Why your Business Should Outsource its IT Services

Starting a business is an important idea. In fact, most people are dreaming of starting their own business. Unfortunately, running it is an entirely new thing. With a lot of processes and management issues, most businesses don’t live to see their 8th birthday. Most of them end up crumbling due to poor management. And that’s exactly where IT outsourcing comes in handy.

With an elaborate IT management system, your business will hardly fail. IT is a relatively complex field that requires expertise. Hiring in-house IT experts can be very costly. Fortunately, you have a cost-effective option in outsourcing. Here are the greatest benefits of outsourcing your IT needs.

Increased Efficiency

IT is a vast field. It requires extensive experience and expertise. And because of these complexities, companies usually opt to hire professionals.  But in most cases, these experts will be overburdened with tasks. Plus, they will be tasked with carrying out general duties. This is not only inefficient but also expensive. Outsourcing removes this burden from your side. There are several IT companies out there. These companies have the required expertise, experience, and resources to take your company’s IT needs to the next level. That’s why you shouldn’t do it alone. Outsourcing these services to a reputable company can greatly improve your company’s efficiency.

Enhanced Security

Your company’s security is of paramount importance. Protecting your company’s information should be your first priority. This is the only way through which you can safeguard the future of your business.

Laptops, desktops, servers, operating systems, applications, and browsers all transmit important data. Thus, they require strict security measures. You really don’t want to lose your data or appear in the headline for a high-profile data breach. So, be sure to exercise caution. Always be vigilant.

Outsourcing IT services to an experienced professional can go a long way in keeping your business safe. It will prevent the occurrence of expensive data breaches, as well as, cyber threats. Working with a dedicated IT expert can be highly beneficial in today’s ever-changing technological environment.

Improved Maintenance

With the help of an expert IT partner, you can always rest assured that your IT infrastructure is well-maintained at all times. As the company’s CEO, you probably don’t have the time to go around checking if all the backup systems are functional. And that’s exactly where IT outsourcing comes in handy.

The IT expert will utilize advanced technologies and implement reliable backup-and-disaster recovery solutions.  Plus, he or she will proactively monitor the overall functionality of your IT infrastructure in order to prevent the occurrence of hazardous business issues.

Cost Savings

As a business owner, your ultimate goal is to get the highest value for your money, right? Well, outsourcing IT services will help you achieve exactly that.

Due to the rising costs of their IT departments, most organizations ask their employees to perform technical duties that are outside of their specialty. And this in turn slows down productivity and prevents business growth.

Outsourcing IT services can help you predict your company’s IT costs on a monthly basis. It will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on other important tasks. Besides, it’ll free up more staff to focus on higher-value projects they’re experts at.

Heightened Productivity

IT outsourcing services can play a significant role in maximizing employee productivity. Partnering with an experienced team of outsourced business professionals can help you increase operational efficiencies and reduce employee turnover. If you want high productivity, think 360ict in London

Increased Business Value

Managing an organization’s IT services requires exceptional skills and tools. By outsourcing IT services, you’ll gain access to a wide array of network management tools. Plus, you’ll get the chance to work with a team of highly qualified IT experts.

A strategic IT partner will keep questioning the senior management to ensure that your company is addressing the most important issues while planning the right investments. And this will streamline your business operations while ensuring that your company is headed in the right direction.

Innovative Technology

IT outsourcing services will ensure that your business is on top of the game. It will give you access to a technology stack that delivers true business value. You’ll get to enjoy the benefits of the stack that has been meticulously chosen to cover the required aspects of Information Management, Cloud Infrastructure, as well as, Secure networks.

IT professionals usually conduct extensive research and testing when developing their technology stacks. And this directly benefits your business as they’ll guide you through the best IT products and services. And this will in turn help you get the best value for your money.

Reliable Communication

In today’s tech-driven world, ICT is the core of every business. As technology advances, more innovative communication solutions are introduced. Most organizations are now relying on technology to carry out their business operations.

Outsourcing IT services can significantly increase your company’s production levels, boost customer satisfaction, and enhance business efficiency. Moreover, communications will happen extremely fast. Communication between staff members and the management will be made easier than ever. ICT is quickly accelerating the rate of expansion in both startup and established businesses. So, don’t be left out. Embrace technology and take your business experience to the next level.

Customer Satisfaction

Mobile phones, laptops, as well as PCs are an integral part of your company’s internal and external communications. And they all fall under the umbrella of ICT. With a proactive customer service department, customers can get prompt answers through emails, as well as, live chat. When this happens, fewer items will be returned for refund and your company’s operations will flow smoothly.

