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by Jack Brameld
In the face of rapid technological development, companies recognise the need to upskill their IT staff. However, poor training practices can...
In the face of rapid technological development, companies recognise the need to upskill their IT staff. However, poor training practices can result in poor teamwork skills and competitive disadvantages.
It is widely recognised that educating IT teams on the latest technological, business and security developments is essential for maximum performance and productivity. What isn't often discussed, however, are the mistakes IT leaders make when setting up and overseeing training programs, especially when training is seen only as a mandatory task.
Is your company giving its teams the training they need to keep up with the latest developments in the industry? To find the answer, here's a quick checklist of the seven most common training mistakes to avoid when training your IT teams.
Emphasising the Wrong Goals
A big mistake many IT leaders make is that they rely on an educational structure that prioritises career advancement over skill development.
To keep teams engaged and achieving their goals, we suggest individualising skill building and creating subject-specific assignments on a regular basis. Experimentation builds expertise, especially in a rapidly evolving field like technology, where the ability to learn many new skills is critical to both career and business success, he says.
If you have the right team, some members will leave, but if you have the wrong team, maybe they all stay, slowly and irreparably damaging your business.
Neglect of Soft Skills
It is a grave mistake to focus solely on technical skills while ignoring other important professional skills such as business acumen, communication management and leadership skills. Some call them "soft skills" but we believe they should be considered core competencies.
When team members are unable to communicate and influence both colleagues and stakeholders, they are unlikely to be able to come up with solutions that work for everyone involved. A better approach is to make sure you're doing some of both by developing technical and complementary core competencies.
When you focus on building well-rounded teams, think long-term. You will also build a sustainable and resilient organisation and not just technical skills for today. Don't let urgent things get in the way of your long-term strategy.
Don't Respond to the Change
Commit to constant learning, development, and organisational adaptation to stay ahead of the curve and achieve greater organisational goals. As technology continues to change, IT staff must stay abreast of new innovations to continue to perform their jobs effectively. Prioritising business alignment at the expense of continuous learning and growth can result in a lack of innovation, stagnation and an inability to achieve organisational goals.
Training technology is also evolving rapidly. Intelligent, automated (IA) training options - including offerings that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning - have the potential to improve training outcomes by providing highly focused, workplace and business-relevant instruction with individualised learning experiences.
Neglect of Diversity
Failure to recognise IT team members as unique individuals leads to inconsistent training outcomes at best. Diversity extends to the uniqueness of how we think and process information, and these differences shape the way we learn and interact.
IT leaders and their fellow trainers should design training modules that accommodate all learning styles. Some people are visual thinkers while others are more analytical or creative. Perspectives matter and that is why a diverse education is important as it allows team members to look at problems and challenges from different angles which can lead to more innovative solutions and better decisions.
We suggest that CIOs broaden their perspective on training and focus on the needs of their teams. It starts with encouraging employees to be creative and curious, while designing the workplace to prioritise individual development. Employees are looking for leaders who will provide them with a workplace where they have a seat at the table, whether to anticipate customer needs, understand company needs and forecasts, identify and pursue business, or motivate themselves to feel.
Understand the importance of education
IT leaders tend to assume that most employees understand the importance of training and how it relates to their jobs. IT professionals want training to be relevant. If team members don't understand why a particular training program or session is necessary, they are unlikely to see its value. Focusing on topics that are relevant to their job and potentially lead to career advancement keeps employees motivated and willing to learn.
If they don't see the value of training, they're likely to dismiss it as an unnecessary chore. They either don't take the time to do it or they repeat the exercises without digesting or retaining the most important messages or insights. Not only does this defeat the purpose of the intended training, but it can also lead to frustration and disinterest in the team. IT professionals crave growth and professional development. "If they don't see the value in their current training programs, they may lose motivation or even consider changing jobs.
To increase the relevance of training, IT leaders must identify and remove training barriers, such as: B. Class sessions that interfere with team members' hectic work schedules or take up
Perhaps the best and most effective training approach is to train team members without them even realising it. More and more companies are not just offering traditional formal training, but are making training an integral part of their employees' day-to-day work.
