The Four Keys to Better I&O Efficiency

Four Keys to Better I&O EfficiencyIT infrastructure and operational (I&O) efficiency are fundamental to the ongoing success of businesses of every shape, size and industry. Yet, even those who recognize this fact may not have yet achieved full maturity in these areas. If you want to remain competitive in the digital age, you must find a way to improve, enhance and foster the infrastructure and operations of your organization. Here are four tips to get you started.

Focus on the Right Metrics – Measuring and monitoring performance are critical components of a mature I&O, so it’s important that you develop a good system with the right metrics in place. Not only do metrics provide the ability to monitor internal performance for improvement purposes, but they also arm IT managers with the tools and information needed to demonstrate those improvements to key decision makers.

Use the tools and technology at your disposal for measuring things like performance and availability, configuration management, workload automation and more to establish a baseline of I&O metrics and measure that baseline regularly. This will allow you to ensure ongoing performance and activity, which will eliminate the need for users to keep such a close watch on IT. This, in turn, provides an added benefit of enhanced security and compliance.

Plan Ahead to Reach Maturity – Understanding that you need to achieve a certain level of I&O maturity and actually putting the right steps in place to do so are two entirely different things. As with anything else in business, if you want to improve and enhance your infrastructure and operations, you must develop and implement a plan for reaching that goal. Try taking a programmatic approach, plotting a course of action that is most closely aligned with your overall business goals and needs.

First, determine the appropriate services that will help you achieve better performance and work toward your goals, always considering the costs associated with said services. Select your services and assemble the right team to help implement and manage those services. A recommended approach is to combine new employees with existing ones and provide the right training and tools to help empower them toward success.

Consider Different Angles & Think Outside the Box – There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to maturing your I&O, nor is there one single approach that works better than others. You may need to combine a variety of new and existing technologies to achieve the desired results. For instance, adding new hardware or servers can breathe new life into existing systems and make them more efficient and effective than they were previously. This marries new with old for optimum results at the right price.

Upon a thorough assessment of the company’s required governance, risk levels and change rate, another option would be to shift workloads from core resources into the cloud (either public or private). The key to this step, regardless of how it is ultimately executed, is to identify areas where existing hardware and systems can be leveraged and which areas will require new technology. Therein lies the answer as to which direction your particular business should head.

Automate, Automate, Automate – Finally, although perhaps most important, intelligent IT automation can have a tremendous impact on I&O maturity. One area in particular where automation can be critical is that of support and remediation. These routine, repetitive tasks, which are usually assigned to the IT help desk, can be more efficiently handled by an automation tool, freeing up personnel to focus on more important things. Automation can also reduce errors and improve compliance through enhanced auditing capability.

The requirement on IT groups to provide better, more accurate service with fewer resources is ultimately the need that will drive I&O to perform at its best. This takes maturity, which is something that doesn’t come naturally, but must be achieved through careful, strategic planning and ongoing measurement using the right tools, such as intelligent IT automation.

Could your I&O use an overhaul? Help bring the maturity of your infrastructure and operations to a whole new level by implementing IT automation within your organization. Click below to learn about the top 10 tasks you can start automating right away, and launch your free product demo today to get started!

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

How to Build Your Center of Excellence (CoE) for Automation

How to Build Your Next Generation Center of Excellence (CoE) for AutomationThe Center of Excellence (CoE) for Automation has become a very hot topic these days, moving from distributed organizations that each own several tools and scripting to one vertical center that provides automation solutions across the enterprise.

In response to this growing demand, Ayehu has established an Automation Academy that will help enterprises to transition and build their own CoE, training people to become Automation Specialists / Engineers. This will allow organizations to better prepare for the future (when machines will do almost everything) and help drive efficiencies via automation with a stronger emphasis on innovation.

Building your own CoE for Automation isn’t necessarily as complicated as you may think. In fact, it can be accomplished by implementing just a few strategic steps. Here’s how.

Step 1: Evaluate and Adopt Automation

The first step in the process of establishing a CoE  for Automation is to gain adequate understanding of the various challenges, opportunities and benefits of automation. During this process, project management teams may choose to identify certain “quick wins” that can be automated fast and result in immediate return on investment.

