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The WebPal Wire

Get our latest updates as we bring you new insight on how cloud computing is already changing in its infancy. Security, content and business process are just a few categories within of wide range of topics covered in our blog

Posts Tagged ‘cloud’

6 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Cloud-Based Document Management

25-02-2015 Rachel

Document management in the cloud means storing your files in a remote data center, for access at any time from your desktop, smartphone or tablet. One of the key advantages to this approach is the ability to edit documents online regardless of your location or device. This function can also be extended to co-workers, clients, partners or suppliers. The benefits to individuals and organizations are many, which makes online document editing a priority when choosing a document management service. Here’s why:

 

1. COLLABORATION - By having individuals or groups working on centrally located files, whether they are in the same office or located all over the world, productivity and collaboration will increase as a result. No time is wasted searching for the latest version of the file to track what changes have been made and no email attachments are required to ensure everyone has the latest copy. Work is done is real time and the results are immediate.

2. ANYTIME, ANYWHERE ACCESS – There has been a radical change in how people work today. Users want access to their files 24/7 whether they are in the office, in a coffee shop, at home or on business travel using their computer, smartphone or tablet. When employees are given the flexibility of where and how they work, they are happier, absenteeism decreases and productivity increases due to reduced commuting time. Storing your documents in the cloud can help you realize these productivity benefits.

3. SECURITY – Cloud-based document management offers the optimum protection of your corporate or personal information. Your documents are safe and secure in redundant and fault tolerant data centers designed for protection and business continuity. Your files are always available whenever you need them and no document is ever lost on someone’s hard drive or memory stick. Having your data stored in country is necessary if you want to maintain control over regulated data and documents.

4. FILE PERMISSIONS – Not everyone needs access to your document folders or files. Ideally, you can set file and folder permissions by user to restrict what information they can access or download, for how long and whether they can add content to share with others. Providing a one time “guest access” to folders or files is beneficial when you only need to occasionally share information with individuals. Your document management service should provide you with this added layer of security.

5. COST – For those organizations who manage their documents internally, the purchase of file servers and software including the cost to maintain them continue to increase while I.T. budgets are shrinking. Renting a document management service in the cloud can address this problem. It can be setup in minimal time and users can be added or removed in minutes. User training and adoption is typically easier and less time consuming resulting in additional cost savings. With I.T. budgets in decline, moving this service to a monthly operational expense is the right choice for many organizations.

6. BACK UP & RECOVERY – Many files on individual workstations and laptops need back up. Users want a central access point to recover files they accidentally deleted on their workstation. This is critical for mobile users who don’t have access to company back up servers. By using a centralized (cloud) document management service, user files are backed up and centrally accessible. With the use of an endpoint sync agent, the syncing of documents between the user and the cloud is triggered by file changes keeping your content up to date. You can back up your files while enjoying all the benefits of cloud sync and share.

 

About WebPal Cloud Server

WebPal Cloud Server is a business solution by Palomino Inc. for secure, private, and powerful web content management, document storage and online collaboration.  Accessed by over 300,000 users worldwide, WebPal powers collaboration portals for enterprises and small business clients alike. With a fast, slick and intuitive interface, WebPal is easier to adopt than most enterprise file sharing solutions.  WebPal version 3.2 will be released in March 2015 and will feature online editing of word processing and spreadsheet documents.

 

Visit WebPal to register for a free 15-day trial of WebPal Cloud Server. Test drive its powerful capabilities and discover how it can help you bring order to your content and impress your customers with amazing web portals and applications.



How we dealt with a GHOST

10-02-2015 Rachel

Every once in a while, security vulnerabilities are discovered on the most secure platforms, and when that happens, the IT community worldwide becomes abuzz with information, warnings, and security advice within hours. This is the time when vulnerabilities – small cracks in the thick mantle of security software protecting the integrity of a cloud server – are called zero-day vulnerabilities, indicating the time period in which the crack has been found, but a fix is still pending.

Luckily, this fix is usually available very fast. Most zero-day vulnerabilities have a patch available by the time the general excitement starts. Patches generally are full, definite fixes of the problem, they close the “crack” and prevent any future exploitation.

Acting fast is important

The recent GHOST and Heartbleed vulnerabilities were an example of this. The problem is, once a risk has been disclosed to the general public, so will explanations on how to exploit it. Within a very short time, tools are available for download that can easily be morphed into automatic hack-bots, scanning the Internet for unpatched servers.

