Kaspersky: When You Get Hacked, The First Wise Thing To Do Is Pray

At this year’s WHD.global – the world’s biggest event for the hosting community – revered figures in the tech industry booked some stage time to discuss the latest trends, including ever-pressing matters like security.

Keen to hop on the WHD bandwagon with an eye on today’s networked world was none other than Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of the namesake security company whose antivirus software runs on millions of computers worldwide.

The Russian malware crusader kicked off his video-streamed talk noting that traditional crime is moving into the cyberspace, while established cyber-criminals are getting much better at what they do. In short, malware is on the rise. Hardly a surprise since malware is always on the rise. The more interesting disclosures were yet to come.

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For proper safeguarding, get to know your enemies

Hosters like the big social networks aggregate tons of consumer data, which poses a major threat to privacy. Security from this standpoint is like a big jigsaw puzzle. Something along the lines of “we see the small pieces, but not the whole picture.” In addition to thwarting hackers, it’s also important to accurately estimate how many resources were poured into a given attack. This is homework material for security firms – it lets them manage their respective resources accordingly.

For those naive enough to assume that there will one day be a killswitch to all the malware in the world, Kaspersky said there’s no silver bullet in this industry: “just go with the flow and work on new threats.”

These days we use cloud services all the time. That goes for the telecommunications industry as well. We no longer store information just locally on enterprise premises, but also in the cloud. Providers do everything in their power to safeguard your data in the cloud, which includes making a backup for disaster discovery. But there is one more aspect enterprises should think about as well. Loosing such data doesn’t just mean a privacy breach, but also an IP breach in many cases, Kaspersky said. This is why enterprises need to have a razor-sharp focus on improving their security process.

When you’re hit, you’re hit. Pray first, then call in the troops

You will never know you’ve been breached unless the cybercrooks leave a breadcrumb trail, either through negligence or on purpose. Most of the times, it’s too late when you discover the breach, Kaspersky said. They are highly trained in doing bad things. And doing bad things is always easier than than safeguarding. Muffling an attack before it’s been deployed requires you to be at least one step ahead of the hacker, which is next to impossible. Kaspersky’s winning advice? Implement well-designed security processes and systems, follow them closely, and don’t hesitate to ask the experts to investigate day in and day out.

Strictly business speaking, Kaspersky tackled security matters from two standpoints: big and small. Perhaps not surprisingly, small businesses face small security threats, while the big players have to protect against infinitely bigger problems. He also noted that there’s a greater chance of having your software injected with malicious code than the software maker putting a backdoor (Trojan).

Other noteworthy tidbits from the information security specialist:

  • Snowden’s disclosure was not news to Kaspersky Lab, but the scope of the government’s operations was.
  • Limit access to enterprise data for BYOD employees and protect their devices, don’t use encryption for everything – be smart, not paranoid.
  • And the icing on the cake: when you think there’s a security breach, first pray, then call in the experts.

The Naked Truth About Why Collaboration Solutions Fail

Good team work yields positive results in any type of organization, but it’s easier said than done, unfortunately. While technology lets us do pretty much anything these days, we often fail to make proper use of the ingeniously-crafted tools around us.

One such example is team collaboration and the solutions design to assist this process. More often than not they fail to spur productivity when implemented without notice or training, and worse still – before any research has been done about the company’s actual need for these tools. This was the key finding in a study conducted by Softchoice on firms where the managers failed to understand unified communications (UC) and collaboration tools.

The poll was carried out on 250 IT managers and 750 line-of-business employees to determine the impact of typical UC and collaboration rollouts on employee habits, preferences and overall satisfaction at the workplace. One of the first things the survey managed to uncover was that many IT managers are actually hesitant to invest in new collaboration technology because, as they put it, the ones they already have implemented are not being used.

