The Impact of Data Loss on Businesses

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Category: Small Business Articles
Last Updated on 26 September 2012
Written by Tony Donoghue Hits: 866

Businessman watching his company impacted by data breach and it being made publicWhy are organisations failing to learn from the increasing numbers of highly publicised data security breaches that cause so much damage to company reputations?

With an ever increasing number of individuals working outside the office environment, there are continuing failures to provide a suitably secure vehicle for people to do what they need to do while at the same time ensuring that the critical information they use is properly protected.

In 2008 alone, and it's increasing year on year, there were over 277 separate incidents of public data loss reported in the UK. More than 29 million personal records reported lost by Government departments, including:

    • 8,000 children's records stored on a laptop taken from a council contractor's car
    • 18,000 NHS staff records were 'lost in the post' when unencrypted CDs were sent by normal surface mail between offices
    • 150,000 railway worker's pension and other personal details held on a laptop stolen from the handbag of a financial auditor
    • 1.7 million armed forces personnel had their personal data go missing when a portable hard drive disappeared from the Ministry of Defence's main IT contractor

 

A survey of 250 senior IT staff in private businesses larger than 1,000 employees, found that 79% of UK businesses were losing data at least once a month, and more than a quarter suffered data loss on a weekly or more frequent basis:

    • 1000 bank customer records were lost by an employee who mislaid an unencrypted memory stick
    • 1 million more bank customer records held by an archival firm turned up on a second-hand laptop sold through eBay
    • A well-known national retail company lost 26,000 employee records when a laptop was stolen from the home of a personnel contractor

 

In the present climate, national press keeps a close lookout for this type of incident; a company may see its hard-earned professional reputation lost almost overnight. Added to this, there is the potential fiscal impact of a data security breach. A 2008 Ponemon Institute benchmark study examined the costs incurred by thirty UK organisations after experiencing a data breach. Breaches included in the survey ranged from less than 4,100 records to more than 92,000 records from 10 different industry sectors. The key findings included:

    • The total average costs of a data breach is around £60 per record compromised, an increase of 28 percent since 2007 (£47 per record).
    • The average total cost per reporting company was more than £1.73 million per breach and ranged from £160,000 to over £4.8 million.
    • The cost of lost business continued to be the most costly effect of a breach averaging £920,000 or £32 per record compromised (58% of the cost of data breach).
    • The survey shows that lost or stolen laptops represent 28 percent of the breaches identified, with a cost per record of £71 against £55 for other data breach incidents.

 

Confidential information is going missing and this can impact your business significantlyThe issues of remote data access and secure data transfer are really not difficult to solve. However, you have to do more that just set up a VPN, give staff a token and an encrypted USB memory stick and hope everything will be OK. Companies must engage with organisations that do more than sell a product - it's important to look at the workflow elements that constitute an individuals remote working needs and then implement a solution based on these requirements.

Companies should consider, highly secure solutions that address these issues. Among the products available are:

    • A secure remote access solution that keeps the data in the organisation while allowing the remote user to work as if they were in the office. With no data cached on the remote device, its loss or theft is simply a minor inconvenience and not the next front-page news article
    • A data transfer product that allows an organisation to send securely files of any type or size between individuals or organisations while retaining full audit and organisation control with built-in workflow. This product eliminates the need for USB memory sticks or CD's sent via post, courier or (worse still) e-mail.
    • Online Cloud based products and services where local staff and external partners can share, communicate and collaborate in a safe, secure and stable environment.

 

If a company gives data security the consideration it deserves these losses can be prevented and people can work as they need to without having to resort to bad practice. Who after all wants to be the next big data security breach story?

 

If you think your company can benefit from these technologies or new ways of working, please get in touch with Magikos IT and we can discuss how to improve the way your company and staff communicate and collaborate online before you end up front page news...  Contact us today on 0843 289 2272 or Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  alternatively take a look at our 'Contact Us' page for more details.

Vapourware - A Lesson Learned!

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Category: Small Business Articles
Last Updated on 02 July 2012
Written by Tony Donoghue Hits: 658

Photo of untrusted sales guyWhat sparked off this post is the article spotted on e-Health Insider that stated that East Cheshire NHS Trust had opted to keep its existing PAS IT system and pay for a hardware upgrade,  rather than implement the Local Service Provider (LSP) offering of iSoft Lorenzo (i). This in itself wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary were it not for the fact that the Trust did so despite a £1 million incentive to take the LSP system!

Among the reasons cited for this decision were: the quality of the product was not of a sufficiently high standard & some key functions such as clinical coding and casenote tracking could not be demonstrated.

Thankfully, this Trust had the good sense to decline an unfinished product that (according to the report by the Public Accounts Committee) (ii) as yet isn’t running live “throughout a single Acute Trust”. Unfortunately, this pragmatic approach is all too often not the case and vapourware is still alive and kicking – even in large government projects!

Our own experience includes attending product “demonstrations” comprising nothing more than a snappy PowerPoint presentation of screenshots, with assurances that “everything will be fine” when the product is implemented by the project team. These demonstrations were not being conducted by small 'fly-by-night' companies but were from large organisations presenting projects that would cover entire regions, costing many hundreds of thousands of pounds. It’s all too easy for end-users to be taken in by the promises made by a slick sales-guy or overwhelmed by the “functionality” shown in the presentation.

Customers need to make sure that what is being demonstrated is what they actually need to fulfil their requirements – the finished product, delivered for the demonstration in the same way that it’s delivered for the live system with all relevant modules working. Suppliers need to be more ready to make a test system available to potential customers, even if it lacks the local tailoring for a specific site. If a supplier is unable to do this, they clearly don’t yet have a product to sell!

