5 reasons why you need a backup service, even if you’re using Office 365

Enterprises around the world continue to move key applications to the cloud. But the speed and scope of migration presenting new challenges regarding data protection, service delivery, and compliance.

While most organizations have developed robust on-premises backup solutions, the failure to protect cloud data and ensure the availability of key services is widespread and incredibly alarming.

Contrary to popular belief, Office 365 and other software as a service (SaaS) models provide no real internal backup solutions.

While Microsoft has sound internal security and is capable of managing Office 365 infrastructure, third-party services are needed to ensure comprehensive data protection and compliance. Let’s take a look at 5 key reasons why you need a dedicated backup service when you’re using Office 365.

  1. Protection against internal accidents and threats

Regardless of how careful you are with your data, accidents can and do happen. Whether it’s the accidental deletion of a user, the incorrect merging of fields, or the failure of a key service, accidental deletion can be replicated across an entire network and lead to serious problems.

Simple accidents have been responsible for serious damage over the last few years, with an outage on Amazon Web Services costing up to $150 million dollars in 2017.

A backup service can restore data and services quickly and with minimum disruption, either to the on-premise Exchange or the Office 365 cloud network. In addition, dedicated backup services can protect you against internal security threats and manage the risk of malicious data loss or destruction.

  1. Protection against external security threats

Along with internal security threats, many businesses have experienced a rise in malware, viruses, data theft and other security threats from the outside.

Kaspersky blocked almost 800 million attacks from online resources across the globe in the first quarter of 2018 alone.

While Microsoft 365 and other cloud suites do have some security controls, they’re not robust or reliable enough to handle every case scenario. Having access to a high-grade, third-party backup service is the best way to reduce your exposure and manage the risks associated with data loss and destruction.

  1. Retention and recovery management

Cloud-based services are popular for many reasons, with Office 365 and other solutions featuring better integration between applications, more efficient data exchange and delivery, and the ability to utilize transparent services regardless of location.

Many of these benefits come at a cost, however, with enterprises losing control over data retention and recovery.

While Office 365 does have its own retention policies, they are ever-changing and difficult to manage. In fact, confusing and inaccessible data retention is one of the reasons why so many businesses refuse to move to the cloud.

You can have the best of both worlds with backup solutions that provide you with complete control over data retention and recovery management.

  1. Legal and compliance obligations

In addition to running a business and ensuring access to key data and services, organizations have a responsibility to meet certain legal and compliance obligations.

A cloud backup service allows you to retrieve important data instantly and with minimal disruption to critical business systems.

Whether it’s retrieving user data for law enforcement, accessing your mailbox during a legal action, or meeting regulatory compliance standards, dedicated cloud backup makes it easier to meet your responsibilities.

  1. Managing the migration process

With more businesses moving to the cloud all the time, the migration process is often presented as a seamless and natural transition.

While the benefits of SaaS are valid and well-known, managing hybrid email deployments and other critical services during migration can be more challenging than Microsoft would have you believe.

Whether you want a dedicated cloud solution or a mix of Office 365 and on-premises services, backup solutions like Veeam (our recommended solution) allow you to protect and manage your data during and after the transition in a way that makes the source location irrelevant.

The post 5 reasons why you need a backup service, even if you’re using Office 365 appeared first on ISG Technologies.

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Why your business should consider using multi-factor authentication

Written in partnership with Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) can play a crucial role in your cybersecurity overall strategy. Providing a more complex security method for login, MFA requires additional verification before users have access to protected data.

Any time you’re dealing with sensitive business data, you need to take care to elevate security measures. But cybersecurity trends are always changing. You can’t (and shouldn’t) jump on every bandwagon that comes along. This article will give you the scoop on MFA so you know what it actually does to provide additional network security.

Multi-Factor authentication is all about making it more difficult for hackers to access your company’s sensitive data, email addresses, files, company credit card numbers, sign-in information and even personal information.

What is multi-factor authentication?

Forbes breaks down the essence of MFA this way:

“Multi-factor authentication is more complex, yet potentially more secure than two-factor, usually requiring additional verification such as biometrics to include voice, retina or fingerprint recognition, etc., which is harder for an attacker to bypass. Depending on the nature of the organization (i.e. maintains critical infrastructure), the risk could outweigh the cost and multi-factor authentication may be preferred.”

An example may help.

