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1st Credit takes Compliance into the Cloud

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Richard-Hibbert-CEO-SureCloud

1st Credit is a leading U.K. debt collection agency responsible for managing more than $8 billion in outstanding consumer debt. It manages the debt portfolios, third-party collections and ledger management for some of the U.K.’s leading banks, credit card companies, retailers, utility suppliers and telecom companies – who they buy or service debt from – and the millions of customers whose credit history they are helping to repair.Richard-Hibbert-CEO-SureCloud

The company operates a call center as part of its debt-collection operation, which handles online payment from debtors. As such, it is governed by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which are rules for payment card data security management, policies, procedures, network architecture and software design.

It is a highly regulated business. 1st Credit had previously achieved compliance standards using multiple point solutions for different aspects of its information security, and each of these “did its own thing,” says Andrew Bover, head of information communication technology, but aggregating the information from each point to attain a complete picture at any one time was difficult.

“It wasn’t just the cost of paying for individual products that had an impact on our business,” he says. “It was the overall total cost of ownership as a result of us having to manage different solutions and keep on top of the reporting requirements.”With a proven track record in achieving compliance standards – the 200-employee company has won several awards and touts its achievement in this area as a critical business differentiator. Reaching this level was a bit of a challenge. Bover, and his 13-person IT staff, needed to aggregate all the disparate information security data being assembled from a number of components to help the company demonstrate its compliance posture. “This demanded a sensible solution that would give us all our core information security functionality in one place,” he says. “But that was easier said than done.”Andrew-bover-head-it

All in one place

Bover and his team began looking for a solution, as clients expect the firm to demonstrate a level of compliance with standards, such as PCI DSS, the Data Protection Act, a U.K. law instituted in 1998 which is the primary legislation governing the protection of personal data in the nation, and ISO 27001, a standard that formally specifies that a management system charged be in place to bring information security under explicit control. “We’re taking payment from people who were, or still are, their customers and, understandably, they need our assurance that we won’t put their brands at risk,” says Bover.

The team looked at a wide variety of solutions and found that while most of them were fit for the purpose, they were all fairly disparate solutions and would have required a fair bit of work to integrate all the necessary elements.“I had been looking around for some time before I discovered the right solution,” says Bover. And, the choice was the SureCloud Collaborative Compliance Platform. “It was the only tool we could find capable of aggregating all our compliance data. It was the obvious choice for us,” he says.
The offering is the only software-as-a-service solution that automates and simplifies the entire security management and information compliance process, says Richard Hibbert, CEO at SureCloud, a Reading, U.K.-based company that provides software-as-a-service solutions to help achieve compliance. The tool contains four component modules: vulnerability scanning, security information and event management (SIEM), wireless intrusion detection (IDS) and configuration auditing. “These promote continual security improvement,” says Hibbert. “Taking them all together (or individually, if required), SureCloud will assess and monitor networks, applications and wireless local area networks (WLANs), automate key governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) processes and provide actionable intelligence. It all adds up to a simple, cost-effective approach to helping organizations stay one step ahead when fulfilling their ongoing security and compliance obligations.”

SureCloud takes a holistic approach in contrast to competing solutions that only provide a partial view of an organization’s security status, Hibbert adds. It provides software-as-a-service solutions that allow mid-market firms with regulatory obligations to benefit from major savings through automated information security management and simplification of the governance process, he says. “A typical SureCloud customer has a requirement for information security programs, has limited in-house IT security and lacks the budget needed for a traditional enterprise compliance solution.”

Simplicity key to getting IT compliance “SaaSed”

At 1st Credit, for example, the SureCloud solution includes management of vulnerabilities, logs and the company’s WLAN, as well as penetration testing services. Being a SaaS platform, the central platform is updated once and all customers benefit, Hibbert says.

Deployment across the entire company was seamless, says 1st Credit’s Bover, adding that to date, he has had no issues with the product.Further and management and operation are easy, he says. “It’s an appliance that sits in our rack and does exactly what it was set up to do. Reporting and management are done via an easy-to-use web interface with the ability to export data and reports into Excel or PDF for reporting or producing work instructions.”

The ability to aggregate data and provide increased visibility across point solutions is just one of a number of benefits accruing from SureCloud’s Collaborative Compliance Platform, Bover says. 1st Credit has also gained reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) with multiple point solutions in a single platform, a clear user interface with easy access to information, high-quality penetration testing services, and highly responsive customer support from SureCloud, he says.

