5 myths of Disaster Recovery

My Post (14).pngCommon misconceptions about Disaster Recovery

 

Being prepared
The importance of disaster recovery (DR) cannot be overemphasised in today’s climate, but there are still many misconceptions about DR and whether every business needs a solution in place.

Too many businesses fail because they are not prepared for an IT disaster, even when a simple DR solution could have saved them. Reportedly only 6% of companies that suffer data loss survive, which is why it is so critical for every business to understand the value of disaster recovery.

So, what are some common myths about DR?

#1 ‘The chance of a disaster striking my business is low’
Every business is at risk, whether large or small. Some sectors such as finance and eCommerce could be targeted due to the value of the data being held, but small businesses who are less likely to focus budget on protecting their infrastructure are equally at risk.

Disasters can happen anywhere, at any time, whether a natural disaster, human error or hacking attack. Human error is even considered to be a primary factor for most data breaches and data loss in UK businesses, and the size and impact of DDoS attacks has been steadily rising in recent years. Even if businesses are not situated in areas of risk from natural disaster, global warming has affected weather cycles in the UK – consider flash flooding and storms that can cause power outages.

All businesses need to consider the value of their data and be prepared with a proactive DR solution in place.

#2 ‘Our business would be fine if disaster struck’
This is a very dangerous myth about DR. A disaster could affect access to applications, hardware, data, servers, networking equipment, power and connectivity. DDoS attacks and data breaches in particular cause widespread damage and could also affect customer data as well as the business’s own.

Unless there is a DR plan in place to resume operations in a short amount of time, then a disaster could create prolonged downtime for staff and customers and damage to the company. Extensive planning ahead of time, to consider all eventualities, is essential.

Companies should look at where the biggest vulnerabilities lie and run a Business Impact Analysis to determine the damage a disaster would cause.

#3 ‘We already have an airtight Disaster Recovery Plan’
No DR plan is ‘airtight’. The plan could be very comprehensive and cover all bases but disasters, by nature, are unpredictable. Businesses need to prepare for the unexpected with their DR solution.

Preparing a DR plan is the first step on the path toward complete disaster security. Run regular tests and reviews to ensure the effectiveness of the plan and to analyse any areas that fall through the cracks. It is far better to find and fix any problems in advance of the DR plan needing to be rolled out.

Clearly communicating a high-level DR plan to employees is vital to ensure that all team members know what would happen should a disaster occur. Also having a reporting and escalation procedure in place for any suspected DDoS attacks or data breaches is an important process to have.

#4 ‘We Backup Our Data…We Should Be Safe’
This is another common misconception – there’s an important distinction to make between backups and disaster recovery. Backups are the process of making an extra copy (or multiple) of data either on or off-site to protect it. DR, however, is a solution that ensures businesses can quickly reestablish access to applications, data, and IT resources after a disaster. – Read more

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Google’s machine-learning improves video calls

My Post (15).pngAI fills in the blanks when audio data gets lost

Increased usage
With a vast amount of people around the world now relying on video calls for face-to-face interaction with their work colleagues or to fill the social void, video-calling platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams have taken centre stage.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have also had to adapt to the extra demand for broadband services to accommodate this increase in usage. At peak times internet speeds may be slower for some users, meaning that video-calling could be disrupted and users may see noticeable delays in calls.

Google Duo
Google has rolled out a new technology to improve audio quality in calls when the service can’t maintain a steady connection. It features useful auto-complete technology for speech that can cover up any glitches in video calls with Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated ‘speech’.

Duo, one of Google’s video calling services, is a cross-platform app which allows up to 12 participants to communicate over video call. Although the app doesn’t offer the same capacity as rival apps, it is end-to-end encrypted and the AI runs on the device rather than in the cloud.

Packets of data
When users are making an online call, their voice is separated into tiny pieces that are then transmitted across the internet in data blocks known as packets. The packets often arrive to the receiver in a disorganised sequence and the software has to reorder them, and sometimes they don’t arrive at all, which then creates glitches and gaps in conversations.

The aim of the technology is to mimic an individual speaker’s manner of talking so that it can smooth over the cracks with snippets of generated speech.

WaveNetEQ
The team at Google built the speech generator on a neural network developed by DeepMind, which generates realistic speech from text. The network, named WaveNetEQ, was trained on a large data set of 100 recorded human voices speaking in 48 different languages. The AI was trained until the speech generator could auto-complete short sections of speech, based on common patterns in the way that people talk.

During a video call, WaveNetEQ learns the characteristics of the speaker’s voice and generates audio snippets that match the style and content of what the speaker is saying. If a packet containing the original speech sounds was lost, the AI-generated voice would be inserted in its place.

Currently the AI can only generate syllables rather than whole words or phrases, but in the short samples that Google shared online, it showed how realistic the speech generator could be. – Read more

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Must-have tech tools for remote working

My Post (4).pngHow to productively work from home

Shifting the routine
Human beings are creatures of habit. Our daily routines make us feel comfortable – be it our commute to work, exercise class or local lunch spot.

With many of us adjusting to home working, it can be difficult to keep a sense of normality when we break our usual routine. Yet, we are living in a digital era, where it is possible to do almost anything online from anywhere in the world. So, we have put together a list of our must-have tech tools to help you maintain productivity (and routine!) whilst working remotely.

Team messaging
With 12 million daily users, Slack is one of the most popular professional messaging programs for internal communications. Founded in 2013, this real-time communication platform sits somewhere in between instant messaging and email – so it’s very well suited to remote working.

The app supports private messaging, as well as team and topic channels for different departments. You can also catch up on previous messages, unlike other instant messaging tools that mimick face-to-face video chats and do not keep a record of previous chats. Slack allows you to send files, flag messages and pin documents for quick reference, cutting down on the need for numerous internal emails.

When working from home, you can sometimes feel somewhat isolated from the rest of your team. Slack provides a hub for workers to gather and communicate. At Hyve, we’ve even got creative and started hosting remote crossword and quiz challenges in our team-building channel!

Video conferencing 
Face-to-face interaction is essential for building relationships, especially if you are working from home for a long period of time. Video conferencing has become a standard form of communication in many businesses over the past few years – even the Prime Minister has started using it!

Video conferencing platform, Zoom, combines HD video with features such as screen-sharing and local recording, as well as the option to host webinars and larger team meetings. An easily accessible app, Zoom only needs one person to download the program, as when the host sets up the meeting, everyone else is able to join just from a link.

The record option is also particularly useful for home-workers to be able to re-watch/listen to meetings later down the line – for example, if it was a sales pitch, this feature could be useful once back in the office with the decision-makers.

Project management
Working on multiple projects involving many members of the team can get confusing – especially when you are not physically in the office together. Tools such as Asana are great for tracking the progress of projects and to-do-lists in real-time dashboards.

You can assign tasks to yourself or other members of the team, update on the status of the project, and set deadlines. Once tasks have been closed you are able to move the tabs into a ‘completed list’ – try it, it’s oddly satisfying. – Read More

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