Data is of key importance to many modern businesses, and with the help of a managed service provider, it can become even more useful. Here, as we continue our series on the value that a managed service provider can offer you, we’ll focus on the ways that data can be harnessed to your business’ advantage.
Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. Blog
Here’s a fact that you’ve heard before: data loss is a nightmare for your business, and ransomware is the boogeyman. Once your data has been breached, your company’s reputation is damaged in perpetuity. That’s why it is important to confront these fears and start prioritizing data security.
It’s not a secret (well, not anymore) that the big tech companies have influence. These companies, that include Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, have been in the spotlight more and more as the argument of data privacy has gotten louder and louder. Public sentiment is starting to blow back on their business model--and since, Yahoo, once the predominant name in Internet-based services, was broken up and sold to Verizon for cents on the dollar after being at the center of the largest data breach in recorded history--there have been rumblings that there has to be something done to protect the public from major publicly-traded technology companies that use individual’s data in ways that some deem unethical.
Many businesses have taken the cloud into consideration as their next technology implementation… but there’s more to adopting a cloud solution than going to the cloud store and asking for one. First, you need to determine what kind of cloud solution is best suited to your needs.
In business, productivity is the goal. Unfortunately, there are so many interruptions in the workday, you absolutely have to capitalize on the moments where you’re in the groove. To find the groove more frequently, and to measure the ability of workers to find their groove, companies have started using trackable systems fueled mainly by their management software--typically a CRM, but sometimes a larger, more integrated solution--to pump out metrics designed to give managers an idea how their teams are performing, and give them an idea about how to best utilize them.
Databases are exceptionally useful for allowing access to important data, but they by default expose data to risks depending on how they are stored. If a database is stored in the cloud, for example, it could potentially be exposed to threats that put the future of your business in jeopardy. Compared to the public cloud, a private cloud database can give you more opportunities for security, flexibility, and customization.
Small businesses often fall into the trap of thinking that they are too small to be attacked. This misconception could ultimately cost your business too much. The fact of the matter is that all businesses have data that is worth something to hackers, and we’re here to prove it to you and offer a solution to this dilemma.
How valuable is the data that you’ve collected during your time in business? What would it mean if it were to leak somewhere beyond your control? Today we’ll discuss ways to control your data leakage.
With World Backup Day coming and going approximately one month ago, it hasn’t been long since we should all have been reminded of the importance of data backup. Regardless, there is never a bad time to discuss the harsh realities of business data loss, and how businesses can avoid it.
Traditionally, spring is the time that we commit to tidying up our environment and starting fresh. In your business, this should include your computer network. Here, we’ve compiled a few aspects of network maintenance that your spring cleaning needs to address.
It is remarkable how much trust people have in Internet-based companies. Not just that they will fulfill the expectations placed on them, but that people routinely provide extremely sensitive information to these companies without thinking for a second about what they do with it. We will take a look at data collection practices, what Internet companies want with that data, and how millions of people every year become victims because they entrust their PII (Personally Identifiable Information) to corporations that promptly lose it.
It can be easy to underestimate the importance of monitoring your solutions, to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. However, the benefits of persistent monitoring were recently thrust into the spotlight, when 24 spammers were arrested in October by the Delhi Police’s cyber cell for impersonating Microsoft support staff and duping American citizens.
As of this point, the vast majority of our experience with the Internet of Things has been on a small scale - accessories and appliances that connect to the Internet to gain some added functionality. This technology can also be applied to a larger, more civic purpose - the development of something called a “smart city.” Unfortunately, this application could prove to be as problematic as the IoT we are more accustomed to.
There’s a big difference between running a smart business and making smart business decisions, although one could say that one contributes to the other. More businesses than ever before are looking to their data to create better opportunities and make smarter decisions. We’ll take a dive into what the differences are between business intelligence and business analysis, as well as how they can contribute to your organization's success.
Data has always been important, but more recent trends have placed emphasis on using it to make important, educated decisions regarding the future of your organization. This month, we want to take a concentrated look at the data revolution and how your data has become a commodity. Just how much value is there in an individual’s data, and what does this mean for the future of computing?
What is Big Data?
The modern-day data revolution is often referred to as big data. Big data is much more than just the data itself; rather, it’s the analysis of this data that matters. If you keep track of how your data changes over time, you’ll be able to better adapt your business practices to meet the changing needs of the industry. These changes mean that businesses are going to have to take an analytical approach to improve operations, and data is the key to unlocking this untapped potential. By taking advantage of big data, you’ll be able to get the most out of your budget and workforce, as well.
