July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Becoming the Next Success Story: Using the Cloud to Reap a Profit

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013

Enterprises from small startups to major Fortune 500 companies have flocked to the cloud to save money and reap big profits. Companies as varied as IntraLinks and Microsoft utilize the cloud to stay one step ahead of new markets and to further their reach. Through making the switch to secure cloud storage and sync services, enterprises can tap computing resources that were previously too expensive to capitalize on in the past. The private cloud offers enterprises in all sectors solutions for securing a larger market share and profit margin.

Cloud Profits

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According to a 2012 survey conducted by eWeek.com, 50% of respondents think that the cloud will be their primary profit driver in the years to come. Investors have thrown their weight behind the cloud, indicating that the market predicts the technology is here to stay, for a long enough time to capitalize on at least. From smaller startups like IntraLinks that service the financial sector to massive enterprises like Amazon, companies of all sorts have turned to the cloud to diversify their services and to stay current with rapid technological developments. Even Microsoft has jumped onboard with the launch of Office 365, a new Office suite for the cloud.

Energy & Cost Savings Through the Cloud

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One of the reasons that companies have turned to the cloud for profit is the scalability that cloud services offer. In the past, as consumer demands for goods and services have fluctuated, sometimes erratically, enterprises have scrambled to meet consumer demand without overproducing. Now, the cloud virtually eliminates that problem with scalable solutions that help enterprises rise to any challenge on the fly. Through the cloud, businesses can utilize scalable virtual infrastructures to meet temporary needs, rather than buying and hosting expensive infrastructures onsite that quickly become outdated. Cloud usage analytics are offered with most third party cloud services and help enterprises determine how much storage and sync space they actually need based on past usage. And if demand rises in the middle of the month due to market volatility, enterprises can simply pay a little bit more for the extra space.

Cloud Adoption

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Another major reason for turning to the cloud is big data analytics enabled by cloud computing. In just the past two years, users around the world generated about 90% of all global data throughout history. This massive amount of information holds the key to reaching to consumers, bettering services, and streamlining turnaround. Hosting such data onsite would be both expensive and impractical due to issues of scalability. Most traditional computing resources cannot hold the petabytes and zetabytes of information that big data provides. But through the cloud, enterprises save money while quickly determining new sources of profit.

With cloud-enabled big data, enterprises save on onsite servers, large IT teams, company devices, and software updates. Furthermore, through cloud storage, enterprises reduce server usage, cutting back drastically on energy bills and allowing companies to market a “greener” side through decreased carbon emissions. And cloud storage also helps protect important consumer and company data in the event of a natural disaster or power outage, so that nothing comes in the way of reaching consumers and turning a profit. Instead of trying to react to the changing market, private cloud services protect companies from hacking, piracy, and leaks, while allowing them to proactively respond to consumer demand on the spot. This dynamic potential unleashed by the cloud has already helped popular enterprises like Microsoft and Amazon remain profitable, even through the recent recession and market unpredictability. Whether you’re at a major Fortune 500 or the latest tech startup, private third party cloud service providers provide cost savings, enhanced profits, and greater insight into an enterprise’s consumer base.

SpiderOak Blue

For enterprises looking to turn a profit through the cloud, SpiderOak Blue offers fully private “public” and onsite server options for full flexibility. But choosing the right third party cloud service can be a challenge as many services on the market have security gaps that leave private enterprise data vulnerable to third party attacks, NSA snooping, and even internal leaks. But SpiderOak sets itself apart from the rest of the market by providing a fully private cloud service featuring all of the benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data anonymity.

SpiderOak protects sensitive enterprise data through 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices (SpiderOak never hosts plaintext data). SpiderOak Blue’s private cloud services are available for enterprises on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, making this one of the only flexible cross-platform solutions on the market.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Reaching Donors With Big Data: Cloud Solutions for Nonprofits

Posted by on Jul 30, 2013

Nonprofits and charitable groups rely on donations to keep up their good work. Whether it’s helping to feed the hungry or fighting for political change in Washington, even the biggest nonprofits and NGOs can’t survive without a strong donor base to rely on. But in this age of market uncertainty and a slow climb from the recession, donations can be hard to come by, and convincing faithful donors to keep up their contributions can be a challenge. And in light of reduced tax deductions for top income earners, some charities worry that donations could continue to rapidly decline, rendering their services virtually obsolete. But even in the face of these challenges, some savvy nonprofits have turned to the cloud to reap big donations online. With private cloud solutions, nonprofits can save money and bring in more donations than ever before.

Nonprofits & Cloud Solutions

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Unfortunately, due to the shady practices of some unethical nonprofit organizations, public trust in charitable giving has dropped. Institutions like Charity Navigator help donors to decide which organizations are trustworthy and deserving of their contributions. One way that nonprofits can prove their integrity to potential donors is by reducing administrative costs through cloud computing solutions. Through cloud-enabled big data storage and analysis, nonprofits can save big by keeping donor lists all in one place and reducing the needs for expensive onsite servers and devices. Donor giving history, updated contact information, and notes can help nonprofits maintain good relations with their donor base, offering a personal touch, and helping donors feel like they are part of an ongoing long-term solution. The cloud also allows for reduced staff, as cloud service providers can help small teams with technical support and implementation.

