Category Archives: Cloud Computing

The True Dangers Of Allowing Social Media In The Workplace

The True Dangers Of Allowing Social Media In The Workplace

Social Media In The Workplace

Would you let your employees use social media on company time? The response to this question is usually an emphatic no. The reasons given make sense, at least on the surface: “People are here to work, not to play.” “We cannot trust our employees to not waste the entire day playing around online.” “The optics would be very bad for our customers.”

Indeed, people are hired to contribute their skills for the advancement of their employer. But there is a significant distinction between time spent at the desk and actual productivity. The end results of a task assignment are not a factor of the amount of time spent in front of a computer screen, but the quality of the effort exerted by the individual. That can vary greatly depending on time of day, stress levels, even what the employee ate for breakfast.

Productivity is a result of physiology, not of face time.

socil media

The Health Aspect

Access to social media during the workday offers at least one improvement, and that is in the area of mental focus and stamina. The human mind and body were never designed to work at a consistently high level of output for a sustained number of hours. We just cannot do that. Instead, we work best in bursts of energy punctuated by rest. By visiting a favorite social media site for just a couple of minutes per hour, employees benefit from a rhythm that feeds the mind and allows for greater amounts of productivity, accuracy, and creativity.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The crux of the issue becomes one of definition: what does “access” mean? Those who push back against the idea of social media in the workplace maintain a perception that employees will spend their entire day with one eye on their favorite web site, and their attention permanently divided. But that‘s not the only way. Companies that have succeeded in allowing social media into the workplace are those that have established a “best practice,” such as allowing just a few minutes per hour, with the employee accepting the responsibility of returning to work without needing to be told.

This brings forth two profound benefits.

The first is that this type of mental break fits in with the body’s natural rhythms and the individual employee’s personal attention span. Some people have attention spans of an hour or more, and can work for extensive periods. Most however have a limit that is well inside a one hour block, and exceeding it simply results in distraction, delay and/or procrastination.

Secondly, allowing access contributes to employee engagement and loyalty, whereas an outright ban damages the trust relationship. Employees like to feel respected, and being locked out of social media simply results in diminished motivation paired with an increased desire to move to greener pastures.

There is also a growing demand for employee wellness and work-life integration. With recent discoveries demonstrating that sitting for long periods per day presents the same types of health dangers as smoking and overeating, the pressures mount on employers to offer a balanced working environment, and this includes mental health as much as physical.

The Literacy Aspect

The term “literacy” in the current era encompasses more than just reading and writing. It involves the intellectual ability to parse information; to sort through huge amounts of incoming data, to determine what is relevant and what is not. People who are capable of doing this become capable of handling the high-speed, multi-level pressures of the modern workplace. Those who can produce the work required of them while having access to social media are generally going to be more agile and productive employees. For them, deprivation leads to distraction and frustration. The multimedia workplace is actually where they thrive.

The Optics

What about what the customers might think? If a customer walked through the office, and if they were to see a computer screen that had a social media site on it, what would they think of the organization?

Socil Media

This is a matter of great concern for employers. However, more and more businesses are answering this question by pointing to the quality of their products and their customer service. A growing number of modern businesses are succeeding not by caging employees, but by letting them live “free range,” working according to their personal and physiological needs. Customers need to experience– if they have not already– that environmental amenities such as social media contribute to quality rather than detract from it. And that is what customers seek.

It is a natural response from business owners to envision the risks in every new development that comes along. But so, too, their capacity for steering their company through the wind and waves of the marketplace demand agility and awareness. This includes recognizing the benefits in an upgraded workplace – one that includes access to social media.

This post is sponsored by KPMG LLP and The CIO Agenda.

KPMG LLP is a Delaware limited liability partnership and is the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. The KPMG name, logo and “cutting through complexity” are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG LLP.

By Steve Prentice

Beefing Up Cloud Security

Beefing Up Cloud Security

Cloud Security Protection

The necessity and development of Cloud security evolves with the consistent growth of the Cloud and its many features. Just as Amazon is currently taking steps to improve their Cloud security in the hopes of attracting more customers, other shrewd Cloud organizations need to ensure they’re providing their clients not only with in-demand products but safeguarding those products against cyber threats.

Amazon Web Services: Security Upgrades

Already dominating the cloud market space, Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently announced two new products designed to encourage and assist companies in maintaining and securing their data in the AWS cloud. Amazon Inspector is a bot-type service that searches for vulnerabilities and security threats, thereafter generating a security status report and suggesting a course of action. This service will also help companies avoid introducing problems into their apps when launching new features. The Database Migration Services announced will allow users to migrate their MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Oracle databases to AWS as quickly and simply as possible. The AWS Config Rules service will then enable organizations to configure a set of rules and decide how instances will be constructed.

