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Risky Business

If you use your smartphone for both business and personal purposes, you may be putting your business at risk, a new study suggests. The problem is caused by complacency among users of mobile devices when it comes to security.

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This lackadaisical approach presents significant business risk because 84 percent of smartphone users conduct business and personal affairs using the same device. The crossover of business and personal usages means much more sensitive and confidential data is at risk and suggests that users keep their smartphones with them most of the time, the study showed.

The study, sponsored by security software firm AVG Technologies, revealed an alarming indifference to the many serious security risks associated with the storage and transmission of sensitive data on iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices.

Nearly nine out of ten of respondents were unaware that smartphone applications can transmit confidential payment information such as credit card details without the user’s knowledge or consent.

And 91 percent of respondents were unaware that financial applications for smartphones can be infected with specialized malware designed to steal credit card numbers and online banking credentials. Yet nearly one-third reported storing credit card and debit card information on their devices and 35 percent reported storing confidential work-related documents as well.

More than half of respondents didn’t know that failing to properly log off from a social network app could allow an imposter to post malicious details or change personal settings without their knowledge. Of those aware, 37 percent were unsure if their profiles had already been manipulated.

And nearly one-third of respondents was unaware that using one smartphone for both business and personal reasons can put business information at risk.

“The findings of this study signal what could be an overlooked security risk for organizations created by employees’ use of smartphones,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, found of Ponemon Institute, which conducted the survey on behalf of AVG. “Organizations should make sure their security policies include guidance for the appropriate use of smartphones that are used for company purposes.”

This story was provided by BusinessNewsDaily, sister site to IT TechNewsDaily.

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Going to the Cloud: How One Company Sees the Future

Small and medium-sized IT departments face unique challenges when it comes to deploying cost-effective information technology solutions, and seamlessly integrating those systems across the enterprise. Their budgets, teams and executive support are often limited. These challenges prompted the founders of RunMyProcess to create a cloud-based platform to help deliver IT projects in a timely, cost-effective way, and help them level the playing field with larger competitors.

RunMyProcess founders Matthieu Hug, Eric Mahe and Alexandre Lachmann began as colleagues at IT consulting firm CapGemini. There, the trio saw first-hand how costly and time-consuming it can be for smaller companies to implement even foundational IT solutions. This pushed them to create a company that provided options to help organizations build affordable applications that could be implemented in a timely manner, and easily integrated within existing solutions.

RunMyProcess was established in Paris in 2007. By 2009, the team launched its cloud-based platform that allows users to design, run and manage business processes. The platform is based on business process management concepts that provide structured workflows.

Because the service is delivered in the cloud, users are not hindered by hardware, software or coding.

“We created a way for organizations to use cloud computing to create applications based on workflow,” said Stephanie Kidder, RunMyProcess’ director of global marketing.

Within two years, the technology provider has further boosted the functionality of its platform. This includes the addition of 1,200 connectors to its infrastructure that links users to other software-as-a-service apps. The result is companies now have an easy way to create integrated applications using an on-demand business model.

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“We have competitors that also feature integrated applications, but since our solution is based on process management and workflow, we are able to instantly integrate applications within the enterprise,” Kidder said.

RunMyProcess offers a 30-day trial that allows users to follow three steps to test the platform and build apps. First, users are guided through the design interface where they build apps directly through the Web browser user interface. Next, the workflow and graphic environment teaches users how the business process management and workflow sequences transfer data between processes. The final interface allows them to integrate the apps with others on a test basis.

“Most projects are launched within two or three weeks, saving companies thousands of hours each year in development and deployment time,” said Kidder.

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3 IT Experts on How to Get Your Company To Respect Your Department

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If you’re like most CIOs, you want to help the business succeed while increasing the credibility of IT—often easier said than done.

But there are things you can do to make the business stand up and take notice of what you’re trying to accomplish.

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IT TechNewsDaily asked three IT managers to tell us how they get their companies to pay attention and have a little respect for the often-underappreciated-and-underfunded IT team.

Outlining the future

Mitch Davis, CIO of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, says his efforts start with a five-year plan that anticipates IT costs and spending.

“They’re thinking about the business and what the business needs to do and they have all these other contributing factors,” he said. “But as long as they can factor in the cost of a new data center or a software upgrade or something like that they when they think of budget, they won’t be surprised when $2-million comes in because you have to be IPV6-compliant. It’s a very brief overview of what’s going to happen over the next five years. I try to put a number to everything and then I distribute it widely.”

