Variti – a global provider of user-focused bot management solutions and Kx, the world’s fastest streaming analytics platform, have partnered to provide an enhanced offering to users seeking bot protection worldwide. Kx will underpin Variti’s platform, enabling the identification and mitigation of even the most sophisticated automated cyber threats in real time, without compromising user experience.

Variti supports businesses across various industries with its Active Bot Protection – technology based on multi-dimensional traffic analysis in real time. Using this approach, Variti detects malicious activity and mitigates cyber attacks while keeping legitimate traffic undisturbed. Powered by the world’s fastest time-series database, kdb+, the Kx Streaming Analytics Platform will enable the processing of high levels of traffic data to accumulate behavioural patterns and statistics for Variti’s machine learning algorithms. This process delivers top level precision when identifying bots and emulator signatures.

Kdb+ is known across industries for its speed, scalability, and performance. By integrating Kx with Variti’s Active Bot Protection technology, businesses can solve their security challenges with much higher speed and precision.Through this partnership, Kx strengthens Variti’s customers ability to prevent malicious bot activity as well as get a true picture of all their websites, mobile and IoT apps, and API transactions.

The UK’s National Crime Agency named DDoS attacks alongside ransomware as the leading threat for businesses. In fact, 71% of security professionals have noticed an increase in security threats or attacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a CheckPoint survey. Bot traffic Variti has filtered increased 12 times between February (the start of the pandemic) and April 2020. To compare, a seasonal Christmas surge in bot traffic (typically, the period with an overwhelming surge in bot traffic) was only 30%.

Due to these trends, the global botnet detection market has witnessed continuous growth in the past few years. According to the Data Bridge overview, the market is being projected to grow at a CAGR of 43.6% until 2025 due to stiff competition from the new players. With Kx solutions, Variti is addressing this market with cutting-edge competitive cybersecurity tools allowing businesses to quickly get access to real-time security solutions for any tech environment, including complex architectures.

Konstantin Kamenetsky, CEO at Variti, said: “Our customers have a strong demand for reliable and fast databases. Bot mitigation, based on intelligent solutions, plays a critical role for cybersecurity, and we are pleased to partner with Kx to power our technology with even more real-time capabilities.”

Paul Hollway, Global Head of Partnerships at Kx, commented: “The combination of the two real-time services creates a single solution that accelerates market players’ ability to enforce cybersecurity. Businesses deploying the Variti and Kx solutions together stand to gain unprecedented speed to prevent malicious bot activity.”

In combining the two real-time services, it creates a single solution that allows users to build sophisticated bot mitigation strategies, which in turn means more significant benefits for both partners and users in dealing with fast-moving cybersecurity challenges.

About Kx

Kx is a division of FD, a global technology provider with 20 years of experience working with some of the world’s largest finance, technology, automotive, manufacturing and energy institutions. Kx Streaming Analytics, built on the  kdb+ time-series database, is an industry leading high-performance, in-memory computing, streaming analytics and operational intelligence platform. It delivers the best possible performance and flexibility for high-volume, data-intensive analytics and applications across multiple industries. The Group operates from 14 offices across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, including its headquarters in Newry, and employs more than 2,500 people worldwide.

For more information about Kx please visit www.kx.com. For general enquiries, write to info@kx.com. For press inquiries, write to pr@firstderivatives.com

About Variti

Variti is a global provider of bot mitigation, fraud detection and DDoS attack prevention with a revolutionary approach to identifying and mitigating sophisticated automated cyber threats. Variti provides a comprehensive, next-generation defense based on its proprietary Active Bot Protection technology, which combines real-time intelligence and deep analytics to progressively diminish attacks in real time without compromising user experience.

For more information about Variti please visit www.variti.com. For general enquiries, write to info@variti.com. For press inquiries, write to pr@variti.com.

 

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Gloria (Metrick) Slomczynski, Quality Systems Analyst at Medline Industries

Markup and Subcontracting:       Some of the preferred vendors have to subcontract to other firms to get laboratory software people for their customers’ projects because many preferred vendors that operate within large companies are huge firms that don’t happen to specialize in providing laboratory software resources. In some cases, the subcontracts are subcontracted to subcontracts and subcontracted yet even more. Remember this – every firm involved needs to make money. Firms charge their markup over what they pay their subcontractors so that they do make money on the work. For each level of subcontracting that occurs, that means that there are that many levels of markups in play and it means the person doing the work is paid less than you might think.

