rules and regulations stamp

A Reminder On Why Regulatory Compliance Is So Important

Regulatory compliance isn’t a matter to brush off lightly. These laws and requirements are put in place to not only protect your business, but also your customers. As a quick reminder, three of the main players in regulatory compliance are:

HIPAA – HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act. This act, established in 1996, affects organizations that handle health information (PHI) or personal health records (PHR). Such organizations include clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, psychologists, dentists, and pharmacies. These regulations protect the rights of patient authorization and who can view personal health information.

SOX – The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act is a US federal law that was established in 2002 in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals. Some of the organizations involved in these scandals were Enron, Tyco International, and WorldCom. This law addresses how to handle corporate governance, auditing, and financial reporting so that those scandals never happen again.

PCI – The payment card industry (PCI) is established to protect our card information. Credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover abide by a set of data security standards (PCI DSS) that aim to reduce payment card fraud and theft.

What Happens If You Ignore Regulatory Compliance Regulations

As you can tell, regulatory compliance requirements protect very important and sensitive data. Failing to follow the rules and regulations set out can result in some very severe punishments, such as large fines and even jail time. For example, failure to adhere to SOX Compliance can result in a fine of more than $10 million and 30 years in jail.

Falling out of regulatory compliance will also damage your enterprise’s reputation and cause your clients to lose faith in you. The accounting scandals of 2002 caused the whole nation to lose trust in accounting and reporting practices. Also, let’s look at PCI compliance. If your personal credit card and financial information wasn’t protected and was left at the risk of being stolen, used, and manipulated, would you really continue to trust your information with its current protector?

The answer is no. It’s not easy to entrust your classified data and personal property to someone new. Regulatory compliance standards, however, give users the comfort and confidence to do just that.

Allowing Cognoscape to properly maintain and uphold your compliance will ensure security on all ends. We are always keeping up with the laws and staying up to date on any changes that occur.

Have any questions? Click here to read our eBook on the science behind regulatory compliance.

Managed Services: The Future of IT

As the economy and technology evolves, so do the businesses that drive them.  It should not come as a shock to anyone that the next step in IT is actually not having someone on staff, but rather having managed services take care of it for a company.
It almost goes without saying that it would be extremely difficult for a business to hire their first internal IT tech.  Once you’ve finished coming up with exactly what you think they would need to do to help your company, you would then have to go through the arduous hiring process.  Once they have been hired, you would have to pay that one person a significant amount of money, worry about their health insurance, and somehow track their work progress, which most startups either don’t know how to do, or just don’t have the time to.  With IT becoming so critical to businesses today, it wouldn’t make sense for each startup to go through that process. If every business took on an IT person for themselves, the supply in the market would decrease at such a rate that the cost to hire would skyrocket.
Managed services provide a company with a full team of trained technicians and staff that know exactly what they’re doing… and at a fraction of the cost of what a full time employee would be.  Instead of just getting one mind with a few years experience, you’re getting an skilled group of individuals who have experience with not only businesses like yours, but all of the potential problems that could come along and haunt your business as well.
A lot of times, managed services will start by creating a roadmap for their business client, outlining each of the areas which would need to be covered and used by them to aid in your success.  Think about that, hiring just one expensive staffer is a crapshoot as to whether or not they would know what they’re doing… and it would take an extreme amount of time for most business owners to learn what they need and monitor this new staffer on their own.
From there, managed services work with and maintain all the crucial IT pieces that bring a business the success that they need.   They are just as accessible as calling up the one staffer that you might have hired who sits in your office all day waiting for a potential issue to arise.
With the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring coupled with significant Money, time and stress saved, it seems like a natural progression that managed services would be the future of IT.
And for exactly why we said, as we look to the future of IT, it would make sense that more and more companies would stray away from having their own staff handle IT,  the future truly is managed services.
Compliance

5 fast facts about PCI compliance

We’ve all heard Target’s horror story. Thousands of customers were made vulnerable by a massive data breach in which cardholders’ information was stolen. While Target was maintaining PCI compliance standards, data was still at risk. What does this mean for business owners? To effectively protect your customers, there are a few things you should know about what PCI compliance is and isn’t.