If you use an iPhone, there’s a good chance you’re already using MFA. When you use your fingerprint to access your phone, that’s an element of multi-factor authentication in action.

Of course, that’s multi-factor authentication on a consumer level. In business, there are all kinds of applications for advanced cybersecurity, including things like fingerprint readers.

The end result is simple—it’s significantly harder for a hacker to breach your data because the requirements for access are far more difficult to bypass.

How does multi-factor authentication boost network security?

There are multiple ways a cybercriminal can get to your company’s data. That’s why firewall protection, antivirus programs and other standard network security measures are so important.

Unfortunately, that kind of protection will only take you so far. That’s because the overwhelming the overwhelming majority of cybersecurity breaches happen, not because of a technical breakdown, but because of something a human being did or failed to do. If you don’t secure data at the human level, a breach is simply more likely.

Not only that, but password theft is alarmingly common and constantly evolving. Phishing scams, keylogging and pharming don’t take advantage of human error, per se. But the result is the same. Data is compromised because user passwords are compromised.

A multi-factor authentication method forces anyone accessing data to use more than a password alone. Even if users’ passwords are compromised, MFA means data is still safe.

Two-factor authentication vs multi-factor authentication

Blog post written in partnership with Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Two-factor authentication is more or less what it sounds like—two pieces of information are needed for access.

For instance, at an ATM you need two pieces of information to access your account—your ATM card and your PIN. But multi-factor authentication ups the ante. You’re required to provide multiple (as in, more than two) pieces of information for access, and one of those pieces of data is typically something completely unique to you. (Think retinal or fingerprint scan.)

Multi-factor authentication and your business

Multi-factor authentication helps with security, productivity, flexibility, and compliance. It gives business leaders an effective way to protect their organization’s infrastructure and adds multiple additional layers of cybersecurity. While it’s never possible to stop all data breaches, it’s well worth your time to do what you can to minimize the possibility that your data will be compromised.

If you’re interested in using MFA in your office, we recommend reaching out to your managed IT services provider. They’re already familiar with your technology and your network. They’ll be in a position to help determine exactly what kind of multi-factor authentication will work best for you and your staff.  At ISG Technology, we have partnered with the very best in the industry, Aruba, to provide you with the tools to create the best mobile workplace and prevent a cyberattack.

Why cloud computing is safe

Cloud computing has been gaining popularity in the business space over the last couple years. Organizations are abandoning server-based data centers in favor of a third-party-provided solutions. Yet as more data is stored digitally, the danger of hacking grows. Companies are losing significant income to data breaches, and cybercriminals are developing new, sophisticated ways to steal data.

So why are companies taking their information to the cloud? Many executives want to push their businesses to the cloud but don’t fully understand how it works. As such, they may be wary over the idea of removing confidential information from complete corporate oversight. However, the cloud is not as penetrable as its name might imply.

Three factors driving cloud safety
According to Forbes, there are three principal factors helping to keep data secure when it is in a cloud platform. The first is redundancy. Losing data can be almost as harmful as having it stolen. When a server fails or a hacker gains access to a corporate network and deletes or attempts to ransom vital information, companies can lose months of productivity. Most cloud networks, however, typically keep data in at least three locations.

This means that lost data at one location, such as data loss caused by a server failure, will not have the disastrous impact that it could in an organization relying on an on-premise data center. By keep copies of each file, cloud solutions are making sure mission-critical data is accessible until the user no longer wants it.

The second factor is the safe sharing policy. Anyone who has ever used the popular Google Docs knows how file sharing works. Rather than making a copy, the user must enter the email address of anyone they want to see the file. These extra users can’t share the file on their own (unless given express permission), they simply have access to the information. This is how safe sharing works. It prevents any unauthorized copies from being created or distributed. Users have access to their own data and can control exactly who sees it.

The last factor driving cloud safety is encryption. Provided a user keeps track of their password, it is very difficult for a hacker to gain access to the files. They are being stored either entirely in the cloud or at a secure, remote facility in an unknown location. Since the user’s connection to this information is encrypted, following it to gain access would be difficult, if not impossible for a human hacker.

“Cybersecurity today is more about controlling access than managing data storage.”

It’s all about access
As TechTarget pointed out, cybersecurity today is more about controlling access than managing data storage. When hackers breach data, they typically do so because they have access to sensitive information. This can be a password or even a corporate email address. Cybercriminals infiltrate and steal information based on the access they’ve gained, typically from an unknowing authorized user.

