Data Security in Online Banking

Data Security in Online Banking

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In today’s world of banking it seems as if everything is done online. Having digital records of all your financial assets is a great idea, if done correctly. 

However, one risk that online banking faces and isn’t talked about very much about –is the possibility that bad players can do great harm to the financial data.

We’ve all heard about the risks of ransomware attacks, but what would happen if a bad apple within the organization were to “delete” all the institutions data? Not only would mass panic and chaos ensue, but the consequences would be overwhelming.

Thanks to this amazing thing we call the internet, there are more ways than ever to hack a bank. According to report by Positive Technologies, banks are just as prone as any other institution to cyberattacks. In fact, hackers often get credentials through phishing scams.

The report shows that “employees at 75% of banks reviewed had clicked on links in phishing messages, and those at 25% of banks entered their credentials in a fake authentication form.”

While banks have suitable solutions for recovering from normal events such as natural disasters, blackouts, and human error; they have a lot of learning to do in being able to survive and quickly recover from a cyberattack.

Online Banks Protecting Data

How can a bank’s data be protected? The answer is far more complex than investing in the best cybersecurity systems. Banks already spend vast amounts on IT security, in some cases more than three times the amount of nonfinancial institutions.

In addition, banks are mindful to protect data by backing it up. Data backups are created using multiple copies of critical data such as customer transactions.

Some of those copies are recorded at the time the transaction occurs and others are recorded every hour, day, or week. Several of the backups use databases or application technologies, whereas others use traditional or cloud storage.

If somehow hackers gained authorizations to the storage system itself, they could possibly corrupt or erase the critical data or all the copies of that data. 

Banks should have off-site recovery plans in place like tape backups. However, those take time to get online, and might not include the most recent customer transactions since they’re kept in an offline state. So, if hackers can just as easily destroy backup data as they can original data, what can banks do to protect their customer’s data?

In order to ensure data security and survive a cyberattack that intends to erase critical data, banks should observe to the following protocols:

  1. Identify the critical data that is required for operating the business. Obviously no business critical data should be labeled as unimportant, but you should be able to identify which data is deemed absolutely necessary to keep the business afloat. That data should have multiple backups in multiple locations.
  2. What is the resiliency for each data type Ask yourself, how long will it take the business to recover if any data is destroyed? Depending on the data that is lost, it could take hours, days, or even weeks to fully recover. How much revenue would be lost in that time?
  3. Create an infrastructure that provides the level of protection your business needs.A smart data protection strategy is to regularly backup data to WORM or write-once, read-many storage devices. This guarantees that data cannot be overwritten or corrupted. Such data storage devices should be secured with credentials that are only available during non-business hours.
  4. Always confirm that the cyber-recoverability requirements are correctly executed in your infrastructure.It is imperative to confirm after each change, upgrade, update, or modification, which takes place in your IT infrastructure that the recovery requirements are still intact and understood by all stakeholders.

Understanding the Strengths and Weaknesses of Tape Backup

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Tape as a backup storage solution has played an important role in data storage industry since the 1970s. However, modern storage technology such as cloud offers a practical alternative to tape for long-term storage.

Of the multitude of tape data recovery and tape conversion cases handled each year, the question has emerged about the strengths and weaknesses of different storage formats. In this article, we will cover the strengths and weaknesses f tape storage as we know it.

Strengths of Tape Backup

  • Storage Density – Today’s tape formats offer an extremely large storage capacity in a small cartridge. LTO cartridges allow businesses an easy way to back up enterprise systems without the dedication of entire rooms to server hardware.
  • Dependability – Physical tape cartridges aren’t particularly vulnerable to physical damage or malware attacks. They can safely store data for up to 30 years without experiencing decay or corruption.
  • Low Overhead – The overall cost of tape is less in terms of electricity and administrative expenses.
  • Easy Replication – Enterprise businesses can simply make physical copies of tape backups. In fact, several formats even offer advanced encryption for greater security, improving the utility of each backup.

