What is Web3?

What is Web3

By now you may have heard the term web3 thrown around. But what exactly is it? To get to the bottom of this question, we first need to do a quick history lesson to understand.

The first iteration of the Internet was known as web1 and was the beginning period of the Internet, where people could access information, but could not interact with the content. This early phase of the Internet comprised when URL’s and homepages were being created and laid the foundations for the next phase of the world wide web.

Web2 arrived next and in the form of of customizable content and social media platforms and blogs. Now, Internet users could “read and write” (referencing the computer code that this was built on) content as well as pull files instead of just viewing them on a static page. Once the majority of the general public understood and adopted mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, content sharing took off to new heights. Public sentiment around these platforms has soured in the last few years, and people are wary of how these tech titans are harvesting their data and information. Facebook in particular was fined over $5 billion by the FCC for their role in breaching data privacy roles, and there is a growing sentiment amongst the public that they do not actually have control over their data and content. 

Enter Web3

This is where web3 enters the conversation. Web3 is considered the read/write/own phase of the Internet. “Rather than just using free tech platforms in exchange for our data, users can participate in the governance and operation of the protocols themselves. This means people can become participants and shareholders, not just customers or products. [source]”

In web3, users aren’t just consumers, they are contributors and investors, thus allowing a larger portion of the population to be able to take control of things, rather than the major tech corporations that are currently the majority power. “Web 3 makes the proliferation of cooperative governance structures for once-centralized products possible. Anything at all can be tokenized, whether it’s a memea piece of art, a person’s social media output or tickets to Gary Vee’s conferences. [source]”

While web3 sounds like a positive development, because in theory it gives power back to the people, others argue that this is a false narrative that is great in theory, but does not actually hold up to its standards. Former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, made headlines when he said that the blockchain networks are “decentralization theatre,” stating that only a few key people actually hold the power and control over the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

While these criticisms are somewhat valid, web3 has the tremendous potential to bring power to the masses. Whether or not this will actually happen remains to be seen. At one point, social media was only used by a small majority of early adopters, but in time it became mainstream to all generations. Expect web3 to follow a similar trajectory. 

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Best IT Procurement Practices

What is IT Procurement?

IT procurement is the process of sourcing and acquiring information technology assets to drive your business or organizational operations. IT procurement can include hardware and software products as well as IT services, such as cloud services, cyber security services, as well as strategic and administrative responsibilities.

The objective of any IT procurement strategy is to fulfill your organization or business’ needs, getting the maximum value out of your spending as well as protecting you from many different forms of risks (e.g. regulatory, cyber security, etc).

A recent Deloitte survey of Chief Procurement Officers (CPO) in 36 countries says as many as 79% of CPOs are focused on achieving cost reduction in their IT procurement strategies.

To achieve that, CPOs must undertake the following tasks through their IT procurement work:

  • issuing requests-for-proposals (RFP),
  • requests-for-information (RFI),
  • leveraging partnerships with IT industry original equipment manufacturers (OEM),
  • researching options on the market,
  • negotiating with OEMs on pricing and support,
  • and managing internal stakeholders.
Top 4 Business Priorities for CPOs graphics

Every business and organization is different. You must factor in company/organizational size, your industry, unique regulatory and compliance requirements and other factors. Each business must manage their IT procurement in a way that fulfills its needs and respects its constraints.

This reality is felt across the IT hardware (e.g. devices, routers, servers), software (e.g. apps or licensed software) and services (e.g. cloud) you could procure.

Thus, a correctly designed and implemented IT procurement effort is vital to maximizing the value of your spending. The failure to do so will be felt beyond just your IT, but in your business or organization’s core activities.

We review the industry’s best practices for IT procurement. We also examine how you could benefit from IT procurement and overcome its challenges.

IT Procurement Best Practices

IT procurement specialists must strike a balance between cost savings and meeting organizational needs. Below is a list of goals that they seek to achieve during the process.

1. Acquire Technology That Aligns With Organizational Needs

All too often, technology purchases are made in the hope that the cost value will be worth the trouble of the organization having to adapt to the equipment.

In fact, the reverse is true; the acquired technology should be strategically procured so that it fits in with and supports business goals. Having to engineer workarounds and modify your IT environment — or larger processes or workflows — can lead to both inefficiencies and integration problems.

2. Forming Strategic Relationships

Forging a close relationship with specific vendors and/or IT providers offer numerous advantages to the IT procurement process. Not only will this result in cost savings by leveraging economies of scale and established logistical practices, but the right provider can also help to:

  • Resolve adoption problems more efficiently
  • Eliminates rogue buying and integrates with existing ERP systems like SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, and more
  • Allow for the establishment of service level standards and agreements
  • Create a framework for both parties to work together to improve the relationship

3. Involve Stakeholders

As part of a strategic sourcing process that attempts to glean as much information as possible before making a purchase decision. It’s important that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the IT procurement process.

This will allow your procurement personnel to understand the organizational needs, budget, and how all the intended acquisitions will impact operations.

