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How to Prevent Cloud Security Threats


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The end of winter is always a little grim, especially around the UK. The trees are bare, it gets dark way too early, the two-minute dash to the car threatens a soaking and the prospect of sitting outside with a cold beer/cocktail after a long day of work is surprisingly not tempting at all. I hate to be the harbinger of bad news, but it could get worse. Imagine coming in one morning, wind-swept and dripping, to the news that overnight your cloud was victim to a cyber-crime? At that point a cold beer in the snow seems like the best remedy for the situation. Despite everything, the internet isn’t as safe as you’d think, with devious no-gooders lurking around every corner, eager to take advantage of any vulnerability to make a quick buck. It’s especially important when your organisation is connected to the cloud, where your data is internet-facing instead of nicely locked up in an on-prem data centre. It doesn’t mean you should go out and raid Curry’s PC World for enough data storage to build a makeshift data closet though. Here are a few tips to keep your cloud secure, while enabling the innovation, data access and flexibility that you wanted in the first place.

We’re all in this together
The beauty of the network is that it’s all inter-linked. That’s how you can collaborate so easily, and throw your data and apps onto the cloud to access them whenever, wherever. Just remember, every ‘point of entry’ can be the weakest link, so it’s important to educate everyone in your organisation on how to protect themselves to protect the wider network community. It’s important to involve your entire organisation, making them aware that cyber security is just as much their responsibility as it is yours. Unfortunately, the biggest percentage of criminal infiltration comes down to users accidentally letting the cyber criminal in, usually through phishing or malware attempts. Phishing is a bigger threat to your organisation than ransomware is, and it all comes through malicious emails that get acted on. In this super quick blog post, I’ve already covered how to reduce the risk of getting on the phisherman’s hook. Also, it’s important to set up a (non-judgemental) plan for any user who feels that they might have been compromised, without them having to resort to throwing their laptop out of the window. Then you can be sure that they won’t be throwing out hardware willy-nilly, or sweeping incidents under the rug that could cause you harm in the long run.

Secure your data backup plan (just in case)
Data loss is a serious worry, always. Thankfully, in the case of cloud, this worry is slightly less. By storing your data in the cloud, it’s super simple to link your network to a backup storage solution to make sure that whatever happens you’ll be secure. We think that backups are so important that we’ve created a whole extra branch to Cetus; the Continuum Service. I’ve already touched on the 21st century’s answer to tape backup (it’s replication, by the way), and that’s what we offer with Continuum. It’s a full infrastructure recovery, and not just your data- making sure that your underlying server and desktop infrastructure is a-ok to get your business back on its feet in record time. It’s testing, on a regular basis, automatically verifying the integrity of each virtual backup server on its way to cloud, so that you know if something happens there’ll be minimal disruption. It’s a fully-managed service that allows your peace of mind knowing that we have a whole team on the situation, 24 hours a day. It’s a holistic backup and recovery solution that provides local file and VM restoration.

Who has access?
You can build the strongest walls around your building, adopt the most up-to-date firewall and screen every little thing that enters your network, but sometimes it’s important to be weary of the trojan horse plodding through your hallways every day. And by trojan horse, I mean an employee that could be stealing, irresponsibly sharing, or compromising your data. As an IT department, it’s important to assess who has access to what. There is absolutely no reason for Sharon in HR to be able to view or edit financial records, and what on earth could she be doing popping in twice a week at 3am? Establish access controls so that you can manage risk, tying user identities- even external ones- to back-end directories.

It’s important to put security measures in place that will ensure that your data and apps are protected. Why not embrace the latest technologies and adopt a smartphone access control system that will allow you to manage users and assign door access from anywhere?

Encryption and passwords are key
Your cloud can be quite vulnerable. Sitting up there, without the safety of your watchful eye, anything could be happening. It’s a bit like a spaceman floating in the big black expanse that is space, tethered to the International Space Station. He is protected by nothing more than his spacesuit, which shields him from the general elements, but there’s only so much you can do if he gets hit by a meteor. What he needs is an extra layer of bubble wrap and diamond outer shell. In the case of your cloud, this would look less rigidly cosy and more like good passwords and encryption.