Adding insult to injury, the companies that did provide things like video conferencing, screen sharing, teleconferencing, and instant messaging reported very low adoption rates. As little as 5% of the staffers managed to understand and / or leverage video conferencing in the workplace. Screen sharing had a similarly low impact – just 8% viewed it as able to boost productivity in any way. Yet real life scenarios have shown that when you share your screen with people in your team, you get a massive leg up in communication and comprehension.

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Working some communication magic with Hubgets, our new team collaboration platform

It’s the managers who fail to understand, not the employees

When IT implements a new communications tool, there are 5 reasons why employees will use it:

  • it visibly improves productivity
  • it’s intuitive and user friendly
  • it serves a plurality of purposes
  • it works with their cell phone
  • it lets them take their work outside the office

There are also 3 reasons why they won’t use it:

  • it doesn’t work as intended (i.e. the system is faulty or not suited for their line of work)
  • it ultimately doesn’t make them more productive (for one reason or another)
  • they already have too many tools to choose from.

Those magical 5 bullet points at the top are the very essence of UC&C, and employees everywhere seem to understand this very well. Their managers however, are a bit in the dark. Which leads to the workers’ inability to produce positive results using their new toys, because:

  • 1 in 3 employees say they don’t receive training
  • of those that do, one in two get poor training (less than 30 minutes)
  • 71% say they use half of the features at most

As many as 38% of those surveyed said they had access to various communication tools in their organization but didn’t know how to use them, and thus were reluctant to do so. The surveyors again learned that employees who were not actively consulted on the rollout were twice as likely to be dissatisfied at work, three times more likely to consider leaving / see themselves fired in the near future, and 18% more likely to require troubleshooting.

This, as opposed to those who were briefed on the deployment: 18% more likely to feel the tool yields positive work results; 23% more likely to be satisfied in their current job; 26% more likely to feel that the manager understood their needs.

UC doesn’t make friends with IT managers and meetings

Despite acknowledging the endless benefits of UC&C post-implementation, 44% of IT managers find it difficult to install the new tech, with 4 in 5 claiming that 25% of their calls to the vendor are related to malfunctions. More than half prefer to seek the help of a third party solutions provider without even attempting to get a hands on experience – for fear of messing something up. Only 11% plan to integrate voice, video & data in one solution, which sadly reflects the current state of affairs in UC adoption today.

Another interesting finding was that introducing these collaboration technologies to meetings actually caused more harm than good. Apparently all UC does in meetings is affect the participants’ attention span. This while 3 quarters of the subjects confessed that they preferred face-to-face meetings to set goals, discuss operations and results, etc.

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Meetings are so last century – study shows that collaboration tools are taking over in a big way, rendering tiresome convocations obsolete

Generation-wise, it was found that old-timers were the most distracted by collaboration gadgets, while the younger demographic was more likely to bring communications tools to meetings. Millenials are also more likely to know how to use at least half of a communication tool’s features, and say that these tools make them more productive, according to the study.

Out of office, 49% of employees said they put in more than 5 hours (mostly beyond business hours). Most IT managers (85%) said they maintained communications tools outside office hours, while many of them also see these platforms as capable of posing security risks. If you ask us, the naked truth is that UC is as safe as you make it.

How to achieve a successful implementation in 2 easy steps

To get up and running with any new communication / team collaboration tool, you first need to look at your company’s culture, employee work habits, and their productivity needs. Once the tools are deployed, the second (and final step) is to teach the staff what to use them for, and most importantly – how.

“Unified communications and collaboration tools have the power to accelerate productivity, bring people together and increase employee engagement. However, most UC implementations fail because employees are left out of the process,” the company says.

Find the full Softchoice report attached in the Slideshare below.  Also, if you’re in the same boat, don’t hesitate to share this story with your boss ;)

 

Quote of the Day by One of the Funniest People Alive

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Offices aren’t for everyone. Creative minds and free thinkers often have no place in a 9-to-5 environment, but many still do it if the pay is good and the work is somewhat fulfilling. However, if there’s one thing that even proficient office workers hate, it’s meetings.

