The 12 Cyber Scams of the Holiday Season

  11/29/17    Posted in News

Consumers are shopping for holiday items and cyber criminals are shopping for your personal information. The holiday season is prime time for cyber criminals to steal your identity. Over 70% of consumers holiday shop online and there are many cyber scams to steal your personal information. Over 60% of consumers are concerned about their personal information being stolen.

 

Cyber Scams

 

  • Holiday Phone Cyber Scams

Mobile devices can make it easier to complete your holiday shopping, but they can also open the door for online cyber scams. These phone scams will claim that you have won a prize. Real organization’s will never ask for your personal information through email or phone.

 

  • Fake Charities

A time of giving, cyber criminals create fake charities that ask for your personal information. Be certain that an organization isn’t a bogus charity by doing your research and using sites that verify.

 

  • Social Media Scams

Digital photos posted on social media sites may have features that provide the information of the locations where they were taken giving cyber criminals information to steal your identity.

 

  • Fake Delivery Email

Cyber criminals send fake shipping notifications to alert consumers that their package has been delivered. Cyber criminals try to get you to click links and download attachments. UPS and the Postal Service have all issued warnings about this.

 

  • Letters from Santa

Fake letters from Santa are emails created by cyber criminals that offer your child a letter from Santa and steal your personal information.

 

  • Holiday E Card Cyber Scams

These holiday e cards will can contain viruses when consumers download cards to the computer.

 

  • Holiday Travel Scams

Consumers receive an email or phone call about winning travel vouchers. The cyber criminals will ask you to provide your personal information and license number to steal your personal information

 

  • Fake Websites

Cyber criminals can redirect you to fraudulent websites. Fake websites may contain many misspellings and grammar errors. Websites that are secure will show a s after http, s meaning secure.

 

  • Gift Card Scams

Cyber criminals write down gift cards numbers that can be bought in store. They contact consumers to check the balance that they have remaining. If there is a remaining balance the cyber criminals will then use the number to make purchases.

 

  • Holiday Games

Cyber criminals may create holiday games to download to your computer that can contain malware and viruses.

 

  • Holiday Refunds

Cyber criminals create fake refunds. Consumers are asked to click links that say request refund or wrong transaction that will put malware and viruses onto your computer.

 

  • Holiday Apps

Many apps are bogus and contain malware. The permissions on your phone can help prevent these apps from accessing your personal information.

 

Cyber Scam Identity Theft

If you think that you’ve been a victim of identity theft:

Under federal law, you are entitled to a free report from each of the credit bureaus each year. Freeze your credit reports so that cyber criminals can’t one new accounts. The Fair Credit Billing Act will allow consumers to dispute unauthorized charges. If your card has been deemed that it has been used by a cyber criminal, you are only liable for $50 of charges.

 

Check your transactions. Hackers often test cards to see if they are valid by charging $1 to $2 dollars.

 

Ensure that your personal information is secure and avoid WiFi networks that are free.

 

Passwords that use multi factor authentication also help to ensure that your information is not accessed by cyber criminals. Avoid bulk emails which can be sent out by cyber criminals.

 

IT solutions can help to secure your network and help you avoid cyber scams this holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to Retain Developers

  11/20/17    Posted in News

Organizations recognize the importance of retaining developer talent and are continuously looking for ways to do this since this group usually stays with one company for two years.

According to research, 65 percent of developers are open to new job opportunities.

 

 

 

Retain developers at your organization with:

 

Compensation

Developers are some of the highest paid professionals in any industry and should be paid a fair amount for their skills. If they are underpaid compared to the local market, they will look for other opportunities. Larger organizations with larger budgets can offer compensation and perks, but small businesses can hire the best talent by offering flexibility and tailoring jobs.

 

Career Advancement

Employees want opportunities for career advancement. Organizations that recognize a developer’s experience and time within a company through some type of career advancement or increased compensation will help them to remain with an organization.

 

Autonomy

Programmers value autonomy. Allow them to create deadlines through a collaborative process. Introduce the team to a set of problems and provide them the resources to solve it.

 

Technical and Career Development

By offering flex time, developers can attend seminars and learn new technologies. Google famously gives developers a certain amount of time each week to pursue pet projects.

 

Work Environment

Each business has the resources to provide a trusting environment that encourages collaboration and autonomous decision making.

 

Technology

Allow developers to use new technologies or libraries on existing projects. New technologies will help with efficiency. Providing developers with the tools they need to succeed shows that an organization values and trusts investing in them.

 

Success

Realistic deadlines are a huge part of being set up to succeed and to meet these deadlines, developers needs the proper tools. Ensure developers have the resources to succeed with the proper software and hardware.

 

Management

Many developers are motivated to work for mission-driven or socially impactful companies.

Recognition

Receiving recognition for work shows that developers are valued employees and are a part of the organization’s success.

 

Valued Opinion

Developers know when a system isn’t working correctly. Allow their opinions to be heard and valued.

 

These will help to retain top developers at your organization and attract new and qualified candidates.

 

 

Technology Adoption and Your Organization

  11/13/17    Posted in News

 

The technology adoption life cycle is a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptances of new products and innovations at businesses. To market and sell innovative products and technology, organizations must understand the personality traits in which people accept innovation which are defined by psychological characteristics.

Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

VALiNTRY will create technology to help your organization reduce costs and increase business.

