By Leon Gettler >>

ONE OF the biggest issues facing Zoom is ‘Zoombombing’. That’s when uninvited intruders break into and disrupt the meeting.

They jump into public Zoom calls and use the platform’s screen-sharing feature to project graphic content to unwitting conference participants, forcing hosts to shut down their events. Zoombombers often hurl racial slurs or profanity, or share pornography and other offensive imagery, or try to add malware to Zoom users’ computers.

Zoombombing has become a huge security and privacy issue as use of the Zoom platform surges due to an increase in coronavirus-related remote working.

Chuck White, the chief technology officer for Fornetix, the advanced encryption key management company based in Maryland USA, said it come down to digital hygiene, cyber defence and making sure the door is locked to unwanted attendees. 

He concedes a lot of it is new to people using Zoom. As he sees it, they have a lot to learn.

“That’s one area where people who aren’t used to running web conferences … you have lot of people online who are not used to operating this way and I think some of it is a lack of experience,” Mr White told Talking Business.

“You used to keep your front door unlocked. So from a Zoombombing perspective, there are drives of people coming online using Zoom to collaborate and not taking appropriate steps to lock the door.

“A lot of it is a community who would not think a tool like Zoom could be abused this way.”

LOCK THAT ZOOM DOOR

Mr White said Zoom users should take a number of steps to ensure the door remains locked.

First and foremost is to make meeting private. He cited one example of people taking about the Zoom conference coming up and even putting a link.

Facebook is not the most private platform in the world. The same applies for those who put details about the Zoom meeting on a website.

Other security steps are to schedule the meeting and to invite attendees with email. The meeting should also have a password.

If a Zoombomber does enter the meeting, it is important to limit screen sharing and use of video.

Another good idea is to have someone monitoring the meeting to make sure everything is going to plan and who can remove the intruder. If all else fails, shut down the meeting.

UNDERSTAND CYBER DEFENCE

The issue is whether employees on remote teams understand cyber defence when they are not trained to use it.

“When it comes to someone who doesn’t work in this day in and day out, you’d want to teach them three to four things: keep it private, have a chaperone, kick people out and if you lose control, kill the meeting,” Mr White said.

As a former army officer, he said it is always a case of keeping it “infantry proof” and these are exactly the instructions handed down to his team at Fornetix,

“That cyber hygiene is critical because attackers will take advantage of people making mistakes,” Mr White said.

“If you can train for that appropriate posture where it becomes second nature, freedom through discipline, to prevent these things from happening, you’re going to make it much more difficult for an attacker to take advantage of a populace that’s vulnerable.”

www.fornetix.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

 

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ENTERPRISE cloud computing group Nutanix has  announced a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) service to help promote remote work adoption among Australian and New Zealand organisations.

Nutanix FastTrack for VDI brings together Nutanix HCI and software with selected partners to accelerate and optimise a full VDI service in just a few weeks.

Building VDI environments to effectively maintain core business and technical operations usually takes up to a few months but Nutanix FastTrack for VDI can reduce that to a matter of weeks. 

The announcement comes as research shows 77 percent of Austalian and New Zealand (ANZ) workers are currently working from home, with a third reporting they feel less productive since they started. As the nations’ businesses continue to battle the impact of COVID-19, many are struggling to enable their workforces to operate and function remotely while still maintaining access to the same tools and applications they require to be productive and efficient.

For companies that have adopted remote working, one of the biggest challenges stems from their existing IT infrastructure: which has often been found unable to maintain operations during the  unanticipated demand surges.

"Nutanix is making every effort to help ensure that ANZ enterprises have quick and easy access to the right solutions and technology to keep their staff engaged, efficient and productive,” Nutanix ANZ managing director Lee Thompson said.

Nutanix FastTrack for VDI helps to address these challenges while supporting local businesses to continue their DX journey in these times of uncertainty. It allows remote access to critical business applications, even via BYOD devices, and strict security policies can be implemented and managed through its simple management console. 

