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Category Archives: Security

SPAM – what is it?

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Whilst we would rather have this as a fritter (us northerners) how did this term ever get into email? SPAM in terms of meat stands for Specially Processed American Meat but in email terminology it simply means ‘unsolicited email’

Spam as an email term does not actually stand for anything but was just a name that started and continued purely by chance. This came about in 1994 as part of a lawsuit in the US. A company had advertised its product on the usenet newsgroups (one of the first mass forums) and were flooded with complaints. Complaints made due to the misuse of the then scarce internet resources. Disk space and bandwidth was massively consumed by this single action, given the storage costs and modem dial up solutions back then you can imagine the issues. After this the name Spam simply caught on and is still with us today.

It is currently estimated that 70% of all emails sent are actually Spam and of this figure 90% can be attributed to a core of 200 Spam outfits.

Spam unfortunately is an overwhelming fact of life. Filtering however is available relatively cheaply to keep 99.9% of it out of your inbox, please contact Cloud53 should you need advice.

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Backup, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery – are they the same??

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Recently after talking with clients we have realised that these terms all appear to mean the same thing to some of the business market out there and this is a dangerous assumption. Typically people only understand the differences after an incident and when it’s too late. Therefore we thought it may be useful to summarise what each is and what it means:

Backup –this typically happens once per day and overnight so therefore it is technically possible to lose around 23 hours’ worth of data. In addition a backup simply backs up data and restore may involve building a new server and then restoring the data to this server which if from tape could mean 24-48 hours before the server is back up and running as was. Therefore in this case the Recovery Point objective (RPO) is 23 hours and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is 48 hours. With tape this is always assuming each backup is successful and that you have a suitable tape drive to read from.

Business Continuity – This is essentially how your business (as a whole) will recover from an incident. This incident may not affect IT although most incidents do. It maybe related to the scenario that the office is inaccessible due to a gas leak and therefore how do your staff work from another location or it could be a gas explosion within the building which destroys the IT infrastructure. BC is about the capability of the organisation to continue its business following a disruptive incident. BC is the big plan of which IT Disaster Recovery is a subset.

IT Disaster Recovery – is how you plan to recover from a disaster and this isn’t simply restore from backup as let’s not forget you might not have any media to restore from, you might not have an internet link, you may not have servers or tape drives! DR is about how you recover from the worst possible disaster and as quickly as possible. In the business world the only way to guarantee your IT infrastructure to be always available is to host it outside your business in a datacentre (with redundancy / replication) or to host internally but replicate to a remote datacentre using real-time replication, therefore in the event of a disaster your RPO is less than one minute and your RTO is also just minutes. With auto fail-over and the correct replication software this is easily achievable.

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Smartphones – is your data safe?

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Are you aware that a SINGLE data protection breach can result in a fine up to £500,000?

We’ve all heard the stories of laptops (even by Government people) being left on trains or being stolen that are not encrypted…. But of course these days all company laptops are fully encrypted…aren’t they?

One area often over looked are smartphones, which let’s face it we all use far more than laptops these days but, are they encrypted? I suspect not! The chances are all your company email is on your smartphone including contacts, attachments and other sensitive material. So why do we not place the same caution on the smartphone as we do the laptop?

Whilst you cannot necessarily encrypt all smartphones you can follow some easy steps to ensure that the data contained on it is safe.

Typically companies have 2 sets of smartphones, those provided by the company and so known about but also more worryingly those smartphones owned by staff who like to have the company email on their smartphone, these are the ones to be most concerned about!

Do you restrict staff who can access email on their smartphones? Do you have a company policy to cover this? If you answer ‘no’ to either of these questions then please give it some thought.

With mobile device management in place you can force all phones accessing company email to be protected by a 6, 8 or 10 digit password. In addition should the device be lost or stolen then a simple ‘phone call to Cloud53 can ensure that your smartphone is wiped clean of all data so whilst you may have lost the ‘phone, your data remains safe.
To find out more about this service please contact Cloud53.

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Do you backup your data? ……Really?

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When you are asked that question you say a firm ‘Yes’ immediately, after all who would be stupid enough not to? But what is your backup? Is it checked? Is it safe? Is it up to date? Have you tested a restore? These are the questions where people are more hesitant.

Traditionally tapes have been the solid way backups have taken place however to anyone who has had to invest in a tape drive and assorted tapes to a reasonable backup rotation scheme will know how costly this is not to mention the man hours that have to go into this and backup software.

More and more firms are moving to cloud backup as it is simpler, faster, more reliable and a far lower ongoing cost. Security is often an argument heard however how often do tapes just go missing or you see a pile of them on a technician’s desk? Cloud53 backups are encrypted (only the customer has the security key) and stored in a Tier3 UK Datacentres.

How important is your data? Some facts regarding data loss

  • 6% of all PC’s will suffer an episode of data loss per year
  • 31% of all PC users have lost all their data due to events beyond their control
  • 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups – 77% of these have found backup failures
  • 60% of companies that lose all their data shutdown within 6 months of the disaster
  • 42% of attempted recoveries from tape backups fail
  • 20% of all small businesses will be hacked within the first year
  • 40% of small to medium sized firms who manage their own network will have their network accessed by a hacker, more than 50% will not be aware

 

To find out more about how Cloud backup by Cloud53 could benefit you, please get in touch.

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