for everyone looking to increase efficiency, create turn-key growth and forecast costs for IT to a level of predictability not yet seen. SOS is proud to offer this option to our clients and new friends. Contact us to learn more and to organize a complimentary assessment.

Technology Impact: Deep AI Learning and Facial Recognition

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Security, Technology

4 Tips For Placing Security Cameras

For a surveillance camera to be truly effective in times past, it required at least two elements: a system to manage multiple cameras at once, and a human being watching that system to respond to threats and questionable activities. Since then, many practical and useful enhancements have come to market, so much so that even the smallest businesses can now protect their investments, employees and property to the fullest, without investing human capital on hours spent.

Very recently, Google has pioneered the use of deep convolutional neural networks to identify objects in static images with a very high degree of accuracy. They achieved this by using a multitude of finely networked and highly specific processing units tied to massive data storage containers, combined with dense replicating algorithms. What this means in layman’s terms is that each computer taught itself how to identify photos by holding on to every bit of data about that photo, sharing it with other computers, and then comparing the differing results. You may already be using a reduced version of this software, if you are using facial recognition to log into your mobile phone or a specific app.

Current IP-based camera video is ultimately nothing more than a lot of individual photos that are sequenced together to create a video that’s really just a moving set of pictures. It’s only been a matter of time that this same kind of machine learning could be used to identify specific features of a human face, or even the shape of raised letters on a vehicle’s license plate, in real time monitoring of a video stream and then compare those results to a database of known quantities – a very specific example being a former employee who may be barred from entering a restricted area gets captured by a camera and his face is compared to a record of employee ID badges for the past 5 years. And while an organization is still investing in a physical security presence, using an automated facial recognition software system frees up a large amount of man hours, effectively becoming a force multiplier and allowing less staff to achieve more.

Another way that advanced video analytics provide value outside of security is for visitor metrics, put simply how many different individuals are entering your space at any given time. This can be incredibly valuable for retail stores, transportation infrastructure, or large public spaces such as sports stadiums or convention centers to measure human traffic throughout a space. A well rounded video management system is rapidly becoming a must-have for any organization, and as facial recognition and video analytical software become better, they also become more cost-efficient as well. If you’ve ever wondered about how to get the most out of your camera network, or to have a new camera network protect your facility, contact us today.

 

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