Diffusion research examines how products and services are spread among groups of people. Most people adopt these products and services in a time sequence and are classified into adopter categories. Adopter categories depend on how long it takes for them to begin using these solutions.

Technology Adoption Patterns

 

Consumer adoption patterns are important in understanding to market new products and services to organizations. When a company understands the path taken for technology adoption, they can seek to target marketing to each specific audience and help with adoption and increase and business.

According to research, “28% of Americans are early adopters.”

The technology adoption life cycle is a sociological model that describes the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation, according to the demographic and psychological characteristics of defined adopter groups.

The 5 technology adopter groups include:

  • Innovators: The Innovators represent 2.5% of the market. Innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are willing to take risks, are usually younger in age, have financial lucidity and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators. Their risk tolerance allows them to adopt technologies which may ultimately fail but their financial resources help absorb these failures. Many in this category are considered to be leaders and are well respected, their peers will be more likely to pick up the new behavior.
  • Early Adopters: The Early adopters make up 13.5% of the market. This is the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. These individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership the other adopter categories. Early Adopters are usually younger in age, like innovators, have more financial lucidity and are more socially forward than late adopters. Early adopters are more discrete in adoption choices than innovators.
  • Early Majority: The Early majority represent 34% of the market. Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters. Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process but have contact with early adopters and seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a system.
  • Late Majority: The Late Majority represents 34% of the market. Individuals in this category wait until an innovation has been accepted by a majority of consumers and the price has dropped to adopt the new product. When Late Majority adopt the new product, the product has become well accepted by a solid majority of the target audience. The late majority typically adopt innovative products because they are skeptics and feel as if everyone else is doing it.
  • Laggards: The Laggards make up 16% of the market. Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. Laggards show little to no opinion leadership. These individuals typically have an aversion to change agents and tend to be advanced in age. Laggards typically tend to be focused on traditions and have the lowest financial fluidity. They are the oldest of all other adopters and have very little to no opinion leadership.

Technology Diffusion and Technology Adoption

 

Technology diffusion can be defined as the process by which innovations are adopted by a population. Whether diffusion occurs and the rate at which it occurs is dependent on several factors which include the nature and quality of the innovation, how information about the innovation is communicated and the characteristics of the population into which it is introduced and costs.

Some products are quick to pass through the adoption lifecycle and some take decades, but they all are adopted through the same process. Think about the stage in which the consumer is in and how the marketing team representing the technology are communicating to that audience.

Technology diffusion can include:

  • Sustaining Innovations: These are aimed at the most profitable customers or organizations who are willing to pay for technologies that will improve or maintain profit margins by increasing existing business processes and cost structures in order to make the best use of current competitive advantages. Businesses that use technologies that are used by customers for products and services.
  • New Market Disruptions: This targets customers and organizations who have needs that were previously unserved by technologies. This type of disruption targets non-consumption. These are customers who have not had access to the features and functions due to lack of money or skill. The business model must work with low production and sales volumes products and services.
  • Low-end Disruptions: This occurs when the rate at which products improve exceeds the rate at which customers can adopt the new performance. Low-end disruption occurs when innovators offer a product or service that helps the least-demanding customers at a lower price.

Like all Disruptive Innovations, they also possess a technology that enables companies to improve their products’ faster than consumers’ can use the improvements.

Disruptive technologies hold within the capacity to change processes and increase business for businesses.

There are Six Points of Innovation that help organizations find which technologies to adopt as innovators.

The Six Points of Innovation include:

  • Meeting customers’ individual needs, such as online retailers’ recommendation services
  • Minimizing waste and managing resource costs, such as companies that harvest and recycle parts
  • Increasing efficiency and lowering costs this can occur with peer-to-peer businesses.
  • Saving money when possible by using car-share companies.
  • Using handheld tracking systems to better monitor the supply chain
  • Staying fast on your feet, clothing companies that maintain less inventory so they can quickly produce new designs

These six points help organizations identify potential opportunities for innovations for their company.

VALiNTRY will evaluate your organization’s needs and create the right technology to help reduce costs and become an innovator with solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cloud Computing with Azure

  11/9/17    Posted in News

Most organizations have migrated to the cloud. Key components in migrating to the cloud are operational costs, the ability to match supply and demand, finding a pathway to optionality, employing an elastic cost base and transparency and some organizations may overlook challenges that may arise during a cloud migration. Cloud computing is changing the way companies view IT and how IT will be viewed at companies.

Over 50% of cloud migrations exceed budget.

Our team will help your company stay within budget by creating a cloud migration plan, developing applications hosted in the cloud and ensuring that your organization’s needs are met by using Azure.

Cloud Computing with Azure

Microsoft Azure allows organizations to migrate to a cloud based architecture. Azure is a cloud platform for building, deploying, managing application and services from anywhere. Azure lets an organization add cloud capabilities to an existing network through its platform as a service (PaaS) model or as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Both options provide secure access to an organization’s cloud hosted data. Azure provides an array of products and services designed to meet the need of an organization through one convenient, easy to manage platform.

Microsoft has designed it’s compliance framework to meet regulatory requirements. Azure benefits hosting providers, ISVs, systems integrators and custom software developers. Custom software developers can create software solutions for customers who can’t afford the costs of in-house development, including hardware costs and they can deliver applications to customers as services without building and maintaining data center.

