Firewalls

There are two main reasons why some companies are hesitant to plug into the Internet.

  1. They know they’ll be exposing their company data to outside attacks from malicious individuals and malware.
  2. They fear their employees might get too many distractions: games, porn, chats, videos, and even social networking sites.

One vital component for your overall security strategy against such concerns? A firewall.

A firewall can block unauthorised access to certain Internet services from inside your organisation as well as prevent unauthenticated access from the outside. It is also used to monitor users’ activities while they were online.

In an enterprise setting, one may expect a collection of firewalls either for providing layered protection or segmenting off different units in the organisation. Some areas only need a standard line of defence while others require more restrictions. As such, certain firewalls may have different configurations compared to others.

Naturally, the more intricate an organisation’s defence requirements get, the more complex the task of monitoring, testing and configuring the firewalls becomes. That’s why we’re here to help.

  • We’ll evaluate your network as well as the security requirements of each department under your organisation to determine which firewall architecture is most suitable.
  • To achieve maximum efficiency, we’ll point out where each firewall should be positioned.
  • We’ll work with your key personnel to make sure all firewall configurations are set and optimised with your business rules in mind.
  • If a large number of firewalls are required, we’ll help you set up a firewall configuration management system.
  • Firewalls should be regularly tested and assessed to ensure they are in line with the organisation’s security policies. We’ll perform these routine tasks as well.

Firewalls aren’t very good at defending against sophisticated viruses. There are much better solutions for malware-related vulnerabilities, and we can help you in that regard too.

Other defences we’re capable of putting up include:

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Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS): An Overview

Energy management is crucial to most businesses in the UK. This is primarily because energy usage substantially affects all organizations, whether large or small. The good news is that, energy costs can be controlled through improved energy efficiency. And this is exactly why Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) came into being ? to promote competitiveness among businesses.

Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is the realisation of the UK Government’s ambition towards achieving the maximum potential of cost-effective energy in the economy. ESOS aims to stimulate innovation and growth, cut emissions and support a sustainable energy system.

ESOS at a Glance – Legal Perspective

The EU Energy Efficiency Directive took a major step forward on November 14, 2012 and headed towards establishing a framework to promote energy efficiency across various economic sectors. To interpret Article 8 of the Directive, the government has given birth to ESOS; requiring large enterprises to undergo mandatory energy audits and energy management systems by December 5, 2015 and at least every 4 years thereafter.

Large enterprises include UK companies that have more than 250 employees or those businesses whose annual turnover exceeds ?50 million and whose statement of financial position totals more than ?43 million. With this, over 7000 of the biggest companies in Britain will need to comply with ESOS as an approach to review their total energy use in buildings, business operations, transport and industrial processes.

Generally, ESOS is both an obligation and an opportunity. It is an obligation for the indicated target companies since they need to submit to additional regimes; focus on audit evidences; act in accordance to group structures and compliance; and observe limited penalties and note retention periods. Moreover, it is also an opportunity for companies to strive for more savings on energy projects; attempt to standardise their potential market; and effectively lower debt and legal costs.

ESOS Audits ? Looking Beyond

According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), average first audit costs would be estimated at about ?17,000 and subsequent ones at around ?10,000. As expected, these audits will result in energy saving recommendations, of which companies need not proceed for a follow up; and substantially improve businesses in their energy management issues. DECC further states that every business that complies with ESOS could save an average of ?56,400 each year from an initial investment of ?17,000 only.

Currently, up to 6,000 UK businesses are already subject to existing CRC Carbon Reduction Scheme, Mandatory Carbon Reporting, Climate Change Levy and other compliance. This signifies that ESOS may overlap with prevailing energy efficiency legislation and may put additional pressure on energy administration. While this is true, however, ESOS holds extensive benefits. Although the scheme can be viewed as another costly compliance to environmental standards, ESOS goes straight to the bottom line and provides the organisation with competitive advantage. If large businesses act now and comply with it, they will be able to enjoy maximised payback in the long run.

Indeed, Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme is already here. It is mandatory with minimal investment. And all you have to do is act quickly, implement new improvements and earn more.