Amazon Inspector

Cloud Security Ventures

Startup Zscaler is an IT security company valued at over $1 billion, and it’s focusing its attention on banking. Scrubbing malware and other digital threats from over 100 global data centers, Zscaler has named a former banking exec, Andy Brown, to its board of directors, with the aim of winning customers from the financial services sector. Says Brown of discussions with Zscaler’s CEO Jay Chaudhry, “We agreed that if the future was going to be the cloud, then security and policy management would have to move to the cloud. I’ve been convinced of that since the Salesforce implementation, but there were no vendors around to make that easy.”


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

And WinMagic has launched their own tool for enterprise Cloud security, SecureDoc CloudSync. This security software encrypts files before synchronization to enterprise file sync and share services (EFSS) and is available across a range of platforms including Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. Furthermore, management of encryption keys is simplified, and when sharing files within an enterprise, SecureDoc CloudSync doesn’t require additional end-user passwords. Mark Hickman, COO of WinMagic, notes, “The undeniable convenience of EFSS solutions runs head on into the desires of IT staff and compliance officers to closely control sensitive data in an auditable way, and SecureDoc CloudSync removes risks inherent to EFSS. With the solution, companies can encrypt files so that the encryption stays with the file in the cloud. By managing the keys, the IT teams are the final authority as to the security of their corporate data.

Narrow the Focus

The European Network Information Security Agency identified 35 Cloud security risk categories, and narrowed those down to the eight most relevant:

  • Loss of Governance
  • Lock-in
  • Isolation Failure
  • Compliance Risks
  • Management Interface Compromise
  • Data Protection
  • Insecure of Incomplete Data Deletion
  • Malicious Insider


David Howorth, VP EMEA at Alert Logic, discussed a recently released Cloud Security Report and pointed out three key findings:

  • Application Attack, Suspicious Activity, and Brute Force Attack, the primary cyber attack methods targeting cloud deployments, grew 45%, 35%, and 27% respectively over the last year, while increases in top attacks aimed at on-premises deployments were insignificant. Howorth remarks, “Cyber criminals are logically attempting to break into a growing number of applications being deployed in the cloud.”
  • Cyber-attack methods used are being determined by how organizations interact with their customers, the size of their online presence, and where their IT infrastructure is housed.
  • Discerning the Cyber Kill Chain® can provide insight into where cyber criminals are likely to breach organization environments and how they can be stopped. This can help organizations create defense strategies based on the way attackers are approaching and infiltrating their businesses.

Organizations implementing or evaluating Cloud security solutions should understand top threats, as well as drill down into risks specific to their own environments and setups. While many Cloud providers are implementing necessary security features, it’s always best to analyze documentation and reports to ensure adequate protection.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Who’s Who In The Booming World Of Data Science

Who’s Who In The Booming World Of Data Science

The World of Data Science

The nature of work and business in today’s super-connected world means that every second of every day, the world produces an astonishing amount of data. Consider some of these statistics; every minute, Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content, YouTube users upload over 72 hours of content, Apple users download nearly 50 000 apps and 200 million emails are sent. That’s every single minute. IBM estimated that we produce over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day and that growth shows no signs of slowing down.

More than ever, we need people and systems to make sense of all that data and it’s no surprise that data science has become one of the hottest spaces in the tech industry. But with the growth has also come confusion about what people really do and who you should be hiring when you need a data scientist.

DataCamp created a very handy infographic recently that breaks the industry down, and we’re going to attempt to simplify it even further for you today.

Data Scientist infographic

Data Scientist

At the top of the pecking order is the Data Scientist, a highly-skilled operator who can currently command a salary around $120 000 per annum. These people are attractive to companies like Google, Microsoft and Adobe due to their ability to clean, massage and organize big data. They are skilled storytellers, able to create predictive models and use maths, stats and machine learning to extract value from the reams of data presented to them.

Data Architects

Working closely with the Data Scientists are the Data Architects. They’re often hired to “create blueprints for data management systems to integrate, centralize, protect and maintain data sources.” They’re skilled in languages like SQL, XML, Hive and Spark and bring their talents to data warehousing, data modeling and systems development. Data Architects command salaries of around $100 000 p/a.

