Technology

5 Disaster Recovery Issues to Remember Before a Crisis

5 Disaster Recovery Issues to Remember Before a Crisis

Life is unpredictable. Accidents happen. Disaster can strike when we least expect it.

When your business is on the line, the effects of these disasters are significant. Even just a few hours of downtime can drastically affect a business’s profitability and security. Every second counts, and business owners must have strategies in place to ensure business continuity when problems arise.

For legal firms storing confidential data, business continuity relies on data backup and recovery systems. And while there are plenty of recovery solutions out there these days, one type stands above the rest—cloud management.

Disaster Considerations

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is a relatively new strategy for maintaining business continuity. It is no secret that cloud-based solutions offer more flexibility and customization than most legacy systems, but legal firms looking to deploy a more advanced disaster recovery solution must remember several important considerations:

  • Cost/Benefit Analysis – Every business has a budget. Before choosing a solution, make sure it fits within the scope of your business’s need. Do you need an immediate response? What’s the cutoff point for acceptable amounts of downtime? Higher sophistication means higher cost; choose a solution financially viable for your enterprise.5 Disaster Recovery Issues to Remember Before a Crisis
  • Choose a Backup Speed – With data increasing exponentially alongside online enterprise, your recovery solution must be equipped to back up information in a timely manner. Continuous backup solutions offer the most protection, but are also the most expensive. Select a backup speed commensurate with your needed security.
  • Identify Necessary Data – What data is crucial to recovery? Disaster recovery does not have to include everything, and is more efficient when you prioritize mission-critical data. Identify the data necessary for business continuity and plan your cloud strategy accordingly.
  • Include Physical and Virtual Servers – As more businesses rely on virtual servers alongside physical ones, disaster recovery solutions must accommodate both to ensure uninterrupted workflows. Test your DRaaS solution and make sure that any cloud-based services or applications can be run without putting business on hold.
  • Remember Your Remotes – If your business has remote offices, your solution must accommodate their needs should a disaster occur. Physical backup tools that rest between your server and the cloud require replacement after an incident. Appliance-free solutions, paired with cloud-based DRaaS, get around this inconvenience and allow essential processes to be restored faster.

Cloud Solutions

Above all else, disaster recovery that protects business continuity relies on the cloud. With as many disparate systems businesses employ, physical backups aren’t enough to guarantee security. Your disaster recovery solution must be cloud-based, customized to your industry, inclusive of all essential business data, and applicable across each office you have. When you meet these goals, even the worst disaster will not keep you down for long.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Big Impacts of Big Data: Why Analytics are Necessary to Drive Growth

Big Impacts of Big Data: Why Analytics are Necessary to Drive Growth

Although businesses are learning the value of analyzing big data with analytics, the process can be difficult to manage on a large scale. Many enterprises begin with basic data analysis but become bogged down as their efforts progress, preventing them from receiving the full value of their big data analytics.

Organizational adaptation is needed on a large scale to drive growth. This usually involves a change in priorities—businesses need to identify the areas most critical to success and apply analytics across the entire enterprise.

Barriers to Change

Investing in analytics can be a hard pill to swallow for bottom-line focused executives, as early analytic applications don’t always drive defensible returns.graphic-1142957_1280 However, this fundamental fear undermines the true value of big data analytics—innovation and meaningful insights can only be found by assessing data in context and with the necessary scope. Executives (who fail to see how analytics can improve decision-making) prevent this large-scale assessment from taking place by underfunding the analytic tools, training, and quality controls that quality data analysis needs.

On top of that, businesses without established analytic infrastructure have a tough time of capturing the value that analytics provide. Often, industry-wide shifts are necessary to set an enterprise towards better analytic governance, and yet top-level executives are wary of this transition and its costs.

Scaling to Increase Impact

Despite the barriers to change common in companies beginning to leverage big data, new technologies are developing that help address the challenges of achieving scale:

  • Analytics software is improving in sophistication, allowing more targeted solutions that better address the specific needs of each business. This translates to a more direct and demonstrable impact on a businesses’ bottom line.
  • Users of analytic tools are gaining confidence in the value of analytics; this push towards adoption is a necessary part of analytics generating enough momentum to become a viable option at scale.
  • Aside from the improved tools on offer, businesses hoping to achieve scale must adapt their internal policies to reflect analytics’ increased role. Decision-making must become intertwined with analytic reporting, along with a general push towards a culture of data governance that involves redesigning jobs and placing faith in analytics.