In this example, we’re going to look at your spaceman’s bubble wrap; your password. Files in your cloud are zipped and protected with passwords, so it’s important that you choose a strong one. Having a unique password for your cloud is a must- if a hacker gains entry, they would have access to a huge amount of your data so it’s crucial that you keep it as safe as possible. Look into multi-factor authentication (which I’ve already discussed in detail in this post), adding an extra level of protection that you can control with fingerprint and retina biometrics.

If passwords are your spaceman’s bubble wrap, then encryption is his diamond shell, and it’s crucial. Cloud encryption allows your data and apps to be transformed by encryption, shooting up to the cloud securely before being stored. Encrypt at your network’s edge, ensuring that the data gets protected before it even leaves your network. But make sure to keep the encryption and deciphering keys stored away from where you store your data!

So, before you cobble together a makeshift data centre in a panic to protect your information, take a look at the level of security your cloud solution allows. The integrity of your cloud is vital for the health of your business; protecting your data and the access to it should be a priority for IT teams. Contact our Cetus experts to see how we can provide the ultimate protection for your cloud environment.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Continuum, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

How to Develop an Effective Cyber Security Strategy


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We thought 2017 was particularly bad for cyber security threats. WannaCry (on which I’ve only just gone and written a one-year update), Peyta/NotPeyta…. The monthly rate of ransomware attacks against UK organisations increased up to 10 times the rate of 2016. But 2018 is set to beat every record made in 2017. In January alone, there were 7,073,069 attacks on UK organisations, and that number is set to soar throughout the rest of the year. The threat that a cyber attack poses is only getting worse. There were constant instances of security breaches being plastered over the news in the first half of this year alone; Ticketmaster, University of Greenwich and Timehop are only a handful of high-profile examples. So it’s not really a surprise that security and risk management were rated the most important priority in 2018 for CIOs in NASCIO’s November 2017 survey.

Panicked? Sorry, you weren’t supposed to be. In reality, all organisations- big or small- should expect a security breach at some time or another. There’s no way of avoiding it, but there is a way of being prepared. I’ll stop waffling on and get to the good stuff; how you can develop a cyber security policy and improve your best practices so that when disaster strikes, you’ll already be sorted. Mostly. (And if you do happen to face/be facing a security breach I’ve got you covered)

If you’ve got software and systems, update!
It’s really a no-brainer; IT needs to be updated regularly. Maybe in the 90s or early 00s you could get away with only updating whenever you happened to fancy the latest version of Windows to replace your current Windows 95, but it’s not the case now. With the internet, automatic updates are here to stay- whether we find them an annoyance or life-saving. Windows 10 only has two major updates a year and countless little ones that improve so much about the platform- including its security. After all, it was a dodgy unpatched Windows system that started the whole WannaCry debacle. So guys, make sure you update!

Understand the cyber security risk in relation to your organisation
Your organisation depends on a lot of things. Digital processes, data, systems, and your employees mastering the trick of gossiping and doing their work. All of these (minus the employee issue) are vulnerable to being manipulated. The whole point of a robust cyber security strategy is to protect them against fraud, theft of sensitive data and business disruption- along with the risk to your reputation along with it all. Your entire organisation has to work together to protect these vital processes from the threat. Thankfully, here at Cetus, we understand just how important it is to keep everything ticking along smoothly. In fact, we offer a complimentary security posture review to ensure that your business has the necessary security that it needs. We analyse where your organisation is exposed to security risks and provide you with recommendations on how to address them. Our finished report will analyse your network traffic to detect security threats; malware infections, usage of high-risk web applications, intrusion attempts, loss of sensitive data…. The list goes on. It will also evaluate your organisation’s end-point security, focusing on mobile management, user rights management, advanced end-point protection, patch and user rights management, and enterprise file sync and share. Importantly, the report will assess any threats posed from within your infrastructure – east-west traffic, privileged user access and user access rights. Basically, your entire infrastructure will be analysed to make sure that as little of the bad stuff as possible can breach your systems.

