While it has never been seen as a desirable trait in any industry, many information security experts suggest that a healthy dose of paranoia may actually be good for business. After all, a paranoid leader is a vigilant one. This state of alertness can actually improve the defenses of your organization, through regular improvements, scheduled maintenance, and increased awareness in your company. So should you look for a CISO with a paranoid streak? Consider the benefits before making your final decision.
1. Paranoid CISOs search out advancements.
Paranoid CISOs are ever-improving. Because they constantly suspect that their organization is under attack, they’ll always be looking for new, advanced ways to fortify their defenses and stay informed on new developments in the industry. There’s always room for improvement, so your company will have the most up-to-date information security system available with new, multi-layered controls. This valuable instrumentation and increased depth can help prepare for a threat or attack before you’re even aware it’s there.
2. Paranoid CISOs never neglect necessary system maintenance.
Complacency is just as dangerous as an inherently weak security system. If your CISO isn’t taking the time to update and patch their managed program, they’re opening up channels for potential breaches. A paranoid CISO, on the other hand, constantly patches their program to ensure that no known weaknesses exist in the system. This regular maintenance might be neglected by complacent leaders, creating dangerous vulnerabilities in your organization.
3. Paranoid CISOs improve company awareness.
In their constant state of hyper-vigilance, a paranoid CISO will want to ensure that every member of your organization is doing their part to follow security protocols. This will help create a culture of data security to protect your company at every level. From data analyst to CEO, you organization will be more secure and less vulnerable to attack.
4. Paranoid CISOs develop a deep understanding of the company.
Not only will they understand the nature of each and every potential attack, but a paranoid CISO will also understand the potential consequences they may have on the company. Their deep-rooted knowledge of the business will motivate them to improve and monitor the system, specifically targeting the threats that may cause the most harm to the company.
So while paranoia is often the butt of office jokes, it may actually help the performance of a company’s security system. A paranoid CISO can do more for a business than a complacent leader. Embrace a healthy level of paranoia in your CISO for an improved system and better overall defenses against attacks.
Remaining objective in an interview can be difficult. We’re often inclined to base our impressions of others on emotions and first impressions rather than fact. This can not only harm the interviewee, but it can also result in the loss of talented candidates. By maintaining objectivity and consistency in each of your interviews, you can ensure that the process is as thorough and accurate as possible.
These five key elements of an objective interview will keep you on the right track during your candidate search.
Create a Checklist
Before you begin reviewing resumes, create a checklist that you will follow for each interview. Steps can include “review the job description” or “review interview questions.” Closely following this protocol for each interview will help you maintain consistency throughout the hiring process.
Outline Your Expectations
It’s important to have a solid understanding of what you’re looking for in a candidate. Create a list of desired attributes, and rank them on a scale of importance from one to five. If computer skills are more important for this position than professionalism, for instance, then you will give that trait a higher rating. By outlining your expectations for the ideal candidate, you’ll be more able to objectively compare each individual interviewee to your set of desired characteristics.
Categorize Your Questions
As you’re writing your list of interview questions, try to categorize them by the list of traits determined above. If you need a candidate with project management skills, ask about occasions when they’ve influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership position. Other categories may be detail orientation, communication, and the ability to be a team player.
Use a Scoring System
Create a score sheet that will help you evaluate each candidate during the interview. Using your outlined traits, rate them on a scale of one to five. You should complete the score sheet as soon as possible after the end of the interview, while your impression is still objective. The same score sheet should be used for each interview.
Rank Each Candidate
Once you’ve rated your candidates, it’s time to compare their rating to the importance of each trait. Multiply the interviewee’s score in each category by its importance. This is their weighted score. Once you’ve weighted each category, add their total score and compare with other interviewees to choose the candidate best suited for the position.
These five elements of an objective interview process will aid you in choosing qualified candidates without clouding your judgment with emotions or “gut feelings.” This process is fair and consistent for the interviewees and delivers the best results for your company. By remaining consistent and impartial, you increase the effectiveness of your interview process and choose the best candidate each time.
In the past decade, we have seen dramatic changes in the technology available to businesses. From communication tools to advanced security features, these new elements are exceptionally valuable to modern businesses. But sifting through the wealth of available IT tools often seems like an impossible task. With so many options available, how can you choose the right tools for your company? To help you flesh out your IT arsenal, we’ve narrowed it down to five key elements that will keep your organization on track to success.