Cloud solutions help monitor this access, keeping secure data under control. The providers offering these platforms have the expertise and the resources to keep cybersecurity evolving alongside the threats. In most cases, they have more resources than the client companies using their solutions.

The cybersecurity arms race
One popular cloud vendor is Microsoft. Each year the company invests over $1 billion into cybersecurity initiatives for its Azure platform. The money, explained Azure Government CISO Matthew Rathbun in an interview with TechRepublic, isn’t just about maintenance, it is about innovation:

“Ninety percent of my threat landscape starts with a human, either maliciously or inadvertently, making a mistake that somehow compromises security,” said Rathbun. “In an ideal state, we’re going eventually end up in a world where there’ll be zero human touch to an Azure production environment.”

Overseen by talented specialists with ample resources, cloud solutions are a safe form of data protection in today’s digital business space.

Is physical data destruction completely secure?

Cybersecurity is a paramount issue facing businesses in the digital world. The average costs of a successful cybercrime in 2017 were roughly $1.3 million for large enterprises and $117,000 for small- to medium-sized businesses, according to Kaspersky Lab. These figures include the cost of data theft but do not encompass the additional potential price of a damaged reputation and ensuing legal action. Data also indicates that cyberattacks will become only more expensive and damaging in the coming years.

Defending an organization against cybercrime requires a multi-channel approach. Companies should be open to software solutions, employee training and hardware upgrades whenever necessary. However, another avenue for cybercrime is occasionally overlooked. Physical theft of connected mobile devices, laptops and even desktop computers can lead to an open pathway for cyberattacks. In addition, some businesses simply sell their used electronics without first doing a proper data cleanse.

But can information to completely and permanently removed from a hard drive?

Hard drives are traditional data collection units that can be altered in a number of ways. However, the question is "can data be permanently removed."Hard drives are traditional data collection units that can be altered in a number of ways. However, the question is "can data be permanently removed?"

The levels of data destruction
Deleting data is not as secure as some might assume. In actuality, when information on a computer is "deleted," the files themselves are not immediately removed. Instead, the pathing to that information is expunged. The data is also designated as open space, so the computer will eventually overwrite it. However, until this rewrite occurs, it is relatively easy for the information to be restored and accessed by any tech-savvy user.

Fortunately for organizations trying to permanently dissolve their data, deletion is only the first step of the process. Lifewire recommended three additional methods to ensure that information remains lost.

First comes software – using a data destruction program on the hard drive. This method has been met with approval from the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a secure way to permanently remove information from a hard drive, according to DestructData. However, drawbacks include resource consumption, as this can be a time-intensive process. In addition, some overwriting tools can miss hidden data that is locked on the hard drive.

The most secure method to completely remove data is degaussing. Hard disk drives operate through magnetic fields, and degaussers alter those waves. The result is a drive that can never be read again. In fact, the computer will not even register it as a hard drive from that moment on. However, the downside in this process is twofold: One, the drive is useless after degaussing. Two, this method can on only hard disk drives. Solid state drives and flash media do not use magnetism in the same way, so a degausser will be ineffective.

The final option is to physically destroy the data drive. While many people think that this task can be done with patience and a hammer, it is unfortunately not that simple. Hard drives can be rebuilt with the right tools and expertise. According to the Computer World, NASA scientists were able to recover data from the charred wreckage of the Columbia shuttle after its disastrous explosion and crash in 2003.

Computers that are simply thrown out can still possess classified data, which can return to haunt the company. Computers that are simply thrown out can still possess classified data, which can return to haunt the company.

The resiliency of hard drives
In short, it can be difficult to permanently expunge data from a hard drive. This reality is in part why businesses are opting for less internal data centers and more dependency on cloud solutions. According to TechTarget, cloud solutions represent a more secure method of data organization than traditional IT infrastructure.

While data can be safely deleted, the reality is, unless a degausser is used, there is always some chance of information recovery. Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, and given the expensive nature of dealing with data breaches, it is understandable why the cloud is becoming the preferred solution.

5 things every employee in your company needs to know about phishing attacks

First things first, just to make sure we’re all on the same page.

Phishing is a type of cybersecurity attack. Someone impersonates a legitimate entity to try to persuade the recipient to hand over sensitive information. Most phishing happens via email.

