Performing Data Risk Assessments
If your organization is required to follow any compliance mandates for data management, there is a good chance that data risk assessments may be recommended. But the language regarding what those assessments actually are can be vague.
It’s possible that your IT team may understand the necessity of such risk assessments, while not knowing how to approach these assessments in a manner that guarantees regulatory compliance.
What Does a Data Risk Assessment Accomplish?
Data risk assessments allow you to take a big picture look at your organization’s handling of data in order to determine the overall security of the data that you manage. It can help you to understand your strengths and weak points so that you can improve in your overall data management.
With a proper data risk assessment, you end up with an overall understanding of your risk levels and a plan to manage the most critical needs.
Below are some suggestions for conducting a data risk assessment. Sometimes organizational pride can get in the way. It’s important to handle the process with humility and treat it as an opportunity to learn about your organization and improve your weaknesses.
1). Get uncomfortable. Use a data risk assessment as an opportunity to understand your weak points at the highest level of exposure. That way a plan can be developed to better address these in the long run. It’s important to understand your company’s highest-level vulnerabilities before an attack.
2). Use basic questions to determine risk level. You can ask questions that will help you prioritize risk such as: Do we collect personally identifiable information? Do we collect highly sensitive information (think credit card numbers or health records)? What other sensitive data remains in our possession? Questions along these lines can help you establish the level of sensitivity with this information.
3). Figure out risk vs. exposure. You can use any gathered information to understand how to mitigate your risk and exposure levels with additional safeguards.
4). Modify your data storage based on risk. When you’re able to map out your company’s vulnerabilities some changes may need to be made to where that data is stored. Maybe cloud storage, remote servers, or other solutions can add additional peace of mind.
5). Add security to mitigate risks. Once you have some added information, you’ll have a better understanding of the threat level that your organization faces. It may be time to bring in more security or establish some firewalls. It may be time to enhance your company’s password procedures or add two factor authentication. Whatever the case may be, you can prioritize the actions based on various threats.
Data Risk Assessments Lead to Improved Safety
You can’t control what you don’t measure. Proper data risk assessments are simply about analyzing your levels of exposure. They’re also important to understand that if your data does fall victim to a cyberattack or is lost, that a data security company can help you restore what you lost and keep your company up and running.
What is Data Mapping?
Data mapping performs an essential function in organizations as they continue to amass increasingly large amounts of information. This increased data collection can be used for a myriad of reasons from more informed marketing decisions to better product development practices.
But keeping track of that data can be a cumbersome process without some organizational standards in place. That’s where data mapping comes into play. At some point collected data may need to be moved between systems, or stored using a different program. A data map is the tool that is used in these events to make sure that data arrives in its destination accurately.
What Data Mapping Means for Your Organization
Simply put, data mapping is the process of matching fields from one database application to the next. It’s a fundamental step in safe data migration and integration. Data mapping is a common business practice, but as the amount of data collected by businesses grows, it becomes increasingly important and complex.
Data Management Begins with Mapping
Without proper data mapping, data has the ability to be corrupted. It’s possible under some circumstances that data will end up in an unusable format or become corrupted. Data mapping allows you to make the most out of your information long after any migrations. It is what ensures that your data will wind up in a usable format in its new source, so that the old source can be properly retired.
What’s Involved in Data Mapping?
The first step to data mapping is establishing what data needs to be moved, and where it needs to go. This includes noting the tables, fields, the formats of the data, and the frequency it needs to be moved.
At this point it’s important to match current fields with new destinations to ensure that it lands in a legible and useful format. You can begin the process with a small sample size to ensure that the transfer works in the ways that you expected. From there the full transfer can be deployed, maintained and updated.
The Need for Software that Can Handle Complexity
We’re largely past the days where complex data migrations, integrations, or transfers can be operated with mapping processes drawn out on paper. More data and more complex data processes render software a necessary tool to assist.
It’s important to find talented data analysts and flexible software programs that can ensure that your company’s objectives are well represented. You need the infrastructure in place to be able to handle large-scale data management in an increasingly competitive business management.