Data Engineers

Supporting the Scientists and Architects are the Data Engineers who develop, construct, test and maintain the architecture which produces the volumes of data needed in multi-national corporations such as Spotify, Facebook and Amazon. They have the mindset of an all-purpose everyman and their skills revolve around Data API’s, data warehousing solutions and modelling. Annual salaries average around $95 000 for the engineers.

Tying this talented trio together in an incredibly value role are the data and analytics managers who are responsible for “managing teams of data analysts and data scientists’’. Generally, they are fluent in languages such as Python, SQL, Java etc but are valued more for their leadership and project management skills and interpersonal communications. Great managers are valued as highly as data scientists and earn roughly the same packages as the scientists.

The Modern Day Statisticians 


Statisticians are generally known as the ‘’historic leaders of data”, and in this day and age, a statistician will collect, analyze and interpret qualitative as well as quantitative data with statistical theories and methods. The mindset required is logical and enthusiastic about data and data mining and are skilled in cloud tools as well. A great statistician will earn in the region of $75 000 annually.

These figures in the world of data science are ably supported by the database administrator, the business analyst and the data analyst who each earn on average $65 000 a year. The analyst is an intuitive data junkie who loves to solve problems and figure things out while the business analyst has learned how to provide a bridge between the IT department and the business units, so that they can best advise how to put this data to work in the interests of whatever company they are working for. Databases can be vulnerable places and the administrator should be on top of backups and security while making sure that the database is available when the relevant stakeholders need to use it. A vital role for someone with nerves of steel and the mindset of disaster prevention.

There are exceptions all the time, but in a nutshell, these are the roles that make up the growing field of data science in the early 21st century as organizations become more and more adept at working their way through fields of data to find key insights and assist improved decision-making in modern day corporations.

By Jeremy Daniel

What I Have Learned: Cloud Security Insights From CCSP Pros

What I Have Learned: Cloud Security Insights From CCSP Pros

Cloud Security Insights From CCSP Pros

The age of cloud security gives rise to the somewhat mixed metaphor of a cat and mouse game played out on shifting sands. Cloud security professionals face a multidimensional conundrum as they try to keep pace with changing technologies, upgrades, internal political pressures, and of course external infiltration attempts. Danger can come from the outside or within. It can be mechanical, software driven, or the fault of human beings. And answering the call at the end of this long list of stresses and priorities is a hugely busy, often overworked security team.

So what do they have to say about it? We asked the CEO of (ISC)², a global leader in information, cyber, software and infrastructure security certifications, including the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP℠), and two CCSP-certified security experts to share some of their knowledge and observations. What have they seen? What worries them, and what advice would they offer? Here are a few of their revelations.

Connecting Devices To The Cloud

Everyone is migrating to the cloud,” says Adam Gordon, CCSP, and author and instructor for (ISC)². Through organizations, large and small, public sector and private, as well as millions of individual consumers, every device is connecting and interrelating with every other in ways that no one can accurately map. “The problem is, we don’t always understand what cloud means as we start to consume. As a result, there tends to be a gap where consumption is a lead indicator and security is an afterthought.” Gordon points out that the causes of major breaches can often be tracked to lax behavior on the part of individuals. “Do they understand the implications of allowing an application on their phone, to use the phone’s location services to provide location information to a cloud service? How is that being used? How is it being archived? How is it being tracked?” he asks.


People place a great degree of trust in their systems and their providers and, for Adam, this is not enough. “I think the mistake we make today, or that we have made historically, is we put faith into the provider and say, “they’re going to take care of it…” and we don’t verify. Adam prefers to embrace the phrase used by President Reagan during the 1987 arms control negotiations, and taken from a traditional Russian proverb: trust but verify. “If you take the trust but verify approach, we come up with a solution that actually leads to cloud security. If we just trust, but don’t verify, I think we’re in for some nasty surprises along the way.

Constant Monitoring Critical

These concerns are echoed by Pat (a pseudonym), a CCSP-certified cyber strategist with a federal government department, who points out that a disturbing lack of cohesive policy makes security efforts much harder. “There is very little foundation for cloud environments right now,” Pat says, “the best things out there actually come from the vendors (as opposed to internal), but each vendor has different kinds of priorities. This makes it hard to determine what the threats are, as well as identifying what you don’t know about this environment.” Pat mentions that although external hacking gets the lion’s share of media attention, sometimes the problems come from more day-to-day maintenance activities. “Every time there is an update to your operating system, and you are running software, they can change your actual security configurations. You have to be constantly going back and reviewing what’s going on, and scanning your systems, and seeing what vulnerabilities that previously had been closed have been reopened again; and that is a constant battle.”

security watch

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Pat’s main recommendations for striving toward a more secure cloud-connected IT system are a common nomenclature and a wider vision. “In the CCSP training class, I found it highly beneficial to address the naming conventions of how we talk about the cloud-based environments,” Pat says. “You have to understand all those terms and work them through your head in order to have meaningful conversations.” In addition, there is a need for a defined set of policies, and dependable and thorough processes. For example, when an organization performs an internal audit, they should not simply audit the outcomes of a system’s configuration, but rather they should also audit the process to make sure that people are doing things in a way that consistently reaches management’s expected outcomes. Once again, this means understanding the actions of people, along with the technology.


