All posts by Sagenext

The Absolute Essentials of Cloud Security

The cloud has taken over every sector of our life, from our professional routines to personal stuff, the cloud is all around us. We can call it a powerful technology that introduces us to a less frustrating world of wires, server rooms, and budgets. It is the most convenient way of delivering data in today’s world of the Internet, which makes it essential for us to slow things down and think about security.

Maintain The Right Balance

Essentials of Cloud Security

 

 

It would be wrong if we disagree that cloud and security together bring conflicts to many minds. Cloud defines speed, comfort, flexibility, and agility to many people, whereas security sounds more like a restriction that can possibly affect what cloud has to offer. The cloud’s nature is to offer omnipresent access that might introduce risks, while security prefers ‘play safe’ and believes in minimizing risks associated with the access in every possible way.

So, these are the perceptions that normally we all have in our mind when we talk about cloud and security. But, the truth is both of them can peacefully coexist in your life if you know the right balance. But how exactly we can achieve the right balance? By maximizing our cloud technology potential without striking the security, we can embrace extreme productivity.

The actual need of cloud and its security comes in notice when threats keep on striking businesses from all the angles. Organizations repeatedly quest for trustworthy capabilities to destroy the suspicious security threats and found that they are not so versed with cloud security essentials.

What’s The Need for Cloud Security Essentials?

Every business organization wants to get secured from the consequences of an unsecured or damaged network as it can lead to a great business loss – bankruptcy or closure. This normally happens when cloud data is protected but not entirely secure, or when there are possible loopholes in cloud infrastructure. To deal with such anonymous or traditional instances, we must implement proper security measures, and the best start is to follow the basics.

Three Absolute Essentials

As we have discussed above, the necessity of having a secure cloud platform only be fulfilled when we balance them efficiently and smartly. Radical visibility, overall control, and comprehensive compliance are the three most essential cloud security factors that every organization should have in their cloud-driven IT operations.

Visibility: you can’t protect what you can’t see

Nowadays, integrating business data to an automated, flexible and decentralized cloud infrastructure is a trend that somehow distances an organization from achieving visibility in cloud processes. Even most of the high-end data breach cases are nurture in an organization due to the lack of monitoring. Most of the times, an organization relish the perks of cloud so much that they forget some vulnerable network endpoints also require attention.

What organizations can do?

Organizations should make their connection with cloud vendor more transparent. They should try to achieve real-time tracking and monitoring of all the activities going on in the internal departments and external cloud networks. Real-time understanding of activities will help them in identifying all suspicious activities.

Strict Control: maintain control over security in the cloud

Undoubtedly, traditional applications and on-premise server allow organizations full control over their IT operations, current apps and data, which is comparatively harder to achieve with cloud computing. The automated world of the cloud requires an equal contribution from the vendor side when data is moving to the cloud platform. However, it is very important for organizations to hold the grip of control over security by implementing role-based access, restricting network security, and tracking incoming traffic in the best way possible.

What organizations can do?

It is best to say that businesses should not rely on a single security layer to save from unplanned cyber attacks. Strategizing a strict security to deal with security threats proactively can also be considered as a smart way.

Compliance: Never delay in setting cloud security standards

Visibility and control are must, but what about data security standards? How can an organization commit to security when they don’t have any particular limitations, or better to say, standards. We talked about maintaining control over the data organization migrate to the cloud. But, how can they control things when they’re not fully aware of the capabilities of a cloud vendor and cyber defense rights of a user.

We’re living in a modern digital world where everyone has the equal and balanced set of right. While users are bound to store their sensitive business information and personal identification documents in the cloud, cloud vendors are instructed to provide industry-specific security policies in compliance with current government regulations to each of their users.

The benefit of having an authentic security policy from the cloud vendor is not that your business will be 100% secure from the threats and external attacks. But, it ensures that cloud vendors have a pressure of offering high-security standard to their users.

What organizations can do?

Organizations can frankly talk with their respective cloud vendors and ask them to prepare the best-suited security policy. Cybersecurity compliance should be strong as it will defend you from the security threats.

Conclusion

All three of the cloud security essentials are actually essential for embracing a secure cloud technology for your business. Visibility helps businesses in analyzing their cloud security outlook, whereas control allows them to implement new ways so to deal with security threats. And, high standard security compliant construct safe boundaries for them where they can access, share and build new strategies to unleash future business goals.

Breaking Down Malware: How the Threat Still Looms Over Businesses

The internet is an infinite and inexhaustible resource of information, entertainment, and so much more. It now seems impossible to imagine our lives without it or to go back to how things were before we started using smart technology. But all good things have a dark side, and cyber-crime continues to grow and affect business processes.

How the Threat Still Looms Over Businesses

Ever since it originated, malware has been the largest threat faced by today’s businesses. According to a report on Data Breach Investigations by Verizon, the universe of malware is constantly evolving itself in countless ways so that it can penetrate our advanced systems and cause a lot of damage.

But the question remains – Why is malware, a long time threat, still giving us so much trouble?

Let us begin to understand.

Introducing Malware

In layman’s terms, malware is a file that is created by cyber-criminals with the intention of harming your system for leverage or compromise sensitive information. It may be a small piece of program that causes damage to the networking system by performing unauthorized actions on the user’s phone, tablet or computer.

You might know a few types of malware, here is a list:

1. Virus. Probably the most common type of infection. These are executable files that multiply themselves and alter programming code which affects the working of the system.

