Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement

Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have the pundits encouraging the cloud move for one and all; on the other hand, complete reliance on electronic networks and external service providers comes with its own set of dangers, along with a sometimes insufficient understanding of the products and tools implemented.

The Increasing Demand for Cloud Computing

The last ten years have seen a marked increase in demand for and implementation of cloud computing. Thanks in part to smartphones, real-time streaming, connected devices, and always-on social media needs, this flexible, off-site, and highly scalable technology has become indispensable. Gartner estimates that we’ll see the public cloud services market reach $204 billion in 2016, an annual growth of 16.5%, and the highest growth is set to come from cloud system infrastructure services. Says Sid Nag, research director at Gartner, “The market for public cloud services is continuing to demonstrate high rates of growth across all markets and Gartner expects this to continue through 2017. This strong growth continues to reflect a shift away from legacy IT services to cloud-based services, due to increased trend of organizations pursuing a digital business strategy.

The Good

cloud-comic3

Availability

Cloud services mean solutions and resources once only accessible by the elite or giants are now open to all. With options such as pay per use and global reach, organizations of all shape and size can tailor packages to suit both their needs and their budgets.

Reduced Costs of Infrastructure

In the three top cloud computing categories, IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, organizations typically don’t need to lay down their own infrastructure or spend money on hardware. Cloud service providers provide the IT teams, connections, software and storage facilities, reducing a business’s Capex costs.

Improved Disaster Recovery

Thanks to the distribution of data across multiple failover points, disaster recovery is a prime benefit of cloud computing. Implementing cloud-based disaster recovery means it’s possible to switch over to mobile systems when necessary and resume the use of local systems thereafter.

Collaboration & Flexibility

Providing advanced solutions for team collaboration, cloud computing allows numerous users to work simultaneously on the same projects and files with real-time updates and no restrictions that bind them to specific sites.

The Bad

cartoon-comic-data

Opex Costs

Although cloud computing certainly reduces Capex costs, it naturally increases operational costs adding a monthly burden for the services used. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of outsourcing or keeping infrastructure in-house to suit each business and its budget.

Security

A concern in all things IT, cloud computing is no different. It’s important for organizations to identify which data they’re comfortable storing on the cloud, and which perhaps should be off-network. It should be noted, however, that most reputable cloud service providers offer security superior to that which the average business is able to implement. Security doesn’t have to be considered a negative of cloud computing, as long as organizations take the time to ensure the tools they’re using are compliant with regulations and standards, and confirm their service providers are implementing the necessary security features.

Always-On Connection

Cloud computing, of course, requires an always-on internet connection, good bandwidth, and suitable speeds – only a negative when you haven’t got it.

Limited Control

Although cloud computing provides much flexibility and choice, it’s important to remember that the infrastructure is owned by someone else and so organizations are limited to the services they pay for and the solutions a service provider is willing to provide.

Overall, the drawbacks of cloud computing tend not to cause too much disruption and are easily outweighed by the benefits. It’s important to understand the risks and disadvantages, but the constantly evolving cloud computing environment is rapidly stamping out weaknesses and replacing them with constructive innovations.

By Jennifer Klostermann

The FTC, Data Privacy and Facebook

The FTC, Data Privacy and Facebook

Data Protection

Facebook is in deep water over their recent decision to start harvesting phone numbers from one of the apps they own, called WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a mobile phone app that allows people to place long distance phone calls and send SMS messages for free. A complaint was filed with the Federal Trade Commission that accuses Facebook of violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which specifically bans “unfair or deceptive acts”.

According to Marc Rotenberg, President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, WhatsApp promised their users, the FTC, and to privacy authorities everywhere that they would not disclose any information to Facebook after Facebook acquired their company.

In 2014, the FTC did in fact send a letter to both WhatsApp and Facebook after WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook. This letter stated, “We want to make clear that, regardless of the acquisition, WhatsApp must continue to honor these promises to consumers. Further, if the acquisition is completed and WhatsApp fails to honor these promises, both companies could be in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act and, potentially, the FTC’s order against Facebook.” Both companies promised to stay far away from each other’s data, with WhatsApp founder Jan Koum boasting, “privacy is coded into our DNA.”