Coming from a job where all you did was operate a conveyor belt, meetings will feel like you’ve really moved up the ladder. That is, until you realize they’re more about using fancy business jargon and less about actually getting stuff done. For all intended purposes, meetings best serve those who need to repeat their sales pitch. For the rest of the group, they’re time killers.

In a memorable quote, Pulitzer prize winning columnist Dave Barry slams meetings as being partially responsible for our failure to achieve more as a species.

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.”

– Dave Barry

It’s an exaggerated remark – not all meetings are useless – but one that does resonate with most business types. And the reason this is (mostly) true is because we still haven’t figured out a way to collaborate and communicate our work and ideas efficiently. Until now.

Live from WHD.global 2015

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Touchdown!

Greetings from Europa Park in Rust, Germany. We can’t wait to lift the cloth off our newborn baby – Hubgets – an awesome new collaboration platform that promises to forever change the way we work. Only a few more hours ’till the keynote!

Booth D01 is our temporary home at WHD and we’re available to discuss the latest technology we’ve come up with to help businesses grow. Visitors are currently getting a hands-on with Hubgets. Here’s why we’re so excited about it!

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As part of our longstanding goal to make Unified Communications truly unified, we’re also demoing a much improved VoipNow 3.5. We recently joined Dell’s Technology Partner Program, certifying VoipNow on Dell’s PowerEdge servers. Pictured below is our CEO dispensing invaluable advice on how service providers, enterprises, and telcos can drive successful communication with VoipNow-on-Dell.

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If you’re on the scene, drop by booth D01 to see our newborn baby, and don’t forget about the keynote at 16:55 (just before Steve Wozniak). More updates to follow. Stay tuned.

Update #1

Booth is teeming with curious visitors. Must be because our corner is super user-friendly. Just like Hubgets ;)

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Update #2

4PSA CEO Bogdan Carstoiu has rocked the stage at WHD.global 2015 with a discussion on the growing need for collaboration tools, which stirred a lot of interest and enthusiasm in the attendee ranks.

 

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Highlights:

  • In a world packed to the brim with companies of all shapes and sizes, many still refuse to adopt digital communication, even though collaboration tech is ripe for the picking.
  • Communication is equally important internally as it is externally. Getting this right is the key to successful collaboration with team members and different departments within your organization, but also with clients and partners, according to Bogdan.
  • We spend roughly 20% of our time locating information, when we could simply rely on our communication channels to just search for it. Hubgets – our team collaboration app – passes this test with flying colors. And it promises to enhance work in the office tenfold. “From presence to chat, calls, voicemail, recordings everything is searchable. Hubgets smart search builds knowledge,” says Bogdan.
  • Another interesting point, slow reaction equals slower operations (i.e. fewer sales). Real-time collaboration sells more and improves customer satisfaction.
  • On filtering out the noise. Every team wants as little disturbance as possible. Hubgets lets you filter it out and focus on what’s truly important.
  • Hubgets is a service provider’s dream come true! Providers can now upsell ‎collaboration‬ to their customer base and gain a sticky service guaranteed to bring in more revenue.
  • Offer Hubgets to your user base and they’ll never want to go back to their fragmented collaboration tools.
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#‎communication‬ must flow!

 

Learning How to Code Just Got a Lot Easier

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Ever scratch your eyes for not learning how to code as a kid? I do every day. Not only is programming one of the best paid jobs (by far), it’s also a great way to turn brilliant ideas into working applications for everyone to use. By all accounts, you can use it to change the world profoundly.

As if programming itself wasn’t hard enough, there are dozens of different coding languages each with their own particularities that can be used to make a program. Depending on the platform you’re targeting, you’ll have a flurry of tongues to choose from.

Swift – the new kid on the block introduced by Apple at its annual developer gathering in 2014 – lifts a lot of the hurdles generally associated with app programming, and now an app called Swifty promises to simply the process even more for noobs like you and me.