Analytic solutions are becoming more accessible than ever, changing the way businesses will handle big data. As technology continues to grow, a foundational culture of analytic reporting and data management will become a necessity for businesses hoping to stay lean and profitable. Businesses need to speed up their data-analysis transformation practices.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC

Written by Desh Urs

Desh Urs brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial, start-up and Global 500 corporate experience in sales, marketing, and general management to the customers of iBridge. He has led sales organizations as SVP at Qsent, Inc. and VP at Acxiom Corporation, and has focused on the usage of data in data distribution, direct marketing, fraud prevention, and law enforcement.

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decisions Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

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Incident Response Plans: Preparing Your Agency Before the Next Breach

Incident Response Plans: Preparing Your Agency Before the Next Breach

Agencies, particularly those in the fast-developing field of data governance, must not assume that they’re safe from data breaches. According to research by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, involvement in a security incident may be a matter of when rather than if: information security events involving federal agencies increased from over 5,500 in 2006 to over 67,000 in 2014. Security incidents in the healthcare and information technology fields show similar growth, and most victims are unaware of their vulnerability.Incident Response Plans: Preparing Your Agency Before the Next Breach

Creating a Response Plan

Agencies must prepare for the eventuality of a security incident by designing an incident response plan that establishes basic processes for threat management. These include protocols for threat recognition, analysis, and recovery:

  1. Respond: Responding to an issue begins with defining security “events” and security “Incidents.” According to CEB, security events involve any occurrence within a secure system, while the term “incident” is reserved for events that pose an immediate threat to acceptable-use policies or basic computer security. Delineation between these two categories is important for planning a response process—incidents must be addressed, but not every event will need intervention.
  2. Investigate: Agencies must maintain consistency when responding to incidents. Standardized labels and categorization should be used for incidents to help agencies identify trends and patterns. This allows for more efficient problem identification and a faster overall response.
  3. Recovery: After categorization, agencies should prioritize recovery processes that mitigate damage and restore its systems efficiently. The recovery process itself is broken down into several phases:
  • Preparation – Selection of a specialized team with a single point of contact for incident response. This also includes creating systems for tracking and analyzing emerging threats in the environment.
  • Detection – Appropriate channels must be monitored to alert agencies to possible incidents.
  • Removal – Workflows for various incidents must help response teams act efficiently. These processes will involve steps for the containment and eradication of recognized threats. Part of effective threat removal is to monitor each step taken and keep records for future threat analysis.
  • Post-Recovery Response – After the threat is contained, agencies must assess the incident and determine how and why the breach occurred. This response is necessary to help agencies reinforce their security and generate new protocols for threat removal.

Security incidents can devastate unprepared healthcare and technology agencies. Incident response plans help safeguard privileged information and empower agencies to react quickly to threats. They also function as reporting systems to let each agency know how to better prepare their infrastructure to prevent more damage to an already compromised system.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC
Written by Desh Urs

Desh Urs brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial, start-up and Global 500 corporate experience in sales, marketing and general management to the customers of iBridge. He has led sales organizations as SVP at Qsent, Inc. and VP at Acxiom Corporation, and has focused on the usage of data in data distribution, direct marketing, fraud prevention, and law enforcement.

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decisions Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

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Two Sides of the Coin: The Inseparability of Process and Big Data

Two Sides of the Coin: The Inseparability of Process and Big Data

“Big data” is a buzzword in the online world. From an online pundit’s perspective, big data is the key to marketing success, business optimization, and overall project efficiency.

Is it that simple, though?

Two Sides of the Coin: The Inseparability of Process and Big Data

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Unfortunately, data alone cannot provide the meaningful insights to enact organizational change. Data is just one side of the coin. The other the process by which the data is created or acquired. People do not want to see a magic trick; they want to see how it is done.

This transparency is a logical step towards better overall information governance—knowing only the outcome does not provide the competitive insight that the process reveals. Process visibility is increasing in all markets, from customer service to sales to technological development. Industries are learning that the “journey” is just as important as the outcome, and big data is no exception.

Process Analysis of Big Data

Examining the comprehensive process of big data management involves three aspects:

  • Data Quality: Accurate and useful data is necessary to make improvements in any organization. Regardless of what type of data is collected, a system for data quality assurance must be implemented. Trustworthy and actionable data is the cornerstone of effective decision-making.
  • Data Extraction: Data is rarely confined to a single location. Big data aggregation involves collecting information from widespread and diverse sources, and is a more complex process than many people realize. This is where big data and process become intertwined—the variety of ways data is transformed and applied in databases can influence how it’s analyzed. Documenting these extraction methods is necessary to gain a comprehensive picture of how businesses arrive at meaningful results.
  • Data Analysis: After collection, data must be put through analytic algorithms that provide insight into where processes can be improved. Process documentation is essential here, as analytic sorting usually relies on mathematical formulas and suffers from an inherent lack of transparency. Knowing the process by which this data is assessed and how it is applied is an inseparable part of building trust in the data assessment process.