Step 2: Define, Document and Set Up the CoE

Having gained a strong understanding of the challenges surrounding adoption of automation as well as the tremendous, quantifiable opportunities it presents, the next step is actually establishing your Center of Excellence for Automation. This involves selecting the appropriate core team members as well as evangelists who will assist in spreading awareness and advocate for the benefits of automation.

Keep in mind that the ideal core team for a CoE demonstrates a broad spectrum of skill sets. For instance, you’ll need someone who can assess the impact and document the processes, someone who can handle the implementation and integration process and someone else who can monitor and test the automation.

Step 3: Establish Systems and Infrastructure

Your CoE for Automation will only be as effective as the technological foundation upon which it is built. Making wise choices upfront about the systems and infrastructure you establish will set the stage for rapid growth and also help to prevent potential issues from occurring down the road. Invest in enterprise-class automation and architecture that includes robust features. Create and document best practices with a focus on automated processes that are consistent, efficient, accurate and auditable.

Step 4: Train, Educate and Reskill

While automation will inevitably eliminate some jobs, there are opportunities to train and reskill people for new, next generation roles, such as Automation Engineers. Reskilling and redeploying back to work will ultimately create higher value for the organization, its clients and for the employees themselves. Look for training options that are specific to CoE development, like Ayehu Automation Academy.

Step 5: Sustain and Scale

Once your CoE is officially established, the next phase should involve aligning the automation strategy with the strategic objectives of the organization. This typically involves scaling the approach to make it broader. For instance, while the initial goal of automation might have been to reduce costs, the scope should eventually evolve to include such larger goals as creating stronger customer loyalty or driving greater agility.

The entire CoE needs to work on firming a matured process so it can become agile enough to respond to demand and maximize efficiency. This process should have a definition of how the organization should approach the CoE, how the CoE should evaluate and prioritize these requests, how it should develop its internal design to production processes, etc.

Finally, the core CoE team should specifically include analysts who can continuously identify automation opportunities, translate business needs to IT processes, determine potential ROI and create the logic steps necessary for the automation engineers to build and implement the processes. Remember – a CoE isn’t stagnant. It’s something that must change, evolve and improve as time goes by.

Step 6: Incorporate Automation into the Culture of the Enterprise

Ultimately, automation should become a complement of continuous process improvement for the entire organization. The last step of building a CoE for Automation involves changing the overall business mindset to embrace the opportunity automation presents to change and improve how it operates.

Creating the CoE without making a cultural change in the organization simply will not work. The organization (the people) must change their behavior and think about automation as opportunity to live better, to focus on more important things and be freed up for innovation. Embracing automation will allow the CoE to become relevant to an organization that wants to change and automate as much as possible.

Keep in mind that this phase can take a good deal of time to complete. You’ll know you’ve achieved success once automation becomes embedded in every department and function throughout the enterprise.

Step 7: Market the CoE

Once the CoE for Automation is successfully established and the necessary cultural shift has been set in motion, it’s time to start promoting the CoE to outside to end clients. Any client-facing employee should be prepared to sell the innovation and success stories of automation. This will create demand generation and fulfillment and help the organization achieve maximum competitive advantage.

This is clearly a high-level overview of the CoE process, but it should at least provide a framework upon which to build. If you’re considering making a move in this direction, we encourage you to take advantage of our resources and expertise by allowing us to assist you with developing and establishing your Center of Excellence.

Why go it alone when you can rely on a team of experts who can help you every step of the way? To learn more or get started, contact Ayehu today.

5 Reasons IT Automation Should Be Your Top Business Priority

5 Reasons IT Automation Should Be Your Top Business PriorityThere are plenty of reasons many organizations still haven’t jumped on the IT automation bandwagon. For some, it seems like too much of an investment. For most, however, it’s more a matter of not fully understanding the benefits this type of tool can have on productivity, efficiency, service levels and operations as a whole. If you’re one of those who are still on the fence about whether ITPA is really worth investing in, here are 5 compelling reasons to help you make the right decision.

