Category Archives: Security

Global Intelligence Network – 63.8 Million Attack Sensors

Global Intelligence Network – 63.8 Million Attack Sensors

Internet Security Threat Report

Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report, released in April, covers an extensive range of cyber threats we need to be aware of and proactively manage including data security and privacy, threats from social media and email scams, the security pressures experienced from Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices, and much more. Thanks to Symantec’s Global Intelligence Network made up of over 63.8 million attack sensors and recording thousands of events per second, threat activity in over 157 territories is monitored. Furthermore, their comprehensive vulnerability database contains nearly 75,000 recorded vulnerabilities of the last 20 plus years including spam, phishing, and malware data.

In 2015, Symantec found malware up 36% from the previous year, logging 430 million new pieces of malware. Stated in the report, “As real life and online become indistinguishable from each other, cybercrime has become a part of our daily lives.”

Six Key Findings & Trends of 2015

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With the following six threat and vulnerability discoveries noted as key findings of 2015, Symantec takes a broad look at the threat landscape.

  • Each week of 2015 saw the discovery of a new zero-day vulnerability. With a 125% increase from the previous year, zero-day vulnerabilities allow advanced attack groups to profit from flaws in browser and website plugins.
  • More than half a billion personal records were lost or stolen in 2015. The largest data breach ever publicly reported occurred at the end of 2015 exposing 191 million records, but over the year, another eight mega-breaches (violations of above 10 million records) occurred. Adding insult to injury, more companies are now concealing the full extent of their data breaches, and this lack of transparency is only increasing security challenges.
  • Spear-phishing campaigns targeting employees rose by 55% last year. Attacks targeting businesses with fewer than 250 employees have steadily increased over the previous five years, and in 2015, financial companies or government organizations targeted once were more likely to be targeted three more times again over the year.
  • Three-quarters of popular websites were found to have major security vulnerabilities. With web administrators struggling to stay current with patches, the general public is put at risk. Unfortunately, simply ensuring one uses a well-known and legitimate website is not enough to guarantee the security.
  • A 35% increase in ransomware was recorded in 2015. Using encryption against legitimate organizations, cyber criminals are holding hostage critical data in ever-evolving violations. Symantec believes this type of attack will continue to expand and trap network users beyond PCs, reaching users of smartphones, Mac, and Linux systems.
  • 100 million fake technical support scams were blocked by Symantec in 2015. As if the already pervasive scams were not enough, cybercriminals are scamming new victims into calling them through pop-ups which suggest serious errors or problems could be resolved by calling the stated 800 numbers. On connection, these scammers then attempt to sell worthless services to their victims.

Threats to Cloud Computing

Unfortunately, even cloud-hosted and virtualized systems are vulnerable, and malware is able to search for virtualized environments and infect them. According to Symantec, 16% of malware is “routinely able to recognize and exploit a virtual machine environment.” Worse still, vulnerabilities such as VENOM allow attackers to break out of infected virtual machines and attack others on the same system. Due to the ever-increasing range of solutions cloud computing offers, and with the quantity of data held on the cloud expanding, attacks in this environment also multiply.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Symantec found that misconfigurations and poor management by users (not service providers) resulted in cloud-hosted systems being vulnerable to illicit access, and further unearthed 11,000 publicly accessible files. It’s also noted that stolen credentials for cloud-based systems are habitually sold on the black market at low costs. As asserted by Symantec, cloud services and virtual machines must be secured as thoroughly as all other services and devices with policies covering virtual as well as physical infrastructure. Because nothing is immune from cyber threats anymore, using integrated security tools across all platforms helps diminish future security problems, and Symantec encourages an investigative, clinical-study mindset that compels good digital hygiene, education of cybersecurity issues, and doesn’t tolerate cybersecurity risks.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Cloud Foundry Foundation: Global 2000 Enterprises Converge on Santa Clara

Cloud Foundry Foundation: Global 2000 Enterprises Converge on Santa Clara

Global 2000 Enterprises Converge on Santa Clara

The Industry-Standard Multi-Cloud Platform Reports Strong Community Growth and Adds New Members Allstate, Dynatrace, Evoila, Gemalto, Hazelcast and Volkswagen

SAN FRANCISCO, CA –(Marketwired – May 23, 2016)Cloud Foundry Foundation, home of the industry-standard multi-cloud platform, kicked off the Cloud Foundry Summit today in Santa Clara, bringing together executives, developers and operators from the world’s largest organizations to discuss new ways to leverage multi-cloud strategies to accelerate business growth and innovation.

