Secure your SMB by following these rules

Sufficient security policies can make or break your small or medium sized business. But the truth is that many SMB owners are unsure as to the type of security measures needed to protect their organization. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the minimum security precautions that every SMB owner should follow to ensure their company is safe.

Recognize where your most critical data lies

Is it in the cloud? Hard drives? Backup disks? Mobile devices? Whether or not you have the budget and resources to adequately secure all of your data, the critical data that your business relies on must be sufficiently secure. If you’re unsure of what that is, ask yourself which data you would need to access within 24 hours of your business suffering a major disaster, in order to ensure your operations remained up and running. Once you’ve answered this question, talk with your IT managers to determine the security measures that need to be implemented to protect your most vital data.

Learn the basics

After you’ve bulletproofed your critical data, it’s time to arm your network with the basics. If you haven’t already done so, ensure that you have anti-malware protection on servers and endpoints, and firewalls for both wireless and wired access points.

If you have the budget, it’s worth seeking outside counsel from an IT expert fluent in today’s security best practices. They’ll ensure your business is protected from the latest cyber threats. However, if you don’t have the budget, then it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Read up on security trends, join technology networking groups, and ask your fellow business owners about their own IT security policies.

Cash a reality check

Bad things happen to nice people. Tornadoes, fires, thieves, and faulty technology couldn’t care less about how your business donates to local charities and supports your community’s youth sports clubs. What’s more, hundreds of small businesses across the country suffer severe data loss each year. Ignorance and turning a blind eye will not protect you, so make a wise decision and automate your data to be backed up daily. This allows your business to remain in operation if you’re hit by a security breach.

Dispose of old technology properly

Whether it’s a computer, server or tablet, any device that stores data on it must be properly disposed of when it conks out. Specifically, the hard disk must be destroyed completely. And remember, proper data disposal is not only limited to technology, as critical information is also revealed on paper files. So if you’re migrating the content of physical documents to the cloud, make sure to shred the paper versions too.

Mind your mobiles

The mobile age is here, and along with it come employees who may access your business’s critical information via their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Recognize that many of these devices have different operating systems that require varying security measures. You and your IT manager should be aware of this, which leads to our last point…

Think policy

Have a policy for all your company’s devices. If you don’t inform your employees they shouldn’t access company information via their phones or tablets, then they’ll likely assume it’s okay to do so. But thinking policy doesn’t pertain only to mobiles. You should also determine acceptable online behavior for your employees, as well as how data should be shared and restricted. Put this in writing, and then have your employees read and sign it.

Of course, it’s not always wise to be overly restrictive. Rather the point is to have policies in place and make everyone in your organization aware of them because if you don’t each staff member will make up their own rules.

Are you concerned your business’s security isn’t up to par? Need the guidance of a seasoned IT provider who specializes in security? Talk to us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

7 SEO mistakes you need to avoid

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex subject that is constantly on the move, with major search engines always refining the algorithms that determine how to rank websites. That’s why it’s so easy for businesses to make a blunder based on common misconceptions. If you’re looking to create a solid SEO strategy, we’ve highlighted some of the common mistakes below to help you get started.

You skip the keyword brainstorming phase

This is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make in your website creation plan. By not spending time on researching relevant keywords from the start, you are missing out on the opportunity to potentially generate a large amount of traffic. Without a comprehensive keyword list in hand, you will find it hard to add more keywords as your website grows and gains more authority.

Your content has too little or too much text

There’s no fixed formula when it comes to the length of your content – the number of words can vary greatly depending on your audience and the type of your website. The general rule of thumb, however, is to write content that is valuable for your visitors. Make sure your pages only contain relevant information, and don’t try to cram text just to put more copy on the page, because search engines will have a hard time identifying relevant content.

You’re using black-hat SEO techniques

It may be tempting to go after cheap practices that promise quick results, also known as black-hat SEO techniques. These methods include keyword stuffing, hidden keyword text, link buying, and so on. Some of these techniques may actually work, but only in the short run. Search engines are aware of black-hat schemes, and are continuously improving their algorithms to weed out websites that don’t abide by their guidelines to deliver the best user experience. So it’s best to focus your efforts on building a clean and stable SEO strategy.

