Looking for a Solution to Quickly Analyze Your Data?

Where’s my Data?

If you are like most organizations, the amount of data to sift through from spreadsheets, databases, the web, and SharePoint files is overwhelming. Power BI turns chaotic data into an easy-to-read, immersive, interactive experience that leads to insights, making it an ideal business intelligence solution.

What is Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a collection of SaaS products, applications, and connectors that work together. When implemented, Power BI collects data from various sources, whether you use cloud sources, different file types, or on-premise data warehouses to store your data. Power BI is broadly applicable for many kinds of analyses through a user-friendly interface.

Power BI consists of several elements that all work together, starting with these three basics:

  • A free Windows desktop application – Power BI Desktop
  • An online SaaS – Power BI service
  • Power BI mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android devices

Why do I need Power BI?

Your organization runs on data. It’s easy to collect, but the problem is analyzing quickly and efficiently. That’s where Power BI comes in. The platform has over 160 built-in connectors (see figure below) available to help you securely compile data from various sources into reports and dashboards. Power BI is extensible, enabling the creation of custom connectors. Use it to transform your data and help your organization:

  • Improve the decision-making process by accessing data in real-time
  • Boost productivity by giving your employees a centralized location to view data
  • Enhance your customer’s experience by understanding their changing needs and predicting the best way to meet those needs

What are the steps to Develop a Power BI Dashboard?

The development process is relatively simple:

  • Install Power BI desktop
  • Get data sources (identify and access all of the data sources required to create your final report or dashboard)
  • Model and transform data using the Power Query transformation tools and the DAX language to add calculations and value to that model
  • Creatively and effectively tell a data story with the many built-in visualizations (hundreds of customized visualizations are available, and most are free)
  • Publish your report to the Power BI service (or you can save your report to an internal Power BI report server)
  • Create a dashboard by collecting visual tiles from one or more reports
  • Share reports and dashboards internally or externally

How Can I Use Power BI?

Below are some real-world examples and case studies.

COVID 19 Summary

To track and report COVID cases, our client needed a dashboard that could be “sliced and diced” by individual regions, the state, and nationally. The project involved pulling data from various public sources, including COVID case data, populations, maps (by areas within the state and nationally), charts and tables. We developed a dashboard that provided a quick snapshot of “hot regions” and trends using Power BI. In addition, we set up a data gateway with scheduled, regular refreshes from external sites. 

Interactive Dashboard

The client previously had a SharePoint site with various folders containing reports for several divisions from different data sources (billing, project tracking, hour tracking) regarding projects and their hours worked in multiple phases, categories and types. The Dewpoint Team pulled all the data sources into Power BI, creating an interactive dashboard that went beyond the prior simple static PDF reports. Now the client can view Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the percentage of green projects, trends by month, the percentage in different category types, and a split between division direct or enterprise work. In addition, we developed detailed tables to show all the individual line details with the ability for each person to filter their details. Finally, we implemented row-level security, so that client leadership can see all divisions in one report (or filter as desired); however, each division can only view their data.

Need Help?

Power BI offers solutions fit for any industry. All businesses collect data, and Power BI helps you utilize your data for decision-making. With over 25 years of providing technology solutions to solve business problems, Dewpoint can help you get the most out of Power BI. We understand different businesses will need different levels of the tool; thus, we always start with taking a quick evaluation of your business to provide a solution that fits you. Contact us today to help produce insights that drive business decisions.

Are You Overspending on Cloud?

MSE Public Cloud Spending Pitfalls

When most midsize enterprises listed their considerations for moving to a public cloud, cost-saving was a significant factor. Unfortunately, many MSEs do not realize the full savings benefits. Per Gartner’s research, “organizations without a plan for cloud cost management may be overspending by 70% or more”. Developing and updating a cost management plan can save your organization money while still benefiting from moving to the cloud.

Effective Governance

It starts with effective governance. Do you know the total amount you are spending on the cloud, or is it divided between different departments? Many MSEs do not understand their “total” spending. Cloud spending may even be recorded in cost centers unrelated to IT. These dispersed and often underutilized environments can rack up excessive monthly charges without governance. Implementing governance puts all of the data in one place, providing an overall view. 

Five Warning Signs that Your MSE has a Public Cloud Spending Problem

Below are common warning signs that may indicate your MSE is spending too much on the cloud.

Multiple Public Cloud Accounts

No one is accountable for the number of public cloud accounts you have open. The average enterprise is now maintaining multiple accounts at multiple cloud providers. Make sure your company has an inventory of these accounts and owners.

Lack of review or explanation of monthly cloud bills

The average monthly invoice from AWS, Azure, or Google cloud can run into thousands of lines and include different service names, instance types, and regions that are not self-explanatory. Although reviewing the bills can be tedious, it becomes a monthly comparison looking for unexpected entries once you have a baseline.

Spend on non-approved initiatives

Accounts may aggregate usage from different teams, projects, and budgets. Make sure your teams use the tagging mechanisms provided by the public cloud providers to track spending. If tagging is not in place and you identify regular expenditures that no one can explain, your tracking processes are insufficient.