Taking a look at your social engineering
This is an interesting one. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s basically GDPR handling in the office. We’ve all been panicking as we worked towards the deadline on May 25th, but privacy protection doesn’t just end there. Social engineering can be the simple calling out of a password to another co-worker behind them, or the more serious incident of pulling up a website at work and volunteering passwords and other vital information that can end up in the wrong hands. Hell, someone on the end of a phone saying the right things with the right amount of confidence could potentially sweet-talk the more trusting to give out a piece of information- and sometimes that’s all they’ll need.

Perform regular data backups
I’ll try and keep this one quick because here at Cetus we rabbit on about them all the time. Backups are great. Should you have the misfortune of having a ransomware attack, having a copy of the data that’s held hostage can be a life saver. Firstly, you’ll know exactly what data the hackers have- or if they gained access to personal information that could cause problems-, and you won’t have to worry about data loss regardless of whether you pay the ransom or not. Backups; if you haven’t got them sorted what are you waiting for?! With so many types of backups to choose from, from tape to replication (we suggest keeping up with the times and trying out Continuum), there’s no excuse not to have that sweet disaster recovery/business continuity plan in place.

Lock everything up tight
There’s no point in having the best firewalls money can buy, along with the most secure cyber security solution, and cyber attack just-in-case plan of action if a criminal can just waltz through the front door and calmly collect all of your information on a USB. If your sever room (or server part of the floor as the case may be) isn’t locked up tighter than Alcatraz then eventually there’ll be a problem. Remember, not everyone in the office needs access to the servers!

These are the most basic points to note for a cyber security strategy. Cyber threats are real and preventing attacks will always be a better alternative to reacting to one after it has breached your infrastructure. One of the most important in the list is understanding the cyber security risk in relation to your business. Make sure to book a complimentary security posture review today, and take the biggest step towards securing your infrastructure or speak to one of our cyber security experts today.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Citrix, Cloud, Continuum, IT Solutions, Security, Uncategorized

Top Trends in Digital Transformation for Your Business


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The tech world is fascinating. We’re always on our toes, trying to figure out how to use the latest innovation that’s been rolled out office-wide. We’re lightyears ahead of where we were only ten years ago. With that, it’s so easy to fall behind in what’s going on in the world of tech and all the great improvements that come with it. Hell, just go on a two-week holiday and you’ll come back to 2,000 urgent emails and a brand-new content collaboration system that eclipses the old one. There are new ways of doing everything, so god forbid you don’t pay attention. The trends in digital transformation change quickly, but these are the main ones your business needs to keep up with to stay ahead.

Cloud and hybrid cloud are taking over
It’s a bit like opening a tin of chocolates to yourself; you just can’t stop the outpouring of those delicious chocolates wrapped up in colour just constantly getting plucked out of the tin. There’s been a huge movement towards cloud in recent years. Everyone and their mother loves cloud and just can’t get enough of it. Business-wise, improving your IT infrastructure to respond to change just makes sense. With the exponential creation of data becoming an issue that has to be considered early rather than in hindsight, digital transformation surrounding cloud brings with it numerous benefits. Organisations love the dexterity of scalability; never needing to worry about what they have but knowing that there will always be room to grow or decrease depending on needs. Of all the cloud options, hybrid cloud is by far most popular, almost indispensable for most organisations, big or small. The ability to have that little bit more control over your data with on-prem data centres is the best first step into the wonderful world of cloud.

