4 Key Elements to Consider When Searching for an Enterprise Data Security Solution

SecuritySecurity rightfully remains a top concern for tech-side executives and IT personnel, especially given recent trends towards cloud computing and big data. While these applications have created new types of external threats, organizations also need to be aware of the risks posed by insiders. Well-designed data security plans anticipate both scenarios and deliver purpose-built solutions.

It’s normal to be wary when dealing with sales agents who are pushing specific security solutions, as they often have their own agendas. Knowing the right features to look for is the key to breaking past the sales jargon and securing a data protection solution that’s right for the unique needs of an organization.

With that in mind, here are some indispensable tips for finding an effective enterprise data security solution that delivers good value:

Beware of Rock-Bottom Up-Front Costs

Some vendors push security solutions with price tags that seem too good to be true, which they justify by claiming that the solution is relatively light on software needs, allegedly accounting for its low cost. Such offers should be received with skepticism.

When it comes to costs, it’s essential to look beyond the up-front expenditures and into cumulative fees. How much will it cost, in total, to run this security package for a year, or for its expected lifetime? Will it require additional human or IT resources? Does it offer savings potential? If so, how much?

Account for the Risks Posed by Privileged Insiders

No business wants to consider the possibility that many serious security risks originate with its own employees, but this is, unfortunately, the case. Privileged insiders can compromise data knowingly or unknowingly, so it’s essential to find a solution that introduces critical checks and balances.

The best way to keep an eye on the activities of privileged insiders is to implement a security system that tracks local access to critical data. Here are some specific features to look for:

  • The ability to identify attempts of unauthorized users to access local networks
  • Controls that facilitate the blocking of users or activities that may compromise data
  • Dynamic masking features that prevent sensitive information from being distributed outside the network
  • Quarantine capabilities that identify and isolate privileged insiders who knowingly compromise company information

Read the Fine Print

When it comes to license agreements, some vendors will insist that a particular package is unlimited when, in reality, the package carries restrictions. One common example is a security solution with an “unlimited” license that allows IT teams to monitor any number of sources but has strict caps on the number of authorized collectors.

To be sure an unlimited solution is truly what it claims to be, read the fine print and follow up by questioning the vendor about anything that doesn’t seem clear.
Remember: It Only Takes One Attack

Businesses with incomplete security solutions in place shouldn’t delay in taking action. It only takes one attack to create serious complications, and the possibility of suffering costly losses is elevated the longer a business goes without a comprehensive data protection plan.

The professionals at ROI Networks specialize in helping enterprises of all sizes safeguard their data. To learn more about ROI’s advanced suite of enterprise security solutions, please contact us today.

BYOD Options: The More, the Messier

BYODOrganizations are finding increasing value in allowing a wider array of devices to be used for company business. From improved worker satisfaction and productivity to reduced communications equipment costs, this simple perk makes a surprising difference. Before implementing a flexible bring your own device (BYOD) program, a number of key factors must be considered to protect company interests.

Security Provisions

One of the most concerning issues for organizations considering a BYOD program is the perceived lack of control over the device, especially as it relates to security. Any equipment capable of accessing company networks or data represents a point of risk of exposure. An important part of a successful device strategy is to dictate certain requirements for all devices involved.

For example, the policy may call for active anti-virus applications on any devices that will be used. Access to sensitive data may be configured so that a VPN tunnel must be used rather than straight access from a suspicious hotspot or public Wi-Fi. A PIN or password on the device could be another requirement. These types of tactics allow any device to be used with less risk of data loss or compromise.

Employee Training

In some cases, data breaches result from a lack of employee training. Without being educated on why public hotspots could be dangerous, a worker may not think twice about connecting to their work email from the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi. Teaching staff about phishing, rogue applications designed to collect payment and authorization information, and ways to physically protect devices from being lost or stolen increases their awareness. Giving them the tools to help protect the company and themselves minimizes the chance of a security incident from a BYOD connection.

Manageability

Another troublesome “control” issue within BYOD programs is how to terminate access if an employee leaves. Removing company data, applications, and connectivity may seem impossible. However, with today’s mobile device management tools this task becomes painless and efficient. Devices that are lost or stolen can be deactivated or wiped, access can be deleted, and sensitive information tightly secured.

Application Selection

Last but not least, choosing the right applications for use across the company is a necessary part of the BYOD conversation. For example, applications that are strictly on-premise or legacy are going to be out of reach for most, if not all, mobile devices. Ensure that cloud applications are secure and compatible with other company systems before choosing to implement them.

BYOD programs take significant burden off of IT personnel who would ordinarily be inundated with acquiring, provisioning, supporting, configuring, and deactivating devices. Workers get more done with hardware they’re most familiar with and enjoy the freedom to use their preferred devices. Flexible BYOD strategies can be quite effective with an appropriate measure of preparedness. For more information on creating effective mobile policies, contact ROI Networkstoday.