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Virtualisation

Using an IT solution that can provide the fastest (but still reliable) disaster recovery process is essential for the success of any business continuity plan. Although virtualisation is still considered leading edge technology by many business continuity specialists, it definitely brings a promise that, once fulfilled, can result in the cheapest, fastest, and most comprehensive solution for business continuity.

One great advantage of virtualisation over traditional BC (Business Continuity) methods is the relatively cheaper cost needed to achieve a certain level of business continuity assurance. Thus, more companies will find it easier to reach their required minimum for BC assurance. By contrast, some BCPs (Business Continuity Plan) based on a physical environment require companies to invest more than what they are willing to in order to reach the same minimum level of assurance.

Virtual machines, which can already encapsulate your operating systems and their corresponding applications, can be transported as a file from one machine running a compatible hypervisor to another. This makes the business continuity tasks of backup, replication, and restoration simpler and faster.

As of 2008, about 54% of IT professionals in Europe were willing to implement virtualisation within a maximum of two years. Furthermore, the expected compound annual growth rate of installed virtualised servers from 2008 to 2012 is already pegged at 33%.

If you want your organisation to take advantage of the benefits of this revolutionary technology, we’d be more than willing to help you discover what it can do for you. Then once you decide to make that transition to virtualisation, we can guide you every step of the way.

  • As not all applications are suited for virtualisation (e.g. some are too demanding on I/O and memory access), we’ll start by reviewing your entire IT system to see which portions can be implemented on a virtualized environment.
  • Using virtualisation and replication, we can conduct disaster recovery tests using up-to-date data without interrupting operations in your main IT site. Running these tests will increase your team’s preparedness and will allow you to discover possible weak points.
  • Provide a simple but comprehensive protection and backup system that encapsulates not only data, but also system configurations and application installations. This kind of setup allows for faster and easier disaster recovery operations. Because of these same characteristics, you can enjoy zero downtime while performing scheduled maintenance operations.
  • Since virtual machines are hardware-independent and transparent to operating systems, we can help you run a mix of legacy and new systems as well as open source and proprietary systems, allowing for more flexibility in your BCP budgeting.

We can also assist you with the following:

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Disadvantages of Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are flexible, inexpensive and easy to use. They are especially handy when it comes to beating report submission deadlines or making impromptu data computations. That’s why office workers, managers and even executives have made spreadsheets their go-to solution for such undertakings and more.

Spreadsheets have become so ubiquitous, that they’ve found their way into a wide range of applications including complex modelling, accounting reconciliations, market data analysis, work flow tracking and monitoring, analytical review and financial reporting.

Unfortunately, organisations heavy reliance on spreadsheets have made these User Developed Applications (UDA) into high-risk office tools. Simple spreadsheet errors like leaving out a negative sign or a cut-and-paste mistake have already caused million-dollar discrepancies. Also, when a fraudulent employee enters into the picture, the risks become unimaginable.

Think TransAlta?s spreadsheet cut-and-paste glitch (the company later called this a ?simple clerical error?) which caused the energy firm a whopping $24 million loss or Fidelity?s overstatement of its earnings owing to the omission of the minus sign on the spreadsheet of a $1.3 billion net capital loss.

In both cases and in many other similar spreadsheet fiasco, the errors played a major role in the organisation’s decision-making, leading to disastrous results including, but not limited to financial loss, shattered investor confidence and public embarrassment.

If these are scenarios your organisation can ill afford, then it’s time to ask yourself: Do the disadvantages of spreadsheets far outweigh their benefits to merit a call for total liberation from them?

More Spreadsheet Blogs


Spreadsheet Risks in Banks


Top 10 Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets – obstacles to compliance in the Healthcare Industry


How Internal Auditors can win the War against Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in your company in an age of Business Intelligence


Still looking for a Way to Consolidate Excel Spreadsheets?


Disadvantages of Spreadsheets


Spreadsheet woes – ill equipped for an Agile Business Environment


Spreadsheet Fraud


Spreadsheet Woes – Limited features for easy adoption of a control framework


Spreadsheet woes – Burden in SOX Compliance and other Regulations


Spreadsheet Risk Issues


Server Application Solutions – Don’t let Spreadsheets hold your Business back


Why Spreadsheets can send the pillars of Solvency II crashing down

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