This means that employees are periodically reminded to conduct regular phishing awareness and reporting exercises, and incentivise employees to improve by making the learning experience fun.
by Lewis Andrews
Over the years, as hybrid and remote work has increased, so has the proliferation of data. This is referred to as "data sprawl" where...
Over the years, as hybrid and remote work has increased, so has the proliferation of data. This is referred to as "data sprawl" where sensitive data and information is stored in different locations through the scattered and unmanaged use of cloud apps. It is said that one in five employees uses personal apps to create, share, store or upload sensitive data from work. That is far too much personal and sensitive data in different places, which is usually even forgotten by the user.
As apps, services, and tools that enable hybrid or remote working penetrate corporate networks, attackers are increasingly exploiting the numerous blind spots. However, there are some actions security teams can take to better understand this trend and mitigate the impact of data proliferation.
Understand the use of apps in the workplace
To properly understand and protect the flow of data, security teams need to know where the data resides and who can access it. When sensitive files are spread across different cloud platforms, visibility is not very possible. However, when the data is distributed across multiple external applications to share and store it, problems arise. It is therefore advantageous to store sensitive files centrally using special applications.
The average company uploads, shares and creates over 138 external apps in total as part of its daily work. Many of them have similar functions, which poses a great opportunity for cyber criminals and a major problem for security teams.
Capitalize on growing app usage
As the use of apps in the workplace increases, cybercriminals gain access to applications that are not as secure as others. They can easily disguise themselves as such applications and infiltrate systems, making it more difficult for security teams to catch them individually.
This happens more often than one might think. Microsoft recently endured an extensive security investigation after employees uploaded sensitive credentials to GitHub that gave attackers access to the company's internal systems. The information was linked to an official Microsoft tenant ID and could be used to access other points in Microsoft's internal system.
Even though incidents like these actively encourage companies to focus more on their security, which includes transparency and monitoring of data. But once a person has penetrated the systems, it may already be too late.
Industry control over data dissemination
When it comes to limiting the spread of data in the workplace, organizations can consider several variables to mitigate this issue. For example, the corporate finance sector is much more stringent in terms of security controls and regulations. This restricts the use of other external applications in the workplace.
In other sectors, it is more difficult to limit data proliferation due to remote companies and less stringent industry regulations. Retail workers, for example, regularly use a variety of cloud applications in the workplace. In fact, 40% of retail users upload data to personal apps. Not only in this sector, but in all industries, it is important for IT security teams take proactive measures to minimize the risk of data proliferation.
Data Spread Limitation Practices
With the right security strategies and policies in place, security teams can confidently leverage cloud services and hybrid workspaces without worrying about data proliferation. This will look different for each company depending on factors such as size, security maturity, and goals. However, some basic security best practices remain constant, including:
1. Use single sign-on (SSO) for internal applications.
This enables central user management and ensures that if employees leave the company, you have a central place to remove their access to any cloud resources containing sensitive company data.
2. Configure controls to restrict the movement of sensitive data
Implement app and instance-specific security controls to prevent users from storing sensitive data in unauthorized locations. For example, security controls should be able to distinguish between a user's personal Google Account and corporate Google Workspaces account and prevent users from uploading sensitive data to the former. Policies can be configured based on a user's device, location, or risk.
3. Monitoring risky user behavior
User behavior analysis can complement the security controls described above by identifying risky user behavior, e.g. B. A sudden increase in downloads from managed apps and app instances or uploads to unmanaged apps and app instances. This behavior can be used to identify areas where tighter controls are needed or users who need more training.
4. Train employees
With the right policies and controls in place, the next step is to effectively communicate those policies to employees. Work closely with Human Resources to make safety training a regular part of onboarding and annual training. Make sure your policies include threats from departing employees to ensure they don't upload company information to personal apps before they leave the company. This practice can pose a major threat to businesses, especially at a time when layoffs are on the rise.
