What is Business Automation?

In the era of communication, we find ourselves overwhelmed with all sorts of technology to automate our daily tasks. From apps to install on our smartphone to organize our schedule, to software to install on our desktop computers to help a workflow, to websites and portals for our daily shopping, business needs and tracking, let alone digital devices allowing our lives to be connected to the internet (IoT), like smartwatches to digital machines, and more.

So how can we make the best of the advantages our epoch provides for our business?

  • Whether you’re in retail, manufacturing, or a service providing business, an ERP is VITAL for your business. Otherwise, you will find yourself attending to administration and control more than running your actual business, improving your sales, and flourishing your future strategy.
  • Don’t think of business automation as just taking the same papers and converting them to Word and PDF docs. Business automation means to create the process which will define your business flows. Make your work streamlined and integrated, error-proof, saving energy and ensuring overall efficiency.
  • An automated system will allow you to integrate your business flow, whether it’s from lead management to sales, to accounting, procurement, and the constant flow. So you can tailor your application to suit the exact standard flow of your business. This way you will resolve communication issues, unnecessary follow ups, and increase productivity of your employees.
  • The heart of all businesses is equal to their assets. Business automation can easily make sure you have full control of your cash, fixed assets, transactions, and all your financial needs. Instead of spending time to track expenses, receipts, budgets and more, you can use a business automation software and daily control the cash in and out of your company.
  • If you define your workflows within the system, you will make sure your departments will be working together seamlessly, and approval systems can be defined to guarantee workflow systems. This way instead on administrative tasks, your employees can focus on customer services.

These are just a few of the best you can make of the technologies available today. To elaborate on the advantages that a management system can provide for you, whether it’s a strong CRM system like Salesforce, a collaboration system like Bitrix24 or a fully integrated ERP like Odoo, will be in our next articles.

Whether you’re a startup or an ancient running business, you need to get automated if you want to stay in business. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself piled up with administrative and financial tasks, unnecessary expenses, uncontrolled services and much more.

By Nadia Kamil , Technical & Project Manager at Comelite IT Solutions

4 devices that can help secure your home’s IoT

Another article regarding IoT by Ben Dickson, recently published by TNW News, 4 devices that can help secure your home’s IoT.

Read the whole article here …

The fast growing Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon has already changed our lives in unimaginable ways, and offers many promising ideas in the future. Things that are accomplished with connected devices these days were inconceivable a few years back.

But as with every technology, there’s a dark side to IoT, and as hot new gadgets make our homes smarter, they’re also making them more vulnerable to new forms of cyber-attacks and malicious activities.

With so many vulnerable IoT gadgets at large, there are many reasons for you to worry about your smart-home’s security. And with IoT devices multiplying at a chaotic pace, you’ll soon be hard-pressed to control and the dozens of connected gadgets adorning your home.

In response to the growing number of IoT devices in homes and the potential attack vectors they introduce, tech firms are offering new smart solutions that make up for the shortcomings of individual devices by creating a shell around your home’s IoT ecosystem and controlling the interactions with and between your gadgets in a centralized way.

Here are some of the titles that are promising to provide all-in-one solutions for security problems in smart homes.

F-Secure SENSE

Finnish security company F-Secure is offering a new approach to home security with its new SENSE gadget.

IoT-1Ben Dickson

SENSE connects to your existing Wi-Fi router and adds a layer of security to your home network, which you can monitor and control through an administrative mobile application. The device scans your network activity, and sends you notifications if it “senses” that something’s not right.

The SENSE app can be installed on smartphones, tablets and computers, and allows you to block any incoming our outgoing traffic that seems suspicious, giving you centralized remote control over individual devices in your network.

Aside from setting a secure perimeter around your home, SENSE also scrutinizes your network’s inner activities and protects your devices from things that are inside your network. “The reason why we have this feature,” says Mika Stahlberg, director of product management at F-Secure, “is that while your smart toaster might not be critical to your security and privacy, its vulnerabilities can be used as a bridgehead to take over other devices in your home.”

