Monthly Archives

December 2020

cloud computing and business

Four Ways Cloud Can Help Transform Your Business

By | Cloud

For organizations seeking greater efficiency and agility, the cloud offers an increasingly appealing option. This is especially the case for smaller businesses, which are often seeking to scale resources quickly but are hindered by reduced IT budgets.

Whether you’re looking to make an initial move to the cloud or planning a major shift in strategy, cloud provides a solid technology framework that enables you to launch applications quickly, efficiently and securely. With smart planning and the right approach, the cloud can help transform your business on multiple levels, including:  

 

  1. More Effective Customer Support

Not only can cloud help drive innovation and speed time to market, it can elevate the customer experience with more responsive support capabilities. The cloud’s flexible information sharing framework connects customers to resource across multiple channels and devices, enabling fast, timely response and quick access to information. 

Hosting how-to videos or support tools is as simple as scaling cloud bandwidth. With flexible deployment options and pay-as-you-go pricing, businesses can cost efficiently impress customers with high quality web content, online forums, webinars, personalized applications, and interactive engagement.  

With the ability to access data that’s cached on servers closer to them, interaction with data is faster and more reliable. Automated load balancing capabilities enable fast and efficient scalability on-demand while workflow monitoring tools can track application performance to help prevent interruptions or downtime that could impact users.  

Services and applications can be released to customers sooner, thanks to regular, automatic updates to the cloud infrastructure and more condensed release cycles for upgraded features and functionality. You can take advantage of the latest technology advances and innovations much quicker and rest easy knowing your cloud provider’s technical specialists are safeguarding your infrastructure with the latest protective techniques and security measures.  

 

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  1. Improved Productivity

Cloud computing can give your employees immediate access to advanced tools and resources like file sharing, instant messaging, web conferencing ,and live streaming in the office or remotely, helping to accelerate performance on a more consistent basis. Mobile workers become more productive since they no longer have to worry and struggle to maintain paper copies of spreadsheets, documents, and forms. 

With mobile technologyremote employees can access the same enterprise applications and files as their on-site coworkers, while enjoying the flexibility to work on their own terms. Even travel interruptions can be converted from downtime to productive opportunities. 

Cloud resources can be easily stored, accessed, and recovered with just a few clicks. In addition, all system updates and upgrades are performed automatically, off-site by the cloud provider, saving time and effort and reducing the workload demand on your internal IT team. Meanwhile, companies cut space and utility costs by housing fewer employees on-site. 

 

  1. Flexible Collaboration

The resilient, high availability of cloud environments helps ensure fully location-independent access to protected resources and applications. Team members are no longer tied to their workstations, but instead can collaborate and access data from any location on the mobile device of their choice.

Cloud helps improve collaboration by allowing multiple teams in disparate locations to share files in real-time and work together more efficiently. With integrated document control capabilities, you maintain control but also are able to improve workflow as team members can instantly see which documents they are authorized to access and view. 

Team members can easily share records and files while maintaining control over which documents can be edited, viewed and shared. You can determine which users have access to your data and the level they are granted. Since one document version can be worked on by different users, there’s no need to have copies of the same document in circulation.  

 

  1. Enhanced Data Security

Today’s cloud providers offer a number of advanced security features, ranging from encryption and authentication techniques, to application-centered security such as role-level access. At the same time, automated monitoring tools can track data access and usage and provide critical insight into areas of vulnerability and risk, helping to reduce the potential for a network intrusion or data breach.   

Another important advantage with cloud is that your approach doesn’t have to be an all-or nothing proposition. You can choose the degree to which you want to move each business application or workload to the cloud and assign different operational requirements to the appropriate operating model.  

A hybrid cloud environment allows you to manage applications and workloads so that confidential data has the greatest security with on-site protections, while less sensitive data is stored elsewhere in the cloud. Meanwhile, shorter, more frequent delivery cycles enable the latest security protections to be incorporated into services and applications much sooner.