This week, more than 2,000 application developers, IT operations experts, technical managers, business leaders, service providers and Cloud Foundry core project contributors are expected to attend the Cloud Foundry Summit in Santa Clara to see how Allstate, BNY Mellon, Daimler, Ford Motor Company, GE Digital, Warner Music and others are using Cloud Foundry to support continuous innovation, unleash developers and deliver application portability in a multi-cloud world.

They are also getting a first look at Cloud Foundry advancements announced by members around the Summit including:

  • Apigee is Now Available on Pivotal Cloud Foundry
  • Iron.io Brings Multi-Cloud Serverless Processing to Cloud Foundry Community
  • Cloud Foundry Beta Services Now available on SAP HANA Cloud Platform
  • Stark & Wayne Announces New Cloud Foundry Training Videos including Cloud Foundry on BOSH and Concourse CI

The Summit also features news of significant progress in the project, strong community growth and industry alignment including:

  • Six new members of the Cloud Foundry Foundation
  • Atos Cloud Foundry and GE Predix are the latest products to be qualified in the industry’s only certification program designed to establish reliable portability across PaaS products in multi-vendor, multi-cloud environments.

The shift to multi-cloud is happening faster than any other enterprise technology shift in history, and Cloud Foundry is at the heart of it,” said Sam Ramji, Cloud Foundry Foundation CEO. “Enterprises are delivering apps on cloud platforms best suited for specific application workloads. Cloud Foundry’s container-based architecture is perfectly suited for multi-cloud delivery and runs apps in any language, on any cloud. A robust services ecosystem and simple integration to existing technologies has helped Cloud Foundry grow from a community project to the industry standard for business apps.

Latest Certified PaaS members
Atos Cloud Foundry and GE Predix are the latest offerings to join the Cloud Foundry Certified PaaS program, the industry’s only certification program designed to establish reliable portability across PaaS products in multi-vendor, multi-cloud environments. They join a trusted group of certified products that include HPE Helion Cloud Foundry, Huawei FusionStage, IBM Bluemix, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, SAP HANA® Cloud Platform and Swisscom Application Cloud.

Increased Contributions/New Cloud Foundry Foundation Members
Development progress within the independent Cloud Foundry Foundation continues to accelerate through dramatic increases in contributions to the project.

With the addition of:

  • Allstate
  • Dynatrace
  • Evoila
  • Gemalto
  • Hazelcast
  • Volkswagen

Corporate membership has now grown to more than 60 vendor and end user organizations worldwide. Additionally, the Foundation announced today that Cisco is increasing its investment in the Foundation to a Platinum membership level. As a Platinum member, Cisco reinforces its commitment to Cloud Foundry.

Cloud Foundry Training
More than 130 engineers from 9 companies have completed or are in the process of completing Cloud Foundry training in Dojos in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Research Triangle Park and London, making up a growing team of dedicated committers who are working full-time on the project. The Cloud Foundry’s active user community has grown to more than 190 self-organized local groups, attracting more than 47,800 members from 105 cities in 48 countries worldwide.

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

Paying Attention To Data Security

Your biggest data security threat could be sitting next to you…

Data security is a big concern for businesses. The repercussions of a data security breach ranges from embarrassment, to costly lawsuits and clean-up jobs – particularly when confidential client information is involved.

But although more and more businesses are taking steps to improve data security, few are considering the most likely cause of such a threat: human error. According to our Voice of IT report, human error is perceived to be the biggest threat to an organisation’s IT security.

However, when looking within, there’s not one, but three personas to consider: careless employees, disgruntled employees, and uninformed employees.

Careless employees

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Some of the biggest and most embarrassing data breaches have been from employees taking information out of an organisation and accidentally leaving that information in a public place. In 2008, a USB stick containing a list of passwords for a UK government computer system was found in a car park pub in Staffordshire. The following year, a health worker from Lancashire lost a memory stick containing the personal details of more than 6,000 current and ex-prisoners (while the data was encrypted, the password had been written on the back of the USB pen.) In 2010, an Apple engineer accidentally left a prototype for the not-yet-released 4th generation iPhone in a bar in California. These are just a few of the most famous examples of employees accidentally leaving confidential data in public places.

The lesson here is that companies need to think long and hard about the information they’re willing to allow employees to take out of the business premises. These days, as more and more employees access emails and corporate files from mobile devices, this is especially important. An unlocked smartphone that’s logged into a company system can be just as dangerous as a USB drive with all the information already downloaded onto it.

