Category Archives: Security

Increasing Efficiency and Reducing Cost with Managed Printing Services

Increasing Efficiency and Reducing Cost with Managed Printing Services

Managed Printing Services

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of HP MPS

Today’s business leaders recognize the value of shared services, significantly providing a wide range of enterprises with the sophisticated tools they need to compete with big business, while additionally driving costs down. But an area often overlooked in our tech-savvy world is the fundamental print service; a discreet amenity in any organization, but nonetheless essential to its operation. However, the management of traditional print services in an organization is a drain on IT teams, expending skills and time that should be providing more value elsewhere.

Managed Print Services


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Printing can be a distracting burden in any organization, and with IT staff already struggling to control many other evolving technologies, there’s little time left for the advancement and security of printing technology. Enter the innovative Managed Print Services (MPS), actively managing a business’s printers for increased productivity and reduced costs. A leader in the field, HP indicates that office printing costs can be reduced by up to 30% when their products and services are appropriately implemented, with processes improved and efficiencies increased through targeted print strategy. Effective MPS also addresses the critical issue of security, much acknowledged when data is in its virtual form, but overlooked when in its physical printed output where unauthorized access can result in leaked confidential information.

MPS, when executed correctly, provides new and reliable printers which help increase productivity, and security monitoring and management solutions to help identify vulnerabilities. HP asserts that organizations are able to establish unified, policy-based approaches to protecting data, strengthening compliance, and reducing risk; MPS connects the ‘print function’ with a digital approach to workflows and processes for better business control.

MPS Advantages from HP

  • Cost Savings

Reducing the use of consumables with strategies such as default mono printing and duplex printing, MPS cuts out wastage and improves the bottom line. A global market leader and visionary for MPS, HP engages with organizations of any size to increase operational efficiencies and security through a mix of fleet devices, both HP and non-HP.

  • Workplace Efficiency

Not only freeing up valuable IT staff, HP’s MPS means the management and deployment of devices and supplies from multiple vendors in a convenient and practical fashion. MPS also results in greater employee productivity through reduced device downtime.

  • Security

Indicating a greater focus than competitors when helping customers optimize document workflows and business processes with an industry-specific focus, HP provides comprehensive security services which include planning workshops, HP Imaging and Printing Security Centre, and the practical Security Advisory Services.

Will Your Business Benefit?


The advantages are clear, but every business is unique, and there really is no one-fits-all solution. To this end, HP has developed the Managed Print Analysis (MPA) tool which lets organizations assess the efficiency of their printing environment. The MPA tool takes a snapshot of the printing environment through a series of questions and provides an instant, customized report that pinpoints inefficiencies in the office printing network and points to tangible solutions HP MPS would provide. With their flexible and scalable solution, the HP MPS advantage is a strategic and consultative approach that benefits organizations of any size in every industry.

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By Jennifer Klostermann

IoT & Predictive Analytics In Healthcare

IoT & Predictive Analytics In Healthcare

IoT & Predictive Analytics

In a report by Grand View Research Inc., it’s predicted that the global Internet of Things (IoT) healthcare market will reach nearly $410 billion by 2022, with mobile penetration, software automation, and innovation medical devices promising rapid testing, greater accuracy, portability, and user-friendliness. Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart failure, and hypertension specifically can be better addressed with IoT devices, offering users greater personal independence while still having their vital signs monitored, activity and safety measured, and medication supervised.


IoT Healthcare Solutions

We already have a host of IoT solutions available in the healthcare sector, possibly most prevalent the fitness monitors. But such personal activity trackers are really just a taste of what IoT technology can offer the healthcare industry. Infusion pumps, lighting and heating automation, and record keeping utilizing IoT tech already aid hospitals and healthcare providers, but pioneering organizations are taking a leap forward. Boston Medical Centre, for instance, uses sensors which prevent newborn babies from being removed from the hospital without being signed out, and monitors for patients in the neonatal ICU alert nurses via cell phone when significant changes to vital signs are detected.