  1. PCI compliance is a necessary and helpful way to protect sensitive information. Legally, if you accept payment cards, you must adhere to strict guidelines for protecting customer data. Your trusted IT experts at Cognoscape can help ensure you remain compliant.
  2. PCI compliance doesn’t guarantee security. Self-audits and regular maintenance of security protocols are essential for protecting customer and employee information. When performing a self-audit, there are a few things you want to check:
    1. How you store and transfer customer financial data (such as credit card numbers).
    2. How your employees are educated and trained on security and data management.
    3. How vendors and suppliers within your network handle the financial data.
  3. PCI compliance can’t be avoided and non-compliance is costly. With the growing rate of cybersecurity related fraud, PCI compliance is more important than ever. Protecting customer data is not only important because non-compliance can result in massive fines, but lost consumer trust from a data breach can make it tough for your business to financially recover. Partnering with a security advisor can help alleviate the costs and headache of non-compliance.
  4. PCI compliance requires effort. We’re not saying it requires a lot of work, but you won’t maintain compliance passively. Using tips can help simplify the process, and if you really want to guarantee you’re following guidelines, we can help.
  5. PCI compliance isn’t going away. Working on compliance is rarely any business owner’s most enjoyable experience. It can be tedious, and it can be scary. The threat of fines or lost revenue from data breaches it the stuff of nightmares. But, in a cybercrime riddled world, it’s essential to protect sensitive cardholder information. PCI compliance isn’t going anywhere, so make sure you know how to appropriately meet guidelines.

Don’t let PCI compliance keep you up at night. At Cognoscape, we have years of experience protecting businesses like yours from non-compliance. Give us a call, and let’s get to work protecting you.

Everything You Need to Know About PCI Compliance

If your business wants to accept credit cards, then you’ll need to ensure you meet with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards to ensure the security of your customer’s data.  You don’t need us to tell you how important it is that your organization keeps its customer’s credit card data secure. It’s a huge issue, as failure to do so could cause irreparable damage to your brand. If your organization suffers data breach that results in customer’s information being stolen, it will almost certainly spell the end for your business. Your organization will be in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and it’ll be nigh on impossible to repair the damage to your reputation among consumers.  Be sure you know your PCI compliance basics in order to keep your customer’s credit card data safe and secure.
What is PCI Compliance?
PCI compliance refers to a set of guidelines for businesses to follow when they process payments via credit card. These guideline cover all of the major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express and indeed all of these providers mandate their use. If your company process credit card payments from these providers it must comply with PCI standards – failure to do so can lead to heavy punishments, including substantial fines and even jail time for company directors.
What Does Being PCI Compliant Mean?
There are 12 key requirements in the PCI Data Security Standard, and businesses need to comply with each of them in order to be considered “PCI compliant”. Each of the requirements addresses an important area of information security, as listed below:
  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
  3. Protect stored cardholder data
  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
  5. Protect all systems against malware and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
  7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business’s need to know
  8. Identify and authenticate access to system components
  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  11. Regularly test security systems and processes
  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel
Helping you Meet PCI Compliance
At Cognoscape, one of the key aspects of our services is ensuring that your business is PCI compliant. As a first step, we’ll look at your network to see if it meets basic standards for security. If not, we’ll work to make sure that it does, and we’ll maintain it so it stays that way. We’ll also install software that guarantees customer’s credit card data is secure and encrypted when transferred to and from the network.
Another key step is to make sure your systems cannot be breached. PCI compliance standards require that companies maintain something called a vulnerability management system, which incorporates security measures such as antivirus and firewalls. In addition, PCI compliance means regularly testing security systems and processes. Companies are required to monitor all access to networks and cardholder data to ensure that it remains secure, and all of this ongoing work will be carried out by Cognoscape.
Cognoscape works closely with its clients to ensure their IT systems and practices never violate laws around PCI compliance. We make it our business to stay up to date with all the latest requirements, so we can ensure that you’re ready to make any changes as the government requires them.
If you need help with PCI compliance, give us a call today and let’s make sure you’re providing your customers with the protection they deserve.
Father and son hunting

The Similarities Between Hunting and Cybersecurity

We know what you’re thinking. What similarities exist between hunting and cybersecurity?” As an organization focused on cybersecurity who just happens to know a lot of very avid hunters, we’re here to tell you that the two are incredibly similar in many ways.

