Author Archives for ‘Jason Kallevig’

About Jason Kallevig

Beyond Business Continuity: How Backup and Disaster Recovery Benefits Your Business

Introduction

As small- and medium-sized businesses store more data on servers, business owners need to consider how they respond to everyday disruptions, such as hardware failures and server outages, as well as site-wide disasters such as fires, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes.

These disruptions and disasters occur more often than many businesses might think. For example, even though many companies may not consider power outages to be serious concerns, a recent survey by power management fi m Eaton Electrical revealed that 37% of IT professionals “have suffered unplanned downtime due to power-related issues in the last 24 months,” with 32% of outages lasting longer than four hours.1 The downtime caused by these kinds of disasters can be devastating for organizations; a May 2013 study by the Aberdeen Group reported that the average cost to a business per hour of downtime is a whopping $8,580.2

Businesses that have a backup and disaster recovery solution in place are able to respond to disruptions within minutes or hours of an outage or disaster taking place. These businesses have a number of quick recovery options available to them to guard against the risks and costs associated with periods of downtime. However, beyond giving business owners a solution to outages and disasters, backup and disaster recovery services provide many more benefits to organizations.

This white paper explains how a backup and disaster recovery solution can help organizations avoid the high costs of downtime and preserve the bottom line.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Benefits

When downtime occurs the effects can be severe as companies lose access to important data, such as customer information, financial    data, and emails, for an extended period of time. With a backup and disaster recovery solution deployed, businesses can ensure they remain productive, maintain their clients’ trust, keep their commitments to customers and partners, keep up with the competition, and stay compliant with important regulations. Here are the key benefits that businesses gain from adopting a backup and disaster recovery solution:

Maintain employee productivity and the ability to generate revenue: Simply put, when organizations cannot conduct business as usual, they lose money. Taking orders, receiving and replying to important emails, and accessing important data are all activities that downtime can disrupt, leading to a financial drain on the firm. Backup and disaster recovery lets businesses remain productive by ensuring they can serve their customers and generate revenue, even after a major disruption or disaster.

Preserve reputation with customers and partners: Downtime can also have a severe effect on organizations when it comes to their reputation in the eyes of customers and partners. These reputational costs vary among different organizations, but in all cases they could be significant. For example, a critical hardware failure that leads to a day of downtime at a dentist’s office could lead to a loss of clients’ trust. Backup and disaster recovery ensures a business’ clients do not lose faith in the organization due to long periods of downtime.

Meet obligations with clients: Downtime could lead to the inability for businesses to meet certain contractual agreements or deadlines. For instance, if a CPA firm experiences downtime during tax season and cannot recover this data before the tax submission deadline, the client could sue the CPA firm for failing to render services. Backup and disaster recovery lets businesses meet critical deadlines, even if disaster strikes, so clients remain happy.

Prevent losing business to competition: Businesses that jeopardize their reputation due to downtime are likely to see customers take flight to competitors. As an example, if a law office experiences downtime or loses important documents, clients may question the fi m’s credibility and take their business elsewhere. The costs of acquiring new customers are astronomically high compared to the cost of merely retaining existing customers, so it is important that organizations do everything they can to reduce customer churn. Backup and disaster recovery ensures businesses do not lose business to a competitor due to downtime.

Ensure compliance with industry regulations: Aside from the long- term cost advantages of adopting a business continuity solution, backup and disaster recovery also helps SMBs remain compliant with important industry regulations and other legal requirements. Three of the most important laws governing the protection of digital data are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX), and the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA). Though these laws apply to different industries, all of them require businesses to closely safeguard and retain sensitive digital information, a requirement that backup and disaster recovery is designed for. Backup and disaster recovery ensures organizations do not have to worry about compliance violations and legal issues related to data preservation, so businesses can focus on generating revenue and making clients happy.

Conclusion

Businesses that need to recover their data quickly and reduce the high costs of downtime need a backup and disaster recovery solution. But the benefits of backup and disaster recovery extend beyond rapid data recovery. Organizations with a backup and disaster recovery solution are in the position to withstand everyday disruptions and catastrophic disasters and eliminate the harms that result from extended periods of downtime.