1. Incident Ticket Systems
Automated issue tracking can be a vital part of your business’s success. Its automatic bug log will help your IT staff quickly diagnose and address problems that may occur. Without a good ticketing system, important problems may get lost or overlooked in the flood of minor issues, or there may be some confusion on who each individual problem is assigned to. A good incident ticket system will help streamline this process and avoid major issues.
2. Project Management
A strong project management system should be integrated with your ticketing system, allowing managers and IT specialists to assign and complete tickets quickly and efficiently. Project management will help track assignments, establish standard responses to common problems, and allow for managers to oversee each project handled by your IT department.
No matter what industry you work in, analytics tools are a vital part of making informed business decisions. You might track how customers behave on your website, your turnaround time on IT problems, or which kinds of clients bring in the most revenue. This can help you redirect your marketing efforts or restructure the way you resolve problems. By effectively analyzing data, you can make successful decisions for your company.
4. Remote Monitoring
With remote monitoring, your IT specialists have the power to access endpoint devices and address errors or bugs. This powerful cloud-based tool can save you both time and money, as well as allowing your IT staff to solve problems more efficiently. A remote monitoring system can be integrated with your system analytics, so your staff can monitor trends and catch hard-to-find errors.
In many ways, security can often be the most important element of a successful IT system. With the frequency of cyberattacks on the rise, it’s important that you invest in a good security system to protect the confidentiality of your business, your employees, and your customers. These tools are extremely flexible, so you can choose a security setup that suits your unique business.
These five IT elements can not only streamline your operations, but protect you from catastrophic system errors and data breaches. By implementing each of these tools, your company will have everything it needs to succeed in our increasingly technological world.
Today’s IT professionals have a wide range of educational levels, from bachelor’s or master’s degrees, to two-year associate or one-year certificate programs, to self-taught pros who may have obtained various certifications. But whether education is obtained in a classroom, through experience, or with a combination of methods, one thing holds true — in the IT industry, there’s always more you can learn.
Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. For IT managers, continuing education is the key to staying on top of the industry, maintaining personal and professional development, and remaining relevant in an ever-shifting work environment. Here’s why every IT manager should strive for ongoing learning and keep up with the latest education available for your industry.
Keep your skills fresh
Most skills continue to improve with experience, but this is not always the case in IT. While real-world practice is typically the best way to strengthen basic skills, ongoing learning is required to stay up-to-date with more specialized skills. Database software tools, network management, and even operating systems are constantly evolving, and industry best practices change as the tools and systems advance.
Unfortunately, no amount of experience will help you sharpen a skill set you don’t already have — so continuing education is a requirement to learn new systems, tools, and features that can help you advance your career.
Refresher courses are also invaluable for ensuring that your credentials and certifications remain current, and that you’re informed about the latest developments in your areas of expertise.
Increase your professional value
The IT job market is tougher than ever. Even if you’re satisfied with your current position, there are any number of reasons you may find yourself looking for a new job—from downsizing or restructuring, to your organization closing its doors, or even a personal decision to seek a better career.
Continuing education is an investment in your value as an IT professional. By expanding your skills and knowledge base, while ensuring that your existing skill set remains current and up-to-date, you’ll be able to stand out among other professionals at your level. And if you re-enter the job market, you’ll be well-positioned to get hired quickly by the company of your choice.
Further your IT career
Hard work and technical knowledge are the building blocks of a successful IT career. But in order to move up the ranks of IT management, today’s pros must have more than technical skills. IT leaders are increasingly expected to not only have strong proficiency in the tech areas they work with, but also have excellent soft skills. Often, these non-technical skills are the deciding factor for who gets promoted to the next level.
Ongoing education and personal development can help you improve your soft skills and gain a more rounded skill set that’s best suited for senior leadership positions. Some of the soft skills IT managers need for success include:
- Communication: The ability to communicate well with team members, peers, and the C-suite, and to explain complex technical terms in language that non-tech people can understand.
- Presentation: Successful IT leaders are able to make compelling presentations that sway decision-makers, such as executives and board members, to gain support for IT initiatives within the company.
