Category Archives: Technology

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 2

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 2

Incident Response Planning – Part 2

Continued from Part 1… As an estimated 50 million consumers were yet to be informed more than a month after the breach discovery, a Senate health committee had to intervene. But that wasn’t the end of Anthem’s missteps — it took customer’s days after calling a dedicated phone line to receive a call back…

What Post-Breach Response ‘Should’ Have Looked Like

As Verizon so aptly observed in its soldier analogy, it’s challenging to defend your perimeter if you don’t know what to expect. There’s no doubt that some of the incident-response scenarios that played out in the public eye would have been different if the companies had been better prepared to not just address a breach but also plan for the right type of scale.

In eBay’s case, for example, knowing that there is no such thing as a foolproof security might have led them to an “assume compromise” philosophy. Which means having a clear understanding of where the data resides, and what risk each category of data is exposed to, based on what systems are compromised. Refusing to give an estimate a week after a breach is the first ingredient in the recipe of a PR disaster.

Socil Media

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Social Media Voice

The second ingredient in that recipe is ignoring your own social media channels — eBay’s reaction should have been immediate in urging customers to change passwords, with a promise of more information to come as soon as details were available. One component of a communications plan in a crisis like a data breach is a handful of pre-approved templates, with ready-to-go messaging, that can be immediately disseminated to stakeholders. These messages need not alarm customers but should be transparent in stating that a potential breach was being investigated and that as a precaution customers should change passwords for their protection.

Another channel that eBay should have quickly used was its own website — and not by posting confusing, hard-to-see banners. That same collection of templates in the crisis communication plan should have had a succinct but transparent message about a potential breach and what the company was doing to secure the customer’s information.

The great thing about a well-thought-out plan is that it involves various internal and external teams, not just IT or PR but everyone from legal to risk. In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to know which teams should be activated — but with advance planning, this “all hands on deck” scenario will unfold much smoother.

Basic Elements of an Incident-Response Plan

Even with the increased awareness about cybersecurity risk at the BOD and C-suite level, organizations are still lagging in planning for breaches. In its an annual Global Information Security Survey, EY found that of the 1,755 executives who responded, only 43 percent had formal incident response programs for their organizations. Worse yet, only 7 percent of those that had plans integrated a comprehensive approach that included third-party vendors, law enforcement and playbooks. Much work remains to be done in this regard.

hacks

Let’s look at some basic components of a plan and rewrite the Anthem response scenario to show how things could have played out differently.

  1. Start with an inventory of data — what types of data your company collects, processes and stores; where it’s stored and how it’s transmitted; who has access both in-house and at third-party contractors, and so on. In our Anthem scenario, with a precise inventory, the insurance provider would know immediately that among the impacted stakeholders are third-party customers, and the risk would be communicated to stakeholders accordingly.
  1. Outline your procedures for monitoring access and conduct regular audits. While monitoring may be mostly an IT concern, it should be spelled out in your plan because it involves cross-company functions and it’s one of the steps that determines the extent of your breach.

Take advantage of the built-in cybersecurity capability of vendors like Salesforce, which not only offers robust security but also provides training for your employees.

  1. Secure the infrastructure. This goes hand in hand with inventorying and monitoring. It should already be part of your daily IT routine but should also be integrated into the master response plan, with additional post-breach steps such as contacting outside forensic investigators.
  1. Create your crisis-communications plan. As previously discussed, this plan should include exact messaging, pre-approved and ready to go with a few “fill in the blank” areas, for different types of incidents. This should also include the categories of recipients for the communications, the delivery schedule and dissemination vehicles (typically more than one channel).

Based on this plan, in the case of the ideal Anthem response, a process would be in place to reach not only its 80 million employees and customers but also its various associates, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, who were also compromised. Additionally, the digital media team would go all-hands-on-deck to update website and social media information, monitor social channels and respond to common questions and concerns. Plus, an external vendor would be activated temporarily to fill a 24/7, designated customer service center fielding calls related to the breach and signing up customers for credit monitoring.