ROI Networks at a Glance

ROI-NETWORKS-INFOGRAPHIC-2017-1-V1

Click below to embed the above image into your website

Cloud Convergence: Harnessing and Simplifying the Power of the Cloud

CloudWhether technology-focused or not, in today’s environment, all businesses have technical challenges to meet. Data is fundamental to evaluating markets, planning for growth, improving internal process efficiency, and dozens of other tasks across all areas of business. And with the great complexity of business data comes great complexity in data management. One way of meeting these challenges is to leverage converged data infrastructure in the cloud.

What is converged data infrastructure?

Converged infrastructure is a way of providing tested configurations of applications and services. With a converged system, technologies such as data storage, database queries, networking architecture, and other useful features are bundled together to address as many business needs as possible. This allows companies to outsource much of the costly setup and integration work, as well as allowing – in some cases – converged infrastructures to be replicated across providers.

Not all converged infrastructures, however, are provider-agnostic. Solutions from companies such as Amazon and Google may tie businesses in to their specific business model, and make it more difficult to replicate environments elsewhere. Whether or not this is desirable depends a great deal on what ancillary services a business needs to integrate, and how their disaster recovery plans are shaped.

What considerations go into selecting cloud infrastructure and converged data infrastructure?

Three major considerations should guide the cloud converged infrastructure decision: cost, management, and security.

  • Cost. Cloud services perform well against services managed in-house because they tend to cut down on up-front expenses, and they can also reduce the need for a company to have a dedicated team of IT professionals and managers. However, care needs to be taken with savings in the cloud: some cost-saving measures, such as shared hosting environments, come with tradeoffs in the form of security. And the cost advantage of outsourcing data expertise and management is only a wise investment if the service provider chosen has the expertise and availability to meet all of a company’s needs.
  • Management. Regardless of how experienced a service provider is, they can’t take on all facets of data management for a company. Companies need to research and make informed decisions about a number of aspects, such as what services are to be considered core, what converged stacks are under consideration, how important server location is, what namespace access (as well as replication and failover) is going to be, and how performance is going to be evaluated to determine whether the move to the cloud is a success. This may be a different skillset than a traditional IT manager may have, and businesses may need to invest in training to bring business sense and awareness to technical employees.
  • Security. Some converged data infrastructure providers have excellent physical security and data encryption, and those companies with strong security practices should be sought out and preferred. But businesses also need to consider what security policies they’ll put in place, such as requiring access to cloud data to use VPN connections, or requiring strong passwords and up-to-date anti-virus software on personal devices in a BYOD workplace. Data security also needs to be taken in to account in the form of disaster recovery: for example, can a converged infrastructure solution be replicated across providers, in the case of a provider-wide outage?

The Final Word

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to data management. Converged data solutions, however, do offer a degree of standardization and ease of access which can be extremely powerful for businesses.

ROI Networks simplifies the complex world of business collaboration and communication technologies. Contact us today to learn more.

What Are Your Technology Resolutions?

The telecom, IT, and cloud industries evolve quickly, and it can be difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of change. Evaluate your business’s technology needs now to start 2017 off on the right foot.
roi-networks-infographic-4-v1

Click below to embed the above image into your website

What’s Next for Enterprise WAN

WANConsidering the increasing complexity in the realm of enterprise connectivity, WAN was a welcome solution when originally conceived. Multiple facilities across the globe were finally able to be linked together. While there was an appreciation from IT leaders for progress in networking, this fix has not been without its faults over the years and there has been a demand for refinement and additional technologies.

Familiar Issues

A number of common weaknesses are often observed in enterprises working with WAN. In addition to the extensive cost involved in managing such far-reaching networks, they may also have a tendency to be slow, suffer downtime, and lack the stability and flexibility desired by most organizations.

Questionable Alternatives

While some alternative connectivity and networking methods perform more effectively, certain factors eliminate them from consideration as an option. Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks, for instance, can speed up the WAN through better routing, but the price tag is substantial enough to cause tech leaders to underbuy bandwidth to conserve spending — effectively nullifying any advantage that could be gained.

Another solution is to create a VPN tunnel over common broadband connections. While this improves security and keeps costs lower, any application that could be compromised by lag may experience very spotty performance. In some cases, VPN is used jointly with a limited MPLS arrangement. Since the two cannot operate concurrently, not much usefulness is found in this solution either.