A Data Management Safety Net
Data mapping can save your organization massive headaches in the data management process. But should you lose any sensitive information in the process, a data recovery specialist can help you recover and restore what was lost. If you need help with data recovery, contact us today!
Is Your Company’s Data Secure?
Is your company’s data secure? It’s an important question that businesses and organizations should spend some time with, especially as the way we do work evolves.
Your business may have hit its stride with remote work during the pandemic in 2020. Whether you’ve been pleasantly surprised by the necessary adjustments, or you were thrown off guard by sudden changes, you may want to check what type of security vulnerabilities you’ve been left with in the aftermath of the adjustments you were forced to make.
Some of your employees’ behaviors as they work from home may unintentionally leave your company’s most vital data in jeopardy. Below are some of the work-from-home technology scenarios that can lead to increased data vulnerabilities.
Remote Work Data Vulnerabilities
Reduced Security on Personal Devices
If your remote work program was made possible by allowing employees to use their personal devices, it can present added security headaches for your IT team. Personal devices and public Wi-Fi systems can expose organizational data to several additional risks and make it easier for a hacker to gain access.
Strict password regulations and educating your employees about proper safety measures while working from their own devices, can help them to understand the risks involved proceed with the right cautions in place.
An Old Threat Renewed with Phishing
Hackers baiting unsuspecting email users into traps is really nothing new. What is new is the level of sophistication and ill-intent in the wake of the pandemic. Some may masquerade as medical supply sellers. Others may try to pull on your heart strings, with fake charitable causes. When your employees click on the email links, they may be downloading malware that lets outsiders access all of your data.
Educating employees about the threat of these phishing scams is a solid first step in making sure your company’s data is secure. Make sure they understand that if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. They can always Google the company, organization, or even email address that the email originated from in an attempt to find out whether or not it is legit.
Software and Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities
If Microsoft 365 is somewhat new to your remote workforce, they may not be used to what the login screen looks like. Fake login screens allow hackers to steal login credentials and access any document created within Office 365. They can then impersonate users and login from their own system.
Insecure Wi-Fi also leaves vulnerabilities. This can allow users into the system who can insert malware or simply look for sensitive data that they can steal. These vulnerabilities may exist within other commonly used software programs as well.
It’s hard to let yourself believe that someone your company hired may desire to cause harm within your organization. But there may be outside forces influencing their behavior. The devastating financial impact of the pandemic, inability to pay the mortgage, or out of control medical bills can cause people to behave in unrecognizable ways.
Employees may be able to download sensitive data to a personal computer device, giving them the ability to act outside of your monitoring.
Make Sure Your Company’s Data is Secure
It’s critical to do everything possible to answer the question: «Is your company’s data secure?» If you find that security has been breached, it’s important to take action fast. If you’ve lost sensitive data due to a security event, a professional data recovery company can help you to regain access to lost data. Contact us today!
How to Increase Productivity While Working Remote
The great news for companies that have transitioned into remote working environments due to the pandemic, is that remote work has proven to be a more productive avenue for employees. But like anything, there may be stumbling blocks when you look at how to increase productivity while working remote.
While remote work comes with some stumbling blocks that we’ll address, it will likely also increase overall productivity for a few reasons. First, it eliminates the need for a commute. Employees in an office setting are also more liable to become sidetracked by conversation with their coworkers. While this may be one of the social benefits to office work, it leads to unproductive time.
At the same time, remote workers may find themselves in need of an adjustment period to better address their time behind the desk. These suggestions are designed to increase productivity while working remote.
Increase Productivity While Working Remote
Workers are inundated by notifications from every work-from-home technology platform that their company uses. They need to consider which notifications they can turn off, so not to be distracted by messages of little significance. Management can also consider what notifications their employees need, and which they don’t.
Employees can also eliminate environmental distractions by working from a home-office, rather than a bed, couch, or kitchen table. When they can find a more professional setting within the home, they are likely to get more done. This helps keep them focused on their work, rather than cleaning, laundry, or making personal calls.