Small organizations are finally starting to understand data analytics and why they are so important, even if their needs are somewhat simpler than large corporations. Small businesses just simply don’t have the assets to implement strategies as effectively as a large company, or they just don’t have the processes put in place to properly analyze and quantify the data. Even if they are using similar solutions as larger enterprises, it all comes down to whether they know what they are getting out of the solution. There are two questions that need to be asked before you commit to big data, and they are the following:
- Why haven’t more small businesses implemented big data initiatives?
- What would it take to get your company’s data to work with you?
Small Businesses with Big Data
Small businesses have traditionally been major proponents of new technologies, and the reason for this is that they often need them to stay competitive. Thanks to innovations in data analytics, smaller organizations are looking at alternative ways to ensure that their technology efforts aren’t wasted on solutions that don’t offer value. Instead of investing in technology solutions just because it’s a major hit in their industry, they are instead looking at services that provide more practical and customized use for their particular organization.
By taking advantage of the right technology, small companies can implement solutions at a moment’s notice. Since they are flexible enough to make decisions on the fly, they don’t have to worry about stepping on anyone’s toes because they didn’t go through the proper channels to implement a new solution. This type of agility allows small businesses to look at data and make decisions much more quickly and efficiently. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be a large organization or enterprise to effectively listen to the what the data tells you.
Make Investments in What Matters
While it’s great to identify that you need to implement a full-scale big data solution for your organization, it doesn’t matter unless you actually do it. No matter what your business decides to implement for analytics, you’ll inevitably need to invest a considerable amount of time and capital into it. Big data can help your business know when to run promotions, how to react to consumers, and how to judge the value received from your technology investments. Numbers make things much more cut and dry, and allow for a better way to measure value.
Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. can help your business better take advantage of technology solutions. To learn more, reach out to us at (508) 622-5100.
On March 23rd, 2018, the United States Congress passed another spending bill that could potentially limit individual privacy protection all over the world. This bill included a provision called the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (or CLOUD) Act, which makes changes to the Stored Communications Act of 1986 and provides unelected American officials a considerable amount of power over digital privacy rights.
As though the initial news of Equifax’s 2017 data exposure wasn’t bad enough, it has been discovered that there are even more victims than previously thought. While news like this is never good, it can bring a silver lining if the opportunities that such news presents are seized.
How much do you think a criminal would pay for your company’s sensitive data that’s been stolen by hackers? As it turns out, your data may not be worth as much as you may think, and that’s a bad thing for you and your business.
Where (and How) Data is Sold
When your data is stolen, it will more than likely be put up for sale on the dark web. The dark web is only accessible via specialized identity-cloaking software. Many of the pages offering stolen data and illegal services look just like a ‘normal’ sales website would, complete with buyer ratings. These dark websites offer caches of stolen data that other criminals would find useful, and sing cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, anyone can buy stolen identities or credentials.
Let’s assume for a moment that you fell victim to a cybercriminal that managed to steal the information for a variety of corporate bank accounts and credit cards. A buyer can access the seller’s page and specify what information they are looking for, which will influence the price of the information. Buyers can request specific information such as:
- The kind of credit card, like Visa, MasterCard, etc.
- The card’s security codes
- Any associated login credentials
- The card’s expiration date
- The name that appears on the card
- The card holder’s credit score
- The Social Security Number associated with the card
- The card holder’s date of birth
- History of where the card has been used
- The original owner’s mother’s maiden name.
Once the purchaser has selected which information they want, the cost is calculated and the data can be downloaded.
Like any business transaction, the price for stolen data is subject to the laws of economics. The less that the data is currently available, the higher the price will be. Alternatively, if a recent hack has flooded the black market with a massive supply of the desired data, then prices are apt to decrease significantly.
Due to the rapid changes that this black market experiences, these prices vary wildly. On average, the data from a stolen credit card will cost someone somewhere between $13 to $21. These cards are typically bought will a comprehensive (or very nearly) set of the associated information, denoted as “fullz” in dark web jargon.
Pricing for other types of data is a little different. Many cybercriminals are mostly interested in online payment service accounts, which are priced based off of account balances. Bank account information can vary from $100 for a $2,000-account, to $1,000 for a $15,000-account, while electronic medical records can bring a cybercriminal $350 each.
What This Means
These days, it’s more important than ever to secure your company’s data against theft. Cybercriminals tend to reach for the low-hanging fruit when selecting a target. Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. can help you put the security measures in place to keep your data secure and off the dark web. Give us a call at (508) 622-5100.
Data backup is a critical component of a business continuity plan, but there are many businesses that fail to understand why data backup is important, as well as what it entails. We want to clear up some facts about how data backup is important, and why you need it for your business. Only with a thorough understanding of how your data backup saves your infrastructure can you effectively use it for business continuity.
