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The Dorset Hillfort Ultra Challenge

Team Nadia: The Dorset Hillfort Ultra Challenge

Jasmina Chehlarova and Pro2col colleagues Daisy Shaw, Benjamin Smith and Helen Gilbert, are tackling the Dorset Hillfort Ultra Challenge this Sunday 1st November. As ‘Team Nadia’ they aim to raise £500 to support Nadia Dafova in her fight against stage 4 melanoma and the search for alternative therapies.

The Challenge

 

This really is an ultra challenge. Beginning in Cattistock, the 57km route takes participants through a demanding course around West Dorset. But Team Nadia are putting in the effort for this extremely worthy cause. It is especially close to Jasmina who has known Nadia for over 20 years.

Jasmina said: “Nadia is a really admirable person. She started fresh in the UK after moving from Bulgaria, and she cares for young adults with autism as a frontline healthcare worker”.

 

Pictured: 57km route in West Dorset

In March this year, Nadia received the devastating news that she had a recurrence of melanoma, which she beat almost 10 years previously. There is no treatment available and the NHS does not provide support for alternative therapies. So Nadia and her family began their search for different options elsewhere, leaving no stone unturned. Spurred on by the stories of survivors in similar situations who have overcome this terrible disease, Nadia’s story has reached far and wide receiving support from those inspired by her strength and positivity in such difficult times. 

Jasmina said: “That’s the brilliant thing about working at Pro2col, people are willing to get involved. Your struggles and the things you fight for are heard”.

You can follow Nadia and her stepping stones at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/teamnadia and https://gf.me/u/yybixa . 

It’s not too late to contribute and every pound makes a difference.

The four most common workflow automation use cases

The four most common workflow automation use cases

This year alone we’ve helped countless businesses with workflow automation use cases – sourcing the right solution and building their workflows. In this blog we’ve summarised four of the most common examples we’ve delivered in recent months.

Business growth is hindered by manual processes or outdated, inefficient scripts. They are time intensive, costly and more susceptible to human error. Ultimately these processes generate little job satisfaction and employees’ time could be much better spent on tasks that add more value to their customers or service users.

Sophisticated automated file transfer is far more efficient in comparison. The quicker response times can give organisations the competitive edge, reducing costs and increasing margins.

Most common workflow automation use cases

We asked the Pro2col technical team to tell us the most common automation use cases they see, working with organisations from all industry sectors.

1. Securely pushing and pulling files to and from S3 and blob storage.

We’ve recently set this up for a customer for long-term archiving of financial data, and for a healthcare organisations for simple retrieval of patient data held across multiple disparate systems. This functionality is either enabled via an additional cloud connector module, or through capabilities native to your file transfer solution.

2. Collecting files from a defined location, extracting data from Excel and inputting it into a database.

We set this up for an insurance broker recently, who wanted to automate policy updates between their customer and the insurer. This is delivered using advanced workflow capabilities with conditional logic.

3. Extracting files and converting them into different data formats.

This is another common insurance use case. The workflow would pull customer information from a CRM system (eg: Salesforce) into a JSON file, move it to a secure folder location, convert it to a CSV file then email it to a specific person or department. When someone makes an insurance claim, this process is executed to provide the claims handler with the complete customer record. This is delivered using a Salesforce cloud connector, a secure folder module, folder monitoring and advanced workflow capabilities.

4. Integration with cloud-based applications (eg: ServiceNow, Jenkins).

We’ve recently worked with a help desk to replace an outdated script with seamless integration with ServiceNow via a cloud connector. ServiceNow is a ticketing / job management tool. When an email request is submitted to a defined inbox, the automated workflow executes. It collects the email, converts the content into a ServiceNow ticket and sends an automated email back to the sender with a ticket number.
As you’ll see from these examples, automation can take different forms: System-to-system automation, triggering regular batch transfers and onward data gathering processes; person-to-system automation, such as web form data capture or order management with automate onward processes; and system-to-person automation which can manage the secure distribution of data. Whichever use case fits your business, we guarantee you will soon reap the benefits.