Compared to other forms of hacking, phishing is quite easy to execute. In fact, the first “phishers” used AOL in the 1990s to get information from unsuspecting AOL users. These attacks were painfully simple. But here’s the kicker. They didn’t differ much from phishing attacks of today!

The attackers simply pretended to be AOL employees. Even if only a few victims believed their ruse, the attack was worth it. That’s because if even one person falls for a phishing tactic, the results can be devastating.

Here are the fundamental things all your employees need to know to protect your company from phishing attacks.

1. Phishing can happen anywhere

While most people think of phishing as occurring exclusively via email, it can also happen on social media sites, in messaging apps, and through any method of online communication.

If your employees are communicating anywhere online, they need to make sure they really know who is at the other end.

2. Phishing can get complex

Some phishing attempts are just hackers sending out emails to a random group of people and hoping one of them will bite. But an increasing number of phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated.

In some cases, hackers will spend months or more building a relationship with the target through false social media profiles and frequent communications. This combines catfishing and phishing, forming a dangerous combination.

After a while, the target grows comfortable with the hacker and trusts them enough to share personal information.

3. Phishing costs businesses a lot

Some sources estimate that phishing attacks may cost American businesses up to $500 million per year, with thousands of businesses targeted and more personal consumers attacked at home.

That figure comes only from the attacks that were investigated by the FBI over a period of three years, so it is likely that the total cost to US businesses is more than that.

4. There are multiple types of phishing attacks

There are a few major types of phishing attacks. The most basic is when attackers email a random group of people and hope that a few of them will fall prey to the scam.

“Spear phishing” is a targeted attack that centers on one organization or a group of individuals. Attackers pretend to be someone from within the organization—a client or vendor—in order to infiltrate and get access to sensitive information. Some spear phishers are able to hack into organizational communication systems so the messages really do appear to be coming from the inside.

“Whaling” is when a spear phisher goes after a huge target.

5. Here’s how you can recognize phishing

There are many trademarks of a phishing attack. Educating employees about these signs can save your business a whole lot of money. Some of these may seem a bit obvious, but to those who are not as savvy, it’s important information that could stop an attack.

Phishing emails often come from addresses that seem like they could be legit. But if you examine the address more closely you’ll notice that it’s a little off. Perhaps it’s one letter off from the company’s actual name or the email address doesn’t follow the convention of other people you have met from that organization. You will find a similar situation with URLs in phishing messages.

Many phishing emails have bad spelling and improper grammar, typically due to poor translations. If it was coming from a legitimate organization, typos are possible, but not usually at the magnitude seen in phishing emails.

Finally, if a message seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Use these tips to avoid harmful phishing attacks. For more information on how to protect your business, be sure to contact your IT support partner.

Should companies embrace Microsoft’s Azure IoT Edge?

As of late June 2018, one of Microsoft's newest software platforms, Azure IoT Edge, is generally available. This means that commercial enterprises and independent consumers now have access to it and, thanks to Microsoft's decision to take the platform open source, can begin modifying the technology to fit specific needs.

Every innovation brings new opportunity and unforeseen challenges, and there is no reason to suspect that Azure IoT Edge will be any different. Even programs created by technology industry leaders like Microsoft have their potential disadvantages. 

What exactly is Azure IoT Edge?
Simply put, Azure IoT Edge represents Microsoft's plan to move data analytics from processing centers to internet of things enabled devices. This sophisticated edge computing technology can equip IoT hardware with cognitive computing technologies such as machine learning and computer vision. It will also free up enormous bandwidth by moving the data processing location to the device and allow IoT devices to perform more sophisticated tasks without constant human monitoring.

According to Microsoft, there are three primary components at play:

  1. A cloud-based interface will allow the user to remotely manage and oversee any and all Azure IoT Edge devices.
  2. IoT Edge runtime operates on every IoT Edge device and controls the modules deployed to each piece of IoT hardware.
  3. Every IoT Edge module is a container that operates on Azure services, third-party software or a user's personalized code. The modules are dispersed to IoT Edge machines and locally operate on said hardware.

Overall, Azure IoT Edge represents a significant step forward in cloud computing and IoT operations, empowering devices with functionality that wasn't before possible.

Devices like drones will be able to carry out more sophisticated tasks using Azure IoT Edge. Devices like drones will be able to carry out more sophisticated tasks using Azure IoT Edge.

