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Business

Tech Threat: 4 Technology Threats to Small Business Growth

There is hardly a business that hasn’t included some form of technology into their daily operations. The earliest inclusions of technology were primitive calculators or computers, but innovations have led to robotic production lines or artificial intelligence piloting management software. Companies that want to remain competitive have turned to technology as a way to gain an edge over standard industry practice, but without advance planning and continual monitoring, heavy reliance on technology does pose a risk. Digitally-driven business strategies streamline work operations and free up valuable time, and these benefits often overshadow the potential tech threats that lurk among cyber activities. Now, let’s talk about tech threats to small businesses.

Major Tech Threats to Small Businesses

Tech Threats - 4 Technology Threats to Small Business Growth
Tech Threats To Small Businesses: Technology-driven business strategies always streamline business operations but the benefits often overshadow the potential threats it poses. This article elaborates more on how small businesses can prepare ahead for the unforeseen circumstances.

Defending Against Cyber Attacks

Though security has always been a concern for any business, cyberattacks have been named of the top 10 tech threats plaguing both global and national business ventures. The dark web is host to hackers and individuals that pirate and profit from the personal information of others. Gaining access to company assets and information presents a wealth of opportunity for wreaking havoc on unsuspecting consumers, partners, or employees. Hackers will often attack a company system in order to disrupt work operations, but anyone that gains access to personal data, financial information, or intellectual property can turn and sell the information to less-than-reputable individuals. Because of the far-reaching effects of a cyberattack, tech professionals like Hari Ravichandran cautions businesses against lax or frugal security protocols. It doesn’t matter the size of the business, though many would like to use a lack of resources as the excuse for not implementing a strong security protection program.  The recommendations for protection include:

  • Ensuring all systems have been updated with the latest security plan installed.
  • Restricting user access to all sensitive data; limiting access to a need-to-know basis.
  • Shutting down systems and removing any portable storage devices after use.
  • Encrypting data against hackers.
  • Requesting two-factor identification for users.

Disposing of Hardware Correctly

Most companies maintain detailed records including the customer, supplier, and company information, and these files are often stored among several different drives. Since storage has become more affordable, companies often end up storing too much data. This makes it harder to organize and protect data, especially when a lot of the data is redundant or several years old. Auditing and purging your company’s old data can help reduce the threat of an attack, but failing to dispose of the information properly increases your risk. One study found that approximately 78% of all the hard drives disposed of during 2016 still had either confidential or personal information still contained on them. Prior to disposing of any hard drives or systems, rigorously wipe the data off of them. The U.S. government has endorsed the NIST 800-88 data sanitization standard, and it provides three ways to conduct a thorough data wipe.

Maintaining Data Compliance

It used to be that companies could decide for themselves how to best protect their information and that of the consumer, but with data breaches and advanced malware and spyware attacks becoming more commonplace, regulations have been put in place to protect the security and privacy of consumer and company alike. Not only that, but the legal liabilities and lawsuit from theft, fraud, or a breach have given rise to security requirements established by insurance providers. These systems have been established to minimize the risk and exposure of wrongful data transactions, and any area of non-compliance could find your company facing steep fines, legal fees, and a lost reputation. By establishing a compliance division and program at your company, you can have a team of individuals dedicated to assessing, evaluating, auditing, and implementing the protocols needed to remain in compliance. Make sure your administrative team has at least one member with experience in compliance and legal ramifications, but you also need to have the same vigilance with your vendors. You may do everything right on your end, but those you work with could compromise your data security.

Restoring Outages

With so many areas of a business relying on a strong network and full-functioning technology, and unforeseen outages can force operations to stop unexpectedly and create data loss. Natural disasters are common occurrences for some locations across the country, but software updates or system maintenance can also create downtime for certain areas of operation. Internet connectivity can lag or a cyberattack could completely block any activities. The best way to address these concerns is through a well-thought-out disaster plan. It needs to start with a complete inventory of all data, software, and hardware, and back-ups all of software or information stored at an off-site location. You should also practice your data shutdown and recovery procedure to assess its effectiveness.