2. Worms. Replicating programs that increase in number and spread onto a network to other machines.

3. Spyware. As the name suggests, it downloads itself and acts as a spy on your system to steal sensitive data.

4. Ransomware. Malware that holds your machine or data captive until an amount of ransom is paid.

5. Rootkits. Programs that hide after installation and make modifications to the programming of the system.

While a variety of malware is already doing rounds, the latest trend is custom malware. These are advanced, single-use, highly targeted malware that is programmed to attack with precision and remain hidden for a longer period of time. According to the 2017 Threat Report by Cylance, more than 70 percent of malware that were blocked were one time threats.

Another emerging issue is cryptojacking where unprotected machines around the world are used as a resource to mine cryptocurrency by cybercriminals. This might not seem like much for a user, but for companies who use paid resources like the cloud, cryptomining can storm up a huge bill.

How Things Went Downhill

Times were simpler before, malware used to spread only via removable drives like floppy and discs. The internet has had an explosive growth since then, which has given an arena of new opportunities for cybercriminals to infiltrate a computer’s network.

As the internet reached people’s homes and businesses with everyone getting their own email address, malware spammed into our inboxes with attachments and links in hopes that an unsuspecting user would click on it. But things have changed a lot since then. Cybercriminals have upgraded their game with more elegant ways of delivering malware into our systems.

Malware, from being just a nuisance, became a serious threat, and still continues to be. Individuals fear that their personal information may be misused. Businesses face serious issues of finances and compromised data. Thus, taking measures to prevent malware infections from entering into our system is the solution.

Understanding the Situation

The first thing is to not underestimate the opponent. Malware developers are intelligent people who know how to manipulate technology to their benefit. So to counter their attack, one should always think one step ahead.

Traditional anti-malware applications depend on signature files to recognize threats. But if the malware is new, or hasn’t become well known over the internet, the application will not detect it as a threat. The new custom malware will go unnoticed as they are specifically made for single use only.

The findings of the Cylance Threat Report show the rapidly growing ransomware attacks in the year 2017. Healthcare industry suffered the most, followed by manufacturing, education, and then the others. Ransomware WannaCry and NotPetya made international headlines last year, which goes on to show the seriousness of the situation.

Working on the remedy

Malware prevention is a challenge, with each solution having a set of drawbacks. Blockchain technology and its benefits can be considered, but they are often overstated.

So what can we do? Let’s see.

One, you can avoid opening email attachments and links. Also, switch off any preview modes and scripting in the web browser. But this is very difficult to work with, and many websites will have issues with the display.

Two, you can blacklist and whitelist programs, and choose to run only approved programs. This is a humongous task, and it is quite possible that a malware may conceal itself as a whitelist program.

Three, you can select from a wide range of anti-malware applications present in the market. But the issue again is that they run on signature threats, which is not feasible with the advanced malware that is custom or programmed to change appearances.

Is there a solution? Well, yes.

If a solution is not foolproof, does not mean we should dismiss it. Malware protection must be a top priority, but know that only an antivirus cannot fight it alone. Dealing with technology can be a tricky ride, there is always some new development. The best solution is to apply a variety of measures and protocols.

Effective management of your passwords, multi-factor authentication, usage of VPNs, platform encryption, along with an updated anti-malware application will surely safeguard your business data. Also, not forgetting to take regular backups on a protected cloud environment.

When a solo solution does not seem enough, it is wise to implement several options, as mentioned above, for protection of your network against malware.

 

Move Over Number Crunching: Accountants Do A Lot More To Help A Business Grow

Accounting has been stereotyped for the longest time now. The moment we hear anything related to accountants-the words like tax, accounting nerds, numbers, and figures is all that strikes the mind. This is especially untrue in the technologically advanced world of today where accountants are capable of performing multiple tasks with the help of cloud accounting.

Accountants do more than just taking care of accounts and taxes for their clients. Of course, this is what we expect them to do, but there is a growing need to broaden our mindset just as accountants have widened their field of expertise.

 Accountants Do A Lot More To Help A Business Grow

Why Hire An Accountant In The First Place?

Business owners, most importantly those who are starting a new venture, are always looking for ways to minimize their expenses. The goal primarily is to save as many bucks as possible, in as many areas as possible. As they intend to spend less, the owners are often seen doing their accounts on their own. Now, this may seem to be a great possibility if you are familiar with accounting or if you have years of experience in the field. Those who are new to accounting may need expert advice to avoid any unwanted surprises later.

Accounting is not everyone’s cup of tea. Especially when you own a business or are starting something new, most of your time will go into the planning and management of things. There is so much that an owner has to do. He has people to hire, he has to ensure that the business is running smoothly and also has losses to minimize. Apart from all this, the owner needs to be sure that his services and products are reaching where they are expected to. This is why a business needs to hire an accountant- for the sake of managing the accounts without making errors.

What Else Can An Accountant Do For You?

So you hired an accountant, and now your finances are being managed well. But is that all your learned accountant is capable of? Certainly not. An experienced accountant is worth a lot more and his capabilities need to be properly explored.
Entrepreneurs these days are looking to hire accountants who:

1. Can be trusted with business advice
2. Can use their expertise in formulating new business plans for the owners
3. Guide them through the good days and bad
4. Help them introduce the changing technology into their business
5. Guide them about tax compliance and help them implement the tax and accounting software

What Is In An Accountant’s Name?

Accountants will obviously do what their title says- accounting. You may have hired an accountant because you were looking for a good credit score for your company. But who says there cannot be more to an accountant than just money and numbers? The perception obviously is already changing but we still have a long way to go.

