How to hit the ground running and keep on top of vital tasks when a critical event happens.
In the space of a few weeks, the world feels as though it’s shifted on its axis.
The business world has followed suit, leaving boards, management, and staff shocked and reeling at the pace of change. In light of recent events, there’s been a paradigm shift in the way the world does business.
Understandably, this change is presenting challenges. The world now demands distance, space, and the ability to work remotely in order to keep people safe. Organisations are being implored to do their part to flatten the curve.
But what if you’re not set up to deal with a situation like this?
The truth is, few are.
The analog age is well and truly over
This change is impacting businesses large and small, but it’s having a disproportionate effect on those who’ve resisted moving to a digital environment in the past. Without a Cloud-based solution to fall back on, many businesses are teetering on the edge.
If you’ve operated in a largely analog environment up till now, the hurdles likely feel insurmountable. How do you keep your distance, keep staff safe, and keep your business running? How do you prepare documents? Collaborate on proposals? Review contracts?
The how and when of what comes next is a pressing question – and it’s one we’ll be helping you answer here on the Blog in the coming days, weeks, and months – but for now survival hinges on sorting what’s needed from what’s nice to have.
At this moment in time, you need a solution that will see you through, otherwise…
The window of opportunity is closing, fast
The worldwide shakeup is impacting businesses on a level we haven’t seen since the great depression. Those that are unable to make the transition to a digital environment within a timely manner are going to struggle to stay open.
We know that organisations are determined to keep moving, so any substantial downtime can be debilitating. The question for years has been ‘Analog, or digital?’. Nowadays, it’s a matter of ‘Do you want to stay in business, or not?’.
The answer is as simple as the solution.
Change is scary, but it can be simple
Digital is no longer a maybe, it’s a must.
Here at Stellar, we’ve been able to lean on the systems we’ve been developing for years in light of recent events, which has enabled us to stay on board, adjust, engage, and continue with business as usual as best we can in this unusual world.
It’s something we can’t not share with the businesses we know are affected. Sometimes the perfect tool for the job is invented long before it’s needed, and while we can’t say we saw this coming – few did – we can say it’s been the key to keeping our business moving.
With the right platform, you’ll be able to seize this moment to move board members, executives, and staff over to a digital, cloud-based working environment. It’s easy to set up and easier to use, so everyone can collaborate while maintaining a degree of separation, control, and momentum.
We know things are changing by the day, so the window of opportunity to ensure your business is prepared for what’s to come is closing fast. Digital is your key to operating with certainty today, while being responsive enough to adapt to the uncertainty of what tomorrow may bring.
Either way, we’re here for you.
Find out more
Adapting to these challenging times is simple with Stellar.
Our securely encrypted business platforms deliver instant access anytime, anywhere, on any device. Plus, they’re easy to learn and simple to use. We offer an efficient, functional, and cost-effective solution to communications, distribution, and engagement.
If you would like to see how Stellar can support you, please contact us today to learn more.
How to keep connected while keeping staff safe and secure in these uncertain times.
Like many of you, we here at Stellar have been closely monitoring news of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the wake of the virus and its rapid spread across the globe, we’re conscious that these are sensitive times for many. We also acknowledge that a caring response is required in the face of such an event, with the way people and organisations usually operate being turned on its head in a matter of weeks.
Being able to adapt and respond in kind is key to business continuity in these challenging times. So with the work environment changing by the day, how prepared are you to run your business remotely?
IT departments are under pressure
Following the Coronavirus outbreak, governments and leading health officials are encouraging social distancing, self-isolation, and working from home as the most effective methods for limiting the spread of the virus.
The message is clear: don’t come into work.
Industry leaders are already being applauded for taking this advice to heart, encouraging staff to work from home. It’s the safest way to continue operating while ensuring staff are kept safe. Many also no longer have a choice. Travel restrictions introduced across most major countries have left many high-ranking team members stranded for an indeterminate amount of time.
So, what happens now?
Many organisations, boards, and small-to-medium sized businesses now find themselves under pressure to rapidly transition to a digital working environment. Secure, remote collaboration is what is required at the moment. The issue is, most lack the infrastructure to simply flick a switch on such short notice, especially if they’ve resisted the digital transition in recent years.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s no way to facilitate business moving forward without embracing a digital response to this physical crisis. The issue then becomes, what is the quickest, easiest, most effective way to solve this problem?
