As we say goodbye to 2014 and look ahead to 2015, we thought we'd pull together some of our top technology predictions for the new year. Take a look below and see if they match up with your expectations.
Cybersecurity was brought to the forefront during 2014, particularly when the SEC introduced its intention to focus on cybersecurity during this year’s round of examinations. Hedge funds have been overhauling their IT policies and upgrading their methods of preventing, detecting and responding to cyber threats. This was further reinforced by the many breaches we witnessed in 2014 including those that affected Target, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase, and, most recently, Sony. By itself the Sony hack resulted in the release of personal data of both current and former employees, company wage data, communications from upper management and five movies being stolen and subsequently released to the public. As hacks and threats increase in complexity and frequency, we expect that cybersecurity will continue to be a big topic of discussion in 2015.
If you’re one of the seemingly few firms who has yet to make the move to the cloud, it could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you want to maintain total control of your IT environment. Or maybe you’re waiting for a tech refresh to motivate you. Alternatively, it could be that you just haven’t made the proper case to management for switching to the cloud – and many times the one who really needs convincing is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
If you’re the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or IT Manager, your responsibility is determining the infrastructure choices that are going to best suit operations at your firm. But those priorities may not line up exactly with those of the firm’s CFO. IT doesn’t always have insight into the financial ramifications of an operations decision of this magnitude. Instead they are typically focused on the other benefits including personnel reallocation, workflow efficiencies, etc.
The CFO, on the other hand, is ultimately tasked with ensuring the company’s financial decisions are appropriate, and therefore, it’s often advantageous to at least attempt to speak his/her language when pushing for an IT change.
If you’re a loyal Hedge IT reader, you may remember we highlighted a few simple dos and don’ts a few months ago that, when utilized, can go a long way in shoring up your firm’s security. To make it easy, we’ve put these tips together into a video. Take a look below and discover a vast range of security tips and tricks from email encryption to proper security measures for protecting computers and mobile devices.
When it comes to the cost of a successful data breach, the ensuing ramifications are not limited to monetary loss. A firm’s confidential information, customer trust and overall operations are all at risk of being compromised. To protect their data and systems from cyber-attacks and breaches, it is critical that firms become as secure as possible.
Raising the Bar
Over the past year, we have witnessed more firms strengthening their security measures in an effort to comply with industry regulations as well as the SEC cybersecurity expectations. Additionally, we’ve seen an increase in frequency and sophistication of both data theft and cybercrime. A study by Risk Based Security revealed that within the first nine months of 2014 there were 1,922 data breaches reported and 904 million records exposed. Four of those incidents have made the Top Ten All time Breach List and three hacking incidents combined were accountable for nearly sixty percent of exposed records. Today, most hedge funds are aware of the severe negative effects a security breach can cause; however, gaining this knowledge may have been a tough lesson to learn.
Less than ten short years ago, Eze Castle Integration saw a shift in the market and gap in the cloud space. Firms had to hire multiple third-party vendors to fully outsource their IT needs, public cloud environments fell short of hedge fund security demands and service level contracts varied drastically. Fast-forward to today, and that very same spark of ideation has progressed to completely revolutionize hedge fund IT. In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, today we're reflecting on the journey and growth of our very own Eze Private Cloud.
In 2005, Eze Castle built and deployed the first hosted cloud platform for a large hedge fund based in New York City. By 2007, 18 funds spun out from the initial firm, each selecting Eze Castle as their trusted cloud platform provider. The following year, the company began building the foundation for the Eze Private Cloud. The same year marked the opening of Eze Castle’s hedge fund hotel in New York City. The environment, which supported more than 200 users, united the company’s cloud computing platform and fully managed office suites for startup funds.
As technology changes, it can become overwhelming to keep up with. That’s why we’ve decided to take a step back in today’s blog article to go over some of the basic vocabulary involved in cloud computing. Here are 10 terms to get you started:
Services or applications that are hosted in a web-based repository known as the “cloud”; the service is often hosted by a third-party provider who then provides access to that service to users on an on-demand basis via a network connection. This alleviates that firm from having to purchase and maintain costly infrastructure in-house.
A facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems; typically includes redundant or backup power supplies, redundant communications connections, environmental controls and security features. The Update Institute classifies data centers into four tiers based on the percentage of availability and uptime.
Traveling with electronic devices puts personal and critical business information at risk. As we embark on the busy holiday travel season, we decided to share some useful tips to help prevent your data and devices from falling into the wrong hands. Here are our top 10:
Back up Your Data Before You Leave: Prior to traveling, back up data that is stored on your device(s) onto media that will not be taken with you on your travels. For example, on a storage card, cloud, or computer, if you are not bringing the latter device on your trip. Furthermore, ensure you do not have social security numbers, passwords, credit card information and other sensitive data stored on your devices. If you do, save this information in a more secure place and remove it from your portable devices.
Travel Light: If you do not need it, do not bring it on your trip. Only devices that are necessary should accompany you while traveling.
As hedge funds and investment management firms shore up security practices in an effort to comply with the SEC cybersecurity expectations and other industry and investor standards, it can become overwhelming to sort out what's required and how firms should go about achieving compliance. It can also be easy to make mistakes. We asked Eze Castle's Business Continuity and Data Privacy Manager, Lisa Smith, to tell us about some of the common information security mistakes she witnesses firms make and how to avoid them in the future. Here are some of the key questions Lisa answers:
Where are you seeing the most deficiencies in cybersecurity preparedness?
What goes into an effective Written Information Security Plan?
What common mistakes do you find firms are making when it comes to information security safeguards?
Take a look at Lisa's answers!
How important is day to day communications within your company/firm? If an incident or disaster occurred today, how would your organization respond? Do you have a team or group designated to develop messages for both internal (employees, vendors, third parties, building management) and external (public, employee families, media) contacts? Have they practiced? When the pressure is on, is your organization prepared if a disaster or event suddenly puts your firm under the microscope with an onslaught of internal/external calls, questions, requests, emails, social media messages or media requests?
Crises and disasters continue to happen across borders and industries. Let’s not forget some of the more recent large scale disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Typhoon Haiyan, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima, Hurricane Sandy, and, of course, the ongoing major data breaches, just to name a few. That list doesn’t include more common events that may not make the major news networks such as utility failures, office fires, and systems outages. Smaller events like previously mentioned can cause minimal to significant disruption to business operations. This is why developing and practicing a variety of communications is vital in an organization’s response to an incident.
Some of these events can be predicted in advance, giving an organization time to make decisions, analyze other organization’s responses, consider impacts, and communicate a message or action. Sometimes events are sudden, such as an earthquake or active shooter. These events require immediate actions, decisions, and communications to be made. In either case - an immediate or delayed event - communication is critical to demonstrating proper leadership and providing employees with proper direction, especially if the event is centered specifically on your organization.
The results from our Global Hedge Fund Technology and Operations Benchmark Study are in and here is a snapshot of the 2014 findings. You can find the complete report here. We surveyed 279 buy-side firms across the United States, United Kingdom and Asia in order to discover their front, middle, and back office technology and application preferences.
Respondent Profile[Hedge Funds by Type]All survey respondents fell into the following categories within the financial industry: hedge fund (58%), asset/investment manager (13%), private equity firm (3%), fund of fund (3%), and family office (3%). Additionally, 13 percent fell into an ‘other’ category, which included financial firm types such as venture capital, advisory, fund management, quant and wealth management.
Firms surveyed fell into three asset groups: thirty-three percent (33%) reported their assets under management (AUM) as less than $100 million; twenty-eight percent (28%) fell between $101 and $500 million; and the majority (39%) reported over $500 million AUM.
In regards to investment strategy, long/short equity continues to dominate as the most favorable with 50 percent (50%) of respondents reporting this to be their primary investment strategy. Additional preferred strategies include credit (8%), fixed income (6%), emerging markets (5%), event driven (4%), and distressed debt (3%). Twenty-four percent (24%) of firms fell into an “Other” category that included a wide variety of investment strategies such as commodities, derivatives, merger arbitrage, relative value, securities, global macro, and long only. In 2014, the top primes employed by firms are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and UBS (same as 2013 results).