Opinions

Centrify Regional Sales Manager Derek MorwoodFor the latest proof that passwords are passé, just look at the 4Chan nude celebrity photo uproar.

Allegedly hacked from online storage services such as iCloud, intimate photos of stars including actress Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton were posted anonymously on the 4Chan website.

Apple protests that its iCloud systems weren’t compromised, suggesting that hackers managed to gain illegal access by figuring out passwords and the answers to personal security questions. That sounds like a compromise to me.

Which brings us to the nub of the problem of basing protection on passwords - using a password that is readily memorable means it is also more easily hackable. When we require dozens, if not hundreds, of passwords to protect our identities online, the questionable effectiveness of passwords becomes completely degraded.

As I’ve written previously, the obvious solution is to get rid of most passwords.  

The Heartbleed bug has generated a lot of catastrophic commentary and reverberating repercussions since it was publicly disclosed on April 7.

‘Catastrophic’ is the right word,” wrote Internet security expert Bruce Schneier on his blog. “On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.”

That intensity of reaction is not surprising given estimates that around half a million of the Internet's secure web servers (some 17 per cent) were believed to be vulnerable to attack due to Heartbleed, in addition to countless embedded devices such as firewalls and routers.

An avalanche of media coverage means anyone affected has likely heard of the problem. Does that mean Heartbleed is yesterday’s story?

Absolutely not. Heartbleed remains very much a live issue and one that will not be fixed quickly.

Matt RamsayAre you thinking of moving to Google Apps or Office 365? Or do you already use Dropbox, Box, Webex, Salesforce or one of the many Cloud services now on offer? Or do you want to know why you should even care?

Cloud providers can offer more flexible services at a cheaper price than most enterprises can achieve by amortising their equipment and maintenance costs over a large number of customers.

More important than lower prices, Cloud services promise to improve productivity. Users or business units can receive required capabilities “now” rather than wait for months for IT to design the answer to their wishes.

You also receive fault-tolerance, disaster recovery and uniform access from many device types – all contributors to productivity by helping your employees get their jobs done, whenever and wherever they are.

Cloud services can also improve productivity in the IT department by freeing up IT staff to focus on solving company-specific problems rather than looking after consumerised infrastructure such as mail servers, file repositories, CRM systems and the like.

Few companies gain significant competitive advantage by having a “really well set up mail server” – they’re a dime a dozen, yet expensive to maintain internally.

So why burden your IT staff up with mundane tasks when they could be designing business-specific process improvements and extracting business intelligence that will help your bottom line?

While moving to the Cloud offers clear productivity benefits, there are pitfalls to avoid in order to reap these benefits fully.