No matter how large or small an organization is, who its customers are, or which industries and sectors it participates in, backup and disaster recovery is an invaluable asset for any business owner. Call us today to learn how backup and disaster recovery can help your business succeed.

KDS works with your businesses to interact with computer technology in a secure and scalable manner. We bring real world perspective and focus on security, productivity, and mobility. Our insight is based on years of experience and your business’s current adoption of technology solutions within your computer network.

 

How Backup and Disaster Recovery Works

Backup and disaster recovery solutions periodically take a carbon-copy backup of servers, store those backups on a local appliance, and send those backups off-site to the cloud. These backups can be utilized in a number of ways. If the server stops functioning (e.g. if a motherboard short- circuits), the local appliance can act as a substitute server until the server is repaired. If the server is destroyed (e.g. the building burns down), the backups that are stored off-site can be downloaded, shipped, or recovered in the cloud. In either scenario, businesses are able to get back up and running quickly and efficiently.

Common Types of Outages and Disasters Organizations of all stripes experience a number of common outages and disasters. Here are a few examples of these disruptions:

  • o Outages
    • Hardware failure
    • Software failure
    • OS corruption
    • Cyber-attacks
    • Power outages
    • Power surges
  • Disasters o
    • Floods
    • Fires
    • Earthquakes
    • Hurricanes
    • Tornadoes
    • Land Shifts

The Dropbox Problem

Introduction

 

“As the BYOD trend continues, more and more businesses are faced with the growing reality of having their workforce go mobile and the potential associated security threats it poses for enterprises.”

– Melissa Lewelling, CRN, June 24, 2013

With over 300 million users, Dropbox is the market leader in cloud file sync applications. Unfortunately, what works for family photos is not appropriate for corporate files. Dropbox is risky business. Beyond the risks of data loss, data theft, data loss, corrupted data, lawsuits, compliance violations, loss of accountability, and loss of file access, there are inherent flaws in the service that make it unsuitable for a workplace environment.

Here are some little-known facts about Dropbox — six things to consider before adopting Dropbox in the workplace.

  • Dropbox is the No. 1 most commonly blacklisted app

In general, BYOD and the advent of mobile applications has made employees more productive. But when it comes to mobility, there are some applications that companies should avoid. In a survey by Fiberlink of over 4,500 corporate and employee devices, Dropbox was the No. 1 most blacklisted app on iOS and Android. Business owners and IT administrators are blacklisting Dropbox applications because the popular file sync service lacks the administrative control and oversight necessary to avoid data leakage risks. Rounding up the top five blacklisted apps were SugarSync, Box, Facebook, and Google Drive. [i]

  • Dropbox shares can be accessed by anyone

Sharing with Dropbox is easy. Protecting your files with Dropbox? Not so easy. When a user shares a file or folder, Dropbox generates a public URL that can be accessed by anyone, without any password enforcement. In a study conducted by Intralinks, these fully clickable URLs were used to access sensitive files, including tax returns, a mortgage application, bank information,

and personal photos. Intralinks also found evidence of intermingling of personal and corporate files. All of this begs the question: when you share files and folders with Dropbox, who are you actually sharing it with? [ii] [iii]

  • Dropbox only retains deleted files and revisions for 30 days

Business-class file sync services maintain a rich file and folder history so that companies may recall historical data, including deleted files and revisions. Moreover, retention of data is important for business that handle sensitive data and legally required for certain verticals. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures, tax laws, and other federal and local statues have distinct requirements for the retention of data. Dropbox’s decision to permanently remove deleted files and revisions after 30 days is inconvenient and puts businesses at risk of legal and compliant disputes. If Dropbox customers want to retain deleted files and revisions for more than 30 days, they are directed to download and pay for a third-party application. [iv] [v]

