Ayman Totounji

cyber-threat

Does Cyber Threat Hurt My Business Reputation ?


I hope everybody is doing well and staying safe.

Holidays are around the corner.

Here I want to share a good question asked by a friend of mine.

He asked if the cyber threat can hurt his business reputation. Although I am familiar with the outcomes of cyber-attack, this concern is something I found worth sharing.

This is also important as a lot of people ignore the severity of cyber-attacks. They don’t have essential measures in place to protect their data.

Cyber-attacks not only threaten their data but also hurt their business reputation.

Living in a digital landscape where data is stored virtually has become a common practice.

Basically, if we don’t protect our data and we don’t have essential cybersecurity strategies in place, we are simply opening a big gate for threat actors.

As we uh we’re looking at that advanced technology, we need to put in mind that we definitely need to think about cybersecurity besides our marketing and our sales efforts.

Many businesses lack a budget for cybersecurity. Not getting serious about cybersecurity means you are just building a lot of fears that can be made true by one single cyber-attack incident.

Needless to say, it can bring your business down as well as its reputation. When your clients come to know about this, they are more likely to refrain from doing business with you. That’s why it is a serious issue.

Not All Cybersecurity Tools Can Work in the Future

We have an antivirus program for example, and we do have an anti-fishing program and it works.

But the program that did work yesterday does not work today.

Technology is advancing on a daily basis and threat actors are scanning everybody. They’re looking for the security loopholes and vulnerabilities that they can access your network and access your data.

So basically, if you have an antivirus outdated antivirus that used to work probably is not going to work today. So you need to have a vision for the future you need to look always at your business. You need to look at this. Okay.

Bottom Line:

Make sure to protect your asset and data. And it takes you to invest in the right tools as well as secure a little budget for security.

Setting aside a little budget for your cybersecurity might disturb your finances. But it won’t be anything compared to the expenditure you do to bring your business back after a cyber-attack. Cyber-attacks lead to the loss of money and reputation as well. It means that you are losing your trust with customers and hurt your business.

It is equally important to train your employees in cybersecurity. After all, they are the largest security vulnerability despite having the best security tool. They can visit malicious links, exposing your information to cybercriminals.

They can use infected devices that can inject the virus into your systems. And above all, they can pose an insider threat or your ex-employee can sell your information to your competitor. Conducting regular cybersecurity workshops are also an effective way to keep your staff educated on cybersecurity.

If you are a small enterprise, you can organize these events together with other local small businesses. Moreover, organizing cybersecurity workshops for your clients can be a great branding opportunity.

Therefore, invest in cybersecurity tools as well as cybersecurity training you can do right now to consolidate your data security.

I hope this information helps. Thanks for reading. Take care. Signing off!

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Cybersecurity vs Information Security

Cybersecurity vs Information Security: What are the differences?


Cybersecurity vs Information security. I hear you thinking…, What!  I thought cybersecurity WAS information security!  Well, yes, and no.  Let us start with a detailed definition or two.

Cybersecurity vs Information Security

Cybersecurity protects from attacks via cyberspace (that nebulous entity we have all created to work and play in via our technological devices and linkages).  This form of security covers your computers, smart phones, laptops, and other hardware as well as the means of accessing, linking, and communicating through them (think LANs, the internet).

Cybersecurity attacks may target a website your company keeps but are more likely to target the data your company stores and uses to run your business.  This is why information security is important to understand.

Information security concerns itself with the actual raw data your company collects (such as a field requiring a date: MM/DD/YYYY) and the information derived from that data (e.g., a DOB versus a policy renewal date).  This information may be stored digitally (say on a server via the cloud), in an analog format (think about forms or photos in a file cabinet), or both (perhaps a thumbnail drive within a desk drawer).

It is the job of the information security staff to work with a company’s leaders to define and understand what data is most necessary to the successful completion of business tasks and how, in whatever format it exists, it should be protected.

Concerns with Information Security

The primary concerns of information security regarding data are: integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

Integrity – guarding against the improper or accidental modification or destruction of data.

Integrity can be maintained by making sure only permitted persons may edit, modify, delete, or destroy (e.g., shred aged documents) data.  It also includes ensuring authenticity (i.e., being able to verify the identification of a person or process) and nonrepudiation (making sure a sent message or signed document cannot de disputed).

