What is GDPR? Does Your Website Need to Be GDPR Compliant?

Ready or Not, Here Comes GDPR: What You Need to Know – and Do – to be Compliant

You’ve probably heard about the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that takes effect on May 25. Although it’s receiving scant attention in the news, GDPR is sounding a depth charge among American companies as it implements sweeping changes on businesses that deal with customer data – which may very well include yours. In other words, GDPR compliance isn’t just for EU-based companies. Here’s what you need to know.

What is GDPR?

In TechRepublic’s cut-to-the-chase terms, the GDPR was put in place to protect the personal data of EU residents and affects any business that has customers located in the EU. There is no restriction based on location, company size or scope of business, meaning any entity with an internet presence could be affected. As reported by TechRepublic’s Brandon Vigliarolo, fines for non-compliance will be high. Any service offered to an EU resident – regardless of whether the service is free and which country hosts its servers – has to play by the rules.

The Big Difference

Calling the GDPR a “seismic shift in the digital information space,” Kimberly Simpson – regional director of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) – noted the major differences in the approach to collecting personal data in the United States and the EU.

“In the U.S., personal information is often collected as a matter of course, with only an ‘opt out’ offered to consumers. By contrast, GDPR requires that in order to collect information from EU data subjects, an affirmative ‘opt in’ consent must be obtained that clearly specifies how the data will be used. Privacy policies must match. Then, once information is obtained, the EU data subject has the right to request that his or her data be deleted; that is, to invoke the right ‘to be forgotten.’ Incorrect information must be corrected upon request. These rights may seem simple enough, but when data is held in multiple locations, developing a process to handle such requests may be quite difficult.”

WordPress & GDPR Compliance

As implied in all this, a key part of GDPR is the business’ responsibility to secure customer data and websites to prevent data breaches, phishing and other forms of malicious online activity. Search Engine Watch turned attention to WordPress, noting that estimates show WordPress is used by 25-40% of the internet – and given its widespread popularity and usage, it is a prime target for hackers.

WordPress is prepared for GDPR, introducing its GDPR Compliance Team and providing information on how WordPress is paving the way with new privacy tools.

The GDPR Compliance Team is focusing on four main areas:

• Adding functionality to assist site owners in creating comprehensive privacy policies for their websites.

• Creating guidelines for plugins to become GDPR ready.

• Adding administration tools to facilitate compliance and encourage user privacy in general.

• Adding documentation to educate site owners on privacy, the main GDPR compliance requirements and on how to use the new privacy tools.

WordPress has also added a roadmap for adding privacy tools to core. These tools will help website owners comply with GDPR and other privacy laws and requirements.

Social Media Marketing and GDPR Compliance

Social media marketers now need to ensure that the data they collect – as well as how they collect the data – from EU members is GDPR complaint. According to Social Media Examiner, collection of personal data from an EU resident requires obtaining explicit consent, which generally means that the consent should be:

Voluntary – Have the user take affirmative action.

Specific and informed – Make sure people are aware of what you’re collecting, how it’s being used, and whom it may be shared with.

Unambiguous – Don’t disguise with redirects to terms of service overflowing with legal jargon.

Ready or Not, Here it Comes!

However, many organizations are still not ready. According to Crowd Research Partners’ 2018 GDPR Compliance Report, only 40% of organizations are either GDPR compliant or well on their way to compliance by this month’s deadline. Other key findings include:

• A whopping 60% of organizations are at risk of missing the GDPR deadline. Only 7% of surveyed organizations say they are in full compliance with GDPR requirements today, and 33% state they are well on their way to compliance deadline.

• While 80% confirm GDPR is a top priority for their organization, only half say they are knowledgeable about the data privacy legislation or have deep expertise; an alarming 25% have no or only very limited knowledge of the law.

• The primary compliance challenges are lack of expert staff (43%), closely followed by lack of budget (40%), and a limited understanding of GDPR regulations (31%). A majority of 56% expect their organization’s data governance budget to increase to deal with GDPR challenges.

Becoming GDPR compliant doesn’t need to be an overwhelming process. Virtual Stacks Systems offers comprehensive web design, web hosting and social media marketing services that can help you make compliance seamless. Contact us to learn more.