  1. Assess the legal risks. These are not just based on government regulations and other legal obligations. The possibility of lawsuits is very real, and your post-breach actions can add fuel to the fire if not properly executed. It’s a good idea to engage not just your regular counsel but an outside firm that specializes in breaches, and begin that engagement in the planning stage. This will allow you to begin your public disclosure and mitigation immediately instead of waiting to start a process.

This list is just a basic starting point. Incident-response plans are highly tailored to the individual organization, but best practices should be used when developing them. Not unlike a marketing plan or HR hiring manual, this plan is an important tool that helps address your organization’s success. When a breach happens, you’re likely not going to be less stressed with a plan in hand, but you will know exactly how to proceed without second-guessing your actions and missing critical steps.

By Sekhar Sarukkai

Cloud Computing Then & Now

Cloud Computing Then & Now

The Evolving Cloud 

From as early as the onset of modern computing, the possibility of resource distribution has been explored. Today’s cloud computing environment goes well beyond what most could even have imagined at the birth of modern computing and innovation in the field isn’t slowing.

A Brief History

Matillion’s interactive timeline of cloud begins with the first stored-program computer, the Manchester Baby, developed in 1947. Quickly, time sharing became necessary as the 250 computers available in 1955 were rented to users in efforts to ensure as little downtime as possible. When packet switching was introduced in 1960, the foundation for resource sharing and the internet was laid and shortly thereafter, in a speech at MIT, John McCarthy suggested that computer resources would one day be shared like any other service.

cloud-past-future

Through the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, the world saw the development of the internet and mainstreaming of computers, and in 1996 the term cloud computing was first used by George Favaloro and Sean O’Sullivan, executives at Compaq Computer. During the 2000s mobile and smartphone technology took off and very quickly access to the cloud was common. Of course, the last five years have seen the greatest advances in cloud computing, as seemingly with all technology, it develops exponentially. Global giants such as Amazon, Google, and Apple rely heavily on the cloud, and in 2013 it was estimated global spending on cloud services reached $47 billion.

The Evolution

From digital assistants to smart cars to virtual reality to the internet of things, all of the latest modernizations rely on cloud technology. But so too do most of the traditional services individuals and organizations rely on. Although we’ve seen new products and services focused on managing money, the traditional banking institutions are developing their own services and the environment is nearly unrecognizable to that of ten years ago. Who can even imagine a world without internet banking?

banking-vault

Healthcare similarly has advanced, and not only in the laboratories and offices of pioneering doctors and scientists. Large hospital and patient management institutions are taking up the reigns and following suit, albeit more slowly, and patient care programs are being implemented to combine the benefits of modern devices such as wearables with healthcare regimens. Already two years ago, an HIMSS Analytics survey of cloud adoption in healthcare organizations found 83% of those surveyed were using cloud services. Common uses included the hosting of clinical applications and data, health information exchange, and backup and data recovery.

And the benefits cloud computing promises education are immense. Already, cloud technology is changing the way students learn and extending access to schooling into remote and impoverished areas. Though schools and universities are adopting cloud technologies themselves, many startups such as Education Modified, Kiko Labs, and HSTRY, are coming up with new methods and platforms which enhance and further learning.

Into the Future

It’s predicted that the cloud service market will be worth around $108 billion next year, and by 2020 the number of connected devices worldwide is expected to reach 25 billion. Further estimates suggest cloud computing offers green benefits too, and US organizations moving to the cloud before 2020 will save $12.3 billion in energy costs. Gartner points to a hybrid cloud infrastructure in the coming years, and says Ed Anderson, “I start to think of a multi-cloud environment as a foundation for a next wave of applications.” And according to Forrester Research, we’re on the cusp of the second wave of cloud computing, with service providers focused on next-gen applications that require omnichannel support, time-based analytics, and micro service support. The barrier to entering the cloud seems likely to shrink significantly due to adjusted compliance requirements and regulations, and although security already is a primary focus, with the expansion of cloud, its importance will be magnified. Finally, due to the high demand for cloud services, service providers will soon, if not already, be building next-generation architecture on hyper-converged platforms further reducing maintenance costs and speeding up scalability.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Sensors Magazine Reveals 2016 “Best of Sensors Expo” Award Finalists