  • Dropbox uses a single encryption key

Encryption is the primary safeguard against hacking and security breaches. Unfortunately for Dropbox customers, the keys to encrypt and decrypt files are with Dropbox – not on each user’s machines. Worse yet, Dropbox uses a single encryption key for all customer’s data. This insecure architectural design prompted Christopher Sighoian, a prominent security researcher, to issue an FTC complaint against Dropbox in 2011. His complaint alleged that Dropbox puts users at risk of government searches, rogue Dropbox employees, and even companies trying to bring mass copyright-infringement suits. In light of these charges, Dropbox scrambled to change language that appeared on its website. But the facts remain: Dropbox does not provide a way for users to encrypt files before they are transmitted to the cloud, Dropbox employees have access and can see the contents of a user’s storage, and Dropbox has exposed its users to unnecessary risk of data theft by hackers, who if given the chance to break into the company’s servers, may be able to steal users’ data and the keys necessary for decryption. [vi] [vii]

  • Dropbox reviews your data to save costs

When a user uploads a file, Dropbox will review the data to see if it has been uploaded by a different user. If it has been uploaded before, Dropbox deduplication technology will point to the previously uploaded file, thus saving Dropbox from keeping two copies of the same file. According to Dark Reading (InformationWeek), “For starters, deduplication can make it easy for outsides to know what’s already on the Dropbox servers, since the website studies a file to see if it’s seen it before.” In sum, the deduplication technology imposed by Dropbox saves the company storage costs, but places your files at risk. [viii]

  • Dropbox does not guarantee uptime or offer live support

FAQs and Forums not good enough? Because Dropbox does not offer live support, you’ll have to fill out a form for someone to get back to you. In addition, Dropbox has experienced outages, downtime, and security breaches over the years, causing business users to reconsider the reliability of the service. According to ReadWrite, “(Dropbox) checkered history of security breaches may make it a tough sell in the enterprise,” including “a (2011) bug in the company’s authentication mechanism, allowing third parties to log into user accounts and access files,” and a 2012 breach that “allowed attackers to penetrate accounts used by Dropbox employees, including a document from which they may have been able to harvest email addresses…those email addresses were apparently used to send Dropbox users spam.” In March of this year, Dropbox suffered an outage which caused errors and rendered the desktop and mobile file sync feature useless. In light of these events, a lack of live support is only the beginning of service issues that Dropbox faces. [ix] [x] [xi] [xii]

Conclusion

As your trusted IT service provider, we promise to work with you to minimize these risks and support your file sync needs. eFolder Anchor is a business-ready cloud file sync service that we stand behind and guarantee.

eFolder Anchor – Secure Cloud File Sync

  • Access files from anywhere
  • Collaborate with ease
  • Share files securely
  • Control your data
  • Eliminate FTP and VPN

 

Call us to learn how file access can be easy, safe, and secure.

 

Phone: +1 (320) 281-7033

Email: support@kdssys.com

[i] TechRepublic, Will Kelly, “Top mobile security concerns: Blacklisted apps and password protection,” December 11, 2013

[ii] ReadWrite, Anthony Myers, “How Documents Stored On Box And Dropbox Could End Up On Google,” May 7, 2014

[iii] CollaboristaBlog, John Landy, “Your Sensitive Information Could Be at Risk: File Sync and Share Security Issue, May 6, 2014

[iv] Dropbox Help, “What happens to my old and deleted file versions?” accessed on May 12, 2014

[v] ASAE, The Center for Association Leadership, “Designing a Compliant Electronic Record-Retention Policy for Your Association, July 2007

[vi] Gizmodo, Adrian Covert, “Dropbox Told Us Our Files Were Encrypted and Private. Turns Out They Aren’t?,” May 13, 2011

[vii] WIRED, Ryan Singel, “Dropbox Lies to Users About Data Security, Complaint to FTC Alleges,” May 13, 2011

[viii] InformationWeek Dark Reading, Mathew J. Schwartz, “Dropbox Accused of Misleading Customers on Security,” April 16, 2011

[ix] ReadWrite, Mark Hachman, “Dropbox To Business: Never Mind The Breaches, Come Store Your Stuff With Us!,” April 10, 2013

[x] ZDNet, Zack Whittaker, “Dropbox hit by outage; file sync busted,” March 14, 2014

[xi] ZDNet, Ed Bott, “Dropbox gets hacked … again,” August 1, 2012

[xii] Dropbox Tech Blog, Akhil Gupta, “Outage post-mortem,” January 12, 2014

Migrate your business to Hosted Voice – and never look back!!