Streamline Processes – Most businesses, especially in terms of IT, are run through a number of separate processes. Not only is this incredibly inefficient, but it’s also much more error-prone. If just one area breaks down the potential ripple effect could end up costing the company substantial money. IT automation is designed to streamline operations so everything works in conjunction for optimum performance.

Reduce Excess Costs – Without question, one of the biggest drains on an organization’s revenue is inefficiency. Another is costly human error. One tiny mistake or delayed process could have a huge impact on the bottom line. By removing the human element from many of the manual processes IT performs on a daily basis, efficiency levels will be maximized and errors will be eliminated, thereby saving money for your company.

Enhanced Visibility and Accountability – Do the decision makers in your IT department really know who’s doing what and how at any given moment? Probably not. This lack of visibility can allow inefficiencies and underperformers to slip through the cracks unnoticed, and the business will pay as a result. The right IT automation tool will provide real-time insight throughout the entire process. As a result, each team member will have a greater level of accountability for his or her performance.

Identification and Development of Best Practices – The only way to make your business run better is to understand what processes are in place, how they are being handled and what the outcome currently is. This helps you determine what’s working and which areas might need some tweaking. IT automation powered by AI and machine learning provides valuable insight into key business processes so they can be further analyzed in order to create and develop best practices moving forward.

Better Use of Resources – Your IT department is staffed with well-trained professionals who, if you don’t have automation, are wasting their valuable skills and abilities. As a result, you are wasting money paying them to do menial tasks for which they are overqualified. By implementing IT automation, those routine tasks and processes are handled automatically, freeing up your skilled IT personnel to focus their time and efforts on more important tasks.

Is your organization losing money on inefficient processes, errors and wasted efforts? Are you ready to experience firsthand how IT automation can help? Click here to take it for a test drive.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

HR Pros: Workflow Automation Could Be Your Ace in the Hole

HR Pros: Workflow Automation Could Be Your Ace in the HoleIf there’s any department that could benefit from workflow automation, it’s human resources. Between processing applications and conducting interviews to hiring and onboarding and the mountains of paperwork that come along with it, it’s easy to see where someone in this role could get bogged down with manual tasks. With automation, however, the majority of these things can be shifted from human to computer, dramatically improving efficiency levels, boosting productivity and freeing up skilled workers to focus on other, more important mission-critical projects. Here are 6 specific examples.

Streamline the hiring process.

How much money does your organization pay your skilled HR staff members to handle the hiring process? Even at minimum wage, the amount of time wasted on so many manual tasks could easily be better spent elsewhere. Implementing workflow automation will streamline this entire process. It will also eliminate the risk of miscommunication between the HR team and manager while providing real-time overview of the process so nothing falls through the cracks.

Faster, easier onboarding.

Another necessary but highly time consuming task is that of onboarding new employees. For some organizations, this can take days or more. Imagine the experience of a new hire having to wait for system access and all the subsequent delays this causes. When you automate this process, however, the time it takes to get a new employee up and running can be cut down to just a few hours (or less). This improves the employee experience and keeps operations running smoothly.

Keep closer tabs on time sheets.

On average, managers spend 15 or more hours each and every month just sorting through, verifying and approving employee time sheets. Using spreadsheets and other antiquated methods is not only arduous and inefficient, but it’s also riddled with the potential for human error. Introducing workflow automation into the time sheet approval process makes collecting, validating and tracking data fast, straightforward and error-free. It also saves HR the hassle of having to manually update employee records.

Simplify performance appraisals.

The managers in your company have little time to spare, which means updating employee performance records is likely a huge and dreaded chore. When this isn’t made a priority, however, the employee experience will suffer as well the overall performance of the entire organization. Adding workflow automation into the mix will simplify the performance validation process, ensuring that records are systematically updated and that accurate, data-backed metrics are readily available.

Manage leave requests.