Too much choice, too much downtime
Uncertainty weighs heavy over much of the business world at the moment. How long will this last? What will the long-lasting impacts be? Looking at the short-term, the question has to be: how do we keep businesses running in order to ensure staff can keep a roof over their heads and food on the table?
It’s events like this that truly test the strength of an organisation’s digital infrastructure. Many workplaces rely on digital services for some day-to-day tasks, but transitioning to a wholly remote workplace across organisations with hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of members?
It’s a tough ask.
Especially in such a short time-frame.
Minimising downtime is key, as is ensuring people – as well as documents, files, and devices – are safe and secure. However, with the amount of options available and the disparity between equipment, old mobile devices, outdated laptops, and incompatible software versions, it’s an additional headache that no one needs at a moment like this.
What businesses do need is a solution that’s simple, straightforward, and can be set up in seconds.
Adapt quickly, work remotely, and stay safe
It’s often said that most meetings could just be emails.
With the right digital tool-set, it turns out that’s actually true.
With the level of uncertainty in the world at the moment, it’s clear that ignoring digital solutions is no longer an option. For businesses to continue for the foreseeable future, they need to embrace technology that allows for secure, remote collaboration.
It’s really that simple.
At least, it can be with the right solution.
At Stellar, we’ve been able to stay connected, active and engaged, with the ability to maintain isolation and visibility any time, anywhere, on any device thanks to our secure, cloud-based business collaboration platform.
We’ve been developing our product for a number of years now, so that boards and businesses can stay connected, secure, and collaborate quickly and easily. We’re proud to be able to offer a platform that provides quick uptake, a fast learning curve, and robust functionality that ensures you’re able to achieve continuity and keep things moving in these uncertain times.
We’re here to help.
Find out more
Adapting to these challenging times is simple with Stellar. Our secure, collaborative platform is intuitive, secure, and offers instant access anytime, anywhere, on any device. If you would like to see how Stellar can support you, please contact us today to learn more.
What to look for when you need a solution that provides secure access anywhere, anytime, on any device
When the Apple iPad was introduced in 2010, reactions were mixed.
It would never catch on. Even if it did, it couldn’t compete with netbooks. Not to mention the lack of wireless sync functionality. Well, hundreds of millions of devices and some ten years on, it’s safe to say the digital landscape is very different.p
Smartphones, laptops, and, yes, tablets like the iPad are now commonly found within workplaces around the world. They’ve become the ideal companion for executives, board members, and sales teams who need to stay informed while on the move.
Instant access to sales figures? Marketing material at your fingertips at all times? The list of potential benefits is endless, yet it’s the list of possible security risks that are posing a unique challenge for organisations wanting to keep their data secure.
Accessibility is a double-edged sword
Unlocking the potential of mobile devices should be as simple as unlocking your phone.
Unfortunately, things are never quite so straightforward. How do you keep your devices secure? Data, documents, and other information up-to-date? Or, for that matter, ensure phones, tablets, and laptops aren’t lost or stolen?
A combination of poor device management and insecure digital solutions continues to undercut the potential promised by mobile devices. Having access to information on the go is one thing, but it defeats the purpose if doing so puts this information – and your organisation – at risk every time you do so.
Convenience can prove costly
Accessing information while you’re on the move poses two major challenges.
The first is in keeping devices themselves secure. This wouldn’t be a worry if there wasn’t a long list of high-profile cases where devices were either lost, misplaced, or stolen over the years.
Did you know?
- In 2017, Samsung conducted a study which found that 93% of surveyed professionals, healthcare workers, public servants, and other executives used a smartphone for work every day (Source).
- A study by Verizon found that “One in three organizations suffered data breaches due to mobile devices.” (Source)
- Prey Inc. discovered that 69% of missing devices were “simply misplaced.” (Source)
The second challenge relates to the information itself, and how it’s accessed. In fact, it’s just as important as the security of the device. Were those documents sent to your phone via email, for example? Downloaded via a cheap storage service? Sent via Slack?
As we’ve discussed at length in the past, insecure communication and distribution channels such as email put your data at risk. Yet when you’re dealing with mobile devices, there’s a limit to the number of ways you can get data to – and from – a phone or laptop.
Thankfully, there are better options.
Keep your information safe, secure, and easily accessible with a Cloud-based solution
The answer lies in the Cloud.
Cloud-based solutions have gained popularity in recent years, and for good reason. They provide one of the safest, most secure methods for accessing your information anywhere, at any time, on any device.
Not all Cloud-based business platforms are created equal, so keep these must-haves in mind:
1. It needs to be easy to set up, and easier to use
Software is only ever as secure as the person who’s least motivated to use it.