Var, “string,” integer, print

If you don’t have a clue what the above title says, don’t worry – after only a few minutes spent with Swifty on your Apple device, you’ll master each of those, plus other programming essentials.

Because Swift is designed to work with Cocoa, Cocoa Touch and the large pool of existing Objective-C code written for Apple products, Swift makes development much easier, albeit only for Macs and iDevices. It’s “safer” in the face of miscellaneous errors than Objective-C, and it’s also more concise. Plus, the Playgrounds feature lets you see your code in action seconds after you’ve typed it.

Swifty takes you from variables, if and else, and loops to advanced topics like optionals, tuples and class. You’re told what to input at first, then you’re quizzed (with a lot of help from the app still) to check your progress. You can go back and forth through the sessions as you please, and there are 200+ interactive lessons to take.

A starting point for aspiring coders

Swifty is free to download and so is the first learning session. The second one can be unlocked with a simple shootout on Twitter, and the remainder can be acquired via in-app purchase for $0.99 each. All chapters can be opened with an affordable $2.99.

Developer Johannes Berger entices potential customers with a stimulating message: “Try Swifty today and become a coding pro!” I wouldn’t hold my breath for that, but I’m positive it can help any newbie understand the basics of programming – not just those involving Swift – in a fun and simple way. Personally, I felt enlightened after just 5 minutes of use.

Intimidating as it may be, coding is much like other lines of work where you can apply yourself with various degrees of competency. So if you’re looking to expand your horizons and learn what lies behind today’s tech-driven world, Swifty sounds like the ideal starting point.

Who Benefits the Most from Remote Working

Remote work opportunities are on the rise, translating into benefits across the board for staffers and employers alike, according to new research. Retention and morale are first on the list of favorable aspects enabled by working remotely, followed by increased productivity, cost reductions, and access to more human resources.

A comprehensive infographic by Accountemps reveals that 68% of CFOs at large companies are beginning to see some major prequisites as a result of working both in and out of office. The firm carried out the study on 2,100 US-based CFOs at organizations big and small, with staff count ranging between 20 and 1,000.

Matters more if you’re big / less if you’re small

The findings were somewhat predictable, but interesting nonetheless. 36 percent of the executives in charge with the firms’ finances said the company’s remote work opportunities had increased in the last three years, with 12% of them noticing a massive uptick, while 24% noticed a modest spike. 49% said there was no change in operations and / or expenses as a result of remote working, mainly because some types of businesses simply require desk-bound staff for maximum productivity.

Another finding was that remote working posed advantages relative to the size of the organization. Perhaps not surprisingly then, only 34% of the chief financial officers at small businesses saw remote work opportunities take off in their sector.

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A happy employee is a staying employee

As far as the actual benefits, first on the list is morale, coupled with a higher retention rate. 35% of respondents said there were clear improvements in this area, making it a key metric to observe whenever remote operations are concerned. More than a quarter of the participants ticked “increased productivity” and “reduced commute” time on the list of gains, these two being well tied to one another.

15% said they noticed substantial cost reductions as a result of using less office space. Lastly, remote operations also enable access to a broader pool of talented applicants, an aspect outlined by as much as 10% of the surveyed execs.

How to set up a remote workforce

The numbers speak for themselves, but employers need to carefully review their expectations and the particularities of their organization before upgrading their workforce to remote working conditions. The researchers at Accountemps say the first thing you need to do is determine which roles are eligible for telecomuting and which aren’t.

Supervision needs to be minimal in order to get something out of it, so choose your most reliable employees for the program. Participants must be sure to understand the parameters, including potential changes in their schedule as a result of remote working. Security is also high on the list of priorities. Participants must be trained to spot and avoid malware, as well as to protect your firm’s confidential information.

See the infographic for the full research findings.