Successful outcomes rely on your ability to describe, define, and adjust your processes. Data is great—but it is not enough on its own. Including the process by which the data is found provides insight that translates to better business transparency, process visibility, and decision-making.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Five Biggest Data Breaches of 2015

Five Biggest Data Breaches of 2015

While 2015 was a noteworthy year for advances in technology and data security, the evolution of cybercrime wasn’t far behind. Several significant data breaches occurred in 2015, affecting everyone from healthcare recipients to unfaithful spouses to government employees. Here are five of the biggest and nastiest data losses that occurred last year:

1) Premera

One of the largest healthcare network breaches ever seen, the Premera breach is unique because it was discovered on the same day as the breach of another major healthcare service provider—Anthem. IT professionals claim that both attacks were performed similarly, with both breaches likely caused by the same group. The Premera breach resulted loss of financial information, medical claims information, social security numbers, and email addresses of 11 million customers.

2) U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Beginning with a breach that began in March 2014, (and only noticed in April 2015), the U.S. government suffered one of the largest breaches of government data in the country’s history. Data lost included social security numbers, addresses, and dates of birth on over 22 million current and former employees, including the fingerprints of nearly 5 million people. Officials pointed to a lack of comprehensive IT inventory as one of the causes of this information loss.

3) IRS

Unfortunately, the Office of Personnel Management breach wasn’t the last word on U.S. government data loss. The Internal Revenue Service also suffered a breach in 2015 that revealed confidential tax records of over 330,000 individuals. To make matters worse, the thieves used the stolen tax data to scam millions of dollars in fraudulent refunds from the government agency.

Five Biggest Data Breaches of 2015

The IRS was on the wrong end of a large data breach in 2015

4) Ashley Madison

The much-publicized breach of the extramarital dating site Ashley Madison made headlines in 2015, both for the irony of unfaithful users of the affair-promoting platform having their identities exposed, and for the massive fallout that came shortly after. Over 37 million customer records were made public, exposing numerous affair-seeking individuals and even leading to two possible suicides.

5) Anthem

Discovered on the same day as the Premera breach, the Anthem healthcare network breach revealed privileged information on over 80 million people—affecting nearly 1 in 4 Americans. Like Premera, the breach went undetected for nearly a year before the leak was noticed. The data lost between both Anthem and Premara constitutes the largest theft of digital medical records ever recorded.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Personal Device Security and Online Connectivity

Personal Device Security and Online Connectivity

Cybersecurity is typically associated with data privacy in large organizations—computer networks, encryption, and secured data transfer. However, our personal information is spread across more devices than many of us realize. Even seemingly, innocuous devices that have online connectivity can be vulnerable to outside access.

Fitness Breach

Security service AV-Test reviewed the security of nine fitness monitors across several brands—Acer, Fitbit, Garmin, Sony and Withings—to find that the lowest security devices suffered from nine of eleven possible security weaknesses, including inability to disconnect from Bluetooth and exposing user log information. While vulnerabilities like these seem insignificant compared to the large-scale data and privacy breaches that make headline news, the implications are troublesome for data security of personal electronics. These security weaknesses seem mild, yet they expose user devices to hacking, eavesdropping, and unauthorized data aggregation. Though fitness monitors and wristbands don’t contain copious amounts of sensitive information in how businesses do, they’re still exposed to unauthorized access that may cause data modification or losses.Personal Device Security

Implications and Connectivity

These mild weaknesses don’t offer serious threats to user privacy yet, but this will change as devices become more advanced and store more sensitive user data. The lack of security present in personal electronic devices sets a troubling precedent. Cybersecurity is difficult to implement, even for high-priority devices that contain privileged information. In the current state of our cybersecurity infrastructure, basic electronic devices aren’t likely to face the same security scrutiny as more advanced technology.

Security, particularly for personal devices, is an afterthought for many businesses. Implementing better security is costly—and often deemed unnecessary for equipment that records seemingly innocuous user data. However, several devices tested by AV-Test could not disconnect from Bluetooth—a concept designed to increase the operability of the device, yet it leaves users exposed to constant online access. Hackers are developing new ways to utilize exploits that will have increasingly detrimental effects on the state of our device security.