The performance and speed of Nutanix VDI solutions is also well documented: it has a large, existing customer base and its influence continues to expand as a wide range of industry sectors, educational institutions and local governments rapidly embrace its technologies.

“As businesses look towards enabling a more permanent work from anywhere model, Nutanix will be there to help accelerate and smooth their journey to the cloud," Mr Thompson said.

"FastTrack for VDI’ is designed to support companies rapidly deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution."

Mr Thompson said Nutanix FastTrack for VDI allows organisations to reduce the time required to onboard thousands of remote employees. He said the offer includes services to set up and provision of desktops in under five business days for predefined Nutanix configurations.

This will help enterprises provide secure access with minimal interruptions to business apps and desktops employees want while maintaining the security and control businesses need.

Mr Thompson said customers would be able to leverage existing hardware, select predefined Nutanix hardware or leverage managed cloud infrastructure from managed service provider (MSP) partners such as CompNow.

"The simplicity and flexibility of the Nutanix infrastructure makes deployment easier, enabling the company to expedite delivery service," he said.

www.nutanix.com

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By Robert Linsdell >>

BUSINESS continuity planning (BCP) has long been desired and touted by IT vendors promising to keep businesses running when disaster strikes.

This is a process of creating a system of prevention and recovery against potential threats to a company. These threats can include natural or man-made disasters, health crises, terror attacks, or any other types of disruption that can adversely affect industries and businesses.

A pandemic is certainly a threat that is putting those promises to the test. Businesses are racing to get staff online and working remotely as government and travel restrictions intensify. 

Some will undoubtedly fail to achieve continuity at great cost to their business, impacting future decisions around IT. Others will thrive, weathering the storm and maintaining business operations while preparing for what may come next.

 

HOW CONNECTIVITY NOW FITS IN

With the completion of the National Broadband Network (NBN), the Australian Government anticipated that up to 12 percent of all public servants would be regularly working from home. Yet, 2020 has brought a whole new meaning to remote working.

We are now all too familiar with the current business-level effects of major disruption across the globe. Most organisations have at least partially activated their respective business continuity plans.

Though working outside of the office is not a new concept, for IT managers and data centre operators, it can be a challenge when an entire company requires remote access, particularly when managing multiple edge sites or branch locations.

This time in history will not just be remembered as arguably the most significant event of a generation, but also one of the most dramatic shifts in the IT industry as both public servants and private sector employees adjust to an indefinite future of teleworking.

Some might question why companies aren’t ready to scale up to meet the demand, but many businesses will have understandably found it prudent to not overinvest in the level of infrastructure needed for such an extreme and unpredictable event.

While it varies depending on the company and industry, organisations might account for 20 percent of staff to be online at any given time, not 80 percent or more. While there has historically been a certain threshold, it has likely now changed.

For IT managers, data centre continuity is now a vital priority in the event of any disruption. Any minute of downtime in a data centre can cost businesses thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.

 

THE HUMAN ELEMENT

While IT departments are learning to ace the 'how and where' for BCP, human resource departments and business leaders need to ensure the 'who' isn’t overlooked.

Firms need to make provisions for adequate education and ensure communication resources are available to staff members concerning remote working inertia.

Employees who are typically high-performing workers may experience productivity and performance decline when beginning to work remotely due to absence of preparation and training. With the reduced access to on-demand managerial support and communication, companies need to ensure employees are well equipped to manage the change in operational behaviour.

Considering that overall stress levels are high with health concerns and so much uncertainty, it’s also important that tech and people managers collaborate to take care of their own well-being, ensuring continued contribution to the business.


LOOKING FORWARD

The BCP process doesn’t mean planning only for major disasters or a zombie apocalypse. It also should include plans for smaller, disruptive events that can be as damaging and are far more likely to occur, such as plumbing leakage or a utility power outage.

As part of BCP, provisioning for highly reliable local, remote, and out-of-band access to IT systems reduces the need for on-site operators, ensuring the safety of your personnel. This capability to manage critical infrastructure assets also goes a long way toward ensuring continuity of business operations.