The Bottom-Line

Don’t go about it alone. Remember, IT is a complex field. Plus, hiring experts can be extremely challenging. Luckily, you can outsource your services and focus on the core values of your business. Above are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy by outsourcing your IT services.

This has been sighted as one of the reasons why most businesses fail. Management trickles down to information technology. According to experts, companies that leverage IT hardly fails.

How to Use DevOps as a Solo Software Developer

The term “DevOps” seems to have taken the software development and IT industries by storm. Large organizations like Amazon, Google, Target, and Netflix have already adopted the DevOps framework to encourage collaboration and integration between development teams and their IT operations team counterparts. The truth is that DevOps is getting a lot of attention as organizations of all sizes increasingly adopt it to scale up their operations. But what about its application or adoption in a single-person team?

The fact that you’re working solo doesn’t mean you can’t invest in a DevOps infrastructure. Implementing DevOps practices such as continuous integration, trunk-based development, continuous deployment, and continuous improvement can help you scale efficiently. Plus, you can reliably deliver your application faster while ensuring a positive user experience.

So, if you’re a solo software developer looking to innovate faster, deliver solutions at a more rapid pace, and adapt to changing market demands better, a DevOps model will be beneficial. Here are six ways to use DevOps practices on your solo projects.

Develop a Version Control and Code Flow Strategy

Version control can be defined as the practice or process of managing and tracking all the changes and modifications that have been done to the software code. The importance of a version control system when it comes to recording, organizing, and tracking changes to a set of files can’t be overstated, therefore. Version control systems such as Git, Bitbucket, PerForce, and Beanstalk are useful for DevOps teams as they help to streamline the development process, thereby increasing successful deployments.

It’s, however, not enough to just have a version control system when working as a solo developer. You need to develop a code flow branch strategy so it’s easy to isolate and organize your work. A code flow strategy simplifies your workflow, allowing for continuous integration, efficient testing, and continuous delivery of valuable applications.

Focus on Building Efficient Pipelines

What is a devops pipeline you ask? You already know that the DevOps cultural philosophy was developed to help bridge the gap between the development teams and their IT service and operations team counterparts. And to establish a successful DevOps framework, you have to implement the right DevOps process and pipeline tools.

Continuous delivery (CD) and continuous integration (DC) have been recognized as the foundation for a successful DevOps culture. It’s, therefore, crucial that you focus on building an efficient CI/CD pipeline so you can streamline and automate your build, software integration, and testing process. As a result, you’ll have greater control over the software development process, respond more quickly to shifting market demands, and deliver high-quality applications at a faster pace.

Invest in a More Detailed Workflow Tracking Process

As a solo software developer, it can be challenging to remember all the different tasks you have on your to-do list. If you were working in a large team, your supervisor would have been present to remind you. But this isn’t the case now.

You need to develop a repeatable process and unique culture that will make it easier for you to work solo at scale. Invest in a detailed workflow that allows you to track each task from initiation to completion. When you get your personal productivity in order you not only get more work done but also get to have more fun.

Automate Your Code Review Process

You probably already know that building applications is a complex task. Version control systems have proven to be useful when it comes to recording and tracking changes to software code. However, the more developers are collaborating on the same project, the more modifications are being suggested or made. And to ensure consistency in the quality of the code, you need to consider automating your code review process.

When reviewing code-base, you must look at both the logical and visual aspects of your code. Visual aspects include things like formatting, braces, and indentations while logical aspects include code performance, the correctness of the software code, and how the architecture patterns have been used.

By automating your code review process, you reduce your workload and save a lot of time. Tools like DangerJS and Danger Plugin: Lint Report can help you automate your code review process.

Make Use of the Right DevOps Tools

DevOps practices depend on highly effective and efficient tools that not only automate manual tasks but also streamline the development process.The DevOps workflow comprises various phases, all of which require the right tools. First, to plan for each development task at hand, you need to implement planning tools like Jira. And when you start building the software, it’s important that its performance is monitored to ensure customer satisfaction. You can monitor and log the performance of your applications using tools such as Sumo Logic, Prometheus, Rollbar, Pingdom, and Nagios. Software testing tools that won’t compromise code quality include GitLab CI, Jenkins, and CircleCI.