Here are all the ways in which your accountant is going to optimize your business:

Kick Start Your Start-Up With Expert Advice From Your Accountant

Start-ups fail more often than not. This happens when

1. The business structures are not determined correctly,
2. Finances are not properly managed,
3. Government regulations are not properly complied with,
4. Daily expenses are not tracked properly, etc.

Issues like these can be avoided with the help of an accountant. He can meet all formalities for you and can help you manage your personal and business expenses properly. He will also take you through a number of other legal procedures which you are otherwise not familiar with.

Business Expansion Done Right

Businesses are volatile and the demands are ever changing. If the business is doing well, the owner is most likely to expand it. And in the case of loss-making, the business owner may prefer to shrink the process. In the case of expansion, the business owner will hire new employees and invest in infrastructure.

On the other hand, contracting the size of the business also needs to be a well-calculated move. These situations may pose certain challenges for the business owner. This is when expert advice is required. Having an accountant can guide you through all of these challenges in the best possible manner.

Financial Processes Well Taken Care Of

Your accountant will clear your plate of all the financial duties. He will take care of your balance sheets, calculate your profits and losses, prepare your yearly and monthly budget, and analyze your financial data to help you make informed business decisions in the future. The best part about hiring an accountant is that every step is taken while keeping in mind the financial regulations and laws.

Minimize Your Tax Bills The Legal Way

Your business accountant will help you to reduce costs in a number of ways. He studies the internal working of the business to the depth and formulates policies that favor the interests of the owner. An accountant knows best about the financial health of the company and he advises the owner in a way so as to add value to the business as well as to the employees.

Steer Clear of Stress And Save Your Valuable Time

If not for other reasons, this one can be a real savior for you as a business owner. When you are starting a new business, you would definitely want some extra time at hand. Your accountant can take the stress of managing finances away from you.

Be Your Support System Whenever Needed

An accountant can guide you through even the simplest of procedures. When expanding a business, you may be over or underestimating your finances. This is when your accountant can step in and clear the air for you. He builds strategies to provide expert solutions for the financial problems that your business faces and also perform a deep analysis to predict the future revenue possibilities related to the new ventures.

Accountants act as pillars of strength for a business. With their expert vision and expertise, accountants can guide their business owners in making decisions that are weighed-in and well informed. They not only add value to a business and help it flourish, but accountants also help to enhance the business image. They give valuable advice, audit your business internally to keep a check on performance, reduce costs to maximize profits and analyze a company’s financial position.

Cloud Sprawl- The Problem of Too Many Clouds

Conversion from “earliest adopters” to “just cut bait” is an ordinary talk for most of the businesses out there. It is not uncommon for business leaders to be stunned to discover that they can barely keep track of the cloud services they’ve been paying for – time and again give space to a low-risk model: Cloud Sprawl.

The surplus adoption rate of any technology is hazardous. Long ago, virtualization was the buzz of the market, administrators were diving in different servers to create new workloads, setting aside the management part – brought VM sprawl issue into the scene. Now, similar instance taking place with the wide adoption of cloud computing and the term that added in the list of security nightmare is cloud sprawl.

Cloud Sprawl

What is cloud sprawl?

Cloud sprawl is a widespread phenomenon that takes place in an organization due to the uncontrolled proliferation or reckless usage of cloud-based applications. Most of the companies use an array of services to obtain maximum scalability and flexibility, which is justified. But often, it becomes a confusing mess as a disparate group of employees start using these services, and responsible authorities fail to keep track of it.

From hype to hyper

Innovator of every new technology knows how to hype its features and advantages in the market, but do they make users aware of hypertension comes along with inadequate monitoring of the same technology. Perhaps!

Undoubtedly, cloud adoption is blowing up in all aspects: support ­collaboration, simplify accounting, drive productivity and more. But, at the same time, such increasing cloud adoption rate is asking organizations to beware of the hidden dangers of cloud sprawl. Gartner recently had spoken to 110 senior executives belongs to risk, finance, audit and compliance sector, about their top risk concern while dealing with cloud computing. Most of them responded ‘lack of proper control monitoring in the business environment’ as a significant enterprise risk.

Effective Strategies For Managing Cloud Sprawl

There’s no doubt in saying that the unchecked growth of cloud resources is the main cause behind cloud sprawl. Organizations constantly add new resources and services to feed their user base, and not giving attention to timely cloud audits resulting, cloud sprawl. To add value, it is important for organizations to make an actionable plan for cloud sprawl. Here are some effective strategies for your comprehensive IT strategy.

Get ahead with the manifest cloud strategy

You should always clearly define and communicate your cloud strategy with CFO and other IT members to avoid any kind of communication gaps. To address cloud sprawl, you must first create and establish a proper implementation plan, and ensure a seamless implementation process.

Managers and other heads should also well-aware of any kind of changes take place in the defined cloud strategy. Organizations should ensure that team leaders receive written policies and protocols to circulate to the employees.

Develop a Cloud Migration Strategy

Having a definite cloud migration strategy is yet another way to manage cloud sprawl effectively. Cloud migration consists of many moving parts, which makes it a necessity to first analyze where workloads should be moved.

Conduct Regular Cloud Audits

From VM instances to other infrastructure instances, regular cloud audits cover all aspects of cloud services that might entertain cloud sprawl. Businesses who conduct cloud health checks find its advantages on-spot, which also help them in creating risk assessments plan to address many factors.

Implement Automated Identity Management

Every organization should follow a strong governance framework to track any kind of unauthorized access happening within the business. Establishment of role-based access control policies eases cloud services provisions and eradicate authority related confusions.

Does your business have cloud sprawl?