The cybersecurity concerns of Azure IoT Edge
It is worth remembering that IoT hardware has a long and complicated history with cybersecurity standards. Considering the bulk of IoT technology adoption has been driven by consumer, rather than enterprise, products – issues like security and privacy were placed second to interface design and price point.

Research firm Gartner found that 20 percent of organizations had already reported at least one IoT-centered data breach within the three years leading up to 2018. This risk has led to IoT security spending that is expected to cost $1.5 billion globally in 2018. Some companies scrambling to make their IoT hardware more secure may want to leave this problem as a priority over incorporating Microsoft's newest software platform.

Another potential issue is Microsoft's decision to make the platform open source. The original code is public knowledge and now available to all to modify for personal use. While this flexibility will greatly help the product's user base expand, open source programs have not historically been the most secure from cybercriminals.

Many ecommerce websites ran on the Magento platform, an open source solution that became the target of a brute force password attack in 2018, which ultimately proved successful. The resulting data breach led to thousands of compromised accounts and stolen credit information.

A Black Duck Software report tracked open source programs as they have become more widespread. While the overall quality of open source code is improving, the study found that many organizations do not properly monitor and protect the code once it has been put in place, leaving it vulnerable to exploitation from outside sources.

"Microsoft annually invests $1 billion in cybersecurity research."

The Microsoft advantage
However, Microsoft is arguably in position to address the major security concerns with its Azure IoT Edge platform. The company invests over $1 billion in cybersecurity research each year. According to Azure Government CISO Matthew Rathbun, a lot of this money is spent  with Azure in mind:

"Ninety percent of my threat landscape starts with a human, either maliciously or inadvertently, making a mistake that somehow compromises security," Rathbun told TechRepublic. "In an ideal state, we're going eventually end up in a world where there'll be zero human touch to an Azure production environment."

Azure IoT Edge represents a bold step forward in empowering IoT technology and improving automated productivity. While there are risks associated with every innovation, Microsoft remains committed to staying at the forefront and protecting its platforms. Companies should be willing to invest in Azure IoT Edge while remaining vigilant about the possible risks. 

Is blockchain the antidote to all cybersecurity woes?

Blockchain has been turning heads since it was first unveiled in 2008 to become the backbone of then relatively unknown cryptocurrency, bitcoin. Since then, blockchain and Bitcoin have skyrocketed in public awareness, with the latter becoming the most successful cryptocurrency in history. A large portion of bitcoin's success is due to its blockchain infrastructure, which prevents the duplication of funds (preventing double-spending) and automatically time-stamps every transaction.

The developer (or developers) behind blockchain created the software to be resistant to alteration or hacking, making it one of the more inherently secure systems that companies can use to manage secure infrastructures. Some have heralded blockchain as the ultimate tool to promote cybersecurity and reduce the risk of data breaches.

Then bitcoin, in addition to several other cryptocurrencies, were hacked. According to CNN, the attack erased the equivalent of billions of dollars and sent the value of the affected cryptocurrencies plunging. The incident has many questioning just how secure blockchain is and whether the software was simply a temporary fix, like so many others, against the ever-present threat of cyberattacks.

"Blockchain can give each registered device a specific SSL certificate for authentication."

The case for blockchain
While buzzwords are common in the tech industry, there are several legitimate reasons why blockchain has been celebrated as a secure platform. According to Info Security Magazine, one of blockchain's primary appeals is its decentralized data storage. While users can access blockchain data on a computer or mobile device, the program itself is typically stored throughout the network.

If one access point – or block – is targeted by hackers, then the other blocks will react to it. The attempted cyberattack will likely alter the data on the block in a way that is immediately noticeable by the rest of the chain. This block will then simply be disconnected, isolating the malicious data before it can impact the system.

Another helpful advantage of blockchain is its effectiveness against dedicated denial of service attacks. These cyberattacks target the domain name system, flooding it with so much data traffic that it essentially shuts down. Using blockchain software would allow the DNS to spread its contents to more nodes, reducing the effectiveness of the DDoS attack before it reaches a crippling stage.

Networks using a blockchain infrastructure can also bypass the need for passwords in certain situations. Instead of using the human-oriented password system, blockchain can give each registered device a specific SSL certificate. This mode of authentication is a lot more difficult for outside sources to access, reducing the likelihood of a hack.