Top Donation Software Apps that help Nonprofits

If you are running a nonprofit then it is absolutely essential that you are using software in order to manage the donation process. There are many of them out there which can help you to better manage your donors, communicate with them and gain important metrics on where you are going right, and where you are going wrong. Anyone in this industry will have trouble picking the very best donation software, which is why we are going to run down a quick list for you here, as to where you should be looking to spend your time and money.

Without further ado then, here is the best donation software for nonprofits.

A Quick Note

Once you have decided which donation software option you are going to use, you may be worried about how you can get your information from where it is now, into the new software. For this you can easily use MoveData, who make it absolutely simple to perform this task.

Donorbox

Donorbox is one of the world’s most commonly used software packages for this type of thing and they are very much the world leaders right now. This software uses some seriously incredible technology to easily integrate into your current setup. Thanks to the way that this software has been put together, it is easy to use and it helps nonprofits to boost the amount of donations which they receive, using smart metrics.

Qgiv

This software is the best all-rounder on the list and it can help nonprofits to really drive their fundraising campaigns. Donation pages can be customized and there are several options which the nonprofit can use to actually show donors where their money is going. Another great feature which we love here is that it is mobile ready so that donors can send money straight from their mobile device.

NeonCRM

The specialty of this particular piece of software is that they offer cloud-based solutions for easier management of your donor list. We love the focus on marketing which this particular suite gives too. Integration with QuickBooks and MailChimp is super easy with this too, and you won’t need any help or guidance in getting yourself set up and ready to go.

Fundly

If you are currently relying on a lot of crowdfunding tools then this is the best choice for you without a doubt. Fundly has donation pages which are simple to customize and they also have the nice addition of a blog which can help you to stay in touch with your donors. Donation pages on this particular software suite are also mobile-friendly so that you have every option available to get that money in for each fundraising campaign.

The choice as to which software you will use is based around the focus of your particular nonprofit and what exactly you are looking to offer your donors. Each option is a great one and they are all much easier to use than you may imagine.

Why you should pick the proper construction scheduling software

Construction scheduling software is offered by vendors and refers to various programs that professionals utilize to organize, assign, and even forecast tasks on construction projects. These programs have been around for years and can come in many forms. Some of these forms can be free and simple tools to highly and sophisticated multi-user systems. 

They can also vary significantly in the functionalities. For instance, large construction companies may need solutions that include a construction scheduling software element. Because construction scheduling software  provides precise planning and increases the pace of projects, there are usually cost savings and shorter completion times. This article explains how you can pick the proper construction scheduling software. 

Understanding a construction scheduling software

If you decide to work on anything that appears to be a complex construction project, then you can benefit from using a construction scheduling software. Regardless of whether you intend to do a simple construction project or a large one, you can suffer if the project doesn’t go as planned. 

The schedule and cost overruns usually happen in many construction projects. These miscalculations can increase and even lead to lawsuits, disputes, or arbitration. Unfortunately, the cost of settling these disputes can cost your company tons of money.

There are various causes that contribute to the inaccuracies like scope creep, change orders, and weather. The big culprit is perhaps the slow adoption of digital technology. As a result, project planning that happens between the office and the field can be uncoordinated and people use paper to do it. 

You need to know that behind-schedule projects can create problems for the owners of the construction companies. Worse still, ahead of schedule can also sometimes create some problems since the funds set aside for these projects may not be invested in other projects. This is the reason why you need to use construction scheduling software to manage the timing and sequencing of the work. 

Increasing scheduling demands for residential and commercial projects

Building projects are usually categorized as either commercial or residential. In most cases, commercial construction projects are usually larger than residential projects. These projects can also need many code requirements like wheelchair access and some fire safety measures. These commercial projects include government facilities, office buildings, factories, and retail complexes.

When it comes to residential projects, these can include development of multi-family residences, such as apartments, individual homes, and single-family homes. Therefore, builders can construct commercial projects utilizing steel and concrete while residential projects can usually have wood frames. 

Commercial projects have a more complex and sophisticated infrastructure. They may need escalators, elevators, parking, and many more. As such, there is also a high level of redundancy build into their internal systems.

Hence, commercial construction projects need more expensive equipment and specialized construction professionals. Commercial contractors can subcontract the work more than residential contractors do. 

There is also an inter-dependency in construction, so a delay in one task can affect all subsequent tasks. This is why you need to buy a construction scheduling software that can be useful to you as a project manager or scheduler.