A holistic approachoffices-Reigate

And, the tool has delivered. In November, for the third year running 1st Credit received the Compliance Team of the Year award at the prestigious Debt Collection Awards, held in Manchester, U.K. “In order to achieve this we had to demonstrate a culture of compliance throughout every aspect of our business and SureCloud really assisted with this from an IT perspective,” says Bover. “It gives us a complete picture of our information security and PCI DSS posture at any one moment in time via a single platform.”He says that when using the tool his team can drill down into the information as required, making it easy to identify any potential vulnerabilities so as to quickly resolve them with the service desk. “In effect, we have gained a PCI DSS reporting dashboard that not only assists in maintaining compliance, but also makes it demonstrable.”

1st Credit is currently working with SureCloud on expanding the compliance portal to include third-party vendor management as it works toward ISO 27001. This will save the IT team a considerable amount of time in ensuring the compliance status of third-party vendors that it uses, and allow the limited time available during site audits to be focused on areas of concern as opposed to data gathering, says Bover.

 

 

 

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Holding Cloud To Account, How Cloud Adds Up In Financial Services

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Trends influencing the 2020 data storage landscape includeAI, mass adoption of hybrid cloud, object storage at the edge, and cybersecurity

By Dom Poloniecki, General Manager, Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa at Nutanix

Cloud computing and the deployment of increasingly cloud-native technologies is happening across every industry vertical. Even in industries where a degree of previous inertia existed such as legal and finance, the drive to cloud flexibility and scalability has become a primary driver for the technology fabric that firms in these markets run on.

As traditionalist operations in the legal trade start to undergo increasing levels of digital transformation, the weighty behemoth systems running financial institutions are also now being carefully and strategically replaced by more efficient, more flexible and more cost effective cloud installations. Now a proud owner of its sub-sector label and hashtag, FinTech is the new financial IT… and FinTech was born on the cloud.

As part of the Third Annual Enterprise Cloud Index report by Nutanix, a specific analysis of the 3,400 IT decision-makers questioned is now dedicated to examining how financial services organisations are using cloud technologies. Looking at the key data points related to Financial Services, we can start to understand the implementation, workload separation and (in most cases still, as of 2020) the migration issues that these firms are experiencing.

In the world of Financial Services cloud computing, the importance of an integrated and intelligently managed hybrid framework can not be overstated. Financial operations can of course draw upon the resource backbone of public cloud for their foundational operational technology requirements. However, they often still need to run a carefully deployed private cloud footprint commensurate with the privacy and security needs of any organisation operating in the financial sector.

The central importance of hybrid

Hybrid cloud and the use of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is therefore a key cornerstone for Financial Services hybrid cloud development. This is the route to a cohesively managed hybrid cloud environment, where workloads are optimised according to the security, performance and compliance needs arising from the use case of the data and applications at hand.

The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index findings back this reality up and show that the majority (86%) of financial services respondents identify hybrid private/public cloud as the ideal IT operating model for their organisation. So much momentum is there now in this space that financial services companies are running more applications in private clouds than most other industries polled. Their reported usage of private cloud (39%) outpaces all other industries except for IT, tech and telecoms (40%).

As a further validating and driving factor here, HCI is the lower substrate technology behind the big public cloud offerings from Amazon, Google and Microsoft. So HCI and the wider hybrid approach is no longer perceived as ‘just’ a route to cost savings, which perhaps it was as recently as half a decade ago; it now represents an important enabling and facilitating technology to reduce complexity and increase scalability. In the hybrid cloud world where cost is no longer the main driver for cloud implementation, we can say that we have moved on to a point where we identify the ability to ‘achieve business outcomes’ as the primary driver.

HCI for modernised financial challengers

Given the growth of so-called ‘challenger banks’ shaking up financial services with new online services, extended customer loyalty offers driven through dedicated mobile banking applications and other fast-moving business models, traditional financial institutions have realised that they need to become altogether more agile.

Adopting hybrid cloud in Financial Services allows even older and more established firms to build scalable and easily managed private clouds as part of a hybrid cloud model. This scalability can be engineered for rapid growth when and where it happens, but it is also scalability that enables financial organisations to rein in compute resources serving banking products that have proved to be end-of-life and ultimately laid dormant or retired.