Now is a great time to update your business
with Hosted Voice.

Get the most advanced phone systems, voice service, and data technology with no up-front capital costs. Never worry about equipment obsolescence and only pay for what you need today and tomorrow.
In today’s challenging business environment, a workforce that’s spread across the country is a common occurrence. With the Remote Teleworker solution, managedIP Hosted customers can extend the features and functionality of the IP communications system to all of its employees, regardless of their location. Employees have the flexibility to get the job done from virtually anywhere.

Benefits:

• Employee satisfaction —flexible work schedules can help boost employee morale and reduce absenteeism

• Cost effective—allowing employees to work at home versus maintaining office space

• Single platform—employees have the same features and functionality as if they were in the office, including direct-extension dialing, call forwarding, voice mail, and more

• Reduce costs—eliminate monthly phone service fees and long-distance charges between locations

• Flexibility—when hiring, you are no longer limited to the candidates living in close proximity to the central office

User Profiles:

The Remote Teleworker solution provides full-feature managedIP Hosted functionality to three main user profiles:

• Work-at-Home Employees— users who work from home, either full-time or part-time.

• Remote Branch Office Employees—users who work at a remote location (small warehouse, distribution center, satellite office, etc).

• Mobile (Nomadic) employee— users who are on the go and work in the office, at home, on the road or from a hotel and need access to their business phone.

Free Phone

IP Phone for (Almost) FREE!!

Cumulus is Here! KDS upgrades cloud management system

An exciting day for KDS! Our Cloud management platform is upgrading to a centralized dashboard. This means that we will be able to manage Office 365, Hosted Exchange, Online Backup, deploy Virtual Servers, and virtually every cloud service we offer from a common management system. A year ago this level of integration seemed impossible. We are extremely excited for how this will allow us to serve our customers more effectively and efficiently while continuing to grow KDS Systems.

Manage multiple cloud services from a common dashboard.

Manage multiple cloud services from a common dashboard.

Windows 10 Has Arrived – and man IT IS COOL!!!

Initial Testing of Windows 10 has been VERY POSITIVE!!  The upgrade process is smooth, automated, and fast.  So far we have experienced NO compatibility issues.  3rd party controller apps have worked without issue and all setting have transferred.  The new Edge browser is EXTREMELY FAST.  Cortana functionality is similar to Windows Phone, however I’m not completely sure how useful she will be on a non-mobile device.  I use Cortana for everything mobile (ie “Text my daughter”, “Open Pandora”, “Call my wife”, “Remind me to get milk when I get to Target”), however I haven’t quite figured out how useful she will be on a desktop environment.
The new interface can be summed up in one word “Perfection”.  All functionality for local and internet computing is clearly organized and accessible from the Desktop view.  The Start button has returned, but is now dynamic and learns from your activity.  Similar to Windows 8, realtime information flows into the tiles and keeps you informed without actually opening an app, however the mindshift of Start Screen vs. Desktop is now integrated with the On-Demand Start button that Windows 95 – Windows 7 utilized.
Microsoft has very nearly perfected a universal platform between mobile & fixed computing, but are they missing the boat with ‘wearable’ technology?  This concept still appalls me personally,  Business continues to focus on productivity and reliability.  Doing more with less effort.  I’m looking forward to moving new and existing clients to the Windows 10 platform with confidence, and don’t expect to be purchasing many iWatch’s in the next 12-18 months.
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KDS Systems, Inc. // Office: 320.281.7033 // www.kdssys.com

3 Little Known Risks Associated with Leading Cloud Services

Introduction

In the last few years, an increasing amount of corporate information has moved to the cloud. Office 365 and Google Apps moved productivity online; Salesforce paved the way for an entirely cloud- based CRM solution; and Box created a compelling cloud-based file sync and share solution. Rightfully so: cloud services and SaaS applications have unlocked numerous benefits including affordability, collaboration, accessibility, and mobility. Unfortunately, these inroads have not reduced the potential for data loss.