Believe it or not, cloud sprawl is becoming a bit of a problem and needs proper control over cloud environment sooner rather than later. Most of the companies use multiple cloud platforms just for the sake of employees’ choices or, to entertain automated processes in business. But, it is necessary for the IT department to make sure that explicit reporting and monitoring of every activity should be there.

Regardless of how much cloud usage your company does, you should always be ready to apply some control. You never know when your volume of cloud services extends and overwhelms the IT team’s ability to manage and secure them. Never underestimate the power of ground control in the process of making your workers more mobile and effective.

How Network Intelligence is Shaping the Global Business Environment?

We all know what the term ‘network’ means for different industries. In business and in technology, the major key to success is forming a network that endures healthy relationships with the target audience. This is where Network Intelligence (NI) must come into play. It can be defined as the process of creating a bond with your clients, which goes beyond the organizational circle.

Gartner describes NI as a technology that helps communications service providers (CSPs) capture information from the network traffic, which is then analyzed using tools to fabricate policies that can influence customer experience and services offered that improve business productivity.

Network intelligence is a highly robust practice that technologists must put into the process. With the aim to reform digital experiences across the globe, NI is the understanding of topologies and behavior that lead to better IT decision making.

How Network Intelligence is Shaping the Global Business Environment

How can we use Network Intelligence?

Any application or service being over a network can be used under network intelligence.

1. NI is very useful for cloud migration projects and analyzing performance challenges. Whether a network error occurs from inside the business or from the cloud service provider, it is essential to determine the root cause to take action for fixing performance issues.

2. It can play a major role in data security of an organization. As the number of companies adopting cloud technology is increasing, the need for the powerful authentication process and security measures are also growing.

3. Tools of NI can help monitor the application performance and give a view of the network infrastructure making them extremely valuable.

4. Also, NI can obtain web page statistics like page load and transaction timing, and analyze its performance for issues.

Features of Network Intelligence

NI works on the concept of instant knowledge transmission and open interpretation, enhancing innovation and growth.

Let us take a look at its features.

I. Transmission of Knowledge
It goes without saying that businesses run on data. IT and business have formed a close relationship where the former is absolutely necessary to run the latter. Thus, it is imperative to transmit knowledge for problem-solving. But to do that, IT professionals are first required to gather knowledge. Here, NI is a smart tool with its ability to decode a network and report the knowledge for effective problem-solving.

II. Flexible Interpretation
Having rules is useful, but do not let those rules or guidelines hinder your creative thought process. IT workers want to exercise their brains and not just play by the rules to the point of automation. Ideas must be entertained in a positive setup and not compared to old cases.

III. Principal Beliefs
These beliefs or laws can be quite the hindrance for a creative mindset. Innovation and ideas are always welcome. But IT professionals are often stereotyped as solving issues just on the narrow path and not exploring their inventive capabilities. That is not true, and with NI tools, this will no longer be the case.

IV. Intellectual Ownership
A crucial step for innovation to succeed is letting go of ownership and sharing your ideas with everyone openly. This practice nowadays is becoming increasingly common among IT departments. With NI, the focus changes to the application of knowledge instead of ownership.

Now that we have understood the importance and core characteristics of network intelligence, let’s put them into practice.

‘Make a collective Decision > Create a list of experts > Utilize online tools > Improve your skill set > Initiate the use of NI for problem-solving’

These five steps are primary in the application of NI in a business process. In the upcoming future, most of the pressing problems will be solved by tapping into networks.

Key to Customer Satisfaction

The objective of applying network intelligence is to enhance customer experience and keep them on high priority, regardless of circumstances. Analysing a user’s behaviour and delivering beyond expectation remains a constant challenge for operators. Currently, all data and operations are done manually on plain baselines.

The sophistication of machine learning will simplify and automate the process, to recognize unlisted events and spontaneously take necessary steps, to ensure customer experience remains unaffected. Working intelligently with developing resources and taking quick action (even if it is automated) to prevent the customer from struggling and make them feel important.

There is no denying that issues may arise from time to time. But with network intelligence, the operator has full network visibility and the tools to analyze the root cause of the error and troubleshoot accordingly.

What the future holds?

As technology grows, so does our impatience – we need results and we need them quick. Automation is the way to delivering speedy reports, but the operator needs to be well-versed in utilizing those tools. Thus, there is a need to look at the existing process and gain insight on where automation can make the most impact.

Keep in mind that the prime focus is always on the customer. Automation can complete a process with a hundred times the current speed and enhanced accuracy, ultimately bringing in better results for the customer. The end goal is to apply network intelligence and cater to the needs of the customer in the most effective way possible.

Big Data: Is It More Or Less Important Than Small Data?

Big Data is the newest buzz in the entrepreneur world. Firms both big and small are quickly replacing their traditional business expansion techniques with big data. This raises the obvious question- what really is big data after all? Well, the name says it all.

Big data is just another term for an enormous amount of information. This information is so huge that no technology is currently capable of handling it efficiently. Yet, there is absolutely no denying that big data has taken business strategies by storm.

A firm of any size, whether large, medium or small, needs data to function. Most importantly, the information has to be surrounding the potential clients. For example, a firm selling sports shoes need to target fitness freaks or an athlete more than a regular person whose choice of shoes is completely based on style. In short, major decisions depend on what big data has to say.

Big data

So How Does Big Data Work?

There is a simple strategy that firms use to make the best out of big data. You collect information about your prospective clients and store it for later use. And this data is volatile in nature. It is huge and it will continue to grow. Firms, with their team of experts, generally invest top dollars in big data collection and a lot more time in analyzing the trends of how preferences have evolved over the years.

