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  • The vast majority of business and technology executives are concerned about the IT skills gap, and many reported that an overall talent gap is growing, according to a recent survey from CompTIA. The resulting report, "Assessing the IT Skills Gap," reveals that organizations find it especially difficult to hire qualified candidates for technology positions related to the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies, as well as cloud infrastructure and apps, and cyber-security. Given that most executives think that technology should play a primary role in achieving business objectives, IT departments are under increasing pressure to land needed talent in a highly competitive job market. "The breadth and pace of innovation point to a widening skills gap, putting further pressure on organizations," said Amy Carrado, senior director of research and market intelligence for CompTIA. "Organizations testing the waters with the internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and other emerging technologies face even greater skills gaps due to the fast-moving nature of these innovations. It takes time for training materials to reach the market and for opportunities to gain hands-on experience to arise." A total of 600 U.S. IT and business executives took part in the research.

  • Cyber-security teams need to brace themselves for more action: Ransomware attacks are likely to increase during the second half of this year, according to a recent survey conducted by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), a nonprofit group for IT and information systems professionals. More than four out of five survey respondents expect an upsurge in attacks, and most of them said they are at least somewhat prepared. Still, about one-fourth admit that they aren't ready, and fully half have not trained their employees to deal with ransomware. That's risky, warns ISACA CEO Matt Loeb, who says, "WannaCry, Petya, Cryptolocker … ransomware will continue to be news and become the norm. What's needed is protection before an attack—not just a swift recovery afterwards." Besides educating employees, enterprises should be more aggressive in applying software patches, which Loeb sees as critical to protecting an organization from the crippling consequences of an attack. The majority of organizations in the study have not yet experienced a ransomware attack, and only a very small minority of respondents said their organization would pay the ransom if it were hit. Still, complacency is dangerous. "Don't assume your enterprise 'might' be a victim of ransomware," Loeb stresses. "Assume it will. Every organization needs to focus on being prepared for the next ransomware attack, through training, frequent software updates or hiring highly skilled staff." The survey included 448 respondents. About half the participating organizations have fewer than 1,500 employees, 23 percent have 1,500 to 9,999, and 28 percent have 10,000 or more workers. They represent a wide range of industries, with financial/banking firms and technology services/consulting firms leading the way. The survey group covers the globe.

  • Almost all IT leaders view the shift from on-premises computing to cloud computing as a positive trend that is likely to accelerate in the coming years. But the growth and sprawl—having multiple departments deploy disparate hosted services—have left many IT executives and professionals feeling out of control and looking for consolidation. Those were among the key findings of a recent survey of 1,527 IT professionals and executives who approve and/or implement cloud strategies. The "2017 Cloud Adoption Survey" by Evolve IP shows that businesses today have an average of more than four major services in the cloud, including servers, data centers, disaster recovery, call centers and more. "Cloud sprawl makes the job of IT pros much harder by having company data, possibly unsecured, stored across various cloud platforms," observed Tim Allen, chief sales and marketing officer for Evolve IP. "There's a potential cost to that." Data security is a concern, but about half the survey group felt that a private cloud is actually more secure than on-premises and public cloud options. To stop cloud sprawl before it gets out of control, the majority of respondents—nearly 7 in 10 executives and just over half the IT professionals—would like to have a partner that can deploy multiple cloud servers. Allen agreed: "With more companies putting their services into the cloud, having a unified approach is key."

  • While the enterprise network continues to increase rapidly in size and complexity, most network engineers said they continue to rely on manual techniques and tools for critical tasks such as diagramming, according to a recent survey from NetBrain Technologies. The accompanying report, "2017 State of the Network Engineer: Toward an Automated Future," reveals that network diagrams often go one month or longer before getting needed updates, and as a result, they're often obsolete or insufficiently detailed. This creates difficulties during troubleshooting, as does a lack of collaboration among network teams. What would greatly help, survey respondents said, is a single solution for network visualization, management and analysis. "Today's enterprises have reached a tipping point when it comes to network management," according to the report. "Networks are growing rapidly and becoming more complex, yet most engineers still use manual processes for managing key IT workflows—network documentation, troubleshooting, change management and cyber-security. Collaboration and information sharing often mean the difference between quickly diagnosing a problem and hours of frustration and downtime. However, today's processes depend largely on institutional … knowledge to diagnose network issues, which can be inefficient and hamper IT's speed to resolution." More than 200 network engineers, architects and IT managers took part in the research.

  • Over the last few years, cyber-attacks have steadily increased and are now far more than a value risk to the enterprise: They're an everyday threat. What's more, these attacks are becoming more dangerous and potentially more costly. The report "Investigation or Exasperation? The State of Security Operations" examines the current state of affairs and how organizations are coping with the barrage of attacks. The short answer: not so well. The study, conducted by IDC and sponsored by Splunk, tapped 600 global organizations, each with more than 500 employees in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands. Among other things, the study found that many organizations are mired in "firefighting mode," and significant numbers of them admitted that they lack the time and resources to manage routine security operations and handle incident investigation adequately. The study also found that many organizations lack basic automation and analytics, and many intentionally keep information about security breaches from the corporate board and other key constituents. Here's a look at some of the study findings.

  • The launch of a new money-transfer bot for Facebook Messenger highlights Western Union's ongoing digital transformation and growing focus on the mobile market.