4. Minimize Risk

All asset acquisitions come with an element of inherent risk — and IT is no different. From technology that fails to support the company’s needs to potential financial or compliance issues down the road, a procurement specialist will work with risk mitigation and security in mind.

Some of these practices include:

  • Conducting a full risk analysis
  • Determining the probability of financial losses
  • Roadmapping, planning for future projects, and implementing plans to reduce their impact

5. Acquire Assets With an Eye Toward The Future

Many organizations seek to lower their capital acquisition costs and therefore make purchasing decisions based on short-term needs and upfront price.

However, top companies choose to look at total cost of ownership when making acquisitions.

Instead of getting quotes from vendors, today’s IT procurement specialists, like those at Insight, will identify how much the technology will cost to operate and eventually dispose of; ensuring that the most cost-effective option is selected that will pay dividends over its lifespan.

Understand Your IT Infrastructure

Before approaching IT procurement, we must review the benefits and difficulties your company likely faces in managing its IT infrastructure. This is an important discussion because, ultimately, your IT procurement efforts are aimed at improving the effectiveness of your IT infrastructure.

Your IT infrastructure certainly includes at least two of these three core components: hardware, software and services. For most, hardware and software are a given (e.g. word processing from a laptop).

In today’s environment, IT infrastructures include more than simply computers and productivity applications. You also have networking infrastructure connecting your company to the web and internally between different computers, printers and on-premise servers.

Likewise, your productivity suite includes email which could be based on Exchange, Google or a proprietary suite as well as customer relationship management (CRM) and other apps.

It is when these systems age and lose relevance (with current as well as emerging trends and behaviours) that IT procurement becomes an issue.

Factors such as current hardware and/or software falling out of compliance, not having the right features, higher cost-of-ownership and others make IT procurement key.

The Difference Between Hardware and Software Procurement

What is Hardware Procurement?

In terms of hardware, your IT procurement efforts may focus on replacing aging laptops and/or workstations, routers, printers, mobile devices and in case of in-house or on-premise hosting servers.

What is Software Procurement?

Software procurement can include renewing licenses for productivity applications, e.g. Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, Citrix, etc. Instead of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, you may also look to build custom applications. In-house development would also be procurement.

Your IT procurement process must fulfill your operational requirements. However, they must follow your compliance standards, meet your cyber security needs and drive strategic business goals (increasing profitability and market-share).

In effect, you will not have developed a sound IT procurement strategy if you fail to achieve all of your business or organization’s requirements (not just daily operations, but compliance too).

It would be a waste of resources otherwise, be it directly (through the purchase of the wrong or unwanted systems) or indirectly (resulting in underused or insufficient capacity).

What is an IT Procurement Process?

The IT procurement process is the combination of numerous tasks and responsibilities, namely:

  • defining your IT requirements,
  • managing vendors, negotiating and implementing your contracts,
  • existing asset management
  • and verifying the quality of products and services provided.

Every business and organization must have a clearly defined IT procurement strategy in place.

This is to ensure that IT procurement is done correctly and to secure internal stakeholder e.g. upper management support. The latter is important because business executives want to see IT as a driver for profitability instead of a costly overhead

You must demonstrate how IT procurement will help with reducing time spent on certain tasks, increase output and other net-revenue-focused goals. You must also show that the spending is essential and is being put towards solutions that generate maximum value.

The infographic below showcases how strong internal stakeholder support from executives is integral to IT procurement:

Effectiveness of procurement graphic

You must also stop excessive or unauthorized spending. The IT procurement strategy serves as a guard for preventing ‘maverick spend’ IT spending that occurs outside of your process.

Dark spending is also a threat as it undermines the trust upper management have in your IT. You risk looking like a black hole for money (i.e. a costly and cumbersome overhead).

You can prevent both maverick and dark spending by building accountability mechanisms (such as a system of approval) throughout your IT procurement process.

You could also separate the “buyers” from those in-need of systems (“requesters”). This ensures that the one requesting IT solutions can’t approve the sale for themselves on their own.

It’s also possible to prevent the conditions that lead to maverick and dark spending by selecting the right IT OEMs. Ensure (before the implementation phase) that your requirements are being met across every scenario (e.g. having a scheduled replenishment policy for printer cartridges).

IT Procurement Benefits

By implementing IT procurement best practices, you will leverage major improvements in both operations and strategic goals.

Operational Efficiency

With new hardware, recent software releases and/or IT services (e.g. cloud services), you can accelerate your daily operations.

For example, you could equip your sales representatives with new mobile apps connected to cloud-hosted databases. This lets your sales rep to input, view and manage data from the palm of their hand. At present, they might be pulling-up a laptop and manually connecting to the web, which consumes more time and effort.

Compliance & Security

IT procurement offers an opportunity to replace IT systems that don’t comply with your industry’s regulatory requirements. Doing so ensures that your organization is shielded from current and emerging cyber threats. These threats can cause extremely costly data breaches.