Example 1:          Let’s suppose that you pay your preferred vendor $200/hour for a LabWare LIMS specialist. If your preferred vendor doesn’t normally have those types of people working with them, they will go find someone to subcontract that to. Let’s suppose they want to make 30% to cover their overhead and make some profit on this, so they offer the subcontracting firm $160/hour for the resource. Now, let’s suppose that firm specializes in laboratory software consulting but not in the brand of LIMS that the customer has. They won’t just pass on that project. Instead, they’ll go to look for a firm that specializes in that brand. Let’s suppose that they, too, want to make 30% to cover their costs and make a profit. They will now offer the next firm $112/hour for the work. Firm #3 does specialize in this and does take the offer but all their people happen to be busy so they look for another firm to do the work. As the others did, suppose that they also want 30% of the hourly rate. That means that they’ll look for someone around $90/hour. If the fourth firm is another consulting firm, that means that, if they have an employee available to send on the project, that the person isn’t going to be making $90/hour.

Customers are often shocked when they pay $250/hour, $200/hour, or even as low as $150/hour and are sent resources that seem as if they’d fit better into the $100 or less category. While four levels is a somewhat extreme example, it’s not unheard of, either. It’s probably more common than customers think.

Example 2:          Suppose that there is someone who can work on your system and is exactly the right resource at $100/hour. However, because you, personally, have no idea how to find such a person, you use another consulting firm that does not specialize in this type of work to look for you. Let’s suppose they find exactly the right person. Let’s also suppose that you need the person on-site 100% of the time and that they need to travel.  Let’s suppose that $30/hour will cover the travel costs. Now, the person is really $130/hour. However, we still need to consider the markup. Let’s add a 50% markup to this for the services firm that did the looking for you. That brings it up to $195, but most companies will even this off to $200/hour. Not all companies are going to make the markup this high nor include the travel expenses in the markup. However, this is not necessarily uncommon in our industry, either.

Theresa Webster, Marketing and Product Management Professional | MCIM

Validating LIMS is a fundamental requirement for GMP compliance. Where LIMS is used to store and process GMP data, it is imperative that the system accurately and reliably performs as expected. This is where the validation and implementation project play an important part in the lifecycle of a LIMS. It should be focused on aspects related to patient safety, product quality and data integrity. In this article, we highlight some of the key features that regulators are looking for in a LIMS validation plan.

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Defining the roles and responsibilities is one of the first tasks within any LIMS implementation project.  Set the foundations for a successful implementation by providing clarity on what roles are required, what tasks the role must carry out, and who is taking ownership of these roles.

The main role is the Project Manager. This person has overall responsibility for controlling project activities, resources and cost. They monitor progress and help team members to address and resolve any issues that arise. They will report to the Project Sponsor and Senior Management on the progress against objectives, and they will also liaise with Quality to ensure compliance is maintained throughout the project.

The Quality Unit ensures compliance with appropriate regulatory requirements and company policies. They provide support in reviewing and approving validation documentation and project deliverables, and they also have the responsibility for approving the release of the system for operational use.

Depending on the scale of the project, the size of the system, and the resource available, there are many other roles that could also be defined to implement a LIMS. Examples of additional roles are: Business Lead, Developers, Test Manager, Configuration Manager, Incident Manager, Change Manager, Document Controller, and Subject Matter Experts.

ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA

How do you know when the project is complete? By defining acceptance criteria, the team will have a shared understanding of their project goals. Acceptance criteria can be defined for different stages of the project. This allows you to address any issues and implement corrective action before continuing to the next stage of the project, ultimately circumventing the effect of compounding issues.

One example for defining acceptance criteria is through the traceability of User Requirements. At the start of the project, you may have defined what exactly you need from your LIMS. This includes system functionality, system administration and on-going technical support. For each requirement, you may have also defined which are mandatory or desirable. Therefore, you may document that all mandatory requirements must be successfully met before the system is released for operational use.

For laboratories who may take a risk-based approach, you may look to define your acceptance criteria based on your risk assessment. This means you may accept that not all mandatory requirements are met through system functionality, and that you are happy to implement procedural controls to address any potential risks.

Either approach for defining acceptance criteria is acceptable for your LIMS project, and a great project document which ties it altogether is a Requirements Traceability Matrix.

MAINTAINING COMPLIANCE

Validating LIMS is about ensuring the system implemented is “fit for purpose”, and it consistently meets requirements. What about after the project is complete? Documenting how you plan to maintain the system’s compliance, during operational use, is also an important part of the implementation project.

