There has been discussion for years about whether public or private cloud platforms were more suitable to financial and investment management firms. And that debate continues, but with the addition of a new player – the hybrid cloud.
While the public cloud receives praise for its flexibility and potential cost savings and the private cloud for its robust security and reliable performance, the hybrid iteration essentially marries these features to create a compelling package for firms who don’t fit naturally into the previous two categories.
As its applicability continues to surge, it is worth understanding the concepts and benefits behind the hybrid cloud. Let’s take a look at what makes hybrid environments appealing to some organizations:
Agility & Flexibility: A hybrid cloud model allows a company to combine public cloud assets with those in a private cloud to increase agility and availability. For example, combine Microsoft Exchange and file services via the public cloud with robust security layers and 24x7x365 managed support via the private cloud, and suddenly you’re benefiting from the best of both worlds (hint: we’re talking about the Eze Hybrid Cloud).
When it comes to cybersecurity there are many factors that you need to be conscious of. During a recent webinar, speakers from Eze Castle Integration and Wolf & Company shared 10 of the most common cybersecurity gaps identified during an IT audit/risk assessment. We’ve listed the top 10 below and shared some particulars on a few of the most critical (in our opinion). For more detail on how these gaps are presenting themselves – and also best practices for avoiding them – click here to listen to the full webinar replay.
Top 10 IT Security Gaps
Risk Management and Governance
IT Asset Management
Social Engineering & User Training
Business Continuity Planning
Third Party Vendor Management
User Provisioning and Management
Incident Response Planning/Procedures
The technology treadmill is a tough place to be these days. Technology refresh cycles last only a mere three years, forcing firms to replace their infrastructures and make costly software and hardware upgrades on a too-frequent basis. And with hedge fund budgets tighter than ever, many firms cannot afford to stay on this path.
But the hedge fund technology treadmill is not a firm’s only option. Costly in-house, 'traditional' IT services have given way to more cost-effective outsourced IT and managed services that get firms off the treadmill and on a path to success.
Let’s have a look at some of the key reasons why hedge funds and other investment management firms are moving from on-premise technology infrastructures to cloud and managed services.
Keys factors driving hedge funds to managed services
Many firms are turning to managed IT services because it allows them to align their IT requirements with their business needs, including tighter control on budgets and staff. Moving to a managed service platform provided by a reputable outsourced IT provider not only makes it easier to deploy technologies, but also allows firms to benefit from platforms inherently designed to meet the constraints of limited IT resources and budgets.
When it comes to cybersecurity, the list of haves and have nots is constantly evolving due to the changing regulatory and threat landscape. In case you missed it, we hosted a webinar this week on Cybersecurity Basics for Asset Managers, during which we uncovered various elements within three primary cybersecurity layers: from Tier 0 (Basic Protection) to Tier 1 (Industry Standard) to Tier 2 (Advanced Protection).
How does your firm stack up when it comes to your cybersecurity practices? Watch the replay below and find out where you fit in.
Tier 0: We call this level Tier 0 in part because, well, there’s zero chance your firm will have long-term success in thwarting cyber risks if you don’t employ these basic security measures.
Private equity firms have been slow to embrace outsourcing, but managing data and technology is more complex than ever. With increasing regulatory requirements and a growing urge to focus on core competencies, PE firms are shifting their views of the back office. As such, we're examining the changing tide for private equity operations and how CFOs, CTOs and fund managers alike can control operating costs, maximize efficiency and better perfect operational workflows.
Drivers for change.
The number one reason for managers to make the switch to an outsourced solution is the desire for managers to get back to their roots. The idea of back office transformation is really founded in that managers have found themselves spending much more time doing everything but raising money and investing money.
Beneath this layer, back office transformation is also driven by regulation, investor transparency, the lifecycle of a private equity firm, and global reach. Slow adoption, fast results. The private equity sector has been slow on the uptake when it comes to outsourcing, and we contribute this lag due to lack of education on the process and benefits of outsourcing. In the past three to five years, adoption in the PE space has increased because it is cost effective, secure and feature rich. Private equity firms that have made the switch wonder why others are not doing the same. The idea of leveraging an experienced managed service provider is one that private equity firms have really embraced because there is no burden for firms to hire and attract talent, which can be challenging and expensive.