- Talent management: Even in organizations where HR is responsible for recruiting, strong IT managers should understand the basics of attracting and retaining talent, and participate in the process where applicable.
- Critical thinking and decision making: A great IT leader will be able to solve problems efficiently and make the right decisions quickly.
There are many beneficial soft skills for IT managers, and many training and educational programs designed to help leaders improve these skills and advance their careers. Continuing education is a necessity for any IT professional looking to remain relevant, viable, and on top of the game in today’s fast-paced technical landscape.
Security has been a concern for IT from the beginning, but with the increasing prevalence of mobile and the cloud — along with several high-profile data breaches, many of which have occurred in the past year at large organizations — keeping digital data secure is taking top priority for many. Recent research has found that security and data loss, the mobile workforce, and cloud technologies are the most important concerns for IT professionals in the coming year, as well as long-term over the next three-to-five years.
IT concerns by the numbers
The most recent annual Digital Leaders survey from BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, found that the top three concerns for senior IT in the next 12 months are:
- Information security (60 percent)
- Cloud computing (55 percent)
- Mobile computing, including BYOD (53 percent)
For the next three-to-five years, the survey found that information security and cloud computing will remain priorities at 54 and 40 percent, respectively. Another long-term top concern is big data, which 42 percent of IT leaders said their companies would focus on during this time frame.
Another new study from IBM looked at IT security leaders specifically, and found the same chief concerns among them. This study found that:
- Almost 90 percent of IT security leaders are planning cloud initiatives or have already adopted the cloud
- 75 percent expect cloud security budgets to either increase or increase dramatically in the next three-to-five years
- Nearly 80 percent believe that potential security risks due to standards and regulations have increased in the past three years
- More than 70 percent stated real-time security intelligence is increasingly important for their companies
- Almost half said new security technologies are the top focus for their organizations
Challenges facing IT security
While more organizations have realized that developments in security, cloud, and mobile technology offer advantages in productivity, business continuity, and more, many IT leaders feel their companies are unable to meet the right goals. In the BCS survey, 92 percent of respondents felt their organizations lacked the resources to address the issues they’ve prioritized — with 53 percent stating a lack of enhanced IT skills among their existing workforce, and an equal number citing a shortage of additional IT staff.
Challenges discussed by the IBM survey primarily addressed mobile technology. In the study, less than half (45 percent) of IT security leaders believed they had an effective mobile device management (MDM) strategy in place. And while the majority of respondents said their companies were concerned about digital security going forward, most did not prioritize security for mobile devices.
As the movement toward mobile, the cloud, and the Internet of Things gains momentum, the IT of the future will have to prioritize security, and find new ways to work within diversified infrastructures to keep data safe.
In today’s fast-paced digital environment, companies of all sizes in every industry have to worry about data security. In 2014 alone, there were a number of highly publicized data breaches at large corporations, from retail stores to banks and hospitals costing millions of dollars in actual damage — and in some cases, incalculable damage to the reputation of the businesses involved.
USA Today reported that in 2014, 43 percent of U.S. businesses experienced a data breach. And according to the Online Trust Alliance, 90 percent of breaches in the first half of the year alone were preventable. Are you doing everything you can to protect your sensitive business data?
Here are four ways you can improve data security and prevent costly breaches that damage your company’s reputation — and your bottom line.
Invest in encryption software
File encrypting is among the most powerful ways to protect both your business and your customers’ sensitive information. With encryption in place, even if your network or device is breached and a hacker manages to access your files, the data will appear as strings of encoded, unintelligible characters. The latest encryption software uses government-grade security measures to protect your data from prying eyes.
Some Windows editions feature built-in full disk encryption, including Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, Windows 8 and 8.1 Pro and Enterprise, and Windows Server 2008 and later. If you don’t use these platforms and need to invest in separate encryption software, look for a program that offers:
- At least a 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption algorithm
- Cloud backup for safes and/or vaults, with keylogger protection for entering passwords
- “On-the-fly” encryption that lets you work with encrypted files
Keep meticulous backups
Backing up your data is absolutely critical for any business, and even for personal users. If you don’t have a backup and disaster recovery plan in place, your company is virtually guaranteed to fail in the event of a data loss — Gartner reported that only 6 percent of companies survive for longer than two years after losing data.