It is inevitable that over the course of using LIMS, your needs will change. Whether change is brought on by business growth, new technology, or change in regulations, your requirements of the system is bound to change over time. You may find that you want to introduce additional automation to your laboratory practices through LIMS, and having a documented change control process will help you address your change in needs. It is acceptable to amend your existing change control process to accommodate changes to computer systems, or you may wish to create a separate process altogether. Either way, ensure that you have the resource (competent and trained) to accommodate your chosen practice.

Another way to ensure compliance is maintained during operational use is to review your Standard Operating Procedures. Before you implemented LIMS, you will have a documented set of procedures used within your laboratory. It is best practice to review these procedures and ensure that they are updated accordingly to reflect your new way of working once LIMS is implemented. This should also include any training requirements for new and existing analysts.

Robert Benz, Account Manager at HORIZON Lab Systems

The analytical and reporting processes attributed to LIMS (LIS) are well documented and known to analysts, laboratory managers and directors. However, LIMS offer many valuable functions, often not explored, in terms of human resources (HR). As with so many functions in the new ways of business, HR is often not onsite every day, making the functionality that exist even more valuable as it may be accessed remotely. HR capabilities span from recording private records accessible to only a few individuals to the ability to broadcast statements to everyone’s screen.

Based on the requirements for storing security passcodes, training records and electronic signatures, a LIMS offers a valuable and meaningful tool for HR with the inherent ability to store and carefully control information. Commonly, LIMS stores hire dates, training records, gives or takes away an analyst’s rights to perform certain analyses or work in certain sections of a laboratory and the analyst’s electronic signature among other details. In terms of OSHA records requirements, the use of the in-system records go a long way towards satisfying these.

While a LIMS holds a great deal of information in private, it may also provide staff vital contacts to management if/as required. No need to search for slips of paper stuck to a wall in the hallway, staff can easily access contact information quickly. As an example, I still remember getting a call while sitting down to dinner one night that a parr bomb had exploded in an oven in the inorganics laboratory and rushing back to the lab to ensure everything was handled and no one was hurt. In such a situation, having all numbers easily accessible to all staff would have been ideal versus scrambling to remember which wall had the numbers posted on it.

The dashboard and widgets not only personalize the home screen for analysts but also provide a way for notifications to employees to be pushed out, from major holiday schedules to impromptu “Donuts in the breakroom” notes. Simply notifying staff ahead of time can sincerely reduce stressful situations. Such notes may also warn of short holding time samples being brought in by a client late – again, from my lab days, I remember both being the analyst whose Friday evening plans were butchered thanks to unannounced samples and being the manager or had to tell lab staff “Sorry all, guess what…” Notification and warning go a long ways towards harmony.

As well, key performance metrics by department to that of an individual analyst may be pulled and evaluated by management and/or HR. Whether for reward, raise considerations or repercussions depending upon the work performed, the guess work may be removed from the numbers with a couple of queries and a handful of keystrokes. Opinions may vary but numbers do not.

Like a beehive, a laboratory is an ongoing work in progress with many moving pieces with each piece having very directed activities. The LIMS serves as the wax to hold the structure together and providing the necessary silos for analyses. Beyond the main functions, a LIMS offers a great way to both connect the laboratory staff (and keep all bees happy) and securely hold information. HR always has some unique challenges in a laboratory setting but by employing the tools that already exist in the LIMS, grasping many of the needs are in reach – and often not used to their fullest potential.

Kenneth Orr, Founder/President at BRG Advisory Group | National HR Outsourcing Brokerage

The COVID-19 outbreak is causing significant operational challenges for many businesses across the world and, as more employees are being encouraged to return to work, providing a safe working environment should be the top priority for any business owner.

To decrease the spread of the virus many businesses have moved away from traditional workplace environments and transitioned into remote working in order to promote social distancing. For these businesses, returning to work will be a gradual process dictated by a falling infection rate and a safer environment.

However, for industries such as the manufacturing sector, where 53% of businesses expect to be negatively affected by the pandemic, the effect has been felt much worse. A combination of falling demand for products and sites being forced to close due to being unable to comply with social distancing has meant that the industry has effectively ground to a halt, putting the jobs of 13 million Americans at risk.

In order to protect the American economy and limit the increase in unemployment, it is vitally important that these industries can return to work as soon as it is safe to do so. However, a recent survey of American citizens found that at least half of employees who have been unable to work before now are nervous about returning to work due to health concerns.

