2016 – 2017: A Year in Review and The Challenges Ahead
For small and medium sized businesses there were some key trends which emerged throughout last year. Although 2016 is now over, these changes show how cloud technology, security and mobility are constantly changing, bringing new challenges to businesses in the year ahead.
Stack Group Chairman, Jeff Orr, will now talk through these trends and outline the associated challenges which need to be addressed.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
In 2016 we witnessed an explosion in the BYOD approach, with many SMEs allowing personal devices to be connected to the company network and worked on. By embracing a BYOD strategy, businesses can reduce expenditure on equipment and please staff, who often prefer to work using their own apps, tablets and smartphones. Ultimately this improves efficiency and reduces costs, so it is understandable why the approach is so popular. However, this new way of working does bring with it the challenge of management and maintenance of corporate networks. Policies must be robust and data protection must be considered. For SME’s, I would recommend a strict policy be put in place before BYOD is implemented. I would also recommend the implementation of a reliable network monitoring tool, either on-site or as a managed service. This gives IT leaders the capability to manage the mobile IT environment by being able to locate lost devices, provide remote support and wipe lost devices, amongst other things. At Stack Group, we feel that our offering - vSTAX® Control - is ideal for the SME market.
Although not a new phenomenon, Ransomware attacks grew exponentially in 2016. As well as growing in number, 2016 saw many worrying trends develop – we have seen the development of a ransomware-as-a-service market, whereby criminals who lack the security know-how to execute an attack, can simply purchase ransomware software. Social engineering techniques have become more sophisticated and ransom demands are continuing to increase. 2016 also saw the development of a ransomware referral scheme whereby victims can claim the decryption key for free, if they infect two more users. The result of this binary amplification of the attack means that it only needs a chain of 30 people to make the non-paying choice to generate over 3 Billion victims! It also means that malware is being sent from contacts who you know and trust, making it more likely that you will open an infected attachment. It is incredibly important that SMEs know and understand the threat of Ransomware. The cyber-criminals often consider SMEs to be “the low hanging fruit” because many lack the adequate IT security to protect their digital data – so attacks in this sector are constantly increasing. I cannot recommend strongly enough how important it is for IT Managers and Business owners to recognise that in 2017 Ransomware will be a very real and serious threat which organisations of all shapes and sizes need to be prepared for.
Businesses are increasingly becoming aware that their important data needs to be protected against disaster. Traditionally DR was extremely costly, meaning that it was often well outside of the realm of affordability for many small businesses. However, this industry is increasingly moving towards an “As-a-service” model, which means that smaller businesses are able to access a solution with little capital investment, and pay via a convenient PAYG subscription. Figures show that in 2016 up to 90% of DRaaS set ups are for organisations running just 3-6 enterprise applications and between 2-5 TB of data. In terms of challenges, we continually see companies wanting to do more with less money. To overcome this challenge, I would recommend that IT Managers evaluate their current strategy and the full scope of their data protection and recovery needs, in order to get the best value for money.
About Stack Group
Founded in 1979, profitable and growing, The Stack Group provide a comprehensive range of IT services and solutions from cabling through to cloud services.
Our offerings encompass all aspects of business continuity, virtualisation, data storage, networking and security. With two wholly-owned, UK-based, ISO27001 accredited datacentres, all of our vSTAX® cloud solutions are industry certified and comply with EU regulations.
From our office locations in Liverpool and London, we provide leading edge technologies to client locations across the UK.