Thanks to its virtualization capabilities, cloud also offers a number of important backup and disaster recovery advantages. With infrastructure encapsulated into a single software or virtual server bundle, when a disaster occurs, the virtual server can be easily duplicated or backed up to a separate data center and quickly loaded onto a virtual host. This can substantially cut recovery time compared to traditional (physical hardware) methods where servers are loaded with the application software and operating system and updated to the last configuration before restoring the data. 

 

 

Gaining A Competitive Edge In The Age Of Digital

Cloud computing provides data infrastructure and resources where you need them with without a large capital expense. While configuring and implementing an reliable, high-performance cloud environment can be challenging and time-intensive, when deployed properly, the effort can provide a number of performance-enhancing benefits, helping to improve operational agility and transforming how you do business.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cloud migration

5 Key Questions to Ask Before a Cloud Migration

By | Cloud

As businesses strive to keep pace with the demands of the digital age, many are capitalizing on the efficiency and scalability advantages of cloud computing. While operational speed and efficiency are critical, migrating to the cloud is about determining what is best for the business―not solely about cutting costs.

Every cloud deployment has its own unique risks and limitations. However, these risks can be minimized by following a carefully planned migration strategy that details precisely which workloads are best suited for the cloud; what specific business value your organization hopes to gain from the cloud; and how success will be defined and measured.

Cloud migration is never simple, but with proper planning and the right approach, you can minimize your risk and optimize your return on investment. Following are five important questions you should ask to help ensure you migrate to a cloud environment that best aligns with your business needs.

 

  1. What is your core business reason for migrating to the cloud?

 

The first step to effective cloud planning is to identify your business goals and understand how the cloud will support those goals. Work with your internal team to carefully evaluate your business priorities, internal processes, operational requirements, and long term strategy.

Be sure to clearly define why you are moving to the cloud and consider the resources and infrastructure you need to make that happen. What does your organization truly require from a cloud environment? What shift in strategy do you expect your business to make in the next few years? What new or emerging technologies should you consider in your migration plans?

While the benefits of cloud computing are attractive, be realistic and realize that not all workloads are a good fit for the cloud. Consider your infrastructure constraints and business priorities. Evaluate and prioritize each workload or application since this will help drive core migration decisions, including cost and timing. How will ongoing market pressures and economic uncertainties impact your IT systems and infrastructure needs?

With a better understanding of how applications and workloads are being utilized, accessed, and created, you can more easily determine the ideal cloud architecture and deployment model. In some cases, a hybrid cloud approach may be the best option. This will allow you to optimally balance data and applications between public and private cloud environments while improving your ability to respond to shifts in workload demands, supply chain weaknesses, and changing market dynamics.

Ultimately, your cloud environment should reliably and efficiently meet the performance requirements of your business, including the need for ongoing sustainability, information security, regulatory compliance, as well as operation efficiency and technology optimization.

 

2.      How will you accurately estimate migration costs?

 

While the cloud offers the potential for substantial cost savings, without proper planning, costs can quickly spiral out of control. It’s important to understand the rate structure and how you will be charged for the proposed cloud services you are migrating to.

Be sure to take into account the cost of software licensing, infrastructure upgrades, outside contractors and the cost of initial and ongoing technical support. Keep in mind that costs typically increase as you scale your workloads or user count. These figures need to be as realistic as possible to ensure reliable budget forecasting.

Estimating the cost of a cloud migration project can be difficult even for the most seasoned professional. Be careful not to stretch your resources too thin. Some applications function differently in a cloud environment cloud. On-premises performance metrics―while a suitable reference― aren’t always correct. Therefore, you’ll want to incorporate a backup plan in your budget to support extra resources if required.

Having a clear picture of your project needs and budget requirements upfront will help minimize the chance of surprises and migration delays. Often a safer approach is to focus first on a single cloud migration effort and prepare a budget with room to spare as opposed to trying to execute multiple projects in a rapid fashion and come up short if costs shift higher than expected.

To help minimize the chance of cost overruns and project delays, consider working with an experienced cloud consultant who already has a reliable and proven migration methodology. Utilizing the latest virtual technology platforms combined with a modern approach to cloud planning and deployment will help ensure you get a tailored, ROI-focused solution.