Misconceptions abound about cloud data; the most prevalent myth is that there is no risk of data loss in the cloud. This belief has led many small- and medium-sized business to eschew standard business continuity practices, such as regular backup and auditing of data, when it comes to the cloud. Unfortunately, the statistics are sobering: a study commissioned by Symantec and published in 2013 reports that more than 40% of companies have lost data in the cloud.1

This white paper aims to address several aspects of the cloud that businesses overlook. It highlights the issues of accidental and malicious data deletion, subpar data retention policies applied by leading SaaS providers, and common mishaps with data migration, export, and integration. This white paper also discusses why it is imperative that businesses employ a cloud-to-cloud backup, search, and restore solution that will minimize the risk and cost of data loss.

 

Risk #1: Accidental or malicious data deletion

 

The primary threat to cloud data is user error. Accidental or malicious deletion poses a constant threat to corporate data, and the open and collaborative nature of cloud applications increases this risk. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group revealed that user error was the number one source of cloud data loss, accounting for 64% of data loss events.2

Data, including records, emails, contacts, and documents are all susceptible to user error or accidental deletion. As an example, an employee may delete an old electronic receipt she believes she no longer has a need for, only to discover that the accounting department needed access to her copy. On a daily basis, system administrators are burdened by these types of data recovery procedures.

Malicious or deliberate data deletion is also all too common. There are several instances of ex-employees or disgruntled employees with proper credentials logging into their cloud account and deleting critical emails, documents, customer data, and more. If the cloud service being used does not have adequate retention policies in place, a timed, automatic deletion could result in permanent deletion of the data.

When data is stored in a cloud application with an inadequate or non-existent backup strategy, accidental or malicious deletion is a time-consuming and costly experience.

 

Risk #2: Subpar data retention policies

Organizations using cloud services wrongly assume that once their data is stored in the cloud, it is always accessible at a moment’s notice. In reality, most major cloud services only retain data for a limited amount of time; this often only becomes apparent when a system administrator tries to retrieve deleted information only to discover that it has been automatically purged.

It is important to note that data retention does not just come into play when files are accidentally or purposefully deleted. When an employee leaves an organization, his or her user accounts are usually closed, taking the corresponding data with them. Besides the inconvenience of lost data, there can be serious legal and financial implications if data is not retained for a lengthy enough period of time. Here is a look at the retention policies of four major cloud services:

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 has been a major hit in the business world, but its retention policy deserves a second look. SharePoint Online retains deleted data for a maximum of 216 days, after which it is purged and unrecoverable. For Exchange Online, once a user deletes an item from his or her Deleted Items folder, the item is retained in a secondary folder accessible to admins for only 30 days unless Exchange Online Archiving is added on for an additional cost (included with Enterprise E3 plans). With OneDrive for Business, deleted items are retained for a maximum of 186 days, after which they are purged and unrecoverable. More concerning is the lax retention surrounding deleted user profiles: OneDrive only retains data for 14 days once an admin deletes a user profile. Since Office 365 drives so much productivity within organizations, losing any data from this service could result in significant downtime and costs.

Google Apps       

Much like Office 365, Google Apps is the hub of emails, calendars, contacts, and other important documents for businesses that have fully embraced the cloud. Unfortunately, Google Apps’ retention policy is rather onerous. With Gmail, deleted emails stay in the Trash for only 30 days before they are purged. Google offers an archiving solution, called Vault, for an additional $5/user/month. However, Google Vault does not protect items that have been deleted from Google Drive’s Trash; these files are purged and unrecoverable once deleted from the Trash. From a data security standpoint, Google Apps is not much better than an ordinary computer that doesn’t have a backup system in place. Especially since storing and backing up most Google Apps data locally is not an option, losing data from Google Apps could result in permanent loss.