Disgruntled employees

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Disgruntled employees arguably pose the biggest threat of all. Depending on the seniority of the employee, an employee may not only have access to sensitive company information and documents, but also to networks, admin accounts, and data centres.

According to some cyber experts, the extremely costly 2014 Sony Pictures hack was not an attack from North Korea but the result of a disgruntled employee. Whether or not that’s true is still up for debate, but the fact that Sony is willing to entertain it highlights the fact that some employees have too much power and given an opportunity could cause serious problems.

The Sony Pictures hack isn’t the first example of a disgruntled IT employee wreaking havoc. In 2008, Los Angeles city network admin Terry Childs reset the passwords for the city’s FibreWan network. Childs, a very disgruntled employee, then refused to hand over the passwords and brought the city into a state of digital lockdown for several days.

While obviously Childs is very much to blame here, human error is also to blame on the part of his superiors, who gave him too much freedom and responsibility. The lesson here is that no matter how important an employee is, they shouldn’t be given too much digital freedom, particularly when it comes to admin rights. The more administrators there are for different sections of the business, the less damaging an internal attack will be.

It’s also important to remember that most attacks by disgruntled employees happen after an employee has been laid off. This gives most companies ample time to reset important passwords and prevent an attack from a future disgruntled employee.

Uninformed employees

Data security isn’t something that regularly crosses the minds of most employees.

In 2015, French TV station TV5Monde was taken off the air by hackers purporting to be a part of the Islamic State. TV5Monde’s website and social media accounts were both affected.

The following day, staff from TV5Monde were interviewed to discuss the attack in front of a wall which had several sheets of very sensitive company information stuck to it. According to several sources, the sheets of papers contained lists of the company’s social media accounts and passwords. Other footage from the interviews showed post-it notes on computers containing passwords for other important company accounts.

Ignoring the fact that some passwords were as simple as ‘youtubepassword’, the lesson here is to educate employees regularly on the importance of data security. While most employees won’t ever be interviewed on national television, there may be other ways that they could unwittingly share important company information. In the past social media, accident emails, accidental email attachments, and viruses have all resulted in sensitive company information being leaked outside of the company.

Therefore, proactivity is vital to the wellbeing of IT infrastructure. Along with training employees on best practice, some companies are investing in risk management software – combining big data analytics with an understanding of human behaviour – to identify internal threats before they strike.

Fear of the unknown is justified but, when it comes to security, the devil you know could be your biggest danger.

By George Foot

Eventually Everything Will Wind Up In The Public Cloud

Eventually Everything Will Wind Up In The Public Cloud

The Public Cloud

“Eventually everything will wind up in the public cloud.” Diane Greene, Google’s New Cloud Chief, May 6, 2016

Private cloud is what most companies are adopting.” “No, public cloud is better and will dominate in the end.” “Nonsense, hybrid cloud is the way to go.” Need an answer? It’s in Manitoba!

CIOs report that private cloud is all the rage now. The Cisco’s of the world argue that hybrid cloud is the optimal path to adoption. Meanwhile, the big public cloud providers like Google and Amazon argue that it’s just a matter of time before most computing is done on public platforms like theirs. Each party with a dog in the fight proclaims they have the one true path.

malware

Who is Right?

Why is this happening? Believe it or not, we have been to this movie before – more than 100 years ago when many companies had VP’s of Electricity. Are there lessons in it that will help us in our current controversy? Yes, but there are several nuances that also need to be incorporated and they come from our transitions to new forms of energy. Let’s explore.

Much has been written about how the cloud makes computing much more like a utility than it ever has been in the past. It’s ubiquitous, metered, easy to start and stop and increasingly inexpensive. One of the best books on this, published in 2009 – just as cloud really started gaining momentum – is “The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google” by Nicholas Carr.

Carr paints an easy to understand tale of how electricity first derived from individual power plants, then evolving into large centralized utilities parallels what we have seen in the provision of information technology. There we started with original walled gardens tended by elite acolytes and evolved to today’s cloud and the Consumerization of IT.

Carr also correctly points out some of the limits of the analogy but the lessons are nonetheless striking; especially, how each vested interest sought to advance their model while retarding the others. But in addition to the vested interests championing their preferences, there are fundamental economic forces that foster the private, public, and hybrid cloud frenzy.

Economics of Energy

Vaclav-smilHere is where we turn to the lessons of energy transformations and Manitoba. Vaclav Smil is a prolific writer and Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. His research and explanations on the economics of energy provide the other part of the analogy to understand the emergence and transition to the cloud. While Smil is writing on the time it takes to move to renewable sources of energy, two of his observations help us understand why the many cloud deployment models are all present at the same time.

