Monthly Archives: August 2017

Benefits Mobile Device Management

Visions of kicking back and working from the beach with a piña colada in one hand and an iPad in the other are no longer just flights of fancy for many workers. Businesses are finding that it really is possible for employees to work remotely on their own devices without losing any productivity.

As a result, many companies are measuring the benefits of employees working remotely against the logistical issues inherent in developing a mobile device management plan.

There are many tangible benefits of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), including:

  • Reduced equipment costs
  • Increased employee satisfaction and efficiency
  • Decreased IT staff burden (since employees maintain their own equipment)
  • Reduced office space square footage (as workers are mostly off-site)

The risk in BYOD is that these devices can potentially expose security vulnerabilities not directly supervised by IT staff or addressed by corporate antivirus solutions. This is where the need for mobile device management comes in.

A new landscape of threats

Tablets and smartphones are arguably less secure than desktop PCs and laptops because they lack pre-installed malware protection. Most computers include at least a trial version of an antivirus suite, but for the newest mobile gadgets, individual users and IT managers are on their own to search for and install mobile endpoint security management.

This vulnerability has not escaped the attention of hackers, who unleash creative new threats like SMS text messaged-based attacks on a daily basis. The old-school virus, while still annoying, does not hold a candle to the damage caused by these new approaches in cybercrime, which include more sophisticated Trojans, keyloggers, phishing attacks and malicious apps than ever before.

Maintaining security while not breaking the bank

Enforcing a ban on these devices is a near impossibility, but there are options for businesses on a tight budget to maintain security:

  1. The first cost-effective step is to immediately establish protocols regarding these devices in the workplace, including guidelines for acceptable use, forbidden applications and how to avoid dangerous activities, such as browsing certain questionable sites while connected to the company’s Wi-Fi.
  2. Next, evaluate your current solutions to see if they can be modified to protect BYOD devices through password enforcement, remote wiping or other protective measures.
  3. If the quantity of devices or sensitivity of data requires a more robust solution, explore whether the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) software makes sense. MDM provides a centralized platform to manage all BYOD devices and is recommended if IT personnel are spending an inordinate amount of time securing tablets and smartphones – or if the sheer variety of devices and new threats tests their expertise.

Main components of an effective MDM program

If you determine that an MDM service is appropriate, how do you choose one? Use the following as a mini-checklist to cover the major recommended features:

  • Cloud-based, so updates are automatic and painless
  • Remote configuration and monitoring
  • Passwords, blacklists and other security policies enforcement
  • Backup/restore functionality of corporate data
  • Logging/reporting for compliance purposes
  • Remote disconnection or disabling of unauthorized devices and applications
  • Scalable, so new users and increasingly sophisticated devices can be accommodated easily

Many businesses are only just becoming aware of the burgeoning BYOD trend and the necessity of protecting mobile devices. Small- and medium-sized businesses without large IT staff and corresponding big budgets need a solution that protects them as much as the larger companies. Fortunately, the MDM trend is heading towards more affordable and easier-to-manage solutions, which is great news no matter how big or small your company is.

Mobile devices in the workforce are here to stay. Develop a plan to manage them before they cause havoc in your company.

Is It the Age of Big Data Mean to Your Business

First there was dot-com. Then web 2.0. Then cloud computing. Now it seems “big data” is catching all the headlines.

Big data is the term used to describe the enormous datasets that have grown beyond the ability for most software to capture, manage and process the information.  But volume is not the only way to define big data. The three Vs generally used to describe big data also include the multiple types – and sources – of data (variety) as well as the speed (velocity) at which data is produced.

If you need more perspective, think about this for a second: According to IBM, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created over the past two years. That amounts to 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day.

How can big data help me?

Big data may seem to be a bit out of reach for SMBs, non-profits and government agencies that don’t have the funds to buy into this trend. After all, big usually means expensive right?