Davis has also created an advisory board of faculty and students to discuss IT needs and motivate the executives to get things done.

“The board is very interested and engaged and when something becomes an agenda item for them, they make it an issue and that brings it more to the forefront than you could yourself,” he said.

Additionally, when Davis notices that something in a particular department needs to be upgraded he goes out and talks to the community before he even applies for funding.

“I get buy-in and I get enough people to say, ‘we really like it’ and it validates for the business that you really do need it,” he said.

Then there are times when Davis just goes to the executives and says, “Trust me. I need a check for this amount of money. Trust me it’s going to mean something to us in a year … as long as you’ve done a good job in the past, they’ll do it.”

For Davis, it comes down: If everything you’ve done comes in on time and under budget, does what it’s supposed to do, doesn’t cost any more money—Davis also tries to keep maintenance costs down—then when you go to the CEO and the finance people and say “trust me” they will, with a little convincing.

“You’ve earned the credibility to sit at the table and say ‘trust me it’s going to make a big deal in a year but we need to do it now because it’s going to hit and rather than being caught by a tsumani, we’ll be set,'” he said.

Davis said you have to be a strong advocate but you also have to be sure that you pay attention to the client’s needs, which means creating an environment that’s change-positive.

“So think of an organization like Microsoft—when it releases a new operating system, not that many people line up in stores to buy it,” he said. “But Apple can produce a broken phone and people line up for miles to get it.”

So you want to be more like Apple and less like Microsoft, he said. You want people to look forward to what you’re delivering rather than be resistant to it, and that creates an organization that wants to move forward rather than look back. The business will trust in what you’re doing and that way when you come up with an idea , everybody is looking at it in a positive way rather than a negative way, Davis said. And there will be very little resistance in the organization.

“They’re thinking postitive and they think they’re part of the project and they try to make it work for them,” he said. “And that makes an organization more agile.”

Davis said if you want to get things to change for the better, it’s important to show your business counterparts the inefficiency of your current business processes.

“For example, I wanted to do a cloud-based HR system so I did a videotape of the way we went about hiring someone and paying them,” he said.

Davis said he talked to all the employees about their roles and jobs, then his staff made an eight-minute video about the HR process to show to the president and the trustees.

“The president lasted about three minutes and said OK and the trustees lasted about five minutes and said OK,” he said. “They couldn’t believe things were done that way and I told them there were a lot of processes like that. So document the business procesess for the finance department then show them how to streamline things and that will get you buy-in for that new software system you want.”

Stay ahead of the rest of the team

Nilesh Chandra, principal consultant at PA Consulting Group, a management-and-IT consulting and technology firm, said there are basically two things CIOs should be doing. One is to get in front and center of the business strategy.

“By that I mean not just understand what the business strategy is and understand elements of it, but also proactively come up with technology solutions to support it, and to help make the business strategy a reality,” he said. “If you explain to the business that you are helping to address their needs, which are A, B, C, then it makes so much more sense.”

The second thing is to avoid the IT tendency for getting caught up in technology and jargon, and instead focus on business value, Chandra said.

“An example could be, we need to replace a legacy system. Instead of saying, ‘We have dated systems that need to be replaced’ because no CEO would see the economic rationale right away, you should say, ‘Our business is growing, we are not able to meet future needs without replacing our systems.’ Or you could say, ‘Performance is slow, and users can feel it.’ Couch everything from a business user’s prospective, rather than the technology.”

Those are the two main things CIOs can do to make sure the business listens to them, he said.

“It also enables a partnership between technology and the business,” Chandra said. “So IT is perceived not just as a provider of the service, but as a technology partner to help address whatever challenges the business is facing.”

Speak the language

Marc Schiller, an IT strategist and management consultant as well as the author of “The 11 Secrets of Highly Influential IT Leaders,” agreed that IT leaders can make the journey from the basement to the boardroom by speaking in language and terms that are meaningful to the people they are trying to influence. To the business person, technical and functional justifications are often meaningless.

So that means telling the business users what’s in it for them—in language that speaks to them. But to do that you first have to gather information from the angle of what’s in it for those business users, Schiller said.

The lesson: You have to avoid your natural tendency to communicate in technical and functional terms. As Schiller said, it’s your job to translate your professional knowledge and insights into terms that speak to the business.

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