Data Breaches and Enterprise Information Security: A Better Response

From major retailers to news services to government agencies, headlines about major data breaches are now alarmingly common.

Of course, hacking is nothing new. Initially the province of underground hobbyists, hacking burst into public consciousness with the release of the 1983 movie War Games. Though it’s now quaintly nostalgic, clips from the film were actually shown in the U.S. Congress at the time as “a ‘realistic representation’ of the dangers of hacking,” and inspired passage of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) within a year.

How to respond to data breachesToday, despite heightened awareness (and extensive investments in data protection technologies), the number and cost of data breaches continue to rise as foreign governments and cyber criminals seek to steal information for commercial and military advantage.

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How to Fix Costly Data Center Outages Fast

When any portion of an enterprise network or data center fails, restoring operation as quickly as possible is the top priority. For complex problems, immediately setting up a virtual war room using online enterprise collaboration software is the most effective approach.

Data center downtime is horrendously expensive; while cost estimates vary widely by industry, some of the most comprehensive research concludes the “average cost of data center downtime across industries (is) approximately $7,900 per minute” while “the average reported incident length was 86 minutes, resulting in average cost per incident” of nearly $700,000.

Image credit: CIO Insight
Image credit: CIO Insight

Furthermore, outages are occurring more frequently. In addition to the increasing complexity and scope of operating systems and core management and control suites, as well as hybrid cloud network infrastructures, leading causes of outages include:

  • Weather or power-related issues
  • Accidents or human error
  • Cyber attacks

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How the Role of IT is Changing in the Enterprise: Research

While a great deal has been written about how the role of IT is being transformed in response to disruptive technology change, recent research from Avanade and InformationWeek puts some hard numbers behind the words.

Reporting on those study results, Shelly Kramer notes that the traditional enterprise IT model is under pressure as rapidly evolving business needs and increasing tech-savvy employees demand faster, more flexible technology approaches.

changing role of IT in the enterpriseAs she observes, “it’s not unusual for the IT function to be viewed as something of an obstruction to be worked around rather than an asset to the business. This leads to the rise of alternative, external cloud solutions being adopted directly by other business unit leaders and a hodgepodge of unconnected ‘solutions’ being used by various factions within the company.”  Working around IT rather than with it leads to risks enterprises need to acknowledge and address.

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Five Ways to Use Process Automation to Prevent Corporate Data Breaches

The increasing sophistication of data thieves, proliferating number of potential breach points, and growing value of stolen data combined to drive the number and cost of data breaches to new highs last year. And the risks to enterprises continue to expand.

How automation can prevent data breachesBut despite the growing threats, many enterprises remain woefully unprepared—even after investing in IT security solutions. According to recent research from Lieberman Software reported in Infosecurity magazine, “69 percent of (IT professionals) do not feel they are using their IT security products to their full potential. As a result, a staggering 71 percent…believe this is putting their company, and possibly customers, at risk.”

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Agility, Evolution, and Teamwork: What Big Companies Can Learn from Startups (and Vice Versa)

Startup companies are widely perceived as being lean, agile, flexible, and most importantly: fast. Decisions are made and implemented quickly. They can “turn on a dime” when business needs or marketplace conditions require.

Large enterprises, in contrast, are known for none of these characteristics. They are however, generally, very good at “process.” Though sometimes derided as “bureaucratic,’ this process mentality is vital to successfully managing large-scale operations.

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Six Key ERM and IT Trends for 2015

Danish physicist Neils Bohr is credited with saying “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” And indeed, prognostications are often proven wrong, particularly regarding technology, sometimes absurdly so: for example, Businessweek magazine’s prediction that the paperless office was just a few years away—made in 1975.

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Virtual War Rooms: Collaborating to Solve Big Problems Fast

How can organizations solve complex enterprise problems as quickly as possible? Timeliness is essential to minimize lost revenue and productivity, and in some cases even damage to the corporate brand image.

Resolving urgent, multi-vendor, mission-critical types of problems requires collaboration. But coordinating the input and effort of employees—along with, in some situations,  partners,  suppliers, consultants or others outside the organization—who work remotely, are traveling, or are based in other cities (or countries) is challenging.