You’re expecting quick results

Success doesn’t come easy in the SEO world. Ranking high in search results necessitates spending a substantial amount of time and effort. Don’t expect to earn a position on the first page of search engines immediately or overnight, because it will likely take months to see results. Be patient, and focus on creating great content and abiding by SEO best practices.

You’re not using blogging as a strategy

Most businesses don’t really have the chance to update their website often. Why? Because they can’t really update their “About Us” or their service pages as frequently as they would like – so their websites are just going to stand there dormant and outdated. The problem with this is that search engines don’t like inactive sites. If you have a blogging strategy, however, you have the opportunity to add a page, or pages, to your site at least once a month, if not once a week or better yet daily! The more new pages you add to your website, the more chance you have of getting higher rankings, which translates into more traffic and more leads.

Your website has an inefficient structure

Without a good website structure strategy, you’ll have a hard time trying to organize new categories, as well as information and promotional pages. Having a bloated and scattered site structure won’t do you any good when it comes to SEO, because you’ll only make it harder for visitors to navigate around your website.

You’re not going responsive

Search engines are now taking responsiveness into account when determining rankings. A responsive website adapts its page layouts to fit all screen resolutions and sizes, whether it’s being viewed on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can greatly enhance the user experience and decrease bounce rates (the percentage of visitors who leave the website after visiting only one page). So if your website is not mobile-friendly, then it’s time to seriously consider a responsive design.

There are so many factors involved in search engine rankings, some of which are beyond your control. The important thing is to avoid making these SEO mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to online success. Want more SEO tips and techniques to add value to your business? Get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Vulnerability exposed by WhatsApp bug

News that a potential security threat in the web-based version of WhatsApp left up to 200 million of its users with their data exposed to hackers and malware acts as a reminder to us all to be vigilant in our online interactions. While the bug affected the popular instant messaging app’s web-based version rather than the mobile app itself, and was remedied by WhatsApp after being detected by an Israeli IT firm, it’s nonetheless a worry for those of us who rely on WhatsApp for both business and pleasure. Here’s the lowdown.

The web-based version of the WhatsApp app was only launched a few months back, initially for WhatsApp accounts on Android and Windows Phone devices and later for those on iPhones, but has already grown in popularity. The recent security vulnerability related to vCards, electronic business cards shared by WhatsApp users, and effectively amounted to a kind of phishing.

An error in the WhatsApp web client meant that less-than-innocuous vCard business cards created by hackers were not properly filtered out by the app. As a result, these phishing-style cards made it through to users who, if they clicked them, were at risk of the cards converting themselves to more harmful executable scripts once downloaded – and potentially accessing and playing foul with users’ personal data. There are even reports of a ransomware approach being taken by hackers in this case, with attempts being made to extort cash from WhatsApp users in exchange for restored access to their infected devices and hijacked data.

WhatsApp put a fix in place, by releasing an updated version of the app, prior to making public news of the security vulnerability. It’s worth making sure you have the latest version of WhatsApp installed on your phone, if you haven’t checked recently – WhatsApp’s phone and web versions are linked to one another, so ensuring you are up-to-date on your phone is the way to ensure you’re safe when using the web client too. The patch is also available directly through the web client, though this won’t update your phone’s version of the app at the same time.

The whole affair also serves as a timely reminder that it pays to be vigilant when it comes to using WhatsApp and other instant messaging platforms – including email. Avoid opening links or downloading files that you’re not expecting to receive, and proceed with caution even if you were anticipating them. It’s better to double check with the sender that they’re consciously passing a file to you, and that they’re fully aware of its contents, than to wait until your device has been infected and damage has potentially been inflicted on your vital data.

Want to learn how to keep your devices safe from phishing attempts and other potential security vulnerabilities? Give us a call and let us equip you with tamperproof solutions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

What a dislike button means for your business

If you heard the recent news that a dislike button is coming to Facebook, you may have suddenly broken out into a cold sweat, fearing the negative repercussions it could have on your business. “What if customers dislike my posts or my business fan page?” you may think to yourself. The real purpose of the “dislike button,” however, is not exactly what it sounds like. Here’s what you need to know about it, and how it will affect your business.