How you should be making the work environment safe 

Fundamentally it is up to the employer to create a safe environment for their employees to work in. This includes minimizing the risk of infection from diseases such as COVID-19. Before opening up, businesses should ensure that they comply with the White House Guidelines for Opening Up America Again and that they are functioning within the constraints outlined by local and state health officials.

As a minimum, businesses should have an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan in place. This will need to be specific to your workplace and identify any area or task which poses a risk to exposure. It should also outline how these risks can be reduced or eliminated. There has been plenty of guidance published by the Government and local authorities which can help businesses create these plans.

The CDC has also outlined the procedures they recommend businesses should be following when reopening:

  1. Conducting daily health checks
  2. Conducting a hazard assessment of the workplace
  3. Encouraging employees to wear cloth face coverings in the workplace, if appropriate
  4. Implementing policies and practices for social distancing in the workplace
  5. Improve the building ventilation system

Employees should be advised to cover their mouths with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and throw the tissue away safely. They should also make sure to wash their hands afterward and often throughout the day with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Protocols can also be put into place regarding regular cleaning of employee workspaces and communal areas e.g. office doors, keyboards, and telephones. Social distancing needs to be implemented and sharing of equipment prohibited where possible.

When cleaning office areas and equipment follow the Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting found on the CDC website. This outlines how to plan, implement, and maintain a cleaning routine to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. It also features more in-depth information regarding what cleaning products can be used and how often deep cleans should be carried out, especially in regards to a confirmed COVID positive case in the workplace.

In addition to providing a safe place for employees to carry out their tasks in the workplace, it is important that businesses continue to promote teleworking where possible as this will help minimize risk. This is especially important in regard to employees who fall into the “at-risk” category. Employers should ensure that these employees are protected with adequate procedures. If they cannot work from home, shift patterns, or working practices should be changed to minimize their contact with other employees.

What happens if employees get sick?

It is important businesses keep employees informed about the procedures they have put into place for their safety and encourage them to stay up to date with the Government issued advice. If an employee gets sick they must stay at home and notify their supervisor. They should then remain at home until they have met the criteria to discontinue home isolation and consulted a healthcare professional. If a member of their household falls sick, they should again inform their supervisor and follow the CDC recommended precautions.

In order to allow employees to have the time off they may need for sickness, to care for sick family members, or to provide childcare while schools and facilities are closed, it is recommended that most businesses implement a flexible sick leave policy. Some employers who do not currently offer a sick leave policy are also being advised to draft emergency procedures to help employees cope in an unprecedented time. It is vital that all sick leave and supportive policies are consistent with public health guidance and that each employee fully understands the procedure.

Another important thing to consider is that many employees will be advised not to access medical facilities if they are coping well at home. This may mean that they do not get a recorded COVID positive test. This should not affect their eligibility for sick leave. Upon returning to work it is also worth noting that it will be difficult for employees to be able to provide a doctors’ note stating that they are fit to return to work so adjust policies accordingly.

By offering flexible sick-leave policies, employees may feel more comfortable with taking the necessary time off to recover from the illness. If an employee is unable to take sick leave, they may come into work while still infected, spreading the illness throughout the workforce and posing a significant risk to others.

Health insurance and workers’ compensation 

In addition to providing adequate sick leave for employees, another benefit employers should be looking into is health insurance. Employers will want to save money and cut jobs in order to decrease the financial burden COVID-19 is causing. However, with the infection rate of coronavirus still rising in the US, employers should work to keep or even start providing this benefit as many employees could find themselves relying on their insurance if they fall sick.

Around 60% of Americans have healthcare insurance through an employer-sponsored program. When looking at a typical policy, the employer pays 85% of the insurance premium for their employees and 75% for their employees’ dependents, with the employee covering the remainder of the premium. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s research carried out in 2019 this costs employers on average $5,711 for single coverage and $14,069 for family coverage.

In addition to the already high cost of providing an insurance benefit, it is currently estimated that treating US patients with COVID-19 could cost up to $216bn and drive up health insurance premiums. In fact, The Telegraph expects that premiums will increase by more than 40% by 2021. Many people are calling for federal intervention to ensure this doesn’t happen but with insurers setting the new rate by the end of July, this is becoming less likely.

With increasing financial pressures already being put on employers, some could also find themselves faced with workers’ compensation claims due to coronavirus infections. These claims bring with them their own administrative challenges and increased costs.

