Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: security

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to security and security clearances.

Ensure You’re Working on a Secure Device… But Don’t Spend Time Securing It

The following guest post was provided by NPC

IT and professional contractors are the definitive mobile professional.  Moving between jobs that can be anywhere from a few days to a few years, mobility, adaptability and professionalism are essential to their success. They’ve been mastering the “gig economy” long before it was topical. Many contractors make exceptional money, better sometimes than their permanent-staff counterparts. The difference between the winners and losers may not be the luck of the draw on the positions they land, but how they organize and present themselves. Running an efficient and secure one-person office is critical to being able to focus on the work opportunity, and to maximize revenue generating hours.

But as solo entrepreneurs, how a contractor spends their time doing just that is important.  Like it is for any professional, time is money. It’s reasonably certain that someone who owns a car dealership no longer changes their own oil. Smart producers look carefully at their operational responsibilities and how they spend their time. They watch for opportunities to offload a task to someone that can do it faster-better-cheaper. Even though it may be a task they know how to do themselves, once the value of their skills overtakes the value of the task, they offload it.

As-a-Service models are related to and fast becoming as ubiquitous as Cloud Computing. They are great opportunities for professionals of all types to offload some of the time-consuming and low value work that is not only a bit of pain to keep up with, but takes away from either their revenue producing work, or, more importantly, precious personal and family time.

An example of this is NPC DataGuard’s secure managed computer offering. For a single monthly fee NPC will provide a professional with a top-of-line laptop, desktop or hybrid tablet, that is already sourced, configured, and secured with industry leading backup and security tools.  Giving the responsibility to someone else to provide a computer that is built, managed and monitored, always in warranty, with single-point-of-contact 24/7 support, can be a big time saver for the Contractor.

For those jobs that require the contractor to “BYOD”, being secure and protecting their business interests, and that of their clients, is essential. The level of security that can be achieved in these types of specialized models is exceptional. Fully encrypted and biometric access devices will impress those clients that require you to work on a secure device. As well, as an example, NPC DataGuard’s Pro product comes with $5M in privacy breach remediation insurance if an NPC ever failed to protect critical personal information you may work on for your client.

The impact on a contractor from a lost, stolen or compromised device while in a contract can be devastating.  What is your plan today for such an event? What’s your personal Business Continuity Plan?  A secure managed computer includes a full back-up completed each day into a secure data centre.  A lost, stolen or damaged device can be replaced with data restored, saving you countless hours doing it yourself and getting you back to work.

“As-a-Service” models offer products and services to ensure the contractor does not waste time on tasks that pay him or her less than what they can make, as well as levels of  technology performance that even an IT professional might find hard to achieve on their own.

Spending a lot of time buying, configuring and securing your own computer can now be a thing of the past. Key to driving top revenue is showing up professionally with military-grade security on a slick new computer and being able to focus on the opportunity at hand.

This guest post was submitted by our friends at NPC. Visit this page to learn more and to get a special offer for all of our readers.

Quick Poll Results: Are IT Professionals Concerned with Digital Security?

With the growing concern about privacy and security in today’s technology, we decided to turn to our network of technology experts to find out how serious they perceive the threat to actually be. Last month’s contractor quick poll asked how concerned you are with all of these breaches and hacks, and if you believe we all need to start being more vigilant online.

After a month of being published, we’ve had a number of responses and they’re still coming in. At this point, here’s what people are saying. Where do you fall on the spectrum?

How concerned are you about digital privacy and security?

Contractor Quick Poll: Does Digital Privacy and Security Keep You Up at Night?

The last few years have seen no shortage in hacks and data breaches. It seems every large company gets their time in the spotlight as they face public relations nightmares, explaining to customers that their data was breached and why it took so long to disclose it. Add to the mix privacy investigations of the world’s largest social networks like Facebook and Google, plus the damage a hacked smart home can do, and it’s no surprise that some people prefer to remain off the digital grid all together.

As an IT professional, you’re more knowledgeable than the average person on this topic, so it’s easier to identify risks and take precautions. Unfortunately, that added knowledge means you’re also cursed with enough information to better understand how easily your privacy can be breached and what kind of implications that can have.