Examples of integrity loss would be analog information not properly protected from environmental conditions (fire, flood, etc.) and so damaged beyond use or digital information improperly transferred or changed without approval.

Confidentiality – reserving access to data – think “need to know” – by preserving authorized restrictions to access and disclosure.

This is especially important for personally identifiable information (PII – such as social security and credit card numbers) and protected health information (PHI).

Here, again, restricting access to those who need the information to perform their job duties is important to protecting information content privacy

A breach of confidentiality may be brought about by human error, intentional sharing of data, malicious entry, etc.

Availability – ensuring that access and use of data is timely and reliable.

Availability is maintained through continuity and functionality of access procedures, backup or duplication of information, and maintenance of hardware and network connections so that data is accessible when needed by the users for daily applications and for business decisions.

As with integrity, a loss of availability can occur when networks are damaged due to natural disasters; or when client devices fail.

In addition, your Information Security personnel should be aware of the many legal and regulatory requirements (like NIST, GDPR [European Union law], HIPPA, and FERPA) of your industry that affect the company’s information security requirements and be able to develop and disseminate guidelines which inform employees on how to protect business sensitive information throughout their work cycle as pertinent to said guidelines.

As you can see, your data damage prevention/recovery and threat mitigation processes will span the information security and cybersecurity assignments making it essential for personnel from both teams to understand the needs of the other and work closely to develop protection protocols for your sensitive business information.

Therefore with the alignment of your cyber and information security teams employees can be trained in the whys and hows of information protection and be helped to understand how conscientious application of developed procedures – whether usually considered as pertinent to cybersecurity (e.g., strong passwords, multi-factor authentication), essential to information security (such as who is responsible for safeguarding sensitive physical material in an emergency), or both (whom to make a report to regarding suspicious activity, keeping mobile devices under lock and key when not in use),. – creates a safer environment for your critical and sensitive business data and aids in keeping your business up and running.

Read Also: Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses

Remember, one cannot have information security without having cybersecurity but cybersecurity has no true value without an understanding of the information to be secured.  And though information security covers digital data in cyberspace it must not forget the analog data lying around the company.

Plan well and take care!

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Cybersecurity Best Practices

Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses


There is a common misconception amongst small business owners that only larger enterprises are at risk of cybersecurity threats and hence they don’t follow cybersecurity best practices. Not unexpectedly, it is generally believed that if your business operates on a smaller scale, it will not be targeted and will remain protected from cyberattacks. 

However, this is far from being true. Any business, regardless of size, can become a victim of cybercrime. As organizations of all sizes conduct more business operations like marketing, communication with clients, processing transactions, etc. via the internet, they become even more vulnerable to security threats and are outdated as per the latest cybersecurity best practices.

Download Cybersecurity Best Practices Checklist! ( Ideal For Small Businesses)

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Statistics show that cybercrime costs companies about 200,000 USD on average, resulting in many finding themselves out of business within a few months of a cyberattack. 

Typically, small businesses are much more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats because they lack the resources, such as funding and expertise, that are required to develop a strong defence system against cyber threats and following cybersecurity best practices is one of them. According to IBM, over 60% of small businesses experienced a data breach in 2019. Despite being the target of 43% of all cyberattacks, only 14% of small businesses are prepared to protect themselves against such attacks.

In today’s rapidly digitalizing world, it is crucial for enterprises to develop strategies against cyber-crime and avoid disruption to daily operations. So, what measures can small businesses take to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats and attacks? 

 12 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses:

  • Know the Risks

One of the most important aspects of cybersecurity is being informed about and identifying all risks and cyber threats that could affect the business. Generally, data such as client personal information, client credit card information, company financial information and trade secrets are the things that are most at risk. Moreover, ensure that employees are aware of all threats that the business could potentially be exposed to. Consider also participating in the C3 Voluntary Program for Small Businesses, which contains a detailed toolkit for determining and documenting cybersecurity best practices and cybersecurity policies.

  • Conduct a Cybersecurity Risk Analysis

Once the risks have been identified, it becomes easier to develop strategies and procedures to mitigate any security threats. To conduct a cybersecurity risk analysis, small businesses need to first determine the methods used for data storage and identify the people who have access to this data.

It is also important to recognize how that data could potentially be accessed by an unauthorized person. Furthermore, the consequences of a security breach on the company should be examined, and appropriate policies should be developed to refine the security strategy of the business. Ideally, a Cybersecurity risk assessment needs to be conducted frequently to help the business develop a more comprehensive security plan. 