Keeping a To-Do List
No matter how hard you try, those distractions may seep in. Sometimes it helps to consider the most important tasks that need to be completed in a given day and create a to-do list. A well thought out to-do list can help bring employees back to the larger tasks on hand when email, social media, and personal distractions become overwhelming. Regular phone calls or meetings between management and employees can also help to keep everyone on track and on the same page as far as priorities go.
Simply documenting what must get done on a given workday can be a powerful way to increase productivity while working remote.
Take More Breaks
When employees are able to take more breaks and step away from their work, they can reset their mental focus. You can encourage employees to get up and walk around when they get stuck or lose focus. Employees may benefit from the Pomodoro technique, which consists of breaking down larger tasks into short productive intervals, separated by short breaks.
The catch with the Pomodoro technique is that when they are at their desk and focused on a task, they must stay focused. No email, social media, or any other distraction in that window.
Work From Home Can Be Stressful
If employees are feeling additional stress or anxiety in the work from home environment, it may help to encourage short walks on breaks, or meditation. When they take action within their personal life to reduce stress and feel calmer, they will without a doubt become better employees.
The idea that employees can be more productive from home may sound counterintuitive. But encouraging them to become more well-rounded in these ways can help them bring more to the table and increase their job satisfaction. But addressing the above steps can help employees increase productivity while working remote.
5 Common Technology Problems While Working Remote
The pandemic sped up the work-from-home revolution, and with it came some wonderful benefits, and new technology problems while working remote. Companies are more agile than ever before, and workers experience the benefit of not having to commute.
It’s provided a chance to rethink how we interact in the work environment. On a whole, workers have become more productive in their home environment. While there have been tremendous benefits to stem from this development, it’s not without its problems, either.
Technology Problems While Working Remote
Workers Are Over-Informed
This is one of the most common technology problems while working remote and can sneak up before people even notice.
The communications platforms that bring us the ability to work from home are a double-edge sword. Project management platforms, instant messaging software, email, video, texting, and video calls all make it possible to quickly and easily communicate. But workers are quickly inundated with notifications to the point that it will hamper their productivity.
Each of these notifications are a distraction pulling employees away from what they were doing. It’s important to make sure employees know when they can turn notifications off. Management using these tools need to carefully consider what situations are worth notifying employees over, and which are not.
Incentives Issues and Distractions
When you are in the office and you finish early, you will still be paid. You likely need to find something to occupy your time for the rest of the shift so that you can maintain some level of productivity. But what happens when you are at home and you finish early? You won’t make more money by getting done faster. Sometimes productivity and efficiency are not properly incentivized under this situation.
When you work from home, you may be tempted to login to personal social media or email accounts. These distractions can eat away at the time you are supposed to be working. These incentive issues and distractions may need to be rethought in the home environment.
More Technology Isn’t Always The Answer
We’re tempted to replace full staff meetings with Zoom calls. Face-to-face communications may now be replaced with email. But the communication may leave something to be desired. The video or audio may go out on a Zoom call. Somebody in a large meeting may inevitably have video or audio issues. There may be interruptions from employees’ family members or cameos from pets.
All of this can slow down the communication process. It may be time to do away with this type of meeting in favor of allowing employees an extra block of time to remain productive. This can help increase productivity.
Data Security Issues
Remote work leaves your company’s network and data security more vulnerable. While work from home policies may ultimately increase productivity, there is often a cost in an inherent data security risk. That cost comes in the form of increased exposure to hacking, data theft, or exposure to cybercriminals. Many larger companies have already been in the news for data breaches.
IT departments in remote work companies must help to educate employees about common sense data measures, such as changing passwords, two-factor authentication, and network security. Taking some preemptive steps now can help thwart one of the most common technology problems while working remote. Should you experience data loss, you can always hire a data recovery company.