For many years people have been clamoring for a dislike button on Facebook. But up until now, perhaps the world was not ready. According to research from Piper Jaffray and the Pew Research Center, the demographics of Facebook users have changed dramatically over the past decade. While 10 years ago the world’s most popular social media platform was frequented mostly by teenagers and early 20-somethings, today over 60% of Facebook users are over the age of 25. And you may have noticed that this change of user is reflected in the posts you likely see in your news feed. While users once posted more pictures of parties, now you’re more likely to see pictures of babies, news articles, or political stories.

So, why does this age difference matter? According to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, he didn’t want the social media network to turn into a forum where “people are voting up or down on people’s posts.” This could quite possibly have been the outcome had Facebook introduced a dislike button while it had a younger fan base.

Will users be able to dislike your business?

It is highly unlikely this will happen. Remember, Facebook is a publicly traded company that aims to turn a profit. Advertisers and brands would not be too happy if their ads or businesses were suddenly disliked, and Zuckerberg is undoubtedly aware of this.

What’s the point of the dislike button then?

To clarify, Zuckerberg never directly came out and said Facebook is getting a dislike button. Instead, he said they are working on a new button that will express sympathy or empathy. And with a now-older user base that’s more likely to share emotive news stories or sad news about family matters, it makes sense for a button like this to be introduced now. Here’s what the Facebook CEO had to say about the new button: “Not every moment is a good moment, right? And if you are sharing something that is sad…like the refugee crisis that touches you…it might not feel comfortable to Like that post.”

Be wary of third party offers to download a dislike button now

Be aware that a dislike button is not available now. While you or your employees may see ads from third parties offering early access to the “dislike button”, do not be fooled by them. If you are tricked into installing or signing up for them, you could risk your computer being infected with malware.

Want more social media news and advice on how to manage your reputation online? Call us today to talk with one of our experts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Why you should consider self-service BI

Business intelligence (BI) tools offer valuable insights into an organization’s data and allow key decision makers to make faster and more informed strategic choices. But technology is evolving rapidly, and with it comes a new and more efficient BI practice – the self-service approach. Many organizations are now shifting towards this new form of BI, due to its advantages over the traditional system.

What is self-service business intelligence?

Self-service BI is a reporting and analytics platform that business users with limited IT knowledge and experience can use for themselves. Simply put, if an end user trying to find an answer to a business question can access, use, and generate reports without bothering the IT department or data analysts, then they’ve done self-service BI.

The end goal of self-service BI is to eliminate redundant processes where users have to request access and assistance from data analysts and technology experts. With self-service BI, users are able to gather information, analyze it, and share the reports with others, without having to know the technical protocols required to access the data.

Traditional vs. self-service

In traditional BI systems, analysts create reports based on input data, and deliver them to key decision makers. In the case where the decision makers need more detail or different data, or change their business questions, analysts have to adapt the report or create new ones.

Self-service BI is designed to eliminate this time-consuming reporting process, placing much of the responsibility for report creation on end users. It opens the door to data exploration and new possibilities. Instead of asking analysts to generate reports, end users have the ability and tools to find the answers to their own business questions whenever they want.

How self-service BI can benefit your business

Self-service BI helps improve organizations in various key areas. Here are just some of the benefits it has for your business.

  • It saves time – most likely there are far more people asking business questions than there are IT experts creating reports to answer them. By removing the dependency on data analysts and technical staff, companies are able to improve the efficiency of their analytical process and save time, as end users can find the answers to their questions themselves.
  • It eliminates mistakes – the more decisions users have to make, the less likely they are to make the right ones. Self-service BI helps ease the decision-making process by delivering nearly instant reports and visualizations that are easy to understand. Users can analyze their data from any angle and deduce answers without having to consult specialists.
  • It reduces costs – since end users are able to utilize self-service BI with little to no training, training and support costs are significantly lower than other BI solutions. What’s more, self-service BI platforms can be accessed from anywhere and at any time, without the need to install expensive hardware and servers, allowing businesses to save money.

There are plenty of benefits of adopting self-service BI. As more employees are able to analyze and explore data by themselves, decisions can be made much faster and at a far lower cost. Want to learn more about business intelligence and how you can implement it in your organization? Give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.