Top Trends That Will Change Business Computing

The personal computer is no longer the preferred medium  for doing business. The cloud is starting to overtake desktop-based devices, along with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Consultancy firm Gartner says that cloud applications will replace PCs in both the enterprise and consumer market as the preferred means of accessing content by 2014.

This trend means that users get more flexibility from their mobile devices, and cloud computing enables the strength of each device to be leveraged. For example, smartphones are best for communications while on-the-go. Tablets, meanwhile, can be used when making client presentations.

In all of these, cloud computing will be the glue that binds web services and devices. Gartner says the so-called “post-PC era” ushers in not only the advent of new devices, but rather a new way of working and thinking.

There are a few major trends that are becoming the driving force of this post-PC era, and small-to-medium enterprises should take heed.

  1. Consumerization of IT. Corporate IT has increasingly become consumerized due to the increasing technology savvy of its users. Mobile devices have become more and more affordable, which has brought about the trend in “bring your own devices” or BYOD in the workplace. Users have likewise been able to harness social media in both improving their personal and professional networks. As such, IT is no longer just the expertise of the corporate IT department, but everyone can now pitch in.
  2. Virtualization gives security and flexibility. Virtualization of processes has given organizations flexibility in implementing their computing environments. This lets IT departments run applications without being constrained by the differences in devices and platforms that users are running. Virtualization lets users have a standard and consistent environment regardless of the device they use, whether these be notebooks, desktops, tablets or even smartphones.
  3. Apps take center stage. Applications – or apps – have changed the way users do computing today. Apps have had a dramatic impact on both the consumer and enterprise market, especially with their cross-platform portability. The portable user experience has likewise made users more productive and efficient in communicating and processing data. Apps also play an important part in cloud computing, given their portable nature, and the prevalence of mobile broadband access.
  4. Self-service cloud. The cloud is not just for enterprises and businesses. The cloud has increasingly become self-service, with consumers having a plethora of options, from email, to collaboration, to storage, and other functionalities. As such, there are benefits from individual users shifting to cloud-based services, which can include a culture of self-service that lets users become more in-control over their digital experiences and online identities.
  5. Mobile devices have prevailed. The so-called “post-PC” era has come. Mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and hybrid devices have become more and more popular in the enterprise and consumer setting. In the emerging markets, access from mobile devices will overtake desktops, which can be attributed to the lower barrier to entry and easier access to mobile devices. Mobile devices also give enterprise users more freedom. Workers can communicate with colleagues from virtually anywhere, and no one has to be stuck at a desk anymore. Aside from mobility, these devices also offer interesting user experiences, which include touch- and gesture-based control, which is a deviation from the keyboard and mouse that users have been used to for decades.

Cloud computing is changing the way organizations run their applications and processes. Because the cloud is flexible and scalable, these benefits can be achieved by both SMEs and big businesses. Applications, virtualization and mobile devices have led to a change in organizational culture, with a new preference toward mobility.

Passwords: A Must-Read For Businesses Serious About Security

According to a recent security survey, 79% of Internet users use passwords that are considered insecure. These include easy-to-guess combinations like names, birthdates, and dictionary words. Also, 26% of users re-use passwords across different important services like email, online banking, and online shopping websites. 8% also admit to copying passwords from websites that generate lists of “good” passwords. As such, almost 30% of these users say they have been hacked, and about half know other users who have likewise been hacked.

Most malicious hackers will initially attempt to break into a user account using guessed passwords. Many will use brute-force applications that try to match the password with a pre-defined list of commonly-used passwords. According to studies, once a hacker breaches a user’s email or other account, the information can easily be used to break into other services that the user is subscribed to.

There is a need for users to have unique passwords for each online service, and to use secure passwords for these services. Here are a few tips.

Character count. Experts recommend using 8-10 characters as the optimal password length. The greater number of characters, the harder it will be for hackers to guess and break into the account. However, passwords that are too long might be difficult to remember, hence the optimal length.

Personal information. Do not use words or other personal information that can be easily associated with you. For example, avoid birthdates, names, names of spouses or children, or company names. Avoid using nicknames, pet names, or even repeating your username.

Dictionary words. Hackers have a list of commonly-used passwords, which are mostly dictionary words. As such, avoid using words that can be found in the dictionary, because these can be easily guessed by a password-cracking program that uses brute force.

Sequences. Avoid the use of characters in sequence or repetition. For instance, 1234 is a commonly-used PIN that’s often a default in mobile phones and even bank cards. Other combinations include 0000, 7777, 1111, and the like. These are easy to guess, and should be avoided, even if added to a word or name.

Special characters. The alphabet only has 26 letters, but increasing these leads to a bigger number of possible combinations to guess. As such, using numbers, special characters (like punctuations), and a combination of different letter cases (uppercase or lowercase), would help make your password more secure.

Word combinations. You can break words apart and insert numbers or special characters in between, to make a password that’s easy to remember, but difficult to break into. This way, brute-force attacks would be difficult.

Different passwords. Don’t use the same password for all accounts. Use a different password for different user accounts, like email, online banking, and the like. This way, even if one account were to be compromised, hackers would be limited to that particular account.

Change passwords. Don’t stick to one password forever. Change passwords on a regular and frequent basis, to increase security.

Online criminals are increasingly becoming sophisticated at breaking into accounts. The password is the first line of defense against identity theft, financial fraud, and other online risks. Therefore, businesses should ensure that employees and managers use secure passwords to prevent data leakages or theft.