Compounding the challenges for organizations and their security specialists is convergence, says David Shearer, CEO, (ISC)². People often see expansion, in terms of the increasing numbers of devices and technologies connecting to the global Internet. But at the same time, there is “convergence of literally every engineering discipline on the planet, such as mechanical, electrical, software, biomedical, and chemical,” resulting in a cross pollination of protocols and systems through which abuse and contagion have the potential to run rampant.

All three experts agree that the establishment of a common lexicon and culture of clear, proactive communications, paired with both mechanical and corporate awareness, is essential for helping to maintain secure systems, both locally and globally. This commonality and vision must be embraced throughout all managerial levels, reaching right to the top.

For more on the CCSP certification from (ISC)² please visit their website. Sponsored by (ISC)².

By Steve Prentice


Connecting To Information With Cyber Physical Systems

Connecting To Information With Cyber Physical Systems

CPS Device Trends On The Rise

It isn’t, “Do you remember who starred in XYZ Movie?” It’s, “Can you look it up please?

Did you ever think you would sit at the dinner table, and when a question came up, someone would look up the answer and share it with everyone?” The words echoed at the table. Actually, I had always dreamed of that. Connection to information is something I have driven for my entire career. The question did, however, get me thinking.

Our devices have three types of information:

Information that is available online that the device can go and get, information that is local to the device and can be accessed quickly, and information that is produced by the device and then shared with the user.

connected devices

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Altogether, that cellular phone is an automation hub, information hub, and Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) device. I found out recently that collecting data from a lot of accelerometers can actually tell you the severity of an earthquake. An aggregation of hi-gain microphones can do the same thing.

That got me thinking about what else your smart phone can do today. So I did an internet search—”add-ons for cellular devices.” I found an incredible number of things you can do with your smartphone to make it into a CPS sensor. All of the devices I found are available today. All include the sensor and the software, usually a free download from the iTunes or Google Play stores.

Cyber Physical Systems Now Shipping

The following is a list of the many devices now shipping that integrate a sensor, software, and information: breathalyzers, laser measurements, 3d scanners, infrared cameras, Geiger counters, UV detectors, weather stations, wind meters (including wind direction), blood pressure cuffs, and any fitness device you could ever want! Want to know how you are driving? A device automatically plugs into the management port of your car and connects to your phone, telling you how you are driving.


My second search was for software that would allow me to use my cellular phone as a CPS device. Again, there are a number of software packages you can download: a seismograph (using your accelerometer), a sonar measuring system (using sound and your microphone), blood monitoring (using the camera), and of course the already pretty standard GPS and camera.


The information your device can produce continues to expand. This brings me, in a circuitous way, to my point. CPS devices are expanding with 10 billion-plus deployed today. As we move further into this market, it is critical that we have a number of new standards. Two of them are critical for the expansion of CPS in the short term. The first is the implementation of an agreed upon management standard for CPS devices. This would include support for the management of one or many CPS devices, including logging, updating, and replacing components of the deployed CPS device from a single enterprise console. The second standard supports the first and is the need for a unified integration framework for CPS devices. Today, many devices produce information only into their unique or custom application. The value for all the devices I’ve listed is in being able to consume that data from any application on your cellphone or laptop.

Standards Of The Future

The reason for the standards has to do with tomorrow. I suspect that many of the sensors you can get for your cellular device today will, in the future, be integrated into devices such as your car and home. That integration will make it easier for your cellular device to connect. But that integration will require the ability to provide management of those devices. They will need software updates, monitoring, and integration of reporting.


Tomorrow’s conversation will not be like the conversation that prompted the question I led off with: “Did you ever think you would sit at the dinner table and, when a question came up, someone would look up the answer and share it with everyone?” said in response to two people quickly grabbing their cell phones and providing the answer to the question of who was in XYZ Movie. The question of tomorrow may be something like “How did you get a sunburn? Didn’t the house tell you the UV reading was high today?” The answer would then be something like “It did. I fell asleep outside reading a book.”