Removing dependence on passwords may sound less secure but it is actually seen as an improvement. Employees can be careless with their login information or choose passwords that can be easily deduced by third parties. Eliminating the human factor from authentication actually goes a long way by removing one of the most common exploit points.

However, no system is 100 percent secure.

The McAfee Report
While many companies preach the value of blockchain, global computer security software company McAfee recently released a critical report on the software, stating that industries have every reason to expect cyberattacks. McAfee looked at early blockchain adapters, namely cryptocurrencies, and studied the types of cyberattacks still occurring within these companies.

The report identified four primary attack types: implementation exploits, malware, phishing and general technology vulnerabilities. Certain cryptocurrencies themselves have been used to help the spread of advanced malware, including ransomware. Coin miner malware alone grew by 629 percent in the first quarter of 2018, according to McAfee data.

Cybercriminals have also been using cryptocurrencies to mask their identities, taking advantage of blockchain's secure features to help them evade the law.

Blockchain builds its infrastructure securely, but not in a manner that is invulnerable. Blockchain builds its infrastructure securely, but not in a manner that is invulnerable.

What companies can learn from the cryptocurrency attack
Lastly, however, the attack of the cryptocurrencies themselves should highlight the limitations of blockchain. While the program may be innately secure, it is not an excuse to abandon other forms of caution. Technology is spreading at a rapid pace with information security specialists struggling to catch up.

In short, blockchain should be seen as just another tool and not a cure-all for cyberattacks. Its architecture can be helpful but must be implemented in a thorough, professional manner. Even then, it should also be paired with other programs and employee training to best reduce the risk of cybercrime.

How cloud infrastructure can help the retail sector

Cloud computing has caught on in a big way. A recent report from Right Scale found that 81 percent of the enterprise sector has adopted a multi-cloud system in at least some way. Public cloud adoption rates have continued to climb, as well, with the report noting that 92 percent of users now employ cloud technology (up from 89 percent in 2017). Across the board, cloud networks are gaining usership due to its improved interfacing, less dependence on in-house technical teams and flexible program structure.

However, some industry verticals continue to lag behind. The latest international Bitglass survey found that the retail sector has been slow to adopt cloud infrastructure. Only 47.8 percent of responding retail organizations had deployed the often-used Microsoft Office 365 suite, and Amazon Web Services – the most popular cloud system – was only used by 9 percent.

In short, retail is being left behind, and that lag is a serious problem for the industry – in part because retail is a sector that can profit immensely from successful cloud integration. However, cybersecurity concerns and technical knowledge limitations may be slowing down the adoption rate.

Taking advantage of mobile hardware
Almost everyone has a smartphone, that’s not an exaggeration. According to Pew research data, 77 percent of Americans have this hardware, and that number has been climbing steadily. Since smartphones are becoming cheaper and more user friendly, it is unlikely to think this device will be replaced in the near future.

Because smartphones are so ubiquitous and convenient, consumers are using them for a wide variety of tasks, including shopping. OuterBox found that, as of early 2018, precisely 62 percent of shoppers had made a purchase through their phones within the last six months. Another 80 percent had used their smartphones to compare products and deals while inside a store.

With a cloud infrastructure, retailers can better take advantage of this mobile world. Successful retail locations should consider maintaining at least two online networks – one for customers and another for employees. This setup will prevent bandwidth lag and help keep the consumer away from sensitive information. In addition, creating a mobile experience that is user friendly and seamlessly interwoven with the physical shopping experience is paramount.

Rather than building such a system from the ground up, retailers can take advantage of the numerous infrastructure-as-a-service cloud options available, leveraging a reliable third party rather than an in-house IT team.

Shoppers are already augmenting their experience with external online information. Shoppers are already augmenting their experiences with external online information.

Getting ahead of the latest trends
Data drives business intelligence, this is true in every enterprise sector. In retail, housing the right products can mean the difference between turning a profit and going out of business. However, retailers still using traditional sales reporting will be slow to react to shopping trends, as these reports can take months to compile.

Data analytics is the actionable side of big data. In retail, customers convey valuable information about shopping habits before they even enter the store, but if this data is not being captured, it is essentially useless. Bringing in an encompassing data analytics solution, which can read information such as store purchases, response to sales and even social media reaction, can provide retailers with extra information to make actionable decisions.