Cool Summer Internship 2015 Meetup

Today you’ll find us at the Politehnica University of Bucharest, we are here to recruit la crème de la crème of geeks-like-us ;) We’ve prepared a technical session, a healthy dose of fun, as well as a biking contest for the chance to nab a Raspberry Pi 2 kit – a must have for any aspiring engineer.

Two of our senior engineers already delighted students with a presentation about 4PSA technologies. If you’re left with goosebumps after the tech-session, you’re probably good to run for Clouder at 4PSA. We’re waiting for you at our booth ready to answer any questions you may have about Cool Summer Internship 2015.

Once you’ve grabbed your free t-shirt and a snack, take a chance in the Bike to the Cloud Challenge where you’ll hop on a contraption with pedals and a big screen.

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Your goal will be to post the best lap time, or at least the second best – in order to snag one of the four Raspberry Pi 2 kits. Two of the fastest guys and two of the swiftest gals. We think that’s fair :)

We’ll be updating this post with the winners and other noteworthy stuff from the event as it unfolds. Stay tuned!

UPDATE!

Here are our engineers rocking the auditorium with interesting talks about software development and product management.

Our engineers doing what they know best

 
A surprisingly large number of students took up our Bike to the Cloud Challenge, but only four of them left home with a Raspberry Pi 2 kit. Congrats to the fast-yet-not-so-furious winners Carmen Bonciog, Alexandra Țaran, Ion Pavlov and Ionuț Corlău! For more pictures, visit our Facebook page.

The Bike to the Cloud Challenge Winners

 
All internship positions for the Cool Summer Internship 2015 are available here. Apply now :)

Biometric Phones Could Prevent the Next Epidemic

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Cloud-connected phones offer massive benefits over fixed lines, but those advantages go beyond communication purposes. What if you could use biometric smartphones to spot Malaria, Cholera or Ebola before an outbreak.

The idea was pitched by Dr. Leslie Saxon at South by Southwest (SXSW), a series of festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas, United States.

Collecting biometric data for medical purposes

During a discussion about biometrics, Dr. Saxon talked of the importance of gathering user data on a global scale using biometric hardware embedded in the devices we use the most – our phones. It may sound scary it first, but considering the benefits projected by Dr. Saxon, it could well be worth the effort.

The founder of the Center for Body Computing at USC in Los Angeles, Dr. Saxon envisions a future where smartphones equipped with biometric technology will be used to amass medical data and even symptoms in an effort to predict and even prevent an outbreak, such as the recent Ebola incident.

“Imagine if you’re checking your phone 150 times a day — which is the average — what if sometimes you’re getting a facial scan that measures your blood pressure, your heart rate, something else and you’re collecting this massive biometric cloud in the sky while you’re just opening stuff,” Saxon said. “With this type of density of data just from the invisible — just from opening devices — you could potentially be transforming healthcare. The crazy part of that is you could scale that really globally.”

Smartphones today are ubiquitous, and biometric tech is also becoming a common enough occurrence that the hardware can be fitted literally anywhere.

“We can predict Ebola and things like that”

Leslie

 

Dr. Saxon is convinced that a global network of biometric portables could have possibly prevented the latest Ebola outbreak.

“I imagine this day where, as much as everyone walking around here is immersed in their alternative digital reality that healthcare is a a part of that,” she said. “If we have enough of this biometric data then we can predict ebola and things like that very early on.”

Malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, meningitis and other viral hemorrhagic fevers that resemble EVD could also be spotted using this type of technology. However, as it is always the case with any data-collecting initiative, many users will be reluctant to share their biometric information with third parties should they feel that this data could somehow be breached and / or used against them.

Dr. Saxon is careful to point out that with today’s weak safeguards her vision will remain unfulfilled, an opinion shared by White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel. At a security forum a few months ago, Daniel suggested that IT security should no longer rely on passwords, but on biometrics.