Similarly, ensuring that your IT system compliance and cyber security measures are up to par with current and upcoming regulatory standards shields you from expensive government fines.

You will notice that in most cases, compliance and cyber security are intertwined. Following one (in alignment with industry standards) should lead to following the other.

Security

This can include:

  • replacing routers that aren’t equipped to support today’s encryption standards;
  • moving your data to a cloud hosting provider that provides HIPAA-compliant encryption,
  • on-site security and network monitoring services;
  • and switching to up-to-date software builds.

Compliance

Businesses and organizations are beholden to government, industry and vendor compliance standards. For example, you can move your data to HIPAA-compliant data centers (available through public or private cloud-hosting providers) to ensure that your data is being managed in compliance with privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

IT Procurement Challenges

It’s not easy to correctly implement a IT procurement strategy.

Negotiating with OEMs

In theory, you can negotiate with IT industry OEMs to secure favourable pricing, strong after-sale support and warranties. However, the practical side isn’t simple.

In terms of negotiating with OEMs, it’s best to have strong industry partnerships, e.g. Microsoft Gold Partner, Cisco Gold Partner, IBM Business Partner, etc. These partnerships are a sign of the OEM trusting you to implement their best practices (e.g. in configuration).

Such partners are in a better position than non-partners for understanding the OEM’s offerings and for negotiating favourable pricing, support and guarantees.

Internal Talent & Skill Gaps

Purchasing IT equipment is only one side of the IT procurement process. Your internal IT team must also have competency for properly implementing the strategy.

According to Deloitte’s study, “60% of CPOs still believe their teams lack sufficient capability to deliver their procurement strategy.” This is reflected in knowledge and training:

New talent and training investments graphic

Business Partnering & Analytics Skills Gap

Businesses are reporting severe (e.g. 50%+) gaps in skills across many IT procurement areas, including procurement strategy and operations and sourcing.

Planning & Implementation

A big problem with internal knowledge gaps is that it weakens the planning and implementation phases of your IT procurement.

Basically, your IT procurement team might not have enough knowledge to properly identify your organization’s IT requirements. This could lead to improper purchasing, potentially needless or excessive spending (or, on the other hand, missing key requirements).

Implementation problems can include delays in receiving, installing, configuring and validating new IT systems. Likewise, your IT procurement team might not have incorporated enough or correct training for your company’s employees.

This besides trouble using new systems can open other problems, such as a lack of trust in new systems and sticking to the old.

Understanding IT Procurement Risks

There are many IT procurement risks. Many of them occur due to your IT procurement team not having enough knowledge and experience.

We’ve compiled a list of these risks below:

Incorrectly Defining Requirements

Your IT procurement team may understate or overstate your company’s IT needs in certain areas, e.g. procuring too many laptops or workstations and not enough software licenses.

In such cases, not only do you risk failing to meet your IT requirements, but you could end up with an inaccurate cost-estimate. Buying too many hardware systems will drive your costs up and lead to the waste of funds (procuring too little can result in a falsely-low figure).

Misinterpreting User Requirements

When there’s a knowledge gap, there’s a high risk of your team missing the mark on spotting the actual needs of your company.

For example, your sales team might require a CRM suite. However, your IT procurement team may select one that doesn’t have the features they need. In this case, the purchase will result in the loss of time, money and productivity across the board.

Insufficient Funding

You might have a strong IT procurement team, but they can’t do much good there isn’t enough money. The lack of funds generally leads to delays and, if you had already tendered but failed to procure, a reset of the tendering process.

Imagine your IT procurement team had already selected systems for your company and were close to signing a deal. Walking away from that deal may damage your reputation with IT OEMs.

Unrealistic Time Frame & Implementation Risks

Your IT procurement team might expect the supplier to deliver in a very short period of time.

Tight timelines might push many potential vendors away from your bid, reducing your options. You also risk implementation problems if the winning supplier is unable to deliver on those tight deadlines.

The supplier’s failure to deliver your IT systems on time will lead to delays at your end and set your IT programs back. In some situations, such as sales teams needing CRM, this can result in productivity drops.

Next Steps: Get Help in Building an IT Procurement Policy

You can prevent the challenges discussed above by incorporating IT procurement best practices into your IT procurement policy. Basically, you should anticipate these problems ahead of any IT procurement effort. In other words, you should prevent these problems from occurring.

This article was originaly published on Insight, click here to view the original article.

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How to Support Remote Workers

Did you know the remote workforce has grown by over 44% in the last five years? The change in the way we conduct business now has been a huge obstacle for many employers, and it has been difficult to provide the remote staff the tools they need to succeed and to be productive. Providing the IT support workers need can be difficult, but not impossible. Here are some tips to provide the remote IT support your workers need for 2022 and beyond. 