Your choice may boast high levels of security, but if it’s complex, complicated, or too difficult to use, you can guarantee that someone will find a way to circumvent it. That’s just human nature.
Given this, it’s best to look for a solution that’s built on the assumption that the application will be used on the move, and that users don’t want to be bothered by updates, management issues, or long, overly-involved setup procedures.
Sales teams and executives are already operating at 110% capacity, so find a solution that seamlessly integrates new features without requiring large updates or new training just to re-learn the basics.
The simpler it is to use, the more effective it will be.
2. It needs to provide control, visibility, and security
Accessibility is one thing, but you also need a solution that will keep things safe.
Certain Cloud-based platforms provide complete control over access rights via a central administrator, who is able to monitor access in real-time. With this functionality at your fingertips, there’s no risk of losing data as devices only access a copy of the information, not the original.
What this means in practical terms is that if a device were to be stolen or misplaced, the files wouldn’t be lost with it. Plus, you’d be able to revoke the device’s access with just the touch of a button.
What if you’re working offline? Say you’re travelling in areas with spotty mobile coverage, for example? Not to worry. Look for a solution that offers offline capabilities, so that you don’t have to be connected to the Cloud in order to access the files you need.
Platforms like these sync your changes – and automatically backup your files – when you reconnect.
3. It needs to provide instant access to the latest information
Version control can be a nightmare.
All too often, staff are left wasting time asking whether a document is up-to-date. A Cloud-based solution addresses this issue by ensuring everyone has access to the most recent version of a file, whether it’s a training video, presentation library, or marketing .PDF.
4. It needs to be easy to keep things organised
Sales teams face an uphill battle closing deals at the best of times, but life is that much easier when they’re able to rely on a Cloud-based solution that allows them to easily prepare and engage with the audience using mobile devices.
The right combination of mobile device and Cloud-based platform makes it easy to group and order documents, ensuring seamless presentations that allow sales teams to close deals that much faster.
5. It needs to work across all devices
If a piece of software doesn’t work across all of your devices, platforms, or operating systems, you’re in for a lot of downtime. Instead, look for a solution that is completely device “agnostic”, so that you can seamlessly switch between mobile and desktop devices whether they be iOS, Android, or Windows.
Supercharge your team with instant access wherever they go
As with any new piece of technology, mobile devices pose their fair share of hurdles for modern-day organisations. But here at Stellar we’ve always seen those hurdles as a challenge worth overcoming, rather than something to put in the too-hard basket.
So no, keeping your information secure doesn’t mean you need to go back to the stone age, ditch your mobile device, and start using pen and paper again. With the right Cloud-based business platform powering your mobile devices, you can improve the productivity, workflow, and effectiveness of your team while ensuring everything is kept safe and secure at all times.
What Credit Cards, Identity Theft, and Snowden can teach us about effectively securing and distributing sensitive data
Nostalgia is a heck of a thing.
Many organisations these days – regardless of age or experience – tend to develop a hankering for the “good old days” – a poorly defined, vague time and place when life was simpler and, somehow, better.
When it comes to managing sensitive data, things certainly may have seemed simpler “back in the day”, but they weren’t necessarily better. Paperwork has always been a pain to manage. Especially in today’s age where analog processes are struggling to keep pace with the sheer volume of information.
It’s one of the major reasons we’re seeing so many users adopting digital alternatives.
Yet in the age of the Cloud, access is also fraught with risks and dangers. In fact, Cybersecurity Insiders’ 2019 Cloud Security Report found that 64% of organisations rank data loss and leakage as their biggest Cloud security concern.
It’s easy to see why so many are left pining for the days of locking documents in a filing cabinet and throwing away the key. So why is it so difficult, and what can you do to keep your data protected?
Not all Cloud-based solutions are created equal
Now more than ever it’s easy to mismanage data and sensitive information.
That’s because not all digital solutions offer the same levels of support, security, or functionality. This poses unique risks for different data types and distribution channels, especially for those operating under the assumption that everything’s a-ok.
Take the distribution of important documents, for example. Data needs to be encrypted at every stage of the process, regardless of the location or device being used. The right solution will ensure data is protected with multi-level security protocols and AES 256-Bit Encryption.
Unfortunately, not all applications have this level of security baked into their processes.
This can also be the case for information such as payroll data, marketing materials, or any other sensitive information. Yes, the software may be designed to handle security and storage, but unless it walls off access behind robust authorisation processes, it’s all too easy for files to be accessed, moved, or stolen.