Depending on the size of your company, the number of leave requests flowing through management and into the HR department could be monumental. Sorting through these requests, validating them and processing them in a timely manner can be incredibly cumbersome. There’s also the serious risk of requests slipping by unnoticed, resulting in delays in approvals and a subsequently frustrating employee experience. When HR automates this process, leave requests become simple and track-able, and employee records are updated instantly.

Quick, efficient offboarding.

Offboarding a departing employee is one of the most important things a company can do to protect sensitive data and ensure business continuity. Automated workflows provide a secure, reliable platform upon which to gather and process employee discharges, including system access removal, return of equipment and termination of wages and benefits. This saves HR a significant amount of time and effort while ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks.

When it comes to the human resources function of business, the need to streamline processes, improve communication, keep track of tasks and reduce errors is absolutely critical. Otherwise, your HR team will waste hours each day on error-prone manual tasks. Workflow automation provides the ideal solution to all of the main HR functions, delivering speed, accuracy and efficiency and improving the overall department operations. Furthermore, with an automation platform that’s powered by AI, continuous process improvements can become par for the course.

If you haven’t yet adopted workflow automation technology for your organization, the time to do so is now. Click here to see it in action today.

EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

5 Ways Agentless IT Automation Can Benefit Your Business

5 Ways Agentless IT Automation Can Benefit Your BusinessAgentless IT automation software is not something that’s new to the market. In fact, automation has been leveraged for decades to some degree, with the most recent being its use in the business world to streamline operations, boost efficiency and productivity levels, reduce errors, improve SLAs, reduce costs and a whole host of other benefits. If you’re still on the fence about whether agentless IT automation would be worth the investment for your organization, here are five fundamental advantages for you to keep in mind.

Quick and Simple Implementation

Think implementing IT automation will be a huge undertaking? Think again. In fact, with the right platform, you can start automating everything from simple tasks to complex workflows in a remarkably short amount of time and with little to no interruption to business operations. Once installed, agentless IT automation can begin providing benefits almost immediately by freeing up skilled IT personnel to focus their valuable abilities on more important projects.

This is in stark contrast to agent-based software, which requires a much greater investment of time and resources. Not only does the latter require individual installation and configuration of each agent, but the process also often requires that each server be taken out of production in the process. Furthermore, should the implementation process not go as smoothly as anticipated, it could lead to even more costly down-time.

Enhanced Compatibility

Most organizations operate using a broad variety of systems and applications. Converting to one universal platform is typically not feasible, particularly for larger enterprises. Yet silos such as these can hinder efficiency and cause costly delays. Agentless IT automation is designed to fit seamlessly into this type of environment. Compatibility and straightforward integration with any number of popular programs, systems and applications helps to create a more streamlined and cohesive infrastructure.

To the contrary, with agent-based applications, there is often a conflict with existing processes and underlying operating systems. Additionally, each applications, system and platform requires the coding and compilation of a separate agent.

Easy Maintenance and Upgrades

Compared to agent-based technology, agentless IT automation is much less expensive, both in terms of ongoing maintenance as well as occasional upgrades. This is due in large part to the fact that it does not require that each agent in various versions across individual servers be addressed separately. Backup applications can be upgraded on the agentless platform directly, which then automatically initiates the rollout to the entire system.

With an agent-based system, backup application upgrades, regardless of how minor, typically require that a new agent version be installed. Furthermore, every operating system upgrade could potentially require a patch. This can result in increased system down-time, strain on personnel resources, increased expense and unnecessary risk.

Improved Performance and Enhanced Reliability

Since agentless IT automation technology requires the use of fewer resources, its overall performance is more efficient and output greater. Rather than requiring a background application to run continuously, information transfers can instead by managed via a file-sharing method, which minimizes the direct impact on any systems and applications that might be running concurrently.

Because an agent-based environment demands significant resources, the core function of the server or device being monitored may be impacted. It’s possible for agents to consume so much of the server’s resources that it can compromise its performance. This, coupled with the fact that most scaled environments feature hundreds of backup servers vastly increases the risk of failure.

Centralized Data Management

When it comes to data collection, agent-based technology uses a “push” technique, which can increase the chances of system performance issues when random updates occur. Because scheduling for agent-related activities takes place at the individual server level, data management can become increasingly time-consuming for IT personnel. This is made worse as the number of servers increases.