Big Data & Nonprofits

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Through big data, nonprofits can analyze which campaigns are effective and which have been a waste of time and vital resources. Big data enabled by the cloud also allows for development teams to target specific demographics based on shared attributes. For instance, a public radio station seeking member support could examine a list of big donors to see which programs and outreach methods have brought in the largest contributions. And big data also makes billing much more convenient, with updated donor details and organized tax information. From marketing to member services, the cloud gives nonprofits the ability to tap big data, once preserved for only the biggest enterprises and research firms. With 90% of the world’s data created in just the past two years, nonprofits must learn to harness big data in order to stay afloat.

Median Number of Emails Per Nonprofit

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The cloud also enabled online giving, a must-have for any nonprofit looking to effectively reach its donors. According to two recent studies by The Chronicle, online giving is on the rise. From 2011 to 2012, online donations through PayPal, Blackbaud, and Network for Good, jumped up 14% for a massive total of $2.1 billion raised. According to Julie Taylor, director of donor information at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, “Giving online is just where people are these days. That’s how they’re comfortable giving now.” The hospital has increased donations by over a third since 2011, largely due to an increased focus on offering donors the convenience of online giving. Online giving through the cloud also enables unique donor options like periodic payments and automatic annual membership renewals. And online donations enabled by the cloud help nonprofits target young donors, which are essential to any organization’s long-term growth. In 2012, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit managed to double its yearly contributions to a whopping total of $1 million in online gifts by targeting those 45 years old and younger.

Cloud Solutions for Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations and NGOs turning to the cloud should be sure that their third party service offers data privacy and user anonymity. Many cloud services on the market have wide security gaps that leave projects and sensitive donor data wide-open to data breach or leaks. But for SpiderOak, this private cloud service provider offers the full benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy for nonprofits of all sorts.

As for just how SpiderOak protects projects and data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is just like the process used by some banking services that require a PIN as an extra precaution along with a password. Through SpiderOak, users that select two-factor authentication must submit their private code through SMS as well as an individual encrypted password. Nonprofits can store and sync data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data. Plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the writer’s chosen devices, so NGOs can keep rest easy knowing their donors are protected. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for flexible solutions and collaboration for global nonprofits.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Past the Ceiling & Through the Cloud: Opportunities for Women in IT

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013

Over the past few decades, women have risen through the ranks of the private and public sectors to hold some of the highest leadership and management positions. But one sector that still has room for big improvement is the IT world. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, the door is wide open for women to lead the next wave of IT jobs enabled by the cloud. With millions of projected cloud jobs, women will have a key role in directing the course of technology over the next decade.

Women in IT

Image courtesy of aonetwork.com

Women in IT – Image courtesy of aonetwork.com

According to U.S. Department of Labor predictions, there will be 1.4 million new IT and computing jobs by 2020. Unfortunately, according to a 2010 report by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women have been leaving the computing and IT sectors with a steady decline since 1991. According to the Computing Degree and Enrollment Trends report by the Computing Research Associations, women made up less than 20% of PhD graduates in 2011 in the fields of information science, computer science, and computer engineering. For undergraduates the picture is even bleaker with less than 13% of bachelor’s degrees in computer fields earned by women. And while women made up 57% of the nation’s professional workforce in 2011, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor only 25% of professional computing jobs were held by women. At the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology’s 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, women IT professionals gathered to help close this wide gender gap. According to Nora Denzel, former senior vice president at Hewlett-Packard and Intuit, “We were making progress until the mid ’80s – the supply of women peaked at 37% in ’85. None of us knew that by 2010, only 18% of CS undergrads would be women. The numbers moved, but in reverse. It’s a revolution in reverse.”

How Women View IT Majors

Graph courtesy of sites.google.com

But despite these troubling numbers, the future still holds bright promise for women looking to break into and climb the ranks of IT enterprises. Many university programs and businesses offer fellowships and networking groups for women in IT and computing. One of the biggest networks for women in IT is the Cloud Network of Women, also known as CloudNOW. Started up by Jocelyn DeGance Graham, the purpose of CloudNOW is to provide a “non-profit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing, focused on using technology for the overall professional development of women from around the world by providing a forum for networking, knowledge sharing, mentoring, and economic growth.” This leading IT network unites talented minds from startups as well as massive enterprises like Intel, HP, and IBM. Through partnerships, publications, and special events, CLoudNOW “offers members opportunities to creatively approach the technological challenges of [the] cloud today, working in partnership with the tech industry, cloud visionaries, and global media. Forming a collective, together we are the voice of authority for women in cloud and emerging technologies.”