First, the amount of sheer growth required from providers just to meet the needs. Just like renewables have been around for a short time and despite accelerated adoption in many countries they still only meet a small fraction of total energy needs. Likewise, cloud too is relatively young (Salesforce.com was established in 1999 and Amazon Web Services in just 2006).

Gartner projects worldwide IT budgets for 2015 equal about $2.69 Trillion. The IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) providers will do about $21+ Billion, or so, in revenue. Now, consider the implication. Cloud is certainly growing fast but in the big picture it is tiny and constitutes less than one percent (0.78%) of the total IT annual spend. Even when you toss in all the SaaS (Software as a Service) providers you are still only a drop in the bucket. There is an enormous build out required to meet just the current capacity need.

And that brings us to Smil’s other observation. The switch to different forms of energy took anywhere from 50 to 75 years because of the huge size and investment in the infrastructure. Likewise, electronic computing as we know it has been woven into business, government and academia since the 1950’s. Granted, a lot has changed and the technology refreshes itself ever faster but there are still a lot of investments in equipment and applications that need to be amortized. Not to mention old skills unlearned/new ones acquired. That sort of thing takes time – probably not 50 or 75 years but certainly not just 10 or 15.

Where does that leave you?

Be prepared for a longer haul. Private and Hybrid clouds are in many ways the logical transition deployment as the shift occurs to increasing Public cloud. Vaclav Smil leaves us with another point that we should keep in mind. These shifts in energy sources are daunting because they involve rejecting a way of life deeply ingrained. This will be no less true with cloud computing.

By John Pientka

Leveraging IoT & Open Source Tools

Leveraging IoT & Open Source Tools

IoT and Data Growth

Though the data regarding connected devices is anything but cohesive, a broad overview of IoT stats affords a clear picture of how quickly our world is becoming a connected ecosystem: In 1984, approximately 1,000 devices were connected to the Internet; in 2015, Gartner predicted 4.9 billion connected things would be in use; and by 2020 analysts expect we’ll have somewhere between 26 and 50 billion connected devices globally. Said Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at Cisco, “In 1984, there were 1,000 connected devices. That number rose up to reach a million devices in 1992 and reached a billion devices in 2008. Our estimates say… that we will have roughly 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020.

What’s Connected?

Internet-of-things-infographic

(Infographic Source: industrial-ip.org)

Of course, we’re well past the days when ‘connected’ meant to your computer or mobile phone. Connected devices today include many household gadgets such as heating, lighting, and refrigerators, personal wearables including smart watches and clothing, and industrial equipment such as shipping pallets and automation gear. Innovators are already dreaming up the next big thing, and in the future, we can expect smart couches that keep you warm in winter, smart crockery that tracks what you’re eating, and smart toothbrushes helping fight gum disease. IoT is being implemented in the running of businesses and product manufacturing, as well as into new designs and concepts generated by these firms, and according to Vision Mobile, 91% of IoT developers are using open source technology in these IoT projects.

IoT & Open Source Tools

With data from 3,700 IoT developers across 150 counties, Vision Mobile found that eight out of ten IoT developers use open source whenever they can, and six out of ten contribute to open source projects. The cost (free) of these open source tools tends to be the leading driver behind their use, but developers also point to open source tools providing the best support along with the best technology thanks to constant improvements and peer-to-peer support in the open source community. Open source technology is also considered a valuable method for improving skills and learning new technologies.

oliver-pauzetOliver Pauzet, VP of Market Strategy at Sierra Wireless, additionally points out that “closed, proprietary systems can make interoperability difficult.” Inter-brand connection is thus another challenge open source technology addresses, enabling the devices of different developers to communicate. Pauzet points also to the necessity of creating and employing industry standards which will encourage interoperability for greater choice and flexibility. This would mean developers could use cross-brand devices in the development of specific solutions, promising greater innovation along with cost efficiency. Finding an open source license that is “business-friendly,” along with industrial-grade components released as an open standard is Pauzet’s tip for quickly taking IoT concepts from prototype to mass deployment. Says Pauzet, “The fact that so much of the integration, testing, and validation work is already done, they no longer have to invest big money when the time comes to expand on a global scale.”

Open Source Support

Recently announced, Farnell element14 is calling their mangOH Green Open Hardware IoT Platform the first “all-in-one Hardware, Software and Cloud-based solution for Industrial IoT applications.” Allowing developers rapid testing and prototyping of ideas, IoT solutions can purportedly be taken to market within weeks, and the platform is compatible with other open source initiatives including Linear Technology Dust Networks and Texas Instruments ZigBee, NXP thread module, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module.