But big data isn’t really about using more resources; it’s about effectively using the resources at hand. Take this analogy from Christopher Frank of Forbes who likened big data to the movie Moneyball: “If you have read Moneyball, or seen the movie, you witnessed the power of big data – it is the story about the ability to compete and win with few resources and limited dollars. This sums up the hopes and challenge of business today.”

Specifically, it shows how organizations with limited financial resources can stay competitive and grow. But first, you have to understand where you can find this data and what you can do with it.

Big data strategies

Ideally, big data can help resource-strapped organizations:

  • Target their market
  • Make better decisions
  • Measure feelings and emotions
Targeted marketing

Small businesses can’t compete with the enormous advertising budgets that large corporations have at their disposal. To remain in the game, they need to spend less to reach qualified buyers. This is where it becomes essential to analyze and measure data to target the person most likely to convert.

There is so much data freely accessible through tools like Google Insights that organizations can pinpoint exactly what people are looking for, when they are looking for it and where they are located. For example, the CDC used big data provided by Google to analyze the number of searches related to the flu. With this data, they were able to focus efforts where there was a greater need for flu vaccines. The same can be done for other products.

Decide

Big data can be like drinking from a fire hose if you don’t know how to turn all the facts and figures into something useable. But once an organization learns how to master the analytical tools that turn its metrics into readable reports, charts and graphs, it can make decisions that are more proactive and targeted. And only then will it have an intimate relationship with the “big problems” affecting the business and an understanding of how to improve its situation.

Social eavesdropping

A majority of the information in big data comes from social chatter on sites like Facebook and Twitter. By keeping a close eye on what is being said in the various social channels, organizations can get a bead on how the public perceives them and what they need to do to improve their reputations.

Take the paper “Twitter mood predicts the stock market” as an example. Johan Bollen tracked how the collective mood from large-scale Twitter feeds correlated with the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The algorithm used by Bollen and his group predicted market changes with 87.6 percent accuracy.

Imagine what you could do for you organization if you could track how people felt about you.

Time and Attendance Systems Business

Stratustime offers everything small businesses need in a time and attendance system. The cloud-based solution has a comprehensive assortment of time-tracking options, with employees able to clock in and out via traditional time clocks, internet-connected computers, mobile devices and telephones.

The system also manages paid time off, generates employee schedules, monitors overtime hours, integrates with a wide range of payroll services and features a variety of mobile options.

We were impressed with the system’s easy-to-use online portal, the company’s customer service and the system’s affordable monthly cost.

The uAttend time and attendance system is a good fit for very small businesses because it is cloud-based and requires no special software to install. The system is very flexible, letting employees clock in and out with time clocks, web browsers, mobile devices and telephones.

UAttend’s time clocks are plug-and-play ready, include lifetime guarantees and are among the cheapest we found. Besides its ability to record when employees come and go, the system also manages paid time off, tracks how long employees work on specific projects and creates officewide schedules. Go here for a full review of uAttend.

TSheets allows remote employees to clock in and out with laptop computers, smartphones, telephones, text messages and Twitter. Additionally, the system records not only exactly where workers start and end their shifts, but also their locations throughout the day. The pricing is extremely affordable, and the customer service is among the best we encountered. Go here for a full review of TSheets.

TimeClock Plus is a cloud-based time and attendance system that offers three different service plans, which vary by price and the number of features included. The most comprehensive plan not only includes multiple ways to track when employees come and go but also features a paid time off management component and scheduling tools. Additionally, TimeClock Plus is affordable and easy to use

Business : Axonista CEO Claire McHugh on Women in Tech

Claire didn’t follow a traditional path into Silicon Valley, having attended Ballyfermot Art College’s Rock School and studied communications at DIT, before eventually co-founding Axonista in 2010 with former colleague Daragh Ward.

“If you look back to when the iPhone came out, that was a pivotal moment for me, it was probably the founding vision of our company. I think Daragh showed me an episode of Family Guy on my mobile phone and I remember thinking this is the future – you can actually watch video on your mobile phone, what does this mean for the future of video? So, that’s what Axonista do. We help brands navigate that whole new era of television that is online and has leaped off the TV set in the living room and is now on all these different smart devices.

