Information Technology Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Clever Solutions Ltd

Why You Should Value Your Privacy

Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Information Technology |

The subject of privacy is so wide and complex that many just brush it aside not giving it the importance that it is due. The first issue with privacy is its definition. Can privacy be defined? Intuitively one may say yes yet on the other hand, the answer may be different. Robert Post in his paper The Three Concepts of Privacy states that “privacy is a value so complex, so entangled in competing and contradictory dimensions, so engorged with various distinct meanings, that I sometimes despair whether it can be usefully addressed at all”. In today’s world the biggest issue on privacy is perhaps the Internet. What may be considered private by some individuals, may well be considered as public information by others. The fact that information is freely submitted to a third party in the process of obtaining a service, may render that information non-private. For example, are the words you submit on a search engine considered private? The fact that the search is freely submitted may render the whole process to be considered non-private. In-fact, certain search engines use the information to build a profile on each user promising so they may optimize their advertising so it is in line with the user’s interests and lifestyle. Is this an intrusion on privacy? Another possible threat comes from the establishment. This comes in the form of legislation aimed at giving the government more power to access information about its citizens. It is frequently argued that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear. Although this statement may seem logical, the concept of privacy is infact muddled with the idea that those who are hiding something are in fact hiding a wrong. In reality, everyone has something to hide and that does not mean that something bad is being concealed. People hide their private life as an instinctive defense mechanism to protect who they are. For example, it is not normal for one to publish one’s own bank account statements, even if there is nothing wrong with them. People use curtains on windows and close doors to protect their privacy even if they are doing nothing wrong. What’s wrong with that? Privacy is an important part of anybody’s make-up. It is part of what makes us unique. It allows us to do things that would otherwise be impossible such as doing charitable work in secret. Those who profess that they have nothing to hide and are prepared to give up some of their privacy in the hope of paving the way to get criminals caught, should think deeper of their belief. As we progress, more and more surveilance is being implemented and taken as a norm. In...

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3 BIG reasons why your business should avoid pirated software

Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in Information Technology |

In the consumer world, the use of unlicensed software is more widespread than in the business world. In 2010 alone, Global PC Software Theft reached a record of $59 Billion around the world. In Malta it is common knowledge that downloading pirated versions of anything from Windows to Photoshop to video games, is not that hard. Although the recent Europe-wide ACTA debate has created more awareness on IPR issues, the general “uwija” attitude towards software piracy, although unacceptable on a consumer level, is all the more dangerous on a business level. These are three reasons why organizations should use only licensed software: Software Security Risks When companies use pirated software, they are essentially acquiring software, which is a core part of their business, from somebody they don’t know. There is a trust issue here. Apart from the fact that you have no professional support from the developer of the software, you also have no way of knowing whether the person supplying you with the software has implemented any malware or viruses into it. For example, some people download their Windows OS from online sharing sites. These versions may include trojan horses (a type of malware) that hackers use to track what you do on your computer. This includes picking up passwords, financial data and other sensitive information. Such software may also open your company’s network to hacker attack. Risk Big Fines One must also keep in mind that using pirated software is illegal. This means that you can be taken to court, most probably be found guilty and have to pay an ugly fine. Investing in licensed software in the first place would cost much less. This is a real business risk that companies using pirated software need to consider. Hurts your Brand Image There is also the possibility of hurting the company’s brand image. If a company suffers a piracy-related court fine, the news will travel fast (they will make an example out of you) and the company will be portrayed poorly. This can hurt your business development. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that with the variety of low-cost and free quality software that is widely available today, there is really no excuse to have to rely on pirated software to run your business. Can you think of other reasons why businesses should stay away from pirated software? Clever Solutions Ltd is a Malta-based IT Consultancy with local and international clients. We help small and medium-sized businesses make the most of their IT investments by helping them choose the most appropriate software and hardware for their...