With the shift to hybrid working, it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect data, especially when it comes to the increasing use of cloud applications. Enterprises' journey to the cloud must be accompanied by strict security policies and an appropriate security infrastructure to deal with the uncontrolled use of apps and the resulting massive data proliferation. Hybrid working will only succeed if organizations, and particularly their security teams, take a proactive approach to limit data proliferation.
If you're looking to hire your team to help you protect your security to limit data exposure for a growing company, we're trusted experts in the I.T Infrastructure industry so contact us to gain help hiring the best specialists in the field. Check out how to contact us today by clicking here
by Jamie Fitzgerald
IT service management often referred to as ITSM, is simply how teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes all...
IT service management often referred to as ITSM, is simply how teams manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes all the processes and activities to design, create, deliver and support IT services.
Information technologies now encompass and incorporate tasks and responsibilities from across the entire organisation. Managing these services is an ongoing challenge and customer expectations are high. ITSM is, therefore, necessary to coordinate countless tasks and processes, while ensuring that they are providing real value to the customer.
IT Departments and users often debate over the best framework, technology solution, implementation strategy, and other details. However, improvements in ITSM often require business executives and IT to take a step back and observe the opportunities for improvement and the associated challenges from a strategic perspective as they aim for their digital transformation goals. So how do we achieve these goals?
Define IT strategy
The first step is to sort out your vision and strategy. By developing a comprehensive roadmap for your ITSM initiatives, you are allowing provisions for potential improvements down the line. Find the success factors and define the KPIs, metrics, guiding framework, and desired state at every stage of implementation. This type of roadmap should cover all three domains of IT in service management, business operations as well as the enterprise-wide strategic vision:
Front-end IT: includes all software or hardware that is part of a user interface. Human or digital users interact directly with various aspects of the front-end program, including user-entered data, buttons, programs, websites and other features
Middle IT: The processes and operational workflows defined by frameworks and automation capabilities
Back-end IT: refers to parts of a computer application or a program’s code that allow it to operate and that cannot be accessed by a user. Most data and operating syntax are stored and accessed in the back end of a computer system.
Develop business-focused IT services
Service management allows business organisations to transform their operations by taking advantage of advanced technology solutions. Digital transformation requires technologies to be not only more efficient but also support the business-focused needs of the organisation. Understanding how It services are therefore delivered and how your users interact with the technology can help organisations map and correlate their ITSM strategies to business outcomes.
Hyper automation is defined as a business-driven, disciplined approach that organisations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible. Sophisticated technology solutions help create a digital twin of the ITSM organisation that is responsible for key ITSM tasks such as:
Hyper automation is all about continuous intelligence. In the domain of ITSM, it is focused on deriving insights from the IT environment, service delivery, and user behavior. The insights are then delivered in real-time and can be used across all subset domains of the ITSM organisation.
Consider customizations vs. off-the-shelf
Many organisations invest in new technologies and like to use them the way they come ‘out of the box’ or off-the-shelf. It departments generally prefer to use products in this way, since any customisation is likely to introduce integration concerns, complexity, and bugs – an operational and maintenance nightmare for IT.
However, if the technology is used ‘out of the box it doesn’t always materialize into tangible business value. Even the most well-defined technologies can and must be configured and often customized to suit the specifications and requirements of the business, its technology or the service they are providing.
Business leaders, IT executives, and other agents should therefore support efforts that ensure all ITSM technology investments have a positive impact on the business, despite the higher implementation of costs and resources incurred.
Prioritize and align governance
Organisations that are running on a tight budget, often forget or dismiss the importance of investing in governance areas. Inadequate governance gives rise to discrepancies between the planned ITSM framework and policy implementations – and what actually happens. As an example, users might find ways to bypass organisational protocols for using a new tool or product, due to convenience or to access technology capabilities lacking in the companies existing solution portfolio.
When this happens, it results in shadow IT and misalignment of IT service management resources to the business objectives.
