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...

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...

Cyber Attack Target

Target Retailers were just involved in the second largest credit card breach in United States history. A cyber security attack occurred over Thanksgiving weekend, which exposed upwards of 40 million credit and debit cards users. Compromised information included credit and debit card information, as well as customer names. When large businesses are victims of a security breach, it often is highlighted in the news. What the media fails to recognize, is the susceptibility of small businesses to cyber attacks. Small Business are Susceptible to Cyber Attacks Many small business owners believe their company is too small to be targeted by cyber crime. According to Verizon Wireless’s 2012 Data Breach Investigation Study, 71% of data breaches occur in companies with fewer than 100 employees. An information breach can be devastating to a small business. Malware, or software used to interrupt a computer’s processing, is the most common way of perpetrating these attacks. Small businesses are often unprepared when it comes to these sorts of attacks. Protecting Data from Cyber Attacks Action should be taken to protect your small business and your customer’s sensitive information. First, audit your network regularly. Periodically scan your network for unauthorized computers and devices connected to your network directly or via Wi-Fi. Also, update any antivirus or malware software regularly. Also check your firewall and security settings. Make sure all your defense mechanisms are up to date and working properly.  It is also important that all employee are trained on your policies and procedures for avoiding malware and identifying phishing schemes. It is important to keep a secure network to ensure your customers trust. By keeping...

What is Malware and Why Should I Care?

Malicious Software or Malware is a serious concern to IT Security experts and business owners alike.  Malware is a category of Cyber Security threats that includes Viruses, Worms,Trojans and Botnets.  It is no surprise that the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) tenth annual IT Security Information Trends report placed Malware at the top of the list of security threats.  CompTIA cited that eighty-five percent of Business Owners and IT Professionals have a moderate to serious concern about Malware.  Why should you care? Many times Malware intrusions will go undetected. Some malware may cause your computer to run slowly.  Some malware may be programmed to silently harvest privacy data from your hard drive, while other malware is programmed to destroy data on your hardware.  Other malware can turn your PC into a Cyber Hacker by exploiting security holes and using your PC to attack other PCs. Costs associated with data breaches is estimated to be as high as a billion dollars each year.  Moreover, the number of Malware threats are exploding.  Symantec estimates there will be over 250,000 new threats (not attacks) identified on Android devices in 2012 alone.  What can you do to avoid Malware? IT Security Risk Assessment The reality is you can not afford to eradicate one hundred percent of all cyber threats, so you need to have a pragmatic plan for defending yourself.  Start by understanding your security risks by reviewing your core applications and data, policies and procedures, as well as, your network infrastructure.  You are as vulnerable as your weakest link. IT Security Compliance To protect your applications and their data, as well as...
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