IT Security and the Threats from Within

When the economy makes a downturn, companies, then eventually, employees suffer. Now, I’m sure you’re wary of frustrated laid-off employees stealing valuable data. Who knows? That information might end up in the hands of your competitors. Then as if that threat weren’t enough, there may be jobless IT specialists who turn to rogue activities either to earn a quick buck or simply out of lack of anything productive to do.

That’s not all, as we’ve got more news for you. When we think of IT Security, what instantly comes to mind are hackers and acts laced with mal-intent. However, a recent worldwide survey on IT security showed organisations were more inclined to expect data leakage as a result of accidental exposure by employees (45%) than of anything maliciously performed by an external entity (15%).

If you’re not aware of this, you’ll be focusing your spending on protection against incoming attacks while exposing your innards through accidental leakages. Our solution? While we’ll naturally provide your data with protection from outside threats, we’ll also put special attention in protecting it from the inside.

The defences we’ll put up include:

  • Data Loss Prevention
  • Network Security
  • Firewalls
  • Malware
  • Authentication and Access Control
  • Mobile Security
  • Forensics

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How Mid-South Metallurgical cut Energy Use by 22%

Mid-South in Murfreesboro, Tennessee operates a high-energy plant providing precision heat treatments for high-speed tools – and also metal annealing and straightening services. This was a great business to be in before the energy crisis struck. That was about the same time the 2009 recession arrived. In no time at all the market was down 30%.

Investors had a pile of capital sunk into Mid-South?s three facilities spread across 21,000 square feet (2,000 square meters) of enclosed space. Within them, a number of twenty-five horsepower compressors plus a variety of electric, vacuum and atmospheric furnaces pumped out heat 27/7, 52 weeks a year. After the company called in the U.S. Department of Energy for assistance, several possibilities presented.

Insulate the Barium Chloride Salt Baths

The barium chloride salt baths used in the heat treatment process and operating at 1600?F (870?C) were a natural choice, since they could not be cooled below 1200?F (650?C) when out of use without hardening the barium chloride and clogging up the system. The amount of energy taken to prevent this came down considerably after they covered and insulated them. The recurring annual electricity saving was $53,000.

Manage Electrical Demand & Power

The utility delivers 480 volts of power to the three plants that between them consume between 825- and 875-kilowatt hours depending on the season. Prior to the energy crisis Mid-South Metallurgical regarded this level of consumption as a given. Following on the Department of Energy survey the company replaced the laminar flow burner tips with cyclonic burner ones, and implemented a number of other modifications to enhance thermal efficiency further. The overall natural gas reduction was 20%.

Implement Large Scale Site Lighting Upgrade

The 24/7 nature of the business makes lighting costs a significant factor. Prior to the energy upgrade this came from 44 older-type 400-watt metal halide fixtures. By replacing these with 88 x 8-foot (2.5 meter) fluorescent fittings Mid-South lowered maintenance and operating costs by 52%

The Mid-South Metallurgical Trophy Cabinet

These three improvements cut energy use by 22%, reduced peak electrical demand by 21% and brought total energy costs down 18%. Mid-South continues to monitor energy consumption at each strategic point, as it continues to seek out even greater energy efficiency in conjunction with its people.

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Saving Energy Step 1 ? Implementing a Management System

There has been much hype down the years regarding whether management is art or science. Thankfully, where people are concerned the pendulum has swung away from standard times in sweatshops in the west. However, when it comes to measuring physical things like harvest per square meter and the amount of energy consumed there is no substitute for scientific measurement, and this implies a system.

Managing energy cost and consumption down is like any other strategy. American engineer / statistician / management consultant W. Edwards Demming may have passed on in 1993. However he was as right as ever when he said:

  1. When people and organizations focus primarily on quality, this tends to increase and costs fall over time.
  1. However, when people and organizations focus primarily on costs, costs tend to rise and quality declines over time.

Demming believed that 90% of organizational problems arise from systems we put in place ourselves. This can be because we are so accustomed to them that we fail to notice when they are no longer relevant. The currently prevailing laissez faire towards energy is a case in point. What is managed improves and what is not, deteriorates. We know this. Let us take a look at how to apply this principle to energy management.

First, you need to get the subject out the closet and talk about it. How often do you do this is your boardroom, and how does energy rank against other priorities? Good governance is about taking up a position and following through on it. Here is a handy checklist you may like to use.

  • Do we use a consistent language when we talk about energy? Is it electricity, or carbon emitted (or are we merely fretting over cost).
  • How well engaged are we as a company? Looking up and down and across the organization are there points where responsibility stops.
  • How well have we defined accountability? Do we agree on key performance areas and how to report on them.
  • Are we measuring energy use at each point of the business? When did we last challenge the assumption that ?we’re doing okay?.
  • Have we articulated our belief that quality is endless improvement, or are we simply chasing targets because someone says we should.

A management system is a program of policies, processes and methods to ensure achievement of goals. The next blog focuses on tools and techniques that support this effort.

Big Energy Data Management

Recent times have seen the advent of cloud based services and solutions where energy data is being stored in the cloud and being accessed from anywhere, anytime through remote mobile devices. This has been made possible by web-based systems that can usually bring real-time meter-data into clear view allowing for proactive business and facility management decisions. Some web based systems may even support multi utility metering points and come in handy for businesses operating multiple sites.

Whereas all this has been made possible by increased use of smart devices/ intelligent energy devices that capture data at more regular intervals; the challenge facing businesses is how to transform the large data/big volume of data into insights and action plans that would translate into increased performance in terms of increased energy efficiency or power reliability.

A solution to this dilemma facing businesses that do not know how to process big energy data, may lie in energy management software. Energy management software?s have the capability to analyse energy consumption for, electricity, gas, water, heat, renewables and oil. They enable users to track consumption for different sources so that consumers are able to identify areas of inefficiency and where they can reduce energy consumption, Energy software also helps in analytics and reporting. The analytics and reporting features that come with energy software are usually able to:

? Generate charts and graphs ? some software?s give you an option to select from different graphs

? Do graphical comparisons e.g. generate graphs of the seasonal average for the same season and day type

? Generate reports that are highly customisable

While choosing from the wide range of software available, it is important for businesses to consider software that has the capacity to support their data volume, software that can support the frequency with which their data is captured and support the data accuracy or reliability.

Energy software alone may not make the magic happen. Businesses may need to invest in trained human resources in order to realise the best value from their big energy data. Experts in energy management would then apply human expertise to leverage the data and analyse it with proficiency to make it meaningful to one?s business.

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