This statement seemed to have been forgotten however last Thursday WhatsApp announced that it would start sharing user phone numbers with Facebook to improve ads and products. To many of WhatsApp’s users as well as privacy advocates, this was a major betrayal, especially after having been promised only two years ago that “nothing would change” when Facebook bought WhatsApp. Since users must use their phone numbers to log in to WhatsApp, this is probably the most valuable piece of information that WhatsApp gathers, and can be the key to unlocking even more personal data from its users.

Facebook Cloud

If WhatsApp wants to transfer user data to Facebook, it has to obtain the user’s affirmative consent. It’s not complicated,” affirmed Katharina Kopp, director of policy at CDD, in a public statement.

Facebook has had a long and troubled past in regards to user privacy, in which the social media giant has often been called out for making the personal information of its users public, usually with little to no warning to the users. In 2011, EPIC and other privacy advocate groups secured a 20 year consent order against Facebook. That certainly was not the first or last time Facebook violated their users privacy, and now many are insisting the time has came for the FTC to really crack down on Facebook’s privacy practices.

Unfortunately, the FTC does not share any information about their investigations with the public. WhatsApp has however finally made mention of the changes to their users, letting them know that they have 30 days to opt out of using WhatsApp and having their phone numbers harvested by Facebook.

In a statement made to Motherboard on Monday, Facebook spokesperson Matt Steinfeld insisted that Facebook was not in violation of any laws, stating that they were obtaining consent from their users by requiring them to agree to the new terms and privacy policy.

By Jonquil McDaniel

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Governance, Risk and Compliance

Businesses are under pressure to deliver against a backdrop of evolving regulations and security threats. In the face of such challenges they strive to perform better, be leaner, cut costs and be more efficient. Effective governance, risk and compliance (GRC) can help preserve the business’ corporate integrity and protect the brand, but in an ever-changing technology landscape and with complex, inter-related business operations to manage, implementing GRC can seem like a complex undertaking.

Many businesses still manage operations departmentally, with activities separated by business silos. This can make implementing policies and processes with pan-business reach seem difficult. GRC falls into this category – it has to span all business departments – but it doesn’t have to be such a headache.

Businesses can simplify GRC with these three tips:

1. Don’t boil the ocean

GRC covers a lot of ground – operational risk, compliance, cybersecurity, third party management, auditing and so on – and incorporates hundreds of rules and regulations, dozens of policies and scores of risk management activities.

The trick to simplification is to take it one step at a time; to not try and do everything at once. Anyone attempting to deploy an integrated solution for all GRC activities in one go is courting failure.

Instead, take on two or three activities to be prioritized within an integrated GRC program. A few simple questions about your business processes – how they work, how they can be more effective, and how they can be audited and monitored – will reveal where the priorities lie for efficient GRC.

Many companies start with internal auditing and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance for financial reporting. Others with enterprise risk management or operational risk management; still others with IT compliance and policy management.

Developing common frameworks and taxonomies – which is a critical foundation for effective GRC – is simpler begun with two or three key activities. Over time, additional activities can be brought into an integrated GRC program.

2. Develop common frameworks and taxonomies

A valuable benefit of an integrated GRC solution is that different activities – risk management, compliance, auditing and so on – can share information. For this to work effectively, they need to conform to common taxonomies. As well as enabling collaboration, common taxonomies can help identify redundancies so that rationalization can take place. This keeps the system up to date and helps reduce the cost of control testing and risk assessments.

Policies and rules held within common frameworks give companies the control they need for rapid change when it comes about. It’s one thing to embed automation within systems so that, for example, payments over a certain authorization level get the required sign-off before they’re authorized, but what happens after a merger or acquisition? If all those rules are hardwired into individual systems, there’s a whole bunch of work to do to achieve consistency across merged companies. When the rules sit outside individual workflows they can trigger action inside. The set of these rules ‘libraries’ is qualified in the GRC system.

