BYOD Policies in Educational Institutions: Impact on Data Security

shutterstock_278120690smWith a growing number of schools embracing the bring your own device (BYOD) trend among student populations, security concerns have emerged as a hot-button issue. Given the amount of sensitive information and personal data schools possess, IT systems in educational institutions need to institute effective safeguards to keep hackers and cyber criminals on the outside. Following are some emerging strategies that educational institutions are using to safeguard the personal information of both staff and students.

Create and Implement Strict Policies

When instituting a BYOD policy at an educational institution, it is necessary to set up clear and strict guidelines regarding acceptable usage. Such policies must apply to everyone using their own devices in the school setting, including both staff and students. These policies should specifically define what is and what is not allowed, framed within the context of protecting all users from possible security breaches.

Keep Critical Data Accessible Only to Those Who Need It

Schools are hotbeds of sensitive personal information, including everything from examination results and scholastic performance to details of possible physical and/or mental health issues. Cyber criminals often target this type of personal information, and it must be kept behind added layers of security to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Allowing only authorized individuals access to the networks and systems where this information is stored is a key component of BYOD security at schools. Additional protections, including encryption and/or biometric identifiers, can be considered as ways to stop sensitive information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

Protect Devices that Access Social Media

Many users, including both staff and students, will be connecting to social media websites with their own devices. Unfortunately, these sites tend to be a prolific source of viruses and other forms of malware, making it essential for individual devices to be properly protected.

Experts recommend requiring all BYOD users to have and run antivirus software on devices used on the school’s network. Password policies, automatic time-outs, and device locking can all be considered as supplemental strategies to prevent the spread of viruses and other threats.

When properly applied, BYOD policies at schools help foster 24/7 learning while reducing technology budgets and improving resource accessibility. These advantages are best leveraged in tandem with effective security policies that protect IT resources and users alike.

3 Myths About Cloud Computing and Small Businesses

shutterstock_108857858smWhile larger enterprises have been adopting cloud computing models in earnest, small businesses seem to be more reluctant to embrace them. This is, in large measure, due to myths about the cloud that continue to persist in the minds of small business owners.

Debunking these misconceptions will help small business owners realize the full benefits of cloud computing. The cloud has spread like wildfire for a reason — it’s a game-changing technological platform, and there’s much to be gained from adopting it.

Cloud Computing Myth #1: Switching to the Cloud Is Expensive
There is an unfortunate misconception that switching to cloud-based models requires major IT infrastructure upgrades and investments. In reality, small businesses that choose the right cloud service provider for their needs won’t face major migration costs. Pay-as-you-go models also make it easier for smaller companies to adapt, and the cloud actually demands fewer resources than traditional computing systems.

Cloud Computing Myth #2: Cloud Service Providers Lag in Security
Another misconception is that cloud service providers are far more concerned with signing up new customers than they are with providing their customers with secure, trustworthy services. However, reputation is everything for cloud service providers, and as such, they work hard to ensure their customers can rely on them to protect their data.

Cloud providers also offer whatever degree of security their customers want. Small businesses can choose anything from simple alphanumeric passwords to complex encryption and biometric identifiers. Security has come a long way since the cloud first appeared, and while there is no such thing as a 100% invulnerable system, the cloud is now every bit as secure as the legacy platforms that preceded it.

Cloud Computing Myth #3: Small Businesses Don’t Need Cloud Computing Services
Finally, there are many small business owners who believe they don’t actually need the cloud. However, the cloud offers proven benefits that are not otherwise attainable, including:

  • built-in scalability,
  • reduction or elimination of the need to purchase expensive types of specialized software,
  • enhancement of business intelligence initiatives, and
  • the ability to respond to customer needs in a more efficient and dynamic manner.

Working with a reputable cloud service provider is a smart move for small businesses that want to get ahead and stay ahead. Consulting a seasoned, knowledgeable professional to discuss available cloud options is the essential first step in tearing down the myths that hold many small businesses back.

Why the Partnership Between Healthcare and UCaaS Is Revolutionizing the Industry

shutterstock_207428872smUnified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is transforming networks into highly functioning, collaborative, cost-saving machines. One of the many industries in which a UCaaS arrangement is extraordinarily effective is healthcare. The need for wellness and medical service is a permanent and growing condition around the world, presenting a nearly unlimited market for potential users of UCaaS. Here’s how this impressive tool is reshaping healthcare.