Multiple Copies Doesn’t Guarantee Effective Backup
It’s a best practice to keep multiple copies of your data strewn across various parts of your computing infrastructure. One should be in-house, while another should be stored off-site and in the cloud, completely unconnected from your in-house network. However, just because you have several backups of your data doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be effective when you need them most. Regardless of where they’re stored, data backups are still vulnerable to user error and data corruption. To avoid this unfortunate circumstance, make a habit out of regularly testing your data backups.
Data Often Cannot Be Restored from the Original
While there may be an opportunity to restore data following a loss incident, it’s not always a guarantee. Regardless, rebuilding data out of nothing would certainly be a time-consuming endeavor, especially if you lost a significant portion of your data infrastructure. Instead, it’s better and more time-conscious to just restore a backup of the data rather than attempting to restore data from what remains of your data disaster.
Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Aren't the Same Thing
It’s worth mentioning that data backup and disaster recovery aren’t the same thing, but are quite closely related. Data backup is the act of taking the backup itself, while disaster recovery is the ability to recover these data backups. Data backup represents a figure known as the recovery point objective, which determines how much data you want to back up at any given time. Disaster recovery, on the other hand, focuses on the recovery time objective, which is how long it takes you to get back to normal operations. Both of these should be clearly outlined in order to guarantee that your disaster recovery can go as smoothly as possible.
One of the best ways to address all of these misconceptions is with a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution from Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc.. Our BDR can help your business fully leverage enterprise-level business continuity software that allows for optimal uptime and efficiency. Our BDR can take backups as often as every fifteen minutes--automatically--without disrupting the workday. Furthermore, these backups are captured both in the BDR device and in an off-site data center, from which they can be restored remotely in the event of a data loss disaster. The BDR can act as a server unit while your business makes plans to replace your faulty hardware.
To learn more about BDR and business continuity, reach out to us at (508) 622-5100. Our professional technicians would be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have over the future of your data infrastructure.
It doesn’t take much to derail a business. Even the slightest disruption in power can lead to an unexpected power-down, and something as simple as a severe rainstorm could lead to floods that wash away your data. The point stands that you have everything to lose, and without data backup and disaster recovery, your business practices could be in danger.
Why You Need Backup and Disaster Recovery
Every organization should have a sound plan to recover any data that’s lost due to unexpected disasters. It’s been proven that organizations that fail to recover lost data within 7 days of the incident, typically go out of business within one year. There are many reasons why data backup and disaster recovery solutions need to be implemented. Here are just a few of the threats that could uproot your business and disrupt operations.
- Natural disasters: Floods, fires, electric storms, tornadoes, hailstorms, and so on, all have the potential to not only destroy your physical infrastructure, but also your business’s data. Therefore, if you’re in a region that’s prone to extreme weather conditions, you need to consider backup and disaster recovery.
- Cyber attacks: Data breaches are well-known culprits of data loss. It’s not easy to predict what a virus or malware will do, but most often, they’re designed to steal your data, delete it, or lock it away until a ransom is paid. In all of these cases, it’s best to have your data backed up so it can be safely restored.
- User error: The biggest threats often come from those who are supposed to have access to your data, not just those who don’t. If an end-user accidentally deletes a file, moves it somewhere it doesn’t belong, or hands over credentials to a hacker on accident, your data is put at risk.
- Hardware failure: The inevitable part of working with technology is the fact that it will eventually fail and be rendered obsolete. This can happen when you least expect it, and the costly downtime can be a major setback for your business - not to mention the data that could be lost if a server were to go down.
What You Should Look For
Not all backup and disaster recovery services will be the same, nor should they be. You need a solution that’s customized to meet the specific needs of your business. Here are some of the best features to look for in a BDR solution, and why they’re critical for the continued functionality of your business.
- Cloud and off-site backup: You don’t want to store your data backups on in-house tapes. Rather, you want them secure in an off-site location, like the cloud or a data center. This way, you can know that your data is stored in a compliant location that can’t be damaged by natural disasters.
- Quick recovery time: You want to be able to rapidly deploy your business’s data to your infrastructure in order to minimize downtime. Tape backup can make this part of the recovery process long-winded and wasteful, but BDR can automatically deploy your data through the cloud, making recovery practically instantaneous.
- Comprehensive backup: Furthermore, you want to make sure that your data is as recent as possible. Tape backup is inefficient for this purpose, while BDR can take backups of your data as often as every fifteen minutes - maybe even more often.
For more information about BDR and business continuity, contact Automation Concepts & Technologies, Inc. at (508) 622-5100.