Companies are able to avoid issues as such happening if they:
Adopt the right policies and framework guidelines in their work routine
Take advantage of the flexibilities of the framework implementation and alternate technology solutions through systematic approval from the IT
Overall, these methods will have to be tested out by organisations separately, to analyse what works for them. There are numerous best practices that might or might not work best for your organisation. If you are interested in seeing how we can help you find the best talent to set up your organisation's ITSM infrastructure, visit our client's page, or get in contact with us!
by Gareth Streefland
Today, cyberattacks are attempted every 40 seconds, and the number of ransomware attacks is increasing by 400% annually. That's why it's...
Today, cyberattacks are attempted every 40 seconds, and the number of ransomware attacks is increasing by 400% annually. That's why it's imperative that companies and businesses take cybersecurity very seriously. But have you checked off all the boxes on the checklist to make sure you are truly secure? Do you know which data assets/systems are most vulnerable, and do you know the potential financial cost of a security breach? These are questions that need to be asked in a business of any size. That's why every company should conduct an IT risk assessment.
What is an IT risk assessment?
A risk assessment is about identifying the threats to which your information systems, networks and data are exposed. By assessing the potential consequences a company could face, it is able to prepare in advance in the event of a security breach. These assessments should be conducted on a regular basis, such as annually or when the company experiences a major change.
Cyber or IT risk can be defined as any risk of financial loss, disruption, or damage to an organization's reputation due to a failure of its information technology systems. Examples include theft of confidential information, hardware damage and resulting data loss, malware and viruses, compromised credentials, corporate website failure, and natural disasters that can damage servers.
Why do you need to conduct an IT risk assessment?
Smaller businesses in particular may think that conducting an IT risk assessment would be too big a task. But in reality, it is something that should not be missed. In order to ensure the well-being of a business, it is always good to take extra measures and make sure that it is protected. Some reasons to conduct a risk assessment are:
- It gives you a detailed list of vulnerabilities that need more attention and resources.
- It increases productivity because your security team can respond directly to problems, rather than just reacting to random issues that arise. Risk assessments also show you which areas your team should focus more on and which can be completed at a later date.
- It improves communication across the organization because the security team has to interact more with other employees in different areas. Not only does this foster collaboration, but it also creates an understanding among other employees of the importance of cybersecurity and how they can contribute to security and compliance goals.
How to conduct an IT risk assessment: a comprehensive overview
To start, you can conduct either a quantitative or qualitative risk assessment. However, it is most effective if you use both to achieve the best results.
1. Identify and prioritise assets
First, create a comprehensive list of all the company's information assets. This includes servers, customer data, sensitive documents, trade secrets, etc. As a technician, you must communicate effectively with upper management to determine which assets are important and which are not. After creating a list, gather all the necessary information about software, hardware, data and other relevant information for each asset. This will create a detailed list of all the items to focus on.
2. Identify threats and vulnerabilities
A threat is something that can cause harm to your organization. There are 3 types of threats:
- Natural disasters.
Some natural disasters can destroy data, servers and devices. Pay attention to whether any of these risks apply to your assets and whether they need to be changed to ensure security.
- Hardware failure
No matter how large or small your business is, hardware failure should be considered. Make sure all assets are up to date and not at risk of crashing.
- Malicious behavior
Disruption, interception and impersonation can target your data and servers. Determine which areas are most at risk from outside malicious behavior.
3. Analysis of technical and non-technical controls and determination of the probability of an incident.
Technical controls include encryption, intrusion detection mechanisms, and identification/authentication solutions. Security policies, administrative measures, and physical/environmental mechanisms must also be analyzed and fall under non-technical controls. These controls must be used to assess the possibility that a vulnerability can be exploited. This can be assessed using simple categories that rank the potential occurrence from high, medium, and low.
Assessing the impact the threat could have also helps prioritize your security risks across teams. You are now able to delegate which issues require immediate action and which can wait until they are resolved.