  1. IT Support always available 24/7/365If you have remote staff, there WILL be technical difficulties that arise. Most of these issues will usually be small and easy to fix, but sometimes there are problems that require the assistance of a trained IT help desk to prevent work stoppage. 
  2. Cloud Technology – Embracing cloud technology is a key component to help create a robust remote-workforce. Not only will the cloud help reduce costs, it is also a easy way for employees to store, share and save company files and documents. 
  3. Create and enforce security policies – Ransomware attacks are extremely common and they can happen to almost anyone at any time. Employees working from home need to understand basic security threats like phishing scams so they do not cause a potential security breach. Host an hour meeting with a cybersecurity professional and make sure your remote workforce is trained and understands what some of these cybersecurity attacks look like and create a policy that enforces strong passwords and periodic password changes throughout the business cycle. 
  4. Digital Communication tools and devices – The biggest disadvantage of remote work is the limited ability to communicate with coworkers, but there have been tons of technological innovations over the last few years that make it simple to quickchat, video conference and collaborate. Make sure your employees have powerful webcams and microphones and invest in some decent software like Cisco WebEx so you can get premium conferencing features. You can find these products on our E-Store
  5. Ensure Employees Have Proper Equipment – If your team just transitioned to a remote model of work, they might not have their own computer or a computer that matches the CPU requirements they need for their job. Graphic designers, engineers and video editors all need powerful CPU’s to get their jobs done properly. 
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What Is Ransomware-as-a-Service

Ransomware is a term that strikes fear into business owners and IT teams, and rightfully so. “In Q3 2020, ransomware attacks have increased globally by 40% to 199.7 million cases. [source]” But why exactly have these attacks increased so much? The answer is simpler than you might think, and it all goes back to ransomware-as-a-service. 

Ransomware-as-a-service is a subscription-based model that works similarly to saas, or software-as-a-service. Essentially, ransomware developers will create a ransomware tool, and they will lease that tool to individuals that pay money to use the ransomware they created. In the past, hackers needed to have some coding experience to be able to successfully target and hack vulnerable systems, but with the implementation of ransomware-as-a-service, people with little to no technical experience can launch massive cyber attacks with ease. 

How does it work?

For the raas model to work there are a few components that need to be in place:

  1. Expert-coded ransomware developed by ransomware experts (the individuals that design this software need to be reputable individuals in the ransomware space to generate outside interest)
  2. Monthly subscription for a flat fee
  3. One-time licensing fee with no profit sharing
  4. Pure profit sharing

Once someone has enrolled in the program, they are onboarded with documentation that contains step-by-step instructions on how to use the ransomware for coordinated attacks. There are even some ransomware providers that provide affiliates with a dashboard solution that helps them monitor how the ransomware is working. Crazy, right? It gets crazier. To recruit these affiliates, ransomware providers will post their tools on the dark web. From there, interested buyers can read through user reviews, view screenshots of the tool and then ultimately purchase the tool with the use of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. 

How do the attacks work? 

Most ransomware attacks are through phishing scams. Phishing is the method of stealing sensitive data through a seemingly innocent source- most of the time through email scams. When an unsuspecting party clicks on links from a phishing email, they expose part of their network to the hacker, which then leads to the penetration of their entire network. Once the attack has been executed, the extortion begins. Hackers will send a .txt file to the victim’s computer informing them that their information has been encrypted along with a ransom fee to obtain the files- like the image below. 

ransomware note

What can I do to keep my network safe?

This might sound obvious, but the best possible thing you can do to protect your network is to NEVER click on links from unknown sources. This is easier said than done because some of these phishing emails will try to replicate someone within your organization. However, they will not have the same email address, which is the number one red flag to look out for if you are unsure of where the source of an email is coming from. Another important practice to prevent ransomware attacks is to keep strong passwords that have multiple special characters and numbers and to repeatedly change passwords once a quarter. 

Conclusion

Unfortunately, ransomware is here to stay. There are always going to be nefarious actors looking to exploit security, and that is why it is so crucial to have strong cybersecurity systems in place. Fortunately, Compulink offers state-of-the-art security solutions and services. If you are concerned about your business’ IT security, contact a sales team member for a free consultation, and we will help reinforce you network and ensure you and your business are protected. 

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10 physical security predictions for the new year

To view the original article click here

Hard to believe it is that time again, but in a few short days the calendar will flip and we will be in 2022. I have been fortunate to work with virtually all parts of the physical security industry, from A&E firms, integrators, manufacturers, and multiple types of end users (ranging from multiple Fortune 100 organizations to a family-owned self-storage company); all which shared valuable insights throughout 2021.In this column, I’d like to share my perspective of what will likely be the key issues and challenges we all will face in 2022. 

1. Cyber will bring physical security issues into the boardroom 

Gartner predicts that by 2024, 75% of CEOs will be personally liable for cyber incidents.  Cyber incidents involving physical security and IoT devices are on the rise, and the trend in threat actors exploiting these systems are headed toward more devastating consequences. Efforts like SIA’s recent certification program on cybersecurity (SICC) is a good start towards your team being prepared for those board-level discussions, but in 2022 security leaders must also ensure that they have data, processes, and tools to support cross-functional board-level interactions. 