Conversely, agentless IT automation technology uses a “pull” data collection method, which is designed to be orderly and efficient. Queries are centrally managed and scheduled by the data protection application. As a result, data collection is conducted on a continuous and predictable basis.

Could your organization benefit from these things? Agentless IT automation technology might be the ideal solution you’re looking for. Experience it for yourself with a free product demo.

 

EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)

Cybersecurity: To Automate or Not to Automate?

cybersecurity - to automate or not to automateThere’s no question that cybersecurity incidents are increasingly on the rise. In fact, the numbers are steadily climbing at an alarming rate. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly evident that businesses must be proactive and extremely diligent about protecting their sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. Could automated cybersecurity incident response be the answer?

In years past, the traditional 4-step method of managing security incidents was sufficient. IT personnel would prepare as much as they could for possible attacks and spend a great deal of their time analyzing the events that were detected to determine their legitimacy and severity. From there, the next step was to contain or eradicate the problem and work toward system recovery as quickly as possible. IT would then evaluate their response to develop better practices for use in the future. For a while, this was enough to keep cyber-attackers in check.

Unfortunately, with online cybersecurity breaches becoming much more frequent and sophisticated, the old method for security incident response is no longer effective. It’s simply not fast enough, nor is it proactive or thorough enough to keep up with the changing demands. Today, IT personnel just don’t have the capacity to handle such an influx of threats, nor do they have the time or bandwidth to evaluate and address every event as it comes in. This can lead to devastating and costly breaches.

When you add automation into the cybersecurity incident response process, however, all of these shortcomings can be addressed and eliminated. With a quality automation product, the IT department can streamline their incident management process. Incoming events are detected and the system automatically evaluates, prioritizes and escalates. This eliminates false positives and ensures that legitimate threats are always detected, reported and addressed in a timely manner.

Additionally, automation can then facilitate a seamless, closed-loop process, updating the incident log, resolving alerts and tracking and documenting all processes to be used for developing best practices moving forward. An automated system can also help IT departments to become more proactive by identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities. Most importantly, with an automated process, systems can be back up and running much faster, reducing costly downtime and improving customer satisfaction.

Today’s automation products can be easily and seamlessly integrated with existing incident management programs, such as Solarwinds and Servicenow, to extend and enhance legacy systems without the need for an entire platform replacement or overhaul.

With cyber-attacks steadily on the rise, businesses of every shape, size and industry are at risk of becoming victims. The best way to protect yourself, your organization and those whose sensitive information may be at risk is to establish a solid cybersecurity incident response plan.

Is your company protected? Launch your free product demo of Ayehu today to see how automation can make your cybersecurity as close to impenetrable as possible.

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

How to Overcome IT Security Staff Burnout

Overcoming IT security staff burnoutToday’s IT security professionals are under increasing pressure to manage and assure the highest level data protection for their organizations and clients. With the number of incoming threats steadily on the rise and staffing numbers remaining stagnant (or dropping), those in this high-stress industry are burning out at a rapid pace. IT leadership is often painfully aware of the issue at hand, but at a loss as to how to help ease the burden their staff is under. The good news is there is a solution and it’s not nearly as difficult or costly as you may think. But first, we must get to the heart of the problem.

As IT security threats and their subsequent impact continue to increase in number, frequency and complexity, businesses are scrambling to keep up. Furthermore, budgetary restrictions and a skills shortage are also wreaking havoc on IT security teams. As a result, qualified personnel are finding themselves inundated with a relentless stream of cyber-attacks, which is contributing greatly to the high level of turnover in the IT security field. Simply put, employees are overworked and it’s taking a significant toll.

Couple this with the fact that the incident response and remediation process for most companies is still partially or entirely manual. As such, system and network vulnerabilities are not properly being managed, which leads to increased risk to the organization. Further, dependence on tools like spreadsheets, emails and phone calls to handle incidents is not an adequate or effective way to manage incidents. There’s simply too much risk involved, which in turn puts even more pressure on IT security personnel. Something’s got to give.