The range of developers making use of and creating open source tools and solutions is extensive; Postscapes Internet of Things Awards 2015/16 takes a look at some of the best IoT open source projects. Projects nominated include platforms for building IoT gateways as well as interaction with everyday objects, CNC farming machinery, tools for the generation of HTML and mobile apps for IoT, and more. Postscapes believes the open source movement is “championing openness, transparency, and the power of collaborative development”; the range of quality open source IoT projects is the proof.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Cloud is Killing Your BYOD Rollout, But Why?

Cloud is Killing Your BYOD Rollout, But Why?

The BYOD Rollout

CIOs are stuck between a rock and a hard place as demand for cloud applications and flexible mobile device programs have become the norm for most organizations. How do regulated industries such as finance and healthcare navigate these dangerous waters? Cloud and mobile are inseparable trends – cloud apps are built to enable access from any device and most have a mobile application component. With the traditional approach to BYOD security (mobile device management and mobile access management) IT can’t control data flows or wrap cloud apps on unmanaged devices.

byod

IT no longer owns or manages the apps, the devices, or the underlying network infrastructures, yet is still responsible for securing sensitive corporate data. A new approach is needed, a data-centric approach to security built for this new way of doing business. Data-centric security enables enterprises to adopt the cloud apps that their business needs, securing corporate data anywhere it goes—from cloud to device. This article will discuss some of the challenges organizations face in securing BYOD and the cloud and the importance of data-centric security for controlling data flow to the device.

MDM is not working due to privacy concerns

According to a cloud-based analysis of real-world traffic data from 113,000 organizations and more than 20 industry verticals, cloud application adoption across all industries increased more than 71 percent in 2015. Cloud adoption in regulated industries experienced stronger-than-anticipated growth, up from 15 percent in 2014 to 39 percent in 2015.

Based on two surveys examining 2,242 end users and mobile security administrators, a little more than a third (36 percent) of enterprises use MDM solutions. Only nine percent have deployed MAM. For some, the solution has been to gamble with their security. 28 percent of organizations are doing nothing to protect corporate data on mobile devices. 57 percent of employees, and 38 percent of IT professionals are choosing not to participate in their company’s BYOD program because they don’t want their employer’s IT department to have visibility into their personal data and applications.

How a data centric approach provides security as data travels from cloud to device

Data centric BYOD security solutions work entirely in the cloud – with no agents or software installed on the end-user’s device. By proxying traffic between BYOD devices and corporate apps, these solutions are able to embed security into the data itself, eliminating device and operating system dependencies and alleviating employee privacy concerns.

CloudTweaks Comic #100

In a cloud app context, these solutions apply controls in three main areas:

  • At Access—Data centric BYOD solutions allows you to quickly define group and location-based access control and data leakage prevention policies, putting you in control of who, what, where, and when employees access cloud apps from any device. For example, you might want to provide full access to Office 365 from corporate-owned devices, but email only (no OneDrive file sync) from employee-owned devices.
  • On the Device— Secure mobile data without installing MDM software on mobile devices or tracking employees’ personal information. These agentless solutions enforce security policies like PIN code and encryption, and if a device is lost or stolen or an employee leaves the company, you can selectively wipe corporate data. Unlike MDM/MAM, data-centric mobile security has no OS dependencies and works across cloud apps, such as Office 365 and on-premises apps like Exchange.
  • In the Cloud— Many employees will share corporate files to their personal accounts in order to access data from personal devices. Data-centric solutions provide visibility and control over external sharing to control this unexpected form of BYOD access.

What data centric means for regulated industries

Data-centric security allows regulated industries to adopt BYOD and the public cloud without running afoul of compliance mandates. It provides policy-based controls for risky activities like external sharing and BYOD download and sync, ensuring that regulated data doesn’t unnecessarily make its way outside the company. Detailed transaction logging possible with data centric solutions provide detailed visibility and audit trails across all cloud applications, so that audits and investigations are a breeze.

Moreover, independent professionals, such as healthcare workers with multiple hospital affiliations are able to participate in BYOD, even if they don’t want IT to manage their device. Data on lost and stolen mobile devices is protected via OS-level encryption, PIN requirements and remote wipe capabilities.

Conclusion

Organizations are rapidly migrating to cloud applications and must securely enable BYOD access to these apps. Traditional BYOD security methods (MDM/MAM) haven’t been able to adapt to the unique challenges of cloud applications. Data-centric solutions represent the path forward for BYOD in the enterprise, future-proofed for the move to the cloud.