Microsoft Azure:

  • Provides Flexibility: Azure can increase and scale services and data storage capabilities as needed
  • Reduces Costs: Azure can reduce costs on infrastructure devices and less IT employees are needed
  • Develops Applications: Service offerings such as Visual Studio Team Services and data storage allow organizations to develop and test apps quickly.

Microsoft has over 100 Azure services and is continually developing and adding more, enabling businesses to deliver services and build a virtual network. There are many options for services that companies to it.

Azure products include:

  • Virtual Machines: Azure Virtual Machines allows organizations to deploy a Windows Server or Linux image in the cloud
  • SQL Database: Azure SQL Database allows a company to quickly create and scale applications in the cloud
  • Batch: Azure Batch can manage tasks and enable cloud applications
  • Container Registry: Azure Container Registy stores and manages container images for container deployments. It is a local, network closed storage
  • Site Recovery: Azure Site Recovery helps to protect important applications by coordinating the replication and recovery of private clouds for disaster recovery
  • HockeyApp: HockeyApp allows organizations to distribute beta versions, collect live crash reports and receive feedback from users
  • Encoding: Encoding allows for Studio Grade enclosing at cloud scale
  • Content Moderator: Content Moderator has automated image, text and video moderation
  • Security: Enable threat detection and prevention through advanced cloud security
  • Cost Management: Cost management allows your organization to manage cloud and by monitoring and allocating cloud costs

 

Protecting your Organization with Azure

Cloud computing security is a fast-growing service that provides many of the same functionalities as traditional IT security. This includes protecting critical information from theft, data leakage and deletion. Security is one of the biggest concerns for companies considering a migration to the cloud, Microsoft designed Azure with security in mind. The .NET Access Control Service provides a way to integrate identities and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) tokens are used by applications to determine whether a user is allowed access.

Azure helps organizations to:

  • Achieve global scale on a worldwide network of Microsoft managed data centers
  • Detect and mitigate threats with a view of an organization’s Azure resources
  • Rely on the cloud for the compliance coverage

One of the benefits of cloud services is that an organization can operate at scale and still remain secure. It is similar to how a company currently manages security, but now there are new ways of delivering security solutions that address new areas of concern.

Cloud security does not change the approach on how to manage security from preventing to detective and corrective actions. It does provide a company with the ability to perform these activities in a more agile manner. It also allows an organization to have their security in the cloud.

Azure has the highest standard of security and customers don’t have to manage a facility. The Azure infrastructure was created to ensure that data is safeguarded.

Applications with Azure

Azure provides different hosting models for running applications. Each provides a different set of services. Customers can choose from app service, cloud services and virtual machines. Building applications this way makes them easier to scale and more resistant to failure.

Azure cloud services has support for JAVA, NODE.js, PHP, Python, .NET and Ruby. It also has application patching. Azure cloud services deploy an organization’s application and test applications before deploying them.

Migrating to Azure

VALiNTRY is a Microsoft Partner, an organization earns this with experience in technology and it allows us to give clients discounts on technology for their organization. VALiNTRY will create a proof of concept (POC) to understand challenges an organization may face when migrating to Azure.

A POC may contain:

  • Comparisons with an existing application
  • Complexity of in migrating an application
  • Network challenges

According to a study by the Cloud Alliance, 33% of organizations have a “full steam ahead” attitude toward cloud services and 86% of companies spend at least part of their IT budget on cloud services.

Whether your organization would like to use IaaS or PaaS,the predictions are that fast growth of the workloads placed in the cloud and an increased percentage of the total IT budget going toward cloud computing.

Azure provides businesses with flexibility with it easily integrates with an organization’s existing IT environment through the largest network of secure private connections, hybrid database and storage solutions and data residency and encryption features. Azure has over 120,000 customer subscruptions per month and over 60 complaince offerings, the largest portfolio. VALiNTRY understands that this fast-growing global footprint provides plenty of options for running applications and ensuring optimal performance.

 

Today’s Predictions For Tomorrow’s IoT

  10/18/17    Posted in News

Week three of National Cyber Security Month revolves around today’s predictions for tomorrow’s internet. Technology advances continue to evolve daily and today the internet landscape is not just about computers, smartphones, laptops and tablets. The internet is a global network that provides information instantly from virtually anywhere.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is about disruption and opportunities. Although these emerging technologies have many benefits, organizations can face challenges that can be presented by this way of interacting with networked information. IoT revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication. It is built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors. It is mobile, virtual and an instantaneous connection that is going to make everything in our lives smart.

Technologist, Mike Kuniavsky, states,

 

“IoT is where computation and data communication are embedded in and distributed through, our entire environment”.

 

Understanding what IoT is

IoT isn’t just about money savings or refrigerators and televisions. IoT is a huge and fundamental shift. Intelligent technology will be a major engine for creating new products and new services and making smarter decisions.

An IoT is an ecosystem. Integration, analyzation, acquisition, interaction and context create that ecosystem.

From software to sensors and actuators, acquisition deals with the specific type of information that your organization is trying to collect. Once this is determined, a business must choose how they will get data from these devices. During analyzation, an organization will analyze the data and choose what will be sent to the cloud. Connectivity can also be managed. During integration, IoT devices act as agents with data being shared across the world. Interaction deals with user experience and how consumers interact with connected environments. Context deals with collaboration across fields and companies, device security and business models.