One of the strengths of the SENSE gadget is its combination with F-Secure’sSecure Cloud, a vast repository of known viruses and threats that helps the device decide about suspicious activity it detects.

According to Mika Majapuro, Director of Product Management at F-Secure, Secure Cloud “uses advanced technologies such as behavioral analysis and machine learning to detect, categorize, and block new threats.” Secure Cloud is constantly being updated with new threat and product information, always keeping SENSE gadgets up to date with the latest threat information.


Solving The Persistent Security Threats For The Internet Of Things

The rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the security issues created in its wake have quickly captured the attention of governmental and regional bodies and consumers.

According to a survey by Auth0, more than 50 percent of consumers and 90 percent of developers are skeptical about IoT security.

The security problem — and, just as important, the security risks that consumers perceive in internet-connected devices — represents a real threat to the hundreds of millions of dollars companies are pouring into connected devices of all stripes.

And with the technology still in its infancy, defining a finite framework for its security is a challenging task.

“The Internet of Things is a complex idea and organism, constantly evolving to both its own needs and the needs of consumers. As such, to provide hard and fast security rules would be similar to knowing the workings of a biological creature,” wrote Jen Martinson, editor-in-chief of Secure Thoughts.

Taking lessons from past experiences, the tech community is scrambling to plug the leaks before the situation spins out of control, and many startups and established companies in the tech industry are using this window of opportunity to mitigate the threats and decide the fate of this fast-growing phenomenon.

From solutions for connectivity threats to data protection and the quarantine of potentially compromised devices, startups and tech giants are developing solutions for the problem areas in IoT security.

Read More…

Refer to the new article written by Ben Dickson, published by TechCrunch

Don’t Panic Over The Rise In Personal Data Theft

As internet and mobile services continue to rise in power and prominence in our personal and professional lives, so do the dangers and dragons lurking in the darkness of their shadows.

And while yesterday’s science-fiction has become today’s reality, there is cause to be concerned that about every aspect of our lives can be discovered and used in dishonest and malicious ways at the whim of cybercriminals.

Perhaps the most tragic case was that of the recent hacking of Ashley Madison, in which private lives ­– and affairs – were caught in the crossfire between a disgruntled employee and the company. The trove of data that spilled across the internet led to the suicide of several victims, and the resignation of the company’s CEO, and the episode continues to make headlines in its aftermath.

The massive cyberintrusion in the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) earlier this year taught us that even government-class security gear can fail to prevent information theft. In the attack, sensitive information belonging to more than 20 million U.S. government employees was stolen by hackers with alleged ties to the Chinese government.

The data breach at health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield, which leaked the personal information of more than 10 million people, revealed the darker side of electronic health services, which have otherwise helped revolutionize the health and health service industry.

While Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) tend to go after corporate and governmental targets, there are also new trends in hackers targeting small businesses and even personal computers and devices rather than going after the big players.

Mobile devices, which have become an inherent part of our lives, are being increasingly targeted by cyber-attacks, and malicious hackers are constantly finding new ways to remotely steal data from phones, listen to calls, take pictures, record voice, or even steal fingerprints. Or they can simply opt to hijack target devices altogether and use them for their own evil ends. And the worst part is that much of it can be done without the victim ever finding out.

And with the advent of Remote Access Trojans, even your bedroom can no longer be considered a private sanctuary, for hackers can take ownership of your webcam and start recording your most intimate activities, which will certainly be used against you in the future.

When they can’t run off with your sensitive information, hackers can target you with crypto-ransomware and encrypt your files and data beyond your reach, either to spite you or to extort you out of your bucks.

Recent research has proven that even antivirus software can be compromised and exploited by hackers, and the simple installation of antivirus programs does not guarantee full immunity against threats.

And while the Internet of Things (IoT)  promises to be the next big thing, it will surely trail behind it a host of threats and new attacks. Don’t be surprised if you read about fridges and microwaves turning against their owners very soon.