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Rich CampagnaBy Rich Campagna, VP Product, Bitglass

Rich drives product management at Bitglass. Prior to becoming an integral team member at Bitglass in April 2013, he was senior director of product management at F5 Networks, responsible for access security. Rich gained valuable experience in product management and sales engineering at Juniper Networks and at Sprint before working at F5.

Turning Up Cloud Security Before It’s Too Late

Turning Up Cloud Security Before It’s Too Late

Securing The Cloud

By the end of 2015 the cloud computing industry reached an all time high of $120 billion dollars. This has been supported by a number of facts including rapid elasticity of clouds. They can be expanded, redefined and reallocated within a matter of minutes upon business requirements. Cloud computing has changed the dimensions of data storage and access. 21st century is the era of smart devices and cloud storage has given each and every person the chance to store and access data including Visa and MasterCard details from cloud storage.

Not All Is Peachy In Cloudland

The cloud industry is still in its nascent phase and it faces myriads of challenges every day. As a result many people are lead to believe that the sudden boom of the cloud industry is nothing but the sign of a pending doom. Today we are here to investigate the facts which may help us realize why that might just be a certain possibility.

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  • A third party is taking care of important business data

This is a cause for concern for the millions of companies out there. This is very different from the in-house IT services that most companies are used to. The off-premise storage system requires a third party provider who does everything from managing security to synchronizing data. So technically this may cause a deep sense of insecurity among the business owners and IT experts who understand that employing a cloud computing service is nothing but abrogating their own responsibilities to give someone else complete access to sensitive information that keeps their companies alive.

  • Complete chances of violation of privacy

The threats of NSA intrusion and FBI leaks are not just conspiracies anymore. With the FBI employing “concerned third parties” to hack FB profiles and Apple devices, the threat of violation of privacy on a cloud storage platform is very real. As a result many companies are extremely apprehensive about employing cloud services. Security breaches from adversaries has always been a real threat when it comes to cloud storage, but with the intrusion from the governments the IT experts have one more thing to worry about in addition to the security of their company data. So in essence, the threats almost remain the same, it sources of the threats have evolved over time.

  • There is no scale for safety standards

There is no one proven method that makes cloud storage safe. Excessive customization of services has made cloud industry extremely susceptible to violation of confidentiality. So a simple question like, “how safe is cloud storage today?” cannot be answered with simple statistics. The multifaceted nature of the service providers has complicated the very definition of “safe”. In fact there are various levels of safety which can be achieved within a cloud storage system. A number of methods can be employed to protect the sensitive information against breaching attacks. But none of these methods make cloud storage a 100 percent safe.

  • Legal liability concerning cloud industry

One would think employing a third party service to take care of their data storage matters would take one responsibility off their hands. They are not wrong, but they would be foolish enough not to be prepared for the risks associated with cloud storage. Security breaches may be the nightmare of a company’s IT department, but that is nothing compared to the lawsuits which follow. More importantly, these lawsuits are notorious for financial hassles involved and it is almost impossible to win one against your cloud service provider. Since most of these cloud storage services protect themselves by renouncing all responsibilities to keep their user files accessible.

  • What if you lose internet access?

Many leading companies including Amazon and eBay have faced this problem when they have been locked out of their own servers and data due to the sheer lack of connectivity. If you decide to store all your company data in one place you and your staff will be left twiddling your thumbs during a similar situation. This can lead to a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of clients and in super-unlucky situations, obliteration of an entire company’s wealth. This is further exacerbated by the lack of experienced customer support who can guide you through a quagmire of data loss, server shutdowns and loss of sales.

A brief afterword

In conclusion, although cloud computing seems like the in thing at the moment, that does not mean it is here to stay. A company should only opt for cloud storage services if the pros of the service outweigh the cons. For any business the smart thing to do is to be prepared for all the risks before shifting to cloud storage. Technologies and their derivatives are transient, so it will be of no surprise if the cloud industry annihilates itself in case it fails to seal its loopholes.

By Mauricio Prinzlau

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Phone Systems

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Phone Systems

Cloud-Based Phone Systems

Although today’s businesses rely on a host of modern technology, the century-old telephone call is as essential as ever. Of course, businesses today aren’t relying on simple analog voice calls for effective interaction with partners, suppliers, colleagues, and customers, but instead combine the communication tools of mobile, email, texting, video conferencing, social media, and more. Already addressing various business needs such as collaboration and remote working through its flexibility and scalability, the cloud offers numerous benefits for telecommunication; RingCentral is one provider exploiting these advances to deliver a complete cloud communications system.