It’s important to remember that, as powerful as it is, cloud can still be a complex consideration, especially when aggressively deployed in an essentially hybrid mix of public and private cloud instances. The Enterprise Cloud Index found that for every aggressive hybrid design being deployed, there is an equally aggressive drive to deploy Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI).

This is because HCI helps accelerate cloud adoption by sharply reducing the time it takes to build the software-defined infrastructure necessary to support private cloud. It also supports the rapid capacity expansion that enables the scalability benefits of cloud technology. Nearly 50% of the financial sector respondents said they’ve either fully deployed HCI or are in the process of doing so. Another 38% said they will be deploying HCI within the next 12 to 24 months.

It is difficult not to mention the impact and legacy of 2020 and the global pandemic on the financial services technology market space. More than three quarters (78%) of financial services respondents said Covid-19 has caused IT to be viewed more strategically in their organisations. In addition, 50% of financial services respondents said they increased their investment in hybrid cloud as a direct result of the pandemic.

Choice: from the bank teller to the backbone

The key point we keep coming back to here is choice. As financial institutions will be working to offer corporate and individual customers the widest choice of products and services, so too will they need to gain choice of operational compute fabric in the shape of the cloud deployments that they do actually make. More specifically, it’s about these Financial Services businesses having the flexibility to concentrate on the delivery of strategic business outcomes quickly, easily and – crucially – without the need to keep within the limitations of a particular supporting IT model.

As previous Nutanix surveys have shown, companies consistently express a desire for the ability to run workloads in the infrastructure best suited to them, based on a variety of criteria. Be that wanting to enhance security; rapidly on-board new apps during takeovers and acquisitions; reach new markets with different compliance needs and so on.

Over the next five years, financial services organisations expect a significant drop of 13 percentage points in their use of non-cloud-enabled datacentre technology, taking them down to less than 1% penetration. As in almost all aspects of life, some products, tools and processes that we took as standard parts of the way the world works are eventually superseded.

Nobody uses a ‘flatbed slider’ paper-slip credit card reader anymore to take a payment – and nobody will use non-cloud financial services IT functions in the very near future. There may be a few archaic legacy hangers-on, but they’ll be nothing more than the exception that proves the rule. Hybrid cloud for our Financial Services’ future? That’ll do nicely.

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First of a kind Virtual Coffee Machine app with social meeting moments to support workforce wellbeing in a remote workplace

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First of a kind Virtual Coffee Machine app with social meeting moments to support workforce wellbeing in a remote workplace 1

Powell Software’s first in a series of wellbeing technology innovations help remote employees socially connect with colleagues and keep the workplace culture alive

As the third UK lockdown continues and many countries worldwide face severe restrictions, Powell Software, a global organisation creating digital solutions and tools for the digital workplace, has launched the first of its kind Virtual Coffee Machine, an application within Microsoft Teams to ensure employees stay better connected, positively engaged and take regular breaks while working from home.

With employee wellbeing at the top of the global workforce agenda for 2021, Powell’s Virtual Coffee Machine app positively connects employees through virtual chats to maintain a culture of togetherness, even when apart.

Replacing the absence of the in-person coffee catch up, HR can swiftly set up a Virtual Coffee Machine break within any Teams channel, encouraging employees to take regular short breaks while inspiring networking and socialising between colleagues.

Matthieu Silbermann, Chief Product Officer at Powell Software said: “The effects of the Pandemic have reshaped the Digital Workplace and research has found that three quarters of employers intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently. However, with one in five remote employees naming loneliness as their top complaint regarding work from home, reinforcing togetherness needs to be a top priority.”

Take a virtual coffee

HR can set up a Virtual Coffee Machine meeting within any Teams channel defining time, frequency and date, and number of people. The app then uses an algorithm that collects data from employees registered in Powell Teams, automatically comparing outlook calendars and generating meeting invites based on the criteria of the meeting. For example, if the Virtual Coffee Machine meeting criteria was set at a maximum of five people and ten people are available to join then two meeting invitations would be sent.

Virtual Coffee Machine consciously avoids one to one or full team meetings, focusing on creating intimate, short social breaks where employees can take time out to engage with colleagues in a positive digital space.  Colleagues can also ‘travel’ to differently located virtual offices across their organisation to meet colleagues for a coffee break in different virtual buildings.