The spike in attacks against government and corporate networks has turned cyber-security into a vital part of every country’s defense strategy, and officials and agencies are scrambling to shore up their networks against zero-day threats exploited by hackers, domestic and foreign.

Presently, the question is: Should we panic? Should we smash our computers and mobiles to pieces, incinerate the remains, throw the ashes in the sea, and run in the opposite direction to live the rest of our lives as hermits in a clandestine jungle where mankind has never set foot?

The answer is no. Fact of the matter is, the bright side of technological advances are far greater than the evil that trails behind it. The internet and mobile industry have allowed humanity to take leaps in the fields of medicine, science, disaster recovery, democracy and freedom of expression, among others.

Therefore, instead of freaking out and retracing our steps, we must take the necessary precautions to save our personal and corporate lives.

Perhaps the silver lining in all these attacks is that it has raised awareness among companies and governments, and many countries are considering passing laws that bind service providers to protect user data.

Surprisingly, most successful attacks on individuals result from lack of caution from the part of the victim. Adopting the following basic set of technical best practices can help protect your devices from most threats and vulnerabilities:

  • Regularly change your account passwords, use strong passwords. and avoid using obvious, guessable passwords
  • Keep your operating system and software constantly patched and updated.
  • Invest in a reliable anti-malware program, both on your PC and your mobile devices.
  • Avoid downloading programs from unreliable sources, or clicking on links in emails coming from unknown senders.
  • If you’re going to store information in the cloud, consider using an encryption solution that will ensure your data remains safe even if the provider is compromised.

Author:  Ben Dickson, Software engineer and CTO at Comelite IT Solutions.Contributor to TechCrunch, AppsZoom and CanadaFreePress.

Published by: TechCrunch

Why IoT Security Is So Critical

Twenty years ago, if you told me my phone could be used to steal the password to my email account or to take a copy of my fingerprint data, I would’ve laughed at you and said you watch too much James Bond. But today, if you tell me that hackers with malicious intents can use my toaster to break into my Facebook account, I will panic and quickly pull the plug from the evil appliance.

Welcome to the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), where digitally connected devices are encroaching on every aspect of our lives, including our homes, offices, cars and even our bodies. With the advent of IPv6 and the wide deployment of Wi-Fi networks, IoT is growing at a dangerously fast pace, and researchers estimate that by 2020, the number of active wireless connected devices will exceed 40 billion.

The upside is that we are able to do things we never before imagined. But as with every good thing, there’s a downside to IoT: It is becoming an increasingly attractive target for cybercriminals. More connected devices mean more attack vectors and more possibilities for hackers to target us; unless we move fast to address this rising security concern, we’ll soon be facing an inevitable disaster.

IoT Vulnerabilities Open Up New Possibilities To Hackers

Some of the more frightening vulnerabilities found on IoT devices have brought IoT security further up the stack of issues that need to be addressed quickly.

Earlier this month, researchers found critical vulnerabilities in a wide range of IoT baby monitors, which could be leveraged by hackers to carry out a number of nefarious activities, including monitoring live feeds, changing camera settings and authorizing other users to remotely view and control the monitor.

In another development, it was proven that Internet-connected cars can be compromised, as well, and hackers can carry out any number of malicious activities, including taking control of the entertainment system, unlocking the doors or even shutting down the car in motion.

Wearables also can become a source of threat to your privacy, as hackers can use the motion sensors embedded in smartwatches to steal information you’re typing, or they can gather health data from smartwatch apps or health tracker devices you might be using.

Some of the most worrisome cases of IoT hacks involve medical devices and can have detrimentalperhaps fatal — consequences on patients’ health.

What Is being Done To Secure The IoT?

The silver lining is that IoT security, previously ignored, has now become an issue of high concern, even at the federal government level. Several measures are already being taken to gap holes and prevent security breaches at the device level, and efforts are being led to tackle major disasters before they come to pass.