The mountains of information will guide the firm in making decisions that have a significantly higher chance of being a success than a decision made otherwise. Or, so it is expected. This is what most big companies are up to these days.

But this doesn’t mean there are no risks involved. As mentioned, the collection of big data is an expensive process. And the end results may not always be fruitful. The investment thus may altogether go down the drain.

Does Size Really Matter?

Everyone is talking about big data. Let it be risky, it is still not stopping anyone from obtaining it. Social media activities are still being recorded and people’s personal information is being collected. Hundreds of thousands of email ids are noted and maintained thinking it will be of use one day. But is it only this ‘big data’ that is the mantra to success?

How was targeted marketing being done before big data was possible? There was a thing called small data. The ‘was’ here is used to remind people how we have stopped discussing it. Small data is still important. A firm can build itself prominently with piles of expensive, structured and unstructured big data, but small data will come into play some day or the other.

Small Data: The Unsung Hero

Small data, exactly as we call it, is information that matters in real-time. Big data may not always help. It can be understood with a simple example. A tourist visiting Hawaii may have surfed the internet and tried to grasp as much information about the place as possible. But the tour a native may give him, Google can’t. Same is the case with small data. The intricacies of small data overshadow the vastness that engulfs big data.

Isn’t A Combination of Both Helpful?

Yes, indeed. For example, WalMart needs to know what sort of diapers mothers prefer the most for their babies. And it also needs to know which diapers they won’t buy and why. Here, big data will tell about the diaper brand that recorded the highest sales in a particular period of time. But why did the other brand fail? That’s the kind of information small data collects and values.

On one hand, E-commerce giants like Amazon use the customer’s on-app activities to detect the kind of buyer they are dealing with- a fashionista, a gym enthusiast or a tech-savvy person. His future purchases can be guessed upon and offers can be given based upon what the person does most while on the app. This information becomes a part of big data. And on the other hand, Amazon may need to be one with the local markets to target their clients appropriately. When a customer in Europe needs a snug piece of clothing, a customer in India may be looking for summer styles. Thus, covering the latest global trends is part of big data, while targeting customers based on location is what comes under small data.

How Are Small and Medium Sized Businesses Related With Big and Small Data?

SMBs or Small and Medium Sized Businesses are more rooted to the area where they are located. It takes time to expand a business. In the initial years, an SMB needs to know the surroundings the best. Small data is more useful to small and medium-sized businesses compared to big data, although not entirely. Therefore, a perfect blend of the two is what can fuel the business.

In Conclusion.

An entrepreneur needs to understand the possibilities of both big as well as small data. Using the two at the best of their capabilities is important. What big data can do, small data can’t and the reverse is also equally true.

If you own a chain of restaurants running in a particular city in Northern America, customer reviews of the entire country will not be as helpful as those of the regulars belonging to the area. And what do we call that piece of information? Small data. Whereas, food giants like Taco Bell or McDonald’s will rely more on big data compared to small.

Hence, while big data drive major decisions, small data will let you dig a little deeper.

 

 

 

Monitoring Access To Sensitive Data In The Cloud: A Comprehensive Guide

A business undergoes a myriad of changes over the course of time. Strategies are revised and new ideas keep pouring in to fuel the growth and ensure all-round success of the company. Following the popularity of cloud and the associated cost benefits, most businesses across the world have proceeded towards the cloud.

Besides being budget-friendly, cloud computing has evolved as a highly time-saving solution to a slew of business requirements. By taking the business to the cloud, entrepreneurs store their information on the internet instead of saving it on their local or dedicated computers. This information can be sensitive in a number of ways: 

QuickBooks Data In The Cloud

a. it may include customer details such as email addresses, bank statements, contact numbers, account details, etc.,

b. their financial records,

c. company’s account details,

d. personal documents, etc.

Confidential information of any sort needs to be secured. Therefore, there is always a need to monitor sensitive data in the cloud.

Why do firms lag behind in monitoring their online data?

A research claims that out of all the firms using cloud technology for data storage, only 29% invested in 24*7 monitoring of their data. Other 71% do not realise that data monitoring is just as important as installing a security camera in their office building.

Several reasons can be held responsible for not investing in data security:

i) Shortage of adequate cybersecurity skills. Firms may have a shortage of staff members to monitor data access activities all the time.

ii) Lack of financial resources. Some firms claimed that they could not afford to monitor all data access activities as it was expensive.

iii) An absence of monitoring tools. Not having the right analytics tools and technical controls to monitor data access is another reason why the sensitive data is often left in the open.

What makes data monitoring a necessity?

Data, irrespective of the type or category, can be critical for a company. If not effectively monitored, information stored on the cloud can be accessible to those who are not authorized. Users accessing the data saved on the cloud not only require it to be available 24*7 but also, want it to be fully safe and secure round-the-clock.

1. Data security is a mandate for businesses relying on cloud technology for storing information and running applications. Data not monitored adequately can be exposed to thieves and hackers. Some of the reasons that lead to these risks are discussed below:

i) Data is stored away from its owners.

Most cloud service providers are located far away from where their customers are located. In most cases, entrepreneurs seeking cloud services are not aware of where their critical information is saved. Entrepreneurs need to ensure that the cloud service provider they have chosen is in compliance with the data security regulations that their business requires.

ii) Unauthorized people may gain access to sensitive business data.

Another important reason to monitor your critical business data is that anyone can gain access to the data on the cloud. Since the information is stored on a remote server, the service provider’s employees or a third party may gain access to the data.

iii) Data breaches occur without warning.

