Data protection/cyber security concept with lock

Is Your Data Protection Risky or Right-on?

By | Cybersecurity, Data Breach, Data Loss Prevention, Disaster Recovery, Personal Data Management, Security | No Comments

A Three-step Assessment Guide

Data is your company’s most valuable asset. Without it, you don’t have a company at all. Even so, many enterprises do not dedicate the resources needed to ensure their data protection strategy and solutions are covering them effectively. More often than not, I see considerable lag time between when enterprises invest in new technology and when they invest in an appropriate solution to protect it. This gap is a perilous window during which data is ripe for theft, corruption and/or loss. Read More

Daas (Desktop as a Service)

The DaaS Revolution: It’s Time

By | Cloud Computing, Daas, Desktop Virtualization, Disaster Recovery, Infrastructure, Networking, Security, Uncategorized, Virtualization | No Comments

When terminal services was first released, it revolutionized the way users accessed their applications and data. Employees could tap into their digital resources from essentially anywhere while businesses could be certain that all data was located in the data center and not on end user devices. But no revolution is perfect and the challenge with terminal services (renamed to RDSH in recent years) was that it did not give users the customization and experience of their local devices.  Read More

8 Key Takeaways from IDS Fast Forward

By | Cloud Computing, Events, IDS, IDS Fast Forward, Infrastructure, Security | No Comments

Just one word is needed to sum up the theme of the inaugural IDS Fast Forward event: DISRUPTION!
On July 13, IT leaders gathered in Chicago to hear from a dynamic and diverse lineup of presenters, to learn about cutting-edge technologies from top solution providers, and to network with their peers. During the event, it became clear: in order to deliver the outcomes demanded by businesses, today’s technologists need to both think and act differently.  Not only do they need to embrace disruption, they need to cause it. Read More

Fast Forward 2016

5 Ways to Make the Most of Fast Forward 2016

By | Cloud Computing, Security, Uncategorized | No Comments

The world that we live in is being disrupted by technology at a more rapid pace than ever. Cloud, big data, and security are just a few topics evolving daily. To be a successful IT leader, you need to do more than just keep pace—you need to move faster than your competition. At IDS Fast Forward 2016, learn how to do this firsthand from industry leaders, hundreds of your peers, and our world-class sponsors. Fast Forward is more than a conference—it’s an opportunity to learn how to drive your career forward. Read More

Data Password and Phishing Hook

Gone Phishing

By | Cybersecurity, Data Breach, Data Center, Data Loss Prevention, Phishing, Security, SPAM Filters, User Behavior Analytics | No Comments

One of the Many Ways Cyber Criminals are After Your Data

Phishing sounds innocent enough, right? Echoing a relaxed pastime, phishing even has a name designed to put your guard down. Ironically, that is exactly how cyber phishing works—it’s a ploy that tricks users into relaxing their guard so criminals can access to valuable personal and business data. So how serious is the risk? It’s serious and very costly. Read More

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The Best Next Thing in BYOD: VMI

By | Data Loss Prevention, How To, Personal Data Management, Security, Virtualization | No Comments

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a buzzword we have heard in IT and security circles for years. It speaks to questions that every business leader and IT executive must ask and answer: how do we secure and protect the growing number of mobile technologies (personal or company issued) employees want to use at work? How do we give a mobile, tech-centric workforce what it needs to succeed without putting our data and company at risk? Read More

IDS announces three new hires to expand engineering team

New IDS Hires Announcement: Welcome to the team!

By | Employee News, IDS, Networking, Security | No Comments

We’re incredibly excited to announce the addition of three new hires at IDS who will be instrumental in growing our business around transformational technologies. The strategic expansion will further fuel the growth of the IDS consulting practice by increasing focus surrounding big data, analytics, security and software-defined networking. We have experienced incredible success over the last few years, and this latest addition is one of many that will continue to contribute to the ongoing IDS transformation. Read More

Why Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Makes Sense

Why Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Makes Sense

By | Design & Architecture, Security, Virtualization | No Comments

Many companies are making the investment in Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and are various reasons to consider a VDI solution these days. Two of the biggest trends driving this technology are BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Mobility. Many companies are moving away from assigning company assets for personal computers, laptops, tablets and phones. Instead they are giving employees a stipend as part of their salary and letting them choose their devices. This lowers the cost of hardware and software to the company, ensures employees take care of equipment, reduces administration costs for user devices and extends the hardware lifecycle.  Most employees embrace this option because they do not have to carry multiple devices and can choose the devices that they want to use. Read More

The Array of Things Plans to Revolutionize Data in Chicago

Array of Things Plans to Revolutionize Data in Chicago

By | Analytics, Security, Storage | No Comments

In a quickly evolving technology industry, we were especially excited to hear about a fascinating project coming right to our own backyard. The Array of Things project recently announced plans to revolutionize how citizens live in, and interact with their cities. In partnership with the City of Chicago, the Array of Things team plans to install a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that will collect real-time data throughout Chicago.

What Exactly Are Interactive, Modular Sensor Boxes and What Can They Do?

The Array of Things team explains that the first versions of these innovative boxes will be dedicated to collecting information on environmental factors like atmosphere and air quality. The sensors will also have the capability to collect and store information surrounding human activity, but only at a very general level. The sensors will collect data on noise level, surface temperature of sidewalks and roads and will also be able to detect the number of wireless networks in a given area. Without actually recording any personal information, the sensors will be able to extrapolate human traffic statistics.

How Does the Array of Things Team Hope to Use the Data?