As a result of all of these critical factors, many organizations are turning to automation to help manage the IT workload and improve service levels. More specifically, IT security professionals are beginning to see the power of automation for more effective management of incident response and remediation. In fact, with the right tool, existing systems and applications can be linked to create a more uniform infrastructure and close the loop on the incident response process.

Additionally, integrating automation into your incident response strategy can provide the following benefits:

  • Remove manual processes that slow response time. Managing IT security incidents manually often results in costly delays and bottlenecks, which slow your mean time to resolution. Automation eliminates these manual processes and thereby dramatically improve MTTR.
  • Enable the use of a single platform for IT security incident management. Gain real-time visibility and maintain control over the entire process to ensure ownership and accountability.
  • Prioritize and manage risk based on criticality. The IT security team can focus on those incidents that present the greatest degree of risk to the organization while the automation tool can handle less significant incidents without the need for human intervention.
  • Free up and optimize use of skilled staffing resources. IT security personnel can be freed up to focus their time, efforts and advanced skillsets on other critical tasks and issues.
  • Gain greater visibility over all IT security incidents. Centralized dashboard allows IT leadership to get real-time updates on any and all issues currently being handled.

As you can clearly see, automation is proving to be the ideal solution to easing the heavy burden of today’s IT security personnel. If you’re not yet taking advantage of the many benefits this technology has to offer for your organization, the time to do so is now.

Get started today by launching your free demo of Ayehu.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

The Role of Humans in Robotic Process Automation

The Role of Humans in Robotic Process AutomationWhile robotic process automation has been touted as the be all and end all of workplace optimization, in reality it’s not necessarily the magical quick-fix that many in business leadership envision it to be. It’s much more complex than that. Will it ultimately lead to greater efficiency and productivity levels? Definitely. Robotic process automation is certainly poised to dramatically change the way we work, but it’s not as though we’re going to be turning our jobs entirely over to machines. To be truly effective, RPA still requires a certain degree of human management.

Human input and oversight is critical for RPA to be successful. In a perfect world, it would be great to simply plug and play, putting the robots in place and just letting them do their thing. But that’s not what you’d do with human workers, right? Just like your employees, the robots you implement must first be told what to do. The tasks, workflows and processes they’re employed to do must be built and communicated, and that’s where humans come into play.

The good news is, with the right software solution, this is relatively straightforward (i.e. it doesn’t require any advanced coding or programming skills). Regardless, however, building and implementing a complex RPA process still time and attention. The most important step is determining what processes can and should be automated to achieve maximum efficiency, and this cannot be done without human input. It’s also equally important that the process be tested regularly, particularly during the building and implementation process, to ensure that it’s working properly. Again, this requires human intelligence.

Those who have already been successful at adopting and leveraging robotic process automation within their organization recommend establishing a dedicated team to oversee and manage the automation process. It shouldn’t be assumed or expected that IT will simply add RPA to its list of other functions. Those in charge of RPA should specifically be assigned the duties of managing and modifying workflows, allocating the appropriate number of robots to daily tasks, prioritizing work and, of course, dealing with exceptions as they arise. The latter part in particular demonstrates the important role of humans in ensuring that RPA runs as smoothly and effectively as possible.

Furthermore, just like their human counterparts, robots will require routine performance reviews. Obviously this won’t require tact and two-way interaction, but rather its purpose is to improve the automated processes whenever and wherever possible. Once up and running, the robotic process automation team will need to oversee processes at various intervals, fixing anything that goes awry and identifying areas of potential improvement. Additionally, human input is required to go through, analyze and leverage all of the data and documentation reported by the robots.

So, while the ultimate purpose of robotic process automation is to streamline operations, it’s not meant to replace human workers. In fact, at least as of the time of this writing, this wouldn’t even be possible. In reality, RPA is meant to enhance and improve the work environment for humans and only with their support, input and management can the true benefits of automation be realized.