Weaknesses of Tape Backup

  • Lengthy Access Speeds – Tape formats do not allow for random access to data, but some formats use specialized file systems that allow for reasonably fast access to individual files.
  • High Initial Cost – New tape system installation requires a huge investment. Businesses also need to purchase new media and pay operating costs for system management.
  • Limited Scalability – Tape system scalability is limited by the capacity of the format, even though tapes take up less physical room than hard drives. System upgrades are inevitable.

Conclusion

When deciding whether data tapes are an appropriate backup option for your business, consider whether or not you need to make full system backups on a regular basis, if you can have the ability to regularly update the system, and if you require physical copies of your backup data.

ASCDI podcast

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ASCDI Podcast: Meet DTC Computer Supplies, a company dedicated to the secondary market

New to the AscdiNatd, DTC Computer Supplies is a family owned company specializing in buying and selling IT equipment that offers a deep bench of experience in the industry, and especially in data storage products. In this podcast, Norm Hutton, Wholesale Purchasing and Sales with DTC, gives us a look at the new ASCDI member. Hutton discusses how DTC offers many services including quantity discounts, same day shipping, blind and double blind drop shipments, in-house labeling and initialization, free EDP Tri-Optic barcode labels with any tape purchase and a deep inventory of products. We learn about DTC’s exclusive Phoenix Rejuvenation Process. Hutton describes DTC’s used tape and IT equipment buyback programs.

Data Center Energy Efficiency

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Due to today’s constant changes and technological advances, the amount of data being created continues to grow at a rapid rate. More data being generated, translates into more robust data storage centers. Regardless of how long you’ve been using data centers for your business growth and storage needs, there is always room for improvement.

Enhancing the energy efficiency of your data center is just another important component to ensuring longevity, success, and continual growth of your business.

More often than not, data center energy efficiency boils down to two simple things:

1)  managing the amount of power being consumed by the equipment

2) eliminating tasks and physical properties that hinder optimization

Optimize “IT”

Energy usage is probably the highest annual expense for today’s data center managers, and it will only continue to increase in the future.

When examining a data center’s energy usage, it’s usually seen as a whole building consumption, rather than individual equipment.

In spite of this, there are still valuable steps that IT authorities or data center managers should practice to make certain that their equipment constantly operates at a more energy efficient level.

Start by decreasing the amount of unnecessary power going into IT equipment by checking the workloads of all operating assets.

Ask questions like:

“Is there any older equipment that can be retired?”

“Is there old data that can be backed up elsewhere or at an off-site location?”

“Can a bulk of my data be stored via cloud?”

“Are there other operations that can be carried out remotely?”

 “Are there systems or workloads that can be combined?”

Whatever steps are taken in this manner, make sure that any efficiency checks don’t interfere with security. Data security should always be the number one priority.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Can you think of the last time someone performed a thorough equipment inspection of your data center? Has it been a while? Take a second and have a peak at how many servers are powered on, yet performing an insignificant task.

Hopefully your answer is none. An ideal data center will have all machines operating at the highest efficiency with business-critical missions. However, that’s not always the case.

If you have data center equipment that’s ready to be retired, then now is the time to look into an equipment buyback program. Let’s dispose of those old hard drives, servers, and other old equipment that’s collecting dust; while consuming energy and costing your company money.

If you’re already in the process of disposing of your retired equipment, it might be the perfect time for an upgrade. Usually as technology advances, it also reduces power consumption thus increasing data center energy efficiency.

Replacing older equipment with newer upgraded equipment can be a major difference in a data center’s energy consumption, saving your business thousands of dollars in the long run.

data center energy efficiency

Data Center Facility Inspection

Not only can older data center equipment increase operating costs, but the facilities with which the data center is located can make a difference as well. The building’s construction, along with where it’s located can play a big role in power consumption and annual costs.

Courtesy:BobLandstrom.com

Older construction buildings not only increase liabilities in the event of a disaster, but are often not a great fit for modern technology. As opposed to a newly built facility, an older data center housing will cost more to maintain consistent room temperatures and may also be subject to leaky roofs or shaky foundations.

