The General Data Protection Regulation & The Duty to use Encryption

The General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated to GDPR, raised a storm when it arrived. In reality, it merely tightened up on existing good practice according to digital security specialists Gemalto. The right to withhold consent and to be forgotten has always been there, for example. However, the GDPR brings a free enforcement service for consumers, thus avoiding the need for third party, paid assistance.

The GDPR Bottom Lines for Data Security
Moreover, the GDPR has penalties it can apply, of the order that might have a judge choking on his wig. Under it, data security measures such as pseudonymisation (substitution of identifying fields) and encryption (encoding including password protection) have become mandatory. Businesses must further respect their client data by:

a) Storing it in a secure environment supported by robust services and systems

b) Having proven measures to restore availability and access after a breach

c) Being able to prove frequent effectiveness testing of these measures.

The General Data Protection Regulation places an onus on businesses to report any data breaches. This places us in a difficult situation. We must either face at least a wrist slap upon reporting failures. Alternatively, pay a fine of up to ?10 million, or 2% of total worldwide annual turnover.

The Engineered Weak Link in the System
Our greatest threat of breach is probably when the data leaves our secure environment, and travels across cyberspace to an employee, stakeholder, collaborator, or the client themselves. Since email became open to attack, businesses and individuals have turned to sharing platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive, and so on. While these do allow an additional layer of password protection, none of these has proved foolproof. The GDPR may still fine us heavily, whether or not we are to blame for the actual breach.

How Hacking is Approaching Being a Science
We may make a mistake we may regret, if we do not take hacking seriously. The 10 worst data hacks Identity Force lists are proof positive that spending lots of money does not guarantee security (any more than having the biggest stock of nuclear weapons). We have to be smart, and start thinking the way that hackers do.

Hacker heaven is finding an Experian or a Dun & Bradstreet that may have shielded 143 million, and 33 million consumer records respectively, behind a single, flimsy cyber-security door. Ignorance is no excuse for them. They should simply have known better. They should have rendered consumer data unreadable at individual record level. The hackers could have found this too demanding to unpick, and have looked elsewhere.

How Data Encryption Can Help Prevent Hackers Succeeding
Encrypting data is dashboard driven, and businesses need not concern themselves about it works. There are, however, a few basic decisions they must take:

a) Purge the database of all information held without explicit permission

b) Challenge the need for the remaining data and purge the nice-to-haves

c) Adopt a policy of encrypting access at business and customer interfaces

d) Register with three freemium encryption services that seem acceptable

e) After experimenting, sign up for a premium service and be prepared to pay

Factors to Consider When Reaching a Decision
Life Hacker?suggests the following criteria although the list is a one-size-fits-all

a) Is the system fast, simple, and easy to operate

b) Can you encrypt hidden volumes within volumes

c) Can you mass-encrypt a batch of files easily

d) Do all other files remain encrypted when you open one

e) Do files automatically re-encrypt when you close them

f) How confident are you with the vendor, on a scale of 1 to 10

It may be wise to encrypt all the files on your system, and not just your customer data. We are always open to a hack by the competition after our strategic planning. If we leave the decision up to IT, then IT, being human may take the easy way out, and encrypt as little as possible.

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Solutions to Password Overload

If only technologists had their way, passwords and PINs would have long been replaced with more innovative (and admittedly, better) security solutions. But such is not the case. Those alternative solutions, which include biometrics, smart cards, and password fobs, effective as they may be, are just way too expensive to implement.

So although passwords and PINs may not be here to stay, they certainly won’t be going away soon either.

Why keeping passwords in memory is no longer possible

A couple of decades ago, it would have been nearly impossible to crack an eight-character password using brute force. Today, however, advancements in computing power are rendering the typical passwords of the past easily decipherable, forcing us to come up with passwords that are not only much longer, but also much more complex and hence difficult to recall.

For instance, memorable words like your favourite character (e.g. ‘skywalker’) may have been acceptable then, but not anymore. Today?s security systems will encourage you to insert numbers or even other keyboard characters as a means to once again counter brute force. Hence, ‘sk5%ywa936lker@#’ may be more acceptable.

Remembering that one alone can be pretty daunting.

To further complicate matters, the number of applications that require passwords for access is much greater than before even for a single end user. Ordinary end users have to keep track of passwords for their email account, network login, workstation login, online services, and so on.

The burden is even greater for your IT admins, who have to remember a larger collection of passwords that protect business critical systems and applications. Clearly, the team in charge of your IT security will need a way to manage all these passwords.

Password management solutions

Existing password management solutions typically come in the form of software applications that store passwords. Basically, all you need to remember are your login details for the app a.k.a. the ?master password?. Once you’ve gained access inside, you can then retrieve any password you stored there.