Curious about how RPA works and whether it would be a good fit for your organization? Request a free product demo today.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Here’s What Cybersecurity Data Breaches Cost in 2017

Here’s What Cybersecurity Data Breaches Cost in 2017Welcome to 2018! As we usher in a new year, it can be helpful to take a look back at what occurred over the past 12 months, particularly in terms of cybersecurity. Recognizing what threats are out there and having an accurate understanding of what those risks could potentially cost your business can help you better prepare for and prevent such events from impacting your organization in the future. To gain some insight in this area, we turned to the 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study. Here’s a synopsis of what the study uncovered.

The annual study was conducted by IBM Security and Ponemon Institute, polling 63 U.S. organizations covering 16 different industry sectors. At a glance, the numbers look like the following:

  • Average number of breached records: 28,512
  • Average total cost of data breach: $7.35 million (up from $7.01 million)
  • Increase in total cost of data breach: 5%
  • Average cost per lost or stolen record: $225 (up from $221)
  • Increase in cost per lost or stolen record: 2%

How is the cost of a data breach calculated?

One of the biggest takeaways from this year’s study was the various factors that are used to calculate the cost of a data breach. Some are obvious, others are more obtuse. Here’s what organizations should take into consideration when evaluating risk:

  • Size of breach and/or number of records lost or stolen
  • Time required to identify and contain a breach (this number decreasing, thanks in large part to organizations investing in intelligent cybersecurity technologies)
  • Detection and escalation costs (including costs associated with investigations, assessments, audits and communication management)
  • Post-breach costs, including the expense of notifying victims and appropriate authorities as well as legal expenditures
  • Churn rate (loss of customers due to reputational damage following a data breach)

Some of the factors that are recommended for reducing these costs include the use of cybersecurity analytics as well as recruiting and retaining experienced, knowledgeable personnel. Implementing strategies and advanced technologies that can limit the number of records lost or stolen can also help organizations lower costs and mitigate risks.

Additional Noteworthy Findings

Narrowing down the 23-page report, here are a few of the most pertinent findings:

  • Both the individual and total average cost of data breaches for an organization have reached record highs
  • The amount of abnormal churn (i.e. loss of customers outside of normal course of business) is also on the rise
  • Heavily regulated industries experience higher data breach costs (particularly health care and financial services)
  • Detection and escalation costs are at a record high
  • Malicious or criminal attacks remain the primary cause of data breach (and the most costly)
  • Extensive use of mobile platforms has increased cybersecurity risk
  • Costs associated with lost business continue to increase
  • The use of intelligent cybersecurity analytics reduces the per capita cost of a breach

More money is being spent on indirect cybersecurity costs than direct ones. These costs include the time employees spend on notifications of data breaches as well as incident investigations/remediation efforts.

And, a point that’s so important it’s worth mentioning again: the time it takes to identify and contain a data breach has a tremendous impact on the costs associated with such breaches. In this year’s study, it took an average of 206 days for organizations to detect an incident and another 55 days to contain it. For mean time to identify (MTTI) of fewer than 100 days, the average cost associated was $5.99 million. For MTTI greater than 100 days, however, that cost increases significantly to $8.70 million. Likewise, costs associated with mean time to contain (MTTC) rose from $5.87 million (less than 30 days) to $8.83 million (30 days or more).

The overall conclusion from these facts and figures is that cybersecurity continues to be an incredibly costly risk to organizations. To mitigate this risk (and the hefty costs associated with it), business leaders must take a proactive approach, developing strategies and leveraging advanced incident response technology to stay a step ahead of hackers. Intelligent automation powered by AI and machine learning can provide this level of security.

To see the Ayehu platform in action and prepare your company for an uncertain future, click here.

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

How To Get Prepared For The 2018 GDPR Deadline

How To Get Prepared For The 2018 GDPR Deadline

This article was originally published in Forbes.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to affect thousands of organizations worldwide. In fact, GDPR is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. For those unfamiliar, GDPR defines a broad set of rights and principles governing the protection and use of EU citizens’ data, independent of physical location.