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4 common misconceptions on Electronic Document Management in Malta

Posted by on Jan 12, 2012 in Information Technology |

This is the second in a series of articles on document management, the first article tackled the question: What is Document Management? When meeting with business owners to speak to them about how they currently manage their documents, and what their plans are for the future, we often encounter the same objections to electronic document management. This is totally normal and expected. The following are four common misconceptions: 1. The shift from paper to digital is too inconvenient Yes, change can be scary, but it is a necessity in IT. Companies stuck in the past continue to work with inefficient legacy systems increasing their costs. On the other hand, individuals and organizations that embrace innovation benefit from using technology that empowers them more than ever before. With electronic document management, companies need to start scanning their paper documents to have them available in digital format. With batch scanners able to scan many pages per minute, and with workflow technology able to take a scanned document and put it in the correct folder automatically, the process of transferring and organizing information from a paper to your monitor is actually really minimal. 2. Added security is realistically unnecessary Security has become more, not less, of a priority. Companies from Facebook to Sony to Epsilon all suffered security breaches in 2011, seriously hurting their credibility. The truth is that companies that care and protect their customers (and their own) data are going to be respected much more by their stakeholders. The obvious question now is, how does one show that one’s data is protected? Although it is not recommended to proudly boast about how secure your system is, organizations such as ISO and ITIL do provide standards one can use to benchmark against. 3. Document Management is not necessary for small business Small business owners need to consider how their business will operate in the years to come. Their IT systems need to be both flexible and scalable so they may grow as the company grows. An electronic document management system is no longer a technological luxury nowadays but rather it is an increasingly significant tool to achieve a high-level of efficiency. When at Clever Solutions Ltd we started using OpenKM to manage our documents we found that having a central, easy-to-search hub of documents helped us collaborate more easily since we were more aware of the documents being produced by others in the company. 4. The cost is prohibitive Electronic Document Management is not a new concept but has been around for over fifteen years. Its recent rise in popularity is due to technological advancements, and also the lowering cost of such systems. Electronic Document Management systems are today affordable for...

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A Very Simple Introduction to Agile Software Development

Posted by on Dec 26, 2011 in Information Technology | 4 comments

Over the last ten years, the Agile Methodology has transformed the way that software development projects are undertaken and completed. Being aware of why this change has happened is important for those commissioning others to develop software for them. What has brought about this change? When the computer was invented and programming became the art of capturing logic into applications, there was no definite way on how the process was to be performed. Many times the end result was an inefficient application that was difficult to use and update. As techniques improved, the Waterfall method was developed and became the standard way of developing software. The Waterfall concept follows a strict set of steps sequentially. Without going into too much detail, the steps include the “Requirements Analysis”, “Design”, “Implementation”, “Testing”, “Installation” and “Maintenance”. These processes cover all the requirements to produce the required end result. However, over the years it was learnt that many times, the client is not fully aware of all the requirements, and the software architect may miss some details as well. The end result is usually an application that is developed according to documented requirements but lacks usability as the client discovers that certain important aspects were not included. At this point, implementing the missing requirements is difficult and costs escalate quickly. The Agile Methodology The Waterfall method leaves much to be desired towards client satisfaction. In 2001, a group of developers called the “Agile Alliance” signed a manifesto that emphasizes: Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools; Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation; Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation; Responding to Change over Following a Plan. With this manifesto the focus for software development moved away from the stringent procedural way of the Waterfall method to a more flexible one. Emphasis is placed on the end result of Working Software rather than Comprehensive Documentation, which is time-consuming. Furthermore, some changes in the initial requirements are expected as the application is developed. It is for this reason that the client is taken on-board as a member of the development team. It is through this collaboration that missing requirements are spotted early in the Software Development Life Cycle. The earlier the required changes are placed for consideration, the more cost-effective it is to have them implemented. How does Agile work in practice? The Agile process starts in a very similar way to the Waterfall method: meeting the client and understanding requirements. But that is where the similarity ends. Depending on the flavour of Agile used, the requirements may be turned into stories describing the client needs which are then articulated into diagrams. This facilitates communication between different stakeholders. The process continues with the prioritisation of the tasks involved....