Little known and future possibilities include Asthmapolis, an asthma inhaler with built-in GPS-sensor, which records the data of time and location of use. This provides specific environmental information that can help asthma sufferers avoid problem areas. Google and Novartis have teamed up, and a prototype digital contact lens that measures blood sugar levels through tear liquid has been developed, proposing easier management of diabetes. And Vitality’s GlowCabs addresses medication monitoring, an area in which the WHO believes 50% of patients are not correctly following doctors’ advice. Using light and sounds, the GlowCabs system signals users when it’s time to take medication, and once a week a report is sent to GlowCap users containing information about medication use to date.


IoT Security Concerns in Healthcare

The question of security is still being answered by innovators, though, with the medical data collected being particularly sensitive. Notes Anura Fernando, who has served on the FDA Medical Device Interoperability Council, “It’s very challenging in this rapidly moving market. They have to balance safety and effectiveness and innovation. It seems clear-cut but sometimes it’s not. It’s truly a tough balance.” Inappropriate access to or sharing of such data should be addressed not only by the makers of IoT devices but by the organizations that implement them. Data privacy and security policies already in place will have to be updated to include the broader data landscape that IoT devices touch, and adequate encryption and virus protection systems for individual devices will require continuous evolution and updating to ensure new threats are obstructed.

IoT, Predictive Analytics & Healthcare

With the over-abundance of medical data available, and increasing exponentially day by day, predictive analytics tools offer a better way to quickly unearth relevant insights. Infection surveillance systems are growing in popularity, helping prevent hospital-acquired infections, monitor surgical risks, and predict outbreaks of deadly diseases. Already a $260 million market, analysts forecast a growth of 14.1% CAGR to 2021. Moreover, with healthcare providers taking on the responsibility for longer-term patient outcomes, and often trusted with a single patient’s care over many years, predictive analytics technologies are helping change and improve systems. Using predictive analytics tools, predictions can be made for particular patients, based on their individual information. This method doesn’t rely on the bell curve, and doesn’t have to group a range of patients for accuracy, and so predictions are more precisely suited to particular patients. Additionally, preventative medicine advanced with predictive analytics, impacting favorably on public health.

From wearable sensors to telemedicine applications to medical smartphone applications, the health sector has an influx of tech assistance. The talented, benevolent, and shrewd all have a role to play.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Dismissal Of Class Action Lawsuit A Setback For Internet Privacy

Dismissal Of Class Action Lawsuit A Setback For Internet Privacy

A Setback For Internet Privacy

On Monday the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (a federal appeals court) unanimously dismissed a class action lawsuit by parents of children under the age of 13 who had used Nickelodeon’s websites against Google and Viacom (which owns the Nickelodeon websites). This was a result of litigation beginning in 2013.

The class action disputed the legality of planting of cookies to gather and track the browsing information from the computers and phones of children who had played games and watched videos on Nickelodeon’s websites. Collecting IP addresses, the Court held, was not against the law. The laws in question came from the Video Privacy Protection Act from 1988. This legislation prohibits the personally identifiable information about a person’s video viewing habits from being disclosed. This law was amended in 2013 but was regrettably not brought up to speed with current Internet privacy trends. The result was that the Court found Viacom and Google had only received the browsing and video viewing history – it did not disclose it.


While Google was held not to be liable at all, Viacom itself could still be liable on the promise it makes on its registration forms that “HEY GROWN-UPS: We don’t collect ANY personal information about your kids. Which means we couldn’t share it even if we wanted to!” Even though Viacom disclosed no personal information, collecting such information is potentially a breach of that promise to its users.

What this ruling illustrates is, first, that the laws around Internet privacy are severely outdated. Technology and its uses change and grow exponentially whereas lawmakers are slow to meet these demands. Secondly, it demonstrates that the Courts are willing to allow invasions of privacy by strictly interpreting the law. However, near the end of the ruling the Court does note the need for change in this area: “Our decision necessarily leaves some unanswered questions about what kinds of disclosures violate the Video Privacy Protection Act. Such uncertainty is ultimately a consequence of our common-law system of adjudication and the rapid evolution of contemporary technology. In the meantime, companies in the business of streaming digital video are well advised to think carefully about customer notice and consent. Whether other kinds of disclosure will trigger liability under the Act is another question for another day.” Hopefully that day is not too far in the future.