With careful planning and a supplier that is willing to work alongside their customers, projects can be implemented that work and deliver the benefits in accordance with the project timelines – surely a win-win situation for both customer and supplier!

With this approach, vapourware can be consigned to history (after all, it was never really there to begin with)!

 

Now find out why Magikos IT are being chosen by our customers by following the link to our 'Why Choose Us' page.

 

 

References:
(i)    Trust rejects £1m Lorenzo incentive: http://www.e-health-insider.com/news/5079/trust_rejects_%C2%A31m_lorenzo_incentive
(ii)    The National Programme for IT in the NHS: Progress since 2006 - Public Accounts Committee: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmpubacc/153/15304.htm

SMB's Move to Cloud Computing for Security Improvements

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Category: Small Business Articles
Last Updated on 15 May 2012
Written by Tony Donoghue Hits: 738

Image of Cloud Computing Example ServicesIn a recent research paper commisioned by Microsoft, it would appear that while large corporate companies are shying away from the Cloud because of concerns over security, small and medium businesses (SMB's) are adopting Cloud technologies because of security improvements.

The paper which was conducted by comScore in the US and Asia found that 35% of companies have seen a benefit from better security.  A third of companies which had adopded the Cloud said they now spend less time managing security and 20% of companies had reduced their security spend since moving to the Cloud.

Many companies, large and small still want to see some improvements in Cloud security or an adoption of a standard set of security principles, but for those who have already moved the evidence is becoming clearer that security is becomeing less of a barrier to adoption of Cloud services and there is significant money and time saving opportunities for SMB's who make this change.

With the reduced costs, potential time savings and an improved ability to work from anywhere with better flexibility, any company who fails to look at these benefits could find themselves left behind with increased overheads while their competitors find new agility and can be more competitive in todays tough markets.

Find out if you could benefit from flexible working and Cloud services by giving Magikos IT a call - details of how to contact us can be found on our 'Contact Us' page.

Small and Medium Size Businesses (SMB's) are Wasting Money

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Category: Small Business Articles
Last Updated on 23 May 2012
Written by Tony Donoghue Hits: 1346
Wasting Money Photo of UK MoneyIn today's difficult financial climate SMB's are taking considerable time and putting significant resourses behind evaluating there businesses, saving money wherever they find cheaper services or goods to enable them to compete or ultimately survive.  These money saving tasks include evaluating what utilities they use, such as electric and gas, and often include business services such as stationary, personnel, suppliers and raw materials. However there are significant savings which are being overlooked.
 
When businesses look at themselves they often look the materials they use in their everyday business but not at the services and purchases they make for ongoing normal business functions.  Even if companies have looked at better telecoms or Internet provision to save money often the software on their desktops gets missed or they become too comfortable with the suppliers they are using.  Significant money is spent each year in small and medium businesses updating standard desktop software which is necessary for everyday use.  Just a single copy of Microsoft Office can cost £350 for a business licensed copy, when inexpensive or even free, fully compatible office suites are readily available.  When you add these costs to software for compression (zip), publishing in PDF, photo editing or graphic manipulation and other common packages the costs start to become quite significant. For all of these common desktop packages, free open source software is available.  As you can start to appreciate, the costs for these packages, even for an individual, is significant for a small to medium businesses to absorb, yet they continue to do so without consideration.
 
So let's compare some of these costs for a moment, not for all of the available software, but just for a typical desktop which could be found in any organisation irrespective of size or function:
  • Microsoft Office Professional
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • WinZip
  • Anti-Virus Protection
  • Firewall Protection
  • CD Burning Software
  • TOTAL COST = £600.00+
 
When this is compared to open source or free equivalent software which has the same functionality:
  • LibreOffice
  • Zip Genius
  • Comodo Internet Security
  • CD BurnerXP
  • TOTAL COST = £0.00 (nothing, free, nought, nill, zilch...)
 
Various Open Source Software PackagesSo why is this software not being used? Is it down to training? Unlikely, as the software is so alike to the known branded version, that the vast majority of people would see that the software is so similar to the original they can just use it straight away. Even for more complex functions there is always help at hand with companies providing support and the many support sites and videos online.  So not training, and clearly not cost, so what else? Maybe it's lack of support? But I think not! Plenty of companies can support this software as part of a support contract or ad-hoc when needed, even then you could often just Google to find the support you need from the vast online community or people willing to assist. When did you last contact Microsoft for support? You are unlikely to have a support contact with Microsoft directly unless you are a large multi-national company with money to spare. The only likely reason small businesses are not making better use of this open source software is either confidence in the product, or more likely, knowledge that it exists in the first place.  Confidence can be improved by installing the software alongside any you are currently using and giving it a try. This way there is nothing to loose and with a few settings changed will continue to open and save in your favourite Microsoft document format by default.  Hopefully knowledge is improving because of articles like this one or further information that can be found on the Internet.
 
There are so many open source products that are like for like equivalents to brand leaders that the list alone would be too long to make interesting.  However here are a few more of the more common ones to give you some ideas:

  • Inkscape -  An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.
  • ImgBurn - ImgBurn is a lightweight CD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray burning application that everyone should have in their toolkit!
  • KeePass -  KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way.
  • Thunderbird - Thunderbird is a free email application that's easy to set up and customize - and it's loaded with great features!
  • Gimp - GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
  • FileZilla - The open source free FTP Client solution.

With all this free or inexpensive software available and even if you need to pay for a consultant for a couple of days to get you up and running, the savings small and medium businesses can make can be very significant which helps in making them more competatiive and ensures organisations can concentrate on what they do best, running their company, and leaving the IT to work for them and not against them.
 
If open source software, which is fully compatible with your existing documents and saves you money, is something your business may be interested in exploring further please get in touch with us via our contact pages on our web site. 
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