Protecting your company against theft means paying attention to both the obvious and obscure threats. Don’t assume that your company is too small to be the target of a cyberattack or data breach. Any relaxed approach to technology and data safety poses a large threat to your company’s operations.

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News

Top 5 Cyber Security Tips for a Rewarding Online Shopping Experience

Online Shopping is the name of the game today. All it takes is a couple of clicks to order a product and have it delivered to your doorstep. It’s convenient, time-saving and, most importantly, easy! No wonder then that online shopping has taken the world by storm.

Where there are people with money, you can be sure to find pickpockets. In Cyberspace, hackers are the online equivalent of pickpockets – always on the prowl, looking for the right opportunity to pounce on unsuspecting victims.

Due to the presence of these dangerous hackers, protecting your personal and financial information has become absolutely crucial.

Here are 5 online shopping tips to help you keep your information safe while you shop online.

5 Cyber Security tips for you to be on the safer side when shopping online

1. Use a Credit Card rather than a Debit Card

Use a Credit Card rather than a Debit Card
Cyber security tips: When safety is your concern, you should only use a credit card instead of a debit card to be on the brighter side.                  

If you generally use your debit card for making online purchases then you just might have to reconsider. If you make an online purchase using either your debit or credit card, only to find out that it has been hacked without your consent, you will realize that both cards are treated very differently.

The major difference is that, with a debit card you will struggle to get your money back while with a credit card, the issuer of the card must struggle to get its money back.

So it’s better to stick to credit cards. Just look what the stalwarts of consumer safety have to say about using credit cards.

“You don’t use a debit card online,” says Susan Tiffany, retired director of consumer periodicals for the Credit Union National Association. Since the debit card links directly to a checking account, “you have potential vulnerability there,” she says.

If you have problems with a purchase or the card number gets hijacked, a debit card is “vulnerable because it happens to be linked to an account,” says Linda Foley, who founded the Identity Theft Resource Center in 1999. 

2. Ensure you make purchases from a real online shopping website                                   

Ensure you make purchases from a real online shopping website
Cyber security tips: Ensure you make purchases from a real online shopping website to be on a safer side.

One of the most effective strategies that hackers use to access your credit card details is by positioning their own fake shopping websites in the cyberspace. So when an unsuspecting online shopper visits this website and enters his card details on these fake websites, they will pay a lot more than what they bargained for.

Nowadays, it has become really difficult to actually recognize a scam website . This is because hackers have not only become smarter than ever but have also grown in numbers. This has led to the creation of hundreds of fake websites to lure unsuspecting online shoppers.

However, it is not that hard to identify a fake website, especially if you exercise vigil and methodically search them for a few signs. Here are a few steps to follow to spot fake websites:

Check Domain names Properly

Scam websites are more likely to use domain names that are actually similar to a well known brand or product.
For example domain names like iphonediscounts.com should ring some alarm bells.

Go through the website properly

Be sure to take a couple of minutes to go through the site. Visit the homepage, the about us page and examine the text there.

If you find the sentences broken, incomplete, or with grammatical errors then be sure to spot it’s a fake website. A good online shopping portal is likely to hire a professional content writer to get its product content written.

Check the Policies

Any company selling its products or services online must have a shipping and returns policy stated on the site in addition to terms and condition policy.

If the site is a real deal, it will guide you on the steps on how to return the purchased product.

Be sure to Read Reviews of the website

Be sure to read reviews stated by customers on the site plus don’t just rely on these e reviews also search and read reviews on number of different other sources.

Also check out the social media pages of the company for latest activity  and to see what other people have to say about their products.

Payment Options

If the site requires customers to pay for products online through bank transfer then it should create some doubts.

If something is bought via credit or debit card from a site that turns out to be fake then the individual still has some rights to fight for its money.

But if a person is paying via direct bank transfer then there is actually almost only a little which that person can do.

Examine the Offer

Don’t opt for site’s offering products with price’s that are just too hard to believe. If a website has an iPhone 7 at $120 then it’s planning to scam you.

