Archiving records has been considered an uphill battle for organisations for decades. While the format of these records have changed from paper to pixels, the battle is far from over. Cyber resilience expert at Mimecast, NICK SAUNDERS, provides some benefits of cloud archiving.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way and organisations that have made the switch from an on premise to cloud archive, have found that archiving can actually simplify how they do business, rather than causing unnecessary stress. Good archiving allows you to find specific records as and when needed, and helps you comply with stringent data storage regulations, such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
But organisations need to see an archive as more than just an old storage box that’s an unwanted necessity, and rather as something they can get value out of. Well-organised, easily searchable and secure records are a business competitiveness booster– and here are just four reasons why by Nick Saunders, cyber resilience expert at Mimecast:
- Higher Productivity
Huge volumes of unstructured email data are like the proverbial haystack when your employees are looking for a specific needle of information. Easy access and functional searchability are therefore a must for any email archiving solution. With less time spent trawling through records, or waiting for IT departments to locate specific documents, employees are free to draw insights from email histories and apply them to current issues or opportunities. And enabling access to archives via the cloud and mobile devices when employees are on the move, improves day-to-day efficiency.
- A Rock-Solid Plan B
Cyber-attacks, natural disasters or unavoidable downtime – there’s no shortage of ways that businesses can lose email for even a few hours and face significant losses. Having a tamper-proof email archiving system in place insures your business against data loss, should your primary email system be compromised. In the event of an unexpected outage, cloud-archived email records mean your organisation can be up and running again in minutes. Simply put, no disaster recovery or digital business continuity plan is complete without a solid email archiving solution in place.
- Regulatory Compliance
POPI has driven organisations to sort out their data practices and avoid hefty penalties from mismanagement of sensitive personal information. And, come May 2018, businesses with customers in the EU will have to be compliant under the EU GDPR. Both regulations require strict adherence to many aspects of data safety, and a complete and reliable archive can help organisations when a compliance issue arises. Furthermore, e-discovery functions of an archive will allow organisations to speedily and accurately sift through terabytes of email threads – significantly strengthening how organisations respond to regulatory queries.
- Lower Maintenance Costs
Maintaining traditional archives on site rather than in the cloud is a costly exercise, requiring significant, recurring resources to keep them regularly updated. This could tempt IT departments to skip the tasks of implementing important patches and fixes in their system, which only results in additional maintenance costs further down the line. A cloud-based third-party archiving partner will take the manual work out of the equation, keeping records perfectly up to date, and at a lower cost than if a business had to do it alone.
As the data avalanche continues, email is set to become a bigger and more business-vital repository of information than ever before. Businesses would be wise to begin their email migration to the cloud sooner rather than later, through cloud providers like Mimecast who can do it better, faster, cheaper and more effectively.
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.