In this month’s contractor quick poll, we want to know how technology experts view the current state of digital privacy and security. Are you less concerned because you know how to protect yourself or worried because you understand the threats that face us?

How Blockchain Technology Will Impact M-Commerce and Security Industry in 2019

Since its introduction, Blockchain technology has wowed the IT world with its multi-faceted use, and 2019 looks like it will be no different. While Blockchain has already made large amounts of headway in the mobile app development, retail, and financial sectors, it is beginning to dive further into app security, M-Commerce, and payments, which will in turn, make records tamper-proof and more reliable than ever before. In appTech’s infographic we are able to see just how Blockchain is affecting our ability to pay wirelessly using our phones, and how certain apps and concepts are becoming more secure the more developed they become.

How Blockchain Technology Will Impact M-Commerce and Security Industry in 2019

Obtaining a Federal Government Personnel Security Screening

All companies and organizations perform some sort of background check on employees and independent contractors before hiring them, but the extent of the check will vary. One organization in Canada known for its checks is the Federal Government, which requires nearly everybody who works with its information or assets to go through a degree of security screening. For IT professionals new to the government, this can be a long, intense and confusing process.

Types of Federal Government Security Screenings

As mentioned, nearly every individual who works for the feds will require some sort of security screening. There are a number of types and levels of screens. The one you will require depends on your role, project and information you’re accessing, but it will typically be one of the following 3:

  • Reliability Status (valid for 10 years and required when accessing Protected A, B or C information, assets or work sites)
  • Secret Clearance (valid for 10 years and required when accessing information classified as Secret)
  • Top Secret Clearance (valid for 5 years and required when accessing information classified as Top Secret)

The Federal Government Security Clearance Process

A federal government security screening should begin as soon as you become employed with a company or organization that will require access to protected or classified information. In theory, for independent contractors, that would be as soon as you start working for your own independent business, and your business should be the organization initiating the clearance through its own organization security clearance. However, due to various process and efficiency concerns, independent contractors will often obtain their personnel clearance through a Recruitment Agency, who will start the process as soon as they verify that you’re a potential fit for government contracts.

The complete screening process and all the requirements are extensive and you can find all of the information here. Reliability Status can take as little as 2 weeks where a Secret or Top Secret clearance is usually a minimum of 6 months and up to 2 years or longer. The length of time depends on the history of you and your immediate family, including the countries in which you lived and/or worked. More specifically, the screening will require:

  • Background checks (5-years for Reliability status and 10-years for Secret or Top Secret clearance)
  • Background checks of your immediate family (Secret and Top Secret clearances)
  • Law enforcement inquiry through the RCMP (fingerprinting)
  • Credit check
  • Loyalty check conducted by CSIS (Secret and Top Secret)
  • Passport photos (Top Secret)

Depending on your history, you may also be required to complete out-of-country verifications, interviews, and provide supporting documents.

Federal Government security screenings are owned by the organization who completed the screening. For example, if you received your clearance through your recruitment agency, it’s your agency who holds it. This also means that they have the ability to terminate your clearance when you no longer work with them. To be safe, many recruiters will ask you to complete a form to duplicate your clearance, meaning their agency will also hold your clearance. This way, if your first agency terminates your Reliability Status or Security Screening for any reason, it will still be valid and active through the second agency.

There’s no doubt that Federal Government Security Screenings can often be complex, confusing and frustrating. The best advice for getting through it is to remain as detail-oriented as possible, be prepared, and work with the Company Security Officer who is helping you obtain it. For more information, you can also visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/defence/nationalsecurity/screening.html.

Dangerous Android Apps to Delete Immediately

Android users take note: there are dangerous apps that might be on your phone and you need to delete them. Google Play is great because it allows mobile app developers to easily distribute their latest innovations, but it also allows some sketchy, unethical developers to put their software onto your phone. The results lead to slow performance, drained battery life, viruses and even identity theft.

Brightside decided to look into this a bit deeper. They created this in-depth video with 12 dangerous apps that they recommend you delete immediately. As a technology professional, you may already be aware and diligent when downloading apps. Or if you’re an iPhone user you’re less concerned (although these tips could be relevant to you as well). Either way, we strongly recommend watching this video, or at least sharing it with an Android user who’s less careful when downloading apps.