Prevent Legal Mistakes with Employee Time-Tracking Apps

The tax season increases IRS scrutiny on your payroll and timesheets to curtail fraud. Mistakes in compiling employee wages and work time can result in serious legal consequences such as tax audits and lawsuits. This post focuses on federal regulations for non-exempt workers as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You’ll also gain tips on how your business can comply by using time tracking systems. Although states have varying requirements on employee records, the FLSA provides a reasonable starting point.

Practical Time Tracking Tips That Improve Business Compliance

The following ideas will help you reduce the hassle of keeping timesheets and ensure your company payroll is legal:

1. Pick a suitable time tracking system

The FLSA isn’t specific about how businesses record wages paid and hours worked. However, its main requirement is accurate record keeping. Small organizations may prefer physical timesheets, but they’ll require additional effort for calculation and storage. Accuracy is crucial for peace of mind and legal compliance. Online time tracking tools offer comprehensive ways of achieving these objectives.

2. It’s permissible to round off time

You may round hours to the closest 15 minutes. However, the Department of Labor recommends rounding down employee hours as much as you round them up. This precaution ensures compliance with its Wage and Hour Division. Although a meticulous HR manager can perform manual computation, digital tracking apps are more precise.

3. Make timesheet submission easy

State and federal laws require employers to pay employees by the stipulated time on payday, even if they haven’t availed a timesheet. The HR department should estimate compensation for those who don’t submit these details on time. This option can result in payroll complications such as over or underpayment.

Digital time tracking systems allow your business to streamline and simplify operations by making automatic updates. Your workers clock in and out electronically, which means they don’t have to make manual submissions for payroll purposes.

4. Only pay for productive hours

The law doesn’t require a business to offer rest or meal breaks to its workforce. However, most companies provide them, so they must comply with regulations regarding break time compensation. According to federal law, you must pay workers for non-meal breaks of up to 20 minutes. Most states recommend one break every four hours.

If your meal breaks are more than 30 minutes long and your employees are free to utilize their time as they wish, you don’t have to pay them. However, federal regulations might require wage payment and overtime if they work during lunch break for longer than 40 hours per week. It’s advisable to contact your employment lawyers for a clear interpretation of these laws.

You can eliminate the risk of excessive payments for breaks if your employees utilize time tracking software. These systems can also determine whether remuneration is necessary for particular intervals. Another benefit is allowing the HR department to monitor hourly workers to prevent them from doing overtime.

5. Keep detailed employee records

According to FLSA rules, you must maintain payroll, timesheet, and other employee records for up to three years after retirement, resignation, or termination. However, it’s advisable to do so for up to five years as protection against potential lawsuits. These details include the beginning of the workweek, daily pay rate and hours worked, total weekly output, and overtime compensation.

Others are the employee’s address, social security number, wage additions and deductions, a birth date if under 19, sex, and occupation. Although you can compile this information manually, online time tracking apps are significantly more convenient. They save time and energy by automatically capturing, sorting, and updating this data. They also store it in the cloud, where it’s easily accessible for years.

Time Tracking Mistakes to Avoid

Your timekeeping system will be more efficient if you avoid three vital mistakes. The first is failing to collect enough employee details. Apart from punching in and out, track their breaks and work hours. This coherence not only guarantees overtime pay for workers but also reduces your overtime expenses.

The second mistake is failing to make the most of your time tracking software’s features. Examples are: knowing all employees working in real-time and their location. Some apps also allow you to geofence jobs and receive alerts for crucial issues.

Finally, avoid monitoring timesheets, worker’s compensation, and payroll on different platforms. Your business will realize improved efficiency and productivity by tracking all these variables using one system.

Conclusion

Time tracking apps offer several benefits to your business. In addition to ensuring compliance with tax and labor laws, they help you achieve your overall objectives. You can identify the most productive employees and reward them accordingly for the organization’s long-term benefit. Their automatic features also eliminate payment disputes and other problems that could arise if you depend on manual computation. Please consult your employment lawyers for advice on how state and federal laws affect your professional relationship with employees.

7 Commercial Real Estate Apps that are Transforming the Industry

People who invest in commercial real estate are all about increasing productivity and profits. With technology today, commercial real estate investors have many Android and iPhone apps available to make them more successful. The apps highlighted below can make investors more money and get more done.

And if you want to get more done after that, consider bringing in a skilled property management team to take you out of the day-to-day running of your properties.

LoopNet Commercial Real Estate Search

If you are shopping for a commercial property to enhance your portfolio or seeking tenants, this app is essential for your cell phone.

LoopNet boasts more than 800,000 property listings and special search filter tools. You’ll find it simple to locate a building that meets your requirements and needs.

