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THE IT INSIDER...
Why Cyberthugs LOVE Your Business
It was a typical morning at the offices of a small Midwestern online retailer. This company, whose name we cannot mention due to a non-disclosure agreement with our source (Gary Miller, GEM Strategy Management) owned a very successful online catalog offering a wide variety of women’s apparel and accessories. They had a terrific reputation and brand, and every reason to be excited about their future.
Then, with a single click, the death spiral began...
An employee received an e-mail with a link to a benign-looking catalog. All it took was one click and the company’s entire network was infected. The Crytowall malware dug deep into the company’s accounting system and customer fi les, including credit card and social security numbers.
Be ready for power outages. A power outage can hurt your business in more ways than you think. Besides employee downtime, it takes time to safely get everything back up and running. Then you need to make sure no critical files have been damaged or lost.
Autosave features can help minimize lost files in a sudden power outage. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can give your team anywhere from ten minutes to an hour to back up files and properly shut down equipment. If you need longer power durability during an outage, you might want to look into a backup generator.
Fifteen thousand customer accounts were locked up by the malware. A ransom demand soon followed, requiring $50,000 for the key. Unfortunately, the company’s backup systems had been down for the last three months. With no way to remove the virus without destroying crucial data, the company had its back against a wall.
They paid for the decryption key. But no luck – it didn’t work. Business came to a grinding halt. The company owners couldn’t afford to rebuild their entire network. Within six months, the company closed its doors, strangled by a lack of sales and cash flow.
Could this happen to you?
Hackers have discovered that small businesses make juicy targets. These criminals love going after small businesses because they’re often the easiest to penetrate. IBM reports that over 62% of the 4,000 cyber-attacks that occur every day target small businesses.
Cyberthieves fi lch information to rob bank accounts via wire transfers. They steal customers’ personal identity information and resell it on black markets. They nab key information to fi le fraudulent tax returns, and commit health insurance or Medicare fraud – in your customers’ names.
Most small businesses are easy prey because they fail to take precautions. But you don’t have to be like most small businesses. Here are four things you can start doing TODAY to prevent a shutdown that could destroy your fortunes.
Understand evolving threats
Know what’s at risk in your company. Stay on top of the different schemes hackers use to gain entry. Learn all you can about phishing, spoofi ng, social engineering, malware, systems hacking, pharming and the latest scams so you can see them coming. Identify your company’s weak points and bolster them as needed.
Institute a dual signature policy
Require that two people sign off on every transaction. At the very least, when in doubt, pick up the phone. Verify all fund transfers or requests for payment before releasing funds.
Ingrain a solid data security policy in your company’s culture
Yes, you need to defi ne and document protocols… but that’s not enough. In order for them to work, they must permeate every activity you and your team engages in. Your employees are the gatekeepers of critical data. Train them to see the warning signs, engage in safe practices and respond effectively to an attack. Examples include using only unique, complex passwords and keeping a “clean desk,” where sensitive information isn’t exposed.
Have – and practice – an incident response plan
Just like a fire drill, being ready for a breach gives your team an edge when faced with a crisis. When everyone knows exactly what to do, you’re better able to nip a hack in the bud.
Why play Russian roulette with your company’s data?
If you’ve been putting off cyberprotection measures, thinking, “Oh, that would never happen here,” you are putting your company’s entire future in jeopardy. NOW is the time to call in an expert you can trust to verify that your data is safe in today’s rapidly evolving battle against a host of online bad guys.
When it comes to protecting your data – whether it’s bank account information, customer and employee records or proprietary IP or processes – we’ve got you covered.
Through the end of December, we're offering our Cybersecurity Assessment at no cost to 10 companies in the Cincinnati area. Call me at (513) 624-5113 or e-mail me at JR@PTScinti.com TODAY because we can only offer this valuable services to the first 10 companies that apply.
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The Lighter Side: Holiday Funnies
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Tips and Tricks
This new kid on the block is a Galaxy and iPhone slayer.
Eight years in the making, Google has bypassed its Android partners with the new Pixel phone. While it won’t win any visual design awards, Pixel sports a rich feature set that raises the bar for smartphone performance. Foremost is its blistering speed. Google spent a lot of time “tuning the hell out of the platform,” as one Google spokesperson said. Plus, its Snapdragon 821 chipset keeps its cool – literally – and avoids throttling better than the Snapdragon 820 featured in the Galaxy S7 and other premium smartphones. And Pixel’s camera, call quality and battery life are all “top of class.” Priced from $649 to $869, it’s a premium phone – with premium pricing.
Are you getting full value from your lunch break?
Here are three ways to make that precious time slot pay off for you: 1) Break bread with clients. Learn about their business and build rapport. They’re less likely to leave when you know what really bugs them and what their goals are. 2) Go work out. A carb-laden lunch bogs you down for the next few hours. Breaking into a sweat, on the other hand, gives you energy and makes you more productive. Besides being good for you, a good workout clears your head and lets you think through challenges. 3) Take a siesta. What?! Yep. Siesta. A midday “power nap” improves mental acuity. And well-rested people perform at the top of their game.
Here’s why Mark Zuckerberg thinks chatbots are a big deal.
Chatbots respond automatically to chat messages you receive. They’ve been around since AOL’s Instant Messenger (AIM). But with artifi cial intelligence and a huge surge in messaging-app popularity, their potential for things like customer service is exploding. In fact, more people now use messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat than social networks. Chatbots can help you cut costs and scale up. It can talk with thousands of people at once, while a customer service rep can speak with only one at a time. Yet hurdles remain. For example, you don’t want this kind of response: “Siri, I’m bleeding really badly. Call me an ambulance.” “From now on I’ll call you ‘An Ambulance.’ OK?”
Double your sales team’s productivity.
Give fi tness trackers as rewards for hitting sales goals. They’re one of the most popular gifts right now with both health and non-health conscious workers. And once an employee earns it, they’ll likely start using it. With health care costs at less than a third of national averages for companies with wellness programs, you get a double win – more productivity, less cost. One way to get the most out of fi tness trackers for your team is to set sleeping goals. The journal Sleep reports that people who get seven to eight hours of sleep per night stay home sick four to nine days less than those who get less than fi ve or more than 10 hours per night.
Finally, you can block snoops with this new Facebook Messenger feature.
Secret Conversations allows you to encrypt messages so nobody but you and your conversation partner can read them. It also lets you send messages with an expiration time ranging from fi ve seconds to one day. Your Messenger app may not have notifi ed you, but when you update it, you’ll fi nd the Secret Conversations option on the top right of each new message screen. You’ll need to enable it manually for every conversation. The only way to use Secret Conversations, however, is to update your Messenger app – so if you haven’t done it yet, DO IT, and use it. Otherwise you may be letting snooping competitors or hackers in on your conversations.
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