With regards to technology, one of the major mistakes that far too many business leaders make involves clinging to legacy applications purely out of a sense of familiarity. They think to themselves, “Why do I need to invest in something new? This has gotten the job done for years, I see no need to make any type of change right now.”
But while those legacy applications may be getting the job done… they may not be getting them done particularly well, and it could be costing most businesses far more than they realize.
The Most Common Business Challenges of Legacy Technology
A lot of people don’t realize that software updates are about more than just adding new features or tweaking the graphical user interface. Vendors offer software updates to patch bugs, exploits and other security vulnerabilities quickly after they’re discovered, before they can be taken advantage of by someone who knows what they’re doing. If a vendor stops providing updates and focuses their attention on a modern solution, that means that when additional exploits are discovered (and make no mistake about it, they will be) they will be left unchecked. That means there is essentially a backdoor into your business’ network that could potentially compromise every last kilobyte of critical data you’re creating on a daily basis.
In 2018, Shawn McCarthy, the research director for IDC Government Insights, said spending on legacy systems had risen by 13 percent over the last five years alone. This increase means agencies need more now than ever to ease themselves of the burden of antiquated IT systems.
Another major issue with legacy applications ultimately comes down to cost. In the event that a piece of software is no longer supported by the vendor, that means that it is up to you and you alone to keep it running as effectively as you can. Normally, that involves hiring people with the right type of expertise to keep a constant eye on your infrastructure — a move that is costly to say the least. Even if you hand over these duties to your existing IT people, every minute that they spend simply making sure that everything stays up and running is a minute that they’re not making money for your business.
One of the biggest examples of this cost issue has to do with how legacy technology usually lacks compatibility with other IT solutions. By remaining tethered to these legacy systems, you’re likely creating data silos across your business where critical information is essentially trapped in one platform, unable to get into the hands of the people who need it to make critical decisions. Workaround solutions exist, sure — but they’re usually just as costly (not to mention frustrating) to implement.
Likewise, legacy applications are problematic for most enterprises simply because they’re trapped in stasis for all time. They’re not evolving and gaining new functionality as the industry around you does the same. This makes it not only more difficult to scale your business as needed, but it makes it nearly impossible to innovate as well.
The good news is that all of these issues with legacy applications can be solved with the right information management platform like M-Files. This type of solution will almost instantly eliminate the need for specialist skills to “make do” with your legacy apps by providing a common platform for storing and accessing ALL legacy data across your business.
M-Files, for example, is designed to act as a way to bring all of your various data repositories together — regardless of what is being stored where and why. It brings together information from network shares, cloud storage and other sources into a system that anyone can access at any time. At that point, it doesn’t actually matter where the data is — so long as you know WHAT it is that you’re looking for, you’ll be more than capable of finding it.
But the best part of all is that this type of solution can be presented in a way that maintains familiarity for users — meaning that they don’t have to worry about how difficult it will be to learn a new system just to keep working in the way they’ve always preferred to. From their point of view, nothing really “changes” beyond the fact that it’s now easier and faster to find the information they need when they need it the most.
This brings with it the added benefit of allowing your information management platform to act as a useful source of historical data, all of which can be mined for critical business insights using the analytical engine of your choosing. This can help you uncover trends and patterns that otherwise would have gone undiscovered, finally allow your data to push your business forward rather than allowing it to hold you back.
Of course, the benefits of moving away from those legacy applications and towards a more modern solution like an intelligent information management platform aren’t exclusively internal. By allowing your information management solution like M-Files to integrate with your front office systems so that current and historical data can be accessed quickly, you’re allowing your people to respond far faster to customer issues as well. This brings with it perhaps the most important benefit of all: you get to create a more seamless (not to mention higher quality) experience for your customers by improving the quality of work that you’re able to do for them across the board.
The following article is a guest post by Wendy Seykens, Marketing and Communications Coordinator with M-Files partner BMconsultants.
This year has become the year of virtual meetings — where we all convene together to discuss business. An hour here, half an hour there. Sounds familiar, right? These meetings are a source of the occasional funny moment…
“Oh wait, my microphone was still muted.”
“I’m having connection problems.” (Sounding like a garbled, drive-through speaker.)
“Please excuse my 5-year-old’s temper tantrum.”