What other app allows you to see mortgage lender details, property tax history, and tenant information? Also, this app is perfect for listing your property for sale when the time comes.

DealCheck

This app analyzes investment properties for investors. Just enter the information about a real estate transaction, such as financing expenses or purchase price, and you get a detailed financial projection and analysis.

Many investors use DealCheck to review comps and calculate what offers cost.

Visual Lease

Commercial real estate buyers know that managing leases can be tedious, even when things are running smoothly. When they aren’t, leases can be terrible to manage. But this robust app with an elegant interface lets you manage and organize leases.

You can reduce your operating costs and see a tidy snapshot of how each lease affects your profits. Visual Lease is helpful for all team members, from assistant to the CEO.

Yardki CRM Mobile

This is an accounting and property management app for small and medium-sized commercial property investors. It offers many convenient features, including managing property records, sending letters, and posting rents.

Some find the tool isn’t as intuitive as they want, but if you have the time to learn, you can use this app to manage your properties more efficiently. 

Property Capsule

This is a popular leasing app that is more appropriate for retail properties. Unlike other apps, Property Capsule boasts marketing automation tools.

You can upload photos for listings, plans, property details, and documents in one location. When the information is put into the app, it can be used for marketing documents and email blasts.

Commercial Site Inspector

This app is both a mobile application and a web-based commercial project management tool. It lets the investor review, perform, and report on property inspections intuitively and efficiently.

You can upload maps and pictures and send PDF reports to your team and clients. All data on the website is pulled from a CSI database that you can access on your account.

Verdigris Energy

Do you know what the energy costs are for your building? Do you possess strategies to lower your costs for each property?

Verdigris Energy uses intelligent sensors to help investors track how much energy their buildings use. You also get real-time data that can be used to pinpoint waste that could be affecting profits.

The best thing is forecasting tools allow you to plan your needs and strategies to prepare for the more expensive summer and winter periods.

These commercial investor apps let you manage your time and money more efficiently with each property so that you can make more money and get more done. Whenever you want to use technology to enhance your business, these apps can help you do the job.

How to Choose Competent IT Recruitment Services for Your Business

The IT department for any company and industry is an important part of it. These services increase efficiency in business and help an enterprise go with the flow and keep up with technology trends. For this reason, it’s highly important to have a skilled team and professionals that are competent enough to provide your firm all that it needs to have a strong tech front in the competitive world. This why IT recruitment agencies exist.

The work of these agencies is to assess and provide a top-notch workforce to help out any company that needs talent fast. A lot of your time is saved with the help of such an agency, and you are able to focus on the implementation of the process with your swiftly put-together IT team to start getting tech authorized. 

However, you have to be careful in choosing an IT recruitment agency that can be up to par for your needs. Here are some things to implement in your search for the best recruits in your IT team by the following tips:

Get Recommendations

The best way to reach out to the most reliable and dependable IT recruitment services is through recommendations. You can ask your friends or business partners to recommend these to you before you start doing your own research. This way, you won’t have to be doubtful and understand the working of an agency from personal experience. If there aren’t any recommendations, you can check out online reviews on different agencies that are also dependable. 

Dig Deep

Once you select a few agencies to choose from, ensure to dig deeper into their work and history on completing recruitment assignments. Conduct a thorough background check on all the agencies that feel authentic to you and know from their past clients about their working style. This digging can give you valuable information you may not be able to achieve through reviews and ratings alone. 

Propose an Interview

Always ask the right questions you would ask an employee before hiring them to a recruitment hiring manager. It’s important that you understand the terms they provide and find out the hidden information. Understand the recruitment process thoroughly and ask about your involvement in the procedure, if any. Ask about the company’s standards for hiring and supplying a workforce in the IT field that can help lead your firm better. Like this, create a list of important questions to ask and make sure to get all your answers before agreeing to anything and signing up the contract. 

Know Your Needs

When choosing the right IT recruitment agency for your business, you need to understand and write down your needs. This list of needs can help the recruiting firm out tons in supplying you with an efficient workforce. For this reason, choose the IT expertise and positions you’re looking to hire in the company. Come up with the number of employees you need to hire and their employment terms. If you’re looking to hire long-term reliable staff members for your team, explain these requirements to the agency explicitly. Check out the specialty of the firm and its footing in the IT industry before hiring. 