By Jason De Klerk

8 Cloud Characteristics Every ERP System Needs

8 Cloud Characteristics Every ERP System Needs

Characteristics Every ERP System Needs

Cloud-based ERP systems offer many benefits to a growing organization. And those benefits are catching on in a big way in recent years. In fact, according to the RightScale State of the Cloud 2016 Survey, which has collected the responses of 1,060 IT professionals, 95% of respondents are using a cloud computing solution. By selecting a cloud-based ERP system that unifies the entire company, a business can defer the burden of managing their own infrastructure. This can free up IT staff, lower overhead, offer financial and time savings, and more.


Cloud-based ERP systems provide employees with access to critical business data regardless of location or device. This means that employees, customers, and vendors can securely access data and collaborate in real time. With an entire company standardized on one system and looking at the most up-to-date documents and data, what’s not to love? Let’s take a look at eight characteristics to search for when seeking out the perfect cloud-based ERP provider for your business.

File Versioning

If you make frequent changes to files, or you have several individuals accessing the same document, file versioning is a necessity. File versioning maintains the history and integrity of important company files, so you never lose your work. It prevents individuals from overwriting old files by automatically saving edits as a new version, and preserving the old copy for review.

It’s important to ask your ERP cloud provider how many versions the system will keep, how long the system will keep them, and where older versions are sequestered once they are deleted.

Automatic Backup

With automatic backup, an ERP system can help companies ensure that all of their data and documents are up-to-date and safe from tragedy. A cloud backup system is designed to protect against data loss and reduce the time it takes to restore data. This means minimal downtime and minimal risk to business productivity and profit. In the event that disaster strikes your physical business, you can rest assured that your data is safe and sound.

Sharing and Collaboration Tools

If you run a business in which employees are team-oriented, often share documents and data, or frequently share documents with individuals outside of the company, then these tools are critical to ensuring a seamless document sharing process with a variety of viewing and editing options. Sharing and collaboration tools should include password protection and sharing options that can customize the level of security. This can keep documents available to individuals on a need-to-know basis, and allow you to set security on the document level, sub-folder level, parent folder level, and so on. This can keep your confidential documents away from prying eyes yet still accessible to those who need to see them.

Automatic Syncing

If you have employees who work off-site or are often traveling, then automatic syncing can prevent multiple versions of documents from building up. If your employees find themselves without time to manually sync document edits, then automatic syncing can help sync files immediately and offer every individual within the company the opportunity to see the latest version of a document in real-time, without having to rely on others to ensure their local copy has been uploaded for access.

Cloud-Based Viewing and Editing Options

One of the major benefits of a cloud-based ERP is its accessibility. If you have segments of your business that are off-site, or employees who travel or work remote, cloud-based viewing and editing provides your employees the ultimate flexibility with access to documents anytime, anywhere, and on any device where an internet connection is available. With the support of automated syncing, employees can confidently open documents and make quick edits. An ERP system without this feature can cause the additional hassles of having to download documents, edit them locally, and remember to manually re-upload them for company access.

Security and File Encryption

Your cloud-based ERP system should come with the latest and greatest in electronic and physical security layers. It should encrypt your document data at least once before it leaves your device. You should also be able to choose your own encryption key to assure exceptional security on the most confidential company documents. And, it should include the ability to set different levels of access for different employees.

Scalability and Customizable Storage Capacity

One of the greatest benefits of a cloud-based ERP is the exceptional ability to scale your business on-the-fly. Whether you are responding to seasonality, business growth, or global expansion, the ability to easily scale can keep your business running at top speed. Your system expansion should be as simple as subscribing to additional user accounts.

Every business is different. And one comes with its own unique storage capacity needs and decisions on how much of their business they feel they can to move to the cloud. Customizable storage capacity allows business owners the opportunity to choose to increase the percentage of their business they move into the cloud at a later date. Look for a cloud-based ERP provider that offers storage at a scalable size and honest price. It’s also important to look at how that price will grow as your business needs grow. In some cases, an unlimited data storage package is the most cost-effective.