Connectivity and constant online connections are still relatively new in the technological world. While the full implications of this constant connectivity are not yet understood, it’s clear that device manufacturers must prioritize data security. Establishing acceptable security practices now will ensure that businesses have the means to upgrade their future security alongside their consumer technology.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC

Written by Desh Urs

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decision Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

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Cybercrisis Management: Effectively Recovering from Data Breach Fallout

Cybercrisis Management: Effectively Recovering from Data Breach Fallout

Crisis management and planning for the unexpected is public relations 101, but navigating your public image through a disaster in the digital age can be difficult. The modern corporate landscape is built on shared data, remote connectivity, and the promise of cyber security, which makes implementing an effective cybercrisis management strategy essential when something goes wrong.

Surviving the fallout from a data breach disaster can make or break an organization in the eyes of both shareholders and the general public. Finding yourself in a crisis whirlwind due to bad planning and poor implementation can be devastating.

Cybercrisis Management: Effectively Recovering from Data Breach Fallout

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Timing and Communication

The most detrimental misstep organizations take immediately after a data breach or similar cybercrisis is delaying and often miscommunicating important information. Timely, transparent communication is vital to maintaining tight control of the message. It’s easy for the public, the media and internal personnel to jump to conclusions and create misinformed opinions about a situation when the information being shared isn’t authentic and honest. Timing is everything in the digital era, and a flawed social media message, ambiguous statement or postponed response can all add fuel to an already burning crisis fire.

Consider these six steps pre-data breach and utilize them post-breach to minimize damage during a cybercrisis:

  1. Put victims first – Empathy with those affected by a data breach must be part of all crisis management communications.
  2. Communicate sooner not later – Remember, timing is everything.
  3. Prepare for a moving target – Opinions and perceptions can be easily swayed, and it’s important to adapt and progress in the face of criticism and accusation.
  4. Be transparent about not being transparent – Authenticity, even when you’re not able to provide specifics, resonates with the media and the public.
  5. Validate your strategy through opinion research – Corporate jargon and internal investigations aren’t as effective as trusted opinion research people can trust and validate.
  6. Work as a team – Above all else, everyone within the organization must be informed and on your side during implementation of a cybercrisis management plan.

Staying ahead of bad publicity and course correcting after a crisis requires commitment to transparency and a clear understanding of your audience. Preparing for the worst is the best thing you can do, and creating a crisis management team that’s ready and trained to implement a strong communication strategy when a breach occurs can be invaluable.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC

Written by Desh Urs

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decision Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

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Cooperation over Confrontation: The Value of Listening

Cooperation over Confrontation: The Value of Listening

The “Chief” in the title of CTO has a strange effect on executives. When given full charge of a project or department, many leaders believe that their insight is all that’s required to successfully run their enterprise. Unfortunately, this trend creates inefficiency and poor communication about what improvements are needed in a business setting.

Open Your Ears

Identifying areas of inefficiency and improving technological procedures form the core of what a CTO does—goals only possible with cooperation from employees across every administrative level. Trying to enact meaningful change behind closed doors is a recipe for failure. Transparency is essential when updating business practices to ensure that the initiatives set forth are relevant and feasible for the entire team.

Cooperation over Confrontation: The Value of Listening

Image courtesy of Stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

To accomplish this cooperative endeavor, CTOs must balance their own instincts with direct feedback from their workers. Improvements not informed with the right knowledge can be detrimental to time and budgetary concerns, making the gathering of insight critical for improvement success. When determining the best way to improve your system, who can provide better feedback than the actual team members working with the affected system? Top-down organizational changes must be implemented with everyone on board, as each administrative level will have different experiences and unique perspectives. It’s this 360 degree view of their workplace that allows executives to implement changes that flow well with the established infrastructure of their business environment.

Essential Networking

But even with feedback, CTOs are taking risks when updating their systems. There are few guarantees that any changes made will yield positive returns on an investment, and poor decision making can compound pre-existing issues. To prevent improvement efforts from doing more harm than good, additional industry insight is sometimes necessary. CTOs looking for information can connect with similar business to learn what improvements they’ve implemented and where they have found success. Utilize online tools like social media (LinkedIn groups), business-to-business publishing, and local networking opportunities to discuss concerns with executives facing similar challenges.