Box

Box, used by many businesses as a cloud file sync service, features configurable retention for its Business and Enterprise plans. Additionally, Box’s Retention Management feature, released in 2015 and available only for Enterprise plans, allows administrators to set “formal retention periods to protect selected files from deletion for a number of days, months, or even years.” Box does note that “at the expiration of a retention period, [Retention Management] ensures proper disposition.”5 This means that administrators who improperly set retention policies for critical data could see that data deleted permanently sooner than expected.

Salesforce

Salesforce helps over one hundred thousand organizations keep track of their contacts, opportunities, and other CRM data in the cloud. For such a comprehensive solution, Salesforce’s minimal retention policy is alarming. Once a user deletes an item (such as a record), it goes into Salesforce’s Recycle Bin. Unfortunately, just 15 days after an item enters the Recycle Bin, Salesforce purges the item. Though Salesforce offers the option to recover purged data, this process — called Data Recovery — is limited, expensive, and time-consuming. Salesforce says it “can go back no more than 90 days for production and 30 days for Sandbox from the date of deletion” and charges $10,000 at minimum for the service.6 Moreover, Data Recovery takes about 4 business weeks. Companies whose Salesforce data goes missing can suffer immensely if their sales and marketing teams are unable to access any customer information when they need it the most.

 

Risk #3: Data migration, export, and integration mishaps

Every cloud platform is vulnerable to mishaps when it comes to data migration, export, and integration. Whether it is customer records in Salesforce, information in a shared document, or contact lists, it is easy for anyone to overwrite previously existing data, either purposefully or inadvertently.

Issues related to third party software and account migration can result in cloud data loss. Moving to a new email client, for example, could result in a user’s inbox being lost, especially if multiple email accounts are being configured at once. A record management application, such as Salesforce Data Loader, could import duplicate contact information from multiple services and overwrite information at the source when syncing new data. An outgoing employee may delete her calendars without realizing her incoming replacement needs that data. Regardless of the case, undoing the damage caused by data overwrites or data loss requires a separate backup repository linked to individual recovery points.

 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that using cloud services presents companies with numerous advantages. Data, including files, emails, contacts, and documents, can be shared and accessed by multiple people across multiple devices, and businesses can save money and enjoy greater collaboration by moving productivity to the cloud.

Unfortunately, the risks of inadequate data retention policies, data deletion, and data corruption need to be carefully considered by administrators looking to utilize the cloud. Administrators eager to transition to cloud services need to consider the risks of inadequate data retention policies, data deletion, and data corruption. The sources of data loss and the limited retention policies of cloud applications make it imperative for businesses to implement a robust backup, search, and restore solution when transitioning business applications to the cloud.

Though little can be done to prevent files from being accidentally or maliciously deleted, eFolder Cloudfinder backs up the critical data stored in Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce, and Box to ensure these deleted files can always be found and recovered. Commonly used cloud services often lack customizable retention policies in line with corporate requirements, but Cloudfinder provides an encrypted, tamper-proof SafeHaven™ with unlimited retention for all cloud data. Finally, Cloudfinder ensures that mishaps with migrations, exports, and integrations do not cause important data to be overwritten.

Cloudfinder adds value to leading SaaS applications, empowering businesses to work in the cloud without worrying about their data being permanently deleted. Learn more at www.cloudfinder.com.

1 Symantec. “Avoiding the Hidden Costs of the Cloud.” Mountain View, 2013

2 Aberdeen Group. “Who are the Heavy Users of SaaS Applications?” Boston, 2013

3 Microsoft. “Configure Deleted Item retention and Recoverable Items quotas” https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee364752%28v=exchg.150%29.aspx

4 Google. “How retention works” https://support.google.com/vault/answer/2990828?hl=en&ref_topic=3209998

5 Wacker, Rand. “The Products That Power Box for Financial Services.” Web log post. Box Blog. Box, 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