“This analysis removes the guesswork about what will sell and which styles will flop on the shelves,” Roman Kirsch, CEO of fashion outlet Lesara, stated in an interview with Inc. “We don’t just know which new styles are popular, we can also identify retro trends that are making comebacks, which styles are on the way out, and that helps us to precisely manage our production.”

Improving inventory management
In addition, data analytics can be paired with a responsive inventory management program. Retail-as-a-service solutions exist and can be used to track stock availability, shipping orders and in-store details. With this software, retail companies can get a real-time image of how well products and even entire locations are performing.

These solutions can prevent item shortages before they occur and give retail chains a greater understanding of performance at every location.

Using inventory management solutions can help retailers maximize their shipping profits. They can ship either directly to the customer or to the retail location most in need. Using inventory management solutions can help retailers maximize their shipping profits. They can ship directly to the customer or to the retail location most in need.

Concerning cybersecurity
Perhaps one of the factors slowing the adoption of cloud technology in the retail sector is cybersecurity. Retail organizations process multitudes of consumer credit information by the day, and the fallout from a data breach can be fatal in this sector. When faced with using cloud technology or in-house data center solutions, retail executives may believe that the safest hands are still their own.

However, this may not be the case. Research firm Gartner predicted that through 2022, 95 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault, meaning that issues will not come from a software defect but through poor implementation. The firm also concluded that cloud structures will see as much as 60 percent fewer cyberattacks than those businesses with in-house servers.

Cloud infrastructure is secure but must be installed and operated properly. The only thing that retail agencies have to fear when it comes to this new solution is technological ignorance, but many cloud providers and third-party services stand ready to aid in the installation process.

Should companies embrace wearables?

Technology has gotten far more mobile within the last decade. The laptop was already allowing employees to maintain productivity on the go, but this device got augmented by the arrival of the commercial smartphone, tablet and, now, wearables. Each new hardware unveiling has increased the amount of work that can be done while mobile. This shift is leading some in the enterprise space to rethink office structure and workflow.

However, should businesses be embracing innovation at this pace? Rapid adoption of any new technology has downsides and, with cybersecurity concerns on the rise, utilizing innovative hardware can have serious repercussions. Since wearables represent the newest hardware and software infrastructure hitting industries, the question becomes: Should companies embrace this technology or exercise caution until it has become more mainstream?

"Mobile workplaces lead to improved employee retention."

The advantages of workplace mobility
A mobile workplace strategy provides several advantages. Many of these benefits, such as the greater likelihood for increased collaboration among employees, are straightforward. The more data that workers can store on their person, the less they'll have to retreat to their desks to retrieve information.

Another benefit that may not be so apparent is how mobile workplaces lead to improved employee retention. Workers who sit at their desks all day are likely busy but may not be engaged in the workplace or its culture. This sentiment makes the task just another job, and, eventually, the employee may leave to find another that pays better or offers superior benefits. According to Deloitte data, however, engaged employees are 87 percent more likely to remain at their companies.

Mobile workflow allows workers to get up, be more flexible and do more, all of which can lead to higher levels of productivity and revenue for a business. In some ways, wearables represent the pinnacle of mobile workplace technology. With a device like augmented reality glasses, workers don't even have to glance down at a screen to see data. This flexibility means employees can update one another in real time with the most relevant data.

How to embrace BYOD for wearables
It feels strange to say now, but the smartphone did not begin with the iPhone. Blackberries and other enterprise devices existed for years prior to Apple's launch. However, within less than a decade, Apple and Samsung overthrew the Blackberry and are enjoying immense adoption rates. What's the reason? People liked using the tech.

Likewise, workers brought this hardware to the office before many organizations had concrete "bring your own device" policies in place. Some businesses still resist given the information security concerns associated with BYOD. However, rejecting BYOD can be just as perilous because many employees will still use personal devices anyway.

The better option is to embrace the mobile nature of this new hardware and work to develop a comprehensive BYOD policy that reflects and monitors every device. According to Tenable, many companies make BYOD available to all (40 percent) or some (32 percent) of employees, so the goal is design a strategy that reflects each employee's device usage.

Pew Research found that, unsurprisingly, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone. Another 53 percent own a tablet. Wearables are newer, so their device distribution is much lower. Even relatively common devices like Fitbit have not reached the level of tablets. Wearable glasses have yet to have their "iPhone moment," where one consumer device connects and enjoys wide commercial appeal.