Improving Collaboration

In nearly all organizations, communication is a sore point among teams. In healthcare, failing to communicate effectively can be a life or death matter. Using UC allows medical professionals to provide a complete patient picture and necessary information in one place. The entire team will better connect with each other and brainstorm on complex cases as if everyone was in the same room. Conveying messages is easy, and the information will get to the intended audience much more promptly.

Feature-Rich System Structure

Healthcare teams need to be able to contact one another in a variety of ways. Text, video conferencing, call forwarding, and business continuity are all critically important in ensuring prompt accessibility to doctors and nurses. With UCaaS, important team members will never miss a crucial call again, and patients will be protected against weather or local catastrophes that may cause power outages and lead to communications failure.

Better Patient Care

Consider how long it takes to transfer vital patient records the old way (by courier or mail). Today’s healthcare teams want immediate access to all of a patient’s history so that proper, patient-specific care can be administered. UCaaS allows easy electronic engagement with a patient’s records, even across different hospital systems or physician practices. In addition, specialists can be accessed via video to obtain recommendations for treatment or other valuable expertise. The information is able to reach the care team’s mobile devices quickly so they can analyze the details on the move.

Saving Money

A fast-rising trend in today’s business world is to use services like security, software, data management, and analytics in the cloud for accessibility and reduced expense. UC is no exception to this trend as it can easily replace costly and bulky on-premise solutions. The burden of hardware acquisition and maintenance is handled by the vendor. Valuable features can be enjoyed for very little added cost while providing time-saving and productivity-enhancing benefits. Ultimately overhead is decreased and patient care becomes less expensive. This is a gain for both healthcare providers and the patients they serve.

UCaaS has found a strong market in the corporate sector due to its usefulness and high return on investment. The healthcare industry is a natural extension of this technology’s applicability as it saves money, boosts team cohesion and collaboration, and, consequently, improves patient care. This cutting edge tool provides considerable financial benefits and helps save lives.

[Infographic] Finding Holes: The State of Business IT Security

When it comes to the story of IT security, is it possible to have a happy ending? Here’s how a business can find gaps and strengthen its business network so it doesn’t become the next cautionary tale.

Infographic-Finding-Holes-The-State-of-Business-IT-Security

Click below to embed the above image into your website

How Video Conferencing Has Boosted the Non-Enterprise Business Population

shutterstock_278932784smRemember when video conferencing (VC) was complicated and expensive to use? Those days are a distant memory as technology has placed this tool in reach of companies of any size. This powerful instrument is now helping small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) save money, grow faster, and do more with less.

 

A History of Video Conferencing

From the early days of VC, large enterprises were the typical customer. Big banking, pharma, and even government entities used this expensive technology. Special rooms were used to execute these conferences so that adequate lighting and sound levels were in place. Complex features such as multipoint call hosting and video streaming were part of the mix, which was difficult and costly to administrate.

Fortunately, VC has become a much simpler production that is now accessible to everyone from enterprises to consumers through easily attainable and very portable devices. Global communication has never been better, and companies are now able to minimize spending categories that traditionally broke the bank, such as the purchase of necessary hardware and video equipment. Big video rooms have largely been eliminated as companies look to optimize their real estate.

Acquiring and Using Video Conferencing

The vastly improved accessibility of VC was predominantly dependent upon the simultaneous evolution of infrastructure. The shift from traditional on-premise hardware to cloud based solutions was a key contributor to the rising availability of this tool.

The multitude of VC vendors offering services today means that companies have immense flexibility in configuring how they’ll use VC. Some will solely use cloud services whereas others will adopt the traditional route of running VC on their present-day systems. Some may still wish to employ specialized meeting rooms while a larger number will tend toward the use of mobile devices and computer webcams.

Inexpensive VC software has popped up practically everywhere. Easy to use software like WebEx, JoinMe, FreeConferenceCall.com, and GoToMeeting make it incredibly simple to present professionally. The power of these software offerings is growing by the day, and video image and audio quality also continues to improve.

The Reality of Video Conferencing

The point of VC is to improve workflows and processes within a company, or otherwise help to expedite work. But as useful as it is for business collaboration, it is not meant to replace all travel or meetings. VC will simply help to enhance these sessions by facilitating communication and strengthening team cohesion.

Deciding to implement a VC solution should be done with the awareness that it will not be a cure-all where business travel is concerned. But it is generally worth more than its cost as it enables better teamwork, enhances productivity, and strengthens the organization from within.