Technical Support

When your business is in the cloud, you need to know that you can access it reliably. Your cloud-based ERP solution should not only manage the infrastructure and keep it running 24/7, they should also be available around the clock with friendly and accessible support technicians. This ensures that both you and your employees can access important business data and documents at all times, and any ERP application issues can be dealt with swiftly.

A cloud-based ERP system provides a great many benefits to today’s active, mobile, globalizing, and growing businesses. When searching to connect and standardize your business using a cloud-based ERP, search for one that offers stellar technical support, easy and cost-effective scalability, customizable storage capacity, state-of-the-art security, document viewing, editing, syncing, versioning capabilities, and innovative sharing and collaboration tools.

By Aaron Continelli

Controversial Chinese Cybersecurity Law Under Review Again

Controversial Chinese Cybersecurity Law Under Review Again

Cybersecurity Law

BEIJING. The National People’s Congress, the equivalence of the Chinese Parliament, moved forward in drafting a second version of a controversial cybersecurity law first introduced almost a year ago. This means the law is thought to be closer to passing and will bring greater censorship for both foreign and domestic citizens and businesses.

In China, popular websites like Facebook and Google are blocked, and all web traffic is openly monitored and censored by the government. The latest draft of the law aims to require network operators, foreign and domestic, to comply with the “social morals” of China and accept the supervision of government censors. According to Xinhua, China’s state-operated news agency, the law requires all Chinese citizens’ data to be stored in China along with “important business data”. Countries wishing to store this data outside of China would need to submit to a security evaluation from the Chinese government.


(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Critics of the law, mostly foreign governments, multinational corporations, and human rights activists, say a broad interpretation of it could give Beijing the power to do whatever they want. It is also thought to create a competitive disadvantage for foreign firms attempting to do business in China, especially those from the United States and European Union.

Chinese lawmakers often review and revise several drafts of legislation before finally enacting its contents. The original draft introduced nearly a year ago was said to protect Chinese citizens from hackers and data resellers in addition to block the dissemination of private information records, which are illegal in China. The moving forward with a second draft increases the likelihood of these regulations becoming a reality.

An example of Chinese oversight on these matters came just last month when Chinese officials set limits on the volume of advertising from healthcare groups featured on the country’s largest search engine, Baidu Inc. The backlash comes after a student died from participating in an experimental cancer treatment program he discovered online. The second draft of the law is still in construction, and it is unclear when it will be finalized.

What is interesting about this law is that Chinese officials already have control of Chinese citizens’ data and internet use through overarching personal property laws and strict human rights allowances. The average Chinese citizen may not see a change from this law being enacted, but it will mean major changes for foreign businesses hungry to tap into a Chinese market with over a billion consumers.

By Thomas Dougherty

Personal Account of Google CEO Compromised

Personal Account of Google CEO Compromised

Personal Account Compromised

The security of our information online, whether it’s our banking details, emails or personal information, is important. Hackers pose a very real threat to our privacy when there are vulnerabilities in the security of the services we use online. It can be worrying then when the CEO of perhaps the largest holder of our information online has their own accounts hacked.

On June 27 2016, the personal Quora account of Google CEO Sundar Pichai was hacked by group OurMine. The group posted on his Twitter account and announced on their website that their efforts were merely to test the strength Pichai’s security. Unsurprisingly, they were not impressed. The breach they claimed was due to a weakness in the security of Quora, a popular Q&A website. While OurMine notified Quora of this vulnerability, no statement has yet been made thereby.


This is not OurMine’s first high-profile hack. The group recently gained access to the Twitter and Pinterest accounts of Mark Zuckerberg. Posting to his Twitter account, it was revealed that Zuckerberg’s passwords were included in a leak of 117 million LinkedIn users’ passwords in May. A few days ago the hacker group also managed to access the Twitter account of Spotify CEO Daniel Elk. Other prominent figures that have been victims of OurMine’s hacks include David Guetta, YouTube star PewDiePie and Channing Tatum.