Interacting with other industry professionals can provide competitive knowledge about the state of their business, with giving executives another opportunity to elicit feedback from others. Building a business that prioritizes communication does more than just inform your IT improvements—it fosters a culture of cooperation that contributes to the long-term success of a people-focused enterprise.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Cybercrime: Redefining Security in an Unsecured World

Cybercrime: Redefining Security in an Unsecured World

Online security in the digital age may be a myth.

A survey by the Aspen Institute and Intel Security found that 50 percent of security professionals once believed that their organizations were “very or extremely” vulnerable in early days of cybersecurity, yet only 27 percent believe that their organizations face the same level of risk in more recent years. Despite this increased confidence, 70 percent of respondents admitted that cybersecurity breaches are a growing threat to their industry. And security firms aren’t the only ones who need to worry—cyber-attacks have become commonplace across nearly every digital enterprise.

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The highly-publicized Ashley Madison leak in July brought online privacy and cybersecurity into the public domain, though cyber-attacks can strike anywhere. The web hosting service 000Webhost suffered a data breach in March that potentially exposed 13.5 million customer records, a significant loss of information and authority for a high-ranking web hosting service. Most recently, the UK-based phone and broadband provider TalkTalk was the victim of an unauthorized breach, with 4 million private customer profiles possibly exposed.

Areas of Vulnerability

The proliferation of cybercrime is made easier by inefficiencies in website system architecture. Regardless of what security policies or privacy measures are in place at the enterprise level, shoddy and inefficient website development code creates openings that savvy hackers can exploit. This problem is compounded by many web developers not rewriting website code (a costly and time-consuming process) and instead “paper over” any problems that are noticed. This habit creates multilevel vulnerabilities in the coding infrastructure hard to notice by security personnel, yet remain vulnerable to those seeking them out. The 000Webhost breach is one example of this trend, with unauthorized access gained from an exploit found in an old PHP version of the site.

These inefficiencies combined with the growing ingenuity of cyber criminals create a system where “privacy” may no longer exist. If criminals cannot exploit system vulnerabilities in the site’s structure, they employ social engineering and manipulation to gain access to the information they want. At its core, security problems revolve around people—from the coders who develop site structure to the employees who manage the phones, the only chance businesses have at gaining comprehensive security is with efficiency and rigorous training for all employees across every part of their infrastructure.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC

Written by Desh Urs

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decision Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

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Staying on Task and the Reason Your Team is Failing

Staying on Task and the Reason Your Team is Failing

Whether due to lack of communication, insufficient resource allotment or a missing sense of self-importance, seeing your team fail to stay on task is frustrating. Productivity in the workplace is essential, and when work doesn’t get done it adversely affects everyone. Fine-tuned teamwork and unimpeded collaboration is rare, but it’s far from impossible.

When You Take Your Team for Granted

It takes more than gathering together an IT department or establishing a legal committee to grow a successful team. Leadership means promoting significance is just as vital as outlining tasks and forecasting results.

Staying on Task and the Reason Your Team is Failing

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Workers must feel important. As fundamental as that sounds, it’s common for groups to meet regularly and accomplish little. When teams are taken for granted or established on a whim, maintaining the status quo is often all you can manage. Meeting attendance becomes an accomplishment, and killing time becomes an expectation.

How to Make Team Members Feel Significant

Direction, liability and forward-thinking momentum are often forgotten when team meetings are seen as routine and unproductive. Employing tactics that are technical-yet-fundamental to productivity is often all it takes to course correct a wandering team or jump-start one that’s failing to make progress.

  • Agendas – Do team meetings take place around an outline of issues and areas of concern? Far too many weekly gatherings are roundtable reviews in which employees briefly sum up the previous week’s progress. Once everyone’s had their turn, meeting adjourned. Agendas are meeting roadmaps that give team members a clear path to follow when assessing past projects or future strategies.
  • Brainstorming – When was the last time active brainstorming took place in the office? Brainstorming is a collaborative combining of qualified minds and departments intending to form new initiatives. There’s freedom in opening the floor to ideas, and a sense of responsibility and importance is felt when ideas are listened to and weighed as viable options. No matter who they come from, regular brainstorming can prove invaluable when integrated into an agenda.
  • Resources – Access to necessary resources can make or break a team’s momentum. Establishing and achieving goals requires time and energy from everyone involved. Management must provide resources just like workers must be allowed to use those resources responsibly.

It won’t happen overnight, but establishing a productive sense of self-importance in your team is possible. When individuals feel like fundamental pieces of an organization’s puzzle, seeing the bigger picture and contributing to success becomes easier and more rewarding.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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