4. Design controls
Once you have prioritized and detailed all of the potential risks, you can begin to create a plan to mitigate the most pressing risks. Senior management and IT should be heavily involved in this part of the assessment to ensure that the controls address the risks and align with the overall plan and goals of the organization. You may also need to engage professional services to develop a new set of controls. Don't be afraid to enlist the help of IT and security experts!
5. Document the results
Risk assessment reports can be very detailed and complex, or they can be a simple overview of risks and recommended controls. Ultimately, your report will reflect both your audience and your organization's information security posture. Documenting all findings and their analysis is intended for senior management to communicate the issues and methods to address them in a clear and concise manner.
It should also be noted that a risk assessment as such should not be a one-time exercise, but an ongoing process. As your system environment changes, so do the chances for potential security breaches, data loss, etc.
by Lauren Greene
Who, what, where, when, why?
Despite common misconception, the concept of a metaverse isn’t a new one. First introduced in 1992,...
Who, what, where, when, why?
Despite common misconception, the concept of a metaverse isn’t a new one. First introduced in 1992, sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson coined the term 'metaverse' to describe a 3D virtual space. This idea was then realised for the first time in 2003 through an online multimedia platform called “Second life”.
Since then, there have been numerous examples of gaming platforms exploring the potential applications of this concept. For example, in 2020 the immensely popular video game Fortnite conducted a virtual Travis Scott concert within the game, and 12.3 million people worldwide tuned in. A more general example is any game within the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer On-line role-playing game) genre such as World of Warcraft, where thousands of players can inhabit the same virtual space, with players logging in and out continually, and able to interact in various ways.
The Covid 19 pandemic has been a large extrinsic motivator for the growth of this industry, accelerating and driving the convergence of physical and digital. Companies invested heavily within collaboration and messaging technologies such as Teams, Zoom and Skype, and have now created a digital hiring, onboarding, and remote working world.
Meta, the rebrand of Facebook, and Microsoft, are leading the path for the metaverse alongside other large names in the tech industry which are all racing towards securing their name and real estate in the 3D VR world that will soon become a reality.
The evolution of emerging technology and digital transformations will see a huge transition for the main 3 pillars of human activity: Work, Education and Entertainment.
Over the years, Retail as an industry has taken a huge, and successful move onto online platforms, saving money for physical resources, allowing mediation of our activities remotely, and putting products in the hands of consumers worldwide. The metaverse could be the next evolution of this journey, allowing consumers to get that physical feel whilst they shop online from the comfort of their own homes.
Many companies are already looking at being a part of this virtual world and benefiting from a dedicated virtual space in which they can conduct interviews, doctors’ appointments and try on clothes without moving a muscle.
On a larger scale, geopolitics will see an impact, which could be both a help and hinderance to have present governing bodies for smaller counties but to also create communities transcending borders in reality.
Understanding how the Metaverse will be accessed
To first give a broad understanding of how the metaverse will be accessible, you first need to understand the different tech behind it. Extended Reality (XR) covers both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) where VR enables you to fully immerse yourself in a 3D platform with the use of a headset whilst AR will overlay images onto the real world.
Whilst the metaverse doesn’t have to exclusively exist in XR, it’s the version of it that does that’s getting the most attention. This is because more immersive, experiential environments are central to the whole concept – something that XR interfaces lend themselves to very well.
Meta is focusing heavily on the VR aspects through its well renowned and recently bought hardware brand Oculus. 3D environments, avatars, and gamification – three fundamental aspects of the concept – all fit well with VR interfaces. And AR, too, with its potential to blur the distinction between virtual and real worlds, is another idea that meshes well with the metaverse concept.
2022 should see the release of Meta’s Horizon platform as an expanded VR world, this will be the first step into giving people a sensation of what the metaverse could become, and VR will be the window through which they experience it.
How will it ‘feel real’?
As a running trend for technology becoming smaller and more powerful, over the next few years we will also see this for VR which is a huge benefit for lighter headsets.