Various Methods To Access

OurMine seems to use various methods to access the accounts they target. However, their objective appears to be solely to test and highlight the weaknesses of online security. They do not change the passwords or maliciously use the information of the accounts they hack. The group does appear to be setting up its own online security service packages, advertising them somewhat humorously in the tweet posted on Elk’s account.

It is alarming to the users of such online services that even their creators or managers are unable to wade of attacks of hacker groups, regardless of their intentions. So what can the average user do? As always, a longer password that includes a variety of characters is advantageous as it makes it harder for hackers to guess. It is suggested that you use a creative way to remember complicated passwords. Secondary password confirmation apps could also be helpful. Short of having a software engineering degree however, the options are limited, and the hope is that the online services we use will take security more seriously in future.

By Jason de Klerk

Data Protection and Session Fixation Attacks

Data Protection and Session Fixation Attacks

Keeping the man out of the middle: preventing session fixation attacks

In a nutshell, session fixation is a type of man in the middle attack where an attacker is able to pretend to be a victim using a session variable. For instance, let’s say you have an application that uses sessions to validate the user. You retrieve a session variable from the URL’s query string. You then validate the session string and authenticate the user without requiring a username and password.

A hacker can log in to your website and obtain his own session. With that session in hand, he then sends a phishing email to a victim and tricks him into clicking a URL with the hacker’s session variable. Your application sees the session variable, verifies that it’s an active session, and then automatically logs in the user. This then allows the attacker to see the victim’s information as they work with the shared session.


A session fixation attack isn’t like a standard phishing ruse where users are sent to a bogus website with red flags all over the place. The user clicks a link in a phishing email that leads them to the official website. The process looks completely legitimate to the user.

The consequences of an attack like this are stark for both the user and the organization. Consider your internal corporate application. What happens if the attacker is able to gain access to the internal application’s data using a session fixation hack? This type of data breach is completely possible if you don’t know how to stop the attack from happening.

A few different types of fixations

The above section explains how a session fixation works, but according to application security software provider Checkmarx, there are actually three different kinds of session fixation attacks.

Session token in the URL argument: Just as in the example above, the attacker sends the session in the URL’s query string. The application reads the session and uses it to validate the user.

Session token in a hidden form field: Some applications store a session in a hidden form variable. The attacker can create his own form and send it to the victim in a phishing email. The attacker can then trick the application using his own custom form with the malicious session.

Session ID in a cookie: This type of session fixation attack can occur if the application retrieves the session from a cookie. The attacker mixes client side scripting attacks or cross-site scripting to execute this attack. The application retrieves the cookie from the victim’s PC and uses it to authenticate the user.

Timeouts aren’t just for toddlers

Many developers design applications to recognize a session and use it to automatically authorize a user. It’s been done this way for years, but with the prevalence of data breaches developers just can’t trust input from a querystring, cookie or even a hidden form variable anymore. All of these can be manipulated from the user’s PC or an attacker.

There are several ways a developer can either prevent session fixation attacks or minimize the possibility of an attacker’s success. The first way is to avoid authenticating a user from a simple session ID in the query string, cookie or hidden form variable.

After disabling this type of programming, session variables should be forced to timeout after a while. When a session variable times out, it’s no longer valid. Timeouts can be set on your server for varying intervals. The shorter the time frame, the less time the attacker has to perform the attack. If the attacker can’t get the user to click a phishing link fast enough, the attack will fail.

Session fixation attacks are a favorite for attackers, especially hackers targeting corporate applications to obtain customer data. Use the best practices for session IDs to protect your critical data.

By  Brent Anderson

Cloud Comings and Goings

Cloud Comings and Goings

Cloud Power

Amazon Web Services – the giant of cloud computing – is on track to do $10 Billion in revenue this year. Yet, rumors swirl that Apple may take a huge chunk of business away from them and Dropbox has definitely left AWS. Is something wrong at AWS? Wait, (SFDC) – the granddaddy of applications in the cloud – and AWS just announced a strategic relationship where SFDC plans to run its entire suite of services in AWS. What does this tell us about the market? Should you be concerned if your company uses or plans to use AWS?