High Potential Possibilities

While other WAN management techniques have been tried and discarded, one that is quickly gaining the interest of technical leaders is Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN). Using SD-WAN, network managers can centrally provision, terminate, optimize, and flex all of the components on the system. Data follows the most efficient route and latency is nearly eliminated. It’s made orchestrating hundreds of access points and switches much simpler, saving IT hours of expensive labor. SD-WAN also leads to cost savings, as it can use cheaper connections like broadband much more efficiently than standard WAN.

Another distinct advantage of SD-WAN is that providers can often bear the burden of management for the company. In this model, the vendor handles everything from maintenance to troubleshooting to updating. This saves the organization labor costs and ensures that the right personnel are working on the right projects rather than being caught up in mundane or non-strategic tasks.

In this world of increasing cloud service options, an SD-WAN infrastructure makes integrating new cloud providers a much more rapid activity, even when multiple company locations are involved.

It’s critical for the future of an enterprise that the network grow and develop into a more manageable tool that easily accommodates growth and flexibility requirements. SD-WAN is one option with great potential to offer in this regard. For more information on WAN evolution and managed SD-WAN technologies, contact ROI Networks today.

The CMIO: A Profile of Security Leadership in the Healthcare Industry

december-blog-1For organizations working in the healthcare industry, security is — or should be — at or near the top of the priority list. Cyber criminals frequently target healthcare organizations because they have access to a great deal of highly valuable personal information. Public and private sector organizations that fail to implement safeguards are at risk of security breaches, and that, in turn, can lead to potentially irreversible losses in client confidence.

Thus, the role of the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) has taken on added urgency in recent years, as the healthcare industry has made rapid moves towards connected technologies. The role of the CMIO is not well-understood by many lay people. For telecom agents, it’s worth taking the time to understand this role and the responsibility that comes with it in order to build packaged solutions that speak directly to the needs of healthcare organization leaders.

Healthcare Information Security: What a CMIO Does
In most organizations, the CMIO is a licensed physician with specialized training or practical experience in information management and/or technology. His or her core duties typically include:

  • Designing and choosing software technologies used by the organization
  • Ensuring organizational IT systems meet established standards
  • Analyzing and managing health data collected from patients or clients
  • Maintaining quality control standards
  • Improving operations through the judicious management and deployment of data
  • Conducting research using available data and analytics tools
  • Reporting to executives and taking a leadership role in strategic development
  • Training senior staff members in the proper use of IT resources, especially with regard to electronic health and medical records (EHRs/EMRs)

It is important to note that security is not typically part of the CMIO’s list of responsibilities. In some organizations, this can create gaps, as cyber security initiatives are left until the end of the business development cycle rather than being addressed at the outset.

Healthcare Information Security: How the CMIO Role Is Evolving
For a long time, it was standard practice for CMIOs to report to either the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). However, a growing number of healthcare organizations are electing to have their CMIOs liaise with their Chief Information Officer (CIO). This reflects the changing nature of the CMIO’s responsibilities, as digital technology is playing an increasing role in healthcare data collection and applications.

As mentioned, security normally does not fall under the CMIO’s portfolio of responsibilities. However, the CMIO is increasingly being expected to partner with the healthcare Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to build the most effective and robust safeguards possible.

The telecom professionals at ROI Networks offer advanced security solutions for the healthcare industry. To learn more about how ROI Networks can help both public and private sector organizations in the healthcare field improve their cyber security, contact a client services representative today.

Using Lines of Business to Craft an Effective Video Conferencing Strategy

Video ConferencingThe days when IT drove all technology purchasing decisions are long gone, at least for organizations that wish to move into the future. Now, employees and lines of business have far more influence over these critical choices. An area that is beginning to recognize this trend is video conferencing. A newer and quickly growing tool still in its infancy, it is ready to be molded and designed to properly fit company initiatives.

Advantages of a Centralized Approach

Centralizing the organization’s video strategy has distinct advantages. More buying power means better pricing, more features, improved service level agreements, and attractive contract terms. A centralized approach allows IT to provide more prompt and consistent attention to video conferencing services across the company.

This method of administration is beginning to lose traction, as each department has a specific set of requirements for the technology’s use. So many new, easy-to-use video tools are available now that employees don’t often need IT to help them in that area. Today’s solutions don’t require expensive devices or real estate to produce video results that are acceptable for many purposes.

A Dual-Pronged Approach

Specific lines of business (LOB) may require higher quality video conferencing products, especially those that are customer-oriented. An example of this would be sales and marketing material that must be slick and well-produced. If IT wishes to maintain any input or control of video use in such areas, they need to minister to those requirements. If IT does not furnish the appropriate tools and resources, shadow IT may result, where the department might create a rogue solution of their choosing.

The influence of different lines of business on the video strategy can easily cause the organization’s overall video conferencing approach to be segmented and compartmentalized if not handled properly. The involvement of IT is important so that security and performance are considered. For an optimal video program, a dual-pronged approach is helpful. Creating a plan with a central core that also encompasses peripheral departments with more specific needs helps to maintain consistency.