As we work with clients on completing due diligence questionnaires (DDQs), one increasingly common question is, “does your firm block access to data sharing sites such as DropBox or Google Drive?”
Generally the answer to this question should be ‘Yes,’ but that isn’t always the case because public file sharing services such as these are very convenient, and firms may overlook the security risk they pose. Additionally, employees accustomed to using Dropbox for personal use may be tempted to go for convenience over security when they need to share a large file or data set.
However, with security threats multiplying exponentially, hedge funds and alternative investment firms need to be proactive in protecting data and personally identifiable information (PII) from accidental and malicious insider risks. That’s why for secure file sharing Eze Castle Integration includes Varonis' DatAnywhere product as a standard feature within our Eze Managed Suite. Varonis' DatAnywhere offers users seamless and secure collaboration and file sharing across devices.
Beyond security, Varonis' DatAnywhere is easy to use. Users receive the same drag-n-drop experience as shared network drives or a cloud sync folder, which means no need for training on complex user interfaces and collaboration workflows. Additionally, data is automatically backed up and version controlled.
In the context of information technology, social engineering refers to the act of tricking people into divulging confidential or sensitive business information, and breaking security policies. This form of attack infiltrates companies by targeting their weakest access point, which predominantly is a firm’s employees.
The Art of the Phishing Con
Let’s examine a popular technique for social engineering known as phishing. In a phishing scheme, the hacker broadly disseminates a fraudulent email with aim to acquire sensitive data, such as, login credentials, IT resources or banking information. The message may request the recipient to submit personal information or to click on a link embedded with malware. Although this approach rarely dupes sophisticated users, a distracted employee could make one mistake and compromise a firm’s entire network.
In its 2015 priorities, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) listed cybersecurity as a key focus area in its risk-based assessments. Then on February 3, 2015, OCIE released summary findings from its Cybersecurity Examination Sweep.
OCIE’s sweep focused on written documentation for their assessment and conducted "limited testing" of the accuracy of the responses. They did not review the technical sufficiency of the firms’ programs either. OCIE’s reliance on documentation highlights the importance of complete Written Information Security Policies.
Following are noteworthy items Eze Castle Integration observed in reviewing the findings.
Most firms adopted written information security policies, but 43% of advisers did not conduct periodic audits to determine compliance with these information security policies and procedures.
49% of advisers did not discuss mitigating the effects of a cybersecurity incident and/or outline the plan to recover from such an incident in their written business continuity plans.
The vast majority of examined firms conduct periodic risk assessments, on a firm-wide basis, to identify cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and potential business consequences. However, only 32% of advisers require cybersecurity risk assessments of vendors with access to their firms’ networks.
In the Written Information Security Plans (WISP) Eze Castle Integration creates for clients, we include service provider risk assessments as a standard element.
Today we released a new whitepaper that looks at a growing trend we are seeing -- billion dollar hedge funds and investment firms moving to the cloud. Here is a sneak peak at the paper's content as well as a video interview with Bob Guilbert on why firms should read, Why the Billion Dollar Club is Headed to the Cloud.
It’s More Than Managing Money
There’s more competition in financial services than ever before. Every week, new and agile boutique firms sprout up, armed with proprietary models and the right technology foundation to compete – intensely – with the major players for billions of investment dollars. Firms of every size are competing to deliver broader ranges of increasingly exotic instruments, specialized funds, and high-performance investments that deliver competitive returns to investors whose demands and expectations continue to climb.
But when it comes to performance and success in financial services, there’s more to evaluate than just the hard numbers. Returns alone aren’t enough. Today, savvy firms know they need to deliver more. In a post-Madoff, post-2008 world, the SEC and FINRA – and investors as well – are scrutinizing all corners of the operation. There’s an increased focus on how operational risk is managed and how firms respond to greater demands for transparency. That means it’s more important than ever for firms to deploy and maintain robust, scalable, and secure technology infrastructures.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here is an infographic of our 2013 Global Hedge Fund Technology Benchmark Study that explores the most common front, middle and back office applications and technology used at today's hedge funds.