That said, a lower number of these devices does not mean companies can ignore them. Valuable data can be stored on a smartwatch as easily as it can on a laptop. Companies using BYOD should plan for wearables now before the devices become mainstream, allowing IT teams to create and deploy a strategy that will be safe.

Most wearables are linked to a smartphone, meaning they share the same data library. Most wearables are linked to a smartphone, meaning they share the same data library.

The problematic nature of cybersecurity
Cybersecurity has been struggling to keep pace with the internet of things in general and, unfortunately, wearables are no exception. A product examination conducted by HP Fortify found no hardware with two-factor authentication but noticed that all tested smartwatches stored confidential information that could be used for identity theft. These devices also received limited security updates.

Wearables will likely be driven by the same commercial appeal that spurs other recent technology, meaning that the two factors that will be stressed above all else will be price and usability. While this focus will make employees happy, it can create fits for an IT team or chief information security officer.

To help improve the cybersecurity of these devices, businesses can treat them similar to smartphones by placing them on a different network with less compromising information. Organizations can also look to implement custom multi-step authorization software whenever possible.

Augmented reality glasses often have live feeds meaning that, if hacked, outside sources can see operating data. Augmented reality glasses often have live feeds meaning that, if hacked, outside sources can see worker operations.

Know which wearables can make an impact
Lastly, businesses should not presume that all wearable technology will be viable in an enterprise setting. For instance, AR glasses will need a battery life of at least eight hours to last a full day of work, and smartwatches will have to be durable enough to withstand occasional bumps, even in an office environment.

Before investing in any official company-sanctioned hardware, thoroughly research and test devices to be sure they perform well in a typical environment. Wearables are cutting-edge technology, and many products now are designed for only niche markets rather than the mainstream.

So while companies can adopt wearables now, it makes sense to first have a policy in place. This isn't the iPhone. Businesses have a chance to get ahead of mass wearable adoption and create policies that make sense rather than reacting to the latest tech trend.

Cybersecurity tips at a glance: Managing IoT devices

As the realm of the internet of things grows, it is important to understand all aspects of the technology's performance. Companies and industries that see only the benefits open themselves up to data breaches, public embarrassment and even legal action. IoT technology can boost productivity when done right but lead to costly and unnecessary expenses if utilized without proper foresight.

The possible downsides of exercise wearables
Employee wellness is a trend that is sweeping across industries. These initiatives have shown positive results, such as increasing worker morale and promoting healthy behaviors. One study from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine even found that employee wellness diet programs can reduce health risks.

To this end, exercise wearables, such as Fitbit, appear to make sense. These devices can track heart rate, body temperature, calorie consumption and sleep quality. Many come with a social aspect, as well, allowing co-workers to engage in friendly competition to see who is the most active within the office.

For many industries, these wearables have no real downside. However, employers should know that the data gathered by many fitness wearables can be used to track employee location. This vulnerability has been problematic, especially for those working for the U.S. armed forces. According to The Washington Post, several previously secret military bases were revealed when data gathered by GPS tracking company Strava was made public.

The U.S. army had been using these fitness wearables for their advantages without fully understanding how the technology could be exploited. Most commercial hardware is designed for ease of use and cost affordability. These traits are in part the reason why IoT has famously encountered cybersecurity concerns over the past several years.

For enterprises working with sensitive and classified materials, IoT wearables may have a downside. Outside parties, benign and malicious, can track employee movement, knowing more about workers than may be deemed safe.

Augmented reality glasses can also potentially leak vital secrets, as they see and record all the employee does. Augmented reality glasses can also potentially leak vital secrets, as they see and record all the employee does.

Know where backup data is stored
Many IoT devices provide extra "eyes" on the field. Drones have been performing various types of reconnaissance missions for decades, whether for government contractors or farmers wishing to understand more about their soil. These unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are built to capture, transmit and store data.

While useful, drones have several serious cybersecurity concerns. They can be intercepted, and if so, their data is easily accessible. This risk is especially a problem for devices that back up information into themselves. A report from Syracuse University indicates that there are concerns that data stored on Chinese manufactured drones could be accessed by their government and would be out of U.S. control. 

Using IoT devices has many advantages, but executives must always consider the full picture before implementation.