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Keep on guard with basic IT security measures

Posted by on Nov 18, 2011 in Information Technology | 1 comment

The overflow of information bombarding us in this digital age is constantly wearing down our guard against security breaches. Many are too happy to click on the “OK install the Trojan” button without contemplating what that means. How many emails does one receive supposedly from friends, claiming urgency and requesting the recipient to open an attachment? Once caught off guard, the consequences could be anything from losing a simple file to having the infected computer spying on the company and publishing confidential data. Information security can never be taken lightly. There is a dark side to the internet, which is governed by hackers and data destroyers. The intention of the former is to steal data and sell it to those who care to buy and use it, whilst the latter are just happy to create havoc wherever they can penetrate. Therefore, it is essential that one keeps alert for signs of trickery whilst using the Internet. Below are some basic IT security measures that can help: If you are using your credit card online make sure the site that you are connected to is a secure site. This can be confirmed by the protocol in use (https:// instead of the normal and unsecured http://). Do not provide more information than is really necessary. Example: let’s say you are going on holiday for a week and want to inform those who email you that you are going to be out of office. Just say that you will be out of office. If instead you say that you are on holiday till so and so date, you will be giving additional information that can be used against you. For one, you will be telling everyone that your home will most probably be empty till you return. Or perhaps, giving information to someone who wants to take the excuse to obtain something from your office, knowing well that you are not going to be there. Passwords should never be written down and left under the keyboard or near the monitor, its like leaving the front door key under the flower pot near the main door. If you are backing up your data, ensure that the backed-up data is also secure. If possible, do not allow sole control of your system to only one person as this increases your dependability on that person. The most important thing is to think before you act. Always consider what consequences may follow your actions and then act accordingly. What other basic IT security measures do you use? Clever Solutions Ltd is a Malta based IT Consultancy. One of our services involves helping companies set up their IT systems. Our expertise, and experience serving various industries, helps...

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What is Electronic Document Management?

Posted by on Nov 10, 2011 in Information Technology | 1 comment

The need and demand for electronic document management systems is growing rapidly, in Malta and abroad. According to a 2010 Gartner CIO Survey, document management placed in the Top 10 technology priorities. Micro-enterprises and small businesses process thousands of documents every year. These may include bills and invoices, delivery notes, applications, letters, email conversations, legal and tax documents, designs, strategy/planning documents, and more. Often times many of these documents are printed or stored on different computers. The result is a system which is time-consuming, wasteful, and complicated. This is where an electronic document management comes in useful. The purpose of this system is to centralize the task of managing documents. All the documents are stored electronically on a server. This makes the task of both finding AND securing the documents much easier. It is also easier to create back-ups of your documents that you may store off-site just in case of unpredictable events like an office fire. The most noticeable benefit of electronic document management is the increase in efficiency (i.e. saved time). The most common objection received is that one must scan each document to change it into pdf format. Although this used to take long in the past, nowadays many low cost office scanners can scan papers from both sides at speeds over 30 sheets/minute. One also has to keep in mind that many documents are originally digital in format. Furthermore, documents can be automatically indexed so that the software recognizes what type of document has been scanned and it is automatically stored in the right folder. When the time comes and somebody needs to find a document, this may be easily retrieved using advanced search functionality. Many systems allow users to tag documents with keywords that facilitate searching. In addition, using OCR (optical character recognition) technology, one may also search the text of the document itself. The bottomline is that users may search large databases and find the right file within a few seconds. With paper documents this process many times takes several minutes or even hours when documents are misplaced or lost. There are other benefits to electronic document management however these will be discussed later on in this document management series. In the meantime please feel free to forward any questions you may have. What is your opinion on electronic document management? Clever Solutions Ltd is a Malta based IT Consultancy firm that offers professional support on the OpenKM document management platform. This is an open-source document management solution, available in 26 languages, and boasts over 1000 active implementations worldwide. OpenKM is an easy to use, secure, and affordable solution for Maltese businesses. Contact us for more information....

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