Quote of the Day by Lee Iacocca

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They say a company’s best assets are its people, and there are a few dozen quotes out there that will tell you the exact same thing with slightly different words. Lee Iacocca said it too, but he also stressed how to keep those people at the company, entice them to do great work, and move the company forward every day.

Iacocca was born in 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Allentown High School (now William Allen High School) in 1942, and later Lehigh University, with a degree in industrial engineering. He won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and then set his sights on Princeton University, where he ultimately focused on politics and plastics. After putting school behind him, he began an engineering career at the Ford Motor Company.

Iacocca’s most notable work at Ford involved the “56 for 56” campaign, the design of the original Ford Mustang, the Lincoln Continental Mark III, and the Ford Escort, as well as other projects. He helped with the revival of the Mercury brand in the late 1960s, and he pitched several original ideas which unfortunately didn’t make it to market. After a clash with Henry Ford II – who ultimately fired him from the company – he continued to pursue his ideas at Chrystler.

When he took the reins at Chrysler, Iacocca started rebuilding the entire company from its very foundations. He issued a mass layoff, sold the wasteful Chrysler Europe division to Peugeot, and brought in a bunch of former associates from Ford. The reason he wanted these people back? Iacocca saw communication as crucial in any organization. Which brings us to our quote of the day:

Start with good people, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all those things effectively, you can’t miss.

- Lee Iacocca

Other important achievements that Iacocca can hang on his wall are the Presidential Medal of Freedom (from President Lyndon B. Johnson) in 1969, and being inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1996. He also met with U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1993 at the Oval Office (pictured above).

Has Your Enterprise Outgrown Its Business Phone System?

A fast-growing business may be synonymous with success, but not necessarily with smooth sailing too. A business doesn’t just manage itself, and even when there’s high demand for your product, you can fall short in aspects that actually sell it. Like your phone system.

Ask yourself this: if you had to add an extra phone line right now, how much time and effort would it take? How about handling your calls when you step out for coffee, or tracking KPIs? If your organization depends on picking up the phone in a timely fashion, you might want to look into a cloud-based phone system.

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Don’t rest on your laurels

Being satisfied with past achievements is a natural impulse, but don’t pop open the champagne before you make sure that things will stay that way in the long run. One of the things that most (soaring) business owners often overlook is infrastructure. When you find yourself with a truckload of new clients and a system capable of managing none, brace yourself. You might lose them to a competitor who can deliver.

Hosted PBX for the win

When faced with unprecedented expansion, replacing your legacy phone system with a cloud calling solution like VoipNow is not just a good idea, it’s imperative. Here’s why in a nutshell:

  • With an antiquated phone system, you need to call the vendor for virtually any change you might want to apply to the infrastructure – anything from adding a new line to repairs and troubleshooting. If your phone system also uses the Internet, your supplier doesn’t take the blame for any web-related issue. On the other hand, when you have a phone system powered by the cloud, you can add as many phone lines as you want with only a few clicks. Maintenance and troubleshooting is also included, and it’s carried out by the people who built the platform. Yes, the people who know it best. You’re free to choose your phone type and, as a service provider, you even have the option to retool the Interface and make VoipNow your own.
  • Handling every call may sound impossible, but not if you can route them to your cell when you’re away from your desk. VoipNow can forward calls to your handset, filter incoming calls based on CallerID, time of call, and rules. You can enable smart queues, and with the FollowMe function the call gets shifted from phone to phone until you answer on the one closest to you. VoipNow Mobile goes the extra mile by virtualizing your desk phone on your smartphone.
  • What if you need to also track your workers’ activity? For example, call center managers want to know how many calls each employee is taking, the duration of the conversations etc. Just to go behind-the-scenes and see who deserves a promotion or a virtual slap on the wrist ;)

Bottom line, if these strong points are your company’s weak points, grab a cup of coffee and do some reading about hosted PBX at length. You’ll begin to wonder why you waited this long to make a change.

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