  • Train Company Employees

This is one of the easiest ways of preventing cyberattacks. When employees are aware of all the security practices and policies they need to adhere to, the likelihood of being the victim of cybercrime falls dramatically.

Topics that should be included in training include how to spot a phishing email, how to avoid downloading suspicious email attachments and how to create strong passwords. Strategies that can easily be implemented by employees include having strong passwords, knowing how to protect customer data, etc. 

Additionally, ensure that whenever there are updates or changes in company policies and protocols, employees are informed immediately. Employees should be careful about the information given to people about the business. It is important to be vigilant about any messages, calls, or emails that ask for personal information such as passwords. They should regularly monitor activities in the work environment and identify any changes that may seem suspicious. 

  • Develop a Cybersecurity Plan

For small businesses, in addition to training employees, it is critical to develop and implement a cybersecurity plan which takes into consideration all risks that the company could face. This plan should also define strategies that can be employed to manage these risks.

If the business has become victim to a cyberattack, the first response should be eliminating the threat, followed by investigating the reason behind the attack as well as the gaps that caused a security breach. All employees should know who to report any cyber attacks too, and what measures to take if an incident occurs. Penalties for violations of cybersecurity policies can also be put into effect in the case of non-compliance.

  • Enable a Firewall

A firewall is one of the most important cybersecurity practices. It has been recommended by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that all small businesses should enable a firewall in order to block cybercriminals from accessing data. Firewalls also offer added protection from other threats, like malware and viruses, which can compromise cybersecurity.

Moreover, businesses can configure internal firewalls as a means of further increasing security. If employees are working from home, or the company has shifted to remote work during the current COVID-19 pandemic, ensure that a firewall is installed in home networks as well. 

  • Invest in Up-to-Date Technology 

Although this seems like an obvious practice, many small businesses do not prioritize investing in good technology for securing their systems. As the methods used by hackers and cybercriminals are continuously evolving, it is crucial for companies to install the latest cybersecurity software.

It is also important for businesses to ensure that this software is regularly updated. All systems used for business operations should have protection against viruses and spyware. Additionally, only authorized users should have access to the networks within the business so that confidential data remains secure.  

  • Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Almost every business utilizes wireless networks for their daily business operations. This puts them at risk of cybercriminals attempting to gain access to data transmitted through Wi-Fi. Therefore, the network used by the company should be password protected and encrypted to mitigate this risk. Businesses can also hide the Service Set Identifier (SSID) so that the name of the network is not broadcasted. 

  • Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

Ensure that everyone working in the business uses strong, unique passwords. Employees must be informed of the importance of not using passwords that can be easily guessed, such as those that include names and birthdates.

All passwords should have a minimum of ten characters, with symbols, numbers, as well as uppercase and lowercase letters. It is recommended that each employee should change their passwords every three to six months for additional protection. For more sensitive data, multi-factor authentication can be added. Through this, cellphone numbers can be added to receive a pin code or password to access networks and emails. A password management system can be used to safely store all company passwords and restore them if needed. 

  • Make Regular Backups 

Even if all possible precautions are taken, there is still a slight chance of data being compromised. To avoid losing important information about clients and business operations, it is critical to regularly back up all data, including word documents, spreadsheets, files on finances, files on human resources, accounts etc. This way, important data can be retrieved even if the company’s system gets hacked and files are deleted or stolen. Data can be backed up in external drives as well as in offsite storage facilities. 

  • Secure Payment Processes

It is important to ascertain that all payment processes are secure, especially for small businesses that are heavily reliant on online transactions. Businesses should work with payment processors or banks which use trusted tools and services that prevent fraud. A separate system can be used for payment processes to further reduce the chance of threats to cybersecurity. 

  • Increase Email Security

Most malware and viruses come from emails. Employees may make the mistake of opening suspicious attachments and compromise the security of the company’s network and systems. To secure emails, sensitive and confidential documents should be encrypted so they cannot be accessed without a password. Additionally, employees should only open emails and download attachments from trusted sources.

  • Protection for Mobile Devices

Almost everyone is now using devices such as fitness trackers and smart watches. These are usually synchronized with smartphones or computer systems, and as they work wirelessly, they too are prone to cyberattacks. Employees must be required to have regular security updates for all mobile devices that use the company’s network. Devices should also be protected by passwords and be encrypted. Additionally, if they are lost or stolen, employees should report the incident according to the incident response plan of the business.

