Category Archives: Life in the Cloud

Data Loss Prevention – 4 Crucial Tactics for your Business

If you own or operate a business, you know how important it is to protect your data from internal and external threats. Losing data negatively impacts you, your customers, and your stakeholders. If you want to avoid financial loss and damage to your company’s reputation, make sure you’re managing its data in a safe and secure way.

With that said, here are four crucial data-loss prevention tactics.

Develop a sound plan

Your data protection strategy should include a range of controls and protective measures at different points in the data lifecycle (collection, use, transit, storage, archival, and destruction). Implementing a sound data-loss prevention plan with other protection technologies, like encryption and file destruction, is key to your overall success. You should also look into utilizing a cloud backup system. That way, even if your devices fail, your data will be safe. More than half of all U.S. businesses are using some sort of cloud storage system already!

When deciding on a data-loss prevention vendor, carefully consider and examine each company to ensure that it provides comprehensive solutions, centralized workflow capabilities, integrated policies, and customized reporting. The vendor you choose should also offer you a program that has capabilities across three vectors: data at rest, data in motion, and data at endpoints.

While you might overlook it, it’s also important to involve your stakeholders from the start of plan development. This ensures that all parties understand your business’s requirements and how they’ll affect operations, employee behavior, and company culture.

Linking your data-loss prevention plan with key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you measure your company’s performance and the effectiveness of the strategy you’ve developed. KPIs commonly used include percentage of network coverage, number of incidents concerning data leaks, and percentage of application coverage. To make this process easier, eliminate reporting that doesn’t directly involve your data-loss prevention plan or KPI strategy.

Increase employee effectiveness

When dealing with your employees, the first action you should take is to assign roles and responsibilities to them, providing in-depth training and outlining what you expect. A detailed, accountable, and informed staffing model will help you determine how the different functional areas of your company factor into the plan, design, implementation, and operation of your data-loss prevention solution. You also include your stakeholder’s role in this plan.

Remember though, some employees might consider your vendor of choice intrusive. It’s important to gauge your company’s culture so you can establish protections that are vital to it without being too invasive. The goal here is to complete a smooth implementation of your data-loss prevention strategy. Also remember to identify data owners, establish close relationships with them, and engage with them in effective and ongoing communications.

Streamline and simplify your processes

When establishing a data-loss prevention program, the most important step you can take is identifying your most sensitive data and assigning it a classification. Doing this will aid you in creating the right policies you need to detect and respond to incidents that involve sensitive data leaks. It also helps your company understand what data is most important and how it should handle and protect that data.

Conducting a data protection assessment will allow you to analyze the existing process controls and technology, finding any gaps within the system. Make sure that you include all areas of the company, document the location of the sensitive data, estimate the exposure it faces, and measure the potential magnitude of the loss. Doing so will help you develop processes that are simpler, yet more efficient.

Use technology to detect and prevent data loss

You should aim to deploy modular solutions that offer the maximum coverage with minimal internal disruption. This makes it possible for your company to implement robust data protection solutions as technologies mature and your business needs dictate.

Underestimating the threats to your data can prove to be a major mistake. If you want to protect your company and avoid an unfortunate future situation, keep these four points in mind when developing a sound strategy.

Has your company developed and implemented a data-loss prevention plan? How has it worked so far?

 

* DJ is a freelance writer who focuses on technology and business. He has an entrepreneurial mindset and passion for story telling. You can follow his musings on Twitter @MillerHeWrote.

 

We’ll handle HIPAA and PHI, but you make the APPT at the DR

These days, you’ve probably heard plenty about health insurance and affordable health care. But have you ever heard of PHI?

What, you don’t know what PHI is? You should. After all, you’ve got it. It has to do with your health, but it’s no disease. PHI, or “protected health information,” is the information your healthcare provider keeps on file as a result of your visits to your general practitioner, gynecologist, psychologist, dentist, psychiatrist, counselor, the emergency room, etc. It’s your personal health information. It’s detailed and it’s private.