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Progressive Businesses Use Advanced Solutions

Our highly competitive and fast-paced business environment means only the top performing organizations survive and prosper, and taking advantage of the finest tools technology offers is a significant part of this success. With broadband so widely available via fixed or mobile connections, we’re seeing companies utilizing talent around the world and interacting with customers across the continents. Technological advances promise greater tractability at reduced costs, and the somewhat recent advent of the cloud with its many varied tools is allowing companies to cut out superfluous features, tighten configurations, and effortlessly make use of global resources. Moreover, modern businesses which rely heavily on business software, covering areas which include human resource management, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and more, are moving these systems into the cloud.

The Integration of Business Communication

Though the cost-savings and benefits of efficiency and productivity are tremendous, most forms of communication have not been integrated into these cloud-based applications. Many communication modes still require users to manually log and store information in isolated systems, and methods of integration with business applications have tended to the complicated and expensive. However, with enterprise-class cloud communication systems, companies are quickly taking advantage of the benefits of application and communication integration.

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Cloud communication systems make it easy for colleagues to communicate cross-country and globally no matter the distance between their physical offices and provide the tools of direct transfers and direct extension dialing that teammates who share a physical office have always benefited from. Furthermore, cloud communication systems offer the flexibility that allows employees to change location as necessary and have their calls follow them. They also continue to have access to other company communication features such as voicemail, fax and conferencing, thus ensuring continuous interaction and seamless workflow.

Cloud PBX Benefits

Some of the many benefits of cloud-based phone systems such as that provided by RingCentral include:

  • One corporate telephone number for customers and partners to contact company employees.
  • Reduced or eliminated expenses of installation, upgrading and maintenance of PBX hardware and software at different sites.
  • Simplified phone line management with the elimination of trunk lines, PRIs, and bonded T1s.
  • Streamlined direct transfers and direct extension dialing between business locations.
  • Reduced costs and convolutions of managing Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) across telco networks or other business exchange line connectivity.
  • Eradicates the need for trained staff at each business site, use of third-party support services, or IT staff chasing telephony problems from one location to another.
  • Simplifies the setup of business in new areas, office moves, and user relocation, addition, or changing.
  • Improves group productivity through the enhanced collaboration tools of audio and video conferencing, web meetings, chat, and SMS.
  • Assists in the integration of the very ‘human’ interaction of communication with business applications and IT systems.

The First Open, Self-Service Cloud Communication Platform

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Already providing guided implementation, extensive online resources, personal connections, and all-inclusive innovative upgrades, RingCentral has opened their platform to developers, partners and customers for the first self-service, open platform allowing businesses to “integrate robust communications capabilities into key enterprise applications.” Supporting businesses of all sizes, the RingCentral Connect Platform offers cloud PBX with rich collaboration features such as screen sharing and video conferencing and additionally integrates with other cloud applications. And now with the extensive SDK, developers can incorporate these capabilities into custom applications.

As adoption of cloud-based business applications escalates, so too does the need for integrated business communication solutions. Flourishing organizations are now making use cloud PBX, collaboration solutions, and customizable communication tools, and RingCentral’s SaaS platform is one of the industry-leading suites essential for top performing businesses.

This article has been sponsored by RingCentral, provider of state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure.

By Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Computing Price War Rages On

Cloud Computing Price War Rages On

Cloud Computing Price War There’s little question that the business world is a competitive place, but probably no area in business truly defines cutthroat quite like cloud computing. At the moment, we are witnessing a heated price war pitting some of the top cloud providers against each other, all in a big way to attract…

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Cloud Infographic – Big Data Analytics Trends

Cloud Infographic – Big Data Analytics Trends

Big Data Analytics Trends As data information and cloud computing continues to work together, the need for data analytics continues to grow. Many tech firms predict that big data volume will grow steadily 40% per year and in 2020, will grow up to 50 times that. This growth will also bring a number of cost…

Is The Fintech Industry The Next Tech Bubble?

Is The Fintech Industry The Next Tech Bubble?

The Fintech Industry Banks offered a wide variety of services such as payments, money transfers, wealth management, selling insurance, etc. over the years. While banks have expanded the number of services they offer, their core still remains credit and interest. Many experts believe that since banks offered such a wide multitude of services, they have…

Big Data and Financial Services – Security Threat or Massive Opportunity?

Big Data and Financial Services – Security Threat or Massive Opportunity?