“Previously, I worked in sports TV – in Setanta, which was also a really cool start-up. I knew back then that the market was shifting and going through phenomenal change. TV definitely isn’t dead but it’s evolving into a two-way interactive system with audiences. Our company name Axonista means ‘revolutionary thinking’ which comes from the word ‘axon’ which is the cell that processes and transmits information travelling through your brain.”

“Starting out, we got a Horizon 2020 grant for 2 million Euro. We also raised seed capital from Enterprise Ireland and from some angel investors, but we always reinvest back into the business and into research and development. We have about 20 people in the company now but there’s no school that teaches you how to be the CEO of company – you just have to do it. Being a female CEO in a tech industry I try to be approachable and visible so that young women can see me and say ‘ok she doesn’t have a strictly tech background but she’s making it and maybe that’s something I could do’, I try to put myself out there.”

Elements of a Good BYOD Enterprise Program For Business

The corporate workforce is changing: Employees used to stay chained to their cubicles, plugging away on company-issued PCs. Today, remote workers perform the same tasks on their own high-tech tablet or laptop while soaking up the atmosphere at their local coffee shop.

Employees are increasingly using their own devices as the mobile workforce grows in importance. A Computing Technology Industry Association study found that 84 percent of professionals surveyed use their smartphones for work, but only 22 percent of their companies had a formal mobility policy. The upshot of this mobile shift is that corporate networks will be increasingly vulnerable, unless these devices are reined in with a BYOD enterprise program.

If your company lacks a mobility policy, consider incorporating the following five elements into your BYOD program to save time and money.

1. Include clear, written rules

Eliminating risky end user behavior through clear BYOD policies saves IT expenses right off the bat. Some of the most salient points to cover in writing include:

  • Prohibited devices, such as jailbroken phones
  • Blacklisted applications
  • Procedures for lost or stolen devices, including the possibility of wiping out all data on a device
  • Privacy disclosures, such as what personal information the enterprise has access to on a device

Some of these issues, like whether the company can legally wipe out data on a device they do not own, should be cleared with your human resources and legal departments to minimize the risk of lawsuits.

2. Make sure it’s formally presented

It is not enough to have employees sign off that they have read the policies – formal classroom or online training is recommended to ensure comprehension and compliance – especially for less tech-savvy workers who might not understand that seemingly innocent actions can expose the company to risks.

3. Ensure that it’s scalable and flexible

Make sure your security software can be painlessly installed on new devices. Cloud-based services do this particularly well and are typically available on a per-user subscription model, which saves money by protecting only what is needed at any given time.

Also, consider exceptions to rules, such as allowing peer-to-peer networking programs for certain users who might benefit from these tools. Otherwise, employees may risk bypassing your security protocols in order to use forbidden applications.

4. Secure against the greatest number of threats possible

Risky behavior such as opening email attachments from strangers or visiting dubious sites on BYOD devices should be addressed in the written policies and further safeguarded via antivirus software.

There are other exploits to be aware of, which might not be as obvious, such as fake antivirus scanners that users might innocently install, and social engineering (or phishing) threats. A good endpoint protection program will keep employees up-to-date on these lesser-known attack vectors and continually inform them on how to best protect their devices. This does not require much expense but does involve staying abreast of threats and implementing a solid communication plan.

5. Allow for remote monitoring and control

You have to have a degree of oversight over which BYOD devices are accessing your corporate systems. This is where a third-party mobile device management tool (MDM) can pay valuable dividends. MDM services provide benefits such as malware blocking, policy enforcement, logging, encryption and remote wiping, all from a single, centralized platform.

In summary, leveraging the benefits of BYOD while minimizing potential pitfalls is a tightrope act, but the BYOD trend can’t be ignored. Each business must strive to develop a program to protect its systems and data from breaches, while allowing workers the freedom and convenience they seek.