Benefits automation

  • Security: Workflow automation will encrypt and transfer data between systems and endpoints, eliminating the need for manual processing, scripts and multiple FTP servers.
  • Save time: Time-intensive manual processes and managing multiple outdated scripts both take up a lot of time. Automation allows businesses to re-invest team resources in order to focus on higher priority responsibilities.
  • Cost savings: As well as saved staff time, automation helps prevent financial penalties associated with SLAs and data protection regulation violations.
  • Visibility: Workflow automation is managed through a centralised platform, giving full control and operational visibility of all data transfer activity. This level of reporting is invaluable for compliance with regulations like the GDPR.
  • Ease of use: Most automation solutions have an easy-to-use tool to build and schedule workflows. For example, monitoring folders to execute workflows when new or changed files appear. A scheduler allows you to set specific times to execute workflows, such as night time to minimise load on the server, or delay sending if users are on leave or absent.
  • Scalability: This technology is scalable, meaning you can add additional modules or workflows as your business requirements grow. This future-proofs your solution.
  • Accuracy: Maintaining multiple scripts written by different employees in different scripting languages introduces complexity and reduces your ability to scale file transfer activities. Automated file transfer solutions helps take the ‘human error’ out of this process.

We are currently offering up to a 10% discount on modules that address these or other automation use cases. Please get in touch to discuss your particular use case. Alternatively if you need help building your workflows, download our template. Our expert engineers have put this together to help you organise your file transfer automation workflows and file recipients before building or moving legacy workflows across.

What would a better COVID test system setup look like?

What would a better COVID test system setup look like?

The limitations of Microsoft Excel have been blamed for the glitch that led to nearly 16,000 cases of COVID-19 going unreported in England. Our experts explain what a better setup would look like.

 

The process as we know it

Commercial firms analysing the COVID swab tests filed their results in CSV format without problem. These were sent to Public Health England (PHE) by their preferred method, SFTP1. There were no reported problems here.

Multiple files from multiple locations were received by PHE, then processed and consolidated into a single file in order to “upload to NHS Test & Trace team as well as other government computer dashboards,” according to the BBC2. This shouldn’t be a complex process, but this is where the problems began.

The cause

PHE developers selected an inappropriate file type to process potentially large volumes of data. Selecting Microsoft Excel’s XLS format allows a maximum number of rows just north of 65.5k. With complex test results taking many rows, only around 1,400 cases could be stored in each file. The rest of the data simply wasn’t retained.

What should have been in place?

Richard Auger, Pro2col’s Technical Manager, says, “It’s well known that the XLS format is inferior to CSV, and it’s therefore so infrequently used that we haven’t created a workflow based on this format for at least ten years.”

Given that PHE were central to the Government’s estimation on 21st September that “cases could reach 50,000 by October,” it’s not unreasonable to expect systems and processes to have been built with this volume in mind, or at the very least, with scalability in mind3.

The biggest issue is that the process design was fundamentally flawed. Any critical process such as this, should have had some error handling and reporting capabilities built into it. James Lewis, Managing Director at Pro2col suggests, “Taking eight days to identify the problem is unreasonable, and unnecessary. There are a number of ways basic error handling mechanisms could have been built into their workflow processes that wouldn’t have impacted performance design.”

What should have been in place?

To handle data movement of this scale, the process should include:

 

  • Security controls – Test results are classified as personal, sensitive data.
  • Automated onward processing – This might include results alerts, moving to the Test & Trace team, and reporting.
  • Reporting / error handling – The governance of sensitive data is critical, even more so in this case.

So what would a better setup look like?

The supply of data to PHE appears to be without fault – structured data in CSV files, provided by a secured file transfer protocol, SFTP.

The CSV files were then presumably processed automatically. The contents of each CSV exported and written to the XLS file. This is where the error most likely occurred, and could have been avoided.

Whilst we don’t know what other steps might have existed in their process, it is possible to select multiple CSV files and merge into a single CSV file. This would offer much larger capacity and ensure that all data is imported.

There are also several steps that could be incorporated to mitigate risk:

  • A check on the file creation date to ensure that only the correct files were being processed would be the first step.
  • Error handling can take many forms. A simple process would be to read the number of lines of data contained in each CSV file, total the number of records across all files, and match that against the output file. The result? A mismatch is quickly identified and action can be taken to resolve it before, it makes an impact. This would also allow any receiving party to check the governance of the data received before delivering it to any onward process.
  • Uploading an XLS file to the NHS Test & Trace team would likely result in a more complex routine for extracting the data than if it was provided in CSV format, which is much easier to import into onward systems.

Summary

As practitioners of workflow best practice, we’d guess that whoever designed and delivered this process had limited experience of creating workflows, especially for such critical healthcare data. The technology wasn’t at fault. It was the lack of insight to build in error reporting, combined with the failure to test the process with the volume of data they’d been expecting for many weeks. This was an entirely avoidable situation, and not a particularly complicated process to implement correctly.