Sensors Magazine Reveals 2016 “Best of Sensors Expo” Award Finalists

Sensors Magazine Award Finalists

Winners Across Innovation and Applications to Be Revealed June 22nd at the 2016 Sensors Expo & Conference

NEWTON, MA–(Marketwired – Jun 7, 2016)Sensors Expo & Conference (#Sensors16), the nation’s leading event focusing exclusively on sensors and sensor-integrated systems, in conjunction with Sensors Magazine, announced today the finalists of the 2016 Best of Sensors Expo Awards. The competition highlights the advances in both innovations and real-world applications of sensors. Winners of the prestigious awards will be revealed by the Executive Editor of Sensors Magazine, Mat Dirjish, at Sensors Expo & Conference on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. in the Sensors Live Theater. This year’s awards program is sponsored by Exosite and NimbeLink. For more information, visit www.sensorsexpo.com.

Finalists were selected across two categories. The “Innovation” award seeks to recognize advances in sensor and sensor-related technologies, either in the form of novel technologies or significant improvements in existing technologies. The “Application” award is designed to feature sensor applications, whether commercial or experimental. The goal is to recognize sensor use in the wider world that are distinctive and have the potential to change the way people work or serve a real industry need.

Innovation Award finalists include:

  • ams AG
  • Analog Devices
  • B-Scada, Inc.
  • Bosch Sensortec GmbH
  • Jewell Instruments
  • Libelium
  • NimbeLink
  • Omega Engineering, Inc.
  • Phase IV Engineering
  • Sensirion AG
  • Siargo, Inc.
  • TE Connectivity
  • Texas Instruments

Application Award finalists include:

  • Aichi Steel Corporation
  • colibrys LTD
  • First Sensor AG
  • Libelium Comunicaciones Distribuidas S.L.
  • LMI Technologies
  • Monnit
  • NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC)
  • NimbeLink
  • OrthoSensor, Inc.
  • Parker Hannifin
  • Pico Technology
  • ROHM
  • TE Connectivity

For more information on the award program, please visit: http://www.sensorsmag.com/best-sensors-expo-award-program-overview.

About Sensors Expo & Conference
Sensors Expo & Conference is widely known as one of the world’s largest and most important gatherings of engineers and scientists involved in the development and deployment of sensor systems. The 2016 event is taking place June 21-23 with Pre-Conference Symposia being held on Tuesday, June 21 and Conference and Exhibits open Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23. For more information, visit www.sensorsexpo.com. Sensors Expo & Conference is produced and managed by Questex LLC, a global, diversified business-to-business integrated media and information provider, headquartered in Newton, MA. For more information, visit www.questex.com.

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Incident Response Planning – Part 1

The topic of cybersecurity has become part of the boardroom agendas in the last couple of years, and not surprisingly — these days, it’s almost impossible to read news headlines without noticing yet another story about a data breach. As cybersecurity shifts from being a strictly IT issue to being a mission-critical component, BODs are also becoming more interested in what their organizations are doing to plan their incident response.

Cybersecurity professionals are smart to use the philosophy of “assumed compromise” — knowing that no matter how robust the defenses, they will be breached. Just like disaster preparedness helps in the aftermath of a major earthquake, hurricane or another natural calamity, incident-response planning helps organizations prepare in advance for the aftermath of a data breach.

In its recently released “2016 Data Breach Investigations Report,” Verizon compared being part of a infosec team to being a soldier who’s tasked to guard a hill at all costs, but without knowing who the enemy is, what it looks like, where it’s coming from and when. And to make matters worse, that soldier only has an old rifle with a few ammunition rounds.