Big Data and Financial Services Cloud Banking Insights Series focuses on big data in the financial services industry and whether it is a security threat or actually a massive opportunity. How does big data fit into an overall cloud strategy? Most FI’s have a positive mind-set towards cloud IT consumption as it not only enables…

How Your Startup Can Benefit From Cloud Computing And Growth Hacking

How Your Startup Can Benefit From Cloud Computing And Growth Hacking

Ambitious Startups An oft-quoted statistic, 50% of new businesses fail within five years. And the culling of startups is even more dramatic, with an estimated nine out of ten folding. But to quote Steve Jobs, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” So while…

Why Cloud Compliance Doesn’t Need To Be So Overly Complicated

Why Cloud Compliance Doesn’t Need To Be So Overly Complicated

Cloud Compliance  Regulatory compliance is an issue that has not only weighed heavily on the minds of executives, security and audit teams, but also today, even end users. Public cloud adds more complexity when varying degrees of infrastructure (depending on the cloud model) and data fall out of the hands of the company and into…

What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

Selecting The Right Cloud Services Provider How to find the right partner for cloud adoption on an enterprise scale The cloud is capable of delivering many benefits, enabling greater collaboration, business agility, and speed to market. Cloud adoption in the enterprise has been growing fast. Worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow at a…

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

Cloud Computing Education The benefits of cloud computing are being recognized in businesses and institutions across the board, with almost 90 percent of organizations currently using some kind of cloud-based application. The immediate benefits of cloud computing are obvious: cloud-based applications reduce infrastructure and IT costs, increase accessibility, enable collaboration, and allow organizations more flexibility…

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

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

5 Essential Cloud Skills Cloud technology has completely changed the infrastructure and internal landscape of both small businesses and large corporations alike. No professionals in any industry understand this better than IT pros. In a cutthroat field like IT, candidates have to be multi-faceted and well-versed in the cloud universe. Employers want to know that…

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Verizon Cloud Report Enterprises using the cloud, even for mission-critical projects, is no longer new or unusual. It’s now firmly established as a reliable workhorse for an organization and one that can deliver great value and drive transformation. That’s according to a new report from Verizon entitled “State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016.” which…

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Machine Learning and Data Scientists In a recent study, almost all the businesses surveyed stated that big data analytics were fundamental to their business strategies. Although the field of computer and information research scientists is growing faster than any other occupation, the increasing applicability of data science across business sectors is leading to an exponential…

Are Cloud Solutions Secure Enough Out-of-the-box?

Are Cloud Solutions Secure Enough Out-of-the-box?

Out-of-the-box Cloud Solutions Although people may argue that data is not safe in the Cloud because using cloud infrastructure requires trusting another party to look after mission critical data, cloud services actually are more secure than legacy systems. In fact, a recent study on the state of cloud security in the enterprise market revealed that…

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and orchestration. Although it has been mature for decades, the network security market had to transform rapidly with the advent of the BYOD trend and emergence of the cloud, which swept enterprises a few years ago.…

How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

How To Overcome Data Insecurity In The Cloud

Data Insecurity In The Cloud Today’s escalating attacks, vulnerabilities, breaches, and losses have cut deeply across organizations and captured the attention of, regulators, investors and most importantly customers. In many cases such incidents have completely eroded customer trust in a company, its services and its employees. The challenge of ensuring data security is far more…

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Customers in the Cloud Global enterprises in every industry are increasingly turning to cloud-based innovators like Salesforce, ServiceNow, WorkDay and Aria, to handle critical systems like billing, IT services, HCM and CRM. One need look no further than Salesforce’s and Amazon’s most recent earnings report, to see this indeed is not a passing fad, but…

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

The Catch 22 The very same year Marc Andreessen famously said that software was eating the world, the Chief Information Officer of the United States was announcing a major Cloud First goal. That was 2011. Five years later, as both the private and public sectors continue to adopt cloud-based software services, we’re interested in this…

Technology Influencer in Chief: 5 Steps to Success for Today’s CMOs

Technology Influencer in Chief: 5 Steps to Success for Today’s CMOs

Success for Today’s CMOs Being a CMO is an exhilarating experience – it’s a lot like running a triathlon and then following it with a base jump. Not only do you play an active role in building a company and brand, but the decisions you make have direct impact on the company’s business outcomes for…

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…

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Five Requirements for Supporting a Connected Workforce It used to be that enterprises dictated how workers spent their day: stuck in a cubicle, tied to an enterprise-mandated computer, an enterprise-mandated desk phone with mysterious buttons, and perhaps an enterprise-mandated mobile phone if they traveled. All that is history. Today, a modern workforce is dictating how…