Fighting Isolation and Loneliness
There aren’t as many opportunities to connect with coworkers or customers via phone or video calls, and it’s just not the same. Many are experiencing isolation or loneliness when they cannot leave their home to be around their coworkers. This is a general problem in society brought on by the pandemic, but it certainly rears its head in the remote work environment.
It often goes undetected until it’s fully manifested, and may not be immediately noticeable in day-to-day activity. Steps can be taken by employees on a personal level to reintroduce some social interaction in other aspects of their lives. More phone calls, video calls, and or social media messaging can help people feel more connected.
Overcoming Technology Issues Related to Remote Work
There’s no question that remote work has led to more employee productivity. It’s likely a trend that will be here to stay, long after we’ve recovered from the pandemic. IT departments will need to address the data security issues by putting more protective measures in place. IT and management may also play a role in other technology problems while working remote.
5 Hard Drive Recovery Tips for Your Laptop
These hard drive recovery tips for your laptop can help your remote work force, should one of their computers go down.
With more employees working remote in the U.S., laptop usage is on the rise. There is no question about the convenience of portable devices, especially when it comes to companies allowing their employees to work from home.
But sometimes these devices fail, and when they do, sensitive data can be placed in jeopardy. Updates, physical damage, and a failure to save your work can all cause problems. The good news is that much of the time, it’s not the data in question that is gone, but rather the part that pointed the user to the data.
In these cases, recovery is almost always possible. The data remains on the computer, it just takes more work to regain access to it. Below are some hard drive recovery tips for your laptop, to help in these instances.
Hard Drive Recovery Tips for Your Laptop
Seek Professional Help Fast – If you’re dealing with sensitive data that would cripple your company should it be lost, the problem is likely best in the hands of a professional. Customer support or a professional data recovery company can help you restore and recover data so that your business can keep running without any hiccups.
Stop Using the Laptop in Question – If you think you are close to hard drive failure, but your computer remains in a usable state, the best thing you can do is to stop using it until the hard drive problem is resolved. Any additional use could be causing further damage and make it harder to recover the files in question.
Data Recovery Apps – There are free and paid apps that you can install from the internet to help you recover files. If you are technology savvy, and you may only be looking for a few files, this option could work for you. The risk with these apps is that installing anything on your computer, even if it is to help with this type of situation, could be making things worse by overwriting the very files that you’re looking to recover. The likelihood for unrecoverable files increases in this situation.
Hook it to a Working Computer – On a Mac laptop, you can connect it to a working computer to essentially treat it as a large USB drive. The computers can be connected with either a USB-C, Thunderbolt 2, or Firewire cable.
On the broken Mac, you’ll need to press the T button on startup. If it’s already turned on, you can go to the Apple on upper left > System Preferences > Startup Disk > Target Disk Mode. From this point, files can be grabbed, and then the disk can be wiped or repaired without concern for your data.
In some situations, starting the computer in recovery mode, or creating a bootable drive may be what’s needed to regain access to the computer so that you can access necessary files.
Remove the Hard Drive (If You Can) – PC laptops are likely to be more complicated than the Mac instructions above. They may require removing the hard drive – something that is made more complex and complicated in a laptop than a desktop. The hard drive can then be diagnosed by plugging it into a working computer. But this is something that may require experience to try it, because further damage can be caused to the computer.
Hire a Data Recovery Company
The severity of the hard drive problem may vary from situation to situation. If you’ve tried any of these hard drive recovery tips for your laptop with no success, the best thing you can do is to stop tinkering with the computer, and contact a data recovery company. Remember, when hard drive failures happen, there is still a high probability that the data can be recovered.
Will We See More Automated Data Security?
Automated data security using machine learning and AI technology can have a significant impact on protecting business’s digital assets.
There is no question that the threat level with hacks on personal and company computers and networks is rising. Cyber criminals are employing new tactics to gain access to restricted information on a regular basis. As they employ new technologies to gain access to restricted systems, it only makes sense that the same technologies could be used to help protect those systems. Automated data security is improving, and will continue to be a tremendous asset to businesses and organizations of all size, around the world.