Hackers are always on the lookout. Any loose end can be captured by a hacker. Data breach may occur while transporting data or a hacker may gain access to the data by other means.

Every business has to follow some fixed regulations for data security. Thus, it is imperative for data owners to ensure if the service provider has installed a secure firewall and antivirus program, invested in data encryption to keep its data safe and followed all security guidelines for complete data security.

How To Monitor Access To Sensitive Data In The Cloud?

1. Control Access To Your Data

Controlling access to your customer data can be done in four elaborate ways:

i) Providing end-to-end visibility

Just knowing who has access to your remotely stored data can be a solution to the risks associated with your data security. End-to-end visibility of those handling your sensitive information is thus necessary.

ii) Ensuring privileged access to the data

With privileged user access management, owners of data can ensure that higher authority users such as managers and administrators cannot gain access to your personalized accounts.

iii) Securing access to sensitive information

Additional data security measures such as data encryption can be helpful in managing access to your critical data. Only users who are in possession of the encryption key can access the information stored on the cloud.

iv) Monitor and audit access to the stored data

There are several reasons that make monitoring and auditing of stored data necessary. Several monitoring tools are available online-account management tools, identity management solutions and data security technologies. Your cloud service provider can also leverage you with tools and programs to ensure efficient monitoring and auditing.

There are 2 benefits of regular monitoring and auditing-

One, by monitoring the visitors any suspicious activity can be identified and a data breach can be prevented beforehand.

Two, in case a breach happens, the culprits can be identified and a major data loss can be prevented.

 2. Invest In Data Protection

As the amount of data on the cloud is increasing by the day, the need to protect it is also on the rise. There are two key aspects of data protection- data availability and data management. This simply means minimum downtime for the users to ensure they have access to data whenever needed and no data loss when transporting it from one source to the other.

3. An Efficient Incident Response Strategy

An incident response strategy is helpful in case a breach happens. It gives the user the power to react in real-time. Custom alerts can be set to bring any suspicious or abnormal activity to the owner’s and service provider’s notice.

A Final Thought

Based on the discussion above, there are two important aspects that ensure complete data security-controlled access and a trustworthy cloud services provider.

Data including customer email addresses, receipts, contact numbers, and everything in between needs to be protected from the third party. And only a trustworthy, as well as efficient vendor, can ensure complete security to this data.

GDPR, the cloud, and your business

Data protection is something that cannot be stressed enough. Privacy of online data is already in a questionable place with hackers ready to misuse information for their benefit. The previous data protection rules were created in the 1990s which struggled to keep up with the rapid changes in the digital world. A step forward was required which will modify the scenario of data handling across the globe.

GDPR, the cloud, and your business

The need of GDPR

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation and has been in the works for a long time now. The main goal was to enhance the data rights of EU citizens and harmonize the law for data protection across all member countries. It is also applicable to businesses which are outside the European zone and want to trade in the area.

The GDPR came into effect on 25th May 2018. Coming as a huge benefit to people, this regulation brings more transparency to the collection and usage of data by various organizations. Transforming the way how businesses and public sector organizations use customer data, it also states strict punishments and fines for those who fail to comply with these rules.

Mainly designed to give people more control over their data, this is a relief in the midst of technological advancements and news of data misuse. Individuals can now demand the companies to reveal or delete any information they have on them. While many organizations are still struggling to comply by the rules, it is evident that these affect every company.

Read here to know more about GDPR compliance rules.

GDPR and the cloud

One of the basic parts and most celebrated achievements of the evolving digital world is cloud computing. But the new compliance rules will affect every company holding data of EU citizens, even if the data centers are located beyond the EU region.

If the data is procured by legal means, the management and security of that data is of equal importance. Enterprises need to make sure they or their cloud service providers are compliant with the guidelines stated in the new regulations. Even if a cloud provider is found to be violating the regulations, the client company is liable as it is the controller and owner of that data.

Also, once a company has started to wholly use cloud-based services, it is essential to conduct regular audits to ensure compliance with GDPR. It might be a dull task, but a necessary one to avoid hefty fines for violation. Thus, in the global internet space, every application or service used must be in line with GDPR.

GDPR and the Accounting Industry

Accountants deal with a lot of private data on a daily basis and thus must be particular in their adaptation. The law applies to every citizen of the EU, a lot of small things can be easily missed. For example, your client may give you data about their business in the EU region when you are in the EU, but you may not be allowed to access that private data from outside the EU.

The new law applies to every single EU citizen, even those who have a dual citizenship, probably within the US. Thus, you may have an issue with data of your US-based clients too. This opens an array of complications that need to be managed with precision.

Accounting firms need to get the following things in order:

Privacy policies

– Demonstration of data consent

– Efficient management of data

– Security of the stored data

Affecting the World, Including US-Based Businesses

It is a common misconception that businesses outside the EU need not worry, but in reality, GDPR affects every business globally which collects any kind of personal data from its clients.

In a move towards creating the world’s strongest data protection regulations, the GDPR laws safeguard the personal information of individuals. But it is not limited to the European region. Any company using the web to target clientele, specifically in the EU region, has to learn about GDPR and make sure they comply.

US companies providing hospitality, travel, software services, and e-commerce websites are most likely to fall under scrutiny.

There is still uncertainty on how the EU will approach GDPR violations by companies based in the US and other countries that work on the web. But the EU is serious about uniformity and strict laws changing the online practices to increase citizen’s privacy.

Data is key, and data protection is essential. GDPR is a detailed set of regulations that was adopted by both the European Parliament and the European Council in April 2016 after four years of negotiations. The GDPR was published in the EU Journal in May 2016 and came into force on May 25, 2018, giving two years of preparation to companies to make changes in their policies accordingly.