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Shared Hosting – What it is and Why You Should Go for it

Shared Hosting – What it is and Why You Should Go for it

Shared hosting is like renting an apartment and having roommates. You have to share the common spaces, such as the living room, kitchen and bath. Of course, you are also expected to pay your share of the rent. This is a good solution if your needs are limited, you are on your own and cost is your main consideration. In shared hosting, all accounts must share the available resources with all the other accounts on the server – such as CPU time, memory, and disk space.

When it comes to website hosting, you have two crucial decisions to make as a business owner. Apart from selecting the company that hosts your website, you also have to choose a hosting option that meets all of your business requirements. Shared hosting is a popular, economical solution that may be right for your needs.

What is shared hosting?

When a single server is used to host several websites, it is known as shared hosting. It allows multiple websites to use a single server. The hosting package defines the server resources that you are allowed to use. In comparison, a dedicated hosting plan means that your website is the only site hosted on the server.

Shared hosting is by far the most economical option for hosting your website. It is best suited for businesses that are starting their operations and those looking for economical hosting options, as well as those that do not expect a high volume of traffic.

The most important consideration for a shared hosting plan is a package that offers adequate space and storage so that your operations won’t be hampered. The service package should offer sufficient disk space, FTP accounts, traffic, email accounts, databases and other services.

Shared Web hosting, Shared Web hosting company, Orlando Digital marketing company, Lake Mary Marketing Company

What are the Advantages of Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting has several advantages, including:

1.      It is cost effective – The biggest advantage of shared hosting is that it is affordable, and you don’t have to worry about investments. In fact, there is no initial investment required and you can get plans on a monthly basis. With intense competition in the web hosting market, it is not difficult to get a good deal for a 40 GB space. There are also packages available that offer unlimited space.

2.      It is convenient – It is difficult to concentrate on your business with the same focus when you have to look after the website management, as well. When you opt for shared hosting, you don’t have to worry about managing your website, as professionals handle the day-to-day operations.

3.      It is customizable – Despite the fact that resources are shared, the website is managed by the webmaster with the help of control panel tools. The control panel is not just user-friendly, but is also a powerful tool that customizes your website. The control panel allows allows management of a host of features, such as checking site statistics and uploading images and files.

4.      It provides high efficiency – For a website to function efficiently, you need an ample amount of bandwidth and sufficient disc space, and shared hosting allows you both. Packages are available that offer unlimited bandwidth and disc space.

5.      It is secure – Contrary to the perception that shared hosting is not secure, a reputable company will uphold best practices to provide clients with safe, seamless service.

6.      You get technical support at all times – When you opt for a shared hosting option, you don’t have to worry about assistance, be it technical or otherwise. Shared hosting service providers give you all the technical support you need for the smooth functioning of your website. Even if you are not a technical person, the site upkeep, maintenance and technical equipment are all responsibilities of the hosting provider.

7.      You get additional features, such as email and an FTP account – When you opt for a shared hosting option, you get email and an FTP account in the same package, increasing functionality and convenience.

If you find that shared hosting is the right option for your business, Virtual Stacks Systems offers web hosting packages so you can select the plan that best suits your needs. Virtual Stacks Systems has powerful data centers around the world that make our web hosting plans more effective, yet are designed to save money. We also offer 24/7 technical support to all customers. Contact us today to learn more.

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Why Cloud Computing Is A Must For Your Organization

Why Is Cloud Computing Is A Must For Your Organization?

As per the Goldman Sachs report, cloud computing spending is projected to grow at a staggering CAGR of 30%, through 2018. It has been on the same growth trajectory since 2013, astounding isn’t it? 

Cloud is one of the newest buzzwords in the digital world. It is neither a trend nor an illusion, it is a reality and a necessity which is here to stay. Businesses across the world of all sizes are shifting their operations to the cloud, as it offers several advantages including cost efficiency, flexibility, and increased productivity.

Moving your operations to the cloud not only streamlines your workflow, it strengthens the backbone of your company. It increases the liquid funds in your hand, which you can utilize to further your core business interests.

According to Gartner, by 2020 a corporate no-cloud strategy would become as rare as a no-internet policy is in today’s time.

You are already on the cloud...