As cloud migration and the move to more virtually-based data continues to expand, it’s very possible that the data centers of yesterday are greatly overbuilt for any modern needs.

In such a situation, it may very well be time for a total data center decommission. An entirely new building may appear unnerving at first, particularly with the upfront expenses. Nonetheless a general downsize will make certain your data center isn’t consuming more power than it needs to.

Prime Real Estate

Data center operational efficiency doesn’t always refer to just energy consumption alone. The physical location of a data center facility may also have a direct correlation to the operating costs involved.  

For example, a data center facility in New York City or Silicon Valley is going to cost significantly more than the same sized facility in Boise, Idaho. When taking location into mind, always take into consideration who your data center is serving.

Many data centers today have their facilities on the outskirts of major metropolitan cities.  If it’s not absolutely necessary for you to operate near major metropolitan areas or more expensive markets, then take advantage of the opportunity to move to a less expensive area.

Keep “IT” Cool

It’s no secret to data center managers that powering the IT equipment is only fifty percent of the equation. The other half of the problem is sourcing the power to keep the constantly running equipment cool.

Similar to all of the mission-critical equipment that’s operating 24/7/365, there is wastefulness that can be tackled to ensure cooling systems and operations aren’t consuming an unnecessary amount of power.

The simplest way for any data center to improve the efficiency of its coolers is to install economizers. The overall effectiveness of the economizers will depend on the local climate your data center facility is located in. Yet another reason to consider location.

Courtesy: energystar.gov

What is an economizer? Economizers are machines used to regulate indoor to outdoor temperatures.  According to the United States Department of Energy, an economizer could be anything from outside air refrigeration systems to a rooftop ventilation system used to cool a room. If the outside temperature is slightly cooler than inside the data center, then economizers are a great option to improve cooling efficiencies.

Additionally, take into account the current standard of air conditioning practices and equipment in your data center. Making sure the server hardware and other IT equipment remains cool enough to operate is extremely important.

Now make sure you don’t overdo it too. There are times when data centers can be kept too cool. Fortunately, most newer servers today have built-in systems to stay cool, and do not need to be kept as cool as older models. In this case, the data center’s HVAC can be occasionally turned off as temperatures are monitored more closely by the servers themselves.

Data Center Energy Efficiency

If a majority of your data center’s energy costs are directed towards cooling, then it might be time to upgrade the cooling equipment. Possibly the air conditioning unit in the entire building needs repaired or replaced.

Another great energy saver is to house any data center equipment generating too much heat using isolation structures. These complex isolation structures can guide the heat entirely out of the data center to heat other parts of the building as necessary.

Other modern cooling and venting systems can help data center manager’s improve operating efficiency and lower any consumption costs as well.

Maybe consider installing vented floor tiles to improve overall airflow, or installing chillers that will absorb and transfer heat between physical systems. Anything to help improve the general day-to-day maintenance of your data center will save money in the long run.

Courtesy: environmental leader

No two data centers are exactly alike and every situation is unique. Nevertheless, most IT managers are facing the same physical obstacles in regards to improving energy consumption and overall data center energy efficiency.

The best thing to do is start by conducting a thorough equipment inventory check and look at your current systems.  Slowly branch out from there in order to isolate and eradicate areas of deficiency.

Finally, if you find that the major efficiency improvements can only occur with an upgrade or complete face-lift to your data center, you may need a full-on data center take out

THREE REASONS TO START PLANNING YOUR IT INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADE

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IT upgrade

Microsoft will soon be ending its customer support for Windows Server 2008. What does this mean for you and your organization?

Well, the end of one era always means the beginning to another. This could be the perfect opportunity to ramp up your production, security, and improvements throughout. 

As much as we all tend to preach about the importance of staying up to date with the latest and greatest equipment in the IT industry, its easier said than done.

That fact of the matter is that more than half of all servers in operating existence are five to seven years old, and using archaic software like Microsoft Windows Server 2008.

windows server 2008
Image Courtesy of Microsoft

In recent news from the Microsoft Ignite conference, Microsoft will stop support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 effective January 14, 2020.