Conclusion

With cybercrime evolving with each passing day and the cybersecurity landscape changing continuously, there is no doubt that small businesses face a great risk of having valuable data compromised.

While using the latest technology and software is crucial to protect your business, it is just as important to implement strategies such as staff training and awareness amongst employees. Follow these cybersecurity best practices today to avoid jeopardizing the success of your business.

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Managed IT services

What is a Managed Service Provider and what do they offer?


What is an MSP?

A Managed Service Provider is an outsourced third-party vendor that assumes the day-to-day responsibility of a defined set of IT management services to its clients. It offers a computing framework platform that allows businesses to outsource the remote management of their IT infrastructure in order to focus on improving business operations. MSPs are usually retained via a monthly subscription model and are increasingly being engaged by small and medium-sized businesses, non-profit organizations, and governments who are looking to boost productivity.

What do MSPs (Managed Service Provider) Offer?

• IT infrastructure management
• Software inventory management
• Cybersecurity hardening of network systems
• Helpdesk technical support
• Management of user accounts on client systems
• Fully managed hardware outsourcing
• Remote storage or servers
• Backup and disaster recovery
• Compliance with HIPAA, CMMC, SOC2 and other cybersecurity standards

 

How does MSP boosts productivity

How MSPs Can Boost Business Productivity?

A lot of enterprises have not been able to fully leverage the benefits that technological advancements offer. While they deploy some of the modern tools available, they are often not maximized to achieve optimal productivity. In other instances, they invest so much in technology that other parts of the business suffer. MSPs are essentially a team of professionals that take responsibility for a set of IT services. This means clients no longer need to worry about their IT-related issues. Here are some of the ways MSPs can boost business productivity.

Round-The-Clock Technical Support

This a key service that MSPs offer, which boosts business productivity. Broken down on-site servers or malfunctioning company software will hamper business processes and, ultimately, business productivity. MSPs provide timely maintenance and support services to businesses that have such issues to fix them either physically or remotely. They can also offer 24/7/365 IT infrastructure maintenance, which can cover network aspects like performance and predictive failures, system changes, and intrusion detection.

All-in-One System Updates

It is essential that businesses update their security solutions regularly. This saves them from cyber attacks on their IT systems. A skilled MSP will offer a great patching plan for all business applications, which ensures that no updates are missed. These patches are also executed in a manner that does not impede business processes. With a knowledgeable MSP, critical patches are installed immediately after testing, while those termed non-critical, are installed soon after. This allows the MSPs to figure the “which” and “when” of patch installation on a company’s IT system.

Managing Potential Risks

Managed Services Provider use state-of-the-art hardware, software, and analytics to predict IT problems before they happen. This way, businesses can take proactive measures to safeguard their enterprises against downtime. This singular service allows an experienced MSP to scale IT operations, improve work quality, and increase business productivity for its clients in the long run. All this can be achieved without business owners having to relinquish control of their IT systems. With the management and maintenance of their IT systems being done by MSPs, businesses can avoid potential risks that can disrupt their business processes.

Improved Business Continuity

Downtime is the bane of even the largest organizations because of the losses incurred when it happens. MSPs offer backup and recovery services that prepare businesses for these downtimes that occur as a result of natural or man-made disasters such as fires, earthquakes, and cyber-attacks. MSPs back key files on geo-redundant off-site data centres, which ensures that in the event that their on-site servers are destroyed, businesses can still access their files, without experiencing any downtime. This ensures that business productivity is constant even when the inevitable downtime occurs.

Effective IT consulting

Businesses have to stay ahead of their competition. Today’s increasingly digitized business landscape can make that challenge more or less difficult depending on how effectively IT solutions are applied. Organizations that deploy the right tech stacks are better suited to succeed than those which run on outdated business processes. MSPs offer technology solutions that ensure that your business remains productive in the face of ever-evolving technology trends. They also offer IT consulting, which ensures that businesses effect the right solutions based on seasoned, expert advice.

Finally, MSPs provide cloud hosting services that allow remote workers to access company data and applications from anywhere as long as they have an internet-connected device.

Since Managed Service Provider monitor cloud-based servers round the clock, employees can remain productive even while working from home, which is, of course, a high priority in today’s world.