We will soon uncover radical changes in the long-term relationship between digital workers and firms. And once the dust has settled, the world will be confronted with a more informed workforce better equipped for remote working, who may not want to return to pre-pandemic working models.

Robert Linsdell is managing director Australia and New Zealand for Vertiv

www.vertiv.com

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By Neville Vincent >>

AUSTRALIAN businesses have been battered, bruised and besieged over recent months as a series of biological, natural, and social disturbances have taken their toll on the APAC region.

Domestically, the devastating countrywide bushfires, followed immediately by torrential rains and floods left the country and the population ravaged. But this has quickly been overshadowed by the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 outbreak as businesses brace for more disruption. 

The back-to-back disruption meant there has been no respite for beleaguered Australian businesses and the impact on staff, especially their inability to navigate hostile environments to get to work, has meant significant workplace challenges for their employers.

As a result, managing and maintaining productivity when staff are unable to get to the office has suddenly become a high priority for the country’s businesses.

ECONOMIC AND EMOTIONAL IMPACT

There is no hiding the scale of recent events. For Australia, the economic impact of the bushfires alone is already around $100 billion.

However, this figure excludes 'intangible' costs: the effect on the working population of injury and reduced lifespan due to smoke-related illness, damage to species and habitats, and the loss of livestock food supplies, and national and local parks.

It also omits the impact and ability (mental and physical) of the workforce to simply attend, or engage in work.

The much-welcomed rains that followed may have helped extinguish the fires, but the resulting flooding shocked the state, leaving thousands without power, roadways blocked and dozens of schools closed.

Once again, the conditions caused physical disruption and commuter chaos, with many unable to make it into the workplace.

MANAGING THE 'NEW NORM'

The back-to-back fires and floods and now the ongoing coronavirus outbreak are leading many businesses to accept a new norm – how to keep your business running with employees who are regularly, physically unable to make it to the office yet still required to be 'present' and productive?

An initial, and now second stimulus package have already been confirmed by the Federal Government, but it won’t solve the problem unless companies and staff can adapt to working remotely.

So, how can staff who have never done this maximise productivity while working in isolation at home or in some other safe environment?

The answer is technology, and it is playing a pivotal role in assisting Australian businesses transition and overcome the recent disruption and its effect on the region. The adoption of public, private and hybrid cloud services has meant that the access to, and availability of, critical data has been maintained.

At the same time, the transition from hardware-based to software-defined infrastructure has meant that physical access to datacentres is no longer required and central operations can be handled remotely or by a skeleton staff. And so, the heart of many organisations has continued pumping.

Thus, inundated businesses and isolated workers are rushing cloud services like VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) and DaaS (desktop-as-a-service).

CLOUDING THE ISSUE

VDI is a cloud-hosted desktop normally located in an on-site datacentre and operated and maintained by in-house IT personnel.

DaaS, on the other hand, is a fully outsourced system providing a virtual desktop. It neither relies on, nor consumes, any internal hardware. It provides the same flexibility, safety, security and access as VDI – but it is fully handled by a third party and hosted on their cloud.

VDI and DaaS are helping to keep Australian businesses running by providing virtual workspaces for teams, customers, or partners, and can usually be up and running in under an hour.

Isolated staff can then have safe and secure access to any application simply from their home web browser, with no software download or upgrade required. It’s almost as simple as point and click.

The user simplicity of these services, inspired by the consumerisation of technology available in smart phones for example, makes it simple for any staff member to use and continue to fulfil their roles from home or elsewhere.

However, the true benefit for the enterprise is that it provides mobility and flexibility for personnel without compromising business security, productivity or performance. It lets staff work from anywhere, on any device with secure and complete access to their work computer, files and network.

If disruption and mobility restrictions are set to continue, the sooner we embrace the modern tools required to keep our staff safe and productive, our businesses resilient, and our economies protected, the better we will be at mitigating future risks in turbulent times.

www.nutanix.com

 

Neville Vincent is the South Asia Pacific vice president for enterprise cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure company Nutanix.

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By Luke McGoldrick >>

WHEN the open source movement began, there was plenty of scepticism about its viability both as a business model and a means for delivering valuable digital projects.