Incident Response Planning

That is certainly a fitting description of today’s cybersecurity threat landscape. Using this analogy, now imagine this soldier has extensively practiced a variety of scenarios on what an attack “may” look like, and the steps he needs to do when it does happen, regardless of how the attack plays out. This soldier still doesn’t have any more specific details about the enemy or the impending attack, but he is much better equipped for whatever unknown comes his way. That is exactly what an incident-response plan does.

You don’t have to look hard for statistics to know why you need this plan: Last year, the number of discovered zero-day vulnerabilities more than doubled from 2014, according to the 2016 Internet Security Risk Report, newly released from Symantec. In other words, a new zero-day vulnerability popped up every week, on average. At the same time, McAfee Labs whitepaper report predicts a significant shift in the next five yearstoward new threats that are more difficult to detect, including file-less attacks, exploits of remote shell and remote control protocols, encrypted infiltrations and credential theft.”

The size of the organization doesn’t matter, as bad actors don’t discriminate when they look for the lowest-hanging fruit. In its 2015 Internet Security Threat Report, Symantec found a 40 percent increase in the number of large companies targeted compared to the year before — with five of six companies becoming a target. But small businesses aren’t doing any better: In its 2015 Year-End Economic Report, the National Small Business Association found that 63 percent of the businesses fell victim of cyberattacks in the past year. Since almost 90 percent of attacks are driven by financial motivation or espionage (based on the 2016 Verizon study), if you collect and store any type of information — employee records, customer data, intellectual property etc. — you’re on the cybercriminals’ radar.

What Not To Do After an Incident

common_cyber_attacks

(Image Source: https://www.cert.gov.uk)

If you find yourself in the middle of a cyberattack without a plan, you’re going to scramble as fast as you can, and not just from a tactical IT standpoint to secure your information infrastructure as fast as you can. That’s just step one. If sensitive data was breached, you have a long road ahead — notifying multiple layers of stakeholders, being inundated by customer and media calls, responding to any government inquiries, offering mitigation such as credit monitoring and potentially bracing for lawsuits. When you are in crisis mode, it’s difficult to think strategically about all these phases — it’s unlikely you’ll even know all the ramifications if you’ve never gone through an incident like this before.

Incident Response 

That’s where incident-response planning comes in. You can give yourself ample time to consider potential scenarios and then train your employees — even taking them through actual drills and tabletop scenarios.

Look at some of the big companies’ responses to appreciate why a well-planned out response is necessary. In many of the breaches we’ve seen in the past two or three years, the post-breach actions didn’t play out as well as they should have, resulting in PR nightmares.

Target, for example, took a week to announce its data breach in 2013, in the middle of the peak shopping season, as news began to hit customers through media reports. A gridlocked customer service line and a negative social media outburst were just some of the consequences — to say nothing of the class-action suit that eventually followed, costing the company $10 million in customer settlements and another $6.75 million in legal costs. As Target struggled to contain the damage and set up an official breach-communication website, scammers acted quickly to take advantage of the chaos — sending out fake messages that claimed to be from the company.

EBay topped Target by not only taking three months to realize a breach (which is not that uncommon) but also waiting for two weeks after that to notify customers. What followed, however, was awkward for such a big player: The first announcement was posted on ebayinc.com, a little-known corporate website and when it finally made its way to the eBay ecommerce site, it only went as far as telling users to change passwords, without any explanation. Meanwhile, PayPal customers were confused because a banner posted on that website didn’t clarify whether PayPal accounts were compromised as well.

While eBay was nonchalant in social media — simply responding to a storm of complaints with a tweet saying it would take a while for all customers to receive the password-resetting email — it worked really hard to downplay the magnitude of the breach. Even going so far as refusing to give an estimate, based on its best knowledge, on the number of records potentially affected.