Purchasing everything “on-demand”

This may not be the cheapest model if you purchase all of your compute capacity at on-demand prices. Although “pay as you go” capacity is the simplest to buy, it is also the easiest way to overspend. Implementing a blended purchasing model can save you money. 

Not reviewing consumption efficiency

Per studies, the average utilization level of a running virtual server instance in the public cloud is typically 55% to 65%. If you don’t know your resource utilization levels, you can’t spot where you are overprovisioned.

Dewpoint is here to help if you need assistance in reducing your cloud costs or rethinking your cloud strategy. Contact one of our pros today who understands the midsize enterprise market. 

Why the Human Factor is Still the Most Important Part of IT Security

The human factor weakness

Regardless of the number of tools, software, and processes you implement, cybersecurity has one major weakness  – the human factor. Per Gartner, recent industry research shows that “22% of all breaches involved phishing, attackers leveraging stolen credentials accounted for 37% of all breaches, human error accounted for 22% of all breaches, and 30% of all breaches involved insiders”. Continuous monitoring and improvement are the keys to ensuring your human factor is no longer the most significant challenge for an effective threat prevention strategy.  

Tips to reduce the human factor

 Below are some tips to change your weakest link into your most robust in the cybersecurity fight.   

Keep IT simple

The more complex you make IT security for your end-user, the more they will find workarounds. By now, most organizations have implemented a password protocol requiring 10+ characters with a combination of letters, symbols, and numbers. The longer and more complex the password, the more likely the employee writes it down or reuses a password from another system. Think about how you can make it easier. Deploying multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA) may enable your organization to simplify the password requirements and add a layer of security.  

Trust no-one

We are ‘like’ family – many organizations get caught up in the employee ‘loves’ us and would never do anything to harm the company. Due to financial stress, a change in politics, or unforeseen circumstances, even the ‘best’ employee can be tempted to divulge company secrets or allow a ‘hacker’ to gain access. You can reduce exposure by implementing a zero-trust policy, where you trust no one and limit all users to minimal access – only enough to perform their jobs. Another option is to employ a privileged access management (PAM) tool to restrict access to sensitive accounts. Finally, make sure your organization has auto-monitoring to alert you if your system is attacked from the inside. The sooner you find out about the attack, the more you can control the damage.

It’s All About Education

Security awareness training should be more than a yearly task that employees need to complete. It should be ingrained into their everyday routines. Think about increasing or changing the training. Although computerized classes have become the norm, your employees may just be “clicking through” to get to the end. A few in-person sessions with small groups to talk about the latest threats and reinforce how important they are as the frontline defense will make more of an impact. In addition, include testing as part of your overall IT security awareness education. Periodically send out “fake” emails to judge if employees apply what they learn. Finally, ensure your employees know who to contact in case of a ransomware attack, know the protocols to follow, and aren’t afraid of reporting an incident. Don’t assume they know what to do.

How to improve your Human Factor

Making your organization cybersecurity ‘human proof’ starts with understanding where you are today. Dewpoint can help by evaluating your current organization and making recommendations to improve your overall security posture. As a technology company, we understand the software and tools that may help take the “human factor” out of the equation. Furthermore, we are partners with cybersecurity leaders in training and also provide individual training sessions. Contact us today.

Five Steps to Lowering Your Cyber Insurance Premium

Increasing Attacks and Higher Premiums

Protecting your company’s assets in case of a cyber security breach is critical. Most organizations choose to buy cyber insurance to cover the cost of paying ransomware and recovering from an attack. With the continued threat of cyber-attacks, insurance premiums continue to rise, and coverage is decreasing. Per Gartner, “Less than one in five organizations spent the past 12 months without experiencing any phishing attack”.

Emerging Threats

Attackers are becoming more sophisticated, and new trends have emerged, such as:

  • Optimize ransomware delivery by using “known good” cloud applications, such as enterprise productivity software as a service (SaaS) suites, and using encryption to hide their activities.
  • Combine ransomware with other techniques, such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, to force public-facing services offline until organizations pay a ransom.
  • Target individual employees, particularly those working remotely using potentially vulnerable remote access services like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
  • Use multichannel phishing approaches that combine social engineering, voice, text message, email, and web attacks in a single campaign.

With the evolution of cyber threats, insurance is becoming a vital part of protecting your company’s assets.

Controlling Your Insurance Costs

Insurers review specific standards to determine your cybersecurity risk. The better your company scores, the lower your insurance premium. Below are five typical areas the insurer examines and steps your company can take to improve your score.

Enhanced Employee Training

Although most organizations require regular phishing training- training alone is not adequate. In this area, “one size does not fit all.” Instead, it is best to use a mix of small-scale, targeted phishing tests based on employees’ roles, ages, and work-from-home practices. In addition, you must train users to use good judgment, particularly in the difficult task of detecting imposters who request work-related activity. 