Employees are unaware of who else will join the group until the event, to encourage different team members to meet, chat and get to know each other. The app automatically books an agenda and also suggests ice breakers like ‘what was the last film you saw or book’?

If a team member does not want to or cannot join a Virtual Coffee Meeting, they simply decline the meeting invitation.

Silbermann continues: “Powell Software is passionate about connecting employees to their organisation and to each other, ensuring that they have a positive and stimulating experience at work, every day. Remote workers need to be connected, they need to feel part of the company, the culture and feel able to socialise in the hybrid or remote workplace.

“Powell’s new Virtual Coffee Machine app is all about the employee. We all miss the little social moments at the office, whether they be at the coffee machine or the cold water fountain. Coffee Machine allows us to progressively see our workplaces positively come to life again in a virtual way, promoting connectivity, collaboration and employee wellbeing. It’s part of a bigger goal and series of initiatives to bring the virtual building to life.”

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Top 5 Ways To Lose Your Video Files

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Most Video Content Created in the Summer Months, Finds Veritas Research

There are lots of reasons why you can lose video files in your system or device. While some of these problems are avoidable, others are inevitable. Simply put, it is only a matter of time before the latter problems will be experienced. The major challenge is that most people don’t understand why their video files are either missing, damaged or deleted.

Are you amongst those mentioned above? Do you always ask why a video file can get lost, deleted or damaged? Don’t waste time to rack your brain on a such topic/matter. This is because you have come to the right place. This well-researched blog will provide you all the top reasons why you are losing your video files. Before thinking about which video recovery software to start using, it is recommended you know why files are getting lost in your system.

Power outage

This is a common problem that is responsible for loss of data. However, most people are yet to discover it. Have you ever noticed any situation whereby there is sudden power outage in your system? Simply put, your system suddenly shuts down. In such case, applications and other files (photos, videos, audios and doc) will be closed without any prior warning. The implication of this is that your video files are likely to get damaged.

Top 5 Ways To Lose Your Video Files 2

You may want to argue that systems come with batteries. Therefore, there will not be a problem of power shut down. This is not true in any way as power shut down can happen due to some reasons. It could even be that your system is malfunctioning. Even when your video files are not damaged through such incident, there is every chance that your hard drive will be adversely affected.

Faulty hard drive

If your hard drive is damaged due to one reason or another, there is every chance that your video files will be lost, damaged or deleted. Most of the cases related to data losses can be traced to malfunctioning hard drive. In case you don’t know, hard drives are very fragile. They can easily become faulty because of poor handling. If your hard drive crashes, it is recommended you find out what must have led to such problem. Trying to use a data recovery tool without knowing the root cause of the problem won’t do any good.

There are numerous factors responsible for a faulty hard drive. These could be hot system, frequent crashing, constant freezing, slow processing speed, booting up issues. The longer you ignore these problems; that is how your hard drive will be further damaged. This will in turn lead to loss of video files.

Human error

The truth is that as humans, we are always bound to make mistakes. These could sometimes prove very costly since they can bring about loss of video files. There are cases when important business files have been deleted mistakenly in the past. Human errors are very common. They can bring about formatting of hard drive, data loss and repair of system.

The only way to avoid this problem is to ensure you understand files to be deleted or retained. Most people don’t read messages displayed in dialogue boxes before clicking on “Delete” buttons. This is an easy way to delete important video files without knowing.

Computer viruses

Computer virus is one of the major reasons why people lose video files. Just as the digital world is becoming increasingly popular, viruses and malware are also waxing stronger. One of the most notable causes is when you begin to explore unsecured websites. It can also happen when corrupt files are downloaded and installed in your system.

When your system has been compromised by viruses and malware, there is a very high chance of losing vital files like doc, videos, audios and photos. You will try to open these files but they won’t respond. The best way to overcome this problem is using anti-virus software. This will help to monitor your browsing habit online.

Hard drive formatting

This happens to be another major cause of data loss. Most people format their hard drive without backing up vital files. In the end, these files are lost. Without the help of a paid or free recovery software, you may struggle to get back such data.

It is recommended that you backup important video files before initiating such a process. There are lots of ways to do this. For instance, you can use an external hard drive or even store such files online. This will save you the stress of spending unnecessarily on a data recovery software.

Final words

When it comes to losing your video files, there are lots of reasons which could be responsible for such problem. The tips shared above can help you to a great extent. All you have to do is ensure they are avoided.

 

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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