While there are a range of online collaboration tools (for functions like project management, voice/Web conferencing, and file sharing) on the market, most aren’t designed for in-the-moment, team-based problem solving. Nor are they focused on the most critical type of problem management from a business value perspective: restoring a service or operation as quickly as possible.

Usig virtual war room software for problem collaboration

A new white paper, Virtual War Rooms: Resolving Enterprise Problems with Collaboration Tools describes the current collaboration technology landscape; situations requiring real-time collaborative problem resolution; and the capabilities needed in an online tool to provide effective and efficient enterprise problem management.

Lost Productivity is Very Expensive

For critical business services in large organizations, every minute of downtime equates to lost productivity, which can be measured in real financial terms. When orders can’t be processed, products can’t be shipped, employees can”t answer phone calls or emails, a production line shuts down, or any other situation where people are unable to do their jobs due to a technology issue—the business loses money. For example, Gartner has calculated that the average cost of network downtime across industries is $5,600 per minute.

Solving Big Problems Require  Collaboration

Large enterprise problems can take many forms, including customer issues (e.g., a shipment fails to arrive on time); a public relations or social media crisis; business impacts from natural disasters; and information security breaches. But a not uncommon (and expensive if not fixed quickly) category is key enterprise systems going down, such as ERP, ITSM, supply chain, factory control, or email.

When such a system stops functioning, rapid problem resolution and system restoration is vital to minimize the expense, disruption, and interruption of vital operational processes. Identifying the source of the problem, correcting, and restoring service often involves communication and coordination of efforts between IT, business function or unit managers, and external consultants or vendors.

Using Virtual War Rooms to Coordinate Action

Online project management tools are generally designed for administering long-term endeavors. Solving large, urgent enterprise problems requires a different type of tool, one designed to enable teams to quickly formulate and execute action plans. Such a “virtual war room” tool should:

  • Enable internal and experts to quickly get up to speed on what’s known and what’s been done.
  • Allow tasks to be assigned and tracked.
  • Permit documents, images and other vital information to be uploaded and shared.
  • Provide real-time communication from any connected device, anywhere.
  • Maintain a record of communications and activities for later audit, diagnosis or training purposes.

Ideally, the tool should also be easy to implement, and even more importantly, intuitive to use: there’s no time to train anyone on use of the software when the enterprise is in a crisis situation or dealing with a mission-critical system outage.

Implementing a virtual war room tool enables organizations to make better, faster decisions in difficult circumstances; restore vital services or resolve other significant problems more quickly; and minimize the costs of lost productivity, revenue,  or opportunities. Download the white paper Virtual War Rooms: Resolving Enterprise Problems with Collaboration Tools to learn more.

How to Improve Enterprise Data Security AND Increase Efficiency

From serious breaches of customer data at Target, Home Depot and other major retailers to leaked private celebrity photos, data security issues seem to be everywhere in the news.

The circumstances and causes behind each intrusion vary. But the costs to business are substantial and nearly always include lost sales, legal expenses, and reduced customer confidence.

Improve data security and process efficiency with ERMAs the malicious exploits become more sophisticated, enterprises must constantly reassess their tools, policies and processes to keep sensitive information secure. In some instances, security improvements require significant new investments. But often, access—both digital and physical—can be made more secure while efficiency is simultaneously improved.

Frequently, organizations optimize security based on best practices within each functional area. This may (or may not) be effective, but from the perspective of the enterprise, it’s clearly not efficient.

A new white paper explains how enterprise request management (ERM) provides a a better approach to securing access, both to facilities and systems. An ERM strategy combines a single, centralized web portal for requesting any type of enterprise service with a workflow automation engine that orchestrates approvals, scheduling and fulfillment by communicating with and between in-place enterprise and department management and control systems.

In the ERM approach, all of information needed to arrange for specific security clearances for a new employee, contractor, or project team, is entered (and validated) only once. All back-end tasks (e.g., conducting background checks, setting up a corporate email account, printing a security badge) are automated per pre-defined rules and workflows.

The result is more accurate information, reduction or elimination of manual tasks, and reduced risk of any aspect of the secure access process being missed. Security and efficiency are both enhanced.

Download the new white paper, Safe and Sound: How Enterprise Request Management Improves Process Efficiency While Reducing Security Risks, to get the complete story.