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Dirty secret of network traffic

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Sophos recently announced the findings of its global survey, The Dirty Secrets of Network Firewalls, which revealed that IT managers cannot identify 45 percent of their organisation’s network traffic.

In fact, nearly one-in-four cannot identify 70 percent of their network traffic. The lack of visibility creates significant security challenges for today’s businesses and impacts effective network management. The survey polled more than 2,700 IT decision makers from mid-sized businesses in 10 countries including the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, UK, Australia, Japan, India, and South Africa.

Considering the debilitating impact cyber-attacks can have on a business, it’s unsurprising that 84 percent of respondents agree that a lack of application visibility is a serious security concern. Without the ability to identify what’s running on their network, IT managers are blind to ransomware, unknown malware, data breaches and other advanced threats, as well as potentially malicious applications and rogue users. Network firewalls with signature-based detection are unable to provide adequate visibility into application traffic due to a variety of factors such as the increasing use of encryption, browser emulation, and advanced evasion techniques.

“If you can’t see everything on your network, you can’t ever be confident that your organisation is protected from threats. IT professionals have been ‘flying blind’ for too long and cybercriminals take advantage of this,” said Dan Schiappa, senior vice president and general manager of products at Sophos. “With governments worldwide introducing stiffer penalties for data breach and loss, knowing who and what is on your network is becoming increasingly important. This dirty secret can’t be ignored any longer.”

On average, organisations spend seven working days remediating 16 infected machines per month. Smaller organisations (100-1,000 users) spend on average five working days remediating 13 machines, while larger organisations (1,001-5,000 users) spend on average 10 working days remediating 20 machines per month, according to the survey.

“A single network breach often leads to the compromise of multiple computers, so the faster you can stop the infection from spreading the more you limit the damage and time needed to clean it up,” said Schiappa. “Companies are looking for the kind of next-generation, integrated network and endpoint protection that can stop advanced threats and prevent an isolated incident from turning into a widespread outbreak. Sophisticated exploits such as MimiKatz and EternalBlue reminded everyone that network protection is critical to endpoint security and vice versa. Only direct intelligence sharing between these two can reveal the true nature of who and what is operating on your network.”

IT managers are very aware that firewalls need an upgrade in protection. In fact, the survey revealed that 79 percent of IT managers polled want better protection from their current firewall. 99 percent want firewall technology that can automatically isolate infected computers, and 97 percent want endpoint and firewall protection from the same vendor which allows for direct sharing of security status information.

Security is Not the Only Risk to Businesses

Following security risks, lost productivity was cited as a concern for 52 percent of respondents when it comes to a lack of network visibility. Business productivity can be negatively impacted if IT is unable to prioritise bandwidth for critical applications.

For industries that rely on custom software to meet specific business needs, an inability to prioritise these mission critical applications over less important traffic could be costly. 50 percent of IT professionals who had invested in custom applications admitted that their firewall could not identify the traffic and therefore were unable to maximise their return on investment. Lack of visibility also creates a blind spot for the potential transfer of illegal or inappropriate content on corporate networks, making companies vulnerable to litigation and compliance issues.

“Organisations need a firewall that protects their investment in business-critical and custom applications by allowing employees to have prioritized access to the applications they need,” said Schiappa. “Increasing network visibility requires a radically different approach. By enabling the firewall to receive information directly from the endpoint security, it can now positively identify all applications – even obscure or custom applications.”

The Dirty Secrets of Network Firewalls survey results are available in a PDF report: https://secure2.sophos.com/en-us/medialibrary/Gated-Assets/white-papers/firewall-dirty-secrets-report.pdf?la=en

The Dirty Secrets of Network Firewalls survey was conducted by Vanson Bourne, an independent specialist in market research, in October and November 2017. This survey interviewed 2,700 IT decision makers in 10 countries and across five continents, including the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, UK, Australia, Japan, India, and South Africa. All respondents were from organisations of between 100 and 5,000 users.

Sophos can deliver higher levels of network visibility with the XG Firewall and Sophos Endpoint Protection or Intercept X. For information about Sophos XG Firewall, please visit: https://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/next-gen-firewall.aspx

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Now for hardware-as-a-service

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Integrated ICT and Infrastructure provider Vox has entered into an exclusive partnership with Go Rentals to introduce a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) offering, which is aimed at providing local small and medium businesses (SMEs) with quick, affordable, and scalable access to a wide variety of IT infrastructure – as well as the management thereof.

“Despite an increasingly competitive business environment where every rand counts, many business owners are still buying technology-based equipment outright rather than renting it,” says Barry Kemp, Head of Managed IT at Vox. “The problem with this is that the modern device arena has grown in variety and complexity, making it more difficult to manage, and to reduce the overheads of controlling these devices.”

According to Kemp, there is a global trend being observed in businesses moving away from owning and managing IT infrastructure. This started with the move away from servers and toward cloud-based subscription services, and now organisations are looking to do the same with the remaining on-premise hardware – employees’ desktop systems.

The availability of HaaS changes the way in which local businesses consume IT, by allowing them to direct valuable capital expenditure toward the more efficient and competitive operation of their organisation, rather than spending on hardware products. 

“The rental costs are up to 50% lower than if they buy these products through traditional asset financing methods. Furthermore, using HaaS gives businesses the ability to scale up and down depending on their infrastructure requirements. Customers on a 12 month contract can return up to 10% of the devices rented, while those customers on 24 and 36 month contracts can return up to 20% of the devices – at any time during the contract,” adds Kemp.

More than just a rental

HaaS gives business access to repurposed Tier 1 hardware from vendors such as Dell, HP and Lenovo, equipped with the required specifications (processor, memory, and storage), and come installed with the latest Microsoft Windows operating system, unless an older version is specifically requested by the customer.

Kemp says: “Where HaaS is different from simply renting IT hardware is that businesses get full asset lifecycle management, such as having all company software pre-installed, flexible refresh cycles and upgrades, support and warranty management and transparent and predictable per user monthly fees.”

The ability to upgrade during the contract period means that businesses can keep pace with the latest in technology without needing to invest on depreciating equipment, while ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency for employees. Returned devices are put through a decommissioning process that ensures anonymity, certified data protection, and environmental compliance. 

Businesses further stand to benefit from Vox Care, which incorporates asset management and logistical services for customers. This includes initial delivery and setup in major centres, asset tagging of all rented items, creation, and the repair and/or replacement of faulty machines within three business days – again in the main metropolitan areas. 

Vox Care also assists in the design, testing and deployment of custom images, whereby HaaS clients can have the additional programmes they need (security, productivity tools, business software, etc) easily pre-installed along with the Windows operating system, on all their machines.

Kemp says HaaS customers can get further peace of mind by outsourcing the day to day management of their desktop environment to Vox Managed Services, as well as leverage the company’s knowledge and expertise to manage and host workstation backups to ensure business continuity.

Says Kemp: “Hardware-as-a-Service allows businesses to reduce the total cost of ownership of their hardware and ensure they only pay for what they use. Making the switch to a service model helps them take advantage of the global move in this direction, and to turn their business into a highly functional, flexible, low cost, change your mind whenever you want workplace.”

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Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa

A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.

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The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.

While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.

The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.

“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”

Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen

To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:

  • Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
  • Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
  • The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
  • The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
  • The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
  • The startup can show a clear social impact
  • Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)

Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.

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