6 Salesforce.com. “Data Recovery Service and Cost” https://help.salesforce.com/apex/HTViewSolution?id=000003594

Data Protection – The Human Element

“Everyone is replaceable.” a business owner once sternly told me at a company I was working with. While highly applicable in the industrial age, how does this statement resonate in the our modern business world so heavily dependent on technology and knowledge workers? Regardless of industry, more and more our businesses are dependent on the organizational aspect of information storage and understanding processes and design of technology infrastructure systems. How do we ensure this information is protected, transferable, and easily interpreted by the “next in line”? Is it truly possible to document every granular detail of our systems design, and our daily operational processes? Does the result always resemble a “needle in the haystack” ominous mass totaling thousands of pages of mostly mundane filler with a few critical points buried here and there? Here are a few thoughts regarding the organization and management of your companies most crucial information, which from my experience far too many businesses leave in the minds of key employees.

Diagram
Flow diagrams and clearly stated configuration documentation remains the tried and true basis for all electronic systems. Whether network infrastructure or social marketing efforts; the ability to easily locate devices, providers, credentials; and decipher hierarchy of process flow is crucial. Imagine the reader is presented the information without basis, no predecessor to explain nuances. Is the information clear and accurate? A single piece of incomplete or obsolete information can take hours or days to correctly obtain.

Have a System – Business Management Software
Implementing business management systems take processes out of people’s head and information flow becomes tangible, systematic, repeatable, and less apt to be individually interpreted. Just because you know that an inventory list exists in a spreadsheet named MyWidgets.xls on the N:\ drive does not mean anyone else will intuitively locate that information. The days of adequately running your business from a massive shared folder hierarchy and homegrown spreadsheets are long behind us. The upcoming workforce expects processes to be clear, defined, and a benefit to their position rather than a cumbersome burden to carry or maintain. If you don’t have it, your competition does.

Real-time Interaction
Early electronic systems required A LOT of work to maintain. This generated many IT clichés such as “The data OUT is only as good as the data put IN…”. It also created fear for many business owners, thinking that in addition to investing into a system, they will need to increase staff just to manage the system. Mobile devices have turned these assumptions upside down. Forward thinking and well designed business management systems interact directly with our workforce processes. This means we collect our information directly from the source, not after the fact as an afterthought or documentation effort. Features and functionality of our business systems need to be inline with other technology selections and choices we are making. We want our systems to be and stay cohesive with each other, as incompatible components can wreak havoc to the overall flow of information.

Dashboard Decisions
Just as our vehicles dashboard is crucial to safe and consistent travel, the information provided by our management system becomes a living, breathing aspect of our business operations. Owners who once boasted a sixth sense of “gut-feel” are systematically outperformed by those who know the “real-deal” from information provided by our management systems. Systems that are able to combine sales and operational data give us new insight to how our business performs over the life of a customer, from the first time we meet them to the Nth repeat transaction.

Summary
This perspective is not provided to sell or promote any particular product. It is however intended to help when considering the cost vs. benefit of implementing yet another layer of technology into our digital ecosystem. Business management software undoubtedly increases the overall complexity of a businesses infrastructure. With it comes the risk of yet another security vulnerability and dependence on a software vendor. However it seems an undeniable necessity to todays expectations of productivity and accountability.

Finally, security hardware catches up with the 21st Century

The Downlow – We’ve been waiting. Watching various providers market the futuristic ‘Jetsons’ home that is completely automated from the touch of our smartphone. This technology is up and coming, and works great today with even greater promise for tomorrow. However, in reality 90% of the time you will be interacting with your system from the main panel. It is the device seen hanging on the wall, probably near your main entry, that you walk by hundreds of times each week. The brains behind your system, it controls everything from managing the security and automation points to informing the viewer of current status. The security devices we have tested to date have been, well, lackluster. When it comes to Touchscreen in the security world, Fisher Price makes a better unit in the ‘5 and Under’ section. To someone who spends their day with technology and depends on an arsenal of laptop/tablet/smartphone for productivity, units tested from major security players have been very disappointing in the area of ergonomics, control, user interface, and aesthetics. (Putting a glossy-grey piece of cardboard around a 2.5″ depression-sensitive screen does not make a 10″ ‘Touchscreen’ in our book)

The player. We have actually discussed wall-mounting an Android Tablet as the main control point, and installing the ‘actual’ control out of sight in a utility area. Fortunately Qolsys has beat us to the punch and released a fully functional control unit based on a 7″ Android Tablet. And it actually looks and works like you would expect in the modern world.

