strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic Insights: Digital & Security Pitfalls

January 29, 2021

Strategic Insights: Digital & Security Pitfalls [2021]

Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.  This week we shared articles across our social media talking about Digital & Security Pitfalls to watch out for in 2021.

Of these 7 Digital Leadership mistakes, #5 may as well be called the Cardinal Sin.

Enterprise project lists the seven most critical mistakes that could be made when developing your Digital Strategy.  The seven sins are listed below, and the article itself gives tips on “what to do instead”.

1. Assuming financial support for transformation initiatives
2. Focusing on output
3. Underestimating and under-communicating requirements
4. Top-down leadership
5. Treating digital transformation as an IT project
6. Infrequent or inaccurate updates
7. Lack of formal ownership

In our view, #5 is the Cardinal Sin. Digital Transformation must be an organizational initiative – not a “project” for IT to deliver.

SOURCE: ENTERPRISE PROJECT

Time to button up those loose security policies from the WFH disruption!

Almost every company on the planet had to loosen and suspend security policies to allow remote access like never before.  As companies plan for the long term “Hybrid Work Plan”, it’s time to button up those loose ends before a cyber attack.

Operational Security must review these key areas:

Tightening up the loose security policies to allow WFH connectivity
Standardizing and monitoring of access to the many connected devices
Protecting the data that is moving in and out of the core network
Streamlining devices and operating systems that have access to critical data

Bottom line? Zero Trust policies will become the norm before the end of 2021.

SOURCE: CYBERSECURITY DIVE

53% of Executives said “improving business continuity and resiliency” is their top priority. Here’s how to make it yours, too:

Information Week shared a number of insights, including some telling statistics from a recent Harvard Business Review.  Executives are ready, now more than ever, to invest in business technology.  Business are turning to so-called “Digital Leaders” to head the transformation, but how do you know a qualified Digital Leader when you see one?  Here are three attributes to be on the lookout for:

1. They create and empower a culture that is primed for change
2. They embrace a digital-first mindset that prioritizes automation, data analytics, and real-time customer demands
3. They employ rapid-cycle innovation to achieve quick wins for the business that also materialize as long term transformation efforts

BONUS TIP: Look for the candidate that is passionate about transforming SAFELY; governance, policy, and security should be their top priority.

SOURCE: INFORMATION WEEK

2021 will see a rise of security threats targeting employees working from home.  Are yours safe?

ThreatPost says the WFH employee will be remain the biggest target, and mobile endpoints will likely be the attack vector of choice.  This means, cyber strategies (and budgets!) need to be reviewed.  Few experts can actually agree on where the threats will originate in 2021, so ThreatPost did their best round-up to give you a few areas to keep a watchful eye:

Insider Threats
Inbox Bullseye
Cybersecurity Cloud Burst
AI and Machine Learning Vulnerabilities
Mobile Menace

To the surprise of no one, remote workers will remain the most vulnerable, while added AI/ML could create the most new vulnerabilities.

SOURCE: THREATPOST

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Press Release Header

Cisco’s Advanced Security Architecture Achieved

January 26, 2021

Announced: Significant Specialization Achieved

Next Dimension and Cisco

Next Dimension Inc. Achieves Cisco™ Advanced Security Architecture Specialization in Canada.

Next Dimension announced today the achievement of its Cisco Advanced Security Architecture Specialization in Canada. This certifies that Next Dimension has fulfilled the training requirements and program prerequisites to sell, design, deploy, and support comprehensive Security Architecture solutions. Next Dimension met the training, personnel, and exam requirements set forth by Cisco.

“Every company is a tech company; and to that end, every company requires a secure infrastructure to thrive.” Said Adam Davis, CEO of Next Dimension Inc. “The Cisco Advanced Security Architecture Specialization demonstrates Next Dimension has the skill, expertise, and passion to provide service excellence against the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.”

“Every company is a tech company; and to that end, every company requires a secure infrastructure to thrive.” – Adam Davis, CEO, Next Dimension Inc.

Next Dimension cultivates strategic partnerships with its customers, providing long term support to ensure the IT infrastructure is reliable and secure while leveraging innovation. Cisco’s Advanced Security Architecture specialization is an example of our ongoing efforts to strengthen our capabilities in support of this partnership goal with our clients.

Next Dimension is a Cisco Premier Certified Partner, holding many other Cisco credentials supporting data centre and collaboration, as well as security. Next Dimension is pleased to be part of this elite group of Advanced Security Architecture Specialization partners.

The Cisco Resale Channel Program provides a framework for channel partners to build the sales, technical and Cisco Lifecycle Services skills required to deliver Cisco solutions to their customers. Through the program’s specializations and certifications, Cisco recognizes a channel partner’s expertise in deploying solutions based on Cisco advanced technologies and services. Using a third-party audit process, the program validates channel partner qualifications such as technology skills, business best practices, customer satisfaction, and presales and post-sales support capabilities—critical factors for customers choosing a trusted channel partner.


strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic Insights: Transformation and Security Trends

January 25, 2021

Strategic Insights: Transformation & Security Trends

Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.  This week we shared articles across our social media talking about Transformation & Security Trends.