Overconfidence can be a (data) killer
As we discussed in our earlier post on recovering from a security breach, 76% of New Zealand organisations surveyed consider themselves well-prepared to deal with a cybersecurity attack, while in truth the majority ranked poorly on the incident response scale.
These stats highlight one of the most important lessons you can learn about keeping data secure: never become too complacent. Blindly trusting that your solution of choice is the right one is a surefire way to set yourself up a fall. Security threats are constantly evolving, so you need a solution that does the same.
Stories of hacks, leaks, identity theft and stolen credit card details are a constant reminder of the importance – and consequences – of keeping information secure. Or not, as the case may be.
Did you know?
- Cybersecurity Insiders’ 2019 Cloud Security Report found that 42% of respondents listed unauthorised access as the biggest security threat to their Cloud based data (Source).
- 39% listed the hijacking of accounts, services or traffic.
- A further 30% mentioned malicious insiders such as disgruntled employees.
Threats don’t always come from external sources, either. The most famous example of this remains Edward Snowden, who leaked highly classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents in 2013.
Whether it’s a disgruntled employee still able to access files due to limited controls or low levels of encryption that leave your data vulnerable, your choice of Cloud based platform will either help keep you secure or put your reputation, finances, and data at risk.
Protecting your data doesn’t have to be difficult
There’s no denying the issues around data security are complex, but a solution doesn’t have to be. The key to managing sensitive information and keeping it secure starts at the top with a comprehensive set of protocols, procedures, and a business platform that’s able to address these major concerns.
With the right solution, you’ll be able to rely on AES 256-Bit Encryption as well as new developments like Ghost File technology to ensure data is safe every step of the way. Plus a comprehensive set of controls will ensure you can gain – and retain – complete control over who, how, when, and to what extent data can be accessed with the ability to revoke with the touch of a button.
It’s safe to say that the right choice in Cloud based platforms is the most effective way to alleviate these fears and ensure small to medium businesses, enterprises, and organisations alike are able to keep data secure while operating with confidence.
Why it isn’t the act of falling but, rather, how your organisation picks itself back up that really matters.
In the digital era, a cybersecurity breach is as inevitable as death or taxes.
Most organisations will lament the latter, but when it comes to the former? Malware, Phishing Scams, and Zero-Day Exploits remain largely unfamiliar territory. Despite this inexperience, 76% of New Zealand organisations surveyed consider themselves well-prepared to deal with a cybersecurity attack:
These figures should be uplifting, but in reality they’re anything but. Why? Because in the same survey it was found that the average cyber incident response maturity of New Zealand organisations sits at just 1.7, hovering somewhere between Initial and Ad-Hoc on a 5 point scale.
This discrepancy between perception and reality is putting organisations – and information – at risk.
Security breaches are a “When”, not “If”
As we’ve covered in the past, your organisation’s access to a wealth of highly sensitive, valuable information including intellectual property, sales data, and client documents – among others – makes it the prime target for a cyberattack.
Yet as these numbers show, very few – if any – organisations, enterprises, or even small to medium sized businesses are as prepared as they think they are when it comes to responding to an event like this.
That’s if they rate it at all. Look a little further abroad and you’ll find studies like the one conducted by Keeper which found that just 9% of businesses rank cybersecurity as a top business priority, while 60% say they do not have a cyberattack prevention plan in place.
This haphazard approach only exacerbates the effects of an inevitable cyber breach.
Recovery isn’t always guaranteed
Let’s take a moment to put the potential ramifications of these stats into context.
In 2015, Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission did just this as he highlighted the need for greater attention on the cybersecurity challenges facing small and midsize businesses in an article for Cyber Security Review:
“It has been estimated that half of the small businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within six months as a result.”
The stats, facts, and figures have only gotten worse since then:
Did you know?
- According to Statist, the average cost to businesses affected by a breach in the US rose by 3.47% in 2019 to 8.19 Million U.S. Dollars (Source).
- Specialist insurer Hiscox found that the mean cost of a security breach jumped from $34,000 USD to $200,000 USD over the course of 2019 (Source).
- The National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 10% of small businesses that suffered from a cyberattack in 2019 went out of business (Source).
These figures make it clear that an incident like this isn’t just costly, it can prove fatal. So while prevention may be better than a cure, preparing for the inevitable should still be a top priority for those looking to take cybersecurity seriously.
6 Steps that will help your board recover from a cybersecurity breach, with class
Convincing those at the top that cybersecurity needs to be taken seriously remains a big hurdle.
