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Intercity cements commitment to closing regional skills gap with Ahead Partnership

Birmingham-headquartered IT specialist, Intercity Technology, has collaborated with social enterprise, Ahead Partnership, to improve the pipeline and diversity of talent in Birmingham’s tech sector.

With Ahead Partnership, the IT specialist will work to enhance the employability skills of local young people through a range of initiatives, including a volunteering programme and work experience scheme.

Initially, up to 6 students aged between 16 and 18 will take part in a pilot of the scheme, which will involve training, shadowing employees in the Intercity Technology Birmingham office, and gaining hands-on experience of roles across the business.

Following this pilot, Intercity will roll out a fully-structured programme where students will learn new skills and gain insight into what it’s like to work in the tech industry.

Intercity cements commitment to closing regional skills gap with Ahead PartnershipThis is just one of many collaborations facilitated by Ahead Partnership as it works to connect employers across the public and private sector with education partners to promote social and economic change.

Andrew Jackson, CEO at Intercity Technology commented: “We’re always looking for new ways to invest in future talent in the region, especially in the tech sector, and we’re immensely proud to be working in collaboration with Ahead Partnership to push this even further.

“Giving young people first-hand experience of the tech sector is a great way to get them excited about the opportunities the industry has to offer. It’s only through this engagement and investment in talent that we will be able to further reinforce Birmingham’s position as a leading tech hub, and draw even more attention to the exciting work happening in the region.”

Stephanie Burras CBE, chief executive of Ahead Partnership said: “We are delighted to have Intercity’s support to help raise the profile of careers in digital across the West Midlands.

“Given the region’s aspiration to become a global digital hub, it is crucial that we act now to develop a pipeline of talent. The programme of activity that Intercity has put in place will show young people what is on offer through a set of really engaging activities focused around the workplace.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands added: “Bridging the skills gap is an ongoing challenge for the region, but through collaboration between businesses, social enterprises, and educational institutions, we can make significant progress.

“This is particularly important when it comes to the future of our city’s rapidly growing tech industry, so it’s great to see Intercity Technology and Ahead Partnership joining forces to give aspirational young people the chance to gain valuable work experience and develop their technical skills.”

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7 Tips to keep your data secure in the cloud

Technology has changed the way businesses operate. It’s enabling them to be more agile, grow quicker and allowing employees to work seamlessly anytime, anywhere whilst keeping data secure in the cloud.

Despite numerous headline stories relating to serious data breaches by large organisations, there can sometimes be a sense that businesses are in denial, that this kind of attack won’t happen to them. Alternatively, in this fast-moving cyber-security landscape, businesses are unsure of the best course of action to take to protect their data.

One thing that is certain is that the statistics relating to cyber attacks and crimes are ever increasing.

So, what steps can your business take to ensure it’s keeping its data as safe as possible in the cloud?

#Tip 1 – Work with a cloud provider that understands your business

Every business is different so it’s important that when choosing a cloud provider they demonstrate that they understand the needs of your organisation and the requirements that you have for your data.

For example, you may have to adhere to certain regulatory requirements. Can the provider ensure you will be compliant? Make sure your provider has the appropriate industry accreditations and certifications to back up their claims. Also understanding the types of organisations they are currently working with provides a good indicator of who’s already putting their trust in their capabilities.

And finally – it can be painful but it’s essential! Go through contracts and SLA’s with a fine-tooth comb to ensure you fully understand the service that you’re signing up for.

#Tip 2 – Assess what data you have and the level of protection required

It’s important to review the types of data that your organisation holds, some data will be more sensitive than others and will therefore require different levels of security to be applied. For example, some data should only be accessed by certain employees and so on.

In the first instance, encryption will form the backbone to securing your files, ensuring files are protected before they are saved to the cloud. You can also partner with a cloud provider that offers Software as a Service (SaaS) this will manage the encryption and decryption of files for you.

You can then also explore more sophisticated security tools such as credential management for limited access to more sensitive data.

It’s also important to keep in mind that data has different states, data in transit, data at rest and data in use – make sure that you’re taking measures to protect your data appropriately in all states.

#Tip 3 – Do you know your internal security weak points?

It’s important to assess what your data access points are across your business – here’s some examples you’ll want to consider:

  • User accounts
  • Web applications
  • Cloud storage accounts
  • Cloud storage applications
  • Email accounts
  • Remote access function
  • End devices

Making a full list of where and how your company’s data can be accessed, and whether these locations are covered by your security processes will quickly reveal any glaring omissions in your current security processes.

Once you’re aware of all the potential access points throughout your business, it’s time to ensure that there’s a security system in place – whether that’s something as simple as enabling two-factor authentication for critical user accounts or implementing a fully functional secure firewall.

#Tip 5 – Does the business still require a firewall?

We’ve just alluded to this in the point above and the answer is yes! Mobile and remote working, employees connecting to wifi hotspots and BYOD policies are blurring the lines of the network perimeter.

This is where a next generation firewalls come into play – designed to protect your cloud environments (public, private and hybrid), your network perimeter and internet access. An example of a next generation firewall, Touch Secure, can be found here.

#Tip 6 – Educate your employees

All employees need to play their part to plug any potential security gaps you have identified. It’s important to educate the business so they understand the role they play in keeping data secure. Information will empower them to be vigilant of any incoming security threats, such as malicious emails or suspicious content.

Also be clear on what action people need to take, who do they report to if they come across a suspected security breach? Remember to make company policies around data and security readily available to avoid any discrepancies over what is expected from employees.

#Tip 7 – Are you disaster ready?

Can you imagine getting to work to find you were unable to access any data or business applications? Your organisation would come to a complete standstill – in fact periods of severe down time can destroy a business.

So if your cloud provider’s data centre burns to the ground or gets struck by an earth quake, what happens next? You need to know what their back-up plans are to ensure seamless business continuity.

Working with a cloud provider that has multiple points of presence gives you peace of mind that if disaster does strike your data is safe and business can continue uninterrupted.

If you’re business wants more information on developing and implementing plans to keep your data secure in the cloud – download our cloud kick-start guide.