Heavy fines for noncompliance and rapid breach notification requirements, coupled with a mid-2018 implementation deadline mean that organizations must immediately and aggressively begin working on GDPR. At a minimum, they should start by developing data classification strategies, data usage and retention guidelines and baseline security controls. Furthermore, by automating these processes and controls, they can lower the cost and ease the implementation of GDPR compliance.

GDPR Background, Rights And Principles

GDPR was developed by the EU in order to formalize the rights of its citizens and their personal data. It applies to any firm or organization that processes or stores such data, regardless of where they are located. For example, a U.S.-based company that held client data in Singapore would still be subject to GDPR, provided that data included clients who are EU citizens.

Unlike its predecessor, GDPR contains strong enforcement measures. First, fines for noncompliance of up to 4% of worldwide revenue can be assessed for extreme violations. Second, in the event of a serious breach, violators may have to notify both EU authorities and the citizens affected within 72 hours, which will be extremely challenging and potentially disruptive.

The key element of GDPR is the definition of data protection rights for its citizens. The list of rights is extensive and will impact business models and processes in many ways. Some of the more important rights to take note of include the following:

• Consent must be given for data processing, and the way the data will be used must be stated in a way that is easy for the citizen to understand.

• Organizations must clearly state what data is being processed, how it is being processed and with what other organizations the data might be shared.

• Citizens have a right to be forgotten. That is, they can request that all copies of their data be deleted. They also have a right to be easily able to transfer their data from one organization to another.

Given that there is less than a year before the deadline for compliance, organizations absolutely must begin preparing immediately. There are several areas that are high priorities for action. These include staffing, data audit and classification, risk analysis and basic system logging. Beyond that, organizations must begin aligning their business models with acceptable GDPR practices, building their client notification and consent frameworks and defining a fundamental security control set.

GDPR Preparation

The first step in adapting to global regulation change, beyond understanding what the change entails, is preparing as far in advance as possible. With just about five months until implementation, the time to start prepping is upon us. While each individual organization will ultimately need to develop its own unique strategy, there are certain constants that are recommended for all enterprises to remain GDPR compliant. Those constants include four key steps, as follows:

Discovery: Identifying what personal data the organization is in possession of and where it resides.

Management: The governance of how personal data is accessed and used.

Protection: Establishing security controls to prevent, detect and respond to infrastructure vulnerabilities and data breaches.

Reporting: Acting on data requests, reporting data breaches and maintaining required documentation.

These four key factors should become the foundation of any GDPR policy. There is, of course, leeway as to how these steps are carried out and what tools and techniques are applied in doing so. Forward-thinking business leaders will leverage as many tools as available in order to streamline and strengthen their GDPR compliance.

Using Technology To Close The Gap

In response to the proposed change in data security regulation, many developers and vendors have begun offering various tools and technologies specifically designed to help organizations prepare and comply with GDPR. For instance, there is a growing number of risk assessment tools that provide deep analysis and visibility into database infrastructure along with recommendations for remediation. There are also a number of implementation solutions that have been preconfigured with GDPR rules, standards and processes.

From a control standpoint, automation is emerging as a valuable option, particularly because it creates a consistent, automatic and well-documented process that will stand up to scrutiny during an audit. It makes it much more certain that a spot check for compliance (e.g., validating the control for a particular day) will pass successfully. And with a flexible solution, an automation platform can integrate with virtually all security solutions in the market. This means that the organization can choose whatever security solutions they feel are best and still have the automated process they need to be successful.

Another consideration is segregation of duties. A security control must be separated from the people the control is monitoring. Using an automated process means that staff members do not need to be involved, eliminating the risk of staff members having access to both the data and the security control that protects it. Furthermore, a reliable record of that access is created in a data store that is closed to system administrators, creating a solid audit trail to validate the controls.

No Magic Bullet

It should be noted that there is no absolute perfect solution when it comes to compliance. The question of whether a control set is sufficient to protect data relative to risk is quite subjective. What auditors look for is not a fixed set of deliverables but a consistent methodology for analyzing risk, arriving at a control set and implementing those controls. By preparing ahead and leveraging the appropriate tools and technologies, organizations can improve the chances of maintaining compliance on a consistent basis.

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