Monday, May 26, 2008

Selling Off People's Lives

Do You Trust Your Employees?

Whether a business has three or 200,000 employees, data protection and security are of the utmost importance. Now, some may say, well, a three person business does not have much to protect, they are so small. A small company can have lots of information that could be just as confidential as a big business if accessed by hackers. So, if you are a smaller-based business do not think you are immune. You are not my friend. At least you have the luxury of being able to know all of your employees on a much more intimate level then a big business.

Technology vs. Human Will

A business can have all the latest and greatest technologies for security at their finger tips, but that does account for human "error" or in this case, human theft. It can be and is challenging for businesses to have to juggle the two because one cannot be around without the other. In the case of Lending Tree, employees took advantage of the access to information. We have to ask ourselves how this information was so easily abused. I mean, honestly, people's lives are at risk of identity theft and who knows what else and it seems this went on for a couple years. What were the motivating factors? Money? Revenge? As this story continues to unravel, I want to know.

As a business owner, one must have the at the bare minimum security protocols and be pro-active about it or there will be consequences. In terms of monitoring employees, if the release of people's information can reek havoc, you need to set-up security barriers that, for example, monitor emails being sent out (Symantec has a service). Then, have the settings pick up key words that could involve potential threats. Yes, it may be tedious to have to look through all the files, but if it saves the business from bad press and LOTS of law suits, it is well worth the business' time.

The original article was from the Charlotte Observer, but the link has since been taken down, so I found another one dated around the same time.


So it seems there has been a class-action suit filed. One person has already come forward about the effects of this violation.

Garcia bought a copy of his credit report almost immediately after that and found that his information had been reviewed by nearly a dozen lenders without his permission, severely affecting his credit score, the complaint said.

Yikes! That is not good and is now a serious consequence of the renegade employees. The article mentions that the affected parties do not believe Lending Tree took adequate action to protect their information, which they may not have. I wish more details were given, but I'm going off of what I have access to.

The Ultimate Battle

How, as business owners, are we able to find the line between technological security measures and human security? It is extremely frustrating and scary. Businesses need to invest in security, it is a necessity. We cannot skimp on it because we have to ward off hackers. However, when our own employees poise a threat, it is the worst possible situation. Thus, it makes first off, the hiring process that much more important. It also puts further emphasis of keeping upper management in the trenches with the employees. The more they are involved, the less likely certain events/actions can slip by and heaven forbid they become wrapped up in it as well.

In addition, make it difficult for employees to be able to transfer sensitive information. If an employee has to log into a database to retrieve information, are they able to cut and paste? Can employees bring their lap-tops home? It's one thing to bring work home to get caught up, but if it involves dealing with very sensitive data, do not risk it, do not allow it!

Overall, this issue will always be around, but like I touched upon earlier, what were the motives? Did someone anger the employee? Were they short changed on something? Were they just a bad hire? In efforts to fight this sort of security threat, we need to analyze why it occurred. Only then can we figure out how to curb the threat. As a business owner, protecting your information is one of the most critical skills sets available.

~the GURU

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Telecom. 101 -- Video Style

My Second Video Installment

Each category will have it's own video or web entry dedicated to it. Like I said in the video, this is a very high overview.

My YouTube Universe

~the GURU

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What is DSL?

Time to Focus on some Telecommunications

Sure, we have all heard the term "DSL" thrown around and know that in some shape or form connects a user to the internet, but what does is stand for? What does it do? How does it work? In this entry, we are going over the very basics of DSL and how it provides businesses (and homes too) with internet connectivity.

Drum Roll please.... DSL stands for "Digital Subscriber Line"

Why Do You Need It?

Well, if you did not have it (or cable for that matter) you could not read this post or navigate anywhere on the internet. Thus, DSL is used to foster:

  • Connectivity for business networks
  • Transferring of files
  • Data gathering / Researching information
  • Connecting with the millions upon millions of other users all logged into the net

How it Works:
DSL is provisioned over the same copper pair (twisted pair) wire your voice line uses and provides continuous connectivity. Copper wire uses analog signaling (ie voice conversations) and initially when the idea was thought up to run data over the lines, a modem was born.

A modem transmits the analog signal from the line into a digital transmission, carries it over the network, and translates it back into an analog signal. As a result, this only allowed bandwidth of up to 56kbps (kilo-bits per second). Now, as we are all well aware, 56kbps in this world is slower than watching a rock move. Cell phones have faster connectivity now. Thus, emerged DSL technology.

With Digital Subscriber Lines, there is no need to convert analog transmissions into digital signals and then back to analog. The information starts off as digital, which boasts a tremendous increase in bandwidth capabilities. In the Southeast, for example, DSL is available up to 6.0Mbps (mega bits per second). That is a HUGE boost!

Also, in the age of 56k modems, either you were on the internet or on the phone. They could not occur simultaneously. With DSL, both voice and internet connectivity occur on the same line, thus reducing costs.

Types of DSL
There is one main type of DSL. I am going to leave the others alone because the majority of users do not use them.

Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL) is geared towards homes and small businesses because of the bandwidth breakdowns. Since most users download information from the internet more than upload (i.e. every time you go to a website, you download rich graphics, text, etc etc or download music/movies) you require bandwidth. As a result, engineers were able to design DSL to give you more download speed. This is because typical users upload a lot less (i.e. send emails, upload files etc).

However, if your business demands a lot of upload bandwidth, you would need a symmetrical DSL (SDSL), but if that is the case, an internet T-1 circuit would be the best option and we will discuss T-1s at a later date.

Things to Consider

  • DSL is distance sensitive, so the further away the business is away from the Telecom. Provider's Central Office , the slower the connection. Thus, the users closest to the COs benefit from the fastest speeds.
  • DSL has its own line. A business does not share it with anyone except those on the network. Whereas with cable, everyone in a "neighborhood" shares one big pipe. So, come 3:00pm when the kids come home, the cable network will slow down.

Why DSL may not be for You

  • Like I mentioned above, distance plays a factor. As a result, if a business requires a lot of bandwidth and is not ready for the investment in a T-1, they will be out of luck.
  • It's not available everywhere. Some central offices are not capable or, once again, distance plays a factor
  • Faster receiving than sending of information
  • Copper Line Quality. If the copper wires are really old, quality may suffer.

Why DSL is for You
  • Always On. DSL is always on and always ready to surf. A business never has to log-on or off.
  • Voice calls come in on the same line, so you do not have to buy a line just for internet connectivity.
  • Most of the time, there is no need for additional wiring
  • Service Providers usually supply the modem/router.

Overall, the creation of DSL allowed a lot of business to have internet connectivity and not have to buy all new equipment or wiring. All that really has to occur is the purchase of a router and informing your service provider you need connectivity. While there are some downsides to DSL and of course the great debate of cable vs. DSL (another time, I don't have the strength), DSL is a sound investment that provides businesses with basic reliable internet connectivity.

Side Notes:
I want to leave you with some general terms.
DSLAM: Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplier - This device inter-connects all the individual DSL lines in an area and transports them into one big pipe to the high speed backbone which provides gigs upon gigs of bandwidth which keeps the network flowing. Whereas cable providers give "sectors" one big pipe and everyone shares it.
Filters: Filters block signals above certain frequencies so the voice and data transmissions are not interfered with and cause problems. So, if you hear static on the lines, sometimes it is because the filter needs to be replaced.

~the GURU

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Where is the GURU?

Hi everyone,

I'm in the midst of moving/looking for a new place to live so it has been a little hectic.

Posting will resume soon I hope.

~the GURU