3. Use pre-packaged cloud-based applications

Most vendors offer both on premise and cloud-based application – Going with the cloud relieves the business’ IT infrastructure from supporting the GRC solution. GRC in the cloud helps consign manual processes to the past. Furthermore, future upgrades are simpler with pre-packaged solutions that haven’t been customized.

The cloud approach also ensures that you are set up for real-time Content Integration such as Regulatory Change Management. This is important because GRC is not only about systems and tools but it is also about staying abreast and ahead of the regulatory landscape that is constantly evolving.

Risk and regulation is always evolving. The way businesses manage it cannot stand still either. The future of GRC lies in automation, integrated reporting and a culture of compliance. By heeding the three tips for simpler GRC, businesses can help mitigate risk, minimize compliance firefighting and smoothly manage change wherever it may come from to drive better business performance.

By Vidya Phalke

TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES IN THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY

TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES IN THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY

The Healthcare Industry

The use of smart devices in healthcare is expanding, and according to a report by Technavio the global smart wearable healthcare device and services market will show a compounded annual growth rate of over 18%. Thanks to modern medicine, lifespans are increasing, resulting in aging populations and a higher frequency of chronic diseases. Moreover, with the consumer driving healthcare systems, it’s becoming more important to provide mobile, user-friendly healthcare applications that aid in personal health monitoring and provide users with the tools to improve their health themselves. Thanks in part to a highly competitive market investing in and delivering new healthcare innovations, consumer hopes and expectations for healthcare solutions are more often than not being met and exceeded.

Smart Healthcare Technology Trends

According to explorations and studies of smart healthcare technology, we can expect technology to work hand in hand with healthcare today, and even more so into the future. Technological developments in the healthcare sector support both patients and caregivers and are facilitating better patient outcomes. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increased technology spend by healthcare providers as practitioners view the tech sector as potentially providing critical components to their practices. On the other hand, patients aren’t always getting the care they require due in part to a shortage of timely appointments, but also due to rocketing healthcare costs. Technology could provide some solutions to these challenges through mobile applications, smart healthcare devices, and telemedicine opportunities.

Already mobile devices are being used by doctors to access and assess patient information, and many organizations are implementing tablet applications for communication with patients. Similarly, patients are making use of mobile applicationswhich aid in self-diagnosis as well as provider communication tools for more streamlined healthcare processes. Of course, privacy and security remain a concern as data leaks of sensitive patient information is unfortunately not uncommon, and many healthcare providers are struggling to keep up with the latest tech innovations and their accompanying vulnerabilities.

Big Data Analytics & Healthcare

A chief concern in the medical industry today, and for many years past, is identifying important healthcare practices and then ensuring they’re delivered timeously. According to estimates by the National Institutes of Health, approximately 17 years go by before relevant scientific discoveries become standard treatment. Luckily, data analytics is making it possible to reduce this number dramatically. Through the collection, analysis and sharing of real-time healthcare data and evidence, providers are better equipped to decrease medical complications and improve patient outcomes. Furthermore, such implementations are proving to reduce costs while realizing best practice solutions.

Assisting sound data analytics, healthcare providers are learning that a better quality of information results in improved and advanced insights. Though many hospitals and healthcare organizations are reluctant to share results, in part due to competitive pressures, but also due to privacy and security concern, such communication and distribution of data is at the very center of big data analytics potential to improve patient care and health outcomes. Fortunately, many institutions are beginning to recognize the value of collaboration, and cooperative approaches are driving down healthcare costs, improving healthcare delivery mechanisms, and refining patient treatments.

Any suitable big data analytics program begins with a solid blueprint. Though it’s tempting to focus on the goals and end results of such a program, shrewd organizations recognize that developing a robust infrastructure which supports clinical and operational enhancements is more sensible. Suddenly healthcare organizations are immersed in the world of data centers, data integrity, supportive reporting processes, and IT developments and challenges. Once the bare bones are in place, staff correctly trained, and patients willing partners, the search for appropriate big data analytics tools begins. When examined as such, it’s clear that successful healthcare big data analytics programs are the result of significant investments of time, expertise, and money and each positive outcome warrants much celebration and admiration.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Top 5 Digital Health Trends

Top 5 Digital Health Trends

Digital Health Trends

It is very important to keep up with the changing technology. However, it is also just as important to advance the consumer experience, care delivery methods and create opportunities for career development for the healthcare workforce.