First seen in CES 2022 was the rebrand of the chunky VR sets to sleek and easily wearable AR devices which will be made available to buy over this coming year. HTC also made a device called the flow which is a slimmer stand-alone model making this device easier to use which focuses on entertainment and mental health.
AR devices will get lighter, too – California start-up Mojo-Vision has already demonstrated the potential for AR contact lenses that project information directly onto the retina.
Other innovations will attempt to solve the problem of enabling realistic movement within virtual environments (which will always be a problem if your actual environment doesn’t match the size and proportions of your virtual one and isn’t free of hazards that might cause you to trip over!). Proposed solutions to this problem include both boots, as offered by Ekto VR, and treadmills, like the one developed by Virtuix.
Another technology known as haptic feedback will attempt to solve the problem of providing sensations of touch in XR environments. One example is the Teslasuit that provides tactile feedback through electrostimulation. The suit currently costs around $20,000 and, among other uses, is used by NASA for astronaut training, but we can expect to see smaller-scale consumer versions on the market in 2022.
We can also thank the 5G rollout which is picking up pace in 2022 to become a mainstream proposition with speeds 20 times quicker than existing networks for data transmission. In addition to increasing this differential, the benefits also include different types of data and services. This is likely to include the large data volumes needed to run XR, making wireless and cloud-based VR and AR a possibility. Plutosphere, for example, and other start-ups offering similar services, let users stream VR games from cloud servers. This will dramatically lower the barriers to entry for many businesses wanting to deploy XR solutions without making large infrastructure investments.
How will this impact us?
Within education, XR technologies make it easier for students to visualize concepts – from the numbers used in accounting to historical events or even the inner workings of reality exposed through quantum physics – in interesting and engaging ways. Evidence suggests that when we learn through experiencing in this way, rather than simply reading dry facts, we can improve our knowledge retention by 75 to 90%.
Examples in a working environment include VR being used for training and to simulate operations in dangerous situations, such as the FLAIM system used to train firefighters to tackle wildfire and aircraft fires. AR is increasingly being used to provide real-time inputs to trainees during on-the-job learning, such as using computer vision-equipped glasses and headsets to recognize and warn of potential dangers in the work environment.
For businesses, AI will be able to inform target audience creation, creative optimization, and inventory forecasts.
In the agricultural world we have seen a ‘bovine’ matrix for happy cows testing in Turkey, where cows will experience a virtual open field and sunny setting rather than cooped up in a milking parlour which has proved results in higher quantity and quality of milk. Despite the positive results for farmers, the process raises serious questions about ethical farming. Would more milk be worth putting animals in a bovine matrix where they have no perception of the real world (a cooped-up milk farm with tens of other cows)?
Complexities and challenges of a new reality
Regulators will need to be put in place with facial expressions, blood pressure etc. being tracked for digital rights. On top of this if this is a pixelated replica of our universe, will this face balkanization as seen in our world where the internet already operates in different parts of the world.
Even more of a frightening thought is with a Metaverse containing so much private information, what risk is there for digital espionage and how much technical support will the Infrastructure and Security of a platform of this size need?
Control of data will also be the control of market. The opening advantage in the metaverse will go to those with the data to make the new virtual activities relevant to the user. The result is no different from the present online world in which those with the data hoard it to control the market.
Facebook algorithms are programmed to maximize user time on the site to maximize the number of advertisements that can be sold. As the algorithms are programmed to maximize engagement this means the algorithms send to each user news that is in line with their pre-established views, not news that creates a shared foundation. Even worse, is that one of the best ways to hold engagement is to create conflict and outrage, regardless of the veracity of the claim. This brings us around to the development of government-overseen behavioural standards protected consumer, workers, and competition in the industrial revolution—while simultaneously enabling a vibrant and growing economy. Where the digital revolution requires similar government-overseen standards. Facebook is currently discussing behavioural standards for the metaverse, but it is not sufficient. Many people are looking to distract from our current challenges with the shiny new metaverse, however we have yet to resolve the challenges in the current online universe—problems that will simply metastasize into the metaverse if not dealt with.
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