Negotiate Costs

Recruitment agencies are reliable in the essence that they make the recruitment tasks easier for you. They save costs and time spent in interviewing, training, and testing employees. But are they affordable? Different IT recruiters offer varied charges for their services which can depend on the number of facilities you procure. 

However, even if you hire an employee or two, some agencies ought to rip you off for it when there can be found the same expertise of skills in another agency. For this reason, look at the talent before the price tag. Don’t worry about an IT recruiter offering low prices if the talent is worthwhile. It’s best to stick to your budget as well to keep the process as cost-efficient as possible. 

4 Reasons To Understand Your Software Supply Chain

Back in the days, software was supplied to customers in CD-ROMs and floppy disks. One had to get hold of either of these storage devices from the manufacturer and then install the software on their personal computers. But times have changed! Today, all you need is a good internet connection, and you’re good to go. Even the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications can now be downloaded from a server, installed, and activated using a unique key.

Because of this connection between the manufacturer and the user, the software can be updated continuously. This creates what the industry has dubbed as a software supply chain. Since the product being delivered is the program free to download, and the good is the code, which is used to activate the product, the supply process should be comparatively easy. The fact that there are no warehouses involved or even transportation headaches make many people think that the whole process is a walk in the park, but it’s not!

A software supply chain can be very complicated, especially for beginners. As such, you need to find ways to learn the ins and outs of your software supply security and every other-related aspect. Still not convinced? Continue reading to learn some more reasons why this knowledge is significant for developing both your business and as an individual.

1. There is More Than Meets the Eye

One reason why you’ll need to learn and understand your software supply chain is that it involves more than what you just see from the outside. Apart from its unique set of tools, procedures, and workforce, many activities still need to be managed. The fact is that most of these things are easily forgotten by business owners, perhaps because only experts can trace them.

However, it’s pretty essential to have an understanding of what’s going on beyond the obvious. Having insights into the details gives you an upper hand in your business’s management process. You’ll be able to make decisions knowing the consequences rather than just relying on what your employees suggest. Therefore, if you haven’t done it yet, make sure you sit down with one of the employed experts and let them take you through the whole of your software supply chain.

2. Individual Decisions Have a Wide Impact

What’s open-source software (OSS)? This is an application that a developer chooses to distribute with “read and write” codes. That means anyone who has access to this software can modify it to meet specific needs. Most applications usually have one or more open-source components.

Some of the rules set by the OSS community are that such applications must be freely available, include a modifiable source code, and have no restrictions for redistribution. How does the developer benefit? Most people opt to distribute their software in such a format to allow for quicker repairs and the development of high-quality applications.

Of course, it may seem straightforward, but the issue of OSS is sometimes complicated. Remember the source code you distribute may contain some crucial information. Therefore, a decision by a programmer or a group of developers can easily pose considerable risks to your business. The courts understand that a breach of the OSS license may lead to IP infringement, but it’s not clear whether it can be categorized as a breach of contract.

There are many cases where a company has faced software-related risks after distributing its source codes. Learning about your software supply chain will help you understand your specific scenario and handle any legal issues that may arise in the future. It’s worth noting that every OSS component should have a license attached to make things easier in case you find yourself in a legal fight.

3. Free but Chargeable

Free but chargeable; quite confusing, right? Well, that’s one more reason why you should get hold of an expert and learn the ins and outs of your software supply chain. A company may provide a set of source codes that you can edit and modify to fit your needs. However, the original developer may attach financial restrictions to go with their software applications.

For one, they may decide that the OSS is only free if not commercialized, and if one decides to sell, then they must adhere to the provided rules. For example, if you’re planning to redistribute such software, you might be compelled to send a percentage of your sales to the source code owner. This is a common occurrence among companies that have already rolled out another version of this software as a commercial product.

4. You’ll Have an Idea of Related Implications

As already seen, different developers have the opportunity to incorporate their ideas into your source code. But as the owner, you ought to understand all the implications of such actions. You can only have an idea in this area if you’ve studied and understood your software supply chain.

 Some of the things you need to focus on are the third-party tools used by the developers and how they’ll affect the customers. Will such actions affect the company in the future?

Once you’ve assessed the obligations and risks, it’s also recommended that you carefully go through the open-source licenses and their implications. Who will be responsible for the risks posed or any breach of license? For instance, take the KODI media player; it’s legal open-source software, but the addons you install on it can compromise its legality and safety.