Some of CloudNOW’s Top 10 Women Leading the Cloud

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CloudNOW seeks to promote women leaders in the workplace and to connect IT professionals to mentors for personal and professional growth. Recently, CloudNOW partnered with Netflix for the annual Women in Cloud Meetup. Women IT professionals from companies of all sizes collaborated on panel discussions and session talks from leading experts regarding the latest cloud developments and news. Another opportunity for women ready to lead the cloud to new heights is through the Executive Women in IT Community of Practice, or EWIT. Created and led by women IT executives, EWIT helps advance women leaders in the computing and IT sectors. According to Senior Vice President of the CIO Executive Council, Pam Stenson, “As a group we identify the realities of career advancement, inspiring and teaching the best practices of successful C-level females who have overcome challenges of their industry and taken charge of their careers. We employ new tactics that boost confidence, provide a broad view of the business, and exercise our highly collaborative spirit while balancing all we choose to enjoy in life.” With such institutions and networks in place, women can fully capitalize on the opportunities unfolding in the cloud, to rise through the ranks as leaders of the next cloud revolution.

Secure Cloud Solutions With SpiderOak Blue

Finding a truly protected third party cloud service can often be a challenge as many third party cloud services on the market have vulnerabilities that leave private corporate and consumer data wide open to third party attacks and even governmental spying. One cloud storage and sync company that sets itself apart from the rest of the market is SpiderOak Blue for enterprises. This service provides enterprises with fully private cloud storage and sync, featuring all of the benefits of the cloud along with 100% data privacy, so even in the case of a PRISM breach all the NSA would seize is unreadable blocks of data.

SpiderOak protects enterprise data through 256-bit AES encryption so that all files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices because SpiderOak never hosts any plaintext data whatsoever. This way, even if the PRISM program is allowed to continue, consumers and enterprises can relax knowing that their data and brand is fully protected. SpiderOak’s cross-platform private cloud services are available for users and enterprises on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Could Your Boss be Watching? Employee Privacy in the Cloud

Posted by on Jul 26, 2013

With social media, work emails, and onsite devices, there are plenty of ways for bosses to keep tabs on employee activity online. Knowing that your boss might be watching your every move on the web should give every employee cause for concern. The legality of employee monitoring is still up in the air and some states have even passed bills that employers from requiring employee social media passwords. But instead of waiting for potential governmental safeguards, employees should protect themselves by proactively adhering to better practices while at work while exclusively storing any sensitive data through a secure cloud service that offers data privacy and user anonymity.

Your Boss Might Be Watching

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Recently, the Chief Information Officers Council released new policy guidelines for online use by federal employees. According to the proposal, the new policy “recognizes employees as responsible individuals who are the key to making government more responsive to citizens. It allows employees to use government office equipment for non-government purposes when such use involves minimal additional expense to the government, is performed on the employee’s non-work time, does not interfere with the mission or operations of a department or agency and does not violate the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch.” From online banking to job-hunting, the new guidelines would permit a wide range of acceptable personal Internet use at work. Obviously inappropriate behavior like downloading malware or viewing sexually explicit pages would still be considered unacceptable use. The guidelines state, “Executive branch employees should be provided with a professional supportive work environment. They should be given the tools needed to effectively carry out their assigned responsibilities. Allowing limited personal use of these tools helps enhance the quality of the workplace and helps the government to retain highly qualified and skilled workers.” The same applies in the private sector, where business owners must balance worker freedom with demands for increased productivity.

Employee Monitoring

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Employers monitor online activity for a variety of reasons. One is to help ensure efficiency and proper use of work time. Another important reason for workplace monitoring is to help protect and monitor access to sensitive business data from copyright infringement and leaks. Employers can monitor phone calls on business lines, web activities, and email communication. While these violations of employee privacy are alarming, such monitoring can only go so far. Employers can check email recipients, dates, and subject titles but cannot open emails to examine content. The same applies for work chats using messaging software or services.

Another way employers are monitoring employee activity online is through social media. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, 39% of companies used social networking to help research job applicants. The practice is common among hiring managers, so employees and job seekers should be cautious about what they post as well as how tight their privacy settings are. Through social media visualization tools, bosses can see how employees interact, determining which employees have the most social sway in their networks, and ultimately, unfairly rewarding or penalizing employees for their social media presence. Some legislators are fighting back against this wave of employee monitoring and pressure to reveal social media identities. Recently in Washington, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill that employees from having to give up social media passwords at the workplace or for a job interview. The bill makes Washington, the 5th state in the nation to enact similar protections for employees.

Organizations with Written Social Media Policies

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Secure Solutions for Employees

Instead of waiting around for legal protections that may or may not be passed, employees wanting to keep their social media profiles and online data safe should be cautious about online activity at work. Always stick to the rules for personal surfing while at work and if there are no clear guidelines, stick to those given to federal employees. Don’t check social media on work devices or on monitored networks. And be sure to exclusively store sensitive information on a third party cloud that offers true data privacy and user anonymity. Many cloud services on the market have wide security gaps that leave employee files wide-open to monitoring or even hacking. But for SpiderOak, this private cloud service provider offers the full benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy for workers of all sorts.