You are using the cloud in your day to day lives already, in one form or the other. By sending and receiving emails, banking online, and/or listening to music, you are taking part in the cloud revolution that has dominated the landscape of information technology in the last one decade.

Major benefits of moving to the cloud….

Creating an IT infrastructure for your organization requires many investments. From expensive servers, machines, network storage, to backup systems and disaster recovery systems, maintaining a business requires significant capital. You also need space to hold these costly and heavy pieces of machinery, and of course, you require a team of IT professionals to carry out your daily operations. Add all of this together and you are facing a substantial investment up front.

Using cloud services can help your investments pay off, allows you to shrink or cut the use of costly traditional recovery operations, and result in significant growth for your business. According to a report, organizations that have embraced cloud services have shown an overall growth of 19.63% (Vanson Bourne).

Security is not an issue with the cloud….

Security concerns, which were previously thought to be an issue with cloud computing for corporations, are no longer a sticking point, as several checks are in place to safeguard your customer data and company information.

Don’t be surprised to note that 86% of organizations spend some amount of their information technology budget on the cloud.

Other than the benefits mentioned above, what else does it offer that makes it essential for you to shift your operations to the cloud?

Reasons you should shift your business to the cloud

There was a time when cloud services were patronised by big businesses, and small and medium companies thought that there was nothing much in store for them. But, things have dramatically changed since then and even small organizations are now benefitting from the cloud computing services in equal measure.

Here are some of the main reasons why your business needs cloud services:

You get time to focus on your business – You save a lot of time because you don’t have to manage an IT infrastructure or a big software and hardware team. Managing people and day to day IT operations is a long drawn process, which takes away your precious time. You can utilize this time in taking your business to greener pastures and that too at a faster pace. Cloud computing gives you complete freedom to keep your focus on the business at hand. You are able to channelize your energy in the direction required to take your business to a higher level.

Huge cost savings – When you move your business to the cloud, your IT infrastructure saving is substantial. With cloud computing you don’t need to invest in heavy duty IT machinery. You also save on a lot of money as you don’t need to hire and manage a big IT team. Furthermore, you don’t need to waste your space to fit those huge servers. The best part is you only have to pay for what you use, cloud services are on rent, and you don’t have to buy them upfront.

You can increase or decrease the number of head counts according to the need of your business operations, all you have to pay extra is the per user cost.

It is scalable – Cloud computing is a scalable and hassle free option where you don’t have to bother about licensing or upgrades every now and then. When you have an in house set of servers and machineries, and if you have to scale up your operations due the requirements of your business, you need to do a lot of work. Whereas, when you are in the cloud these hassles are well taken care of by the vendor you hire. From hardware, software to maintenance and support, you don’t have to bother about any of those. You get the best services at all times without any of your time being wasted.

Enhanced mobility  – Once you move all your apps to the cloud, you can access any of your applications from wherever you want and at any time. All you require is an internet connection and a browser and you can connect with your work at your convenience. Your team members who have the access can do their work from wherever they want, either from the cool confines of their homes or even from their client’s office. Nobody can give you any excuse for work not being completed on time.

Improved collaboration among your team members  – Working on applications that are up in the cloud increases the efficiency of your team members. It is a platform where team members can collaborate with each other, which is bound to increase their productivity, regardless of their physical location. When your team members work together, it increases their potential and the quality of work improves significantly.

It further improves your security – Managing heavy-duty servers and machines doesn’t guarantee that your data is hundred percent secure. Imagine your laptop or mobile being stolen, of course, it is not just the monetary value of either device that you are worried about, you get sleepless nights because those devices had all your company information. And, if it falls into the wrong hands you have to pay a heavy price. Whereas, when your applications are up in the cloud, you needn’t worry about these things, as nothing is stored on your device. Even if you lose any of your devices, your company information remains safe, because it is not on your laptop or mobile, but it is up in the cloud. Moreover, with enterprise security in place, the cloud offers more security than your on-premise datacenters. Service providers who are not able to provide adequate security to their clients eventually phase out of the cloud computing business, and that too pretty fast.