Conclusion

The software supply chain is thought to be a simple and straightforward system, but it involves many economic and legal regulations. Whether you’re a developer of open-source or commercial software, you ought to adhere to the respective laws of the industry. Understanding your software supply chain will help you decide on the best actions to take at any given time. It gives you an idea of how the consumers should use your software, especially if it’s an OSS. Remember, the distribution of your source code can make or break your business; so, be sure to revise all the relevant open-source licenses before embarking on the distribution process.

6 Business Benefits of Using IoT Applications

The cycle of innovation that started from a mere wheel has reached its peak right now as we see advancement in nearly every field. Technology has made such a huge impact in today’s world that it has become entirely impossible to live without it. One of the major gifts of technology is the internet of things (IoT), which is everywhere today. 

Simply, put IoT is a network of objects that works through the internet. There are some applications on this network that prove to be more useful than others, which is exactly what we are going to discuss today. If you are running a business, you need to manage every aspect in the best way, which is what IoT lets you do. In this article, I am going to highlight six business benefits of using IoT applications so that you can improve your business operations. 

Supply Chain Management and Inventory Tracking

The very first and one of the biggest reasons why businesses need to employ the use of IoT applications is to optimize their supply chain. If you belong to the manufacturing or production business, you might already be facing a lot of challenges in regards to your inventory and supply chain. With the help of IoT sensors, you can easily track your product as they are shipped across the world so that you can notify your customers in real-time. 

Safer Workspace

IoT sensors aren’t only great for keeping an eye on your products, but they also work very well when it comes to creating a safer workplace for your employees. IoT sensors can be installed in your machines to watch if it is operating correctly or not. These sensors can reduce workplace accidents and make sure that your employees get an early warning sign in case something goes wrong. Moreover, you can also use different IoT features to prevent any data breaches in your workplace. You can make sure that your company secrets don’t get into the wrong hand so that you can continue doing your business without any worries. 

New Business Opportunities 

IoT enables you to extract data, which in itself is one of the greatest assets a business can mine these days. In a world that is full of information, the ability to collect data and analyze it gives you a much-needed edge and helps you oversee any mistakes that you are making. You can easily get in contact with a proper agency to help you build an IoT dashboard through which you can monitor everything. You can then use it to sample all the data, bread down your services, and use it to create new opportunities and revenue streams to grow your business.

Tune Services and Products

It doesn’t matter which industry you belong to, the services you are offering, and the products you make are your biggest assets. If you want to grow your business, you have to invest in these two things, which is exactly what you can do through IoT applications. Today’s market has become so competitive that customers demand a lot for business. For example, if you belong to the electronics business, you have to bring innovation to your products. A simple implementation of IoT in the electronic business is a light sensor build that automatically turns on when someone enters the use. You can use a similar concept to tune most of your products and provide your customers with something unique. 

Enhanced Customer Dialog 

Making good products and launching efficient services is one thing, but if your customers don’t know about what you are offering them, you will never be able to reach your sales target. Due to this exact reason, customer dialog is one of the most important aspects of running a business so that your customers know exactly what you have in store for them. You can use IoT applications to improve the level of dialog and interaction with your customers by enhancing your marketing efforts. You can use important data to see what your customers want from you and then work on that aspect of your business to make them happier. 

Better Predictions 

Last but not least, one of the hardest parts of running a business is to identify and act in accordance with market trends. If you keep on following decade-old practices, your competitors are eventually going to take you over, which is why you must make accurate predictions about the future. You can easily use the data insights gathered from IoT applications to predict opportunities even before they arise. By analyzing the collected data, you can build on historical trends and repetitiveness in the market to put you ahead of your competitor. It can add a lot of value to your business, and you can act on the changing market scenarios faster than anybody else, which is going to earn you more customers. 

How are Small Businesses affected by Hafnium Microsoft Exchange Breach?

The cyberattack on Microsoft Exchange email servers has impacted thousands of small businesses, government organizations, enterprises, educational institutions, etc. This led Microsoft to scramble quickly to patch those vulnerabilities that hackers have exploited. As of now, Microsoft was able to patch all the zero-day flaws that caused the Hafnium Exchange breach, but it is beyond the capabilities of small businesses to secure their compromised systems. In this blog, we will shed light on the Microsoft Exchange breach and then related it to the challenges that small businesses have to face for the next few months.