This stand-offish approach is understandable, particularly when we consider it in the wider field of technology.

New highly disruptive forces such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) bring varying degrees of concern, not just in terms of business viability, but deeper societal changes that might not be easily reversed.

Open source has encountered its share of challenges, but its success both in terms of the applications it can deliver and as a successful business model has proven its worth.

Outback Joe, a mannequin representing a bushwalker lost and in need of water has been a representative for open source development in Australia.

Every two years, teams from all over the world compete in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) challenge, a drone competition largely built on open source software developed in Australia to rescue Outback Joe from his woes. That software is now installed in the UAVs of leading manufacturers and keeps millions of drones up in the air worldwide. 

Across the ditch, open source technology is being used to help low-income homeowners in New Zealand understand their entitlements and apply for a rates rebate, reducing costs and complexity for people and councils in what had been a painstaking process.

Still, despite the applications and benefits we can attribute to open source, there are challenges and many people and businesses in Australia are hesitant, or even unclear, of how to get involved in the movement.

CHALLENGE OF MAINTENANCE

Open source projects require a lot of maintenance to become truly successful. This can leave projects in the hands of one or two coders maintaining a huge base of code.

Given coders are often across at least a few projects at once, with no guarantee of assistance, the gaps can form and projects can be left in limbo before any real value is gained.

While this can be a challenge, it’s easily alleviated by tapping the right community around projects.

Open lines of communication, the feeling of moving towards a common goal and everyone rolling up their sleeves can create the right environment for success and take the burden away from a small number of people.

This isn’t unlike any organisational or community-driven goal; buy-in and cooperation are essential.

SECURITY

The nature of open source and making code available to anyone can be a natural cause of concern. Some tend to view it as an honour system, inherently dependent on the honesty of all involved to ensure the project is not exploited.

However, this can also be an advantage – anyone in the community can track and flag potential exploits to project managers and get them fixed before they become real issues. Again, that community engagement is a major factor here, along with quality code and quick response to any issues that arise.

Some organisations are even launching open source projects or proof-of-concepts (POCs) built on blockchain technology to further enhance security and accountability.

GETTING STARTED

People sometimes find challenges in where to actually start when it comes to an open source project. Fortunately, this is becoming less of an issue as new projects, communities and events spring up.

Those in pursuit will be better served by application programming interface (API)-first projects, an increasing trend in the world of open source.

APIs are valuable because they easily allow programs and platforms to communicate with each other. They can make it easier to solve complexity stemming from managing multiple applications across different environments.

APIs can also enable increased personalisation of the solutions developed. Projects are based on a variety of different coding languages so you can go with what you know and build your skills further.

Many even accept non-coding submissions. The combination of APIs and increased automation mean more people with varying – and not necessarily highly technical – skills can make a valuable contribution to a project.

One of the easiest ways to get started is to visit a project’s repo (repository) on open source development platforms such as GitHub.

You can see the issues tab as well as bug reports and enhancement requests. Some are even labelled for ‘first-timers’ to help them test the waters.

Some people commencing their maiden voyage into the world of open source are bold and brave enough to even launch their own project.

This, of course, means areas such as code of conduct and licensing fall to you, but the reward and freedom to build and create are well worth it.

www.rubrik.com

 

Luke McGoldrick is country manager, Australia and New Zealand, for multi-cloud data control company Rubrik.

WHAT does the upcoming 5G telecommunications network really offer Australian business that is not available already? The answer is, a surprising amount according to new research by Samsung Electronics Australia, in partnership with Tech Research Asia (TRA).

The Samsung-TRA report and whitepaper, 5G for Business in Australia, spells out how the advent of 5G networks, devices and services can support the goals of Australian businesses.

According to Danny Mandrides, the head of Enterprise and Government, IT and Mobile for Samsung Electronics Australia, the report also explores perceptions, awareness and levels of understanding that Australian businesses hold in relation to the availability and advent of 5G mobile technology.