The first similarity between hunting and cyber security is that to be good at both, you’re going to need a map. In hunting, you’ll use a map to get you to the perfect place to find deer, ducks, or whatever game you may be looking for. From there, you’ll need a plan as to what exactly to do once you get there.

It’s the same in cybersecurity. When looking at your network and how it functions for your business, you’ll need a specified road map, one that outlines exactly where all the trouble spots may or may not be and exactly what to do with those areas.

The second similarity between hunting and cybersecurity is that both are “hurry up and wait” scenarios. When you go on a hunt, you prepare as much as possible for the moment when you need to fire on your prey. It takes hours of preparation including the finding right tools and location in addition to studying what you may be up against. Finally, after all those hours of preparation, you go into the field and wait… sometimes hours for your prey to finally come along so that you can take your shot. Cybersecurity is the exact same thing.

In cybersecurity, you or your managed service provider study the lay of the land with your systems and networks and prepare all the proper tools, find the right location and build up a lot of knowledge to know what you might be up against. All of this is done so that you can be prepared for when something bad may or may not come alone. Whether it be a hacker, a virus, or any other potential threat, cybersecurity, like hunting, is a get prepared, hurry up and wait game.

The third and final similarity between hunting and cybersecurity is both require a lot of experience and training to become proficient. In hunting, you can prepare and have the right equipment, but still miss your prey. It takes practice and real world experience to be good at hunting. The same is true of cybersecurity.

We at Cognoscape have years upon years of the training and experience necessary to protect your company from any potential cybersecurity threats. We have seen it all throughout our years of working in the community and know how to be perfectly on target when your business comes under attack. Trust us with your cybersecurity needs.

Network Security

How Much Is Your Network Security Actually at Risk?

Over the past year, we have heard more about hacking and hackers than ever before. Thanks to the 2016 Presidential election, we realized that anyone and everyone can be hacked. From the discussion of security with Hillary Clinton’s personal email servers, to the Democratic National Committee being hacked by Russians (or a 400 lb hacker) network security has been at the forefront of our national discussion… but what exactly does that mean for your business?

virtual reality

Where is Virtual Reality in Terms of Gaming?

Gaming technology is always developing, improving, and expanding – it’s amazing to see the progress it has reached. What’s more amazing is the latest technology sweeping the tech world: virtual reality.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is what it sounds like, a virtual reality. A computer generates an environment that lets you virtually immerse yourself into different realities. That’s the beauty of it – you can transport yourself to any three-dimensional interface. This combination of hardware, software, and sensory synchronicity helps create the detailed realism that users enjoy.

How do you use it? VR consists of a screen inside a headset which is then fit around your head and eyes. This visually separates anything else you could be viewing so that you focus solely on this new, virtual world. The image you’re looking at is in stereoscopic 3D, and the detail is amazing. This technology is currently implemented in various fields, such as architecture, the arts, sports, in medicine where it allow students to view hospital ER scenes before they have to do the real thing, in tourism where you can travel to the world’s various wonders, and, most popularly, in entertainment and gaming.

Virtual Reality in Gaming

At first, VR equipment used to be exclusive and expensive, but now, gadgets such as the Samsung Gear VR are becoming more common and revolutionizing gaming. This Samsung device allows you to attach a compatible Galaxy smartphone to its portable and wireless headset. From there, your adventure begins. You can dive into the 360 degrees action-packed world of whichever game you choose, including Minecraft, EVE: Gunjack, or any other game you wish to buy – it’s all available!

Has gaming technology ever been this entertaining?