As for just how SpiderOak protects user data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is just like the process used by some banking services that require a PIN as an extra precaution along with a password. Through SpiderOak, users that select two-factor authentication must submit their private code through SMS as well as an individual encrypted password. Employees can store and sync data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data. And plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the user’s chosen devices, so employees can keep rest easy without worrying about monitoring. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for flexible solutions for employees.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Keeping the Scoop Safe in the Field: Protecting Journalism

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013

Lately, the cloud has been a favorite buzzword for businesses, but journalists in the field can also use the cloud to keep sources safe while reporting with ease from the field. The cloud also is revolutionizing the business of journalism, as reporting moves from print to the screen. From staying one step ahead of the decline of beat reporting to securing leaks from NSA snooping, private cloud solutions offer journalists options for reporting live from the field and safely storing the latest stories.

Journalist Protections In the Cloud

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According to Lisa Williams, founder of Placeblogger, the cloud is largely responsible for journalism’s shift away from dedicated news models towards an on-demand model. Williams said, “I think sites like GlobalPost, Spot.us and many others I could name are the first inklings of ‘journalism in the cloud.’ Just as many tech outfits have figured out that it’s too expensive to have too many fixed assets, many news outlets are faced with the fact that they can’t support the same number of foreign correspondents or beat reporters. The fundamental experiment that these sites are running, each with their own protocol, is this: How can we make journalism happen where it’s needed, when it’s needed, and then redeploy elsewhere when things change?” Through the cloud, reporting is becoming more dynamic and democratic. While some might expect the cloud to displace reporters, Williams claims, “A reporter could stay in the same location. If it worked, though, it would mean they’d report on more different subjects. I think what’s dying are beats, because beats are expensive.”

Lisa Williams

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Instead of waiting around for beat reporting to gasp its last breath, reporters can jump to the cloud and protect their careers long before journalism makes the switch. One way journalists are already using the cloud is through SoundCloud. As a public cloud storage and sound sharing service, SoundCloud is traditionally used by music artists and producers to release new songs to fans. But journalists have increasingly flocked to the service as a way to quickly report interviews from the field. With just a smartphone and SoundCloud, anyone can be a field reporter, allowing news services to tap the unlimited potential of thousands of amateur journalists.

Another way that journalists are using the cloud is through private cloud storage and sync services. Such clouds provide strong data protections and user anonymity, allowing reporters to safeguard sources and stories. Using secured cloud storage is quickly becoming a standard for journalists that have become all too wary as of late of the threat of hacking. Last year, Wired reporter Mat Honan was a victim of hacking. Using basic techniques, hackers were able to retrieve Honan’s e-mail and home addresses. Using the information, the hackers duped both Amazon and Apple support into giving up Honan’s credit card number as well as iCloud and .Me accounts. As the .Me account was Honan’s backup for his Gmail, the hackers were then able to get into his Gmail account as well as Twitter accounts, through a simple password reset.

Mat Honan

Photo courtesy of arstechnica.com

According to Honan, “The thing about trusting the cloud is you shouldn’t trust it too much. They didn’t hack into my account in the traditional bad movie way where they are trying a million different passwords. They made a phone call to tech support and tech support gave them a temporary password.” The hacked reporter now cautions online users to backup sensitive information to secure clouds while taking extra precautions like two-factor authentication for email verification. In response to the hack, Apple offered an official statement, “Apple takes customer privacy seriously and requires multiple forms of verification before resetting an Apple ID password. In this particular case, the customer’s data was compromised by a person who had acquired personal information about the customer. In addition, we found that our own internal policies were not followed completely. We are reviewing all of our processes for resetting account passwords to ensure our customers’ data is protected.” In the case of Honan, both the reporter and the companies that he trusted share the blame for leaving his data vulnerable to hacking.

SpiderOak in the Field

To keep sensitive sources and stories private while ensuring reporter anonymity, journalists of all sorts should stick to the suggestions in the Journalist Security Guide. After this basic step, be sure to keep any secrets safe through a private third party cloud service. Most cloud services on the market have security gaps that leave sensitive information vulnerable to hacking. But with SpiderOak, journalists and reporters in the field can enjoy 100% data privacy and user anonymity.

As for just how SpiderOak protects sensitive data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is just like the process used by some banking services that require a PIN as an extra precaution along with a password. Through SpiderOak, users that select two-factor authentication must submit their private code through SMS as well as an individual encrypted password. Journalists can store and sync stories and sources with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data and plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the user’s chosen devices. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, offering reporters flexible options.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Top 3 Reasons For Making the Switch to the Cloud

Posted by on Jul 24, 2013

In the past few years all sorts of enterprises have taken advantage of what the cloud has to offer, levering technology in their favor. But many businesses still are hesitant to switch IT operations and storage to the cloud out of security concerns. Through a secure cloud service, enterprises and startups can capitalize on the cloud without worrying about hacking, data leaks, or even governmental snooping. According to a recent study conducted by Neovise, 54% of organizations currently use cloud computing in some form or another. The enterprises that still haven’t made the switch have a wide range of options available to meet their unique needs.

Why Make the Switch?