It is more reliable – Your customer data and company information can’t be compromised, no matter what the cost. But, you cannot rely only on your servers and systems, after all, they are machines and can crash over time. Therefore, offices not yet on the cloud need costly redundant systems to constantly back up all data. But, once you move your operations to the cloud, you don’t have to worry about these costly systems, because the service provider arranges for the backup of all your information and data. They have completely adaptive disaster recovery systems, powerful servers, and machines, and they constantly back up your data so that you don’t lose any single information. This also ensures that your business is up and running all the time, and there is no major downtime for you to worry about.

Upgrades and maintenance are not your headache – Upgrading and maintaining your on-premise data center is a tedious job, which can take away a lot of your time, money, effort and energy. No matter how top class your machine is, it would require upgrades and maintenance on a periodic basis. Whereas, when you move your business to the cloud, you don’t have to worry about maintenance or upgrades, it is the responsibility of the service provider to maintain and upgrade their offerings. Moreover, as maintenance and upgrades are done by the service provider keep in mind that your business doesn’t get affected.

It is more environment-friendly– When you share resources with others, you are helping to save the environment. If you can contribute to the reduction of datacenters the world over it would definitely have a positive effect on the environment, more so when the efficiency of the operations is not at stake. Cloud services offer you all of these and more.

If you have not as yet moved your business to the cloud, just get in touch with Virtual Stacks Systems, as a company we have been in the cloud business for a long time and have a pretty lengthy list of satisfied customers. We can take care of all your IT needs with perfection.

Virtual Stacks Systems has powerful data centers and completely adaptive disaster recovery systems, which ensures that your company data remains safe with us, always.

With over two decades of exposure and experience in the software and hardware industry, Virtual Stacks Systems is capable of looking after all your cloud requirements.

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How to Select the Best Cloud Hosting Provider

How to Select the Best Cloud Hosting Provider

Business has only two functions: marketing and innovation,” said writer Milan Cundera.

Technology is a tool that helps companies achieve both goals – in one fell swoop. It has also completely transformed the way businesses conduct themselves. With growing competition, a rise in innovation and shrinking profits, maximizing resources smartly is the key to success for any organization.

That is exactly what cloud computing can do for your organization. With a few small steps, it can manage all of your IT concerns.

Why Shift to Cloud Hosting?

Storing all your company information like data, e-mail and documents in the cloud substantially reduces an organization’s overhead costs. It also cuts down your dependence on IT personnel, machine and hardware. Further, cloud-enabled companies can connect their remote employees together, improving their efficiency and office morale. But, perhaps the biggest advantage is the leeway it provides to the organizations to focus on the job at hand – without the headache of IT support, maintenance, security and backup.

The problem that confronts businesses is where and how to find a cloud hosting services provider that meets their unique requirements. It is not an easy decision to make when it comes selecting a cloud service provider. There are several vendors offering cloud services, and the choice you make will define the success story of your organization.

7 Thinks You Should Ask Your Cloud Hosting Provider

  1. Do they align with your business goals?

Make sure the cloud hosting services provider is ready to understand your business and the precise reason for shifting to the cloud. Specifically, look for companies who can provide value through their services, like streamlining product delivery or encouraging customer retention. If the provider is unable to understand your business, you will not get the full benefits of cloud hosting.

  1. Is payment transparent?

Upfront payment is not a normal practice with cloud providers. Instead, a pay-as-you-go format is the norm. In the cloud computing industry, you should only pay for what you consume. Vendors charge their customers on an hourly, monthly, half- yearly or yearly basis for the services they provide. Also, ensure that you have the option to upgrade your services, depending on changes to your business demands.

  1. Is the provider truly an ‘expert’?

Always partner with a service provider who has ample experience and expertise in the field of cloud computing. Your business should never suffer due to a lack of technological knowledge.

  1. Is the provider reliable?

Your cloud hosting services provider should be dependable and consistent. A fast cloud server, healthy bandwidth and an uptime guarantee is the bare minimum which your service provider needs to assure you.

  1. Does the provider value security?

Above all else, security cannot be compromised. All your critical company information and data ought to be stored in a place where standard security measures are diligently and strictly followed.

  1. Do they offer data backup or data loss compensation?

Another crucial factor to consider is how the vendor plans to compensate your organization in the case of lost data. What programs and procedures do they have in place to protect your data and take corrective action when or if data has been lost?