Did you know that Mozy plays a critical part for those professionals who work in healthcare—be they doctors, nurses, administrators, and other staff members—by providing security measures for the protected health data and files about you that they back up?

You’ve probably heard the term “HIPAA,” and maybe you’ve even wondered if it’s some species of wild animal. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The act sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data in the United States. Any business that stores health information is required by law to protect it. Businesses must ensure that all of the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed so that your health information remains protected.

As a provider of HIPAA-compliant backup services that safeguard health information, Mozy ensures that health information is protected in a way that complies with HIPAA regulations. Mozy software and services ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place so that the businesses that back up health information have the tools to keep it confidential and secure. That means encryption keys are required and that data must be encrypted during the backup process. That same data must be encrypted at rest while it’s stored in Mozy’s data centers (only the ones in the United States as required by HIPAA). What that means is that those who are not authorized to access protected health information cannot access it.

Whether or not it’s protected health information or any data that businesses back up, or files that you back up at home, Mozy provides automated cloud backup and disaster recovery protection against hardware failure, theft, virus attack, deletion, and natural disaster.

If you don’t work in healthcare, you might consider some of these details boring. But remember this: your personal healthcare information is yours—and it’s private. And Mozy takes the details to protect your data very seriously so that you can focus on other things.

The intricacies of HIPAA may be complicated, but our commitment to you and your data is simple and based on these principles:

•    Your information is your information, not our information.
•    We never sell your information to anyone, nor do we sell information about you.
•    We never sift through your information in order to create a profile of you or target advertising.
•    You can always get your information back while your account is active. We have no rights to your information if you leave the Mozy service.

So, whether it’s your health information at your doctor’s office or it’s your family photos or tax documents on your home computer, Mozy can protect it.

By the way, when was your last checkup?

The Race to Be the ‘Netflix for eBooks’

A Statista study from earlier this year shows that the subscription model works–at least for movies and television shows: The study showed that Netflix subscriptions are nearly as common among adults aged 18 to 36 as cable television subscriptions. Hulu is another big player in this area, and Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring with its subscription Instant Video service. Among others, Spotify applies the subscription model to music. Indeed, with cloud and mobile technology pushing the popularity of subscription services to an all-time high, it’s no wonder that a new wave of companies is vying to become the “Netflix for e-books.”
Ebooks

In the Running

Scribd, Oyster and eReatah have all jumped into the e-book subscription arena, offering members access to a set number of e-books per month for a fee. But there are big names with big footprints already in the field, including Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library, which offers four times more titles than the relative newbies. (Amazon looks like it is also upping the ante with its recent purchase of Goodreads and the book sharing social network’s 16 million members.)

On the other hand, according to TechCrunch, being a newbie in tech world is sometimes an advantage in its own right. “Goodreads had over 16 million readers at the time of the deal, but the technology itself feels stagnant and dated, especially on mobile, potentially giving Oyster an edge,” the article stated.

The library liability

The biggest issue facing would-be Netflix services for e-books is as old as, well, Ben Franklin: Whereas unlimited access to movies for a monthly subscription was a new concept when Netflix emerged, the same isn’t true for books. The book-lending concept has been around as long as public libraries have been around–since Ben Franklin introduced the concept, around 1730.

Ben FranklinAnd not only do public libraries enable people to borrow books with actual paper pages, many are lending ebooks, as well–for free.

“[I]n addition to competing with e-commerce giant Amazon, whose empire began with bookselling,” wrote TechCrunch, “these startups compete with other so-called ‘Netflix for e-books’ outlets: (gasp!) local libraries.”

Scribd, for one, is not daunted: “Netflix is worth about $18 billion. Spotify is worth about $3 billion,” Trip Adler, Scribd’s co-founder and CEO, told Mashable. “I don’t see why there isn’t a similar opportunity in this space.”