Yet even for those that do, an effective risk management plan and data security strategy cannot be considered ‘comprehensive’ if it doesn’t acknowledge the inevitability of a potential breach. Otherwise you’ll be left scratching your head with a plan that deals solely with prevention rather than recovery.
It’s easy to see why some may be apprehensive about adopting this kind of strategy. Some may interpret it as an admission of failure. In reality, being ready to act eliminates any delay in response, minimises downtime, limits bad press, and highlights that you’re aware of the realities of doing business in an increasingly connected world.
To help you along the way, here are a few suggestions for the hours, days, and weeks that follow:
1. Identify the breach
Many of today’s leading hacks, attacks, and breaches rely on their ability to remain hidden, where they slowly syphon important data as well as intercept emails and other network communications. It’s one of the major reasons we recommend you steer clear of hitting ‘Send’ on that next email.
Identifying these issues is a major hurdle on the road to recovery, but robust internal monitoring, tools, and systems should turn up any unusual traffic, unauthorised IP addresses, or mass login attempts, for example, ensuring they’re caught at the earliest possible time.
2. Set up virtual containment lines
Isolating the breach as well as any affected files or hardware minimises the damage and fast tracks recovery. Depending on the nature of the attack, this could include taking servers or systems offline, revoking access privileges, and updating credentials.
Limited oversight and control over who has access to what can make this task difficult, which is why it’s recommended that boards employ an effective business platform with a robust set of security features that make it easy to update or revoke access privileges for devices and data with the touch of a button.
3. Find the gap in the fence
Tasking relevant departments with identifying the weak links in the security fence is where real change is affected. The ultimate aim here is to leave your organisation in a stronger position that it started.
It isn’t uncommon to face internal pressure at this time to fast track the process, and return to business as usual at the earliest possible date. However, effective recovery cannot be rushed. Unless these flaws are addressed, your organisation is simply inviting repeat attacks.
4. Survey the damage
Upon triaging these digital wounds, it’s time to take stock and ascertain the severity of the breach. Was customer or employee data accessed? Copied? Stolen? What about sensitive information, data, or intellectual property?
Looking at it from this point of view, you’ll be able to identify whether this was simply the work of ‘Hacktivist’ hobbyist groups, or a legitimate attempt to siphon valuable data from your business.
Internal departments should be able to quickly and easily audit all internal files, folders, and other data for suspicious activity. More importantly, any affected files can then be restored from Cloud backups or replicas, as outlined in your disaster recovery plan.
5. Notify those affected
In the aftermath of many of the 21st century’s largest security breaches, the silence has been deafening. Many corporations embrace a softly softly approach, which sees them talking in circles and spinning PR until the truth inevitably surfaces. In this context, recovery becomes that much more difficult.
The truth of the matter is that yes, you’re likely to face bad press post-security breach. However the long-lasting impact of a lack of transparency with press, customers, or clients, can further place your name in poor standing.
As far as is reasonable according to internal policies and law, honesty is always the best policy.
Many countries actually enact harsh consequences for non-disclosure. Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, you are required to “…report certain types of personal data breach to the relevant supervisory authority. You must do this within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach, where feasible.“
An open, honest recovery is the only path to rebuilding trust in the court of public opinion. For most customers or clients, the next best thing to an organisation that’s free of issues is one that is aware of – and proactively working to solve – them when they arise.
6. Prepare for the next one
At the time it will be difficult for your organisation to see a data breach as anything other than a hassle, but it’s also a learning opportunity if approached in the right manner. Theoretical planning will only get you so far, but being able to work through – and recover from – a real-world security breach enables you to identify gaps in policies, procedures, and IT infrastructure.
More importantly, you can look back over how the breach was handled, how it was received, and further modify your response so that you can minimise downtime, close vulnerabilities, and keep clients better informed when – not if – there is a next time.
Further secure your files with the right business platform
Keeping information secure and out of reach of cyber attackers, hackers, and other third parties can prove difficult in this day and age, as can salvaging lost files, data, or sensitive information in the wake of a breach.
That’s why we’ve always been proponents of a secure business platform that is able to all at once robust enough to mitigate against a breach as well as reliable enough to make the recovery process as smooth and seamless as possible.
Sticking the landing and saving face may be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. With the right solution boasting multi-level security protocols and industry-leading Ghost File software encryption you’ll be able to securely store, share, and send files while being better situated than ever to recover from a breach with your files, data, and reputation intact.