  1. How accessible are their support providers?

There cannot be any doubt when it comes to customer support that 24/7, round-the-clock, expert support is an absolute must. Your cloud hosting services provider should be available to troubleshoot any technical need you have, large or small.

In case you are planning to shift your business operations to the cloud or if you are not satisfied with your present provider just get in touch with Virtual Stacks Systems. With over two decades of experience in the software industry, Virtual Stacks Systems can provide your business unparalleled security, backup, affordability and speed.

With Virtual Stacks Systems, you can customize your cloud solutions and store your sensitive data in a private cloud.

Also, with fully redundant datacenters your data always remains safe with Virtual Stacks Systems.

Whether you are a plumber in Orlando, a restaurant in the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlet Mall or a landscape design specialist, optimizing your web presence is the only way to increase your profits in 2017.

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Want a Simple Cloud Hosting Plan?

Want a Simple Cloud Hosting Plan?

When you look up in the sky, how many shapes do you see? Is it one blob of un-imaginative gray or several fluffy clouds floating along endlessly? Cloud hosting is definitely the buzz word of the decade. People want to know what's in the cloud, how they get into the cloud, what can they do in the cloud, but truthfully, respectfully, the cloud isn't for everyone. For the most part, businesses build their platforms based on what they need right now. They may think ahead, but it has to be a cost that makes sense, which brings us to the point of this article. Cloud hosting needs to return to simple plans that make sense to businesses and deliver the right resources to make it worth the cost.

So How Can You Get in On the Cloud
Did you know that it's possible to build a cloud in five minutes? Of course, it goes by another name: Virtual Private Servers. While storing documents on file sharing devices may seem like the easiest thing to do, how secure is it really to put all of your private stuff on Dropbox or Google Drive? In addition, you can run short of free space or pay a large amount of money for space you never needed.

Going back  to the idea of virtual private servers and cloud hosting, you can save a great deal. People don't realize how easy it is to set up their own private cloud with a cloud hosting plan and a custom VPS. You can get exactly the right operating system, change the amount of storage, add more bandwidth and get all the RAM you need to run any applications, store all of your files and manage all types of tasks. Best of all, you don't have to build your own hardware and install it. It's virtual, which means you can spin one up any time.

To create a cloud with a cloud hosting plan and a virtual private server, you need a few things.

  • Scalable resources
  • Pay only for what you need
  • Fully redundant, always available
  • Pick an OS you're comfortable with
  • Choose VPS available instantly
  • Design a custom security plan

Using the cloud hosting services, you can access your server any time online. You can work from home, office, on the train or in another part of the world as long as you have an Internet connection. In addition, you don't rely on any other cloud hosting services or companies to keep your security in tact. You can install your own security and scanners to keep your server protected from threats. How would you know what's going on with your cloud in  the hands of an impersonal cloud option like Dropbox or Google Drive?

Free Your Cloud From Security Risks with Custom VPS

Paying a high price for a public or private cloud hosting isn't going to make your business any more successful or rich. In fact, it will likely be a drain on your IT department and cause your budget to inflate in areas that you don't  really need it to. If you just want to use the cloud for online storage, virtual private servers can give you much more. You can designate different parts of your server to store different files or support multiple clouds for your customers.

 "I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison."

Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Inc.

There's a simplicity in using VPS as a cloud hosting server. You can spin up a server in seconds. You access it online from a control panel and start installing different applications. You can create folders for all of your files, build your applications and open all of them later when you head into the city or when you go on vacation. Your virtual server is always accessible.

Don't Be Fooled by Managed Clouds

The truth about managed clouds is that they are controlling and make upgrades to your cloud server that you may not want in the first place. Hosts want to monitor your activity and be able to control how much you use even if you're under your monthly limits. While it's always nice to have something setup and installed for you, it's fairly easy to set up a VPS and start playing around with it to create everything that you need. Why pay more for "managed" anything that will just take away your freedom?

Virtual Stacks is running a special right now on Linux virtual private servers at a 50% discount for the first month. This means you can get a huge virtual server with 5TB bandwidth and 150GB of storage for less than $65/mo to start.

If you have been thinking about getting on the cloud, think about all of the options first and look at ways to create a cloud solution that won't cost you thousands a year.

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