Facebook and Google were hit with an $8.8 billion lawsuit for failing to comply with the GDPR on the first day of its adaptation. Some websites in the US have blocked their operations in the EU rather than adhering to new regulations. But as the saying goes, “Change is the only constant.” Therefore, we must be accepting and go with the flow of the modern era.

 

The Information Age: Unlocking the Power of Big Data

Big Data, evolving as a new business resource, is helping businesses to create an economy that is powered by innovative insights. Since a long time businesses are investing in assets that deplete with use and going nowhere. However, data is self-perpetuating. Big data is simply utilizing this unique behavior of data to minimize information complexity through a strategic analytics approach.

Unlocking the power of Big data

 

Big Data’s Growth: What’s Your Perspective?

1. Big Data is accelerating the revenue growth of almost every sector by reducing their IT budget pressures and offering accurate data sets. Most of the leading organizations including Accenture believes that companies that do not embrace advanced analytics and strategic approaches are more likely to regret their competitive position. Here are few examples that show the actual benefits of leveraging Big Data & analytics into business.

Big Data market revenues

2. Statista reported two of the major analytics technologies, Hadoop and Big Data are expected to extend from $17.1B (2017) to $99.31B (2022) obtaining a 28.5% CAGR. It is also predicted by StrategyMRC that the highest projected growth will be seen in 2021 and 2022 when the market is ready to cross $30B in one year.

Hadoop and Big Data
Statista

3. NewVantage Venture Partners Survey states that 84% of enterprises prioritize big data initiatives and embrace advanced analytic tactics to experience greater accuracy and accelerate decision-making rate within the business environment.

Success Rates Among Corporations

To fabricate entirely new business models and acquire sustainable marketplace advantages, businesses are leveraging big data using AI which is adequate to deal with such voluminous and complex data sets. In recent years, AI has also witnessed huge success in mainstream consumer environments. But, again, AI with finite data will only offer rudimentary analytics.

The fact is both Big data and AI are a counterpart of each other.

Harnessing big data using AI: Worth the effort?

Fact: Machine learning (an application of AI) dates back to the 1950’s whereas Big data begin to be a thing in early 2013.

Undoubtedly, leading organizations are building cross-sector relationships to attain a platform, which makes it possible for them to gather quality data. Modern-day consumers are way more active on social media platforms allowing businesses to derive actionable insights out of the data sets provided online. But how exactly big data and AI gather these insights?

i. Movement patterns identified by analyzing cellular mobile data of each consumer.

ii. Interests and brand likability tracked through their online activity logs.

iii. Travel customs recorded scrutinizing electronic ticketing and CCTV footage.

AI under the aegis of big data forecasts more pragmatic perspective that helps businesses to understand specific behavior and perceived preferences of each user. The multinational technology company, Google itself uses big data to better understand the preferences and behavior of millions of people and make use of AI to provide the most relevant search results.

Big data is changing the way businesses quest for starting points by enhancing their ability to gather and contextualize relevant information that leads to intelligent strategic decision making.

But isn’t it’s important for a business to first devise a strategic analytics approach – before unlocking it – to interpret the nature and scale of data it will provide.

Lead with Purpose

It is essential for leading organizations to achieve clarity in a world of ambiguity. In certain circumstances, businesses start with a less clearly defined strategic point, which might collect useful data sets but not worth the purpose. Such unmatched approaches not only extract them from the right path but also consume valuable resources.

To avoid fueling valuable resources and investing precious time into something that delivers unsuitable insights, businesses need to first acknowledge their sector and nature of data they wish to utilize. Harness innovative technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), the blockchain, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) help businesses to strengthen their hold on the basics of data management, BI and analytics.

Therefore, businesses need to accelerate their speed in today’s data-driven culture to lead with purpose – better business outcomes.

New opportunities bring new challenges

Once a business figured out all the possible chances of opportunities in today’s competitive data-centric environment. The next point to consider is, measuring the team’s capability of harnessing and analyzing available information.

In the same way, any organization can gather information by analyzing the behavior of consumers that will lead them to victory. The proper understanding of proxy of behavior i.e, movement tracking and brand likability help businesses to collect, analyze and harness the right information. On the source of gathered information businesses then can bring improvement in the tactics of marketing their products and services.

But, it is again a mystery for businesses to track and analyze the ‘possible data point’ to start with. Finding valuable starting points from the endless possibilities seems to be a challenging path for businesses. Let’s make the overall procedure a little easy for businesses who are afraid of – “Where to begin?”.

Emphasize on these three points before seeking new challenges:

i. What type of data should your team record?

ii. How should your team measure and analyze that data?

iii. How can strategic analytics approach help create more robust outcomes?

How can businesses successfully fulfill above mentioned three points that will help them confront new challenges comes along with new business opportunities.

Begin With The Right Path

Most of the leading organizations are unable to find starting points as they are unable to interpret the right path. However, tracking the real-time differences to forecast one fixed strategy will surely help businesses to target their goals. The simple ladder to reckon new opportunities and opportunities without lagging behind in any way as mentioned above:

1. Hire a team of experts

For businesses to knock out challenges and seek opportunities, it is essential to create a team consists of behavioral management experts, big data experts, and analytics experts. To leap ahead of the competition, every team should these three types of individuals:

i. Data jockeys, individuals who can prepare and manipulate big data sets for analysis.

ii. Data scientists, individuals who are capable of understanding modern analytic methods and can create data models accordingly.

iii. Business consultants, individuals who can utilize an appropriate strategic approach to build connections between your company’s questions and goals.