We at Cynexlink offers sophisticated Managed IT services in Los AngelesSan DiegoOrange County and other parts of Southern California.

Contact us

Feel Free to be in touch and discuss your IT needs!

 

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SD WAN Checklist

SD-WAN Checklist : Choosing an SD-WAN solution


The traditional WAN function often struggles with the current unprecedented explosion of WAN traffic due to widespread cloud adoption and as a result, is no longer the most effective way to provide satisfactory user application experiences.

Download our Secure SD-WAN Home Product Brief!

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The need for SD wan Solutions

Hence, the introduction of software-defined WAN solutions. SD-WAN solutions are invaluable to companies seeking to upgrade their network and optimize user experience significantly. Most importantly, they offer security features that protect the traffic they manage, as well as functions that protect the offerings themselves. In this article, we will be exploring a checklist of capabilities that an enterprise should look for when choosing SD-WAN solutions. This SD wan checklist will help you to select the right SD wan Solutions for your company.

SD-WAN (Software Defined Networking) Checklist:

  • Accessibility
  • Cost of Ownership
  • Easy and remote deployment
  • Simple Management
  • Effective Pricing
SD WAN Checklist
                                                 SD-WAN Checklist

Accessibility

Cloud migration is, of course, fast-rising among enterprises and is the foremost reason for adopting SD-WAN solutions. In 2018, the cloud migration rate grew 15% more than the previous year and will keep rising. Businesses use hundreds of unique cloud services for apps, services, and platforms and expect SD-WAN to optimize their performance.

Service providers who are accessible to clients can provide hybrid cloud optimization, hybrid WAN, and granular policy-based network administration. The best service providers do not only offer cloud-based SD-WAN deployment but also create better WANs and networking strategies physically and in the cloud.

This will help clients to achieve long-term optimization of components such as network security and extensibility. Accessibility should also extend to the availability of account reps for face-to-face interactions, on-site support, and individualized guidance as customers’ satisfaction depends on it.

Cost of Ownership

SD-WAN solutions offer companies simpler administration jobs, better workload performance, avoided cost of MLPS, enhanced agility, fewer days bottlenecks, and as a result, instant return on investments and increased savings. However, not all vendors provide an equal ratio of value to cost. Businesses need to evaluate the TCO for SD-WAN solutions to determine which of the providers will most likely drive cost optimization and savings benefits.

They are searching for providers that will ensure cost savings on initial technology investments in hardware, software subscriptions, support monthly subscription costs for managed services and savings on security safeguards such as firewalls and so on.

Easy and remote deployment

Companies researching SD-WAN are often struggling with complex technical migrations and require a solution that would perform these tasks effectively. The right service providers offer easy deployment and intelligently designed solutions.

An intelligible SD-WAN solution should be built based on an in-depth investigation into the company’s network needs such as sites managed, budget, number of users, workload patterns, anticipated WAN usage and technology goals. They should also provide a deployment plan that includes a comprehensive strategy for monitoring network data after migration for continuous improvements.

Furthermore, companies want to provide remote users with secure, high-performing access to applications and data, without burdening IT resources. To do this, they require an SD-WAN tool that is capable of performing configurations remotely and enabling all users to connect a branch location to the network just by plugging in power and data cables. These solutions should also include security offerings that incorporate built-in firewall, encryption and filtering capabilities. According to a study on Next-Generation Networking, 66% of SD-WAN users intend to replace all their existing firewall branches with SD-WAN solutions.

Simple Management

Most SD-WAN technologies today provide a centralized and intuitive administration portal and allow configuration based on point-and-click workflows. However, these features don’t necessarily guarantee ease of successful management or simpler optimization of network performance. Hence, the best SD-WAN approach is one that fits the company’s needs and requirements for complexities. In other words, solutions must be able to provide improved user experience, integrate seamlessly with your existing designs and systems, offer appropriate accommodations for traffic prioritization and ensure transparency across WAN, users and hybrid environments.

Pricing

Pricing is another significant factor companies evaluate when choosing SD-WAN solutions. They want solutions that fit into their budget but most importantly, ones that offer clear cut value for their cost. Companies must keep in mind the cheapest service provider might not be the best in this regard because their features and support might be significantly limited and insufficient to drive ROI.

Instead, organizations should seek to identify providers with better TCO. These providers might appear slightly more costly but offer advanced support systems, expert engineering, active monitoring, optimized network agility and flexibility that will save money in the long run.

