We’re a technology company but that you already knew. We’ve spent almost 20 years making sure our customers have the latest in technology through education, demonstrations and installations. We’ve had some of the largest firms in the country as clients offering them servers, storage, professional services and cyber security.
But in the last few years, we’ve also done work with another much smaller organization. We’ve been helping our local STEM academy. For those who aren’t familiar with STEM, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and it encourages students to broaden their horizons about those topics – to ask questions and seek answers. Through the STEM programs and camps, my children have explored robotics, the way light travels, volcanoes, weather and space.
Regan Technologies believes in supporting our local community. We feel one of the best ways to encourage young minds is to provide the fuel they need to explore. The children of today are the innovators of tomorrow. Who knows, perhaps they will be the ones leading the mission to Mars or down to deepest depths of the ocean. Maybe they will figure out how to decrease pollutants or develop a cure for cancer. Or maybe they will figure out how to simply make vegetables more appealing to their kids The opportunities are endless.
The point is, they won’t be able to achieve any of those things without support. I encourage everyone to support their local STEM academy. If you don’t have one in your area, start one. Be engaged with your children about science. Encourage their curiosity. To find out more about our local STEM academy, go to their Facebook page found here.
~Donna Regan, Director of Marketing
Over the course of my 27 year IT career I have seen many trends and new technologies. I started out as a COBOL programmer on a “green-screen” 3270 terminal and now use my iPhone to do things that would have taken 9 different devices in 1989.
I rode the wave to the internet and saw some incredible applications that have become indispensable. If in 1996 you said “Google it” people would have thought you were nuts. Think about how many things we take for granted. The iPhone isn’t even 10 years old yet, and look at how smartphone technology has changed our lives. What’s next for IT? What other frontiers are left to be settled?
We hear a lot of buzz about “the cloud” but is it really much different than the mainframe? Yes, it’s functionally very different, but conceptually it’s similar. All your data and compute in a central location. Yes it's cool but life changing? Not really. What is catching some of my attention is the Internet of Things. "Machine generated data" is pretty boring, not really going to capture the crowd at the next Apple keynote.
But it really is very exciting from an IT perspective, really it is.
There are millions of devices on the internet, all generating data. The average Boeing 787 generates nearly 500GB of data per flight, your office HVAC system generates data, the smartphone in your pocket, the thermostat in your house, the car you drive, the elevator you rode in today, you get the picture. Lots of data but is there any real meaning beyond the intended function? Well that depends. The McKenzie Group referred to this data as digital exhaust, the byproduct of what create it during its intended function.
This is where “Big Data” really hits the ground running. Imagine if there were ways to utilize this data for the greater good; finding patterns of use to determine the most effective way to utilize resources. Imagine if data generated by GPS devices or software could open and close lanes to increase the flow of traffic to avoid traffic jams or to make way for emergency vehicles. What if we could use passenger utilization in public transportation to assign the right kinds and frequency of busses during peak and non-peak times instead of beholden to a 1950’s style bus schedule? What if there was correlation between the weather, the day of the week and use of certain public resources? What if we could build smart cities that automated or improved services it provided? While these situations may not sound exciting, think of the savings of taxpayer dollars and the impact on our environment.
Now take it to a smaller level such as the healthcare industry. Imagine if Big Data analytics could comb through all the healthcare records (with personal information redacted) to determine patterns of illnesses, and diagnoses? Imaging if this allowed healthcare professional to recognize illness earlier before they became more serious and more expensive to treat? What if we could use health tracker to scan against this same healthcare data to diagnose in real-time? Perhaps you’ve heard your doctor tell you that you need to exercise or you could be at risk for a heart attack? What if using healthcare data and a fitness tracker an analytics engine could alert you that you’re about to have a heart attack and prevent it before it happens? Yes this is a little out there, but the potential is there for so much to be gleaned from this digital exhaust. There’s a whole new frontier out there ready to be conquered. Are you up to the challenge?
~Stephen Clark, Director of Sales
,Let’s talk about security. We in the IT business have always been security conscious, but never more than at this point in history. We have massive amounts of data, which is readily available to anyone with a web browser. We also have deeply confidential data online as well, such as customer data, financial data, medical record, social media, etc. We need to be able to secure this data for our customers to protect their privacy and financial security.
Typically, this is done in a number of ways, both at the perimeter (the big wall approach) and internally, with web and spam filters, and many other components that are available in between. So, how are the hackers still getting in? It’s been said if you build a 10-foot wall, someone builds an 11-foot ladder, but even still it’s hard for ne’er-do-wells to get in due to other pieces of security inside. Yet we still see breaches. Let’s look a classic historical example for one possible answer; the Great Wall of China. One of the 7 Wonders of the World, it spans over 13,000 miles. I’ve stood on this wall and let me tell you first hand; great is an understatement when referring to its sheer mass.
During a six-decade campaign to invade China, the Mongols penetrated the Great Wall and besieged the capital of Yanjing (now Beijing) in 1215. Mongols were able to regularly find ways of going around sections or through the walls—often by bribing officials and guards.
Genghis Khan was alleged to have said, ‘The strength of a wall depends on the courage of those who defend it.”
So, if Genghis Khan is correct, we need to bolster the courage (and wisdom) of those who defend it. Human weaknesses are the biggest threat whether greed, vengeance, or a simple lack of common sense. Some people actually click on those strange links from foreign princes or from theme park offering free tickets. How do you defend against this? What can be done? First, you need to educate your users to be able to identify potential scams or phishing. This is usually done by setting the policies for Internet and email use, and putting proper penalties in place for misuse. So what about those who are willfully doing harm to you from the inside? Where is your potential "Bad Actor?"
Regan has started a partnership with a company called Dark Trace. This is a small (1U) appliance that monitors network traffic and, through an algorithm, determines what is “normal” behavior for your network. Then, it constantly looks for deviation from that normal. For instance:
We also work with another security partner, Sovereign Intelligence, who helps our customer determine if they’ve already been hacked and where that data might now reside. This is a powerful one-two punch that supplements your current security measures. Building a wall to protect your data isn’t a bad idea; it’s just not enough.
~Stephen Clark, Director of Sales