Hafnium Microsoft Exchange Breach

Analysts from Volexity first detected the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities of Microsoft Exchange in March 2021. Those vulnerabilities helped hacking group so-called Hafnium, a Chinese state-sponsored group, to get access to email accounts associated with Microsoft Exchange without requiring any authentication credentials. As per Microsoft, the attacks were conducted in three steps, as follow:

  1. Hackers started with getting access to the Microsoft Exchange server by either account credentials they had stolen or utilizing the vulnerabilities to present themselves as a person who has the right to access.
  2. By developing a web shell, the hackers then remotely controlled the breached server and all additional backdoors to set up more access points.
  3. Using remote access, the hackers then stole the sensitive data from the corporation server, mostly email addresses and passwords, because they are stored unencrypted by Microsoft Exchange.

Hafnium’s main objective was to extract sensitive data from thousands of Exchange associated corporations, such as educational institutes, law firms, non-governmental organizations, defense contractors, and other small and medium businesses.

Microsoft Response

In response to the hacks, Microsoft released multiple security patches for Exchange Server to overcome the zero-day vulnerabilities. Microsoft also urged all Exchange users working with Exchange 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions to patch the servers on priority. Despite the patch release, Censys a cybersecurity company, says that above 50% of those versions of Exchange Servers left unpatched and vulnerable to potential threats. Besides that, many other hackers have also come up to use this loophole and make an impact.

Exchange Breach Impacts

As of now, around 30,000 U.S. organizations are hit by the breach. Mostly the victims were U.S. organizations, but Germany, UK, Netherlands, and few others were also the target. Although all kinds of organizations, whether large enterprises or small businesses, are the victims, the larger enterprises are still in a better place to investigate their systems and remove all malware, web shells, and other vulnerabilities in minimal time. Because patching the vulnerabilities is just one stage for recovery, but clearing all the after-effects of hacking is another crucial stage. This second stage is quite challenging for small businesses to meet due to the lack of resources and expertise.

Effects on Small Businesses

Thousands of small businesses have also been the victim of the Hafnium Exchange breach, and most of those businesses by now have installed the security patches from Microsoft. But when it comes to investigating the system to avoid further infections, such as ransomware or destructive malware, small businesses clearly lag there. Mostly, small businesses outsource their technical support to IT providers, but such IT providers are just experienced in setting and managing IT systems. For addressing cyber-attacks, such providers cannot be trusted.

Restricted budgets and no serious plans of cybersecurity are making small businesses’ systems further vulnerable to threats for many months to come. And since many other hacking groups are also taking advantage of the situation, it is the worst situation for small businesses. As per ESET, at minimum ten other hacking groups are using the same server flaws to breach through organizations systems.

IT Department Tasks

For small businesses, removing initial web shells is easy with their IT administration’s help and following the Microsoft guidelines, but doing the next investigation demands dedicated skills. The world is already seeing high demand for cybersecurity experts, and the present cybersecurity experts also present a significant skills gap. Therefore, it is also quite difficult for small businesses to find highly trained experts and willing to be part of such an organization when they can easily score a high position in big enterprises.

There is also a possibility that small businesses don’t even know that they are hit, and in case they know about it, they still need proper guidance to know how to proceed next. Seeing the gap of expertise from small businesses and the potential of Exchange Server hack, Microsoft has provided detailed guidance for helping IT staff what to do. CISA has also provided a tool and advice to look for server logs to get evidence of a compromise. So, small businesses have multiple approaches and resources they can utilize in order to get out of the victim-zone in minimal time. But all such measures do not guarantee complete system recovery and protection, owing to the fact that other hacking groups have also used their own approaches to exploit Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities.

Patch Problems

Many sites that are not hit with the Hafnium intrusion have been put offline for another problem. The process of applying Microsoft Exchange Server patches often leads to network disruption. To apply the Hafnium patch requires an Exchange Site must update all prior patches. This process of updating has been a disaster for many sites, as their systems are taken offline and do not recover. No one is able to contact Microsoft for a fix.

Conclusion

Hafnium Microsoft Exchange breach is one of 2021 biggest attacks seen by now. It is far more invasive than the recent SolarWinds Breach, which affected mostly Government organizations. and the worst part is the after-effects of these breaches. Suppose 30,000 U.S. organizations are hit by this hack, then despite the Microsoft patches. In that case, there will be many organizations that are going to be exploited by Hafnium and other hacking groups due to hidden backdoors, etc. Compared to all such organizations, small businesses are the most vulnerable ones. Therefore, it is a need of time that Microsoft and other cybersecurity firms play a helping hand in making those victim businesses get rid of possible malware by facilitating in thorough investigations. Besides that, opting for cloud servers and migrating workloads to the cloud can also facilitate small businesses to avoid getting a victim of such breaches in the future.