The 1960s saw a number of iconic and ground-breaking technological breakthroughs take place, with Russia winning the space race and the first large-scale, general-purpose computer network to connect different kinds of computers together being launched in 1969 – the ARPANET. Perhaps the most impressive feat was sending humans safely to the moon – using technology that had less computing power than today’s mobile phones.
Another iconic moment of 1969 was the release of Abbey Road, arguably the most well-known album by The Beatles. So to celebrate this momentous album and the technological advances that occurred in the same year, ITProPortal has spoken with a variety of IT and business professionals as they take a trip down memory lane and learn how teams can overcome modern-day IT challenges, with a little help from their friends – The Beatles.
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Having a little help from your friends
Everyone needs a helping hand at some point and in the workplace, it’s often the IT team that does a lot of the ‘hand-holding’. As Brett Cheloff VP of ConnectWise Automate explained, “To handle the deluge of daily tasks, IT teams need to run like a well-oiled machine. From managing security and ticket flow to conducting routine maintenance and proactive monitoring, they require expert efficiency to stay at the top of their game. Automation is an easy way to develop the increased accountability, visibility, and centralised processes required to serve users. Technology that helps manage workflows, automate redundant tasks, and provide a consistent experience will help IT metaphorically hold the hands of all its users, whatever their IT challenge might be.”
Hubert da Costa SVP & GM EMEA at Cybera, agreed: “For IT teams that still need to physically visit hundreds of distributed locations simply to ensure their IT infrastructure is updated and running smoothly, it must seem like they’re on a perpetual long and winding road. Thankfully those days are pretty much over as software updates, policy changes, and new branch deployments can now all be done remotely. And as more and more applications are deployed within a business, the ability to securely manage and connect them in a cost-effective way remotely becomes ever more important. Increasingly, organisations are turning to a secure software defined WAN (SD-WAN) to connect their remote locations and for tuning up new applications. It is well suited for this as it simplifies and dramatically reduces the cost of managing an enterprise network.”
Not cracking under pressure
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Almost all of the huge breaches we read about in the news involve attackers leveraging stolen user credentials to gain access to sensitive corporate data. As Stephen Gailey, Head of Solutions Architecture at Exabeam described, “This presents a significant problem for security teams. After all, an attacker with valid credentials looks just like a regular user. Identifying changes in the behaviour of these credentials is the key to successfully uncovering an attack. But in an age of alert overload, security teams are often overwhelmed and can struggle to make sense of the data in front of them. There’s no time for fussing and fighting… With User and Entity Behaviour Analytics (UEBA), we can work it out! Applying UEBA to the data already collected within most organisations can help security teams connect the dots and provide a useful profile of network user activity. By connecting the dots and creating a map of a user’s activities, even when the identity components are not explicitly linked, security teams can create baselines of normal behaviour for every user on the network. This makes it easier to identify when a user’s activity requires further investigation. It may not stop you being breached, but it will tell you about it before the damage is done.”
Michael Scheffler, AVP EMEA at Bitglass, also warned how organisations need to be vigilant in understanding modern threats. “It’s widely known that data is quickly becoming the fuel of today’s economy. As a result, with cyberattacks now front and centre in the news headlines, organisations have a duty of care to ensure that cybercriminals don’t have a ticket to ride with this valuable resource. With enterprises becoming effectively perimeter-less and cloud adoption continuing to rise, organisations need to revise their approach to data protection. Only by understanding modern threats and deploying appropriate security solutions can the risk of data breaches and data loss be mitigated and even eliminated.”
Jan van Vliet, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Digital Guardian continued, “How many IT security teams have cried over the spilt milk of a cyberbreach, admitting to themselves, their executive team and often times, the regulators, that they should have known better…? Organisations large and small all over the world have fallen victim to data privacy breaches and data loss – the impact of which could have been minimised, or prevented from happening in the first place. Cybersecurity programs should ensure that emphasis is placed on the security of the data itself – and not just on networks, servers and applications. Shifting the focus towards identifying, controlling and securing sensitive data assets may not prevent a cyberbreach, but it will minimise data loss – and hopefully the need to admit you should have known better.”