Thus, the real exposure is in these hours right after the announcement. During this time, system administrators, hosting providers, devops and client service managers need to work together to patch systems as quickly as possible.

How the WebPal Cloud is protected

Of course, as with many providers, our team has a standard procedure for these cases. When GHOST was discovered, we followed our standard risk mitigation checklist:

  1. Are we affected at all?
    Check whether in fact WebPal Servers were affected and if so, which ones. In the case of Heartbleed for example, our strategy of late adoption of OS version paid off and we were not affected at all.
  2. Is a patch available and applied?
    WebPal Servers automatically update nightly with latest security patches provided by our OS distributors. Nonetheless, we make sure that the latest patch (if available) is applied to all servers, in all data centres. If a patch is not available yet, we weigh the benefits of disabling affected software on the servers. 
  3. Has any data been compromised already?
    All attacks leave traces. Depending on the vulnerability, there are patterns in network traffic, process history and server behavior that would let us ascertain whether a server has already been attacked or, worse, compromised. A thorough scan is performed to ensure that this is not the case.
  4. Downtime required and when?
    Some security patches are to subsystems so widely used in a cloud server such that a full reboot is recommended to ensure that no un-patched code is still running on the server. GHOST was an example of this. As system restarts are very disruptive, we generally schedule these as rolling overnight reboots.
  5. Have actions been communicated?
    At all times, we communicate with our clients over our blog, twitter and email alerts to disclose risks and notify of any anticipated downtimes.

We don’t cry wolf

We appreciate that WebPal clients generally are business-level users and care not so much about the technical details of the vulnerability, but for the disruptions the fix causes, versus the potential risk of complacency.  WebPal clients rely on us to fend off serious threats, but forcing unnecessary reboots for every security update (there are dozens a month) would merely be a method of offloading risk management onto them and thus not provide any added value. Our advantage is that we know the business use of WebPal Cloud Servers very well, and with this knowledge, can make risk mitigation decisions that are in line with our client’s needs.

 

References

https://access.redhat.com/articles/1332213

http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/01/highly-critical-ghost-allowing-code-execution-affects-most-linux-systems/



3 Reasons the Healthcare Industry Could Benefit From Cloud Computing

29-08-2013 Chris

When it comes to matters of our personal health care, we don’t want to leave anything up to chance. Compliancy and security issues are the predominant concerns for practices who are considering implementing cloud content management systems to manage their medical records. Previously, government legislation like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States had strict regulations for how health care providers were required to store their data, but new HIPAA requirements state that by 2015, all medical professionals with access to patient records must utilize electronic systems. Now is the ideal time for the health care industry to move to the cloud. Here are some ways cloud content management systems can improve the health care industry:

It saves money

Healthcare providers are required to store a patient’s records for a minimum of 6 years after they are discharged. A report conducted by Canada Health Infoway estimates that community-based practices saved approximately $84 million Canadian from the reduction of paper handling. Electronic-based content management can also become costly if it involves physical on-site hardware. By centralizing your efforts in a cloud content management system, health care providers can reduce their spending on physical hardware and the maintenance of those systems.

It’s a scalable solution

One of the biggest problems with on-site hardware for content management is it can be difficult to scale as your practice grows. Updating your hardware system can be a costly and time-consuming project that can disrupt daily operations. Cloud content management systems like WebPal are scalable, and can easily adjust to the size of your practice.

More informed and efficient delivery of care

Most importantly, cloud content management can improve patient care. By making medical records more accessible with a cloud content management system, patients and healthcare providers are empowered to make more informed decisions when it matters most.

With cloud content management systems like WebPal, health care providers get the scalability, efficiency, and security that they need to store their patient and medical records. Researchers and practitioners are using WebPal Servers to securely store documents, disseminate knowledge, gather data, analyze, and share results. Learn more about our features.



The Dollars and Sense of Cloud Content Management

08-05-2013

A recent survey by the hosting company Rackspace reinforces the idea that saving time and money are critical components in the minds of those making the switch to cloud computing. Respondents named freeing up of dollars and time for reinvestment into other product and service innovation of the highest priority. This trend of moving into the cloud, driven by cost savings, is highlighted yet again with recent news of the U.S. Navy moving into cloud computing,(following in the footsteps of the CIA). The obvious savings of time and money can be an excellent goal for any company, but the challenge lies in not discounting all the other benefits a well-designed cloud content management system can provide.