Anthem was also seemingly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the impact from its data breach. It took the company five days to announce a breach (which took two months to discover) and quite some time to assess the scale and communicate with stakeholders. Its original disclosure, in February 2014, put the number of records potentially stolen by hackers at 37.5 million, but then it more than doubled that estimate, 20 days later, to 78.8 million.

As an estimated 50 million consumers were yet to be informed more than a month after the breach discovery, a Senate health committee had to intervene. But that wasn’t the end of Anthem’s missteps — it took customer’s days after calling a dedicated phone line to receive a call back…

What Post-Breach Response ‘Should’ Have Looked Like…

Read Part 2

By Sekhar Sarukkai

Fintech – Programs, Events and the Future

Fintech – Programs, Events and the Future

Fintech Programs and Events

The Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) has just launched a fintech collaborators program that aims to bring financial and tech industry leaders together. The hope is that this new program will encourage fintech innovation and collaboration while mapping out a successful future.

Tech Collaborator

Projects from FSR’s Tech Collaborator will enable technology and financial firms to jointly develop best practices and guidelines in efforts to advance security and efficiency. The first project is the study of the integration of wearables and creation of best practices for securing, moving, and accessing sensitive ‘data-in-motion’ in a mobile financial services world, and the second the development of standards or best practices for data security, integrity, and accessibility in the cloud. Once the results of these two projects are revealed this fall, two new projects will be announced with possible topics including blockchain/distributed ledger, identity proofing, and the internet of things (IoT). Says Tim Pawlenty, FSR CEO, “Technology is changing the world and what customers demand at lightning speed. Financial and technology companies competing and forming partnerships benefits consumers and we look forward to creating forums to enhance these opportunities.”

FinTech Ideas Festival

fintech-growth

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

FSR has also introduced its FinTech Ideas Festival bringing together CEO-level leaders in the financial and technology sphere from across the globe. Partnering with TechNet, the exclusive invitation-only event for CEOs is set for January 2017 and will focus on artificial intelligence, biometrics, cybersecurity, data access and security in the cloud, financial inclusion, the future of the workforce, IoT and big data, managing regulations in the future, and payments. Ajay Banga, President and CEO of MasterCard, remarks, “Sometimes the best ideas come about when people with different perspectives and experience engage in new ways. We see the FinTech Ideas Festival as a way to accelerate our respective and new efforts to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

The Future of Fintech

The Singularity University Exponential Finance Conference takes place in New York from June 7th-8th, an opportunity to measure how disruptive technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technologies are affecting the financial industry. According to co-moderator of the event, Bob Pisani, the massive growth of investment in private tech firms over the last five years has encouraged the creation of startups determined to steal market share from traditional financial institutions. However, though slower to react, banks and other conventional financial institutions “are not lying down.”

According to Pisani, two issues are driving fintech: the control of customer relationships and cutting costs in a low growth environment. He further points to three areas of growth including mobile money, consumer lending, and personal finance management. It’s unlikely though that any of the ‘easy money’ is left in the industry. Citigroup estimates that only 1% of North American banking revenue has migrated to a digital model, but believes that will increase to 10% in 2020 and 17% in 2023. Though it has previously been predicted that bank branches would decline dramatically, the drop off so far has been a modest 15% since 2007. Today it seems far more likely that the large financial and banking institutions will duke it out with the likes of PayPal, ApplePay, Betterment, and Lending Club. For the consumer, there could be nothing better.

Top Fintech Organizations

Fintech Innovators believes the financial services industry is ‘facing a wave of digital disruption that is starting to reshape the sector,’ and provides the Fintech 100 to celebrate the top companies in the space. Their list includes 50 leading established players and 50 emerging stars. Included in the leaders are ZhongAn, tailoring insurance, Oscar for health insurance, and Wealthfront for investment, while upcoming organizations such as Avoka provide frictionless digital sales and service, Bankable offers banking as a service, and BioCatch promises ‘less friction, less fraud.’ Though the fintech industry certainly isn’t providing easy pickings any longer, the innovators and long-established institutions are ensuring the space advances and improves.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Intel Targets Autonomous Cars and IoT With New Acquisition

Intel Targets Autonomous Cars and IoT With New Acquisition

Intel Targets Autonomous Cars

To the casual observer, Intel may have looked like it was in trouble, after getting rid of nearly 12,000 jobs this year alone and cutting back on many lines of business that they have since deemed unnecessary, but that’s not stopping them from investing in new start ups and getting a foothold in the worlds of IoT and autonomous cars.