 

 

3.      Do you the resources and expertise needed for an effective migration?

 

From security and troubleshooting to backup and recovery, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to planning and deployment. To avoid missteps, make sure you have a knowledgeable implementation team in place early in the decision-making process. Expert planning and advice can mean the different between success and failure.

Your in-house IT team may be best positioned to move your internally developed applications and files to the cloud, but may be less equipped to manage other migration tasks such as moving e-mail systems or file shares. As skill gaps are uncovered, asses the cost-benefit advantages of training your team to handle the task. Be sure that critical areas like security and compliance, managing costs, and governance are properly addressed.

When choosing an outside consultant, look for one with an established record of success in your industry, demonstrated skill in your particular type of project, and equipped with the resources and tools needed to ensure the project is a success. Make certain that your service-level agreements have defined timelines for each stage of the project..

Keep in mind that a delay or failure of your cloud migration project can cost you substantially in lost opportunity and competitive positioning. Teaming with the right cloud partner can help ensure that critical elements stay on track, including go-live schedules, project costs, and business-aligned outcomes.

 

4.      How will you manage data security?

 

One major advantage of cloud computing―flexible data access―can become a huge liability if security is not effectively factored into the equation. That’s why security concerns should be addressed early in your cloud migration project.

Building a solid security foundation requires an IT infrastructure and operating culture that not only safeguards data and mitigates risk, but helps make the business more agile, responsive, and transparent. Although there is no way to defend against all threats, new tools and techniques for detecting and malware and securing networks and endpoints can help protect data without hindering  mobility or productivity.

Technology plays a critical role, but equally important is the need to create an informed and educated security culture. Bad actors and cybercriminals s are continuously exploring new ways to penetrate your defenses, which underpins your need to create a solid culture built around knowledge, awareness and responsiveness.

User policies define acceptable and unacceptable behavior and actions.  You’ll want to work with your IT team to outline and enforce practices and policies based on user preferences and business requirements unique to your specific market.

Regulatory compliance is another important consideration. Based on your unique requirements, you might need to store certain types of data particular region or some data may be best suited for on-premises storage.

Strong application controls like encryption and authentication can help safeguard information across networks and on endpoint devices, helping to thwart attackers from transferring or copying critical business data. Your cloud provider should be able to provide documentation that shows a separation of duties for administrative functions, disclosing the level of access that each user has and how those levels are maintained.

 

5.      How will you recover if data is lost or stolen?

 

Data security and business recovery are among the top critical factors to consider in cloud planning decisions, particularly if your business operates in a regulated environment. In the event of a security breach, you need to be able to restore information and recover quickly.

After identifying and prioritizing the data and applications and you’ve defined your recovery time objectives, your business can establish a solid foundation for a cloud-based disaster recovery solution.

At the center of any good disaster recovery plan is a strategic guidebook that defines processes and outlines procedures to be followed in event of a security breach. This guiding document includes potential scenarios with detailed steps and actions to be taken to minimize the business impact of data loss and allow vital business applications and systems and to be restored and recovered quickly.

The primary goal of disaster planning and recovery is to minimize the impact of a security breach or data loss on business operations and performance. With a properly designed cloud-based disaster recovery plan, mission-critical workloads will failover to a recovery site. Once data is restored, systems can failback from the cloud, and applications and workloads can be restored and re-established to their original condition ―while downtime and disruption are minimized.

Although there is no perfect model or ideal configuration backup and recovery, a smart best practice is to make sure you have employed effective failover measures for all connected devices. A frequent entry point of many attackers is through out-of-date firmware on endpoint devices. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure all of your networks and devices are effectively hardened and capable of protecting against today’s increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

 

Establishing a Solid Foundation

As with any IT investment, certain risks come with cloud migration. Minimizing those risks and capitalizing on the full potential of cloud requires a strategic, pragmatic approach, evaluating essential infrastructure requirements, risk factors, performance needs, and cost considerations.

VP-Small-Business1 - Bacsit

Building the Framework for a Better IT Experience

By | managed It services

In an era where technology often drives business growth, efficient and reliable IT performance is more critical than ever. To remain competitive, you need an IT service provider that not only understands the technology landscape, but also is focused on helping you solve business challenges, drive efficiency and build lasting value.