Conclusion

Choosing the right SD-WAN can be confusing and complicated but with SD-WAN Checklist You can. However, companies can unlock the full potential of SD-WAN by partnering with Cynexlink to find the best-managed services vendor. During the evaluation processes, we help companies review IT strategy, test-drive solutions, understand the ROI and develop an SD-WAN migration strategy that ensures success.

 

 

 

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Data Loss Prevention in Microsoft 365


CyNexLink Blog   •   December 28, 2017

 

Losing critical data can be an overwhelming blow to a company. Some may never recover or survive. From general email to end user files, contending with data loss has become a day-to-day affair for businesses.

Software as a service apps are not invulnerable to these data losses. Common examples of SaaS apps are email, calendaring and office tools like Microsoft Office 365.

Some of the most common causes of data loss are viruses or malware, hard disk or storage damage, software corruption, natural disaster and accidental deletion stemming from human error.

Considering Office 365 is the most commonly used office tool, it’s important that Microsoft has done a good job trying to mitigate data loss issues, though there is always the most common cause of data loss in Office 365: human error.

A slip of the mouse can wipe out critical documents.

Data loss can bear hefty financial consequences. In a study conducted by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, 20% of companies surveyed suffered $50,000 to $5 million in losses due to downtime from unrecoverable assets, lost productivity and declining confidence from consumers.

The study also displayed that more than half of companies that suffer catastrophic data loss from natural disasters generally go out of business. The assets lost generally cannot be recovered.

In that study, three out of four surveyed companies suffered a major data loss, which includes losing virtual machines, losing critical files, experiencing multiple days of downtime and losing critical software applications.

If a business cannot be revived from the brink within a week or so, the chance of survival is greatly decreased. This is due to diminished consumer confidence, security and employee morale in the wake of the disaster. Customers will immediately begin to leave for competing businesses.

Luckily, Office 365 has the ability to restore all things from the core environment, storing them in one of the various data centers tasked with data recovery.

While disasters are the extreme, simple deletions from human error also require restoration and Office 365 has these covered as well.

The Data Loss Prevention policy in Office 365 allows users to identify, monitor and protect sensitive information.

Users can identify important information throughout various locations, including OneDrive Business and Exchange Online. As an example, users can identify any document with a credit card number stored in a OneDrive Business site.

Users can prevent the accidental sharing of critical information by identifying a document or email containing sensitive information that may be shared with external sources and then block access to it.

Similarly to SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and OneDrive for Business, Excel, Power point and Word offer the same capabilities to find sensitive information and apply data loss prevention policies.

With an optimized data management system and IT infrastructure, you can boost your firm’s organizational and productive capabilities. Take a look at our portfolio to see how we’ve helped our clients enhance their business efforts. Contact us and find out how our IT specialists partner with you to accomplish your business’s goals.

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CyNexLink-internet-of-things

Security and the Internet of Things


CyNexLink Blog   •   December 26, 2017

 

The Internet of Things is at the forefront of the technological revolution. The term describes the connectivity of anything with an on or off switch, including cellphones, headphones, coffee makers, lamps and refrigerators.

Although the institution has many benefits for businesses, there are security risks associated with the technology.

A 2015 survey conducted by McKinsey Global Institute along with the Global Semiconductor Alliance showed that weak security is the most important issue to respondents. McKinsey and Global administered another survey in 2016, which similarly showed a similar conclusion from respondents.

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats earlier this year warned of the dangers of smart device security as part of the Internet of Things.

“In the future, state and non-state actors will likely use Internet of Things devices to support intelligence operations or domestic security or to access or attack targeted computer networks,” Coats said in a report.

Though the compromising of national security doesn’t necessarily directly translate to business, it’s not difficult to see that if the security of the country can be compromised from Internet of Things technology, then a business can fall prey to hackers as well.

Cyber criminals have already caused problems for companies by infiltrating devices connected to the Internet of Things.

The 2016 Mirai malware attack utilized compromised Internet of Things devices to to attack the infrastructure of the Internet. This massive attack caused shutdowns in North America and Europe.

A complex system of interrelated devices is by nature going to be vulnerable to attacks from various different vectors. This is an issue even when every device is secure when used by itself.

