With the new year now upon us, what better time to create your 2019 resolutions for your firm's IT strategy! As we know, the threat landscape is constantly evolving, cloud computing has gained momentum and is now widely accepted in the investment management industry, and new technologies and trends are emerging to support firms with their IT and operational needs.
Continue reading for Eze Castle Integration's recommendations for IT resolutions for 2019:
1.) Create a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan
As the experts in the industry say, it's not if, but when, a cybersecurity incident will occur. According to a recent report by TechCrunch, cyber attacks are set to spike again in 2019, meaning firms need to continue to stay on top of cybersecurity best practices, utilizing layers of security to protect sensitive data, of course, have a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan. This includes creating an Incident Response Team consisting of members throughout different departments in the organization, and mapping out the steps to take before, during and after a security incident.
Building on this, developing a Written Information Security Plan, or a WISP, is critical to securing your information, but also required if your firm is registered with the SEC. Having documentation of your firm's plan and systems in place to protect personal information and sensitive company information can help mitigate threats and risk against and protect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of your firm's data.
3.) Create a comprehensive employee security training program
If you don't have an employee training program, it is critical that you create one in 2019. If you already have an existing employee training program, you must periodically audit this program, ensuring it is both effective and current. Having a managed phishing and training program is an effective way to train employees on how to spot and report phishing and social engineering attempts. These simulated phishing attacks against your employees provide real-time and interactive training.
Despite the recent strides by the financial industry towards improving cybersecurity policies and safeguards, studies reveal that a less-heralded group is responsible for the majority of successful cyber-attacks. Flying under the radar and opening the malware floodgates with one click of a spoof email are employees ill-informed of cyber threats and potential risks.
Unbeknownst to the employee, upon release of their mouse they have guided hacktivists into his or her company’s network, exposing business critical information, financial records, and passwords. But that’s just the beginning. The quantity and severity of subsequent damages are limitless, but so are the opportunities for improvement in the firm’s case.
When it comes to investment management firms, collaboration, efficiency, and cutting edge technology are all critical factors when it comes to growth. At Eze Castle Integration, we partner with Microsoft to offer our clients the option to utilize OneDrive and SharePoint, two tools that can dramatically improve collaboration and streamline processes for businesses, increasing efficiency for everyone. With more people working remotely and traveling for business than ever before, mobility, security and ease of use for applications is more relevant than ever.
Before we outline the five ways SharePoint and OneDrive can transform your business operations and enhance collaboration for investment firms, let's outline the functionality of these applications. It is also key to note that in this blog, we're referring to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online, which are business tools and products of Office365 for Business. There are similar tools you can utilize on your personal accounts, however today we're talking about how they can specifically impact your investment firm and day-to-day business.
OneDrive: Our partners at Microsoft simply define OneDrive as "the Microsoft cloud service that connects you to all your files". Simply put, OneDrive for Business is a storage location or repository for files and documents. You are able to access this tool through Office365, anywhere at anytime, regardless of whether you're connected to your firm's VPN.
SharePoint: Like OneDrive, you're also able to access SharePoint through Office365 anywhere and anytime. It's a tool that helps firms share and collaborate on documents and files from anywhere in a secure manner.
Now, let's dive into the 5 ways OneDrive and SharePoint Improve Collaboration for Investment Firms:
As previously mentioned, one of the best features of these tools is the ability to access your files anywhere. Today more than ever, due to technological advances like these, employees are are able to work remotely with little to no change in the processes. These tools allow you to securely store your files no matter where you are and whether you’re connected to your business’s VPN, share them with your team members or partners, and access them from any of your devices. If you aren’t connected to your firm’s network, you can access and work on documents in OneDrive, and when you return to the network, the files will automatically sync with your network, ensuring a seamless transition from working at home or from a plane to being back in the office.
In any relationship, when things are good, they’re usually pretty good. And when things are bad, sometimes they are really bad. There may come a point when you need to evaluate whether you’re still a good fit together.
Just like with a romantic relationship, your firm’s connection to a service provider (especially an infrastructure/cloud provider you rely on daily) should be strong enough to withstand a few hiccups and healthy enough to warrant open communication at all times. In some cases, it might be clear that you’re in a good place and moving forward together, but sometimes there are sure signs it’s time to call it quits.