But put all of these light moments aside, the advent of remote work (and how that carries into an abundance of virtual meetings) has led to many inefficiencies and, frankly, unnecessary stress in working with business documents.
The following document mismanagement moments are all too common sources of stress for knowledge workers — and they’re avoidable, too. Check out these situations that many have surely found themselves in.
1 | It’s Challenging to Search and Find the Right Documents
During a strategy meeting on Microsoft Teams, you’re looking for the latest version of an agenda made by a colleague.
“Wait a minute, I think this is it! Do you see it? Oh. This is not the latest version? Okay, what about this one?”
It’s so frustrating and time-consuming to constantly search for the right information.
2 | Sharing Documents and Comments in the Chat Window can Prove Troublesome
You send the link to a document in the chat window. Later, multiple links are shared back and forth, and multiple comments are made in the chat.
Note to self: Don’t forget which is the link to the latest version and don’t miss those comments that pertain to your work.
Two days and three projects later… You’ve forgotten which chat the links were in, which link is the most current and which comments you need to pay attention to. So, you reread the whole chat log all over again, like a bad novel.
3 | It’s a Secure Work Environment, Right?
“Hello, everyone. This meeting is being recorded. Did you adjust the cost breakdown? And did you also make sure that the associated contracts are changed? Oh. You’ve already sent the documents in the chat? Thank you very much.”
Just before a meeting, you look for a document, so that you can discuss it.
“It really should be on my laptop.” Searching, searching, searching. No luck.
“Didn’t I have it on the desktop in my home office?” Nope.
“Wait, no. It was on my iPad. Let me email it to myself.” Still waiting. Ah, there it is.
Fifteen minutes later than planned, you finally join the online meeting with the right document.
A Simple Solution: M-Files Intelligent Information Management
Have these situations happened to you? And now that you’re aware of these situations, think about how much time is wasted searching and, above all, finding the right documents. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. All of it adds up. In fact, Gartner says that professionals spend 50% of their time searching for information, and on average, take 18 minutes to locate each document.
How nice would it be if you could search and find all of your work files in one central system? What if it no longer mattered where a file is? What if you could you search across the entire information ecosystem with the help of metadata? What if that central system was integrated with, for example, Microsoft Office 365 and Teams?
There must be an easy solution for that. Yes, there is. With M-Files, these stressful, annoying moments are forever a thing of the past. M-Files is a unique intelligent information management solution that enriches the way businesses secure, process and manage data and content — documents, images, emails, customer information, or other information objects.
M-Files offers connections to network drives, Microsoft and Google apps, as well as major business applications and other document management systems. Ultimately, M-Files lets you fast-track digital business transformation by breaking down silos in separate applications, systems and repositories.
In this post I’ll describe how a security team could use Nuix Adaptive Security to detect, respond, and recover to a situation like the SolarWinds compromise. The attack on SolarWinds’ code and the information published about it means security teams face a series of questions, including:
Do I have any of the affected SolarWinds software in my enterprise?
Are all affected systems either disconnected or successfully upgraded?
Is there any communication between my network and the known attacker infrastructure?
If another attack with the same characteristics occurs, will I detect it?
Did unauthorized actors gain access to my network through this attack? If so, what data did they access, and how do I get rid of them?
Nuix Adaptive Security relies on an agent installed on enterprise endpoints. Once the agent is in place, search capabilities and real-time visibility are available to the security team. The agent logs activities on endpoints; passes the log events through onboard processing to decide whether to alert, block, quarantine, or take other actions; and sends the log events back to a central server. About a dozen categories of endpoint activities are logged, including file, process, registry, DLL, session, media, and registry events, as well as a range of insider threat-related behaviors. If a security operator finds a threat, Nuix Adaptive Security gives him or her a set immediate response tools such as killing processes, deleting files, quarantining the host, and initiating a forensic investigation.
In the SolarWinds scenario, this combination of historical event data, real-time detection, and response tools gives security teams the ability to respond quickly and efficiently by determining which systems may be affected by the initial compromise, enhancing detections with newly discovered IOCs, and initiating a comprehensive threat hunt.
ASSUMING NO ENDPOINT AGENT IS IN PLACE AT THE TIME OF INITIAL COMPROMISE
A team responding to SolarWinds with Nuix Adaptive Security post-event could take the following steps after deploying the agent.