Understanding what IT capabilities your business needs to reach its goals is essential. Knowing how to get it done ―the planning, strategy and execution―is equally important. A results-focused, customer-centric approach to IT service requires close collaboration between the client and the IT consultant.

That’s why it’s important to choose an IT provider that not only has superior technical skills, but is also focused on delivering exceptional customer service. Finding the best match for your unique needs will help ensure you get the results you want and can set the stage for a high-productive, long-term relationship. Following are some key customer experience attributes to keep in mind as you evaluate your IT service provider.

 

  • Effective onboarding: Becoming a company that delivers excellent customer service requires many things to be done well. One of those is effective onboarding. Your service provider should take the initiative to set clear expectations from the start. Your goals should be clearly outlined and backed by actionable deliverables. One of the things we do at BACS to help ensure the relationship gets started on the right track is to hold an initial kick-off call. The call is important because it helps ensure everyone is on the same page and sets the tone for the rest of the engagement. It’s an opportunity for us to get to know more about the client, their challenges, their priorities and the dynamics of their team. We make sure the client understands who their main point of contact is going to be, set up a communication schedule, and identify some initial goals going forward.

 

  • Regular feedback: Businesses often have little time to focus on the routine functions of infrastructure management and day-to-day tasks. That’s where your IT provider can deliver superior service value. The best providers are continuously soliciting client feedback and seeking ways to enhance the service experience. One of the things that sets BACS apart is our persistence and commitment to listening to what our clients have to say. We ask questions. We take the temperature of the relationship. Where are your biggest struggles? How can we provide better service? We review our processes and remove any communication barriers. We hear what our clients have to so, but we also brainstorm with our internal team about opportunities, potential roadblocks, and what competitors are doing. Ultimately we use the feedback to improve the client experience and make it an integral part of the improvement process.

 

  • Fast response: Most IT organizations are stuck in reactive mode, continuously putting out fires and rushing to resolve the latest crisis. That’s why fast, efficient response from your IT provider is more critical than ever. Not only should our provider be available 24/7, but they also need to be able to respond quickly to critical issues. Ideally, our provider should have the ability to remotely monitor and manage your IT infrastructure. When action is required, alerts can trigger your IT team or your service provider’s help desk to initiate the appropriate response. Your IT provider should provide a clearly-defined service-level agreement (SLA) that outlines in detail the specific scope of services provided, standard response times and performance expectations. Your service provider’s ticketing system should be easy to use and focus on communication and customer satisfaction. It’s not enough for a system to ease the intake process―it must actually assist the IT team in quickly resolving issues. Ideally, all parties should be able to track issue progress. At BACS, once tickets are received, they are logged and sorted according to type of issue, automatically triggering requests to the appropriate resources or expert. Tickets are automatically tracked from start to finish to help ensure no request gets overlooked and is promptly resolved.

 

  • Exceed expectations: One of the keys to successful customer engagements and higher levels of satisfaction is empathy. Empathy means understanding the client from their perspective rather than viewing the situation as an outsider. At BACS, we work closely with our clients to understand their overarching vision and develop a defined roadmap as part of an ongoing “alignment” cycle. Recurring checks and ongoing follow up help make sure our recommendations are delivering results and are aligned with the client’s business goals. With daily reporting, quarterly reviews, personalized training, and additional support, your team can focus on strategy and growth instead of stressing over routine maintenance tasks.

 

  • Consistent performance:  It’s been said that all things being equal, customers will choose to buy from a friend. Establishing this kind of familiarity with clients requires consistent, personalized service throughout the client engagement. It requires diligence in keeping clients updated on our procedures and informed about ongoing performance and support issues. At BACS, our consultants are well-versed in the importance of integrating IT into your overall business strategy. We help you take full advantage of the opportunities a proactive IT approach enables, whether it’s growing revenue, capturing market share, or enhancing the customer experience. Our expert consultants understand the complexities and challenges of technology deployment and work ensure your solutions align with your priorities and will scale appropriately.