Standing out from the crowd

Will Scribd, Oyster or eReatah become Netflix for e-books? Perhaps not. But does that mean the model will fail? Not necessarily. After all, people buy gym memberships even though running outside is free.

“A health club membership, like an ebook service subscription, is often an aspirational purchase for subscribers,” said the indie book publisher Smashwords in a blog. “As long as the reader wants to increase their reading in the future, they’re likely to maintain their subscription, even if they don’t actually read more.”

Interestingly, ebook subscriptions could find success for the very same reason they may not be the next Netflix: Books aren’t movies. Indeed, if there’s anything a potential industry disrupter might take away from from the ebook service race, it’s that such distinctions matter. Trying to recreate another industry’s disruption in one’s own is only asking for comparisons in which you are likely to come up short.

However, recognizing what the ebook lending companies have in common with Netflix–as well as with music streaming services like Spotify and iTunes Radio–helps create some context for the greater world of media consumption. Across the board, the competition is hottest in cloud-based technology: Consumers don’t need to own their media; they “simply” want access to it anytime and anywhere.

Life in the Cloud Quote

Learn more about the future of cloud services in our infographic, “Life in the Cloud”.

With their place in the digital media industry in mind, if Scribd, Oyster, eReatah or any other contender shoots for its own goals rather than Netflix’s, it might just become the “[insert provider name here] of ebook subscriptions.”

 

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The Truth About Online Gifting and Greeting Over the Holidays

Christmas Gift CardsFrom digital gift cards to electronic greeting cards to online invitations, how far can you go when it comes to a digitizing your holidays? Based on research conducted this year, the answer is “far.”

Digital cards and e-cards–once viewed as impersonal, lazy and thoughtless–are now being touted as convenient, customizable and efficient–not to mention eco-friendly and affordable.

Indeed, JibJab Media CEO Gregg Spiridellis sees e-cards as more than just an alternative to paper. “In today’s culture, e-cards are not only accepted but often preferred,” he said. “Much as most people use paperless billing, cards and invites have made a similar shift to reflect the lifestyle of the 21st century.”

JibJab is known for its popular animated electronic cards that feature users’ uploaded photos.

“[They] allow for a much higher entertainment value, complete with singing, dancing, and really fun humor,” he said.

That interactivity is something you just can’t find on paper.

James Hirschfeld, founder of Paperless Post, agrees that the acceptance and use of online cards and invitations is only trending upward.

“Even in a market where retail-based holiday card sales are declining, we’re seeing a 65% increase in online holiday card sending this year,” he said. “Online cards reach recipients where they spend most of their time: the Internet.”

When it comes to digital gift cards, the numbers are also climbing: It’s estimated that $29.8 billion will be sent on the cards this year. According to the National Retail Federation, 81% of holiday shoppers will buy gift cards this season. They’ll spend an average of $163, which is the highest amount recorded in the survey’s history.

Of this year’s holiday online shoppers, an online InComm survey found that 77% will buy digital gift cards as opposed to the plastic counterparts. Forty percent of those surveyed said they’d prefer an emailed gift card as opposed to a paper printout.

Sites like Gift Card Mall, Gift Rocket, and PayPal’s new Digital Gifts make electronic gift card purchases easier than ever. Many digital gift card retailers give purchasers convenient options, including flexible dollar increments plus the ability to immediately print a certificate and present it in person, or schedule it in an email for later–complete with an online redemption code.

If these trends continue, “Cyber Monday” may become “Cyber holiday season.”

“We live in a digital age,” Spiridellis said. “It’s clear that the cultural acceptance is there for electronic cards to be perceived as containing the same thoughtfulness and care as a paper card–just adapted for today’s generation.”

 

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Battle of the Streaming Bands

If anything could qualify as the end of the debate between whether the future of digital music lies in downloads or streaming, it could be the launch of iTunes Radio. The fact that Apple–the pay-per-download giant–is placing bets on music streaming is very telling, but the September release of iTunes Radio has also opened for debate another question: Which provider will offer the best service?