Data security will continue on the trend of increased automation as various cyber threats increase. Between a growing number of strategies employed by cyber criminals, and companies transitioning to work-from-home structures, the need for new protections is growing. Increased use of machine learning and artificial intelligence can help in the fight.
Automated Data Security Tools Will Assist Data Scientists
While there’s no question that automated data security tools are more efficient than any human, they will be seen as an asset to the IT team that can make the security process more effective. It will be similar to a doctor using the same type of tools to make a diagnosis, while providing the same level of person-to-person care that patients have grown accustomed to.
Data scientists will still be needed to assess any data and make any recommendations or interpretations. Their role will continue to be a necessary one, even though the process itself may be streamlined through more efficient technologies.
Streamlined Information Means More Targeted Decisions
If you are receiving automated and targeted information on a regular basis, that information can be used to improve business decisions. For example, new insights on your customer base or target markets can help you understand how to better position your company to sell more. Those insights can come instantly, and they can be from company data, or industry-wide data that tracks certain consumer behaviors.
All of this instantaneous access to key data points can be interpreted by stakeholders in an effort to make more informed decisions.
Better Risk Assessment
AI and machine learning technology will give companies and organizations a better picture of what risks they face on an ongoing basis. Automated data security tools can allow businesses to see threats in real time, and give them more power to stop cyber attacks as they happen. As computers and other IoT technologies are equipped to handle massive amounts of data in real time, their vulnerabilities increase.
Machine learning and AI technologies are the best-equipped tools to provide enhanced protection in this type of environment.
Make Your Data More Actionable
New automated data security technologies will help businesses on several levels.
In the absence of AI and machine learning data technologies, you may be collecting useful data without the ability to interpret it in a timely manner, or to make informed decisions. The ability to use this data in a robust manner will make a significant difference for small businesses in a competitive marketplace. As AI and machine learning options become more readily available, the benefits that they have to offer will help to level the playing field.
Data security will become more automated in the near future. This is a trend that will help to protect businesses from an increased level of vulnerabilities that have to do with work-from-home trends as well as a growing number of types of attacks.
Not All Hacks or Security Breaches are Created Equal
In a day and age when security breaches are commonplace, and the threat of personal data that you’ve collected is in jeopardy of being made public, hacks are routinely reported on in the media. Not all of the hacks that we read about are created equal.
First, there are various types of hacks. While any successful effort to breach your data security is alarming, the after-effects are not always experienced in the same magnitude.
The Definition of Hacking
The term “hacking” has become commonplace, and is used across a variety of applications to mean different things. But as it’s related to data security, we’ll define it as gaining access to unauthorized information through a system network or computer. There are an increasing number of these hacks and security breaches being reported on an almost daily basis. Governments, retail outlets, schools, and other businesses and institutions remain at high risk as targets for these attacks.
Types of Security Breaches and their Severity
Phishing and Social Engineering Hacks – This is when the hacker attempts to trick you into sharing your personal information with them. Maybe they pose as a business, or someone offering a service, in an attempt to get you to share your personal financial information. It might be imitating someone you know, asking you to do something like wire money, or click on a link to download a piece of malware, for example.
Phishing and social engineering hacks can have a significant impact on the victim, especially if they give up key personal information such as a social security number, bank account, or if they physically wire large sums of money.
Malware Injecting Devices
Devices such as USB sticks can be used by hackers to inject malware onto a device. That malware can then be used to gain remote access, to your computer and any information on it, causing significant security breaches. That’s why it’s important to consider the source of any type of USB, keyboard, or computer mouse before you plug it into your computer.
Entrance Through Missing Security Patches – Websites, software, routers, and other hardware often require security updates. When those updates are not completed in a timely fashion, it can provide an opening for hackers to gain access to your computer or network. When users ignore the pop-ups for updates it can leave them vulnerable.
It’s important for employers to make sure that all devices, software, and applications are routinely patched and updated to ensure their safe usage. This means making sure that employees routinely make the updates needed to function. This simple step goes a long way in reducing the chances for security breaches.