Here are a few of those signs:
1. Your provider’s service levels are not up to snuff.
Maybe you recently experienced a major service outage or find that you not-so-conveniently have to work around confusing and interrupting maintenance schedules during work hours. You’re constantly frustrated and don’t feel like you are receiving the level of support that was agreed to – both verbally and as part of your Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Your SLA should clearly indicate the uptime standard (e.g. 99.995% availability) as well as repercussions to any breaches in the contract (for example, service credits) and associated RPOs if disaster recovery is involved
Since its launch, our Eze Voice offering has been providing clients reliable service for their workplace communication needs. For those of you who are unfamiliar with our VoIP offering, Eze Voice is a cloud-based solution that combines high levels of redundancy and quality of service with the other features that the financial industry requires. The platform uses our global private cloud infrastructure, the Eze Private Cloud, and is ideal for firms that require flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness that accompany cloud-based services.
On top of the flexibility and cost-effective nature of hosted voice, additional benefits of using a hosted voice platform include unlimited calling minutes, business continuity, and functionality and connectivity for remote or mobile workers.
How does it work?
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is certainly nothing new, but with growing cybersecurity concerns across the alterative investment industry, it is imperative for firms to have a thorough BYOD policy to ensure data privacy and help employees understand the processes and policies around bringing their own device to the office.
Some items to keep in mind when developing your firm’s policy include:
Company-owned mobile devices should be issued to – and personal devices approved for – only those employees who require immediate and frequent contact with co-workers, clients or partners regardless of whether they are physically located at their desks.
Devices should only be approved in situations where the productivity gains outweigh the costs incurred by the organization to support and manage the device.
A firm's BYOD policy should be integrated with your firm's Acceptable Use Policy.
As you set out to establish your firm’s BYOD and mobile device management strategies, be sure to consider each of the following areas in order to ensure your policies are comprehensive and the firm is protected from potential security incidents.
If you are launching a new firm or enhancing the operational efficiency of an existing firm, choosing an external provider to outsource your IT needs is an important decision that should be made only after careful consideration and evaluation. To help with the evaluation process, here are our top considerations to keep in mind when evaluating IT Providers and which best suits the needs of your firm.
Choosing an IT provider is no easy task, and we strongly urge you and your firm to take a proactive approach and do an in-depth evaluation. Asking questions and interviewing multiple providers will allow you and your firm to find the best fit for your IT needs.
In the dot-com era, companies primarily relied on traditional networks to conduct transactions. As business needs evolved, companies demanded more flexibility and range from their networks. Eze Castle Integration has found global private networks offer the fastest, safest means to facilitate wide-area transport. While plenty of industries can benefit from our private networks, we've found financial and investment firms stand to profit most from their advantages.
A portfolio manager may not understand the technical mechanics behind packet loss, but they'll certainly understand missing a trade because their internet connection is too slow. A traditional network's connection is highly dependent on their internet carrier and that dependency can interrupt their business in a number of ways. Here are two examples:
Technical issues, especially in overloaded areas, can result in a bottleneck of traffic.
Political issues, especially in competitive areas, result in two internet service providers warring with each other to sabotage the other's customers. A global private network neatly sidesteps these issues by providing end-to-end control without the push-and-pull of traditional networks.
E-LAN and VPLS
E-LAN and VPLS are two terms used interchangeably, with VPLS referring to the underlying functionality that enables E-LAN. They offer similar benefits to that of an Ethernet switch in a single office with one major difference — E-LAN can be used on a global level. E-LAN is typically able to scale far better than point-to-point services, allowing communication across all locations a company may use. This connectivity includes not just physical locations, but also cloud-based terminals as well. The end result is predictable communication that financial service employees can count on when they need it the most.
Whether a network is public or private, there are a variety of forces at work going on behind every action a user sees on the screen. Eze Castle Integration has been experimenting with and improving upon these forces to offer our clients better network connectivity. Here are three reasons your firm should consider upgrading to a global private network.
Internet of Things (IoT)
As more professional devices debut on the market, financial and investment management firms need to consider if their network can handle the influx of appliances on their network. The Internet of Things has already started to cause IP depletion, and the problem is only likely to get worse. While it is possible to complete an overlay on a network to upgrade it to a different numbering sequence with more space (e.g., IPV 6), the migration strategy is slow and not particularly practical. A private network, on the other hand, doesn't have the same constraints as a traditional network. Firms won't lose valuable seconds due to additional hardware taking up limited bandwidth.
Direct Peering & Connections
Peering refers to the point of connection between two separate autonomous systems. In the case of Eze Castle, this may refer to one of our clients or to a general content provider (e.g., Microsoft, Bloomberg, etc.) We have established operational control over traffic flow, which means that our clients connect directly to their destination. Ultimately, this translates into faster, smoother, more predictable communication between the systems. This is pivotal for a financial professional to have regardless of whether they're in the office or on the other side of the world.
If you’re a loyal Hedge IT reader, you may remember we highlighted a few simple dos and don’ts 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.