“An arms race is afoot,” RCA Records President and CEO Tom Corson told Rolling Stone.

And, thus, the battle is on among music streaming companies, from the long-running Pandora to the rumored YouTube streaming service. Though the war is sure to be a lengthy one, some industry experts are weighing in on who is faring best so far and why.

Pandora

Right off the bat, Pandora’s early entrance into the music streaming game gives it 70 million advantages over the new services. With all of those active users, Pandora also has the support of long-time advertisers. Indeed, CNBC reports that Pandora runs advertisements for eight to 10 minutes per hour.

Spotify

Spotify allows users to get more hands on with their playlists than Pandora, with hand-curated collections of songs. The Huffington Post calls Spotify “more robust” than other streaming music services. In addition, it’s integration with Facebook is a unique feature that makes the music listening experience more social, even for lonely office workers.

Backing Up Celebrities

How many GBs would it take to back up some of today’s most popular musicians, performers, and other celebrities? Find out in Mozy’s infographic, “Backing Up Celebrities”.

iTunes Radio

Though comparatively late to the music streaming scene, iTunes Radio already has two big advantages over the longstanding Pandora:, according to CNET: human-curated stations and global music rights. There is also potential, states CNET, in the combination of iTunes Radio, Siri and automobiles. “iTunes Radio is a clear threat,” said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield in the CNET article. “[Siri is] key to giving iOS an important place in the car and beyond, and making iTunes Radio a true ‘Pandora Killer.’”

YouTube Music

A YouTube music streaming service is still officially a rumor, but there is lots of buzz about it nonetheless. Forbes predicts that such a move would essentially be a rebrand–although a smart rebrand–of Google’s existing service, Google Play Music All Access.

“YouTube … is a brand that everyone knows, and most kids already use it to discover their music,” wrote Bobby Owsinski in the Forbes post. “Adding a streaming music function becomes only just a new YouTube feature, not a new service.”‘

So, music streaming services, get ready to rumble! What all this ramping up means to the consumer is that the future of music has been decided. Notably, the expansion of iTunes’ scope from digital downloads only to streaming seems to be an indication that the industry in changing gears. Almost certainly, the features of each service will evolve as both the technology and competition heats up, and the broad reach of better established brands like iTunes and YouTube will give the original names in streaming–such as Pandora and Spotify–a run for their money.

One thing is for sure: Music lovers who want more songs at their fingertips–at all times–will be sharing the victory with whichever service rises to the top.

 

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Can You Spot Phishing Emails?

Security researchers at Fortinet recently quizzed their readers about how savvy they were when it comes to identifying phishing emails. Predictably, and depressingly, Fortinet found a large percentage couldn’t tell the tricks from the treats. (The survey was done just before Halloween.)

Phishers are getting more clever over time, and it is harder than ever to separate legitimate email from messages intended to steal your passwords, your money and your pride.

With all of the information on phishing that is available, and the warnings over the years about what to do and not to do, it’s amazing that this is still a problem. But, let’s face it: End users are not security professionals, and many of us go through our email in-boxes without much of a critical eye.

Phishing Email

In addition, phishing schemes are getting more and more sophisticated. It used to be that phishing messages were riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, or just looked wrong. Today, it’s not always easy to pick up on a message with malicious intent. Modern phishers craft their messages carefully, using realistic banner images from the target institution or language that is copied directly from real emails and Web pages.

The growing challenge in discerning email fact from fiction was reflected in the results of the Fortinet quiz, which asked readers to self-select into one of three groups:

  • -Absolute beginner
  • -Your average netizen
  • -Veteran security professional

“As expected, the veterans scored just a little bit better than everyone else, falsely identifying a phishing email just 16% of the time,” the blog reporting the results states. “Conversely, the newbies received bad marks nearly 32% of the time. The middle group marked wrong answers at an average of 21%.”