With customers demand moving to digital first, modernizing your technology infrastructure will set you up for the 3Rs: Responsiveness, Reconfiguration and Resilience.

EY asks a very poignant question: Are you running on Analog in a Digital boom?  They suggest four steps to successful automation for those that make and sell goods.  At the start of 2020, EY reported in their Future Consumer Index that customers around the world are shifting their demands.  They want products and services that are “digital, local, and sustainable”.

Take a look at your organization.  Take a look at your service offering.  Are you able to achieve this?  If you can see where you might make improvements, but aren’t sure how to get started, EY recommends these four steps to optimize and digitize your supply chain:

1. Review supply chain intelligence
2. Critique supply chain architecture
3. Integrate operational excellence and supply chain planning
4. Test supply chain sustainability and resilience

Applying these steps will set your business on the path to achieving the 3Rs: Responsiveness, Reconfiguration, and Resilience.

SOURCE: ERNST & YOUNG

Optimizing virtual interactions will be a top priority this year. Have you found new ways to interact with Employees? Suppliers? Customers?

CIO review talks about the five trends to prepare for and optimize along your 2021 Digital Journey.  These trends will foster new processes, new mindsets, and no doubt create new initiatives you may not have considered for this fiscal year.  Not every initiative may make your top list of priorities, but should be ranked inside your organization nonetheless:

Accelerated Investment
Switching to Virtual Interaction
Increase use of Contactless Solutions
Digital Communication Network Upgrades
Improved Investment in Cloud Technology

Unsure where to start?  Consider reviewing your organization’s willingness and readiness to adapt – start with the easiest wins.  Use this interactive worksheet to determine which parts of your business are ready.

SOURCE: CIO REVIEW

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. There are many benefits to running cybersecurity practice drills with your staff to keep you safe. Here’s ten:

Running cybersecurity practice drills help protect your business in so many ways.  DarkReading.com gives some clear and calculated benefits to investing in running cyber safety exercises within your organization – ten to be exact. Below may have the most immediate impact:

Train your People
Improve your Response
Determine External Needs
Find non-Compliance Risks

Not sure where to start?  Here’s a free cybersecurity training course to use within your organization including a number of tools to test the quality of training for your staff.

SOURCE: DARK READING

What makes a great digital leader?  The skills might surprise you.  How do you fare against these 11 signs?

Digital Transformation may very well be led by IT inside your organization, but it’s not because the IT lead (CIO, VP) excels in a traditional role.  IT leads used to pride themselves on project efficiency and on time delivery.  They were laser focused on a solution to solve a specific problem.  The Digital leader of today must take a holistic look that encompasses all corporate outputs, processes, and customer interactions.  Enterprise Project noted 11 traits of effective Digital Leaders.  Among those, the most intriguing are they following they say Digital Transformation Leaders do:

Democratize tech understanding
Focus on flow
Practice pragmatism
Inspire others
Prioritize the customer experience

You can use this assessment tool to define your skills as a Natural Digital Leader.

SOURCE: ENTERPRISE PROJECT

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strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic Insights: Transformation Success in Manufacturing

January 18, 2021

Strategic Insights: Transformation Success in Manufacturing

Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.  This week we shared articles across our social media talking about Transformation Success in Manufacturing.

1 in 5 Manufacturing employees would fall for a phishing email.  How many staff do you employ?

Canadian Manufacturing says 22% of employees in the manufacturing industry would fall victim to a phishing email.  That’s 1 in 5.  Solarwinds is a network monitoring tool used by many MSPs (not Next Dimension), which means, if they get hacked, all MSPs and their clients have also been exposed.  SolarwWinds verified that 18,000 if its 33,000 clients were in fact compromised.

How did the hackers do it?  They create a fake software update, and those clients that went through with the update subsequently loaded the malware onto their network.  The malware was not designed to seize the network, instead, the hackers were able to sort through clients’ personal data files.

How do you solve this lack of training?  We have partnered with KnowBe4 to create a free online course to help protect your employees.

SOURCE: CANADIAN MANUFACTURING

What new tools are you adopting in 2021? Let us know!   

There are plenty of new technology categories emerging as employees continue to work remotely.  While video conferencing isn’t new, Virtual Whiteboarding and other solutions are trending to start 2021.  Change had to be made rapidly in 2020.  Now it’s about taking the best changes and making them sustainable regardless of employee location.  With new technologies comes new exposure and new potential security vulnerabilities.  Safeguarding corporate data while simultaneously adopting new solutions is no small task.  Here are some tips to remain successful in 2021 and beyond:

Consider creating a hybrid work playbook

Consider adding tools like the virtual whiteboard, efficiency tracking software

Be mindful of how new technologies may increase the security vulnerability of your organization

Focus on generating trust between management and employees, aside from log on/log off tracking

Kicking off the year with the right corporate mindset will keep your business focused on the right tactics to boost productivity and profitability.

SOURCE: CIO DIVE

THERE’S NO TIME TO WASTE: Digital transformation in the Manufacturing sector must happen now.