Let’s look toward hospitals for an example: Facing increased needs for electronic storage of patient files, many hospitals are considering cloud content management systems as an efficient and economical way to deal with patient records without having to build an internal I.T. infrastructure. This establishes cost and time savings. What are some of the other ways in which moving to the cloud could have a positive effect on business processes?

More efficient collaboration: With easy access to the files of shared patients, specialists and other healthcare providers can work together to provide a better quality of integrated care, while reducing the chances of duplicating files.

Controlled access and organization: By giving staff access to only the records they need, you eliminate potential security loopholes. In addition, when needed information is organized and easily accessible, employees can do their jobs without wasting time wading through records.

Eliminating opportunities for error: A content management system can do much more than just store files, it can be used to automatically fill in repetitive fields across documents (such as name, address, etc) reducing the opportunities for needless errors, streamlining document handling, and eliminating a frustrating and time consuming task from employee workloads.

The cost savings involved in moving your content management to the cloud can be the first reason that you contemplate a change, but don’t let the dollars of this strategy distract you from the good sense of taking advantage of all the benefits the cloud can offer you.



Cloud Content Servers: The Key to Unlocking your IT Department’s Potential

15-01-2013

IT departments are like the unsung heroes of the business world, often keeping our computers running smoothly without many of us ever knowing their inner workings and goings-on. They are ignored when everything is working well, and called upon (sometimes in a panic) to fix any issues that arise when something goes wrong. A large amount of the IT department’s time and effort needs to be devoted to maintaining and updating your company’s content servers, ensuring that the life blood of information continues to flow between all the different arms of the company.

This leads to one of the most seductive questions about moving your information onto cloud content servers: what could you do if your IT department gained a much needed resource- more time? The topic of discussion when it comes to cloud servers is often hardware. Lets not forget the human element. What potential can you unlock in your IT staff if they suddenly had more time?

While cloud content servers are not maintenance free, you are essentially paying another company to handle all hardware related issues and challenges on your behalf. Along with this extra time frequently comes extra money. Depending on how your servers have been functioning in the past, the time and budget savings can be substantial.

Now, imagine you are no longer budgeting to maintain and upgrade hardware resources. How could your IT department actively contribute to the rest of your business goals if they were freed from a purely maintenance role? The economic challenges of the last few years led many small and medium business to operate with “lean” staffing. The sudden addition of more staff time and the chance to re-allocate some of that budget can have an incredibly positive impact on many different aspects of your business.

It’s time to dig up those old wish lists and think back to everything you’ve always wanted to do if you had more IT staff time and resources. Moving your content servers into the cloud might be the key to unlocking the potential of your IT department!



Infrastructure as a Service: The Next Utility

03-01-2013

Hydro electric power, waterworks, natural gas…they are either spaces on a Monopoly board, or bills we have pay to various utility companies each month. Either way, they are essential services that although at their inception were not commonly available, we now access with ease and couldn’t imagine living without.

Merriam-Webster defines a utility as:

a service (as light, power, or water) provided by a public utility.

Consider a new utility on the rise, which in a couple of years, might become the next vital role in the functioning of your business: infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS).

Cloud servers

IAAS is the name given to organizations that offer cloud services. They pay for and run the infrastructure on their end, supplying servers and hardware. Users of the cloud simply pay for the time and resources they require, rather than purchasing expensive and often bulky equipment outright. This typically leads to lower purchase and maintenance costs for businesses, freeing up funds, allowing for growth and flexibility in the face of changing circumstances.

In the early days of electricity, if you wanted to run an electrical appliance or process, you would need to generate the power yourself, usually costing both time and money. With the creation of reliable electrical utilities, amazing opportunities opened up for business. Now, even though many parts of the world still struggle with reliable electricity, it would be hard to imagine any part of North America disconnected from the grid for more than a few hours at the worst of times, say due to a storm or a downed power line. If we want our lights to turn on, we simply flick a switch, not giving it a second thought.

It is absolutely amazing to imagine what sort of impact IAAS and cloud computing in general will have as it moves further into the field of being a utility. Perhaps in the future, having your own hardware on site will be like having a generator on hand for emergencies – an exception, rather than the common way of doing business.