Due to the notion that a system’s total security is governed by its weakest point, an encompassing, end-to-end security approach is necessary to instill full confidence. This can be particularly difficult to do since hackers try to identify a single vulnerable point to breach the system. It’s not yet clear who will captain the move to comprehensive end-to-end security for Internet of Things technology.

There will be further difficulty in developing Internet of Things end-to-end solutions due to the institution’s lack of well-established standards to expound how the connected devices should interact. Corporations and other organizations then use their own solutions due to a lack of defined protocol, which muddies the waters.

So far, the UK-based company, ARM, is considered to be the vanguard of the security push for Internet of Things technology.

These security risks may cause some business leaders to recoil in fear, but the Internet of Things has real value. It’s incumbent on leaders to study the facts and weigh their options on how best to proceed. As part of that analysis, leaders should look into how best to safeguard their technology.

With the right security system and IT infrastructure, you can boost your firm’s organizational and productive capabilities. Take a look at our portfolio to see how we’ve helped our clients enhance their business efforts. Contact us and find out how our IT specialists partner with you to accomplish your business’s goals.

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cloud computing models

What are the Different Types of Cloud?


CyNexLink Blog   •   December 18, 2017

 

Cloud computing has become ubiquitous in recent times among SMBs for its ease of use and complex efficiency. There are many benefits to this technology, but one of the most favorable outcomes is the automation of storage, which eradicates layers of excess management. No longer will the business be responsible for the maintenance of physical centers of data and associated hardware and operating systems.

Yet, cloud systems aren’t uniform. Once businesses have decided to run with a cloud platform, they need to be aware of the varying systems. The three main categories of cloud service models are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Here’s an explanation of each model:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is a self-service platform that manages remote data center infrastructures. Within this model, third-parties like Amazon Web Services, Google or Microsoft Azure host the computing resources provided by IaaS.

The purchasing of IaaS for a company is based solely on what it plans to use. Many IT departments or organizations utilize IaaS because of its familiarity.

IaaS is desirable for projects that are temporary, experimental or subject to change. IaaS generally is charged on a per-use basis, though providers also charge based on the amount of utilized virtual machine space.

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): This model allows companies to construct, use and manage applications without an on-the-ground IT infrastructure, making it easier and quicker to develop and use applications. This system eliminates worries about having to deal with time-demanding IT infrastructure issues like provisioning servers, storage and backup because it hosts the hardware and software on its own infrastructure.

PaaS is generally considered to be simpler and more convenient due to providing the infrastructure and other IT services with easy accessibility on a web browser. Another desirable aspect of this system is the lowering of costs and minimization of management overhead. Innovation and scaling the business is also easier with PaaS.

Access is generally charged on a per-use basis, although some providers charge a monthly rate.

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This form replaces on-device software with software licensed through subscriptions. A majority of SaaS applications are accessed through a web browser, bypassing any downloads or installations. Some do require plug-ins though.

Generally, the service is paid for on a monthly basis, which allows for businesses to practice better budgeting due to the predictive nature of the payments.

There is high scalability with this platform due to the on-demand nature of its access. Further taking the burden off of companies, SaaS providers automatically initiate updates and patch management so new software doesn’t need to be purchased.

With the right cloud computing system and IT infrastructure, you can boost your firm’s organizational and productive capabilities. Take a look at our portfolio to see how we’ve helped our clients enhance their business efforts. Contact us and find out how our IT specialists partner with you to accomplish your business’s goals on the cloud.

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digital myths

Growing Your Digital Presence: Myth vs. Reality


 

CyNexLink Blog   •   December 13, 2017

 

Transforming a business’s digital technologies and presence depends on strong leadership and integrated IT systems. Advancements in efficiency, innovation and competitiveness within one’s field are a few of these gained advantages.

Yet, the path to transformation can be a risky one, fraught with potential mistakes. When a company chooses to begin a migration to new systems, upper management needs to make sure conversion is well planned. It’s also important for businesses to gauge whether a digital overhaul is right for them. While for many it can be desirable, there are companies that won’t benefit.