The top 5 ways that IoT will benefit your organization is:

  • Continuous Customer Interaction: By utilizing networks, adding smart sensors allows customers to constantly interact with appliances and products within their home. IoT technology also allows for organizations to support customers more quickly
  • Process Monitoring: IoT allows for more detailed monitoring. Organizations can use this information to improve business processes
  • Automated Services: Software has already begun to automate all types of work and this artificial intelligence is effecting daily lives. Due to the increasing number threats of cyber attacks, humans can leverage automated services and artificial intelligence to keep up
  • Increase Data: Sensors deployed as IoT devices produce data that can be analyzed
  • Embedded IT: Organizations are now building products with sensors built in

Protecting Your Business with IoT

Ensuring a secure future will be the use of identity-management services. From simple user and id password combinations to advanced frameworks, these services have evolved that manage access credentials between a broad range of users and devices.

Organizations must be able to respond to the volume and scale of cyber threats, increase cyber security, reduce vulnerabilities and ensure user security by leveraging IoT. IoT security can be challenging to implement. When it comes to IoT security, testability and configurability are important to reduce threats. Help protect your business by:

  • Digital Signatures: Digital signatures attached to software ensure that programs don’t run unauthorized programs.
  • Connectivity: A firewall filters protocols to check that network-enabled devices interface properly. These firewalls may identify network-based security threats to IoT devices, data and the network. But within connectivity, think about the various protocols used by IoT devices and software
  • Patches and Updates: IoT patches and updates can help protect against vulnerabilities.
  • Entire Infrastructure: IoT is an environment. By accounting IoT systems as a whole your business will be better protected from vulnerabilities.
  • Data Security: All IoT devices gather data. But it’s the means of transfer and recording that present the threat. Consider how data is transmitted and stored when accounting for data and analytics security in IoT

In order to collect, analyze and act appropriately, organizations need to completely rethink computing architectures and tools. This challenge is much bigger than many initially realize.

But as these technologies mature, the range of corporate deployments will increase. Now is the time for executives across all industries to structure their thoughts about the potential impact and understand how to build their businesses by leveraging this data.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) spreads, the implications for business model innovation are huge. To take advantage of new, cloud-based opportunities and the companies will have to fundamentally rethink their orthodoxies about value creation and value capture.

Data from large numbers of sensors, deployed in infrastructure such as roads and buildings or to report on environmental conditions including soil moisture and ocean currents can give decision makers a heightened awareness of real-time events, particularly when the sensors are used with advanced display or visualization technologies.

In this way, these managers are increasing their ability to make constant routing adjustments that reduce congestion costs and increase a network’s effective capacity. “It’s the use of technology to gather insights around a particular operation that can help you make smarter decisions,” says Paul Gudonis, president of Inmarsat’s Enterprise Business Unit.

 

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month was launched by The National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Now in it’s 14th year, it is observed every October and was created to ensure that each American has the resources to protect their businesses and remain secure online. This year’s campaign is Stop. Think. Connect.

In Week 1, simple steps to online safety was discussed. From securing home networks to learning how to use the internet more safely, throughout this week consumers learned what to do if they fall victim to cyber crime.

Week 2 discussed cyber security in the workplace. Each organization must plan for employee education, training and awareness to help with risk management. Businesses were shown how to protect themselves, their customers against common cyber threats. Resources were also provided to help strengthen cyber resilience.

We are currently in Week 3 which looks to the future of the internet and how to ensure security, safety and privacy by using the latest technology. It discusses how personal data fuels smart devices and how smart devices are the future of every organization.

In Week 4, cyber security careers will be discussed. Continuing to train the current workforce and growing the next generation of skilled cyber security professionals will help protect and ensure the safety of Americans.

Week 5 will discuss protecting infrastructure from cyber threats and how to build resilience.

 

The Future of Your Organization

The Internet of Things is opening new frontiers for improving processes with artificial intelligence. This kind of machine decision making mimics human reactions, though at vastly enhanced performance levels.

 

 

Defining Your Corporate Culture

  10/4/17    Posted in News

Corporate culture is the identity and personality of an organization. Culture is dynamic, ever-changing and evolves with the growth of a business. The DNA of an organization, it is a combination of leadership styles, procedures and demographics within an company.

Frances Frei and Anne Morriss from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) state,

“Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which of course, is most of the time.”

Building a Corporate Culture

A corporate culture is built over time. In order for a culture to be successful, those at an organization must speak the same language and be on the same page on what your values are. To create a long-lasting culture that every employee understands, adaptations must occur as the company grows.

Corporate culture can affect:

  • Employee Retention: Reduce turnover and increase morale by appreciating contributions from team members
  • Reputation: Maintain a positive reputation to help attract and connect with future employees or clients
  • Productivity: Experience better performance through improved morale

Building a corporate culture isn’t easy and there is no recipe for success. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of organizations actually succeed in building one. It sets the tone of a company and dictates how the team interacts both internally and externally.

 

According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota,

“Corporate culture is, above all else, the most important factor in driving innovation.”

Thriving cultures have a common language which enables teams to understand each other. To ensure that these principles are being followed, organizations must create standards as a way to measure.

Leaders must reflect the values and standards of an organization. By leading through example, they convey a cultural work ethic that inspire others. Instead of declaring culture shifts that an organization wishes to see, provide examples. Often times, significant change is a product of social movements, and that despite the differences between private enterprises and society, leaders can learn from how these initiators engage and mobilize the masses to institutionalize new societal norms.