2. Bringing IT skills into physical security teams drives hiring

Clearly more IT skills are needed with modern physical security systems, but also clearly there are labor shortages that present challenges in accomplishing this. In 2022, this may force a new tier of physical security worker, with pay and responsibilities that are competitive with the broader IT market. Such workers will be needed to bring physical security into broader IT initiatives like Zero Trust. By creating career paths within physical security tied to the broader IT market will attract new talent that otherwise may have felt physical security to be too limited for them. If your organization is already doing this or headed in this direction, let others know about it through LinkedIn or at industry events.  

3. New service models will emerge

The industry’s direction toward more managed services will continue and become a differentiator between integrators. Whether it is remote guarding, cyber hardening, service assurance, or compliance, the variety and “a la carte” managed services offerings will bring new customers to integrators. Many organizations that manage physical security with internal resources will see the benefits of offloading specific functions, like firmware updating, to an integrator offering that as a service. In 2022, the “as-a-service” concept should be evaluated across all parts of the physical security landscape, as it will lead to less expensive and more efficient ways of deploying and managing security operations.   

 

4. Deepfakes will get more attention 

Fundamental to use of video surveillance is the ability to use that data as evidence and being able to prove a chain of custody. The growing sophistication of deepfakes combined with lax procedures over that chain of custody is a recipe for 2022 to call into question whether video data can be trusted. To prepare for this organizations must ensure their devices and data have not been tampered with, including replacing real data with fake data. Methods that can track the integrity of the data being stored (and that the data is kept unchanged for the required retention period) will be needed to keep video surveillance data relevant and effective. 

5. More focus on knowing your physical security asset inventory 

As physical security teams become closer partners with the cybersecurity, IT and compliance functions within their company, the starting point for those relations is having a strong handle on what assets they have and what the status of those assets are. We saw in 2021 the need to remove certain brands from being used (under NDAA 889), and the difficulty in determining if those brands were present because of the multiple OEM and other rebadging of equipment that goes on. Even seemingly innocuous devices like inexpensive badge printers purchased on Amazon could be the Achilles Heel in your physical security network. It is imperative you know the source and integrity of every single device that is plugged into your network. In 2022, organizations should be better prepared by having up to date inventories including firmware versions being used and original equipment manufacturer. 

6. More mandates from U.S. federal government that impact physical security

In 2021, there were multiple directives and mandates that touched physical security (NDAA 889, CMMC, CISA directives, etc). Likely in 2022 these will be added to, especially around firmware updates and password management. The fact that many physical security devices are not updated (let alone still use default passwords) creates an opportunity for them to be used in exploits like phishing attacks, delivery of ransomware and malware, and planting of deepfakes.  The threats from this go beyond any single company, so having more government action and focus on these attack vectors will likely bring more requirements to operators of physical security systems. Prepare by making sure you’re able to update firmware quickly and have a process to track the firmware versions in all your devices.

7. Slowdown on facial recognition

2022 will likely be a year where organizations carefully evaluate and implement facial recognition solutions as the legal and operational aspects of this technology still get worked out.  Facebook’s decision to shutter its facial recognition software (but still continue technology development of it) speaks to the need to match privacy and societal concerns to the deployment of new security technologies. However, there has been a marked rise in the development and deployment of face as a credential solution for highly accurate and secure touchless personal identification and authentication. In addition, laws like Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) put responsibility onto physical security operators to be able to remove or limit information on a specific individual – a task best served by the automation provided by facial recognition.  If you don’t already, consider if your company needs a policy on legal and ethical use of facial recognition.

 

8. Training and certification of physical security salespeople will gain momentum

As physical security systems become more complex, so does the knowledge required to specify and sell systems. The front line of those efforts is the salespeople working with customers to define the best possible system for their needs. More focus on training and credentialing salespeople will become a differentiator between security integrators, and a path to ensuring physical security professional development for more people within the profession. If you’re an end user, ask your integrator if they’ve considered this, or if you’re involved with SIA and ASIS, recommend they pursue this. 

9. More focus (and revelations) about who has backdoors in physical security equipment

For many years the source of physical security device components, who designed them, and how they are combined with software to make products like IP cameras and card access systems has been a non-issue. Yet in almost all parts of the supply chain there is now greater scrutiny over where and how vulnerabilities are introduced, making it likely that in 2022 there will be more revelations on what really is designed into physical security systems. The past couple of years there have been active bans on equipment from specific manufacturers because they are known to contain backdoors.  Prepare for this by establishing a “zero tolerance” policy and by implementing fundamental best practices like changing default passwords on devices and updating firmware, to protect your existing investment in physical security cameras and other endpoints.

10. Insurance will incorporate physical security data in policy pricing 

Many organizations have been faced with a significantly higher amount of data requested by insurers in order to price (or even be offered) cybersecurity and general business liability insurance; in 2022 this will also encompass physical security information and standard operating procedures (SOPs). For many organizations who work with integrators, engaging with them now and discussing how to maintain current information needed for insurers can help to get ahead of this issue.  Best way for organizations to be prepared is to prepare documented SOPs, detailed inventories of devices, and metrics around their operations to show that your organization is in control.