They also plan to terminate the support service of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on July 19, 2019. If your organization is one of the many businesses that still currently uses these systems, you could be directly affected.

The news isn’t all bad though. Microsoft’s end of service could be the inspiration your organization needs in order to implement a full IT renovation, from up-to-date software solutions to the servers that propel them forward.

Need even more motivation for a data center facelift? We’ve put together three reasons to consider, based on challenges that technology experts are facing and the direct benefits they’re receiving from a well-orchestrated server overhaul.

Image Courtesy of Device42

REASON ONE: YOU’LL BE READY FOR MORE DEMANDING WORKLOADS

Recent surveys conducted with IT professionals and industry leaders suggests that analytics and AI strategy are among their top priorities in regards to infrastructure investments. 

Even more so, enterprise IP traffic is projected to triple by 2020. With these developments, it’s no surprise there’s a growing strain within IT that warrants an updated data center to sustain it.

Let’s be real here, there’s no such thing as “business as usual” anymore. Not just in IT, but in any industry for that matter. In order to stay competitive in any market, businesses must welcome change, and embrace adaptability to stay ahead. In terms of IT, modernization is critical.

According to 71% of those surveyed, the biggest road block preventing their IT transformation is an aging infrastructure. Businesses that currently operate with legacy systems find it nearly impossible to compete. 

Their archaic data centers just weren’t built to keep up with the modern demands of a digital world.

data center upgrade
Image Courtesy ComputerWorld.com

Modernization of your organization’s infrastructure is the most efficient strategy to stay competitive for the long haul.

A well-orchestrated renovation also brings opportunities to take full advantage of recent server technologies such as effortlessly handling workloads that would otherwise bog down any legacy systems.

For instance, new equipment running Windows Server 2019 optimized for Intel Xeon Scalable processors delivers a 4X performance increase over similar systems that are five years older.

REASON TWO: YOU’LL BENEFIT FROM INCREASED SECURITY

It’s no secret that the number of security breaches and cyber-attacks on businesses continue to grow astronomically, creating an impact of almost $2.1 trillion by 2019.

An older and weaker operating system leaves you vulnerable to an overabundance of business-critical attacks. The last thing any organization needs is a list of compliance failures that could result in the end of valued relationships. 

Ensuring your system is safeguarded against ransomware and protecting customer’s proprietary information to GDPR and HIPAA standards is vital.

Having an updated IT infrastructure allows you to deploy the latest security measures for data protection and encryption.

To name a few, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Detection and Intel Trusted Execution Technology, servers are furnished with a collection of multi-layered security resources.

Modern security can be instilled deep within an organization’s infrastructure and therefore out of reach of hackers. With features such as next-gen firewalls, security with software-defined networking, and identity and access management; newer systems create a much larger obstacles in the way of attacks.

REASON THREE: YOU’LL BE READY FOR THE FUTURE

Decrease total operating costs– Organizations that modernize experience up to 69 percent less revenue losses. Maintenance expenses used to maintain aging systems, unplanned downtime, and more abundant power usage all add up.

Simplify your transition to cloud – Studies have shown that by 2020, 90 percent of businesses will have developed a cloud strategy to support mission-critical applications. Updating your IT infrastructure will ensure you don’t get left behind.

Support expanding workloads – Organizations that update their systems have the ability to speed time-to-insight from analytics and AI technologies.
Enjoy the benefits of Windows Server 2019 – the advantages of the server upgrade include improved application platforms, containerization, pervasive encryption, and more

DON’T WAIT TO START PLANNING YOUR INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADE

Despite the fact that your current legacy system may still be ultra-reliable, you’ll still want to take a proactive approach to planning a server upgrade before Windows Server 2008 support goes away. 

There is still plenty of time to both plan a serviceable upgrade strategy, and to take the steps necessary to complete it.

No matter which modernized options you wish to explore; whether it be hybrid cloud, hyperconverged infrastructures, virtualized networks, or the full capabilities of Windows Server 2019, DTC Computer Supplies can help.