Importance of user experience
User experience will always be a major factor in digital transformation for businesses. It goes without saying that when your employees are happy, the higher productivity rises. And that’s what we all want, right? But user experience goes beyond just having coffee and chocolate digestives available downstairs. So what about the other niggly techy bits? Cloud sprawl can be a massive problem for businesses. Chunks of data here, there and those few spots you least expect it can quickly become a problem. We’ve (read: I have) already discussed how cloud sprawl can irritate your users enough for them to abandon your well-established IT infrastructure and turn to the world of shadow IT. A good IT solution will go above and beyond what the user wants and needs. Think of the basics; an email platform, a file-sharing platform, the ever-popular instant messaging app that allows your users to make quick work of small issues. The necessities, basically. Then think of what your users will want to ensure the smooth running of their work day. Now amalgamate and watch the productivity rise!

Remote workforce
We’ve heard it a million times before. Mobile workspace, digital workspace, modern workspace – whatever you want to call the ability to work from anywhere that isn’t the office – it’s the future of work. What’s new? Shockingly, there is more excitement around every corner in the tech world (I did say that it’s fascinating). The latest updates to Citrix Workspace were unveiled in May’s Citrix Synergy. It encompasses all of the usual things that you’d expect from a digital workspace; ultra-secure security, ultra-fast one-sign-in-works-for-them-all authentication, ultra-easy access to any of your files from any of your devices, clouds, networks. All that fun stuff. But the fun just doesn’t stop there. From collating collections of your favourite apps for quick sharing, universal search and – my favourite – using any screen as a presentation screen (no matter how big) just by using a QR code. I swear, it’s magic. And it really makes a difference.

Cyber security priority
WannaCry really wasn’t that long ago, but, even over a year later after the devastating attack, 66% of IT security pros have admitted that they haven’t improved their patch management systems. The biggest issue facing organisations when it comes to cyber security is the lack of progress and drive to be ahead of cyber threats. Terrifyingly, WannaCry was a Gen V-level cyber-attack. It’s terrifying because not only has tech advanced so quickly in so little time (the firewall is the cure for Gen II cyber threats), the majority of businesses are way behind. According to Check Point’s Cyber Security Generations Survey from March 2018, only 10% of IT security professionals are at Gen IV and, worse still, only 3% are at Gen V. If that doesn’t scare you, not much will. So it’s pretty clear; stepping up the digital transformation of your organisation is for absolutely nothing if you ignore the cyber security part of it because then you’re opening yourself up to more attacks. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, how much garlic you hang by the window or how much you trust that Starbucks Wi-Fi, there’s only one way to make sure that you’re protected.

Back up all of the things
Again, it’s one of those things that we hear over and over; backup is important. If there’s a fire; fire up (pun intended) your backup system. If there’s a flood; fire up your backup system. Attack of the tin-eating frogs; fire up your backup system. Backup is a major part of the digital transformation because it’s often overlooked. Everything is up and running and perfect and you just couldn’t imagine anything going wrong. There’s really no point in sorting out your backup after disaster strikes. And in this day and age, there’s no excuse – there are so many different types of backup and replication that can be used for disaster recovery. Here at Cetus, we favour replication – it’s the future of backup – and we proudly suggest our very own Continuum.

Digital transformation should be a top three priority for every organisation that wants to keep up and ahead of the curve. If any of the above sound too difficult for you, or if you need a bit of a refresh on any of them, why not have a quick chat with one of our experts to see what we can do for you? In the meantime, it’s worth looking into our
free business challenge consultation to help you navigate your business challenges, while here in the office we argue about the best tin of chocolate (it’s obviously Roses).

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud, Continuum, Technology, Uncategorized

Keeping Up With The Backup Trend


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It’s 2018. IT is evolving at the speed of light. Our mobile phones can do just about everything and still fit in the palm of our hands. We’re talking about 5G data and the possibility of never having to think about broadband again. Scientists are predicting holidays on Mars, being able to travel in drones and creating huge underwater cities- that we could live in. So obviously, in our little corner of computing, all things IT solutions are moving at the speed of light, right?

Right! IT solutions are keeping up and ahead of trends and security risks, while creating new and improved ways to work and use our mobile devices- and this is every day. And this includes backups.