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What, exactly, is information technology?

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Information technology professionals provide hardware, software, and one-on-one device support. Although most people’s interactions with IT involve computer issues, the work extends far beyond that. IT departments usually have three areas of responsibility –- operations, infrastructure and maintenance, and management. IT operations generally encompass engineering, database administration, or development. 

IT roles include:

  • Operations engineers: Operations engineers install, run, and manage networks, servers, and external services such as cloud computing. 
  • Database administrators: These professionals create and maintain systems that store information.
  • Development operators: DevOps engineers combine software engineering with coding skills to build software, improve it, and perform software deployments.

Does IT include cybersecurity?

Some people within and outside of technology-related careers consider cybersecurity an IT-related job. As with other professions, job titles and responsibilities sometimes overlap. As a result, IT and cybersecurity workers may collaborate or handle some of the same responsibilities. 

But when analyzing essential job skills and responsibilities, IT and cybersecurity professionals take different approaches to safeguard digital information. Cybersecurity tends to focus more on protecting the data itself than the infrastructure supporting it. As with cybersecurity, the number of people responsible for IT depends on a company’s resources. One person may handle multiple responsibilities –– or even everything IT-related.

Information technology jobs

More than 12 million Americans worked in the IT sector in 2019. The net employment of people in technology-related jobs grew by 307,000 workers, up 2.6% from 2018. Some IT positions require advanced degrees, while others have entry-level opportunities. Here we’ve featured some of the most popular information technology jobs.

CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER

CIOs typically hold executive-level status and manage an organization’s overall IT functions. Their responsibilities include directing the IT staff to ensure technology and cybersecurity functions stay efficient, safe, and up to date. If there is no chief information security officer at the organization, the CIO may also oversee cybersecurity staff.

CLOUD ARCHITECT

These professionals design and implement cloud-based IT infrastructure for organizations. As part of that work, cloud architects must work closely with others to make sure the services meet an organization’s needs. They’re also responsible for cloud security and risk management.

COMPUTER SUPPORT SPECIALIST

Computer support specialists provide one-on-one technical assistance for computer users in an organization. People who do this job walk people through resolving computer issues. They may also provide support for overall IT or cybersecurity functions.

DATABASE DEVELOPER

Database developers create and operate computer databases that process and securely store information. They work with others to design database systems that support an organization’s needs. This may involve using coding to design systems and performing troubleshooting and maintenance.

IT SECURITY ANALYST

IT security analysts work to protect computer systems from cyberattacks by creating and implementing security strategies. Their responsibilities may include installing firewalls to protect digital data and developing disaster recovery plans in case of a major data breach or loss. They may also work with penetration testers to identify system vulnerabilities.

NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR

Network administrators are responsible for operating an organization’s computer networks. Their duties include installing and maintaining an organization’s digital networks. Their work also includes managing devices that use the network, and keeping apps, like email, working.

SYSTEMS ANALYST

Also known as system architects, computer systems analysts study an organization’s computer systems and procedures. Their responsibilities include setting up new hardware and software and working with managers to ensure IT is meeting the organization’s needs. A key part of this job involves ensuring the organization’s IT systems meet business needs.

WEBMASTER

Also known as web developers, webmasters are responsible for a website’s overall look and function. That includes designing the site’s user interface and handling technical aspects, like writing code or integrating graphics or video. Additional responsibilities include creating test versions of websites and updating published content. Entry-level work in this role typically requires a bachelor’s degree.

In conclusion

Information technology is a broad, diverse, and growing field. Although IT professionals might help reset an account password or install a new printer, their responsibilities extend far beyond these important but basic tasks. IT workers use a variety of skills and apply their knowledge to develop real-world solutions for all types of corporate and personal technology concerns.

What are some jobs in information technology?

Common jobs in information technology include database administrators, web developers, computer programmers, network architects, and computer research scientists.

Which IT jobs are in demand?

In-demand IT jobs for 2021 include database administrators, systems analysts, and mobile application developers. Other top jobs include software developers, network administrators, and help desk specialists.

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Compulink VP, Denise Arboleda Awarded as City & State’s 2021 Responsible 100

Compulink Technologies, Inc. has been an active member in both the New York State & City communities for over three decades. We take pride in the community that we serve and, we are proud to honor our Vice-President, Denise Arboleda for being recognized as a 2021 City & State responsible 100. 

The responsible 100 is a list of leaders in the private sector who are actively seeking to help New Yorkers make our state a better place. The list is a seasonal reminder that giving back to the community and helping others is just as rewarding as running a successful business and earning profits.  

Denise serves on multiple community boards, participates in internship programs for high school students associated with the Boys and Girls Club and HANAC Youth Services and has spent her time serving government agencies serving across NYC. Denise is also a vocal and prominent advocate for women and minorities in business and has helped guide and mentor emerging MBE’s and MWBE’s through her own experience so they are positioned for future success. 