Many folks thought that AWS was a money loser or maybe just a break even venture for Amazon until it was broken out separately in the parent company’s financials. The scales fell from our eyes. It turned out that not only was it a behemoth, it was a very profitable behemoth powering a great deal of Amazon’s overall bottom line. Its latest operating margin is about 29% or a whopping $687 Million in the last quarter. If you are a big customer of AWS that margin is coming out of your pocket.

The rumors swirling around Apple and the actual departure of Dropbox has a lot to do with that extra margin that they could keep. While this makes straightforward economic sense it is not for the faint hearted. There are two big challenges.

CloudTweaks Comic

First, building and operating a cloud platform at anywhere near the efficiency of AWS requires scale – you have got to be big and be able to manage that. Dropbox manages to do both. It is one of the largest file sharing offerings in the world so it has scale.  The people who designed the new Dropbox cloud came from Google. So they had been to the movie before and knew what they were getting into.

Second, there is the risk that you won’t be able to maintain your scale. This is what Zynga faced when it too left AWS for its own cloud only to have to return when its business prospects dimmed and there wasn’t enough demand to justify doing it in house. To some extent, Dropbox faces a similar risk as AWS itself, Microsoft, Apple and others encroach on Dropbox’s offerings with their own.

Cloud Economics

So much for the traditional Economics 101 on vertical integration to capture the margins of your suppliers in order to enhance your own – what is going on with the Salesforce deal? More economics and a little quid pro quo is the answer. In announcing the expanded relationship Salesforce pointed to using AWS for its international expansion and that all of Amazon has adopted the Salesforce offering suite across its operations.

Only 20% of SFDC’s revenues come from outside the US. That is not small but it is fragmented by the various country and regional privacy and data location requirements. These mandate cloud providers data centers must be resident in country. Salesforce’s business in any one country is just not big enough to meet the scale needed to justify the investment. Meanwhile AWS has been building out new data centers at a very strong clip just to meet these requirements. All in all it’s a good complementary relationship. Plus SFDC gets the Amazon mothership as a client.

Cloud is the new foundation for the digitization of our lives. Companies are increasingly turning to it and AWS’s growth prospects continue to shine. There is little worry that it is going away anytime soon. You can do cloud yourself but only if you have the massive scale and talent to make it work. Otherwise, think about using a public cloud provider. Even somebody like Salesforce, who pioneered Software as a Service, ran the numbers and concluded it made more sense to go with AWS internationally.

By John Pienka

(Originally published June, 9th, 2016. You can periodically read John’s syndicated articles here on CloudTweaks. Contact us for more information on these new programs)

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Cloud Infographic – DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms

Cloud Infographic – DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms

DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms Above DDoS attacks, unauthorized access and false alarms, malware is the most common incident that security teams reported responding to in 2014, according to a recent survey from SANS Institute and late-stage security startup AlienVault. The average cost of a data breach? $3.5 million, or $145 per sensitive…

The Conflict Of Net Neutrality And DDoS-Attacks!

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Security and the Potential of 2 Billion Device Failures

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IoT Device Failures I have, over the past three years, posted a number of Internet of Things (and the broader NIST-defined Cyber Physical Systems) conversations and topics. I have talked about drones, wearables and many other aspects of the Internet of Things. One of the integration problems has been the number of protocols the various…

Cloud Infographic: Security And DDoS

Cloud Infographic: Security And DDoS

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The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

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How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

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The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

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Cancer Moonshot In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a new American “moonshot” effort: finding a cure for cancer. The term “moonshot” comes from one of America’s greatest achievements, the moon landing. If the scientific community can achieve that kind of feat, then surely it can rally around…

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

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How To Humanize Your Data The modern enterprise is digital. It relies on accurate and timely data to support the information and process needs of its workforce and its customers. However, data suffers from a likability crisis. It’s as essential to us as oxygen, but because we don’t see it, we take it for granted.…

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority Research has revealed that third parties cause 63 percent of all data breaches. From HVAC contractors, to IT consultants, to supply chain analysts and beyond, the threats posed by third parties are real and growing. Deloitte, in its Global Survey 2016 of third party risk, reported…

Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

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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,…

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

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