While production didn’t grind to a halt as originally feared, there were declines for the manufacturing sector in the spring of 2020.  Successful organizations used that time to ramp up their efforts to join Industry 4.0.  Continuing this effort, Forbes listed six trends they believe will hold strong in 2021:

Move to Globalization
Shift to the Edge
Surge in 3D Printing
Supportive IT Infrastructure
Human Centered AI
Increased Investment in IIoT

In the next year, investments in smart manufacturing technology will continue to grow, and adoption of these technologies will continue to transform how organizations operate.

SOURCE: FORBES

70% of Digital Transformation initiatives do not reach their goals. Avoid these pitfalls in your own journey:

The Digital Transformation journey is fraught with pitfalls as many organizations are taking this journey for the very first time, and are doing so under the duress of outside pressure.  Medium.com’s writer inVerita says these are the five dangers to be weary of in your own journey:

1. The absence of a digital savvy leader
2. The imbalance between technology and business strategies
3. Relying only on in-house members
4. Losing track of the client experience
5. The project is not thoroughly planned

Next Dimension offers a Digital Leadership and Transformation strategy with useful workshop tools right on our website.

SOURCE: MEDIUM.COM

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strategic IT insights from the week

Strategic Insights: Digital & Operational Efficiency

January 12, 2021

Strategic Insights: Digital & Operational Reliability

Next Dimension curates the most practical and useful tools and strategic IT insights from the web.  This week we shared articles across our social media talking about Digital and Operational Reliability.

Cyber crime could cost the world $6 Trillion by the end of 2021. [SIX STEPS] Cybersecurity protection strategies are right here:

It’s no secret. They way we do business has changed, and we are still deciding on new remote and hybrid strategies that work best for our companies.  One element that cannot be compromised is safety from cyber crime.  Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that the cost of cyber crime could reach $6 Trillion worldwide by the end of 2021.

To that end, Forbes has shared their six ways to protect your organization in 2021:

1. LEARN

2. CREATE A CYBERSECURITY FRAMEWORK.

3. ENACT BASIC CYBER HYGIENE

4. BE VIGILANT LOOKING FOR SOCIAL ENGINEERING ATTACKS

5. PREPARE TO SAFEGUARD IOT

6. CONSIDER OUTSOURCE SECURITY SERVICES

Nothing can every fully protect your business from the data loss or productivity loss of cyber crime, but these six steps can drastically reduce the impact of this crime against your organization.

SOURCE: FORBES

Forbes lists ‘Ways to Accelerate Digital Transformation’ in the following article. What would you add?   

Never before in the history of modern business has there been such a high level of digital adoption as there was in 2020.   Employees went home, customers went online, suppliers went scrambling.  Regardless of where you started 2020 on the digital adoption curve, chances are you’ve jumped right in to various digital transformation efforts.

Here are a list of three ways to accelerate Digital Transformation inside your organization:

Audit your current state of digital maturity

Analyze the disruption in your customer journey

Leverage technology that will pivot the business model

Taking this approach will help you keep an eye on where your organization started, what your customers need, and where your business needs to go.

SOURCE: FORBES

Don’t have a CIO on your team? Make sure someone is managing these 3 expectations in 2021.

The year is 2021.  Your business is forced to define new success streams and metrics while doubling down on backup and security plans.  The IT department must play well in the sand with all members of the boardroom to ensure a successful digital transformation across the entire organization.

Here are three collective goals that must be shared across the business in order to thrive in 2021 and beyond:

1. Grow revenue through digital channels

2. Optimize cost

3. Rethink business continuity.

While these are important for the acceleration of your Digital Transformation, please remember: Digital Transformation doesn’t happen without a culture shift!

SOURCE: ENTERPRISE PROJECT

[LOOK FOR THE RED FLAGS] Ransomware attacks are seldom “random” and are even less likely to be “uncalculated”.  Here are five red flags to watch out for:

Forbes says if we take a moment to “peel back the curtain” we’ll see signs of a planned, premeditated attack on business.  A calculated crime whereby the criminal knows exactly where to go to find the valuable data, and oftentimes knows exactly how much to demand to ensure their requests are met.  But if we know where and how to look, we’ll see red flags inside the organization well before anyone descends on your network:

1. A “Dry Run” of test attacks. Attackers will likely probe the edge of your network repeatedly.

2. MimiKatz + Microsoft Process Explorer. MimiKatz is a common hacker credential theft tool used to export logins and passwords.  Beware of MimiKatz!

3. Network Scanners like AngryIP and Advanced Port Scanner. Is there a presence of a network scanner on your network?  Can you trace it back to a viable source?

4. Security-Disabling applications like GMER, PC Hunter, Process Hacker, and more.  Again, these solutions on their own pose no risk, and may very well be on your network for good reason.  The important item of note is to ensure the software is on your network for legitimate purposes, placed by a legitimate source.

5. Repeated Suspicious Activities. IT teams remove suspicious malware detections all the time. The red flag? look for those that are repeatedly in your list even though they were removed. There’s likely a bigger issue causing malware to reinstate!

Monitoring these red flags will help you identify anomalies sooner.

SOURCE: FORBES

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