For example, successful organization’s aren’t built upon employees that simply, go to work, do what they’re told, and just help someone else achieve their dream. Organizations that thrive have employees that look forward to going to work and appreciate that their ideas are appreciated. Leaders that understand that good decisions can come from anywhere is a cornerstone of attracting talented individuals who will fit into the culture if you let them. Organizations that thrive, understand that their employees are their biggest strength and will invest heavily in them.

 

Correlating Morale and Productivity

Employees that live organizational values, should be rewarded and receive recognition. For example, no organization will ever perfectly align every reward the behaviors we seek. However, a business should atleast be cognizant of the key elements of the cultural vision that they are trying to achieve and ensure that we recognize and reward those.

Employee morale directly effects company productivity and businesses that realize this will ensure sustained success.

Organizations that understand that culture is the foundation of their organization are:

  • Southwest Airlines: Southwest puts its employees first. In doing so, they believe that employees will treat customers right which will increase business.
  • Zappos: Zappos takes specific actions daily that reinforces its corporate culture. These actions include creating career paths, performance evaluations, training and creating a culture book written by employees.
  • Twitter: Twitter ensures that each employee’s voice is heard without barriers.
  • Etsy: Etsy encourages the hiring female engineers. In just one year, the organization has increased its number of female engineers by 500% and is attracting applicants that value diversity.

 

To begin mobilizing your corporate culture:

  • Work with and within current cultural situations
  • Alter behaviors by leading through example and mindsets will follow
  • Focus on a few critical behaviors
  • Assemble and deploy cultural ambassadors
  • Link behaviors and business objectives
  • Convey results
  • Use cross organizational methods to promote messages
  • Align programmatic efforts with behaviors
  • Actively manage and promote your cultural situation over time

 

Questions for Candidates to Ask

For candidates looking to work at an organization, it’s important to look for a job where you feel as though you’d be a fit within a culture.

Candidates should:

  • Review an organization’s website: Check the company’s mission and values
  • Complete research: Utilize resources like Glassdoor to see reviews from employees
  • Ask questions: Throughout the interview process be sure to inquire about the work environment and the company culture
  • Shadow an employee: Better understand how the office operates by shadowing an employee who would is working in a similar role

VALiNTRY’s Corporate Culture

At VALiNTRY, our values are at the core of our organization. Our values are:

  • People Service: Enriching and serving our clients and employees
  • Accountability: Being accountable and responsible to commitments and results
  • Teamwork: Working together to support our team for the greater good
  • Honesty and Integrity: Doing the right things the right way
  • Innovation: Pushing beyond comfort zones to seek new solutions for ourselves and our clients
  • Transparency: Always sharing the outcomes of the things that we do

Our company logo has a lowercase I to represent that our organization wins as a team. There upside down triangle represents our inverted organization structure where clients and employees are put before management.

Culture is invisible, but it can be seen and felt. They begin with a group of passionate enthusiasts who deliver a few modest wins. Reinforcing the message displays that an organization remains unified in promoting the corporate culture. While these wins are small, they’re powerful in demonstrating efficacy to nonparticipants, and they help the movement gain steam. The movement really gathers force and scale once this group successfully co-opts existing networks and influencers. Eventually, in successful movements, leaders leverage their momentum and influence to institutionalize the change in the formal power structures and rules of society.

 

 

 

 

Take Your Organization to the Next Level with the Cloud

  9/22/17    Posted in News

What exactly is the Cloud? The Cloud refers to software and services that run on the internet instead of locally on your computer. The Cloud allows you to access your information on any device with an internet connection with remote servers handling most of the storage and computing.

The term was coined decades ago in Houston when a group of technology executives began discussing the future of the Internet business and began calling it Cloud computing.

Although it has been named the Cloud, your information is stored in an actual place. Benefits of migrating to the Cloud include improved flexibility, increased storage and reduced costs.

 

Experts seem to agree that Cloud computing will ultimately transform today’s computing landscape.

These Cloud computing services enable an enterprise to expand its infrastructure, add capacity on demand, or outsource the whole infrastructure, resulting in a wider choice of computing resources.

There is an array of available Cloud computing services, but most fall into one of the following categories which include:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This type of Cloud computing delivers applications through your internet browser. One of the most popular SaaS applications for business is Microsoft’s Office 365. These types of applications offer extensive configuration options as well as development environments that enable customers to code their own modifications and additions. Many businesses leverage SaaS to run websites, complete computing and conduct big data analysis.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS is an instant computing infrastructure that can be quickly scaled. A pay per use model, IaaS offers a full array of services offered by all major public cloud providers which is staggering: highly scalable databases, virtual private networks, big data analytics, developer tools, machine learning and application monitoring.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): Provides services and workflows that specifically target developers who can use shared tools and processes to accelerate the development, resting and deployment of applications.
  • Function as a Service (FaaS): This allows developers to upload blocks of code and set them to be triggered by a specific event such as submitting a form or uploading a file. These applications consume no IaaS resources until after an event occurs so pay per use fees are reduced.
  • Private Cloud: This uses technologies used to run IaaS public Clouds that and be operated and deployed into customer’s data center. It decreases the amount of manual provisioning and management. It allows organizations to store protected data and maintain the ability to leverage resources from the public cloud while increasing flexibility.
  • Hybrid Cloud: The hybrid cloud is the integration of a private Cloud with a public Cloud. It creates environments in which applications can move easily between private and public Clouds.
  • Public Application Programming Interfaces (APIs): Public APIs offer developers application functionality that can be assessed programmatically. It also enables customers to access data or application functionality. A public Cloud and private infrastructure within this model communicate over an encrypted connection.
  • Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS): This platform enables users to implement data mapping, transformations and workflows. It is used for building and deploying integrations within the cloud and between the cloud and an enterprise. iPaaS is scalable and has the ability to meet the increased data volume from mobile and other environments with minimum disruption.
  • Identity as a Service (IDaaS): This platform manages user identity and authenticates users and enables access to both resources and applications. The key capabilities required to make enterprise solutions possible are single sign-on, multi factor authentication, access security, directory and provisioning. The increased security allows companies to reduce the possibility of a data breach.