References

3 Powerful Examples of MFT and DLP Paired in Action

Three Powerful Examples of MFT and DLP Paired in Action

This guest blog from HelpSystems outlines how you can maximise the power of MFT by pairing it with a DLP solution

On paper, combining two robust software products to form a more complete solution is a no-brainer. But how does it actually work? First, let’s take a look at what the two solutions – adaptive data loss protection (A-DLP) and managed file transfer (MFT) – each offer users. Then, we’ll highlight a few specific use cases where the combination of DLP and MFT elevates an organisation’s cybersecurity position, better than each solution could alone.

DLP offers content inspection:

  • Replacing sensitive text – including PII, PCI, and HIPAA – with asterisks.
  • Detecting and redacting text contained in images, even scanned ones.
  • Redacting text but allowing for files to still be delivered, minus offending content.

MFT delivers secure file transfers:

  • Dashboard-friendly, centralised control
  • Auditing and reporting
  • Advanced workflow automation
  • Document collaboration
  • File transfer security

What Level of Data Security do DLP and MFT Provide Together?

  • With MFT in place, the movement of files inside and outside of your organisation is secure and automated, with the collaboration and data tracking functionality not available with DLP alone.
  • MFT securely transfers attachments between organisations and trading partners
  • The ICAP Gateway intercepts content when threat protection and DLP requirements exist
  • ICAP runs rule sets (keyword search, executable renaming, script removal, etc.).
  • If the content can be sanitised the transmission is allowed and continues
  • If content cannot be sanitised the transmission is blocked

Together, HelpSystems’ Clearswift A-DLP solution and MFT provide a layered, unified, and web-based solution – from the content contained, to the secure data transfer of the content. Both solutions are trusted worldwide for their ability to provide enterprise-level protection against data breaches. When software is paired from a single provider, it provides stability and superior customer service.

MFT and DLP Use Cases: Combined for End-to-End Security

Use Case #1: Defence sector vendor needs to transfer attachments between employees and trading partners.

Originally, this vendor used MFT to securely transfer the attachments sent between its employees and partners. They decided to also add deep content inspection to these file transfers by integrating their MFT with Secure ICAP Gateway, adding Structural Sanitisation and Anti-Virus for additional layers of security. With both solutions in place, the vendor can:

  • Intercept content when threat protection and DLP requirements exit.
  • Run the proper rule sets (keyword search, executable renaming, script removal, etc.).
  • Control whether content is allowed or blocked. If content can be sanitised, then transmission continues. However, if content cannot be sanitised then the transmission is blocked.

Use Case #2: A credit card vendor needed insight into when customer, employee and/or patient records in a file were being uploaded to MFT.

This credit card vendor needed to detect when records contained in files (for employees and/or patients) were being uploaded to MFT. They also needed to be able to count the records and maintain an audit log showing what data was being shared and with whom, and to have the ability to corroborate files from a single record. The vendor was able to do all of this by integrating the secure ICAP Gateway with MFT. In addition, with this combination of solutions, they can take advantage of Lexical Expression Qualifiers and trigger different actions based on the number of records detected – actions such as an audit, refer to sender, redaction or block).

Use Case #3: Government agency needed same level of security from uploads received as they got from their MFT transactions.

This government agency regularly needs to accept file uploads from partners and the public. However, because this action can be exploited to deliver active content or even viruses and malware, they knew they needed to achieve comparable threat protection to what they had in place with their MFT file transfers. The agency integrated the Secure ICAP Gateway with their MFT for a combined, secure solution. Now, any file can be scanned before it is either passed or accepted and infected content is then destroyed or redacted. They also have the choice of triple-AV (Kaspersky/Sophos/Avira) and constant Active Content Protection in place.

Get in touch today to learn more about how your business will benefit from integrating MFT with a DLP solution.

Alternatively, reserve your place to see a live demo via our webinar below.

Clearswift A-DLP with Managed File Transfer

29/9/202010:30pm BST30 minutes
Join us for a short webinar demo showing how Clearswift ICAP integrates with your MFT solution. This will extend your security, whilst minimising the impact on business processes. The demo will be led by Clearswift Engineer Steve Jeffery.

August Reseller Newsletter

Pro2col Reseller Newsletter | August 2020

The monthly file transfer, automation and system integration newsletter for IT resellers

Pro2col Reseller Newsletter | August 2020

The monthly file transfer, automation and system integration newsletter for IT resellers

We support you in selling secure file transfer and business process automation solutions. You get healthy margins on these big deals, without the need to invest time and money in training. In fact, we do all the hard work!