Search For The Presence Of The Compromised Update Package And DLLs On Disk
Threat intelligence provides the names and MD5 hashes of these files, so the first step is simply to identify any extant instance of them. If desired, any discovered files can be deleted from the target system by the operator. Affected systems could also be quarantined from the rest of the network or from the internet.
Set Up Alerts For Future Arrival Or Execution Of The Compromised Files
Since the delivery and persistence mechanisms for the compromised applications are likely still only partially understood, alerts should be put in place to detect any instance where the compromised DLL is called, or the update package is detected on disk.
Set Up Detection For Future Known Command And Control
We’ve now put in place new detections for the IOCs known to be related to this threat. And we have a framework in place to update detections as new IOCs come out. This is valuable due diligence to protect against similar future threats. But we still must deal with the possibility that attackers have already compromised the network.
Begin A Threat Hunt For Active Attackers
Even if the compromised DLL was not discovered, it is possible there are or were compromises in other updates or through other vectors. The security team therefore needs to begin examining systems across the network for evidence of attempts to move laterally, establish persistence, discovery information, stage it, and so forth.
Nuix Adaptive Security gives operators baseline detections for these activities based on theMITRE ATT&CK framework. From that starting point they can customize and build detections based on their unique environment. The existing threat intelligence suggests several things to look for, including known IOCs, behavior of the malware such as changes to specified registry keys, and behaviors of the attacker such as suspicious use of RDP.
One initial step would be to examine the user session events recorded by Nuix Adaptive Security for unusual RDP sessions, such as those originating from the SolarWinds boxes. Suspicious use of administrative tools such as PowerShell should also be examined.
ASSUMING ENDPOINT AGENT IS IN PLACE AT THE TIME OF INITIAL COMPROMISE
Now let’s look at how our team would respond with Nuix Adaptive Security in place when the compromise occurred.
Detect The Initial Compromise Or Subsequent Tactics Employed By The Attacker
Nuix Adaptive Security contains customizable rules to detect malicious code and attacker TTPs. These give network defenders a powerful tool to detect indicators on the host that would otherwise be missed.
Identify Current And Historical Instances Of The Compromised Software
Nuix Adaptive Security logs all file writes, process starts, and DLL loads. A search of file events using the known file names and MD5 hashes would quickly reveal whether the update package or DLLs had been written to disk. A search of process and DLL activity would reveal whether compromised binaries ever executed.
Identify Current And Historical Instances Of Communication With The Known C2
The endpoint agent logs all DNS queries and network connections. A search of the historical events would reveal systems that had made contact with the attacker’s infrastructure. Alerts could be set up on any future communication.
Begin A Threat Hunt For Active Attackers
From here, you’d begin the threat hunt as described above.
Perth, Australia – May 11, 2021, Global software company Nuix (www.nuix.com, ASX:NXL) and leading solution provider EDMS Consultants, have announced a new partnership to offer Nuix solutions to the natural resources sector in Western Australia and ASEAN region.
Both companies aim to provide litigation and investigations technology to support the booming natural resources sector which faces increasing regulations, class actions, cybersecurity and privacy issues, internal investigations, and intellectual property disputes.
“Throughout the years we have been in the business, the energy, resources, and utilities sectors are among the most highly regulated industries,” said Peter Buck, Business Development Director of EDMS Consultants. “Now more than ever, operators need full access to their unstructured data or data silos to ensure regulatory compliance.”
He added, “We have worked with PETRONAS, BP, Exxon, PTTEP, and KPOC (PETRONAS/ Shell / ConocoPhillips) on various services throughout the years, and we believe based on experience Nuix has the ideal solution for big organisations with unstructured data”.
The explosion of unstructured data places an increasing burden on large enterprises – especially those in the mining and energy sector that manage very complex projects – to sort through the massive volumes of content they gather, generate and exchange every day. Added to this challenge, the often remote and distributed business model with operations and assets spread over a wide geographical area means that information governance and data access are crucial.
‘’Nuix has a proven history of partnering with large enterprises to solve their messy data challenge,’’ said Jonathan Rees, Nuix Executive Vice President, International. “We have the world’s leading technology for extracting intelligence from high volumes of structured and unstructured data, forged from our experience with regulatory inquiries. Opening new markets and customer segments will continue our growth path and I am excited to partner with EDMS, to drive our combined solution and services, into the wide footprint EDMS has in the natural resources industry.”