Here are a few myths about digital transformation that can help businesses move beyond illusory goals and actually plan ahead:

  • All businesses should transform: Companies need to determine whether a digital transformation will bring efficiency and a new competitive advantage to their business. A transformation is quite literally a changing of the guard. It’s not something meager like a software upgrade. Shockwaves will be sent throughout the company, and when the dust settles, new terrains will be afoot. So, it’s important for businesses to make a convincing business case for the big change as part of their initial assessment because a digital transformation is no small thing.
  • Transformation is solely incumbent on IT: Digital transformation is essentially dependent upon proper IT, but company leadership plays a huge role in the evolutionary feat. This leadership needs to help dictate and instill a new cultural sense in the business that aligns with the technological shift.
  • Digital transformation means reduction of human workforce: Considering that digital transformations can employ the use of emerging artificial intelligence capabilities and machine learning techniques, some may contend that the overhaul requires a reduction of human labor. Instead what researchers are finding is that as automation and data analytics are put in place, the more humans are needed to power the algorithms and understand the complexities of the systems.
  • Support from company heads is guaranteed: Without the support of executives, a digital transformation cannot be successfully brought to fruition. Company heads can be hesitant to engage in a transformation because they are complex and vast in nature.
  • Collaboration between IT and business departments is a given: Digital transformations generally require IT and business departments to carefully work together. Yet, IT and business departments tend not to get along. They each stem from very different fields with varied cultural tenets. Business people tend to believe that they are confined by IT, not empowered by it.
  • You can rest happily after implementation of the new system: Some may think that the road to the transformation ends after implementation, but this is shortsighted. Monitoring the new system and analyzing potential issues that arise is necessary for the future of the system.

With the right digital transformation strategy and IT infrastructure, you can boost your firm’s organizational and productive capabilities. Take a look at our portfolio to see how we’ve helped our clients enhance their business efforts. Contact us and find out how our IT specialists partner with you to accomplish your business’s goals.

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server-virtualiation

Why Businesses Should Store Data in a Colocation Center


CyNexLink Blog   •   December 11, 2017

 

The average U.S. data center is 18 years old, yet many businesses still rely on them for the storage of their valuable data.

These organizations are relying on infrastructure that was constructed when 16 MB RAM was deemed substantial storage capacity. These dying data centers are inefficient and eat up a lot of cash to maintain.

Conversely, owning a data center carries its own burdens, requiring consistent upkeep and repairs. Like owning a car, failing to maintain the center puts the organization at risk if equipment fails.

In response to these issues, many businesses are seeking the services of colocation facilities, which are data centers where equipment, bandwidth and space are available for rent.

There are many benefits to storing data in a colocation center. For one, businesses are freed up from having to maintain their own data center. Considering most companies don’t consider the upkeep of a data center to be part of their core goals, it seems desirable to rely on external services to free up time to focus on supporting the business and customers.

The presence of physical security at colocation properties also is usually more stringent than a privately-owned facility.

Once a business has decided to move data to a colocation facility, it’s incumbent on leadership to perform their due diligence. Here’s a few things to consider before choosing a colocation data center:

  • Master Service and Service Level agreements: Business leaders need to make sure they engage in a contractual and SLA agreement that addresses the business’s needs. In general, contracts are crafted to favor the provider of services. A vendor should be chosen that is willing to be flexible in initial contractual negotiations to cater to client needs. Do not wait until the vendor is chosen to address this flexibility. It should be a part of the criteria while seeking vendors.
  • Efficient use of space: Operating costs can be reduced for a business if they seek out vendors that utilize floor space in an efficient manner. Just because a location may have more space doesn’t mean it will be a better data center.
  • Location: While choosing a vendor, the proximity of the location to the business must be addressed. Networking costs are lower the closer the data facility is to the company. Being closer to the center also makes it easier to respond to problems.
  • Security: As mentioned earlier, security is generally greater at colocation centers when compared to privately-owned facilities, yet it varies among vendors. It’s important to inquire about the physical security of each colocation center being considered. There should be multiple levels of security on the interior and exterior of the center.
  • Level of compliance: It’s important to remain skeptical when questioning vendors about their level of compliance with standards. Some may claim they are Uptime-certified when they aren’t. The Uptime Institute is a professional services organization that certifies data centers based on a tiered standard. If this claim is made, verify it independently. Facilities should also support third party audits and be compliant with SSAE 16, which is a regulation created by the Auditing Standards Board of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for defining and updating how service companies report on tenets of compliance.

With the right data storage program and IT infrastructure, you can boost your firm’s organizational and productive capabilities. Take a look at our portfolio to see how we’ve helped our clients enhance their business efforts. Contact us and find out how our IT specialists partner with you to accomplish your business’s goals.

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