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One cheap option available is the public cloud. This off-site deployment method offers businesses advanced infrastructure that they share with other businesses. But while budget-friendly, the public cloud is less secure and takes data control out of the hands of businesses. An alternate to the public cloud is the private cloud. With onsite servers managed by an internal IT team, the private cloud is much more expensive but offers enterprises full control of their data and higher security. For most businesses, some sort of hybrid cloud model is most appealing, offering greater data control, tight security measures, and massive cost savings. According to Neovise studies, hybrid models are 46% more popular with organizations employing more than 1,000 workers.

Cloud Savings and Re-Investments

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The biggest reason for making the switch to the cloud is the major cost savings that the technology enables. Through the cloud, businesses can decide whether or not they want to host expensive onsite servers managed by large IT teams or outsource all operations to the cloud. With the fraction of the cost of hosting large servers, businesses can utilize advanced infrastructure while saving vital office space. From big data analytics to improved customer support, the cloud provides SMEs cost savings that allow for the reallocation of budgets from IT to development.

Another major reason for turning to cloud services is the enabling of real-time collaboration and workforce mobility. The cloud offers businesses the chance to jump aboard the wave of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies that permit workers to use their own laptops, smartphones, and tablets for daily operations. In a recent SugarSync survey, 73% of respondents currently allow the use of personal smartphones for work and 58% also permit the use of tablets. Such BYOD policies save companies money on buying and maintaining onsite computers, which are often made quickly obsolete due to rapid technological advances. The enabling of BYOD also allows for real-time collaboration from anywhere in the world as well as appealing work from home policies that can help startups and smaller businesses snag up some of the best talent. The SugarSync survey revealed that 20% of respondents currently have a model in which all employees work from home, saving businesses big on rent. And about 80% of cloud-based businesses at least have some employees working from home or offsite. As a non-profit director put it, “We can work from different locations and all have access to the same files. We can have several people working on a project who can all look at the files anytime, from anywhere.” This ease of collaboration enabled by the cloud has greatly improved team productivity, as claimed by 55% of survey respondents. And 64% of respondents claimed that cloud sharing has made collaboration much easier. In regards to the benefits of the cloud, one advertising executive says that it “has helped transform our business so that we can all collaborate in real time on all of our projects. Sharing files with clients is also incredibly beneficial as well, and the steps to do so are very simple.”

BYOD Policies & Small Businesses

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The third biggest reason for capitalizing on the cloud is the improved efficiency and scalability that cloud services offer. By transferring infrastructure to the cloud along with sensitive data, companies can do away with software updates and bulky onsite backup. And the cloud streamlines operations that used to take days to do manually. Through the cloud, businesses can tap the power of IT infrastructures that were once the privileged domain of the biggest billion dollar corporations. But none of that matters without proper security measures set in place to ensure that stored data is the cloud is kept safe and truly private. A single security breach could permanently damage brands and ruin entire companies.

A Sensible Solution With SpiderOak Blue

But selecting a truly secure third party cloud service can be a challenge as many services on the market have security gaps that leave private data vulnerable to third party attacks. One cloud storage and sync service that sets itself apart is SpiderOak Blue. This service provides enterprises with a fully private cloud service featuring all of the benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy. And for the average web user, SpiderOak offers the same protections with lower costs and smaller storage space.

SpiderOak Blue protects sensitive enterprise data through 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private as unreadable blocks of data. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices, as SpiderOak never hosts any plaintext data whatsoever. SpiderOak Blue’s cross-platform private cloud services are available for enterprises on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Watching Startup Success In Action

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013

Virtually every industry has utilized cloud technology to help stay ahead of the rapidly shifting market. While established enterprises can utilize the cloud to save money, increase productivity, and analyze consumer data, startups of all shapes and sizes are flocking to the cloud to leverage the technology in their favor. From disaster recovery services to enterprise resource planning, startups can benefit from cloud technology and services.

Watching Startup Success In Action

Image courtesy of readwrite.com

Typically, enterprises with small staff rely on the business owner for making IT decisions. According to Patrick Rusby, research analyst at Analysys Mason, “In such a situation, trusted advisors such as VARs and agents play an important role in helping the business owner make these decisions.” Most business owners are not technology or security experts, so in the case of SMEs, startups should only trust third party cloud services that preserve enterprise data privacy while providing technical support. The cloud storage market is projected to grow at a compounded growth rate of 40.2% through the year 2018 to the total of $46.8 billion. Startups taking advantage of this burgeoning market can reap the benefits of fierce market competition for their business, launching themselves into long-term success.

IT Cloud Storage Market

Image courtesy of infostor.com

One example of startup success through the cloud is the Zerto Cloud Disaster Recovery Ecosystem. Founded in 2009, the company has raised more than $30 million in funds for its unique cloud disaster recovery services including data replication and virtualized infrastructures. Another example of startups leveraging the cloud is the data virtualization and storage efficiency service, Atlantic Computing. With $20 million in D round funding raised this past May, Atlantic Computing and the Atlantis ILIO FlexCloud solution help companies run any storage-heavy applications in the cloud through server RAM tapped by Atlantis ILIO In-Memory Storage.