We have all learned how important it is to have a strong community throughout 2020 and 2021. There were many difficulties and hardships that businesses and individuals faced. We are proud to see Denise recognized for her efforts to strengthen the NYC community through her volunteering, leadership, advocacy and mentorship. Thank you for fighting the good fight!

 

To view the list of responsible 100 and to learn more about Denise, click here

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Compulink Technologies, Inc. Attends 2021 Women of the Channel Conference

Our Vice-President, Denise Arboleda just attended the Women of the Channel Leadership Summit over the last two days to connect with women IT channel leaders and to learn more about ways to galvanize more female leadership in tech. 

The Women of the Channel Leadership Summit East is the meeting place for women from across the IT channel who are looking to advance organizational diversity, make unmatched connections, and empower and cultivate women leaders. Attendees benefit from best-in-class thought leadership, motivational keynotes, channel trends, stimulating workshops, interactive peer panels and energizing networking opportunities ─ all focused on navigating the workplace and helping them develop their professional, corporate and personal goals”

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Gartner analyst: 12 technologies to accelerate growth, engineer trust and sculpt change in 2022

CEOs have three priorities for 2022: growth, digitalization and efficiency, and CIOs add value to those with force multipliers, creative technology and scalable foundation. Gartner research vice president David Groombridge announced the top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2022 during a session at Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo Americas Monday.

CEOs and boards are striving to grow and are willing to spend for digital investments to make direct connections with customers, Groombridge said. He cited 12 technologies that can enhance organizational efforts to accelerate growth, engineer trust and sculpt change.

Gartner
  1. Generative Artificial Intelligence – A new artificial intelligence coming to market is generative AI, which is the use of machine learning methods that learn about content or objects from their data and use it to generate new, completely original, realistic artifacts.

    Most AI models today are trained to drive conclusions, Groombridge said. Generative AI learns about artifacts from data. It could disrupt creative processes in engineering, manufacturing, architecture and design, he said.  

    Generative AI can be used in many ways, including creating software code, identifying new products, facilitating drug development and targeted marketing. It can also be misused for scams, fraud, political disinformation, forged identities and more. By 2025, Gartner expects generative AI to account for 10% of all data produced, up from less than 1% today.

  2. Data Fabric –The number of data and application silos has surged in the last decade, while the number of skilled personnel in data and analytics teams has either stayed constant or even dropped, Groombridge said. Data fabrics–flexible, resilient integration of data across platforms and business users–have emerged to simplify an organization’s data integration infrastructure and create a scalable architecture that reduces the technical debt seen in most D&A teams due to the rising integration challenges.

    The real value of data fabric is its ability to dynamically improve data usage with its built-in analytics, cutting data management efforts by up to 70% and accelerating time to value, according to Gartner.

  3. Disrupted Enterprise – With the rise in remote and hybrid working patterns, traditional office-centric organizations are evolving into distributed enterprises composed of geographically dispersed workers.

    “This requires CIOs to make major technical and service changes to deliver frictionless work experiences, but there is another side to this coin: the impact on business models,” Groombridge said. Every organization must reconfigure its delivery model to embrace distributed services, he said. “The world didn’t think they’d be trying on clothes in a digital dressing room two years ago.”

    Gartner is projecting that by 2023, 75% of organizations that exploit distributed enterprise benefits will realize revenue growth 25% faster than competitors.

  4. Cloud-Native Platforms – To truly deliver digital capabilities anywhere and everywhere, enterprises must turn away from the familiar “lift and shift” migrations and toward CNPs. CNPs use the core capabilities of cloud computing to provide scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities as a service to tech creators using internet technologies, which deliver faster time to value and reduced costs.

    Consequently, Gartner predicts that cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives by 2025—up from less than 40% in 2021.

  5. Autonomic Systems –

    As enterprises grow, traditional programming or simple automation will not scale, according to Groombridge. Autonomic systems are self-managing physical or software systems that learn from their environments. Autonomic systems can dynamically modify their own algorithms without an external software update, enabling them to rapidly adapt to new conditions in the field. 

    Autonomic systems will become common in robots, drones, manufacturing machines and smart spaces, he said.

  6. Decision Intelligence – Decision intelligence is a discipline used to improve decision-making by explicitly understanding and engineering how decisions are made, and outcomes evaluated, managed and improved by feedback. Gartner predicts that in the next two years, one-third of large organizations will be using decision intelligence for structured decision-making to improve competitive advantage.
  7. Composable applications – Demand for business adaptability is required in today’s continuously changing business environment. This requires technology architecture that supports fast, safe and efficient application change, Groombridge said. Composable application architecture empowers this adaptability, and those who have adopted a composable approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation, he said.
  8. Hyperautomation – Hyperautomation enables accelerated growth and business resilience by rapidly identifying, vetting and automating as many processes as possible.

    Gartner’s research shows that the top-performing hyperautomation teams focus on three key priorities: improving the quality of work, speeding up business processes and enhancing decision-making agility, Groombridge said.