“There is no doubt that 5G is both a trigger and an engine that will transform the way Australians live and work, but also how businesses operate in an increasingly mobile driven economy,” Mr Mandrides said.. “Now more than ever before Australian businesses are telling us that they demand the bandwidth, stability, and opportunities that 5G will bring. 

“At Samsung, we want to help ensure our customers and partners develop the best possible approach to adopting the latest in network and device services and this includes building our respective understanding for how innovations in 5G can help break barriers and solve real challenges for Australian organisations,” Mr Mandrides said.

5G for Business in Australia’s research methodology delved into the views of more than 800 technology decision makers from a cross-section of industries to help shape a view of how businesses are considering the implications of 5G and their readiness to adopt.

The report revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of businesses in Australia intend to adopt 5G services for business in the coming 18 months, with almost 80 percent of Australian businesses set to adopt 5G related mobility services within the next three years. These findings set the tone for the potential roadmap of adoption of 5G by Australian businesses.

RESPONDING TO CONCERNS

The report also explores the potential concerns and barriers that organisations are considering in relation to 5G, as well as the perceived benefits of the greater 5G connectivity, network availability, and device capability that it will offer workforces.

Key findings have also revealed a keen interest in the potential applications of 5G mobile devices, as well as Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).

About 37 percent of Australian businesses are taking a ‘considered’ approach to 5G adoption, while 24 percent are being either ‘aggressive’ (at 12%) or ‘opportunistic’ (at 12%) in terms of rapid or early adoption of 5G respectively.

About 18 percent of participants said that their adoption plans would be ‘gradual’ and in line with network deployments while 16 percent stated that they have no specific strategy until 5G is ‘ubiquitous’.

Just 4 percent of respondents classified their approach to 5G as in a ‘deliberation’ stage where they are needing to determine the actual benefits and availability of 5G. 

TRA founder and director Tim Dillon said, “Australian businesses are at the global forefront in terms of their position to be leaders in exploring new territories and capabilities associated with 5G powered products and services.

“We will see rapid change in the coming years for how people bolster their business operations and strategy with 5G powered services.

““There is naturally a degree of intrigue, interest, excitement, and keenness from businesses to understand how they should be thinking about what the future may bring, which is why it’s critical they build their understanding of 5G and develop a plan that can be actioned to deliver solid outcomes and avoid potential pitfalls or redundant investments,” Mr Dillon said.

MORE THAN SPEED

Australian businesses recognised that the benefit of 5G extends beyond speed, including other major capabilities such as edge computing, multi-device connectivity, low network latency and network slicing.

Organisations see 5G enhancing their current and future operations in areas including customer engagement, data access and management, supporting cloud services consumption and facilitation of intelligent workplaces.

“It’s incredibly important for Samsung to ensure that we understand the needs of Australian business and where our 5G enabled products, solutions, and partnerships can provide value and enrich their operations in next stage of our mobile economy,” Samsung’s Mr Mandrides said.

5G for Business in Australia includes a 5G readiness checklist designed to help businesses better understand the key factors involved in making decisions related to the next stage in network connectivity. 

The checklist considers the role and impact of devices, network deployment, existing and planned digital strategies, workplace environments, compliance and other key elements that businesses may wish to take into account. The report also highlighted key points for businesses to focus upon, leading up to 5G adoption: 

NEED FOR 5G RECOGNISED

About 68 percent of Australian businesses feel that their operations are constrained by current network performance, and 60 percent of businesses feel there is a need for 5G services to meet business needs above current 4G connectivity.

While early 5G solutions implemented by businesses will focus on bandwidth-centric approaches, the report has indicated that they will seek to quickly develop and integrate higher value-added solutions such as slicing and edge computing.

These solutions present the opportunity to implement IoT, AI-supported decision-making tools, predictive analytics and real-time data.

Despite the strong rates of expected adoption, the report identified that 1 in 2 (50%) of Australian businesses feel they require additional information to understand exactly why 5G is a better solution than current 4G. Businesses are also anticipating some challenges during the adoption of 5G services, specifically around pricing, device availability and network coverage.