The cloud has also attracted new consumers for startups, allowing companies to reach previously untouched sectors. The San Francisco-based startup Loom, has reached for the growing amateur photography market with a cloud storage service for photo sharing and management. As more and more people upload photos to social media to share with friends and family, the need for an organizational system has grown, especially for shutterbugs in the field. According to the company, “Content creation and media file sizes are growing more rapidly than storage space on devices. In other words, we’re getting better camera technology that is taking larger files compared to a few years ago, but our flash drives and SSDs are not improving at the same speed.” Through Loom, photographers can store “photos and videos organized securely in the cloud,” freeing up precious space on user devices like cameras, smartphones, and laptops. Another area for startup growth is in enterprise resource planning. The cloud-based ERP startup Kenandy, has secured more than $30 million in Series B funding for its new modules enabling streamline order management and manufacturing.

All around the world, startups are staying one step ahead of the global market by capitalizing on all the cloud provides. In Australia, Rackspace launched the startup pitching competition, Small Teams, Big Impact Down Under. According to Angus Dorney, Director of RackSpace Australia, “A recent PwC report found that startups alone could contribute $109 billion and 540,000 jobs to the Australian economy by 2033. We’re looking forward to seeing the best of the best, and holding a great final event for the whole community to enjoy.” Winners of the competition are awarded with a trip to Silicon Valley to meet with potential investors.

Some of Silicon Valley’s Biggest Tech Companies

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From biotech startups looking for secure cloud solutions to developers wanting to protect their projects, third party cloud service providers offer cost-effective ways to switch to the cloud. The cloud allows startups to save money on large IT teams, servers, and expensive software. And through the cloud, startups can rest easy, knowing the their vital data is protected from hacking, leak, or even power loss in the case of a natural disaster.

SpiderOak Blue

For enterprises and startups looking to leverage the cloud while protecting sensitive data, SpiderOak Blue offers fully private “public” and onsite server options for full flexibility. Choosing the right third party cloud service can be a challenge as many services on the market have security gaps that leave private data vulnerable to third party attacks. But SpiderOak sets itself apart from the rest of the market by providing a fully private cloud service featuring all of the benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data anonymity.

SpiderOak protects sensitive startup data through 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices, as SpiderOak never hosts plaintext data of any kind. SpiderOak Blue’s private cloud services are available for enterprises on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, making this one of the only flexible cross-platform solutions on the market.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Leaving a Place for Whistleblowers in the Private Cloud

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013

The NSA PRISM scandal has sent a wave of caution and paranoia through both the public and private sectors. Journalists now must worry about being indicted for reporting on “sensitive information” and government whistleblowers now fear imprisonment for leaking illegal government activities. For whistleblowers in the private sector, protections are uncertain and the current governmental climate of aggression against leaks provides few incentives for revealing exploitative practices. But that doesn’t mean that the practice of whistleblowing is lost. Private cloud services hold a place for leakers of all sorts, protecting sensitive information and shielding whistleblower identities.

Sean McAllister

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One journalist that could have protected himself and his sources through the private cloud is Sean McAllister. While interviewing a Syrian dissident going by the pseudonym “Kardokh”, in Damascus, McAllister jeopardized the dissident’s security through the careless lack of data protections. While Kardokh and his fellow dissidents encrypted their communications, they “started to feel that Sean was careless. He was using his mobile and SMS, without any protections.” A few months later, McAllister was arrested and held for five days. Once returned to the UK, the journalist said, “I didn’t realize exactly what they were risking until I went into that experience.” Although no rebels were directly imprisoned as a result of McAllister’s actions, simple precautionary measures could have avoided the entire situation. Iinstead of risking their lives and the lives of their sources, journalists can remain anonymous through exclusively storing sensitive data and sources in a private cloud that secures user anonymity. According to Frank Smyth, senior advisor for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists, “I think that the journalism community in the US, and to some degree elsewhere, is just beginning to grasp the fact that they need to protect their information and, by extension, their sources. It’s just too easy to get in and lift their information or monitor their communications without them ever knowing they were compromised.”

Syrian Dissidents Protecting Online Identities

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Journalists, whistleblowers, and dissidents in conflict zones have a place in all democratic societies that value transparency. In an op-ed for USA Today, blogger and University of Tennessee Professor of Law, Glenn Reynolds, Said, “What does matter is that the Snowden affair occurs in the context of an unprecedented administration war on whistleblowers. And that’s a bad idea because whistleblowing is one of the things that maintains the legitimacy of a government as big, and otherwise unaccountable, as ours. The freer people are to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, the more we can assume that when no whistle is blown, things aren’t so bad. The more the government cracks down on whistleblowers, the more likely it is that they’ve got something to hide.” Whistleblowing preserves freedom around the planet, and is thus an act that should be protected as stated by the Declaration of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. Part of the Declaration reads, “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Julian Assange

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As the United States government continues to defend programs like PRISM while attacking whistleblowers, journalists have turned to technology to safeguard sources and secrets. The notorious whistleblower Julian Assange criticized the Obama administration’s aggression and lack of transparency, claiming, “In the Obama administration’s attempt to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the US government is taking on a generation, a young generation of people who find the mass violation of the rights of privacy and open process unacceptable. In taking on the generation, the Obama administration can only lose.” Such sentiments are echoed in a statement put out by Edward Snowden while hiding in Hong Kong. The controversial whistleblower said, “[Other whistleblowers] are all examples of how overly-harsh responses to public-interest whistleblowing only escalate the scale, scope, and skill involved in future disclosures. Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrongdoing simply because they’ll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it. Instead, these draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers.”