Passwords – Many hackers gain access through cracking the right password. It may happen through a malware program that allows hackers to monitor your keystrokes. There are also software programs that can guess the right password by running several combinations of letters and numbers in a matter of seconds, giving the hacker access.
Distributed Denial of Service – These attacks focus on taking down a website, or other online assets. They typically involve overwhelming a site with more traffic or requests than the server can handle, and thereby shutting it down. There are security products and services that can help protect your online assets from this type of attack.
DDoS attacks can have a crippling effect on your business, preventing you from being able to conduct your business as usual.
Make Sure Your Team is Aware of Digital Threats
Hackers can gain access and cause significant damage to your company through any of the above means. While any of these attacks can result in financial loss or the loss of data, DDoS attacks can shut down your whole business, and be difficult to recover from. The level of damage and the impact of the security breaches depends on the type of hack, and the impact that it can have. It’s crucial to educate your employees about the importance of data security, and preventing these hacks.
This means teaching them to evaluate the source of an email before they enter personal information, and making sure they complete the updates that need to be completed. Employees can be required to set passwords that include upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Making them more security savvy can help protect them and your business in the long run.
The Growing Need for Data Simplification Software
Smaller companies are competing all the time to keep up with their larger counterparts, and a major part of that struggle manifests in the way that companies collect data. With data simplification software, or data management as a service (DMaaS), the smaller companies have a means to level the playing field and compete with larger competition.
There are several issues that contribute to smaller companies being presented with more challenges when it comes to data collection. Variations of these issues can manifest across small businesses in a range of industries. Having some form of DMaaS software can help businesses to overcome these issues.
Key Issues that Lead to Difficulty with Data Collection for Small Businesses
IT Budgets are Being Slashed – As companies struggle to stay within limited budgets, IT and data science departments must find a way to operate with less. Technology, government, education, and other industries are being forced into this predicament.
Data Collection Operations are Complex – Complex data often comes with complex infrastructure. Between software installations, updates, and maintenance, data collection can take an inordinate amount of time and resources. Using some form of data simplification software can allow companies to better re-allocate their resources to meet their needs.
Employee Stress and Turnover – Having a solution that simplifies and streamlines data collection can help reduce stress and turnover within the IT department. It can allow IT professionals to better focus on deriving value from that data and help to improve the company’s bottom line.
The Benefits of Data Simplification Software and DMaaS Software Solutions
The benefits of data simplification software can help businesses that are already on a budget. DMaaS software offers a form of cost predictability, so that companies don’t become overwhelmed collecting data that may or may not have appropriate usage applications.
It will allow these same companies to better be able to compete against larger companies that currently have more data collection resources, and win more business. These smaller companies will be able to do more with what they have.
Employing a DMaaS solution within the company will save IT teams a considerable amount of time, and allow them to focus on other needs like equipment maintenance, tickets, and data security. Ultimately, the use of DMaaS software could help IT teams to reduce turnover, and better serve their employers.
Data Security as Part of Your DMaaS Package
In addition to allowing companies to make better decisions with their data simplification software, DMaaS programs are also providing added levels of data security. They are including a variety of features that will help small businesses protect their data. Here’s a brief list of features that may be available:
- Backup and archiving
- Disaster recovery
- Data security
Many of the platforms on the market use machine learning technology to identify data anomalies or catch cyberattacks that are currently in progress. Many of the platforms available are providing seamless experiences on premises and in the cloud, which is an important feature for companies that are transitioning to work-from-home.
Will DMaaS Work for You?
There are several advantages to data simplification software for small businesses. It can make your IT operation more efficient, and allow your employees to focus on other objectives, such as improving the company’s bottom line. DMaaS allows small businesses to more easily compete with larger competition. The right platform will also provide an added layer of data security in the process.
As IT budgets shrink, and companies are forced to find enhanced levels of productivity with fewer resources, DMaaS software allows companies to do more with fewer resources.