What This Means For the Future

When it comes to IT support, this marks the beginning of virtual reality hardware and software coming together. The development of this technology will only continue to grow as programmers try to find ways to also incorporate and amplify audio, smell, and touch. Even though it might take a while until VR provides a full-body experience, it’s definitely making advances to get there. Virtual reality has changed, and will continue to change, the way that the world interacts with digital technology, and IT support providers need to stay in the loop to see where this goes. That’s what Cognoscape is doing. We’ll love to talk about it.

network services illustration

Should You Choose Custom Network Services?

There’s only one company like yours out there. A lot of time, effort, and individual, distinguished details have gone into your company to make it one-of-a-kind. Doesn’t it make sense then that you should have a network that reflects that uniqueness? If you use the same network services as every business out there, are you really that different?

There are a lot of choices to make when it comes to your network. One of those choices is whether you should adopt custom network services, or your standard one size fits all. There are strong reasons for both sides, but ultimately, the win goes to having custom network services for many reasons.  

Custom Network Services Service You Much More Efficiently

With custom network services, you have the control. Your whole system will be designed around your specific goals and operation methods. This makes it a lot easier to scale up and add additional devices or systems when you need to. Why? Well, your system knows your business goals and exactly how you want to work. Because of this, your whole infrastructure will service in that manner. Maybe you need automation to perform a specific function, or maybe you need your VoIP to act a certain way. Whatever it is, with custom, professional network services, the final decision is yours.

The experts that design these professional services know how to completely custom these services to you, but we won’t stop there. We will keep a constant eye on your technology after the design and implementation. We won’t just install and then leave you. With this additional support, you won’t have to worry so much anymore about out-of-date equipment, security holes, incompatible software, and compliance issues.

Cognoscape Can Design a Custom Infrastructure For You

Cognoscape knows the importance of a custom infrastructure. We’re ready to reduce the risk of IT complications with custom network services designed to protect you. One of the unique things we do here at Cognoscape is provide customers with a custom IT roadmap. Tailored to help businesses succeed, these technology roadmap keeps our clients up-to-date on all the latest IT trends in various sectors of the industry – like network security, relocation, regulatory compliance, and cloud computing.

Having a custom network also reduces the costs of random network failures. Cognoscape has some of the best IT experts out there, and the maintenance we’ll be able to provide will end up saving you money by reducing the chance of those expensive network disasters. We know your business from the inside out, so we know how to fully protect it.

With a custom network services, you will see results in no time. Constant recommendations of up-to-date security solutions and applications, reduced IT costs, and a flexible and scalable environment are only a few of the benefits you’ll be enjoying. Your system should work for you, not the other way around. Let us take care of your IT so you can focus on what matters – your business. Contact us today to get started!

robot typing - automation illustration

Automate your Lifestyle with the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is the concept of connecting multiple devices via the internet, creating a smart and reliable system. The ‘things’ are sensor-embedded devices that gather, store, analyze, and respond to data. In recent years, the Internet of Things has been making major lifestyle improvements possible. This process of automation is all set to progress in the future, providing further benefits, perhaps including some that we have yet to imagine.

Increased Security and Convenience

If your workplace demands long hours, commuting, overtime, or dealing with late meetings, your house may be unattended for long periods of time. With automation and the Internet of Things though, you can keep track of what’s happening. For example, smart surveillance systems in your home can notify you immediately if someone tries to break in. With a simple tap on your phone, you can monitor any room. This type of system can be set to scare off burglars or to alert the authorities immediately without your intervention.

In the same manner, you can grant access for the plumber from your workplace via your smartphone. No more waiting around for someone who calls to say that he or she can’t make it after all. You no longer need to be physically present to communicate with visitors. A smart system can put you in contact with arrivals wherever you are.

A system like this is also useful for keeping track of family members or pets. It’s great for security or just for staying in touch. This tool can take the worry out of days when you need to be away from home.

Smart Fridges and Groceries Shopping

After a hard day at work, your only desire might be to enjoy a glass of Chardonnay and your favorite cheese. When you get home, however, you discover that you’re out of both! How great would it be if you could check the contents of your fridge via your smartphone? With the Internet of Things, you could consult your kitchen from the store.

Even better, how amazing would it be if the fridge automatically connected to an e-commerce site to have expired or used items delivered by the time you got home? Using the Internet of Things, this could become an extremely convenient reality for you. This technology can also apply to other devices, such as thermostats, washing machines, and ovens.