Members from the Array of Things team explain that while in the beginning, data collection may be more rudimentary, they believe the sensors will continue to get more complex, allowing everyone accessing the data to use it in a more exiting way.

They state the following potential uses for data collected by the sensors:

  • Healthy walking route suggestions. Researchers could use air quality, sound and vibration data so suggest the healthiest and unhealthiest walking times and routes in the city.
  • Targeted winter salt application. The city may choose to use sidewalk and street temperature data to save money and prevent environmental damage by planning targeted salt application based on traffic.
  • Block-by-block weather reports. Weather experts could use atmosphere data to provide real-time, micro-climate weather reports by neighborhood, or even by block.
  • Safe and efficient route suggestions. Data surrounding human activity might be used to find the safest and most efficient routes in the city during different times of the day.
  • Improved traffic light timing. The city could use vibration data and data surrounding human activity to improve traffic light timing and efficiency.

Not only is the Array of Things team predicting pretty unbelievable uses for projected data, they also believe that everyone should profit from the experiment. The data collected by the Array of Things project will be available to everyone including residents, software developers, scientists, policymakers and researchers to optimize the usage output. Data is expected to be published and updated multiple times per minute.

Wait, What About Personal Security?

The data will be available to everyone, meaning security will be an extremely high priority. Due to the nature of the project, the sensors are designed only to collect general information and will not be capable of extracting personal information from people or devices. The entire project including the software and hardware will be heavily regulated and reviewed regularly to make sure standards are met and kept.

The first 50 sensors are planned for installation during the Winter of 2014-2015, with an additional eight nodes planned for Spring 2015. Potential funding opportunities mean there could be at least 500 additional sensors installed between 2015 to 2017.

Learn more about the Array of Things project.

Image credit to Urban Center for Computation and Data.

Taking an active role in your personal data management and how it affects you.

By | Personal Data Management, Security, Uncategorized | No Comments

In light of the recent hacking scandals with large national retailers and exploit attacks into celebrity iCloud accounts, taking an active role in personal data security is more relevant than ever. Due diligence and integrity of personal data is ultimately our responsibility as end users.

Especially so, as retailers continue to lobby Washington against upgrading the magnetic strip and the infrastructure that supports the fifty-year-old technology. If you have ever traveled abroad, you may have noticed that credit cards have a small chip embedded in the top corner. What that chip provides is a platform for encrypted data transmission and PIN authentication—two-factor authentication: swipe then confirm PIN upon purchase.

Why has this technology not been adopted in America as of yet?

(Lack Of) Adoption

Well, for the reason stated above. Each embedded card has a cost of around $25, and to upgrade every point-of-sale device and the infrastructure to support this technology is going to cost billions of dollars to retailers. So you can understand the resistance. And if people are not demanding action from Congress, the status quo will continue.

“It’s important to realize that there is no silver bullet solution to having your personal data compromised.”

Even with no change in sight for the near term, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. However, it’s important to realize that there is no silver bullet solution to having your personal data compromised. We live in a fallible time and technological environment where the bad guys seem to be always a step ahead.

Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands

The good thing is, if you have ever used VPN and token to log into your work systems, you are already familiar with two-factor authentication, and adopting these methods in your personal life should be relatively painless.

Yes, taking an extra 30 seconds to log into your bank account, Gmail, iCloud, Facebook, or using a PIN to enter your smartphone may seem annoying at first, but it’s one of the many zero-cost things you can do to adopt an active role in securing your personal data. Also, asking retailers and banks for additional verbal passwords when conducting business over the phone is a great way to prevent social engineering.

Practicing proactive data security will never totally eliminate the chance of being hacked or becoming a victim of identity theft, but it dramatically lowers your attack surface. Most of the apps hackers use are tuned to find data using the lowest common denominator tactics. If you are using two-factor authentication, you make it a lot more effort than it’s worth for such hackers to take the extra time to dig in deeper on an individual level when they are scanning millions of queries. These apps are all about quantity and speed—not quality.

“Practicing proactive data security will never totally eliminate the chance of being hacked or becoming a victim of identity theft, but it dramatically lowers your attack surface.”

I would not expect any movement from Congress or regulators on forcing retailers to adopt the embedded chip standard any time soon. When providing a safe retail experience is trumped by facing billions of dollars in capital expenditures for infrastructure upgrades, they are going to slow roll this situation as long as they can.

The embedded chip is a good technology that has been adopted globally except for in the United States (much like the Metric system). With the wide adoption base, the platform has a life cycle and history. There is really no reason it can’t evolve and be improved upon for years to come. But, while there is apathy, stall tactics, and ignorance, there are always those who will look to use this time in history as a crossroads for innovation.

A Software-Defined Future

Technology companies like Apple, PayPal, and Google are developing software-defined systems that will use your smartphone, in combination with biometrics, and PIN to act as a proxy between you and your bank, facilitating an environment where your data is not even shared with retailers. This adds a third element of authentication, effectively enabling three-factor authentication.

Software-based authentication methods have the potential to eclipse the embedded chip and harness the already very powerful hardware in your smartphone. With buy-in from the banks and credit card companies already, software-defined payment is moving forward with iPay from Apple. It’s a win for the American consumer, it’s a win for Apple as it provides them with another revenue stream—and ultimately, this get retailers off the hook from spending billions on uprooting their existing infrastructure.

It will be interesting to see how the adoption into general society of the “iPay” plays out, as Google has offered these features for a few years already with Google Wallet on the Android platform.

Photo credits via Flickr: shuttercat7