Move over Water Works, there is another space on the Monopoly board.



eHealth faces challenges

27-09-2012

Implementing eHealth policies can be difficult, as you are often dealing with large institutions that struggle with making decisions, and technology that can often become obsolete before a system can be put in place. One example of this occurred last week when a “$46.2-million contract to build an electronic diabetes registry for eHealth Ontario had formally been cancelled.” Reports indicate that the proposed system had since become obsolete as newer versions of the technology had been developed. Cloud technology and content management system is a fast-paced world where new technologies come and go, which can pose a challenge to health care providers. This is an area WebPal is very interested in. Our CEO Markus Latzel will be presenting at the HIMSS Ontario event in October to discuss WebPal’s role in eHealth initiatives and the future of eHealth.

It is undeniable that there are benefits of a content management system in healthcare: it can help regulate patient and physician paperwork, helping people get the best care as quickly as possible. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto recently experienced what this type of technology can do in terms of processing patients. MyChart is a mobile app that provides access to diagnostic scans, surgery results and medical progress reports on the cloud.

“It empowers the patients so much more – like we are in it together. And it is a whole new way of doing medicine,” said a cancer surgeon at Sunnybrook.

 



I need a cloud content management system, STAT

20-09-2012

The cloud computing and content management industries are gaining steam, and one industry that stands to benefit in a major way is healthcare. WebPal is engaged in various healthcare-oriented projects, as are many other cloud content management systems. The healthcare industry involves extensive paper work and document management is crucial to maintain accurate and reliable patient records, hospital records, insurance records and more. Using a cloud content management system would help automate many administrative functions within hospitals and enable easier access to records by patients and doctors alike.

Platforms like WellFX is launching a social-engagement platform that will be hosted by Amazon on the cloud. Patients will use the platform to form communities to discuss conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol. There will also be staff-only community groups to allow healthcare providers  discuss best practices of care.

One of the biggest dilemma’s facing healthcare is early detection of disease and symptoms. Many healthcare providers are hoping that developing mobile apps and cloud-based systems will encourage patients to monitor their health more closely. The FDA recently approved a censor that will be used by patients experiencing non-life-threatening irregular heartbeats and will send information to a doctor’s iPad or laptop for real-time monitoring. Hopefully, more technologies like this will emerge in the years to come and the cloud will become an integral aspect of healthcare for future generations.



GoDaddy comes to a stop and leaves customers hanging

13-09-2012

When GoDaddy experienced an outage on Monday that resulted in thousands of sites going down for most of the day, the digital world panicked. A member of the Hacktivist group Anonymous, with the Twitter handle @AnonymousOwn3r, took responsibility for the outage. GoDaddy shot down the claims and instead blamed the outage on “corrupted router data cables.” To appease angry consumers, GoDaddy is offering customers one month of free service.

“We let you down and we know it,” GoDaddy CEO Scott Wagner said in an email to customers. “We take out responsibilities – and the trust you place in us – very seriously. I cannot express how sorry I am to those of you who were inconvenienced.”

The outage was understandably a huge upset to many people, as GoDaddy is one of the largest domain providers in North America; they claim to be “largest hosting provider of secure websites in the world.” For customers who do not have their content backed-up on a cloud content management server, this would have been even more disconcerting. Users want access to all their documents from their desktop or their mobile device, and they don’t want to compromise on security.

Sign up for WebPal today for reliable access to all your essential documents in a secure cloud environment. Visit our features page to find out what WebPal can do for you.



Globalized document management

30-08-2012

The world of business is becoming increasingly globalized, and building global brand awareness is a top priority for many companies. A recent survey of 200 U.S.-based CMOs and VPs of marketing revealed that many companies want to go global but lack the resources necessary. Driving web traffic is dependent on content creation, and content becomes more successful when it is generated on a regional basis rather than just direct translations. Although a global strategy may not be an easy feat to pull-off, many respondents to the survey believe it to already be producing results.

“Ninety-one percent of participants acknowledged that their globalization strategy has produced meaningful improvements to website engagement, lead generation and revenue,” says the report.

Another challenge, next to producing original content that is regional-specific, is updating and managing that content. Regionally-specific content often goes long periods of times without being updated.

Sometimes you need a content management system that transcends national boundaries and connects employees and customers from all over the world. The WebPal Cloud Content Management system allows you to organize your documents and makes them accessible from any desktop or mobile device. It also allows you to track users who access the documents and updated versions of the documents. For more information on what WebPal can do for your organization, please visit our features page.