Enjoyable Traveling and Road Safety

The Internet of Things revolution is already making major changes in the way people travel. Hotels can make tourists’ stay more comfortable by building in sensors in air-conditioning systems, remote control lighting, and coffee-makers. It can also extend to presenting personalized digital art on room walls!

The Internet of Things has the possibility of quietly orchestrating environments to the needs of individuals. In terms of airlines, it could improve the checking in experience by helping customers navigate around the airport and by monitoring the whereabouts of bags.

The in-flight experience itself might also be optimized via sensors that detect how tired or nervous each passenger is, as well as drawing on data to determine how much time passengers have to make their next connection and perhaps advising them on where to sit on the plane for a quick exit.

On the road, intelligent traffic control systems will make vehicles smart enough to alter their speed depending on the situation ahead.

With Internet of Things gadgets making our lives easier and performing independently once we’ve given our instructions, there will be more free time for everyone. That time can be used creatively, for recreation, or for work. Many people are very ready to spend more time with friends and family.

The potential benefits of the Internet of Things are staggering. We’re at the very edge of transformation to improve ways of working and living. Contact us here at Cognoscape if you’d like to learn more about the future of automation and technology.

automation

Changing Your Business with Automation

Automation refers to the use of different control systems in combination with many types of software and machinery, including manufacturing processes, network processes, aircraft and shipbuilding, and much more, all with minimal human intervention. Today, many of these automated processes are incorporated in our businesses, reducing the need for labor and saving resources. At the same time, in most cases, this increases the speed, quality, and accuracy of the processes.

The potential for using this technology to transform business and personal lives is incredible. We are beginning to see that we can have automation anywhere, giving time back to people so that they can be more creative and influential. More and more industries are automating processes, but this should not be of too much concern for employees who worry about their jobs. In many businesses, for example, pools of copy typists become editors in the face of automation. With increased responsibility, opportunities for learning, and less manual work, the potential for job satisfaction grows, too.

Spontaneity

Imagine that your company suddenly receives a massive new order and your staff can handle just 50%. Now throw in a ridiculous deadline.

Automation can help businesses complete their work with great quality, eliminating any human errors and data duplication. It will work for you without fatigue. If this sounds a little too much like The Terminator movies, note that human staff can still monitor and ensure that quality is maintained, focus on the customer experience, and improve other, valuable areas of the business.

Flexible Application

Automation can take place in public or private clouds, desktops, or servers. Whether the business is a banking institution or a logistics and transportation company, with imagination, you can apply automation anywhere.

Save time, money, and frustration by using flexible technology that in turn gives you daily flexibility.

Cutting Costs

When you automate tasks, you don’t need to worry about having enough staff to cover the work, nor too many people, which would be a waste of resources. Automation will finish the tasks, no matter how big or small, without incurring additional costs.

Simplify the IT

The larger the company, the bigger the requirement for more complex IT tasks. As a company grows, so can the time and budget needed for manual installations or software writing.

Automation innovation is replacing these laborious processes, implementing ‘bots’ to do the work of learning and growing. As a result, IT professionals would be able to focus on solving more important issues for company performance, while the automation software adapts to changes in the system.

More Freedom

When employees have to perform repetitive tasks, they can’t really focus on high-value work. Take sending emails to business prospects for example. This can take hours every week, if not every day. The most valued aspect of automation is allowing employees to dedicate their time to more valuable pursuits. For example, following up leads, or customizing responses to clients.

Leave the mundane work to be automated. When employees are excited about actually getting to do their jobs, about innovation, and improvements, companies grow.

Many jobs that are common today will disappear soon. This thought might be terrifying at first glance, but when jobs become redundant – such as some copy typing positions and many telephone operators – the creation of advanced positions is the natural result, such as editors, quality control officers, and customer service agents.

The more processes you automate, the more resources you will have left for innovation and progress. Or for enjoying more free time. With automation possible anywhere, it’s up to you. Contact Cognoscape, LLC and we’ll help you get started!