Nuix (www.nuix.com, ASX:NXL) creates innovative software that empowers organisations to simply and quickly find the truth from any data in a digital world. We are a passionate and talented team, delighting our customers with software that transforms data into actionable intelligence and helps them overcome the challenges of litigation, investigation, governance, risk, and compliance.
EDMS is a leading solution provider in the Asia Pacific Region, providing enterprise data solutions to the Energy, Resource & Utility industry. We continuously explore and find the best solution to offer our clients. We have a multi-disciplined team of specialists, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Perth, Australia to support our clients. EDMS has implemented projects to the leading Energy, Resource & Utility throughout the region.
One of the most important things to understand about a digital transformation is that ultimately, you’re talking about exactly that: a transformation from where you are today to where you hope to be tomorrow.
In order to get to that point, companies have to be willing to change. Not just for the sake of it, but because it makes the most sense at this particular moment given everything that you’ve set yourself up to accomplish. Clinging to old ways — or worse, old systems — runs contrary to that goal. It doesn’t just stifle innovation and make progress difficult — in most situations, it makes them largely impossible.
As a result, that change often starts with retiring those old legacy systems that are not supporting broader digital transformation initiatives. Indeed, this is one of the biggest hurdles that most digital transformations need to overcome in order to guarantee success and if you’d like that for your own organization, there are a number of important things you’ll need to consider.
A Digital Transformation is a Foundational Transformation
A key concept to understand with regards to digital transformation is that a corporate leadership focused on change is critical to what is about to happen. Leadership should be at the forefront of bringing in new software and new processes, all while taking a cold, hard look at how existing business “best practices” and technology platforms are no longer supporting the overall trajectory of the organization itself.
Because of this, organizations need to be willing to adapt their core systems and processes not to where they are, but to where they want to be. A key symptom that the time for this transformation has come takes the form of siloed information and business practices in various departments that ultimately make it difficult for people to communicate and collaborate with one another.
If information is trapped in a data silo and is only available to your finance team, for example, all of that insight and information is essentially cut off from other teams who might be able to use it — like sales. This doesn’t just put up a barrier where one doesn’t need to exist — it’s literally making it impossible for people (and their technologies) to talk to one another.
Data needs to flow freely not just between departments, but across your entire organization. This is true in terms of human resources, finance, IT and even legal. They can no longer afford to operate in their own distinct “lanes,” never sharing data with one another. There’s no such thing as “departmental data” in a digital transformation. Every last kilobyte of data belongs to your organization as a whole and it needs to be available in the exact same way.
Think about this issue within the context of your human resources department, for just one example. Most HR departments manage not only your existing employees, but the teams who are going out to find new ones, too. But if they don’t have access to critical information on things like the total number of workers, positions to be filled, and onboarding documentation, it can create a negative ripple effect across your entire enterprise. At a bare minimum, it makes it difficult to find those ideal candidates because you’re never really sure what you’re supposed to be looking for to begin with. At worst, it can make it difficult to adequately perform things like budgeting, reporting, security, invoicing and even payments.
Evolution Begins Inward
This is all why digital transformation must be seen as so much more than just “throwing on a fresh coat of paint.” Any components that can be moved to new physical or cloud-based infrastructures should be. Any existing code that can be optimized on the backend WITHOUT changing front end behavior or features should be.
But no matter what, you need to essentially start over with the idea of what your business is and make sure it properly aligns with what your business CAN be. You must take new business requirements into account when creating your digital transformation plan and build something fresh and new from the ground up.
Within the context of a digital transformation, nostalgia is not the asset you think it is. If there is an existing legacy system that is holding you back, and the only argument in favor of keeping it is, “Well, that’s just the way we’ve always done things,” that’s not very compelling.
You need to dive deep into your infrastructure, taking a close look at all of your interconnected components, systems, and applications. You need to understand how they all fit together, how they’re all supposed to work together, and how one might be holding the others back.
In no uncertain terms: you cannot simply update one problematic component without giving the others a very close look.
Again, this is about so much more than just maximizing your IT investment. This is literally about creating a solid foundation that your business can build from to thrive and innovate for the next decade and beyond. Yes, this is going to require a significant change and a lot of effort will be involved.