Most enterprises have complex IT environments that include a mix of on-premise, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS Applications.

 

Strategizing Your Cloud Migration

 

To achieve scalability, cost-efficiency and higher application performance, many organizations choose to migrate to the Cloud. Although there are many benefits to embarking on this initiative, migration can be a complex process however, the team at VALiNTRY.

The 6 most common application migration strategies are referred to as the 6 R’s. These include:

  • Rehosting: Many applications are rehosted when an organization has a large legacy migration scenario and needs to scale quickly
  • Replatforming: There is no need to change the core architecture of an application, an organization must only make a few optimizations
  • Repurchasing: This occurs when an organization is moving to a different product
  • Refactoring: A company is rethinking how an application is architected and developed
  • Retire: Turn off any part of an IT portfolio that is no longer useful
  • Retain: If some applications don’t need to be migrated or one was recently upgraded, you can revisit it at a later time

 

Choosing a Cloud Provider

 

From startups to industry leaders, there are hundreds of options to choose from when deciding which Cloud provider to use. It’s important to have mapped out your company objectives to ensure that a provider understands your business and how to help your organization achieve its goals by migrating to the Cloud. Business objectives can include:

  • Scaling Applications
  • Boosting Productivity
  • Facilitating Collaboration
  • Going Global
  • Protecting Data
  • Empowering Innovation
  • Managing Infrastructure
  • Backing Up Reliably

Learn the business advantages that can be gained like higher customer retention, not just technical gains.

Cost and security also need to be considered when choosing a provider. The location of a Cloud provider’s data centers can be imperative. For example, if an application is very sensitive, it should be at a location near users to ensure the best user experience possible. When a provider hosts data also depending security and compliance regulations can vary based on location.

The Cloud provider should also have a formal management structure, established risk management policies, and a process for assessing third-party service providers and vendors.

An organization’s principles are also important. At VALiNTRY, our team lives our core values. From honesty to integrity and transparency, a Cloud provider should be completely forthcoming with any and all information your organization would like to know. Trust is imperative.

 

The Benefits of Using Microsoft as Your Cloud Provider

 

A provider that VALiNTRY recommends using is Microsoft. A technology giant, Microsoft is a trusted, global and hybrid provider.

 

90% of Fortune 500 companies trust the Microsoft Cloud.

 

Microsoft has data centers in over 30 regions across the world to help provide an optimized user experience for your customers. It also is a complete Cloud solution, enabling businesses to leverage existing IT investments and globally scaled public cloud offerings.

Microsoft Azure is a collection of constantly growing integrated Cloud services that enables developers and IT professionals to build, deploy and manage applications globally. It provides a consistent portal experience while leveraging highly integrated cloud services.

Microsoft Azure also allows your organization to build and deploy anywhere with your choice of applications, frameworks and tools that you choose.

 

Migrating to the Cloud with a Microsoft Partner

 

VALiNTRY is a Microsoft Partner and our affiliation allows us to blend our unique portfolio of client counseling expertise with Microsoft’s array of advanced creative and support products and services.

As a Microsoft Partner, our team is able to help clients gain access to exclusive offerings, reduce costs and generate a consistent revenue stream. It also ensures that we receive the latest technical training and get insight into product usage. From initial concepts and designs to launch and maintenance, our team will ensure your business operations run as smoothly as possibly by enhancing your existing applications.

 

 

 

 

The Top Takeaways From The Equifax Hack

  9/18/17    Posted in News

Over 143 million Americans have been affected by a cyber attack at Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency. Experts say it may never be possible to calculate the exact number of people affected by these cyber thieves.

Equifax cyber criminals managed to steal social security numbers, names, addresses and drivers licenses, data dubbed as the crown jewels of identification. Ensure that your organization networks, computers, programs and data are protected from a cyber attack, damage or unauthorized access with the help of the experts at VALiNTRY.

Identifying the Cause of the Cyber Attack

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax is one of the nation’s three largest credit bureaus. The company collects and aggregates the information of consumers and businesses across the globe. Employing over 9,000 employees and boasting over 3 billion dollars in revenue, how did such a corporate giant fall victim to a cyber attack?

In March 2017, a massive server bug was identified which now months later, provided a means for hackers to attack. Most organizations would understand the magnitude of these issues and immediately begin installing patches and securing their servers. The compromise in March stemmed from Equifax failing to install security updates when necessary. This vulnerability provided cyber attackers 24 hours to exploit the flaw while taking control of webservers, downloading data and installing malware.

Equifax utilized Apache Struts, created by the Apache Foundation, a popular server software that many large companies utilize including Fortune 100 organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, Vodafone, Virgin Atlantic, Reader’s Digest and the IRS. Apache struts use as a framework which allows developers to easily build custom websites. However, its all-in-one approach can also be a weakness.