IoT, or the Internet of Things, is a growing movement to make as many normally mundane objects ‘smart’ or connected to the internet. Items like clothes washers and refrigerators are being designed with internet connectivity and smart functions that make it easier to use, especially for those of us who aren’t always home. This, coupled with the growing popularity of autonomous cars and/or cars with autonomous functions, provides the perfect niche for Intel and could create an era of unprecedented growth for the tech giant.

IoT-Source

Acquisitions

Intel’s latest acquisition is computer vision company Itseez Inc, a small tech startup that specializes in technologies that allow computers to obtain and process visual information. This is ideal for Intel’s upcoming plans to branch out into the world of autonomous and self-driving cars.

Itseez’s technology will likely be used to help Intel compete with Google, Tesla, and other similar companies that are already making names for themselves in the self-driving car arena. The idea is to allow these autonomous vehicles to collect visual information and make decision on how to act based on that information.

While this may seem like a great advance in technology, it does raise the same ethical dilemma that has been facing other autonomous car giants – what happens when the laws of robotics and ethics don’t always match up?

Ethical Dilemmas

There is a common ethical dilemma that comes up when discussing autonomous cars and the programs that drive them – when these programs are created by humans and subject to human error, how can we expect them to make the right decision when lives are on the line?

security-concerns

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Consider this scenario: You’re riding as the passenger in an autonomous vehicle. Ahead of you on the road is a pedestrian. There is no way for you to safely avoid the pedestrian without crashing the vehicle. What decision does the autonomous car make – to strike and potentially kill the pedestrian, or to crash the vehicle and potentially kill it’s passenger?

Even less life-threatening scenarios can potentially cause a problem, such as the recent crash between a Google self-driving car and a bus, where both the car’s driver and the autonomous programming made an incorrect assumption leading to a collision between the two vehicles.

This and other similar scenarios are giving lawmakers and manufacturers alike serious pause, because without an acceptable answer to these issues, there is no way to make autonomous cars truly safe.

Introducing advanced computer vision technology like the innovations that Itseez can offer mean that we’re one step closer to creating a safer autonomous car. The advances in car autonomy are also one of the first major steps toward creating an environment steeped in the IoT.

IoT Advances

This isn’t the first step that Intel has taken toward becoming an IoT superpower. Earlier in 2016, the company acquired Yogitech, an Italian company that focuses on “functional safety for superconductors.” In a nutshell, by purchasing Yogitech, Intel acquired the tools that it needs to make sure all the chips in the autonomous vehicles work just the way they’re supposed to.

This is just the beginning.

Intel is planning on turning its Internet of Things niche into an empire, leading to an integration of 50 billion devices and the possibility of trillions of dollars in economic impact by 2020 – a mere 4 years away.

Can They Do It?

Can Intel pull it off? Definitely, if the market continues to move the way that it has for the past couple of years. People love to be connected to everything – how many of you have a home security system that you can access in real time from your smartphone or a wifi-enabled thermostat that allows you to adjust your home’s temperature while you’re on your commute home?

This desire for internet enabled appliances and an increased level of connectivity will only continue to grow, and if Intel has gotten its toe in the door in time, the company could achieve everything that it has promised and more.

By Kayla Matthews

Norway Looking To Eliminate Gas Powered Vehicles By 2025

Norway Looking To Eliminate Gas Powered Vehicles By 2025

Future Vehicles

One tweet by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has given fans of electric vehicles the kind of news they never could have imagined just a few years ago.