Some of these apps are installed in portable devices like Pocket PCs, PDAs, or smartphones, which you would normally take along with you. For as long as the device stays with you, your passwords will be in safe hands. What’s more, you can retrieve them anywhere you go.

But obviously, there’s a problem. What if the device gets misplaced or stolen? Although the person who ends up with your device may not be able to gain access into the app and your passwords, neither will you. A better solution would therefore be an app that can be accessed anywhere but is not susceptible to getting lost.

Web-based password manager

A web-based password manager fits the bill. You don’t have to take it with you, but still you can access it almost anywhere. A typical web-based password manager will have all your passwords stored in a centralised, highly secure location.

If you want, you can even use your mobile password manager along with the web-based one. Ideally, your web-based password manager would have a copy of all the end-user passwords as well as the master passwords of your organisation.

With an easy to access but highly-secure web-based password manager, you no longer have to come up with passwords that (ironically) are supposed to be easy to remember but hard to crack at the the same time.

Furthermore, password managers are ideal for keeping passwords that have to be changed every-now-and-then; a requirement that’s becoming all too common in organisations bent on enforcing more stringent controls.

The Better Way of Applying Benford’s Law for Fraud Detection

Applying Benford’s Law on large collections of data is an effective way of detecting fraud. In this article, we?ll introduce you to Benford’s Law, talk about how auditors are employing it in fraud detection, and introduce you to a more effective way of integrating it into an IT solution.

Benford’s Law in a nutshell

Benford’s Law states that certain data sets – including certain accounting numbers – exhibit a non-uniform distribution of first digits. Simply put, if you gather all the first digits (e.g. 8 is the first digit of ?814 and 1 is the first digit of ?1768) of all the numbers that make up one of these data sets, the smallest digits will appear more frequently than the larger ones.

That is, according to Benford’s Law,

1 should comprise roughly 30.1% of all first digits;
2 should be 17.6%;
3 should be 12.5%;
4 should be 9.7%, and so on.

Notice that the 1s (ones) occur far more frequently than the rest. Those who are not familiar with Benford’s Law tend to assume that all digits should be distributed uniformly. So when fraudulent individuals tinker with accounting data, they may end up putting in more 9s or 8s than there actually should be.

Once an accounting data set is found to show a large deviation from this distribution, then auditors move in to make a closer inspection.

Benford’s Law spreadsheets and templates

Because Benford’s Law has been proven to be effective in discovering unnaturally-behaving data sets (such as those manipulated by fraudsters), many auditors have created simple software solutions that apply this law. Most of these solutions, owing to the fact that a large majority of accounting departments use spreadsheets, come in the form of spreadsheet templates.

You can easily find free downloadable spreadsheet templates that apply Benford’s Law as well as simple How-To articles that can help you to implement the law on your own existing spreadsheets. Just Google “Benford’s law template” or “Benford’s law spreadsheet”.

I suggest you try out some of them yourself to get a feel on how they work.

The problem with Benford’s Law when used on spreadsheets

There’s actually another reason why I wanted you to try those spreadsheet templates and How-To’s yourself. I wanted you to see how susceptible these solutions are to trivial errors. Whenever you work on these spreadsheet templates – or your own spreadsheets for that matter – when implementing Benford’s Law, you can commit mistakes when copy-pasting values, specifying ranges, entering formulas, and so on.

Furthermore, some of the data might be located in different spreadsheets, which can likewise by found in different departments and have to be emailed for consolidation. The departments who own this data will have to extract the needed data from their own spreadsheets, transfer them to another spreadsheet, and send them to the person in-charge of consolidation.

These activities can introduce errors as well. That’s why we think that, while Benford’s Law can be an effective tool for detecting fraud, spreadsheet-based working environments can taint the entire fraud detection process.

There?s actually a better IT solution where you can use Benford’s Law.

Why a server-based solution works better

In order to apply Benford’s Law more effectively, you need to use it in an environment that implements better controls than what spreadsheets can offer. What we propose is a server-based system.

In a server-based system, your data is placed in a secure database. People who want to input data or access existing data will have to go through access controls such as login procedures. These systems also have features that log access history so that you can trace who accessed which and when.

If Benford’s Law is integrated into such a system, there would be no need for any error-prone copy-pasting activities because all the data is stored in one place. Thus, fraud detection initiatives can be much faster and more reliable.

You can get more information on this site regarding the disadvantages of spreadsheets. We can also tell you more about the advantages of server application solutions.

How AI Helps Improve Field Service

Its seems that with the current rate of technological innovation that these is something new every single day.  Therefore, you’re always looking forward to a new technological innovation that’s going to help you make your business operations more efficient and automated.

One of the most fascinating milestones in the field of technology is the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in business. In one way or the other, AI gives a glimpse of machine supremacy that allows computers to perform tasks that were initially performed by humans. 

Are machines going to completely replace people in the workplace?