By Scott Andersen

Google Serious About Combined Cloud Platform Business Model

Google Serious About Combined Cloud Platform Business Model

Combined Cloud Platform Business Model

Diane Greene, VMware founder and former CEO, has been tapped from the Google Board of Directors to serve as the head of its cloud unit, CEO Sundar Pichai announced on Thursday, November 19.

We’re excited that Diane Greene will lead a new team combining all our cloud businesses, including Google for Work, Cloud Platform and Google Apps,Pichai wrote in a blog. The Google combined cloud business will include its own engineering, marketing, and sales. Google hopes to get a more integrated effort out of it than it’s seen so far.

Google was just ranked as a possible also-ran when it came to capturing the enterprise’s move into the cloud. Earlier this week, Forrester Research issued a report, “Predictions 1016: The Cloud Accelerates,” which concluded that Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and IBM SoftLayer/Bluemix were all showing rapid enterprise growth…

Read Article Source: InformationWeek

Driving Insight: Analytics And The Internet of Things

Driving Insight: Analytics And The Internet of Things

Analytics And The Internet of Things 

For many businesses, the Internet of Things is playing an increasingly important role, influencing day-to-day operations and strategic planning. An ecosystem of growing complexity and sophistication, the IoT calls for careful navigation: advances in connectivity and cloud-based platforms have opened up a wider range of solutions to IT decision-makers in search of number crunching solutions that can deliver insight and drive their organization forward. When talking about this process, commentators tend to sketch the different stages of the Information Value Loop, the way in which information can be harvested and analyzed to yield insights that inform future behaviour. As a theory, the Information Value Loop is unquestionably attractive. But how do we put it into practice? In this article I wanted to address this question from the perspective of someone looking for ways to develop smarter ergonomic solutions.


Research by companies like ARM has done a lot to improve IoT chip design, making smart connected devices more efficient and reducing development risk. It’s possible for manufacturers to collect data from sensors built in to their products, and to combine this information with other data and analyse it in real time. In the kitchen, for example, LG’s HomeChat hub leverages the IoT for consumers by enabling them to control appliances remotely with an app, whether to start the washing cycle so clothes are ready when they get back from work or turn on the ThinkQ oven.

This connectivity can benefit consumers; but how can we use it to derive new insight and identify potential issues or opportunities?

Data and the Cloud

Given the sheer volume of data, the cloud is key to this process. Once generated, the information is transmitted to cloud data centers, where it can be aggregated with similar data sourced from around the world.


(Image Source: Marc Smith)

This is where the process starts to become more complicated: if crossing international borders, companies will be faced with different privacy laws and compliance requirements. The numbers also need to be crunched, and the growing availability of R packages, data analytics tools which can visualized with an API like Google Charts, is making it easier for organizations to address problems specific to their industry and to handle bigger and bigger data sets.


Analytic tools can be made to do different things. At one level, for example, they simply provide a more digestible overview of the data, by rendering it in a more comprehensible form. This kind of descriptive analytics works by showing patterns and wrangling information that may otherwise have been overlooked. More powerful tools go further than this.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

A famous example is the way banks use predictive learning to crack down on fraud. Here the more transaction data the system processes, the better it becomes at identifying instances of possible fraud. But in other models, analytics can be harnessed to provide firm recommendations based on prescriptive algorithms. This is where IoT devices can be aligned with behavioral science and Nudge theory, with devices able to advise users on the best course of action in a given scenario. For example, an IoT ergonomic workstation might tell an employee to adjust their posture or screen brightness, or just to take a break.


From cars to slow cookers, then, the IoT is rapidly becoming a feature of domestic and professional life. The challenge for industry is two-fold: on the one hand, we have to develop the tools that can extract as much value and insight as possible from data sets; and on the other, we have to find ways of unearthing realizable insights that can deliver value for customers and stakeholders. Pulling off this double goal is no mean feat. But the benefits for ergonomics and workplace health alone make it a worthwhile objective and, potentially, a game-changer.

By George Foot

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Car Troubles

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Car Troubles


By David Fletcher

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CloudTweaks Comics
Reuters News: Powerfull DDoS Knocks Out Several Large Scale Websites

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A New CCTV Nightmare: Botnets And DDoS attacks

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Cloud Infographic: Security And DDoS

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Cloud Infographic – DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms

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Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

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Why Security Practitioners Need To Apply The 80-20 Rules To Data Security

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The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

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5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

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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,…


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