Five trends that are proven to be effective in winning in the digital age have been revealed by the Digital Health Technology Vision 2016 via Accenture.

They are:

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1. Intelligent Automation – Do different things in different ways and create new jobs, products and services in the healthcare industry. Across the health ecosystem, intelligent automation is responsible for making the job of care delivery and administration more seamless. While robots are performing housekeeping duties and the patient intake process is being streamlined by avatars – the trend is not about replacing people but it is about making people do their job more efficiently and work where they are needed the most.

2. The Liquid Workforce – A smoother workforce has been generated by digital technology. For example, when you have a sick child, you can Skype with a pediatrician and take advantage of the Digital service scan. Or during a high-risk pregnancy issue, the virtual technology will enable a doctor in New York to treat a patient in New Mexico.

3. Platform Economy – Platforms can make healthcare experiences more connected by providing underlying technology. The whole healthcare ecosystem – from patients to providers to health plans can be connected by platforms.

4. Predictable disruption – With the advent of digital technology, disruptions are bound to happen any time. Digital technology is changing the way consume everything from products to entertainment. Healthcare isn’t immune to the consumers’ demands of personalized and on-demand services. Digital manufacturers of wearables and other devices are connecting meet consumers’ demands.

5. Digital Trust – To build consumer trust, organizations must figure out a way to efficiently and ethically manage a vast consumer data. If these data can be handled properly, this treasure trove can become a valuable tool for creating customized services and build consumer trust at the same time. In 2014, Apple discovered the importance of consumer trust after the consumer outcry after its iCloud breach. There should be solid policies placed for the governance of ecosystem. Moreover, in order to ensure the right consent and access to information, those policies must be disclosed and understood.

By Glenn Blake

How Secure Is Your School Campus Network?

How Secure Is Your School Campus Network?

School Networks

School related networks are one of the most attacked sectors today, coming in third worldwide to healthcare and retail. Because of the ever growing threat of cybercrime, IT professionals everywhere aren’t thinking in terms of “what if our network gets attacked?” Now, they think in terms of “when will our network be attacked?” The standard firewall and anti-virus software isn’t enough to protect data from malicious hacking attempts.

A primary way to secure a school’s network actually has little to do with the network itself, which is why it often goes overlooked by IT professionals. The staff, faculty, and students in the school make for an excellent defense against on site computer access, but they do need training on how to do this. The training on how to keep the network secure, if it exists, is often lacking, leaving a loophole that a social engineer can easily slip through if he/she plays their manipulative role well with untrained people. Human error accounts for 52% of security breaches today as seen in this insightful infographic discovered via edtechmagazine.

Another important concept in securing a school campus is maintaining a risk management strategy, which 45% of scholarly institutions have been found to be lacking. No matter how much you secure your school’s network and train the people that go there every day, at some point you can be sure your security will be breached in an unanticipated manner. Because of this, it’s vital to have a clear grasp of the risks involved in such a breach, and to take action by developing a strategy that addresses each risk you find with a solution.

There’s many new technologies that can help with making a school’s network secure. Cloud computing reduces the risks of physical on site access, since the server is not stored at the location it’s used. Cloud vendors also offer networking monitoring tools and advanced threat detection that can alert you to a security breach. They also implement strong security policies and procedures that make use of endpoint security tools such as encryption and SSH keys.

Trending technologies have made school networking security as easy as it can be without negatively its ability to protect or monitor the network. The cloud even helps with physical security by removing the on site server from the picture. Most importantly though, in this modern age IT professionals need to accept that breaches are going to happen even if they believe their network is impenetrable. That’s why training those in the school to look out for security issues, and being prepared for security breaches with a risk management plan is so important.