Check out the video below for a fast-paced overview.

Security Qolsys Controller

Security and automation in a modern container

  • 7″ Touchscreen
  • Cellular/WiFi/Z-Wave Radio’s
  • Camera
  • Speaker/Microphone
  • Siren
  • 24-Hour Battery Backup
  • SD Card Slot

Will your company have a CDO by 2017?

CDO is becoming a vital role in many companies.  In 2012 Harvard Business Review named Chief Data Scientist as the ‘sexiest job of the 21st Century’, and Gartner has predicted that 25% of organizations will have a Chief Digital Officer by 2017.  Are these indications that business leaders of all shapes & sizes recognize that all things connect digitally?

A CDO provides vision and strategy for all data management activities and is responsible for digital quality control and managing digital vendor relationships across an organization. Metrics of this operation are reported on and provided to CEO/CFO/CIO to summarize clearly the health and benefit of digital systems that businesses depend on. CDO provides owners with the Big Picture.

The CDO is able to maximize quality of data and digital systems through continual root cause assessment as day to day issues arise. While employees encounter system crashes, errors and nuances directly; a CDO is able to identify patterns and commonalities across isolated incidents. This enables high level decisions and changes that PREVENT OR AVOID system and/or end-user errors that would have resulted in productivity loss and potentially bad data.

Standardization. The only way to manage the fast paced evolution of technology is though standardization of systems and policies in real-time. Staying in tune with a company’s vision, constraints, and culture is critical to leveraging technology as a tool rather than a hindrance. Lest we become buried in the bureaucracy of our digital systems.

Navigate and succeed in mastering unstructured data. Social media, email, transactional records, images, video, and media are very real aspects of any businesses digital day. But they don’t necessarily compute on a one-to-one basis very well. Understanding how to implement, manage, store, and report on very different technology models is crucial to a successful CDO and ultimately a company’s digital health.

Master of all things Digital. A CDO begins to shine as the technology they manage begins to benefit people in quantifiable ways. Decision makers who have quick access to accurate information, and weary employees who begin to experience mundane, time consuming tasks becoming automated become a CDO’s greatest advocators.

Data Protection – Multi-Function Printer a Security Threat?

Have you considered your printer a security threat, a potential bridge of information in and out of your organization? As IT trends towards access “outside the firewall” we need to closely consider all components that store and process information, even the seemingly mundane Multi-Function Printer.

Today’s MFP’s have hard drives that store information, memory, and processors. Many include features to enable remote users to communicate to and from the public internet via remote PC’s and mobile devices. Features like scan to email, and print from phone are great for productivity, but what vulnerabilities are exposed for malicious purposes?

It is very possible that every print job is stored in a persistent history log. Could any employee with physical access to the printer simply walk up and select re-print of the most recent payroll? What information would be gained by removing the hard drive?

Unfortunately, plugging in your new printer and “getting it to work” is only the first step. Most MFP’s offer surprisingly advanced data protection features that are overlooked, especially in small businesses where resources are limited and productivity gains overshadow security risks. Administration passwords should always be set and documented. Many MFP’s offer drive encryption, ability to secure the user, and even to secure the output tray. “Sanitization” can overwrite historical information and clear active cache’s on a regular basis. While scan to email may seem a simple and green method to send paper outside your office, other document management tools offer much more robust audit trail and accountability of the delivery and receipt of such information.

Most people know that they need to invest in physical security, network security, firewalls and data backup. Many businesses overlook the inherent risks from physical or remote access to productivity features of their most fundamentally basic technology equipment.

Contact KDS Systems today by phone at (320) 281-7033 or by email at virtualcdo@kdssys.com to learn how quickly and cost effectively your business can review, plan, and implement secure network infrastructure to protect your valuable business assets.