Why can’t they sell gas at the dollar store? If you’re like me, I hate getting gas. Not just because of the painful price, but just the whole process in general. Not sure if it’s a laziness quality or because I’m not a “cars” girl, but I will ride it out until my gas light on as if it’s a ticking time-bomb about to explode. Luckily, I’ve never actually run out of gas.
Anyhow, what’s worse than paying those high gas prices? Getting your debit card number and PIN stolen at the pump through an installed skimmer which is able to grab the account information from the card without interfering with the original transaction. This is happening at many gas stations, in many cities including Las Vegas. In the past week, two of my friends noticed $500 missing from their checking accounts! What’s also nerve-wrenching is, in most cases, your bank makes the judgment call and it’s usually a time-consuming process. Sadly, it doesn’t stop at the pump. Retailers and restaurants are highly experiencing this crime from their own employees! So beware when using your debit card more than credit cards, since these crooks are going after cash more than merchandise. Industry watchers say that the incidence of fraud involving debit cards has increased five-fold over the past five years. In order to avoid this here are 5 tips:
Use trusted ATM locations – try ones guarded with security cameras
Guard your PIN – from on-lookers or thief installed cameras
Check your surroundings – look for anything suspicious
If your card is denied, use a different machine – more than once makes it easier to record your data
Check your card’s activity regularly – keep a watchful eye on your transactions
We can’t always prevent identity theft or card fraud from happening, but we can be proactive when it comes to securing our personal data as well as our business data! Don’t fall victim to vulnerability and become a data breach statistic.
Chances are you have heard about ‘the Cloud’ in recent conversations…or better yet, you’ve pursued a wiki understanding and are undergoing evaluations, but it’s a probable guarantee that you have been ON the Cloud for quite some time and don’t even know how, where, or when it happened.
Cloud computing has been around for more than fifteen years. Yes, it’s true! Think back ten years or so to the days of AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” or Yahoo! mail, or Hotmail et al, and there you have it! You have been placing information on Clouds (or servers) in datacenters all over the world. I personally can go back fifteen years to my first Yahoo! email account using dial-up services, yikes! Even though at that time the data ‘out there’ was personal, it was not the sensitive information that could have ruined me if it had been lost or stolen.
To quote another great 60’s song, “The Times They Are a Changin”! I am now so completely dependent on fast, anytime, anywhere access to ALL of my secured, personal and professional data; information, applications, contacts, calendars, shared files, etc. Without the use of or access to information, my life is at a STAND STILL! If I lost one of my ‘devices’ (or vices) I can’t even begin to imagine the wreckage!
Are you with me? Do we know the impact of such a disaster for even a few hours, days, or God forbid our information is GONE forever? We more than likely know firsthand because at one time or another, we have been ‘down’, for one reason or another. It’s almost a panic-like distress mode of hurry up and wait, is it not? Without the proper recovery and back-up planning in place, our personal and business information is inevitably at risk.
By now, we should all agree that the accessibility, accuracy, security of our data, and line of business applications, and the processes of enabling all of these are, and have been, our first priority. SO, this is where ‘The Cloud’ really begins to take on an entirely new meaning!
There are technical standards and best practices to help guide us, i.e. the technical description from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a concise and specific definition:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.
Well, that’s really interesting but how does it apply in the real world both personally and professionally? How do we get TOGETHER and compute safely and intelligently in the Cloud?
We now have the world at our fingertips, and the processes and people in place to enable access to it. The Cloud computing evolution is happening. Eighty percent (80%) of large enterprise IT managers are at least in trial stage for cloud computing initiatives.
Why? Because it changes the way we do business, it allows you to simplify processes to do more with LESS, focus on what is important, and play a more strategic role within your organization.
Before: IT staff and resources are allocated to things like backups, licensing, and systems administration.
After: Reduce IT costs and free up resources by using cloud based services/infrastructure and allocate IT personnel to those resources to projects that drive growth, increase efficiency, etc.
Before: IT department managers responsible for ensuring compliance of on premises services (SOX, HIPAA, etc.)
After: Take advantage of BCT and Microsoft security and compliance teams to ensure cloud based services are compliant and 99.9% secured
NOW FOR THE TECH TALK…
What constitutes Cloud computing?
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a model for provisioning hardware (compute, storage, networking, etc.) to the end user where management of the underlying fabric is controlled by the provider, but the end user maintains control of the operating system and applications installed within. This system usually includes a metered-by use cost model and allows the end user to expand/contract their use of the infrastructure as needed, usually via self-service portals. Examples include: FastHosts, Go Daddy, Rackspace, Amazon EC2, vCloud Express Services (e.g., BlueLock, Hosting.Com, Melboure IT, Terremark), private clouds deployed/managed by IT as service to business units (internalIT’s end-customers), Azure Service with the VM Role
Platform as a Service(PaaS) is a model for delivering complete development platforms as a cloud service. PaaS offerings facilitate development, testing, deployment and on-going maintenance of applications without the cost of buying the underlying infrastructure and software environments. Examples include: Microsoft Azure Platform, Google App Engine, VMforce.com
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a model where an application is delivered over the Internet and customers pay on a per-use basis. It is the most common form of cloud computing delivered today. Examples include: BPOS, Salesforce.com, Hosted Exchange, Salesforce.com
Core attributes of Cloud Computing are; Scalable, Elastic, Multi-tenancy, Metered by Use, Self- Service.
Cloud computing is the business-oriented vehicle to becoming a more productive, informed, collaborative, and profitable while enabling anytime, anywhere accessibility to data, without the up-front capital expenses (CAPEX) usually required to initiate these processes in the business environment or enterprise. Whew!
It’s the freedom to provide on-demand resources such as provisioning and sharing company intelligence, communications and best practices driving toward client-centric business initiatives and resiliency.
Don’t get lost in the clouds, get the FACTS.
CIO/COO/CEO perspectives share another point of view, click here to read an article from the CIO at Microsoft, Tony Scott, titled “How to Avoid Cloud Paralysis”.
Whether you are tech savvy or technically challenged we are here to help. Based on research, business continuity planning and testing is not taken seriously. I mean, if you are a business owner do you really want to be another statistic that goes out of business? The reality is there. Take the proactive approach and plan! Network failure leads to downtime, which leads to lost productivity, but here’s the kicker, it also causes lost opportunity. We want to spread the word and offer a helping hand to IT infrastructures that are in need of some TLC. Our IT & voice solutions provide a secure, worry-free network to businesses, educational facilities, law firms, hotels, and financial institutions. Here we will be posting IT tips and tools based on your needs. If you have any questions regarding who we are and what we can do for you, we are here to help!