Of course, not.  Technologies like AI and Machine Learning are designed and meant to support employees in doing their tasks too boost their productivity.

AI is predominantly used to eliminate jobs and tasks that humans find boring, demotivating or monotonous. In some cases AI is also used to do jobs that are considered dangerous for humans to preform.

Previously the most common implementations for AI were all about gaming, entertainment, and advanced science,  now it’s spreading into a number of industries including the field service industry.

FieldElite – Field Service Software , can help you optimise the day-to-day operations of your business.

AI in field service management will enhance you business capabilities with:

  • Information Sharing
  • Real Time Updates
  • Automated Workflows
  • Digital Form Data Collection
  • Data Analysis

Improved Customer Service

For Service Based companies, customer retention is vital. Primarily because It can be 5-25 times more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing ones.

Therefore customer retention should be a primary focus.? The good news is that by making use of AI you can implement services It can be 5-25 times more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

Staying on top of and ensuring you satisfactorily address and meet you customer demands and expectations can be a daunting task.? It can also be an expensive one,? especially for small field service based businesses like :

  • Heating & Plumbing Engineers
  • Electrical Contractors
  • Fire Safety Inspectors
  • HVAC Engineers
  • Facility Management
  • Building, Construction & Trade

Implementing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to automate mundane and repetitive customer administration tasks will enable your staff to be free to provide additional value added tasks for your customers. Making your customers happier.

?Think about the active Chatbots. You can always get complaints directly from customers and address them right away.??

If at any point the customer is unhappy with your services, they can always raise the issue via the Chatbots. Since the bots contain necessary customer information, you can always get back to them and fix the issue at hand.?

With AI in field service, you can solve problems before they arise, or what is otherwise known as predictive maintenance,? In that way, you’ll have better customer relations because you’ll be able to address your customer concerns before they even become aware of them.

Improved Productivity

Scheduling tasks and managing the workforce isn’t a walk in the park. It goes beyond assigning tasks to your team members in the field and giving them deadlines to meet. Whether it’s a small firm or a big organisation, it’s quite difficult to organise the workforce.?

However, adopting Artificial Intelligence can iron out the difficulties most field organisations face in scheduling and managing tasks. Some years back, most firms relied on human intelligence to dispatch jobs to the right people based on given conditions. This was quite difficult, especially that it wasn’t always successful. But thanks to AI. With field service apps like FieldElite scheduling tasks and managing workforce is only a few clicks away.?

What’s more? There?s no room for error. Therefore, you’ll always match the right people for the job. Again, your team will always get tasks on time. That means, the job completion rate will go up, and hence the workforce becomes more productive.?

Predictive Maintenance

Usually, most business operations are based on ?solve the problem as it occurs?, which is just OK. However, it’s not always safe to wait until a problem occurs so that you solve it. Prevention is better than cure, and that’s why Artificial Intelligence comes handy in Field Service.

Using FieldElite Workforce Management Software , you don’t have to wait until something breaks.? Utilizing AI in field service enables you to proactively address field service needs and prevent unforeseen failures and interruptions.?

The ability to predict field service needs through field service apps like FieldElite enables you to make more accurate forecasts. In this way, resource planning is made easier, and as such, you’ll have smoothly running workflows. Again, by taking care of unforeseen circumstances in advance, you’re flexible enough to take care of the unexpected. And that means the overall productivity of your business will go up.

Job Management

Most field service jobs involve multiple stages that can take several days to complete. In addition to this, more often than not, you have to coordinate lots of equipment and contractors at the same time. All these can’t be achieved solely by human efforts. For more successful outcomes, it’s important to incorporate Artificial Intelligence in your field service operations.?

FieldElite is the field service solution that can help you manage sophisticated tasks. The app is packed with field service management tools that enable you to assign complicated tasks and keep track of your field techs. For long-cycle jobs, FieldElite app enables you to follow up on the activities going on the field to ensure they’re completed.?

With AI, there?s no room for error even when the jobs become more sophisticated.

Data Analysis

?

Field service industry involves lots of data. Some years back, organisations depended on human intelligence to analyse big data. Well, things still worked out, but as a human is to err, the outcome wasn’t always perfect. However, with Artificial Intelligence data analysis, 100% accuracy in data analysis is achievable. Field service solutions like FieldElite provide sophisticated data analytic tools that enable you to crack massive data and offer accurate solutions.?

FieldElite data analytics capabilities give you an insight into what’s not working and what needs to be improved. In that way, you can always address matters arising and take care of the loopholes.?

It’s time to go paperless with field management software like FieldElite if you?d like to make your business more profitable. Apart from improving the productivity of your workforce, incorporating AI in your business increases profitability. If you’re still doing your usual field rounds with a clipboard, it’s time to simplify your task with FieldElite app.?

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