Bryan Becker, DAST Product Manager at WhiteHat Security added, “As organisations grow, analytics become key to being able to evaluate your overall risk. Security suffers from a firehose of information, so anything that helps consolidate that flow into more manageable chunks becomes indispensable – all you need is "a little help". Trend-reporting is key in gauging how your teams are improving over time, which is arguably more valuable than viewing point-in-time snapshots of open vulnerabilities. The most mature organisations I have seen regularly look at teams that show the highest improvement over time, and try to learn what they are doing right so that they can share it with the other teams. Some of trends that I believe are most valuable to measure are: average time to remediation, average severity or score of open findings, and frequency of testing (you have to regularly test to ensure that the other data is accurate). These metrics when viewed over time can give you a start at a good snapshot of the overall risk of the application, as well identify trends in individual teams.”
Welcoming the sun – and embracing digital transformation
Everything always feels better when the sun shines, probably because of the positive association with brightness and light. In the workplace, where too often we find ourselves slumped stressfully over our desks, incorporating some simple principles from the sun may do wonders for our wellbeing and productivity. Christophe Clerc-Renaud, Sr. Sales Director, EMEA at Ergotron, advised, “Aiming to boost productivity in the workplace doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply ensuring employees have a regular allocation of breaks and the opportunity to work in a fresh, bright and airy working space where office solutions can be tailored to their needs can make a huge difference. We are not designed to remain static for the entirety of our working day. Standing up and moving regularly gives us the chance to stretch our legs and have a change of scene, which impacts positively on our physical health and mood. In the words of the famous Beatles song ‘Here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right’, a workforce that thrives in a positive, healthy environment will add greater value from a productivity point of view."
Richard Hamaker, HR Business Partner at Leaseweb Global continued, citing Hard Day’s Night as inspiration, “One of Leaseweb’s core values is to ‘get things done’ - so nobody has to spend ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in the office! We strive to achieve this using the principles of the Eisenhower Matrix, created decades ago by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when as a General fighting in World War II, he didn’t react to small setbacks, choosing instead to prioritise by urgency and importance. There is certainly something to be said for applying lessons learned in times of extreme crisis to the everyday. The important things must be done first, because it’s these that count in the long-term. Equally as productive is sorting out the less urgent and important tasks, which should either be delegated, or not undertaken at all. Sometimes it is really beneficial to stop and think about doing what is important and impactful, both for ourselves and our customers.”
For many businesses, digital transformation can be daunting, and especially to SMEs in industries like retail and manufacturing that often have limited budgets. Johan Pellicaan, Managing Director EMEA, Scale Computing explained, “This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Vendors and, particularly, channel partners can help educate these businesses on the efficiency and performance benefits they can reap by deploying modern technology, while also advising on solutions specifically within budget. Channel partners offering a true ‘trusted advisor’ consultancy can help organisations realise their vision by developing an infrastructure designed for today’s digital transformation - and economic - needs. After all, it is always important to get your pennies worth and where better to find it than down Penny Lane?”
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Getting back up
Grahame Morrison, Director of Product Development at Nexsan, a StorCentric company explained that, “When people think of disaster recovery, they probably think of ransomware, cyberattacks or user errors. However, there are many more circumstances to consider when it comes to DR. Data is collected nonstop in almost every corner of the world, and in some of the more remote areas, it’s not always possible to have ideal data centre conditions. Instead, conditions can be unpredictable with the potential to lose power at any time.
“For businesses to get back up and running quickly and smoothly, there are three key factors to consider in their recovery plans: make sure it has data redundancy and replication components built in to ensure there is no single point of failure; implement a system that is scalable and can store hundreds (or thousands) of TBs of data without much physical space; and perhaps most importantly, ensure the system has the ability to re-start at the exact point the power dropped. IT teams want to get back their data access as soon as possible, so if – and probably when – your data centre goes down, you’ve got a plan in place that will handle whatever is thrown its way.”
Ensuring gender equality and not letting it be
Agata Nowakowska, AVP at Skillsoft ensured that gender issues remained front and centre. “Who would your organisation pay more, Eleanor Rigby or Edward Rigby? The likelihood points to the latter; the most recent government figures show that eight out of ten UK companies are still paying men more than women. In STEM, the picture is even worse. According to the 2019 New Scientist/SRG Salary Survey, the industry’s gender pay gap has grown from £8,200 to more than £10,000 in a single year – a 22 per cent gap. This is an issue we need to solve if we are to encourage more women to enter the industry – and we need to do that. Only 6.7 per cent of women are pursuing STEM careers and just 25 per cent hold STEM jobs. The bottom line is diverse teams make better decisions – it’s a proven fact – and we’re missing a huge opportunity for a paradigm shift in an industry at the very heart of our future. We can’t just let it be…”