After the Jeep Cherokee hack, automaker Fiat scrambled to have the problem fixed and quickly issued a safety recall for 1.4 million U.S. cars and trucks to install a security update patch. The whole episode also served as a wakeup call for the entire IoT industry.

Now security firms and manufacturers are joining ranks to help secure the IoT world before it spins out of control. Digital security company Gemalto is planning to use its experience in mobile payments to help secure IoT devices. Gemalto will be offering its Secure Element (SE) technology to automotive and utility companies. SE is a tamper-resistant component that gets embedded into devices to enable advanced digital security and life-cycle management via encryption of and access-control limitation to sensitive data.

Microsoft also is entering the fray, and has promised to add BitLocker encryption and Secure Boot technology to the Windows 10 IoT, the software giant’s operating system for IoT devices and platforms such as the Raspberry Pi. BitLocker is an encryption technology that can code entire disk volumes, and it has been featured in Windows operating systems since the Vista edition. This can be crucial to secure on-device data. Secure Boot is a security standard developed by members of the PC industry to help make sure that your PC boots using only software that is trusted by the PC manufacturer. Its implementation can prevent device hijacking.

IoT security, previously ignored, has now become an issue of high concern.

The IoT security issue has also given rise to new alliances. A conglomeration of leading tech firms, including Vodafone, founded the Internet of Things Security Foundation, a non-profit body that will be responsible for vetting Internet-connected devices for vulnerabilities and flaws and will offer security assistance to tech providers, system adopters and end users. IoTSF hopes to raise awareness through cross-company collaboration and encourage manufacturers to consider security of connected devices at the hardware level.

“The opportunity for IoT is staggering,” said John Moor, a spokesperson for IoTSF. “However, there are ever-real security challenges that accompany those opportunities.” Moor stressed the importance to address security from the start. “By creating a dedicated focus on security,” he promised, “our intention is simple — drive excellence in IoT security. IoTSF aims to be the home for providers, adopters and beneficiaries of IoT products and services.”

Other companies are working on setting up platforms that will enable large networks of IoT devices to identify and authenticate each other in order to provide higher security and prevent data breaches.

There also is research being conducted to enhance IoT security through device and smartphone linking. The effort is being led by experts at the University of South Hampton, who believe smartphones can help overcome IoT devices’ limits in user interfaces and complexities in networking.

What More Needs To Be Done?

While the effort to tackle security issues regarding IoT devices is laudable, it isn’t enough to ensure that we can leverage the full power of this new technology in a secure environment.

For one thing, the gateways that connect IoT devices to company and manufacturer networks need to be secured as well as the devices themselves. IoT devices are always connected and always on. In contrast to human-controlled devices, they go through a one-time authentication process, which can make them perfect sources of infiltration into company networks. Therefore, more security needs to be implemented on these gateways to improve the overall security of the system.

Also of concern are huge repositories where IoT data is being stored, which can become attractive targets for corporate hackers and industrial spies who rely on big data to make profits. In the wake of massive data breaches and data theft cases we’ve seen in recent years, more effort needs to be made to secure IoT-related data to ensure the privacy of consumers and the functionality of businesses and corporations.

There also must be a sound plan for installing security updates on IoT devices. Each consumer will likely soon own scores — if not hundreds — of connected devices. The idea of manually installing updates on so many devices is definitely out of the question, but having them automatically pushed by manufacturers also can be a risky business. Proper safeguards must be put in place to prevent updating interfaces from becoming security holes themselves.

What is evident is that the IoT will become an important part of our lives very soon, and its security is one of the major issues that must be addressed via active participation by the entire global tech community. Will we be able to harness this most-hyped, emerging technology that will undoubtedly revolutionize the world, or will we end up opening a Pandora’s Box that will spiral the world into a new age of mayhem and chaos? Let’s hope for the former.

Author:  Ben Dickson, Software engineer and CTO at Comelite IT Solutions.Contributor to TechCrunch, AppsZoom and CanadaFreePress.

Published by: TechCrunch