The method for keeping backup files also matters. If you’re backing up to external drives, a physical theft or natural disaster could wipe out all of your data, especially if all of your backup drives are on site. A better backup strategy is to use a cloud backup service with high security and encryption. Cloud backups are not only more secure, but also allow you to retrieve files instantly. Some cloud-based backup services will also save deleted files to guard against file corruption or accidental deletion.
Before signing on with a cloud provider, be sure to screen the company and make sure they have a solid reputation for security, reliability and uptime. Top10Reviews.com provides a list of the 10 best, most reliable online storage and backup services here.
Use a password manager
Password managers, which are often included with encryption software, help you keep usernames and passwords safe and accessible. A password manager is a program that automatically generates strong, unique passwords for new accounts — which prevents hackers from gaining access through weak or repeated passwords — and saves them so you don’t have to remember complex passphrases or strings of random characters.
The password manager itself is protected by a password, and many of these programs use two-factor authentication — a password in addition to another security access point, such as a PIN, fingerprint reader, or card reader.
Practice secure file deletion
Deleting files from a computer or device doesn’t actually remove the data — not even when you empty the recycle bin. The files are still there, and they can be recovered with commercially available tools. Of course, hackers know about these tools and often use them to recover sensitive data that has been “deleted” from hard drives.
Deleting files securely is especially important when removing customer information, emails or passwords, and financial or tax-related information, as well as when you’re retiring, donating, or selling hardware. It can also be used to fully clear Internet browsing history in order to protect sensitive business information.
How can you securely delete confidential or sensitive data? Modern data erasure software allows you to wipe selected data completely by overwriting deleted files with random character strings — ensuring that the information is truly gone. This software is generally user friendly, and employs government-grade algorithms for data wiping to ensure that the information can’t be recovered, even with computer forensics.
Invest in the future of your business by ensuring that your data is secure. These simple steps will help you avoid potential disasters, and keep both your company and customer data safe from malicious attacks, hardware malfunctions, and other data disasters.
They say that what goes up, must come down—but today’s IT labor market is refusing to follow the rules. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has cited tech as one of the fastest growing job markets, with a 2 percent growth year over year and an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent, compared to the national average of 6.1 percent.
But even with the vast majority of IT professionals employed, demand for tech talent is still growing. In a semi-annual hiring survey from tech career site Dice.com, 70 percent of hiring managers reported looking to hire for IT positions in the second half of 2014. Interestingly, an increasing number of them aren’t seeking full-time IT employees, but are instead turning to temporary staffing agencies.
Temporary IT staffing on the rise
According to BLS data, 2014 saw a significant increase in temporary staffing. In August alone, 13,000 new temporary jobs were added in the U.S., bringing overall growth to 8.2 percent over last year.
While these numbers reflect temporary employment in general, the IT industry specifically has shown substantial growth for temporary positions. A report from Staffing Industry Analysts found that in 2013, 39 staffing agencies saw revenues of over $100 million from temporary IT staffing. And this number is only increasing—BLS projections place tech employment at a growth rate of 17.6 percent from 2012 to 2022, around 1.63 times faster than total employment.
The appeal of temporary IT staffing
Both companies and employees are finding temporary employment arrangements beneficial. For employers, hiring IT temps is a viable solution to the current IT talent shortage and the slim availability of full-time candidates.
As the economy continues to recover, employers who were rejecting candidates at the start of 2014 have found themselves being rejected by the end of the year. The hiring survey from Dice.com reported that 32 percent of hiring managers found more IT candidates turned down offers in the second half of the year—largely due to compensation packages that didn’t meet their expectations, or were more competitive elsewhere. This struggle for higher compensation is one of the primary benefits for IT professionals who take temporary positions, which often pay more than permanent gigs.
Part of the rise in temporary tech staffing has stemmed from a lack of full-time candidates and the need to fill positions quickly, but employers are choosing temporary IT pros for other reasons as well. Continual advances in technology lead to companies developing a lot of new projects in order to remain competitive—but they don’t always have the right mix of skills among their in-house IT departments to meet the new challenges. Hiring temporary IT staff on a per-project basis can give organizations a competitive edge, without the overhead expense of adding more full-time employees.