Opportunities this month include:

  • Globalscape EFT managed service (regular annual subscriptions starting at £500 per month).
  • Upsell your MessageWay users (deal size of between £30k and £100k).

We’re also really proud to announce that we have delivered $40,000 worth of file transfer training for free. With COVID-19 affecting us all, we wanted to share our expertise at a time businesses need it most.

Lastly, don’t miss the vendor updates at the bottom of the newsletter!

Jasmina Chehlarova Channel Manager Pro2col Limited

jasmina.chehlarova@pro2colgroup.com
+44 (0) 20 7118 9640
Connect with me on LinkedIn

Opportunities this month

Globalscape EFT needs proper management and maintenance to stay efficient and secure. Most users don’t have the time or expertise, so it’s a great opportunity for you to sell them a managed service wrap. Pro2col provide a complete Globalscape EFT managed service with tiered options depending on requirements.

We also provide managed services across other products: HelpSystems GoAnywhere MFT, Progress MOVEit Automation and Transfer. Find out more…

Start the conversation

MessageWay

The MessageWay product has not been developed for several years, yet it is still part of many companies’ infrastructure. With so many specialist staff on furlough, or numbers of staff being reduced, it is important to have this conversation with your customers. Together we can scope their requirements and identify a more comprehensive solution from Progress’ or another vendor that would address their current and future requirements. Don’t forget, talking to your users about this also opens up other great discussions with them around AV, DLP and other areas of their infrastructure.

Vendor updates

SRT WebDrive

WebDrive NextGen is released on August 21. South River Technologies have chosen to move away from yearly upgrades in favour of a continuous improvement model. The new version includes: Improved interface, enhanced performance for Google Drive, OneDrive and SharePoint connectors, plus Mac users can now get the same functionality as WebDrive for Windows.

Sell professional services now

Many customers don’t apply product updates as they go along, and it’s not possible to support out of date software. If users are really behind on updates, they will need to follow an upgrade path. This can be complex. We’ll carry out the upgrade for them and you get healthy margins on any professional services we deliver for your users.

Pro2col news

$40,000 free file transfer training

And lastly, some really positive news from the file transfer experts. As COVID-19 took a hold on the world, we opened up our Certified File Transfer Professional (CFTP) training programme, completely free of charge. Almost 140 professionals worldwide signed up and completed the course, which equates to over $40,000 dollars of free training. Thanks to this offer, a huge group of employees have been able to continue developing their careers in lockdown, and are now better equipped to tackle the lingering economic challenges of COVID-19. Read more…

$40,000 of free training

$40,000 OF FREE TRAINING

Helping businesses adapt to the increased demand for secure remote working and workflow automation

As COVID-19 took a hold on the world, businesses everywhere were forced to switch their offices for home studies, and their board meetings for zoom calls. Behind the scenes, we recognised the growing need for secure file transfer and business process automation. So we embarked upon a plan to give away our Certified File Transfer Professional (CFTP) training programme, completely free of charge.

Over 136 engineers signed up and completed the course – which equates to over $40,000 of free training!

Thanks to this offer, a huge group of employees have been able to continue developing their careers in lockdown, and are now better equipped to tackle the lingering economic challenges of COVID-19.

Managing Director James Lewis says, “I am delighted with the success of this promotion and the positive impact it will have on so many businesses, both now and in the future.”

Although the course is no longer available for free, there are still a whole host of reasons why the CFTP is a fantastic investment for IT professionals wanting to learn new skills or certify their knowledge:

1. The CFTP certifies your existing file transfer knowledge
Adding this to your CV will make you stand out ahead of your next promotion. It will help you work more efficiently as demand for remote working and automation continues to ramp up. The certification is CPD accredited, so employers know it’s a reputable qualification from a trusted provider.

2. Learn new knowledge that’s transferable across vendors
It’s vendor-independent – the only course that is in fact – so what you learn is applicable across all Managed File Transfer solutions.

3. Learn safely from your own home at your own pace
There’s no need to go to an exam centre or classes. It’s all online and you can do it at any time to fit it around child care or other work and family commitments.

4. Maintain full lifetime access to the resources once you’ve finished
The video lessons and study guide are there for you to refer to whenever you need, even after completion.

5. It’s available for just £240!

Enrolling couldn’t be easier – just visit the CFTP training programme and add it to your basket. We’ll set you up with your unique learning profile so you can get started straight away.

Pro2col also run and host product-based training tailored to your Managed File Transfer solution and requirement. As experts solely focused on this niche, we are perfectly placed to ensure your staff are fully trained to be able to use and support your software. Find out about other training options.