 

Ron Winward, a security researcher for Radware states,

“The software touches all aspects of a company’s website, once you break in through one window you can get in to the rest of the house — and the rest of the houses in the neighborhood.”

 

The problem for Equifax, is that the flaws in STRUTS has been widely documented. Although the Apache Foundation has been proactive in deploying fixes that patching the vulnerability, Equifax did not patch the identified flaws to the best of its ability.

Although Equifax CEO Richard F. Smith has said, “we will make changes,” and has offered affected consumers a year of free credit monitoring and waived credit freeze fees for the next 30 days, businesses and consumers may be weary to use their services again.

What can happen when this information gets into the hands of cyber criminals? Cyber criminals can open bank accounts, lines of credit, new credit cards and drivers’ licenses in your name and recovering from identity theft could take months or even years.

 

What Happens To Identity Fraud Victims

When most identity fraud occurs, victims are left wondering, do they have to pay back any expenses incurred from the thieves? When the identity theft involves a debit or credit card, losses are limited under the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

 

The Fair Credit Billing Act caps liability for unauthorized credit card purchases at $50 while for stolen ATM and debit cards, liability depends on how quickly a person reports the loss or theft.

 

In the case that your identity has been stolen, immediately take these 5 steps:

  1. Put fraud alert on your credit reports: A fraud alert puts a red flag on your credit report and notifies lenders and creditors that they should take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. Another option and an effective identity theft prevention measure, is to place a security freeze on each of your credit reports. A freeze prevents creditors from accessing your credit reports.
  2. Contact affected institutions directly: If your ATM card was stolen, contact the bank directly. In the case of a credit card being stolen, report the theft to the issuer of the credit card.
  3. Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): By filing a police report and an Identity Theft Affidavit, the FTC will help you understand and identify what type of fraud was committed and what to do next.
  4. Protect your social security number: In the event that your social security number was stolen, contact Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), even if you don’t yet see any evidence of financial fraud.
  5. Contact the Post Office: If you have reason to believe the identity thief may have submitted a fraudulent change-of-address to the post office or has used the U.S. mail to commit the fraud against you, contact the Postal Inspection Office.

 

Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst states, “Cyberwar is in large part conducted through data mining and cyber intelligence. This is also a Homeland Security risk as enemy nation states build databases of Americans that they then use to get to their targets, for example a network operator at a power grid, or a defense contractor at a missile defense company.”

 

If you own a small to mid sized business, don’t think that your organization is immune to cyber attacks.

According to Symantec, over 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.

 

Experts believe this is because most larger companies are constantly updating their security and smaller business are seen as an easier target to cyber criminals because they have less resources to put in high end cyber security protection. In a recent survey conducted by CNBC, only 2% of small businesses said they viewed a cyberattack as the most critical issue that they face. Why should these organizations care?

 

60 percent of these smaller companies will go out of business within 6 months of a cyber attack.

Protecting Your Business with Cyber Security

Cyber attack strategies are getting more sophisticated on a daily basis, however there are some effective ways to help protect your business:

  • Get cyber security insurance: Cyber liability insurance protects your business from various cyber security threats. If your company is held liable due to a breach occuring, this insurance will help in the case of a lawsuit.
  • Create a password strategy: Road names, pets, most employees utilize simple passwords, leaving your organization vulnerable to cyber hackers.  Employees should be required to create passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, along with numbers and symbols while resetting their passwords at least once a month.
  • Utilize virtual data rooms (VDR): These rooms allow for employees to safely and easily share data. From tax paper work to financial information and legal documentation, VDR’s help keep sensitive information safe.
  • Identify internal threats: Most cyber security issues that occur are a result of someone inside of your company. Be aware of what sensitive information is accessible.

 

Protect your business by starting with a technology audit from the experts at VALiNTRY. Our team will examine your security practices and network to identify vulnerabilities. Our security expert consultant Xavier Harris is a CISSP, with experience managing both local and global initiatives. His expertise is in creating and implementing IT architecture that ensure cyber security. From enterprise risk and compliance to incident management and penetration testing, our team will help your business mitigate risk factors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Your Organization Needs A Trusted Advisor

  9/14/17    Posted in News

Relationship building is a critical component is in a longstanding, mutualistic relationship. To experience enduring success your organization must identify a trusted advisor who can help you navigate challenging situations and offer solutions. The role of trusted advisor means putting the client’s interests first, being invested in their business and being a credible source for them to rely on.

So, what is the best way to grow your business? Identify a trusted advisor.

 

Defining The Role of a Trusted Advisor

When a prospect is searching for a particular agency to work with to help them meet their needs, the answer is not always simple. However, it is important to identify an organization that can provide a trusted advisor. A trusted advisor understands the pressure that clients face to grow their organizations and to meet financial goals. They will ask the client about their aspirations and long-term needs and help generate ways for them to accomplish those goals.

Trusted advisors must have the unique ability to see the big picture. On a daily basis, they must learn new skills, find answers and develop strategies to help their clients succeed. They see things from a fresh perspective and will challenge your assumptions. Their role, is to do everything necessary to help your business thrive. In doing so, trusted advisors must leverage their expertise to help the management make informed business decisions. A trusted advisor should help your organization think through decisions while providing supporting information but leave the final decision up to you and your team.