That is a lot of wrong answers (although, interestingly, one newbie scored perfectly).

Take the quiz for yourself and see how well you can spot the phony emails. But, more importantly, use this exercise as a way to talk to your users and sensitize them to the issues surrounding phishing and its dangers. Security training should be an ongoing affair, providing end users with information about new threats.

“Email is the tried-and-true medium for spammer, and to know that they are still succeeding 20% of the time is a clear call to action for all those security and IT professionals out there.” states the blog. “[Twenty percent] of your organization is at serious risk of clicking on a phishing email today. What are you going to do about it?”

 

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How Cannonball is Changing Email on the iPad

Cannonball Email AppFor people who work well with simplistic lists, the traditional mobile email interface is fine. It works. But for those who like a more interactive, visual and smart inbox experience–and for those who can never make it through that long list of emails–Cannonball, a new email app for iPad, delivers.

In addition to providing messages in traditional list form, Cannonball groups messages by sender in two columns of thumbnails. “The effect is that it becomes much more fun to browse your inbox,” wrote Mashable about the new app, adding that it also increases email efficiency. “Suddenly, messages from services like Groupon and LinkedIn get lumped together and can be deleted in bulk. Likewise, you can choose to group messages from a particular friend or coworker together so you can easily scroll back and sort through your recent correspondences.”

The concept may sound familiar–it’s not unlike the new “promotions” and “priority” inboxes (among others) recently rolled out by Gmail. That similarity is cited as a drawback by TechCrunch, though it’s worth noting that all emails in the Cannonball model, regardless of the inbox they are in, appear in the iPad email interface. So while Cannonball may be replicating an existing Gmail feature, it’s bringing it to a new class of devices.

But the real advantage of Cannonball, Mashable states, is not its inbox triage capabilities, but rather its goals for email management: Unlike other mobile email apps, it doesn’t aim for a completely empty inbox.

“Cannonball is operating with a slightly different premise,” notes Mashable. “Most users don’t want to have zero emails in their inbox; what they want is to have zero unread emails in their inbox.”

And that’s what makes the product so unique. Cannonball’s touchable, drag-and-drop-able, colorful interface is pleasant to look at and easy to use, and the email triage capabilities it offers are helpful for anyone overrun with too many emails (read: everyone with email). However, because some emails contain important information or must be mulled before making a response, the goal of inbox management–rather than annihilation—makes Cannonball worth a try.

 

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How Digital Is Affecting Your Local Coffee Shop

With digital currency on the rise–hello, Bitcoin!– it’s not crazy to think that one day loose change and wallets will go the way of CDs, film and landlines. But how do these digital currency trends translate to everyday life? Following, we take a look at a few that might someday be used (if they aren’t already) at your local coffee shop.

Coffee Shop

Coffee shop frequenters who pay with plastic don’t often throw a bit extra toward their favorite barista. They have no cash on hand. In fact, only 27% of point-of-sale purchases were made with cash in 2011, according to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research, and that number is dropping every year. That’s why the tip jar is getting a makeover with the advent of DipJar.

DipJar lets customers tip with the convenience of plastic. A fixed amount–usually $1–is listed on the front of the DipJar. With each “dip” of a credit card, a tip is sent to the retailer.

It doesn’t get much easier than that–unless you didn’t even have to pull out your wallet: If some companies have their way, the future of the wallet will be no wallet at all. Your smartphone will be your wallet. LevelUp is an app that lets consumers pay with their smartphones after they have securely linked their debit or credit cards to an account. Filter, a coffee shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, is one of the 5,000-plus locations that currently accept LevelUp.

Filter doesn’t accept plastic because of the high fees associated with it. Customers who want to purchase a coffee can choose to pay with cash or they can open the LevelUp app and place the generated barcode in front of the LevelUp scanner on the counter. Phones vibrate when payment has been accepted. There’s even an option to add a tip before scanning.