In addition to research and insights, Samsung has announced that it is already collaborating with a number of Australian organisations in relation to trial mobility programs that involve 5G.

Samsung has found that 5G is already impacting Australian businesses, through its collaborative work with many organisations, and offered several examples in the report:

Improved customer service and engagement in the consumer banking sector: A major Australian bank is trialling 5G branch connectivity linked to smartphones and Samsung’s DeX solution, ensuring seamless connectivity and information access for its mobile customer service and banking employees.

Data management, information access, health and safety/asset protection for government and emergency services: An Australian AI company that has created 5G connected drones to undertake aerial surveillance of areas under bush fire threat equipped with AI to identify issues and assets on the ground in real-time to assist emergency service and fire crews.

Intelligent workstyles, costs reductions and efficiencies in the manufacturing sector: A production site connecting multiple device sensors combined with AI analytics to a smart device dashboard app that provides real-time information on manufacturing performance and quality to reduce defects and materials costs.

GETTING 5G-READY

According to the report, every organisation is different and will take a unique approach to adoption.

The 5G for Business in Australia report advises businesses to consider several factors to inform its approach to the adoption of 5G technology.

Businesses should:

  • Understand network deployment and handset availability
  • Determine unique device needs
  • Understand the service provider’s 5G strategy
  • Consider how 5G compliments the company’s overall digital strategy
  • Determine all possible business cases
  • Understand how future data needs may change

 

About the 5G for Business in Australia report

Tech Research Asia surveyed 813 IT and line-of-business decision-makers in Australian organisations in May 2019. To develop this report, TRA also interviewed CXO-level representatives from 25 Australian and international organisations to understand their view of 5G, goals, business focus and activities.

www.samsung.com

http://news.samsung.com

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By Leon Gettler >>

THE Australian Government needs to do more to deal with cybercrime, according to a security expert.

Daniel Lai, the CEO of cybersecurity firm archTIS, which has secured endorsement from the Digital Transformation Agency for its Kojensi Gov offering – which provides security for government networks – said Australia lost a minister responsible for cyber security in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent reshuffle. 

Under former PM Malcolm Turnbull, there had been a dedicated focus on cyber security strategy.

“The concern is, is it an indication they are taking it less seriously?” Mr Lai told Talking Business.

On the other hand, the government’s announcement of additional funding for cyber security would indicate this was not the case, he said, and frontline news stories about the hack on the Australian National University and companies like Canva, show this issue was not going away.

FUNDING MISFIRE?

Mr Lai said the government’s allocation of $570 million for the Australian Federal Police and ASIO did not actually address the entire problem.

“That’s great for them to be able to respond in terms of an intelligence program and the Australian hi-tech crime commission, but it really doesn’t address the security of the agencies outside of those two agencies,” Mr Lai said.

He said it needed to be broader and more holistic, taking into account that businesses needed it.

“So $570 million when you’ve got $1 billion annually of cyber breaches that affect the economy is nothing,’’ Mr Lai said.

He said a recent report by Gartner, the largest strategic company in the tech sector, put out a report showing that, for the first time, people were rating security higher than convenience. 

He said there was growing concern from industry and governments to tackle the problem of not only state actors but organised crime.

He said the hackers always seemed to be one step ahead of the government.

“When I was the director of IT security in customs, one of the things that was clearly apparent was that organised crime don’t get allocated budgets, or efficiency dividends,” Mr Lai said.

“So when you’re dealing with a competitor that has unlimited resources to make unlimited profit, you’re already behind the eight-ball when you’re in government and you’re set strict budgets with efficiency dividends.”

He said while the government generally realised it was a problem, politicians were yet to confront it with a special program that agencies and industry could call on to upgrade their security practices.

“Most cyber security budgets for agencies come out of their general budget and they come under that pressure,’’ Mr Lai said.

He said this needed some “out of the box thinking” to address the issue. It meant developing a plan and a strategy to build the industry and expertise to combat the problem.

“We’re never going to have the resources that organised crime or, for that matter, state actors are going to throw at attacking our critical national infrastructure and getting data,” Mr Lai said.

www.archtis.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

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