To help ensure your results are aligned with your business goals, our team will work with you to:

  • Develop a strategic IT plan and review it with you regularly to make sure we stay on track.
  • Address any gaps in your IT support needs recommend updates to address fast-changing IT and business performance needs.
  • Review your security practices and note any deficiencies.
  • Advise you on how best to optimize the performance and resiliency of your IT infrastructure
  • Establish an ongoing process that we’ll use to initially get your IT infrastructure and support processes aligned and then keep it aligned over time.

 

Reaping the benefits of superior IT service

It may not sound exciting, but one of the key ingredients to keep customers happy is consistency. It today’s era of rapid change, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s important. That’s where working with a customer-centric IT provider can deliver substantial value. By outsourcing ongoing support tasks to a trusted partner, businesses can focus on more strategic priorities with greater peace of mind knowing that their IT operation is running smoothly and efficiently.

15 Surprising Statistics About Cybersecurity

15 Surprising Statistics About Cybersecurity

By | Security

What can statistics about cybersecurity tell you? They can offer some insight into how effective or ineffective the efforts currently are to improve the cybersecurity outlook. As a cybersecurity executive, cybersecurity statistics can prove to be an excellent means of communicating to upper management that your organization should invest in cybersecurity. 

Presented below are 15 surprising statistics about cybersecurity, grouped in the following categories:

 

Costs

  • The average cost of a data breach in 2020 (so far) is $3.86 million.

In their 2020 Data Breach report, IBM states that the average cost of a security breach is $3.86 million. This is an alarming statistic because the amount presented by IBM is higher than the amounts they provided in previous years because 2020 has not yet ended. There are numerous possibilities about the cause(s) of the increases. However, the bottom line is that the cybersecurity landscape is not improving.

  • The amount spent on cybersecurity budgets in 2019 was $250, 000 for midmarket organization to $1 million spent by large enterprises.

The 2019 The Security Bottom Line report by Cisco reports that companies are investing in cybersecurity, but the costs are not equal. Companies recognize that cybersecurity is an important investment, but the costs to implement it are often too much. In the same Cisco report, 84% of the CISOs survey participants stated that their organization was only able to afford only a portion of what was considered the minimum required to protect their infrastructure.

  • The cost of cybersecurity insurance is projected to cost organizations $28.6 billion by 2026.

 

According to a market outlook provided by Allied Market Research, cybersecurity insurance just about hit the $5 million mark in 2018. As more organizations are adding cyber insurance to mitigate potential losses due to a cyberattack, that number is projected to balloon to almost $30 billion by 2026.  Cybersecurity insurance is becoming more important as the costs of recovering from a data breach increase. This type of insurance also benefits companies by providing their customer base an assurance that in case there is a data breach, they will receive some protection.

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Threats

  • The most frequent attack to both enterprises and small business is DDos attacks.

The 2019 IT Security Economics report by Kaspersky reports that distributed-denial-of-service DDos attacks are equal-opportunity attackers in the business world. These types of attacks highjack a company’s resources and in most cases requests a ransom to release them. They do not only cause a disruption of business, but are associated with significant costs.

 

  • Cyberattacks of mobile devices increased by 50% in 2019.

 

The technology firm ZDNET reported on this statistic in their report on the increase in mobile malware. This is an important statistic because more IT departments are implementing Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies. Any vulnerabilities that are associated with a device that connects to a corporate network pass on to the network and increase the chances the network will succumb to a cyberattack. The report highlights the increased usage of online banking as a key to the increase in mobile malware attacks.

 

  • Malware threats occur most often (94%) via email.

In the early days of technology, malware was most often considered a threat via software. Now that email has become the main method of communication around the world, cybercriminals have changed their tactics. A 2019 report by Verizon outlines the statistics of malware. Despite the numerous ads and training programs that highlight the dangers of clicking on questionable links, people are still falling victim to email malware.

 

Industries

  • 43% of the security breaches of 2019 involved a small business.

As noted in this statistic from the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, the message is clear that cybersecurity is for everyone. Tight budgets and no buy-in from top executives make it difficult to direct funds to cybersecurity, but it should be considered a significant part of your business. The potential impact is not only financial. Your business reputation can also suffer, your business may be disrupted, and your customers or business partners may be impacted. This stat indicates that small business may not be taking

  • Attacks on supply chain providers were up 78% in 2019.