  9. Privacy-Enhancing Computation –Besides dealing with maturing international privacy and data protection legislation, CIOs must avoid any loss of customer trust resulting from privacy incidents, he said. Gartner expects 60% of large organizations to use one or more privacy-enhancing computation techniques by 2025.

    PEC techniques protect personal and sensitive information at a data, software or hardware level. They securely share, pool and analyze data without compromising confidentiality or privacy, according to Gartner.

  10. Cybersecurity Mesh –  Data is only useful if enterprises can trust it,” Groombridge said. “Today, assets and users can be anywhere, meaning the traditional security perimeter is gone. This requires a cybersecurity mesh architecture.”

    CSMA helps provide an integrated security structure and posture to secure all assets, regardless of location, he said. By 2024, organizations adopting a CSMA to integrate security tools to work cooperatively will reduce the financial impact of individual security incidents by an average of 90%, according to Gartner.

  11. AI Engineering – IT leaders struggle to integrate AI within applications, wasting time and money on AI projects that are never put in production or struggling to retain value from AI products once released.

    So-called fusion teams working on AI will create a real differentiator for their organizations if they can continually enhance value through rapid AI change, Groombridge said. They need composable apps, which are built for modular components, he said. This will increase the efficiency of fusion teams.

    Composable apps are built from packaged business capabilities. PBCs create reusable business models that these teams can use to rapidly create a composed app integrated into a data fabric with UI over it, Groombridge said. “PBCs are the molecules, and fusion teams are the scientists creating them.”

    Using composable apps increases the number of apps delivered while cutting delivery time, he said.

    Already, companies including Georgia Pacific, Unity Health and Axon are operationalizing AI, he said. But for AI to be accepted “its ethics must be beyond exception,” Groombridge added.

  12. Total Experience – TX is a force multiplier for a growth strategy that combines customer experience, employee experience, user experience and multi-experience disciplines, Groombridge said. He advised organizations to leverage that by forming fusing teams with executive sponsors.

    Under the total experience approach, all discipline leaders should be equally responsible for meeting the combined needs of employees and customers, he said. Groombridge added that “traditional management approaches will not scale.”

    The goal of TX is to drive greater customer and employee confidence, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

    The top strategic technology trends for 2022 will drive significant disruption and opportunity over the next five to 10 years, according to Gartner.

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Most Common IT Help Desk Issues

Have you tried refreshing your browser? Try turning it off and turning it back on again. Clear your cache and see if that works. 

You’ve probably heard these phrases doled out as advice from an IT help desk specialist after calling for help, and that’s because those solutions actually work most of the time. We decided to put together a list of the most common help desk issues to shed light on the most common issues IT help desk support receives so you know what do in case you run into any of these issues. 

  1. Slow Internet – A slow Internet connection can be indicative of a few problems such as having too many tabs open in your browser, ransomware & spyware protection using too much memory, your ISP, or Internet speed. To fix these, simply close your tabs on your open browser, run a speed test to see if it’s a slow internet connection or open your task manager to see how much memory your antivirus protection is using. If all these fail to speed things up, then call your help desk support specialist and they can work their magic. 
  2. Can’t Connect to Network – Is your caps lock button on? We’re not trying to be rude, you’d be amazed how common that scenario is. If that isn’t the case, then it could be that the account was suspended or you were locked out, both not ideal scenarios. 
  3. Printer Issues – Is the printer connected to a power source? Again, we are not trying to be rude. It’s more common than you would think. It could also be that you are selecting the wrong printer from the list of devices when you go to print. If you still cannot get to the root of the issue, then a desktop support specialist is required to investigate. Absolutely DO NOT try to solve the issue in-house as this can lead to more problems. 
  4. Blue Screen of Death – One of the most dreaded computer issues is the aptly named ‘Blue Screen of Death.’ Most people freak out when they see the infamous blue windows screen with a frownie face and some text underneath. Not to worry- a simple computer reboot is usually all it takes to have your computer functioning again. 
  5. Computer Shuts Off At Random – This issue can usually be attributed to overheating from a an overaccumulation of dust and debris. Have you ever taken a look at your dusty windowsill? Dust and dirt accumulate fast on objects that are sedentary. It’s not an issue (unless you have bad allergies!) for everyday objects, but computers have to cool down when they are running, and if there is a large collection of dust, this can cause frequent outages and other problems for your PC. Another problem that causes this issue is a faulty laptop charger that shuts off the power whenever it is disconnected from its charging port.
  6. Lost Important Files  – Don’t Panic. Yes, that’s also a famous quote from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,’ but it is also advice to not freak out too much if you have accidentally deleted or lost important files. The first place to check is the recycling bin to look and see if there is a way to recover the files. If you are unable to recover the files in your recycling bin, it is in your best interest to contact a help desk support representative to see if they can recover the files by using a backup file.
  7. USB Port Not Working – Have you tried checking to see if the other USB port works with the device you are using? Also check if the device works with another machines? Still nothing? It could be the device is faulty, 
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