In the past, keeping a business IT system up-to-date was simpler. Whoever looked after your IT installed the latest patch or update on the server and pushed those updates out to networked machines. Or if you were a really small operation, one person went from machine to machine implementing the latest upgrades.
Today, so called ‘virtual machines’ and cloud technologies have become mainstream and are impacting the workplace more and more. Studies show that by 2016, 70% of offices will be using server virtualisation, resulting in greater hardware utilisation and lower costs. And what business doesn’t have at least some of its data in the cloud?
While these new technologies offer advantages in terms of efficiency and reliability, they also present security challenges that must be overcome. Here’s what you can do to keep your systems up-to-date and well protected.
Working with virtual machines
Virtual systems have the advantage of greater stability and more up time. The process of virtualisation for businesses involves consolidating multiple servers into a more powerful virtual machine distributed across a network. Virtual machines offer flexibility and other advantages that can’t be matched by a physical computer. They make excellent testing grounds for performing trial software runs an predicting how variables will interact without putting your data at risk.
But virtual machines have security issues just like real ones. Because components of virtual machines can be spread out, hackers may find it easier to target a vulnerable point. In the past, anti-virus and anti-malware programs were difficult to run on virtual machines because of these shared resources. IT security firm Symantec’s Threats to virtual environments report published recently states that 82 per cent of the malware it tracks is now capable of running on virtual machines.
This means that implementing sophisticated, proactive malware protection that is kept up-to-date is vitally important if all the benefits of virtualisation are to be reaped.
Protecting cloud data
Data is the most important component of many modern companies and corporate users are understandably nervous about moving to cloud computing and cloud storage. But the increasingly global nature of business and the push for efficiency and convenience are driving ever-higher rates of cloud adoption.
As stories of hackers stealing thousands of identities and credit cards become almost commonplace, what precautions need to be taken to prevent data loss and security breaches? At the very least, incoming or outgoing data sent to the cloud should use secure protocols and sensitive data such as credit card payments should always be encrypted.
Maintaining cloud security requires many of the same tools and procedures as maintaining an in-house system. Application firewalls are crucial, as are systems designed to spot vulnerabilities and detect intrusion attempts.
The biggest advantage for small companies is that you don’t have to worry about meeting these demands. Reputable cloud service providers will provide 24/7 monitoring and security updates at their end.
Protecting against cloud data loss is a separate issue entirely. Many companies decide to keep in-house backups of their most crucial data,while others choose cross-cloud backups so that if one cloud fails another is still operating. Remember that if you keep data files locally, you’ll need to implement good security measures and keep them up to date, or all the protection of the cloud is pointless.
However you choose to build your systems, whether physical, virtual, or a hybrid mix, the most important precaution to keeping your IT system strong is to ensure all necessary upgrades are carried out and to have a good disaster recovery plan.
Synergy Technology offers a hosted workspace option.
Citadel is a flexible service that combines the most powerful IT components available to business users, with leading edge hardware technology. Operational with business software provided by world renowned developers and hosted in secure and modern data centres based in the UK, Citadel delivers the latest IT technology directly to your managed desktop.
By adopting Citadel your in-house IT requirements will be greatly simplified and streamlined – and Citadel then takes care of all your server related matters by hosting the IT hardware and software for your business. The service is backed by Synergy Technology’s dedicated SynergyCare team providing Help Desk support for both the system and application users.
Moving your IT system to Citadel’s hosted workspace eliminates your business IT function from having to manage desktops, software applications and IT maintenance and releases both valuable time and money for your team to focus on more fundamental customer driven business objectives.