Disaster recovery, business continuity, backups; we all know how important it is to have copies of our data ‘just in case’. And the most prolific of those is,- and has been for over sixty years-; the humble tape. But why? Surely, surely, some IT geek out there has come up with something better, cheaper, more reliable- I don’t know, digital? It’s crazy that in a world where Netflix replaces DVDs and Sky, and Spotify replaces cassette/vinyl/CD collections, we can still be storing our entire businesses onto tape en masse. Especially when we have other options to keep things safe; USB, replication, CDs? So why, with all the new advances in tech, are we still using tape?

Tape does have its limitations, there’s no doubt about that. If a file gets corrupt, you’re stuck; any error and your data will be unrecoverable. Tape can be lost; fire and floods will most definitely disagree with them. If you haven’t a good enough backup you could lose a significant amount of data. Hardware failure, poof. Gone. And if you want to be extra safe and store your backup tapes in a separate location, say to avoid losing everything in the case of a building flood or fire, the time it would take to transport all of those servers would be a cost in and of itself.

Thankfully, the future has arrived. The answer to the modern question; replication.

Replication is the copying of an organisation’s data and then moving it between that organisation’s sites. Unlike a tape backup, replication only stores a ‘snapshot’, keeping the most recent copy saved, instead of the file’s history. But, while it is expensive, it is more in tune with business continuity; should your original system go down, it can take only milliseconds (if you’ve a good one) to switch to the second site- even if it’s hundreds of miles away. You shouldn’t even notice the switch. For all businesses, this is a crucial factor; time offline can cost hundreds of thousands, even if only for a few hours.

Continuum is Cetus Solutions’ answer to all things backup. It comprises four distinct but interconnected elements to give you the best experience in backup. A local Veeam backup solution will gather backups and provide you with a local backup and restore repository. A local cloud backup will provide you with the optimum offsite cloud location for the local repository to target. A backup archive provides a long-term, deep archive repository for replicated backups. And finally, hot running provides the ability for the client’s infrastructure to be run in the Cetus Continuum Cloud. It was designed with your business needs in mind, addressing business continuity challenges that you haven’t even thought of yet;

1. Full infrastructure recovery- and not just data.
For every well-defined disaster recovery plan, there is a focus on data. And this is the focus of Continuum; recovering and protecting the underlying server and desktop infrastructure to make sure that your data remains secure and accessible is one of our top priorities after a disaster, just as much as getting your business back on its feet.

2. We test. A lot.
Testing once a year is no good. You know that, we know that. In the face of a disaster, knowing that everything was hunky-dory when we tested it out a year ago just isn’t going to cut it when you’re having issues now. So we automatically verify and check the integrity of each virtual backup server on its way to the cloud. On top of that, we perform a full recovery test on a regular basis to suit your business needs, that way you just know that if something were to happen, we’ll have you back up and running with minimal disruption. That’s true peace of mind.

3. Fully. Managed. Service.
You read that correctly. Cetus Continuum provides you with not only the state-of-the-art technology, but a whole team of IT professionals who are working behind the scenes to make your business float. We’re on hand 24 hours a day to make sure that your replications and backups are completed successfully each day, and initiate the recovery process in the face of a disaster. So you know that we’re behind you at all times, ready and waiting to come save the day. You could almost call us superheroes.

4. A holistic backup and recovery solution.
What we do at Continuum isn’t rocket science, it’s basic sense. Our ‘secret’? We combine a local backup repository with our secure cloud repository. Tah dah! Because we do it this way, Cetus Continuum provides local file and VM restoration- either under your control or ours, whichever suits you best-, restoration from our cloud or full infrastructure and workspace recovery in our cloud.

We do rave and rave about backups at Cetus. We know that while it is such an important part of your IT, it’s one of those niggly bits that you can easily ignore and put on the long finger- until disaster strikes and you kick yourself for not having sorted it out sooner.
So have a quick chat about Continuum with our experts today and step into the 21st century’s answer to backup.

Speak to an expert

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.