3. Shop from sites that safeguard your information

Shop from sites that safeguard your information
Cyber security tips: Only shop from sites that safeguard your information.

If you are planning to shop online on any given day then you must ensure to purchase your products from a credible website that has SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption installed.

There is a quick and easy way to find out whether or not the site has SSL installed.  The site should start with https:// and you will also see a lock symbol within the address bar at the top.

To gain entrance to secure sites, you must use a browser extension like HTTPS Everywhere that encrypts connection to key sites and enhances your information security.

4. Use Secure Connections to stay safe                                      

Use secure connections to stay safe
Use secure connections to stay safe

It is highly recommended to use a VPN (Virtual Private network) for sites that don’t offer SSL. Through a VPN, you get a secure private network for all your online activities even if you are using a public network. So if you want to shop online, you can use a VPN to establish an “encrypted tunnel” to prevent your card details from falling into the wrong hands.

5. Maintain a Record of your Online Transactions

Always remember to keep a record of all your online transactions which should include the receipt, the order number, the product description and the price. Also, remember to save any emails you receive or send to a seller as this might facilitate you if any problems arise.

Bonus Tip: Rely on your instincts

At last, it all depends on your personal instincts. Use your common sense and believe in your instincts. If you notice anything suspicious and doubtful about the website you visit, just back off. Leave the website and clear your cache and private data. If you see something that is just too good to be true, then perhaps it is! So it’s always better to do meticulous research on a website before actually sharing your card details and other personal information with it.

There are countless more cyber security tips you could apply to staying safe online while shopping, but the main thing is, the application. If you’re able to apply these cyber security tips and strategies, I am sure you’ll always have good online shopping experience.

Categories
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Internet Access

Combating Cyber Crimes: Basic Computer Security Tips for Business

Cyber criminals cost businesses up to £21 billion annually in the UK. This is hardly surprising, given that 20 per cent of all recorded crime in the UK involves targeting businesses: cyber crime is extremely profitable to criminals.

While some businesses take care of their physical security relatively well, the lack of awareness when it comes to business computer security is astonishing. Even the smallest loophole can lead to catastrophic losses. You must ensure that your Head of IT is fully keyed up on all the risks and safeguards.

The internet and its risks

Running your own in-house email infrastructure is a full-time job on its own. Superfast fibre optic broadband is a blessing, but it brings with it a whole new range of threats to your business. Malware and other harmful cyber threats are plentiful in supply, so you need to make sure that your IT department is fully equipped to defend your business.

If your company is considering migrating its email system to a cloud-based service, internet threats will no longer be your concern: the cloud service will monitor your cyber defences. On the other hand, if you’re continuing with your internal server, it’s of the utmost importance that your IT department stays on top of software updates, particularly with antivirus software.

Encrypt your hard drives

Encrypted Cloud Storage Security

Whatever business you’re in, it’s vital that all of your hard drives are encrypted properly. Passwords aren’t enough to obstruct hackers any more. The best way of preventing a hacker from accessing your files from a remote location is to commission a full-disk encryption to make sure that all of your files, even deleted ones, are protected from hackers.

This task is best left to the experts. While there is free encryption software out there for you to use, implementing the encryption incorrectly will create loopholes for hackers to jump through and steal your data.

Smart passwords

25 worst password for 2011

It’s not enough to create a long, complicated password anymore – hackers are extremely sophisticated and will probably be able to figure out most passwords. To be sure that your data is hacker-proof, you need to have long, complex passwords that mix letters with numbers and other symbols.

Of course, it’s very difficult to remember a whole list of these kinds of ‘super-passwords’. Instead of asking your staff to memorise impossibly long passwords, invest in a password manager program to generate complex, hacker-proof passwords that the program will remember for you.

Making sure your business has sound data protection sometimes is more important than making sure your business premises are well guarded against vandalism or burglaries. Cyber crime can take your entire business down: it’s vital to make sure that you’re secured against it.

How do you intend to protect your email address data from hackers this year? Are there tips you would like to share with us?