2. Strategize a project playbook

Your team should follow an operational strategy irrespective of language or platform and should be able to:

i. Identify the end goal.

ii. Capture and track the right data.

iii. Follow the right analytic methods.

iv. Ensure clear directives and recommendations.

Final Thought

Smart deployment of scalable big data technologies helps businesses to relieve IT budget pressures and also minimize information complexity. The whole idea of operationalizing big data analytics may seem difficult, but effective and efficient analysis of all provided information will reap significant benefits.

 

 

QuickBooks 2019 is just Round the Corner: Is Your Wish on the List?

People often wonder which platform is best suited for their accounting software – QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Hosting. Whereas, some others wonder if QuickBooks Desktop is now a dead term.

For those who love the desktop version can rest assured (for now). Intuit has maintained that QuickBooks Desktop is there to stay, maybe forever. And those using QuickBooks Hosting or planning to make the shift in 2019 have some surprises waiting.

QuickBooks 2019

QuickBooks has been popular with accountants, CPAs, and business owners for a long time now. The features that QuickBooks offers are easy to use, particularly aimed at making accounting easier for small and medium-sized businesses.

QuickBooks 2019

Here is what makes QuickBooks the most popular tax and accounting software even today:

1. The Ease of Using QuickBooks

When marketing QuickBooks, Intuit claimed that the software is easy to use. Small and medium-sized business owners can thus use QuickBooks, without feeling the need for frequent professional help.

2. Ready Support

Although QuickBooks is simple software, there are users who may take the time to understand the basics. Until then, there are a large number of accountants who are well versed in using QuickBooks. A lot of people hire professionals to manage their tax and accounts, using QuickBooks, thus making it the most preferred software among several others.

3. Packed With Features

Every accountant, CPA and business owner has his own set of needs and demands. QuickBooks is packed with a wide range of features suitable for both big as well as small businesses.

What Are The Users Looking For in QuickBooks 2019?

In the fall of every year, users witness a refined version of QuickBooks software. Going by the trend, Intuit is expected to release its updated version in the September of 2018.

While Intuit has maintained its silence regarding the updates in the new version of QuickBooks, there are some speculations about what’s new this year.

What Do The Predictors Say?

The predictions made by experts say that the coming version of QuickBooks will offer the following features:

A) Keyboard Shortcuts On Demand

Some users demand additional keyboard shortcuts for the ease of working on QuickBooks. For example, simple shortcuts like using “CTRL+” and “CTRL-” to zoom in and zoom out the numbers on the sheet.

B) Detailed Inventory Reports

Based on the previous data, the inventory reports should be able to forecast the days/weeks up to which the stock will last. There should also be a provision to check the inventory stock status by the Lot number.

C) Customer Security

The security measures in QuickBooks 2019 are expected to be more compact than before.

D) An ‘Undo’ Button

To err is human. Errors while making entries are common and an Undo button can make it easier to quickly correct mistakes.

E) Multiple Vendors

Multiple vendors for a single product ensure a greater possibility of product availability. This feature is not available on every QuickBooks platform. Apart from a primary vendor, several other vendors can be attached.

F) Packing And Shipping Feature

Currently, QuickBooks allows the customers to ‘pick’ their items. But tracking of packing and shipping are usually done via a third party. The QuickBooks 2019 version may allow customers to track packing and shipping of the items. Since a number of businesses are moving online, the feature may just be the most needed one.

G) Landed Costs

By knowing the landing costs, businesses can analyze their budget better, price their products efficiently and make the most out of their business.

A number of accountants have been demanding for the software to have a built-in capability to do the landing costs.

The 2019 version of QuickBooks is expected to have this ability.

Advantages of Using QuickBooks Hosting

QuickBooks Hosting simply means to have all the features QuickBooks software on the cloud. This automatically means there will be a number of benefits of using the hosted version of QuickBooks. Here’s how it can be advantageous:

a) Your Privacy Will Always Be The Top Priority

QuickBooks Hosting provides its users with a virtual timeline to let them track each individual transaction. Users also have a control over who has access to their data.

b) Pocket-Friendly Software

A lean IT infrastructure paired with upgraded software in QuickBooks Hosting significantly cuts the overhead costs for the firms. There is no need to shell out heavy bucks for storage up gradation or for updating the software.

c) Lets You To Leverage The Benefits Of Add-Ons

Add-ons are third-party tools, made to boost your work performance. QuickBooks on the cloud can sync with the hosted version of the add-ons to enjoy a more functional tax and accounting process.

d) 24/7/365 Security

Users are most concerned about security when storing their data on the cloud. QuickBooks Hosting takes several security measures such as multiple backups, recovery options, a secure firewall, anti-virus program and data encryption to keep the client’s data safe.

e) Easy to Use

The QuickBooks interface is simple and users both young and old find it easy to learn. Thus, moving beyond the complexity of traditional tax and accounting software.

f) Always Accessible

A highly celebrated benefit of QuickBooks Hosting is its universal accessibility. QuickBooks on the cloud can be accessed from any time, anywhere on any device whether computer, tablet, IOS or Android, only with a working internet connection. Thus, making collaborative work a possibility by breaking geographical barriers.

A Final Word

With fall just a few months away, QuickBooks 2019 will soon reach the markets. The expectations from QuickBooks 2019 are fairly high. New features will definitely be introduced and every addition is expected to fulfill the needs of a number of users. Hopefully, QuickBooks 2019 will bring in what the users demand.