The PayPal app works in a similar way. It’s now accepted at retailers large and small, from Dunkin Donuts shops to Home Depot to the local Chinese restaurant down the street.

When it comes to digital currency, what is your threshold? Are you on board with paying with your smartphone? Or tipping with plastic? Or would you rather pay cash? It’s a whole new world of currency.

 

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The Perils of Locking and Losing Devices

Locked Smart PhoneIf you’re the proud owner of a new iPhone 5S, you’ve likely said goodbye to the traditional four-digit passcode and hello to Touch ID. Apple’s upgraded security feature lets users unlock their phones quickly and easily with their unique fingerprint.

But what about those techies who have yet to splurge on the latest iPhone? And what about the people who have iPhones but don’t use the passcode option? Apple claims that more than 50% of users don’t lock their phones with a passcode. After all, it can be a pain to punch in four digits every time you check your phone–which is an average of 150 times per day, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ annual Internet Trends report.

Although a misplaced or stolen iPhone can be relocated with the free Find My iPhone app, that doesn’t prevent the device–or the data it stores–from being compromised. The best way to protect your device and the data on it is to not lose it in the first place. Luckily, a technology trend called “wireless leashes”–a concept similar to the invisible fences that keep your dog in the yard–can help prevent loss and, in turn, theft.

ZOMM is a poker-chip-sized device that wirelessly tethers to your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. ZOMM alerts you if you and your phone should ever separate by more than 30 feet. Clip ZOMM to your keychain or throw it in your purse. An alarm will sound the next time you’ve left your phone behind at the restaurant, in the taxi or at a friend’s house.

ZOMM is just one of the recent developments in cell phone safety, like the Bluetooth-enabled Tile system, that we’ve recently blogged about. But ZOMM takes safety to another level–and even doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. Say your phone rings while you’re driving but it’s buried at the bottom of your purse. Just click the ZOMM device that’s now hanging from your keychain and start chatting away.)

You’ve got to love a device that pulls double duty.

ZOMM is available for $40 on Amazon.com.

 

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How Two Websites Turn Smiles Into Pageviews

Websites Turning Pageviews into SmilesYou own a business, website and/or blog, yet the adage “build it and they will come” does not always seem to apply. Indeed, driving uniques, repeat visits and page views is extremely challenging. Successful sites demonstrate that you can make it work by making people smile.

Feel-good viral sites Buzzfeed and Upworthy make it look easy. They have successfully figured out and applied the secret for creating and curating share-worthy content. In August, BuzzFeed reportedly received 85 million visitors to its website. Upworthy, with its 22 million monthly uniques, can’t go toe-to-toe with Buzzfeed, but the traffic it generates would make most site owners drool.

What are they doing right?

Both Buzzfeed and Upworthy are using a combination of heavy visuals, must-click headlines, need-to-read listicles, and stories that are touching or simply make people smile.

Why does it work?

There are a number of reasons why this content mix works. In short, images increase engagement, the right headline can make your content go viral, and lists are an easy sell for readers because they make “a very specific promise of what’s in store,” according to Copyblogger Founder Brian Clark.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, smiles turn into page views organically.

Need proof? Read three Buzzfeed stories and watch three videos on Upworthy. In all likelihood, you will smile several times while consuming this content. You will likely also feel compelled to act on the content–sharing it so that others can feel the joy, too.

After all, a smile is contagious, and, in our digital society, one endorphin high can be the catalyst to making 20 or–if you’re George Takei–20,000 people’s day.

What can businesses learn from this?

Your content should strive to make your customers happy–even if you’re not in the media and publishing business.

The easiest way to start is by talking like a real person–the era of artifically stiff business-speak is over. If your content makes your business easier to relate to, users are more likely to remember it. They are also more likely to share news about and content from your business with the people they know–potential new customers.

The authenticity may even make ‘em smile.

 

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