Even former CIA agent and whistleblower, John Kiriakou, voiced his support for Snowden from prison, “Thank you for your revelations of government wrongdoing over the past week.  You have done the country a great public service. I know that it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now, but as Americans begin to realize that we are devolving into a police state, with the loss of civil liberties that entails, they will see your actions for what they are: heroic.” Time will tell whether or not history deems Snowden a criminal or hero, but in the face of governmental crackdowns on whistleblowers, one of the only hopes for transparency is through third party cloud services.

Whistleblowers in the Private Cloud

In order keep sensitive secrets private while protecting sources, whistleblowers and journalists should stick to the Journalist Security Guide. After following basic security protocols, store any sensitive information and contact lists exclusively through a private third party cloud service. Most cloud services on the market have security gaps that leave sensitive information vulnerable to snooping, hacking, or even subpoenas. But through SpiderOak, journalists and whistleblowers can rest easy with 100% user anonymity.

As for just how SpiderOak protects sensitive data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Leakers can store and sync sensitive information with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data. And plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the user’s chosen devices. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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The Top 5 Women Leading the Cloud

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013

For a long while, the tech world and especially cloud computing was considered a male-dominated industry. And while there’s still a long way to go, women have flocked to the cloud, rising through the ranks of some of the biggest companies, and driving innovation. To celebrate the most innovating and inspiring women in cloud computing, CloudNOW, the world’s leading network of women in the cloud, puts on the annual CloudNOW Top Women in Cloud Awards. These awards were started in 2012 and honor 10 of the year’s most notable women in the cloud industry. According to CloudNOW advisory board member Bernard Golden, “Cloud computing is going through an exciting and vibrant evolution and many of the leading participants are women. Fostering conversations and collaboration on cloud computing is critical and an organization that provides an opportunity for that discussion is an excellent addition to the ecosystem.”

CloudNOW

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor projections, the cloud will help enable around 1.4 million IT and computing jobs by the year 2020. And many of these jobs are sure to be be filled by women. Director of global cloud solutions at VMware JJ DiGeronimo, “Cloud computing presents an opportunity for women who are not as heavily focused on the architectural design, and how bits and bytes move through the organization. We’ll still need women who are technical, but cloud provides the chance to also champion ideas and work cross-functionally to define how IT is delivered to business.” Along with offering women new positions and job opportunities, the cloud provides appealing solutions like mobility and work place flexibility. As CEO of Delphi Group Thomas Koulopoulos says, “Cloud provides greater flexibility into how we integrate people into the process. For instance, a stay-at-home mother can manage the cloud just as well as an in-house worker. Most businesses just want the greater skill set – technology and innovation — and that levels the playing field.”

While the future for the cloud is promising for women, there are still plenty of prominent power players that have risen to the tops of tech giants, security firms, and cloud providers. Take a look at our list of five of inspiring women from CloudNOW’s Top Women in Cloud Award winners. These women are still leading the cloud to new heights:

Lydia Leong, Vice President of Research at Gartner

Lydia Leong

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Lydia Leong has helped IT teams in a wide range of industries to make a smooth transition to cloud computing. Ms. Leong holds a degree in Computer Science Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and has experience in DevOps, product management, and systems architecture. Before landing at Gartner, Ms. Leong served as Director of Product Engineering and Operations at Digex/Intermedia Communications as well as Director of Server Engineering at Excite@Home.

Manjula Talreja, Vice President of Global Cloud Business Development at Cisco

Manjula Tareja

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As Cisco’s VP of Global Cloud Business Development, Manjula Talreja is currently one of the leading women in the cloud world. Business leaders around the world turn to her keen grasp of how the cloud impacts current business models. In her role at Cisco, Ms. Talreja helped launch the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition, a joint venture between Cisco and the EMC Corporation.

Vanessa Alvarez, Director of Product Marketing at Gridstore

Vanessa Alvarez

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In her daily role as Gridstore’s Director of Product Marketing, Vanessa Alvarez is responsible for developing marketing strategies and scalable pay-as-you-grow software-based data storage. Ms. Alvarez has been a part of CloudNOW since its origins and her widely read blog has helped all sorts of industry leaders navigate the murky cloud market.

Margaret Dawson, Vice President of Product Marketing for HP Cloud Services

Margaret Dawson

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After starting out her career as a security expert, Margaret Dawson’s journey eventually found her serving as VP of Product Marketing & Cloud Evangelist for HP Cloud Services. For over 20 years, Ms. Dawson has led innovations for Fortune 500s and tech startups like Hubspan. With a passion for all that the cloud can offer, Ms. Dawson has continued to advise IT leaders on better ways to utilize the cloud in their field.

