Companies across the country – large and small – are
enhancing their digital presence to better connect with customers through
multiple digital venues. With the assistance of trusted technology advisors
including Applied Information Sciences, one of the largest companies in the
country, GEICO insurance, has adopted an aggressive hybrid-cloud course from
legacy infrastructure to the cloud to thrive in the fast-moving digital
As the leading direct writer in the auto insurance
industry, GEICO is always looking for innovative ways to reach and delight customers.
However, as any online merchant can attest, there’s no standing still on the
Internet. Over the past five years, the rise of mobile Internet use and the
explosion of participation in social media networks has led to a sharp rise in
the customer appetite for digital engagement.
GEICO has always wanted to stay ahead of the curve in
regards to digital engagement, and that is why they teamed up with Microsoft to
benefit from Azure’s cloud utilities. In today’s universe of digital engagement,
the optimal experience for a customer includes day and night availability and a
continuous release of capabilities that make transactions faster and easier. Azure’s
development environment and moving to the cloud are helping GEICO make that
GEICO chose to partner with Microsoft because Microsoft’s
aggressive approach to move into cloud technology with Microsoft Azure,
especially its innovative platform-as-a-service (PaaS) tools – which allows
GEICO’s cloud development team to collaborate on the construction of important
With its software development now happening in Azure,
GEICO has seen a substantial speedup in its innovation cycle. That acceleration
comes from faster provisioning of development resources and from reallocating
engineers from standing up infrastructure to developing new customer engagement
models. With its nimble cloud infrastructure, GEICO can test and refine ideas
faster, which helps it improve the customer experience at a faster cadence.
By moving its tier-1 business systems to Azure, GEICO
has also eliminated much of the downtime that used to accompany new-feature
rollouts, which could be devastating to an online business. Today, GEICO
deploys and tests in one US Azure datacenter and runs production applications
in another. Customers never see any downtime due to software updates and the
important applications that they rely on and trust are always available.
Additionally, GEICO has also reduced costs with Azure
by reducing the labor required to set up and manage infrastructure. You can
read more about the Microsoft Cloud services offered by VISTECH by clicking here.
Many businesses and individuals are aware of the growing threat of Ransomware, a new
type of cybersecurity attack that will lock users out of a system until they
have given a payment. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and – at
this point – they are nearly ubiquitous, especially when employees rely on
multiple devices to get work done on the go.
But with the help
of Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA), your
employees will be able to use any and all of their devices securely and remain
protected from cyberattacks and ransomware.
Even just within
the past few years, cyberattacks and security threats have grown substantially
more sophisticated, as many attackers are able to reside within a network an
average of eight months before they are even detected. Many attacks are able to
occur because hackers compromise user credentials in order to gain access to a
computer or a company’s network. Hackers are increasingly using tools that
resemble legitimate IT protocols rather than malware in order to infiltrate and
attack vulnerable networks.
Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) provides a simple and fast way to understand
what is happening to your network and will allow you to react in order to
protect it. First, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics works to identify
suspicious user and device activity with its built-in intelligence. If any
unusual behavior is detected, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics will provide
clear and relevant threat information on a simple attack timeline. Microsoft
Advanced Threat Analytics is able to leverage and analyze varieties of
information in order to track suspicious user behavior and detect even the most
advanced attacks in real time.
cloud-based algorithm, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics works around the
clock to help you pinpoint suspicious activities in your systems by tracking
and profiling user behavior in order to understand exactly which behavior would
seem suspicious. There is no need for your IT security staff to create rules,
fine-tune existing systems, or monitor floods of security reports because the
intelligence needed is built in. Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics also
identifies known advanced attacks and security issues.
Click here to read more about how VISTECH and other
Microsoft utilities like Advanced Threat Analytics can help to manage your company’s
data and keep your company more secure.
Liberty is a well-known company with a growing influence
across Africa. For nearly 60 years, the South African company has created value
for investors by meeting customers’ financial needs through developing and
delivering appropriate insurance and investment products and services.
Liberty offers an extensive, market-leading range of
products and services to help customers build and protect their wealth and
lifestyle. These include life, short-term and health related insurance,
investment management and financial support for retirement.
Traditionally, the Liberty end-user operating system roadmap
has been focused on supporting only one version less than what is currently
available. The reasons for this include the fact that an operating system
update would require disruptive changes in order to ensure the continued
compatibility of the company’s applications. Often, this would result in a
lengthy implementation timeline that could range from 12 to 18 months.
With the release to market of Windows 10, Liberty
anticipated that many of its external customers would quickly adopt the
operating system, especially because Microsoft was offering a free upgrade in
the first year of the software becoming available. Liberty therefore had to
expedite the process of checking the compatibility of its solutions on the
Windows 10 operating environment.
Liberty faced a further challenged because its independent
sales force was buying new PCs and laptops which came pre-loaded with Windows
10. To use the Liberty sales tools, they were forced to downgrade to Windows 7,
which incurred additional expenses.
As it had an existing service agreement in place for its
end-user support, Liberty approached Microsoft to discuss the technical and
licensing aspects of making the large-scale, company-wide switch to Windows 10,
also making sure to include training for Liberty staff to become acquainted
with new Windows 10 features.