Musk tweeted out the front page of a Norwegian newspaper “Dagens Naeringsliv” and wrote: “Just heard that Norway will ban sales of fuel cars by 2025. You guys Rock!!

The Norwegian headline says four political parties have agreed on an energy message: “Stop sales of diesel and gasoline vehicles in 2025.

The question is whether or not Norway has officially signed off on a ban of gas-powered cars nine years from now. While the country offers some of the biggest tax incentives in Europe to buyers of electric vehicles, the majority of cars and vans sold each year are gasoline and diesel powered…

Read Full Article Source: CNBC

Small Businesses CAN Compete Using The Cloud

Small Businesses CAN Compete Using The Cloud

Small Businesses Cloud

In the past, small business owners had to either run applications or software that was downloaded physically onto a computer. Not only was this process pricey, it’s now a relic of the past that can put your business as a major disadvantage.

Thanks to the cloud, business owners access information on any device, anywhere in the world. For example, you can update your social channels, send out invoices, or communicate better with team members. This makes running your business run more efficient so you can stay-on-top of projects without having to be sitting behind a computer.

If you’re still on the fence about making the move to the cloud, here are five benefits that your small business will experience after making the switch.

1. Increased Mobility, Flexibility, and Collaboration

Did you know that around 61% of employees have reported that they work outside of the office at least part of the time? That stat reflects how today’s workforces is rapidly evolving into one that is constantly on the move. Whether if it’s a freelancer working remotely or an executive who needs to collaborate with team member while traveling, cloud-based applications have made it more convenient to access, share, and collaborate on information and complete tasks no matter where you are in the world.

human-business

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Besides the flexibility to work and collaborate anywhere in the world, cloud-based applications can be scaled either up or down depending on the needs of your cloud capacity. They can also be configured to meet the needs of your business, whether if that’s for payroll or recruiting.

Because of this agility, cloud computing can give you a competitive edge. Because of that, it’s not shocking that ‘operational agility’ was listed as a top driver by CIOs and IT Directors in adopting the cloud.

2. More Secure

There are misconceptions that cloud-based applications are less secure than server-based programs. However, server-based programs are actually more vulnerable to a number of security concerns like viruses, identity theft, data loss, and intellectual property theft.

In reality, the cloud provides exceptional security for two reasons. For starters, all of your data is backed-up offsite. This means that you’re drastically reducing the chances of hackers breaching your system and exposing your data to potential viruses.

Secondly, as noted in Forbes, cloud technologies are doing “more than ever to invest in ensuring the security of customer data.” This includes “security tools and controls such as physical protection, advanced encryption, multi-factor authentication, automatic backup, identity and access management controls.” Furthermore, “cloud providers are regularly executing penetration testing and enable continuous auditing for complete visibility of the infrastructure” so that they meet “industry standards and regulations like HIPAA or PCI DSS.

3. Disaster Recovery

To be fair, there’s still a chance for security breaches to occur in the cloud. However, if this does happen the cloud allows you to easily get your business back-up and running.

In fact, cloud-based applications have been designed to “save time, avoid capital expense, and leverage third-party expertise.” Because of this, the Aberdeen Group have found that small businesses “are more than 2-times more likely than either Mid-Sized organizations or Large enterprises to have implemented cloud-based backup and recovery solutions.”

4. Cost Efficient

Using cloud-based application can also provide your business with big savings. For example, instead of purchasing expensive hardware that requires installing, updating, and maintaining, you can invest in software that will ultimately reduce costs like additional IT staff. Suppliers automatically take care of maintenance and updates. In fact, it’s been found that “cloud implementations can take up to 50% less time, and total cost of ownership can be up to 46% cheaper.”

Another way that the cloud can save your business is that you pay as you go since most suppliers use a subscription-based models that are based on your specific needs, as opposed to making a hefty investment in hardware.