Trusted advisors have a large potential to impact your organization. Trusted advisors help to:

  • Provide more complete solutions
  • Accelerate business development
  • Help organizations create a competitive advantage

 

What are some qualities that clients look for in a trusted advisor? Results from one survey convey that 48 percent of research participants said that “great communication skills” are a trusted-advisor behavior that their top consultants possess that their average performers don’t.

It also found that, “putting the client first” was brought up as a differentiator by 24% of the participants.

Participants listed the traits most important to them when identifying a trusted advisor:

  • Understanding
  • Consistency
  • Ability to remain calm
  • Reliability
  • Disciplined
  • Provide reasoning

To become a trusted business advisor, an organization must couple the delivery of data with interpretation and sound business advice. The end goal should be helping clients meet their needs and understand how these were met rather than just reviewing them. To do this, trusted advisors must:

 

  • Immerse themselves in your culture: From messaging to products and solutions, in order to provide sound advice and guidance trusted advisors must understand a company from the ground up.
  • Provide solutions: Avoid selling. Instead be proactive and provide solutions that clients may not have even anticipated yet.
  • Show examples of success: Demonstrate how they have achieved success for previous clients and leverage that for your company.
  • Deliver on what is promised: Meet deadlines and budgets and always follow up as promised. Trusted advisors should help your organization achieve set goals through strategic advice.

 

Trusted advisors have the experience, training, knowledge and subject matter expertise to advise your company. They have the keen ability to diagnose business problems and recommend the right solutions to improve your situation. Trusted advisors should make your team feel comfortable to reach for advice and accept or decline recommendations.

For example, trusted advisors don’t just provide data to a client and hope their client will be able to interpret it. A trusted advisor will include a written report that explains in plain language the metrics most important to the success of that company and answer any other questions that may arise. A trusted advisor should also be transparent, explaining rationale in why certain avenues are being recommended.

Conversations should also focus on the few, key performance indicators of your business and its wider industry. Interactions with should be informal, so that your team feels welcome to ask questions. Then based on these questions, trusted advisors can provide substantive advice to help grow your business.

The Importance of Values

One of the things that distinguishes VALiNTRY is that our business model is based upon our values. Our inverted organization structure, depicted in our logo as an green, inverted triangle, puts our clients, consultants and employees first while management is at the foundation supporting the team.

 

Our values include:

  • People Service: Enriching and serving our clients and employees
  • Accountability: Being accountable and responsible to commitments and results
  • Teamwork: Working together to support our team and client for the greater good
  • Honesty and Integrity: Doing the right things, the right way
  • Innovation: Pushing beyond our comfort zones to seek new solutions for ourselves and our clients
  • Transparency: Sharing the why and the outcomes of the things that our organization does

 

So how does your organization make an informed decision? Identify your organizational goals, then begin researching and interviewing. It is important to consider:

  • Reputation: Contact references and conduct research to identify any concerns
  • Expertise: Determine how expansive their id knowledge in your particular industry
  • Capabilities: Identify the amount of experience that they have with companies of your size

 

Constantly putting our clients first while empowering our employees to deliver unparalled service allows our team members to become reliable, trusted advisors for your organization.

There are also many benefits of utilizing a trusted advisor, which include:

  • Save your organization money
  • Conduct assessments to determine areas of weakness and provide solutions
  • Educate members of your team
  • Ensure the compliance of your business

 

Our team members understand that earning the title of a trusted advisor is a privilege and should never be jeopardized. At VALiNTRY, our team understands that it takes a long time to achieve that level of confidence and just mere minutes to lose.

 

20 Tips to Prepare your Business for Hurricane Irma

  9/8/17    Posted in News

As the southeastern United States braces itself for the impending impact of Hurricane Irma, our team has created a checklist to help your organization prepare and minimize the storm’s impact on your business. A category 5 hurricane with winds up to 180 MPH, there are a wide array of challenges that may arise when the storm makes landfall. If your business doesn’t already have a disaster recovery plan in process, utilize our checklist to aid in preparation of the storm.

  1. Define your organization’s most critical assets
  2. Identify the items that are most important to your organization including:
    • Computer servers that are mission critical
    • Computer workstations
    • Local computer account passwords
    • Vendor information
  3. Determine how long your organization thinks that it will take to recover from the hurricane
  4. Take inventory of your business assets
  5. In the case of a power outage, determine which business functions should be back online first
  6. Plan on what is needed to ensure the safe recovery of mission critical systems
  7. Identify an alternate storage location if your infrastructure needs to be relocated
  8. Create an accurate network diagram to help guide technicians that may have to reconstruct your network at an alternate site
  9. Determine a plan for communicating with employees
  10. Plan the how to keep your network running
  11. Identify a back plan if there is a system failure and your organization has to go manual
  12. Establish a telephone number for employees and clients to call to determine if work is open
  13. Identify who will be on call at your organization
  14. Unplug and cover all electronic equipment, including phones and computers, with dry bags to keep them dry and unaffected from moisture
  15. Bring any laptops or portable devices home
  16. Bolt down servers
  17. Contact your IT vendor or internal IT staff to ensure all your files are secure in an off site storage facility or service
  18. Prepare to document anything that has been damaged after the storm
  19. Move items away from the windows
  20. Remain calm

 

If you organization is working with local vendors, communicate with them to understand what their plan is for the storm. Remember our team is here to assist you in any way and utilize our checklist to help ensure that business is as prepared as possible.