Liberty’s Windows 10 migration involved upgrading six
thousand PCs within a three-month deadline. In addition, all Liberty external
facing applications were updated in order to be compatible with Windows 10. Two
critical factors in making the move so successful were onboarding the
stakeholders in the service chain – such as the executives, operations, application
teams, and the supplier and properly communicating the move to all those (in
and out of the company) who would be affected by it.
Within a period of three months, Liberty upgraded more than
six thousand PCs and resolved compatibility issues for its external-facing
applications without losing any data. Feedback from users indicate the overall
performance experience is an improvement compared to Windows 7 resulting in
improved productivity. Furthermore, the improved power management features
provide for extended battery life on devices further enhancing the efficiency
You can read more about Microsoft Windows 10 and the other
Microsoft Cloud services offered by VISTECH by clicking here.
Headlines are filled every week with news of business and
personal data being lost to cyber-attacks. Whether the hacking threat comes
from an independent collective like Anonymous or a pseudo-governmental agency
in China, cyber-attacks are on the rise, and these attacks pose a serious
threat to your business’s ability to operate. Just the other day, the
database of a Republican analytics firm was compromised, exposing the
personal information of almost 200 million people.
The primary threat that cyber-attacks pose is the loss of
data. This data can range from propriety information owned by your company to
the personal data of your clients and employees. The danger of losing
proprietary information goes without saying, but the loss of personal data goes
even further and threatens to damage the trust that your company has built up with
its clients and employees.
Additionally, a cyber-attack poses a serious threat to a
variety of business operations, not just data. Hackers can work to make
websites and servers non-operational, which inhibits intra-office communication
and the ability for your company to advertise to and draw in potential clients
The benefits of a clear and sound business continuity plan
cannot be understated. Business continuity plans not only help to protect your
company from potential disaster. They can help you recover faster from them as
well. Minimizing the risk of downtime – and minimizing the downtime your
business might experience in a worst-case scenario – goes a long way in
protecting your company’s and your client’s trust and information.
These principles are all the more important in the case of
cyber attacks. Having a business continuity management program in place can reduce
the cost of data breaches and significantly reduce the change of them
occurring. Business continuity and disaster response plans can also reduce the
amount of time it takes to identify a cyber attack and reduces the likelihood
of experiencing a breach over the next two years, says a study released by the Ponemon
Institute L.L.C. .
383 companies from 16 industry sectors in 11 countries,
including the United States and Saudi Arabia, were surveyed by Michigan-based
Ponemon. All of the participating organizations had experienced a data breach
of some kind, according to the study.
The study found that companies with a business continuity
management program took an average of about 50 fewer days to identify and
respond to a data breach. Firms that had a business continuity and disaster
response plan took on average 175 days to identify a breach, compared with an
average of 227 days for firms that did not have such a program.
Among other results, the study found that while the average
cost per lost or stolen record can be as high as $167, for companies with a
business continuity program the average cost can be as low as $149. The study
also concluded the likelihood of having a data breach some time during the next
two years is 22% for firms with these programs and 29% for those without.
Hacking and all forms of cyberattacks are becoming more and
more prevalent. Whether they are the work of independent groups or
government-funded collectives, hackers are developing new techniques to
infiltrate computer systems in order to steal data and make a quick buck.
One of these methods is ransomware. Ransomware is a type of
malware that holds files or even entire computer systems hostage until a
payment is made. Usually this is done by encrypting files so that they are inaccessible
or by marking them for permanent deletion. Attacks can occur randomly and
without warning, but they usually include a clear ransom demand displayed
through computer screens. Sometimes this ransom amount even increases as time
Over the last year or so, ransomware attacks have hit
epidemic proportions. There are many high-profile instances of ransomware
attacks, but these attacks can even occur in small-to-medium sized business
that have limited in-house IT support.
Ransomware is now an organized business designed and
executed to maximize profit, and if an attack takes place, it usually works.
Most businesses are willing to pay what it takes to get their data back. The
low overhead and high profits involved with ransomware mean that there are tons
of hacking groups that can rake in millions of dollars per year.
Ransomware usually gains access to computers or networks
engineering and preying on an uninformed mark. A hacker sends an email that
prompts its recipient, an employee, to download a file. The file turns out to
be a malicious program that infects that employee’s computer, as well as any
company networks that computer is connected to. Then the piece of ransomware
starts encrypting vital files and prompting users with a ransom note.
At this point, a ransomware attack has forced the company
into downtime. More money is lost each second.
Today, ransomware attacks are increasingly aimed at
businesses of all sizes, which allows for hackers to make demands for thousands
of dollars in ransom payments. The University
of Calgary paid $16,000 dollars in June. Hollywood
Presbyterian Medical Center paid a $17,000 ransom in February. Ransomware
attacks target companies indiscriminately, usually taking advantage of
industries that rely on technologies which are more vulnerable to attack.
But, as companies become more reliant on technology
throughout their business operation, those vulnerabilities are increasing
exponentially. Even the Internet of Things is vulnerable to the ransomware
threat. At a recent
DEF CON event, hackers were able to get into a smart thermostat system and
hold it for ransom.
There are a number of ways to protect yourself from a
ransomware attack. The first is to educate employees to make sure that they
don’t fall into any traps by downloading untrustworthy and potentially-infected
files. The second is to make sure that your data is well-protected and always
backed-up properly. The cuts the legs out from under a ransomware threat.
to read more about how VISTECH can help your company protect itself and recover