5. Storage Capabilities Based on Your Needs

As mentioned previously, cloud-based applications give you the ability to scale up or down based on your needs. If your business grows, then you’re probably going to start generating more data and hire more team member. In this case, you’ll need to expand your storage. Instead of purchasing new hardware, you can increase your storage at a fraction of the cost.

Switching over to the cloud makes sense for small business owners today if they want to maintain a competitive edge and increase their productivity at a reasonable price.

What benefits have you experienced by moving to the cloud?

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ericBy Eric Hebert

Eric is the senior marketing strategist for evolvor.com, where he helps educate business owners about digital marketing. Some of his work has appeared on Entrepreneur, Search Engine Journal, and ClickZ.

 

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The Internet of Things Lifts Off To The Cloud

The Internet of Things Lifts Off To The Cloud

The Staggering Size And Potential Of The Internet of Things Here’s a quick statistic that will blow your mind and give you a glimpse into the future. When you break that down, it translates to 127 new devices online every second. In only a decade from now, every single vehicle on earth will be connected…

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…

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have…

Cloud Computing Checklist For Startups

Cloud Computing Checklist For Startups

Checklist For Startups  There are many people who aspire to do great things in this world and see new technologies such as Cloud computing and Internet of Things as a tremendous offering to help bridge and showcase their ideas. The Time Is Now This is a perfect time for highly ambitious startups to make some…

Moving Your Enterprise Apps To The Cloud Is A Business Decision

Moving Your Enterprise Apps To The Cloud Is A Business Decision

Moving Your Enterprise Apps Whether it be enterprise apps or any other, if there is any heavy data that is going to be transacted in and through an app, then affiliating it with the Cloud becomes a must. And then an important question arises: How do you decide when to integrate your enterprise app with…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive The online (or cloud) storage business has always been a really interesting industry. When we started Box in 2005, it was a somewhat untouchable category of technology, perceived to be a commodity service with low margins and little consumer willingness to pay. All three of these factors remain today, but with…

Adopting A Cohesive GRC Mindset For Cloud Security

Adopting A Cohesive GRC Mindset For Cloud Security

Cloud Security Mindset Businesses are becoming wise to the compelling benefits of cloud computing. When adopting cloud, they need a high level of confidence in how it will be risk-managed and controlled, to preserve the security of their information and integrity of their operations. Cloud implementation is sometimes built up over time in a business,…

3 Keys To Keeping Your Online Data Accessible

3 Keys To Keeping Your Online Data Accessible

Online Data Data storage is often a real headache for businesses. Additionally, the shift to the cloud in response to storage challenges has caused security teams to struggle to reorient, leaving 49 percent of organizations doubting their experts’ ability to adapt. Even so, decision makers should not put off moving from old legacy systems to…

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

Individuals and Password-Sharing With the 1980s came the explosion of computing. In 1980, the Commodore ushered in the advent of home computing. Time magazine declared 1982 was “The Year of the Computer.” By 1983, there were an estimated 10 million personal computers in the United States alone. As soon as computers became popular, the federal government…

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…

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

What the Dyn DDoS Attacks Taught Us About Cloud-Only EFSS

DDoS Attacks October 21st, 2016 went into the annals of Internet history for the large scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that made popular Internet properties like Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify and Box inaccessible to many users in the US. The DDoS attack happened in three waves targeting DNS service provider Dyn, resulting in a total of about…

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

How to Identify and Authenticate in the Expanding IoT Ecosystem It is a necessity to protect IoT devices and their associated data. As the IoT ecosystem continues to expand, the need to create an identity to newly-connected things is becoming increasingly crucial. These ‘things’ can include anything from basic sensors and gateways to industrial controls…

Don’t Be Intimidated By Data Governance

Don’t Be Intimidated By Data Governance

Data Governance Data governance, the understanding of the raw data of an organization is an area IT departments have historically viewed as a lose-lose proposition. Not doing anything means organizations run the risk of data loss, data breaches and data anarchy – no control, no oversight – the Wild West with IT is just hoping…