 

A 2019 report by Symantec that states that cybercrime in the banking industry rose in 2019 to $18.3 million. This probably isn’t a surprise to you since the financial and banking industries are markets that are targeted often. What’s surprising is that supply chain providers are not being added to that list. The increase in supply chain cyberattacks is linked to organizations relying more on multiple third-party vendors to distribute their products. The attacks on the supply industry has become some critical that during the Aspen Institute’s Virtual Cyber Summit, a leader of the FBI warned  companies in the United States to about hackers targeting the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

 

  • From 2016 to 2019, 93% of healthcare organizations have had a data breach.

 

Healthcare is one of the industries that are most targeted for cyber attacks (companies in finance, government, manufacturing, education, and technology are also heavily targeted). According to a report by Black Book Research, a whopping 93% of healthcare organizations experienced a data breach between 2017 and 2019. In addition, the report states that more than 50% of organizations in the healthcare industry have experienced more than five data breaches within the 2016 and 2019 period. The healthcare/medical industry is an attractive target for cyber criminals because it receives and stores a significant amount of personal data. During health crises, such as the COVID-19 global pandemic, the industry is target even more as cyber criminals attempt to gain access to privileged research data.

 

Outlook

  • The average time for financial services companies to detect a network intrusion is 98 days.

 

The technology company ZDNET reports that the majority of organizations don’t detect a data breach until its been around for more than six months. This is a sobering number. Organizations in the financial industry are privy to a significant amount of personal data and are one of the key targets of cyber criminals. Since a data breach of these organizations can impact a large number of people, their reaction time to an intrusion is critical.

 

  • Less than 50% of companies in the world feel they are adequately prepared to mitigate their cybersecurity risk.

The accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers conducted a survey of  3,249 executives in business and technology and learned that 55% of them did not have confidence that their investment in cybersecurity would provide their companies the most benefit. One of the most difficult aspects of cybersecurity risk is determining where to allocate your investment. Without an accurate assessment of an organization’s needs, they will likely not provide their organization with the most protection.

  • 33 billion records will be stolen by cybercriminals in 2023.

 

This projection stems from a report by Juniper Research of 48 leading cybersecurity companies. According to the research, the latest technologies to protect against newer forms of attacks aren’t making it to small businesses that are most vulnerable to cyberattacks. Until small businesses are able to keep up with technologies and the costs associated with mitigating their cybersecurity risks, we’ll likely to continue to see alarming projects like this one.

 

  • 58% CISOs report that they feel employees ignore cybersecurity policies and guidelines.

The 2020 Cyber Threats Report by netwrix includes an important statistic. One of the most sobering statistics is that employees are not doing their part to help organizations stay safe. However, employees may not be receiving sufficient education (see statistic #15). The important factor in education is content and timeliness. Cybersecurity professionals should assess the knowledge that the employees in their organization require and design a training program that fits that assessment.

 

  • Only 5% of folders stored on a corporate network are adequately protected.

 

The 2019 Global Data Risk Report from the Varonis data lab highlights the results of 785 data risk assessments they performed. Protecting all potential entry points is a basic cybersecurity best practice. Project folders that are uncontrolled are easy access for cybercriminals via ransomware or other forms of malware.

 

  1. The average frequency for employee cybersecurity awareness training in the U.S. is once per year.

According to Statista, an Internet statistics database, employees in the U.S. on average receive cybersecurity awareness training on an infrequent basis. This is a startling statistic, considering the growing number of cyberattacks projected in the future. One of the most significant impacts on the outlook of cybersecurity is human behavior. 

 

Conclusion

 

As technology for mitigating cybersecurity risks improve, so do the tactics of cyber criminals. Understanding the cybersecurity landscape can help you remain informed about what your organization should consider when you design your cybersecurity policies.

BACS is a professional team of security experts who can help you understand all aspects of your infrastructure and devise a plan that provides the greatest amount of protection at the most reasonable cost.