By Jonquil McDaniel

Fully Autonomous Cars: How’s It REALLY Going To Work

Fully Autonomous Cars: How’s It REALLY Going To Work

Pros and Cons and What the Experts Think

Science fiction meets reality, and modern civilization is excitedly looking forward to the ubiquity of self-driving cars. However, an omnipresence of fully autonomous cars won’t happen as quickly as even some hopeful experts anticipate. While the autonomous car pros versus the cons race (See infographic discovered via RAC) of is theoretically neck and neck, until a way is found to lower the cost of implementation, the cons have it! The bottom line is, at the moment, it is just too darn expensive for mass liberation of the technology.

Driverless-Cars

Safety is the main goal and will save millions of lives, not to mention the billions of dollars self-driving cars will eliminate in medical costs, and related accident spending. The fact is, until it’s affordable and more people elect to own them, it will be impossible for the actual potentials of the technology to be realized.

Even super-successful companies, like Uber, who are looking to launch a fleet of autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, isn’t in a position to jump for joy. They actually losing money despite being the most successful privately held company worldwide. Uber is hoping for success and a future profit from the self-driving convoy—that could be a pipe dream for now, however.

Most experts agree that the advantages fully autonomous cars present will change the world in many great ways, but it won’t work until these cars are in the majority of the vehicles hitting the highway.

By CJ Callen

Cloud Security Alliance Big Data Report

Cloud Security Alliance Big Data Report

Big Data’ Report

SEATTLE, Aug. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), today announced the release of the new handbook from the CSA Big Data Working Group, outlining the 100 best practices in big data security. The Big Data Security and Privacy Handbook: 100 Best Practices in Big Data Security and Privacy strives to detail the best practices that should be followed by any big data service provider to fortify their infrastructure. The handbook presents 10 compelling considerations for each of the top 10 challenges in big data security and privacy, which the group previously outlined in the Top Ten Big Data Security and Privacy Challenges white paper.

The term “big data‘” refers to the massive amounts of digital information companies and governments collect about human beings and their environment. The amount of data generated is expected to double every two years from 2500 exabytes in 2012 to 40,000 exabytes in 2020. Large-scale cloud infrastructures, diversity of data sources and formats, the streaming nature of data acquisition and high-volume, inter-cloud migration all play a role in the creation of unique security vulnerabilities.

This is an important initiative for the cloud community as new security challenges have arisen from the coupling of big data with public cloud environments. As big data expands through streaming cloud technology, traditional security mechanisms tailored to secure small-scale, static data on firewalled and semi-isolated networks are inadequate,” said J.R. Santos, Executive Vice President of Research for the CSA. “Security and privacy issues are magnified by this volume, variety and velocity of big data. This handbook serves as a comprehensive list of best practices for companies to use when securing big data.”

The handbook provides a roster of 100 best practices, ranging from typical cybersecurity measures, such as authentication and access control, to state-of-the-art cryptographic technologies. It addresses why these security measures are needed as well as how they can be implemented.For more information on the Cloud Security Alliance, please visit our website. To download the new best practices handbook visit https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/download/big-data-security-and-privacy-handbook/.

About Cloud Security Alliance

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining and raising awareness of best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. CSA harnesses the subject matter expertise of industry practitioners, associations, governments, and its corporate and individual members to offer cloud security-specific research, education, certification, events and products. CSA’s activities, knowledge and extensive network benefit the entire community impacted by cloud — from providers and customers, to governments, entrepreneurs and the assurance industry — and provide a forum through which diverse parties can work together to create and maintain a trusted cloud ecosystem. For further information, visit us at www.cloudsecurityalliance.org, and follow us on Twitter @cloudsa.

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6 Tech Predictions To Have A Major Impact In 2016

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Cloud Computing Then & Now

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Digital Marketing Hubs And The Cloud

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The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

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Cloud Computing Price War Rages On

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5 Essential Cloud Skills That Could Make Or Break Your IT Career

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Public vs. Private vs. Hybrid The debate surrounding the deliverability of cloud computing is coming to a close. Businesses have begun to rapidly adopt the use of cloud services, courtesy the ROI this disruptive technology brings to the table. They have finally realized they cannot afford to ignore the cloud. A Forrester study found that…

Cloud Computing and Finland Green Technology

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How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

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