Video conferencing is an extremely powerful tool when used effectively. Integrating lines of business into the company’s communication strategy is a win for all segments. For more information on creating a comprehensive video program, contact ROI Networks today.

The Ongoing Security Crisis in Healthcare

SecurityThe list of healthcare companies that have experienced a breach is growing at an alarming rate, with more continuing to be discovered. Despite the spotlight finally beginning to shine on healthcare security, news stories every week seem to report yet another incident. Here’s a look into why these breaches continue to occur, and what might be done to stop them.

Common Problems

A frequent cause of a breach or data theft is simple error. A patient file is accidentally left out in a public area, a worker steps away from an unsecured computer with patient data left on the screen, or a company laptop in plain sight is stolen from a worker’s vehicle. Applications may not be password protected, or the passwords used by doctors or admin assistants may fail complexity rules and be easily guessed for unbridled access to sensitive data.

Other points of vulnerability are vendor connections to the systems that house healthcare data. In both big box retail and healthcare, breaches have occurred when vendors are linked in but fail to properly protect their own systems or that connectivity.

Other causes are more complex or political. For example, healthcare workers are charged with filling out extensive amounts of paperwork for each patient interaction and test. While the intention is to provide better patient care through communication of all possible details, the result is overburdened nurses who are outnumbered by patients and forms.

Lastly, archaic software systems or components are not up to today’s security standards. Many hospitals do not use modern software due to the expense and effort of implementing changes to systems. This can leave doors open to cybercriminals seeking payment and identity data easily found in patient records.

Solutions

Unfortunately, many workers in the healthcare industry place the entire burden of security on their IT departments. While IT is responsible for ensuring that best practices for application and data protection are implemented, overall security is not a task that can be performed without support from all levels of the company. There must be a partnership between IT and the rest of the organization.

Here are a few easy ways to improve security in healthcare:

  • Security training – Basic principles for physical and technological protection should be covered in annual and new-hire training sessions. Topics should include password strength, ways to easily secure a system or device, and avoiding common hacking or phishing methods.
  • Streamlining processes – So much paperwork is required in patient care. Providing easy, intuitive methods of completing these responsibilities can cut down the time required. Analytics can then be produced from the data collected to further identify how processes for both administration and care may be improved.
  • Control risk – Fully assess vendors who will be connecting to systems, prohibit or limit non-company devices from storing or accessing patient data, and educate the workers who access the systems.

Medical data is incredibly valuable. From the records held by providers, a thief can potentially gain access to credit card information and extensive personal records that facilitate identity theft. Healthcare organizations must do more to protect patients from this growing area of crime. To continue the discussion on healthcare security, contact ROI Networks.

How Mobility Technologies Improve Workplace Productivity and Customer Service

ROI June blog 1Mobility has become a key feature of enterprise technology, and it’s changed the face of the business world. Mobile technologies have made it possible for employees to respond to key queries outside of regular working hours, participate in conference calls from virtually anywhere, and provide vastly improved customer service. However, mobility has far more to offer than just convenience; it also supports improved productivity and workplace efficiency.

Mobility Technologies Help Employees Work Faster

Listening to employee needs helps those at the management level choose applications and technologies that can improve efficiency. One way to generate key insights into the types of tools employees require is to ask them to finish the following statement: “I would be able to manage critical tasks more effectively if we had…” Is there a mobility tool on the market that can fill that need? If so, it should be considered.
Mobility Enables More Effective Collaboration

Delivering collaboration features to employees in real time is one of the most convenient and effective strategies for improving collaboration initiatives, and mobile technologies deliver these capabilities in exciting new ways. Imagine how much easier it would be to attract new clients and close deals if marketing, sales, and business operations teams were able to access the same resources and work together to complete proposals. They would be able to respond to client needs much more quickly and with greater precision — and that, in turn, would be a big boost to the bottom line.
Mobility Leads to Better Customer Service

Customer service models are changing. Today, customers want to be able to access company and product information on the go, through multiple channels. Providing customers with that access prevents them from moving on to a competitor. Understanding customer needs and preferences and then offering effective solutions is the key to maintaining an edge in today’s hyper-connected business landscape.

Enterprises should begin by taking stock of their current IT infrastructure and capabilities to see where key upgrades could be made in support of a more mobile and productive workforce. Boosting wireless network capabilities, providing the right apps and tools to employees, and adding the right mobile devices to the company’s inventory are all sound strategies for harnessing the immense power of mobility technologies.

To learn more about how mobility can inspire major efficiency and productivity improvements in the workplace, visit ROI Networks.