Although the current guidelines published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inhibits the recording of the common cold and influenza, COVID-19 is currently qualified as recordable in cases where an employee is infected as a result of carrying out work-related activities. This means that any incidents are subject to the same rules as other workplace injuries and illnesses. Failure to record an infection can result in penalties, however, the determination of whether an infection is work-related is the employer’s responsibility.

Kenneth Orr, Founder/President at BRG Advisory Group | National HR Outsourcing Brokerage

For companies looking to grow and expand their staff and resources, you’ll be looking at a higher expenditure overall. Another concern? The more you grow, the more HR you have to deal with.

When you’re in that rocky limbo of not being able to hire a full-time HR person, this can complicate matters and inadvertently increase your costs. These are costs not even linked to profit which can often be overlooked.

Contrary to those who clock in at 9 and leave at 5 – an office doesn’t run itself.

So, how do you deal with these increasing costs?

“82% of the time, poor cash flow management or poor understanding of cash flow contributes to the failure of a small business.” (PreferredCFO).

Administrative Costs

Considered more along the lines of expenses, this includes general and administrative costs, which are necessities for your business. Some examples could be rent, supplies and even legal fees.

A small startup will most likely have lower administrative costs. So, once you start to grow and expand your team, you need to continually calculate your operating costs against the revenue coming in. This may see a number of employers exploring their options to find some wiggle room and keep their head above water.

But – where you cut costs you can expect setbacks.

“A significant rise in the general and administration expense to revenue ratio may indicate that the investment in general and administration is not as cost effective as it should be” (Plan Projections). 

You can’t operate efficiently if you don’t have a reliable, permanent place of residence for your business when it comes to growth. In 2015, 3.9 million US workers took to remote working, today that’s risen to 4.7 million – which is 3.4% of the population (FlexJobs). 

Whilst this can be a great way to lower operating costs, there are also some negatives. One example is staff being isolated, which can lead to lack of bonding within the team, potentially causing problems or creating friction in the future.

On top of that, isolation can lead to low morale or be stressful for certain individuals. As we all know, stress is terrible for our health and general wellbeing. In saving money on rent, you’re potentially increasing costs when it comes to your workers’ compensation.

Every business will need legal assistance in some form or another during their time in operation. This could be for a number of reasons like employment contracts or taxes. They can be ongoing costs or one-off so you need to ensure these are costs that you can cover.

When you’re a small business looking to branch out, you may lack the experience or knowledge required to grow whilst staying compliant. If you land in legal trouble and don’t have the expertize to get yourself out of it – that could be the end of the line.

Paper-Based Systems

In 2017, Xerox conducted a study that found more than 80% of small/mid-size businesses want to go paperless. This means digitally invoicing, reporting, managing legal and HR and means a huge proportion of U.S. businesses are still not entirely paperless.

Using paper-based systems is not only time consuming, but it could also be costing you money. In the U.S. alone, the use of paper forms costs $120 billion a year to businesses (GravityFlow). Not to mention, time spent sorting through paper-based systems, is time that could be spent on generating more revenue for the company.

In not evolving to a digital system of managing your admin and HR, you’re adding additional money to your operational costs as well as consuming precious employee and management time.

This loss of productivity can lead to further poor time management. Hours cannot be monitored which could invalidate payroll and so the cycle continues. Keeping track of expenditure is crucial in order to reduce business risk, complexity and overspending. For smaller to medium companies looking to expand, that’s a cost you ought not to spare.

So, going digital could save you a lot on your HR costs, but there is an even more efficient method in the form of PEO.

Why A PEO Broker?

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is an outsourcing solution to managing your HR, payroll, benefits, workers’ compensation and compliance. This allows employers more time to focus on growing their business in other capacities whilst leaving the PEO to handle itself.

This is a co-employment model that sees your PEO become your employer of record, therefore taking on the responsibility of your company’s HR. In the long term, the saving of these costs for a smaller business is a sure-fire way to help with growth whilst keeping an eye on ingoings and outgoings.

But with so many options and price ranges out there, how do you choose the best option for your business?

Part of the attractiveness of a PEO broker model is that it’s essentially wholesale as it works exclusively through a broker to offer services. This is unlike the traditional model which is full retail on each service item (payroll, benefits, workers’ comp).

You also have to consider the short term costs of solving HR with a quick fix from any old PEO versus having a concrete, long-term solution that is proven to save you money. In not securing a PEO broker to find you the best deal, you could end up costing yourself more by seeking out the option yourself.

A good broker knows how to get you the best service for the best price and draw up a deal that is favorable to all parties. We don’t make more money when you choose a particular PEO service over another – so you know you can trust their guidance.