Are You Concerned Enough About Password Security?

Cybersecurity remains a top-of-mind issue for businesses today, both large and small. In 2017, breaches — like that of the Equifax breach, which put the data of 145.5 million Americans at risk — showed corporations just how damaging a cyber-attack can be. But hacks don’t just affect big-name businesses; according Verizon Data Breach Report, 61 percent of breach victims in 2017 were businesses with under 1,000 employees.

The takeaway? No matter what your company size, you have to be on top of their cybersecurity game.

This is especially true given the role that human error plays in security breaches. As a recent password security study conducted by Varonis demonstrated, the majority of Americans aren’t vigilant about changing their passwords, and often remember them using tactics that aren’t recommended by cybersecurity professionals. If you don’t have strict cybersecurity policies in place, something as simple as a negligent employee could put your company at risk.

To learn more about the password habits — and consider whether it’s time to implement a password standard when you work both with your business and your client — check out the infographic from Varonis, below.

Americans and Password Security
Infographic courtesy of Varonis.com

10 Ways to Stay Safe on Free WiFi

“Free WiFi” can be one of the best signs you see all day, especially if your cell phone data is limited. Sometimes it saves your bacon if you urgently need to download a large report or send large files to client. Other times free WiFi means you can carelessly surf for hours while you’re stuck at an airport or killing time in coffee shop. But should it really be “careless”?

Most IT professionals already know that “Free WiFi” is rarely free and can require you handing over personal information. Even worse, it can be a security nightmare and cause serious harm to your personal identity. Before you sound the alarm and never trust free WiFi again, review this video from Bright Side, which provides 10 simple ways to stay safe in these situations.

IT Challenges and Priorities of North American Companies

IT Challenges and Priorities of North American CompaniesHow up-to-date are you on the struggles and strategies of your industry? Understanding what companies are facing can help you plan which skills you will enhance over coming months, as well as help you develop a better sales pitch for your contracting business. There are plenty of sources and studies available to help you understand potential clients’ agendas, and new research is being published regularly. Here are a couple recent ones…

A CDW Canada survey of Canadian organizations learned that their top security concerns are intrusion prevention (39%) and Ransomware protection (35%). Even with these concerns, most are still exploring or implementing cloud deployments; in fact, half of them are planning hybrid solutions in 2017. While most organizations are adopting cloud strategies in one way or another, only 16% would consider themselves a “cloud-first” organization.

The survey revealed some additional IT-related priorities for Canadian organizations. For example, when asked about emerging technologies that will have the most impact on their business, the top responses were analytics and big data, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT). In addition, 10% plan to replace legacy tools and applications with new technologies and 31% plan to upgrade or update their current tools and applications in their unified communications strategies.

South of the border, mid-market US-based companies are having a challenging time attracting and retaining IT talent — that’s according to a recent CFO Research survey. The findings detail how 49% of finance executives state that their challenges to keep tech professionals in the company have an adverse effect on them. Once they do secure IT employees, the struggles with those people continue with technical competency, strategic planning and vision, industry knowledge, project management, and customer service skills.

Naturally, the US companies surveyed are dealing with their issue by turning to external services. Rather than training or continuing their search, CFO Research learned that most are bridging the gap by moving to cloud services and eliminating a need to source, manage and maintain computer hardware, as well as turning to managed IT services. Regardless of their concerns about costs, the provider’s ability to understand the company, service quality or security breaches, the overall feeling among the executives surveyed is that this solution has been successful.

Have you come across any recent studies about your industry that help you prioritize your training? If so, please share the links below so other readers can benefit.

How to Create (and remember) the Perfect Password

How many logins do you have? We’re bombarded with online accounts where we need to create a username and password every day. The result is using the exact same, terrible password in hopes that we’ll remember it. As an IT professional, you already know this is terrible practice, but so many are still using the old “Password123” security method.

Perhaps that one-off account you created to leave a comment on a blog wasn’t all that important, but you do need to place priority on strong passwords for websites like banking and email. This infographic from WhoIsHostingThis provides rules for a strong password (you’ve seen them all before) AND it provides some tips on remember and managing your passwords.

How to Create the Perfect Password - Via Who Is Hosting This: The Blog

Source: WhoIsHostingThis.com