Temporary staffing arrangements also allow employers to implement a “try-before-you-buy” approach, and find out how new IT workers will fit with the company before making a permanent hiring decision.
Overall, the IT job market continues to expand rapidly, with no slowdown in sight. Both employers and IT professionals will continue to embrace temporary staffing solutions as a viable solution to full-time talent shortages, and a great way for IT employees to gain experience and enjoy a varied, rewarding career.
As technology continues to evolve rapidly, so does the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Like many other positions, the demands and responsibilities of this role are rising to meet the fast-paced changes throughout the industry. What is important for today’s CIOs — and what may be less important than it used to be?
Here’s a look at the future of the CIO role, for 2015 and beyond.
CIOs will be less tech-savvy, more boardroom-ready
Traditionally, the role of any IT professional has required high levels of technological skill. But in the modern business landscape, where every organization regardless of industry has an IT infrastructure to maintain, the technical side of a business is no longer separate — it’s an integral component of every department, and increasingly important to shareholders, partners, and customers.
The CIO of the (near) future will rely less on technical skill, and more on leadership and persuasion. CIOs will be responsible for gaining buy-in and getting the green light from shareholders and the C-suite, and for ensuring a strong business-IT alignment across the organization. These leaders can come from any background — not just IT.
Speed and agility are critical
Successful CIOs in 2015 will be able to move at the speed of technology. CIO strategies will incorporate high degrees of agility and scalability to accommodate the latest advances, leading organizations through massive transformations from companies that have tech departments, to world-class digital companies that also operate in the physical space.
The CIO of tomorrow understands that the competitive technology curve is moving away from strong IT skills and traditional IT services, and toward emerging digital business technologies in the social, mobile, analytics, and cloud spaces. Cutting-edge strategies in these areas will be vital to the success of any organization, particularly as big data evolves toward more practical uses and substantially increased ROI.
CIOs will adopt a customer point of view
The traditional role of the CIO has been internally focused. CIOs tend to consider internal operations and supporting functions, while leaving external impacts and customer-facing decisions to marketing and sales. But the new CIO will understand that the market is shifting toward customer-centric technologies and infrastructure decisions — and a customer-first attitude is essential for success.
Personalization, market segmentation, and targeting strategies must start at the foundational level in order to be effectively driven by the latest technologies. In 2015, successful CIOs will transition legacy skill sets to the new digital reality, and develop an outside-in view of an organization’s technology. Keeping up with the speed of the modern market will require massive changes in the mindsets of IT leaders as the focus shifts from maintaining internal functions, to streamlining external operations and creating a flawless customer experience.
For the modern CIO, success hinges on mastering the soft skills that have been regarded as the antithesis of the IT profession for decades. Exceptional communication, increased speed and agility, and strong leadership and persuasion skills will define the role of the CIO for 2015 and beyond.
A joint report from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and Booz & Company, “What Makes San Francisco Bay Area Companies Different?,” revealed that San Francisco Bay Area businesses are almost 3 times as likely to say their innovation strategies are tightly aligned with their overall corporate business strategies. When asked if their corporate cultures supported their strategies, “46 percent of Bay Area companies strongly agreed compared with just 19 percent of all companies - more than double the general population.”
To compete in the highly innovative Bay Area, it’s important for businesses to have great products and forward-thinking business strategies; however, the most important components of innovation are shown to be culture and operational innovations. To foster a culture of innovation and growth in your business, leaders must create scalable business models that will capitalize on the unique strengths of key players in innovation strategy, while allowing the company to quickly expand teams to support rapid time to market.
1 in 4 CEOs said they were either unable to pursue a market opportunity or had to cancel or delay a strategic initiative because of talent constraints.
Creating hiring plans that support your key players in innovation strategy, including senior developers, hiring managers, and project champions, is essential to competing in a highly innovative market where business models and strategies are consistently changing. Businesses who utilize these scalable models in the workforce, such as On Demand talent consultants, outsourcing, and VMS, are more than just keeping up with the competition, but consistently staying ahead of the competition due to streamlined operations and stronger corporate culture. When your key players understand that your business will support their innovation, ideas, and projects with highly-qualified resources, your company can improve idea flow and creativity within the organization.