Upgraded Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Employees continue to reuse passwords, thus allowing account takeovers. A Harris Poll found that 78% of Gen Z users have the same password across multiple accounts. Hackers use “credential stuffing” (testing existing credentials gathered from public breaches) to access your systems. If MFA is not deployed in your organization, deploy immediately. Don’t allow MFA to be skipped based on a single signal if you have MFA. To further reduce risk and improve your cybersecurity insurance rating, implement a two-factor MFA (2FA) to provide an extra level of security.

Following Backup Processes and Procedures

Ransomware often corrupts the production environment and backups. Appropriate controls are needed to ensure backups remain viable after a ransomware or malware attack. Employing strict processes and procedures can help you quickly restore data from a cyberattack or natural disaster. Backups should be performed regularly, stored offsite, and tested to ensure validity. Although a company typically focuses on the network, they should consider if there are critical items stored on an executive’s phone that should be part of a backup procedure. Showing you are following written processes and procedures and updating when the environment changes will put insurers at ease.

Moving to End Point Detection and Response (EDR)

Although your company may have End Point Protection (EPP) as threats continue to become more sophisticated, is it important to also deploy EDR. EPP targets threats as they hit the perimeter of your network, while EDR aims to target advanced threats that have gotten inside your environment and prevent them from spreading. Since it is nearly impossible for an EPP to catch all threats and prevent them from penetrating your system, an effective endpoint security plan should include both EDR and EPP. 

Reducing Cloud Risk

Although the cloud has been around for more than twenty years, cloud security remains challenging. The most significant risk is from a company’s misconfiguration of cloud services, in large part, due to their extreme complexity. AWS, for example, has over 170 services and more than 7,000 identity principles. Managing all this is a daunting task. Adequate cloud security requires the use of automated tools. Your security team should prioritize investigating and acquiring appropriate tools. A few elements in reducing your cloud risk include:

  • Ensure that you maintain accountability for all the areas you control in all areas of the cloud, but particularly identity, data, and configuration.
  • Invest in tools to validate the security of your entire cloud estate. Don’t neglect SaaS applications that are increasingly supporting critical business processes.
  • Build contingency plans in case a critical cloud service becomes unavailable.
  • Federate cloud identity for all services with your primary identity provider and use robust identity validation techniques (such as MFA) for all users.
  • Be wary of trying to offset cloud consolidation risks by using multi-cloud strategies rather than creating resilience in a single cloud. Such efforts introduce complex and hard-to-determine dependency chains that are more likely to decrease availability than increase it.

What do I do now?

If you need help reducing your insurance costs or increasing your insurance protection, we can assist by evaluating your current security controls and recommending and implementing improvements. Learn more ways Dewpoint can help you ensure your company is Cyber Insurance Ready

Seven Tiers of Disaster Recovery – Which Tier is Your Enterprise?

How does my enterprise rate?

The seven tiers of disaster recovery include:

Tier 0: Potential no recovery, no off-site data

This 0-level tier indicates an organization with no business continuity plan, no saved information, no documentation, and no backup. They may lose everything.

Tier 1: Backup data with no “hot site”

Tier 1 refers to an organization that sends backup data to an off-site storage facility, for example, backing up and taking it to a remote location. If a disaster hits, the organization must be prepared to suffer several days to weeks of data loss. This tier lacks systems to restore data fully.

Tier 2: Backup data with a “hot site”

Tier 2 describes an organization that backups data frequently. They combine an off-site facility and “hot site” to restore systems from backups during a disaster. Recovery time in Tier 2 is more predictable but will still result in the need to recreate hours or days’ worth of data.

Tier 3: Electronic vaulting

Tier 3 has the major components of Tier 2, such as off-site backups, a Disaster Recovery Plan, and a “hot site.” However, Tier 3 augments backup through electronically vaulted data. Recovery time is estimated to be about 24 hours.

Tier 4: Point-in-time copies

This tier solution is used by organizations that require both greater data currency and faster recovery than the users of the lower tiers. Tier 4 solutions incorporate more disk-based solutions. Data loss of several hours is still possible, but it is easier to make point-in-time copies with increased frequency.

Tier 5: Transaction integrity

Organizations that use Tier 5 solutions require data consistency between the production data center and recovery data centers. There is little or no data loss in these solutions.

Tier 6: Zero or near-zero data loss

Tier 6 solutions exemplify the highest levels of data currency – with little or no tolerance for data loss. Restoration of data needs is a high priority. Tier 6 solutions often require disk mirroring or automated tape solutions.

Tier 7: Highly automated, business integrated solution

The top tier, Tier 7, incorporates all the components used for Tier 6 solutions with integrated automation. Recovery of applications is automated and brings a faster restoration of systems.

Planning Help

If you are not sure which tier best fits your enterprise or are looking to improve your disaster recovery or business continuity plan, Dewpoint is here for you. We start by evaluating your current plans and offering recommendations to improve them, so you are ready when disaster strikes. In this world of uncertainty, Dewpoint has qualified experts ready to help. Call us today.