Rhonda MacLean, Founder of MacLean Risk Partners

Rhonda MacLean

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As the Founder of MacLean Risk Partners, Rhonda MacLean has more than 30 years worth of experience in the technology industry. Her consulting firm helps enterprises, businesses, and governmental agencies navigate the world of cloud security. She continues to provide industries of all sorts with risk advisory and strategic security services.

Cloud Security Innovation with SpiderOak Blue

SpiderOak Blue is a private cloud service provider offering the full benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy for enterprises of all sorts. As for just how SpiderOak Blue protects data, the service offers 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Enterprises can store and sync data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data and plaintext encryption keys are only stored on approved devices. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for flexible solutions for enterprises.

July 2013 - The Privacy Post

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Changing the World through the Cloud: Insights for Nonprofits

Posted by on Jul 18, 2013

Typically, businesses turn to the cloud for cost savings, convenience, and ultimately, the promise of greater profits. But cloud computing, storage, and sync also promises to revolutionize the nonprofit sector, allowing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to protect donors, raise greater funds, and connect with a larger donor base. Through secure cloud services, nonprofits and NGOs can utilize this technological wave to help make the world a better place.

NGOs and Cloud Computing

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To start with, cloud data storage helps nonprofits consolidate and manage data offsite, freeing up much needed office space. Cloud services can offer NGOs greater security and storage space, along with guaranteed backup of important data like donor contact lists. Instead of hosting institution-wide computers and servers, the cloud enables Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, a mobile workforce, and radical cost-savings from reduced onsite server needs. This flexibility is especially appealing to nonprofits and NGOs, which often rely heavily on a strong core of volunteers. And for employees, while salaries and benefits are generally lower in the nonprofit sector, groups can still attract some of the best, most committed talent, with the appeal of flexibility that come with a mobile work, BYOD, and work from home policies, enabled by the cloud.

BYOD Benefits to Nonprofits & NGOs

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When donors are concerned, showing good stewardship can help secure a committed fundraising base. Money saved on infrastructure, servers, and IT, means more funds enabled for projects that leave a lasting legacy and improve the world. And funds saved on software, maintenance, and even electricity are just further proof of stewardship, which is sure to satisfy even the most cynical potential giver. Environmentalists become a new donor base when nonprofits can market their electricity savings garnered through the cloud, as making the transition save offices big on energy and onsite computers. Furthermore, as many NGOs and nonprofits are funded entirely by grants and individual donors, they must keep track of extensive donation lists, especially for tax concerns. Keeping such sensitive data protected from hacking, leak, or loss should be on the minds of all nonprofits, and is easily achieved by employing a private third party cloud service.

Impact of Online Giving

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Unfortunately, despite the cloud’s many benefits, NGOs and nonprofits have yet to fully tap its potential. According to a recent TechSoup Global survey of more than 10,000 international NGOs, many NGOs aren’t even aware of when they are using the cloud. According to Co-CEO of TechSoup Global Marnie Webb, “People often don’t know whether or not the technology they are using is cloud computing. It’s only when we asked respondents about specific technologies that we discovered that they were, in fact, using cloud computing.” 90% of respondents have used the cloud and over half of those surveyed had planned IT transitions to the cloud within three years. In regards to this transition, Webb said, “At the enterprise level, after organizations use more than three cloud-based tools, that becomes the tipping point at which they decide to move a significant portion of their IT onto the cloud. Once they start using cloud computing tools the benefits start to increase their motivation, because they have more experience with it.” According to another study, 60% of nonprofits were too unaware or ignorant of the technology to fully adopt it. Still, 53% of nonprofits planned IT transitions to the cloud within three years, echoing the results of the TechSoup Global survey. Community Manager at Grovo Learning Rolando Brown has seen the cloud’s benefits manifest firsthand, “What we in the social sector care about most is that we’re able to accomplish our goals and mission; i.e. solving community problems, promoting healthier behaviors, etc. With cloud computing, people can focus more on being better at whatever it is they do rather than being experts at technology. Before, I had to be a techie to take advantage of the web. I needed to understand code to launch a website. Now I can use WordPress and the technology is just available to me.”

Cloud Solutions for NGOs

Nonprofit organizations and NGOs turning to the cloud should be sure that their third party service offers data privacy and user anonymity. Many cloud services on the market have wide security gaps that leave projects and sensitive donor data wide-open to data breach or leaks. But for SpiderOak, this private cloud service provider offers the full benefits of cloud storage along with 100% data privacy for nonprofits of all sorts.

As for just how SpiderOak protects projects and data, the service offers two-factor password authentication and 256-bit AES encryption so that files and passwords stay private. Two-factor authentication is just like the process used by some banking services that require a PIN as an extra precaution along with a password. Through SpiderOak, users that select two-factor authentication must submit their private code through SMS as well as an individual encrypted password. Nonprofits can store and sync data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user data. Plaintext encryption keys are only stored on the writer’s chosen devices, so NGOs can keep rest easy knowing their donors are protected. SpiderOak’s private cloud services are available on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for flexible solutions and collaboration for global nonprofits.