New year, new cyber-threats

Have you had to deal with security issues in the past year? Brace yourself, as there are more to come. For this reason, security experts have become indispensable members of society, who guard tech-dependent individuals and businesses against malicious attacks that pose threats to their privacy and livelihood. As you ring in the new year, make sure you’re well armed against the following predicted cyber-crimes.

Increased threats on cloud technology

Cloud service has numerous benefits to businesses. They make data storage, collaboration, and processing more efficient; they enable employees to work faster; and they help operations flow smoother. Cloud technology’s popularity is expected to rise well into the next few years, but as demand increases, so does the dangers presented by cyber attackers.

Ransomware will be more complex

Ransomware incapacitates computer systems by locking down files and preventing access for ransom. In its 2016 Threat Predictions report, security software company McAfee predicts a peak in ransomware attacks next year. Although they also predict it to recede by mid-year, damages to vulnerable cloud-dependent infrastructures can be great and costly. Most alarming in the prediction, however, is that in the coming year ransomware attacks will be more complex due to new elements.

Ransomworms, which use advanced victimization techniques to mine further data within an already compromised network, are expected to put an even crueler spin to an already formidable malware. Doxing, on the other hand, affects avenues such as social media and any place where sensitive, easily identifiable information can be extracted to serve the ultimate purpose of extorting money. Yet another wicked ransomware to watch out for is Backup Deletion, which destroys the very mechanism that can otherwise help you recover from a compromised system or files: your backup data.

More threats to IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled devices

It is also predicted that 2017 will see attacks made on IoT-powered devices, which will make life harder for those who depend on technology that makes life easier. It targets medical devices and Electronic Medical Records, “connected cars”, basic domestic tools, and tech-driven wearables, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. The danger posed by this intrusion is fully capable of corrupting information stored in your devices.

Advanced cyber espionage

Cyber espionage is by no means a novelty. In 2017, it’s expected to hold sway in cyber-threat prevention measures as it becomes even more complex. It encompasses all sectors of society, including individuals, private organizations, government institutions, and entire countries. Perpetrators will have the means to bypass networks by attacking firewalls and wreak havoc in their victims’ network. Fret not, for there will be measures in place to detect this threat also in the coming year.

Hackers are one of the most cunning criminals to have ever existed. While the cyber-police and the defenses they put up are no slouches, threats to security systems can still make technology-dependent individuals and businesses quiver. Although damaged networks can be repaired, compromised privacy restored, and stolen data returned, the amount of damage that hackers can cause might be irreparable and/or result in a significant dent in your IT infrastructure and budget. The value of a network security system makes itself known when you least expect it, which is why security should be a top priority.

Are your systems protected from these predicted remarkable feats of hacking? Call us if you want to discuss security services that are best for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Can Your Business Survive A Disaster?

Disasters. They do happen — it’s only a matter of ‘when’. While most businesses acknowledge it, surveys show that only one in four companies worldwide have adequate protection in the event of a major disruption. We’re not talking about insurance here, but a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan that could save you thousands of dollars in losses and worse, a business closure. If you haven’t heard much about what DR is, this post will help you gain some insight about what it is and how it can affect the future of your business.

As we all know, unpredictability is a fact of life. The aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill in Texas and recent floods in South Carolina are a grim and unfortunate lesson for many overconfident business owners who think their companies are spared from the likelihood of cataclysmic weather, technological malfunctions, or human actions. A 2014 survey by the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council reveals just how many companies worldwide are at risk: 73 percent of SMBs are failing in terms of disaster readiness. What does this mean? It means that 3 out of 4 companies aren’t prepared to handle emergencies and save their businesses from a worse-case scenario.

If it’s not clear and compelling enough for a business owner like yourself to consider putting a well-conceived Disaster Recovery (DR) plan into place, perhaps it’s time to give it some thought. Doing so can save you years of business loss. Here is some useful information about what DR is all about and how it can ensure your business’s survival in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.

What is Disaster Recovery (DR)?

Disaster recovery is a plan for restoring and accessing your data in the event of a disaster that destroys part or all of a business’s resources. It is a key component involving many aspects of business operations that requires this information to function. The job of a DR plan is to ensure that whatever happens, your vital data can be recovered and mission-critical applications will be brought back online in the shortest possible time.

What kind of disasters are likely to happen?

Business disasters can either be natural, technological, or man-made. Natural types of disasters include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, and even a pest infestation. On the other hand, technological and man-made disasters involve hazardous material spills, infrastructural or power failure, nuclear power plant meltdown or blast, chemical threat and biological weapons, cyber attacks, explosions, or acts of terrorism and civil unrest.

Why does your business need DR?

Regardless of industry or size, when an unforeseen event takes place and causes day-to-day operations to come to a halt, a company will need to recover as quickly as possible to ensure you will continue providing services to clients and customers. Downtime is one of the biggest IT expenses that any business can face. Based on 2015 disaster recovery statistics, downtime that lasts for one hour can cost small companies as much as $8,000, mid-size organizations $74,000, and $700,000 for large enterprises.

For SMBs particularly, any extended loss of productivity can lead to reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders, increased labor costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates, and so on. If major business disruptions are not anticipated and addressed today, it’s very possible that these negative consequences resulting from an unexpected disaster can have long-term implications that affect a company for years. By having a Disaster Recovery plan in place, a company can save itself from multiple risks including out of budget expenses, reputation loss, data loss, and the negative impact on clients and customers.

How do I create a DR strategy for my business?

Creating, implementing and maintaining a total business recovery plan is time-consuming but extremely important to ensure your business’s survival. Many organizations don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this process. If you would like to protect your company from unexpected disasters but need further guidance and information on how to get started, give us a call and our experts will be happy to discuss Disaster Recovery options and solutions with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Interruption insurance for businesses

Natural disasters have increased exponentially in the last few years – something that has resulted in a number of small and medium-sized business owners turning to business interruption insurance for protection. Covering many scenarios that regular business insurance simply ignores, adequate protection can be the make-or-break factor when it comes to surviving a natural or manmade catastrophe.

So why do small and medium-sized organizations tend to forego business interruption insurance policies? Chances are it, like so many things, comes down to cost. But can you really afford to ignore the additional protection that interruption insurance offers, or is it safe to cut corners and hope that your regular business insurance will have you covered in the event of a disaster?

While an interruption insurance policy may cost you anywhere from $750 to $10,000 or more (the cost is normally dependent on the size of your business), the fact is that your standard insurance policy will not cover you completely when a catastrophe strikes.

Take for example the spate of superstorms that have ravaged the United States over the past decade. From Hurricane Katrina to the more recent Sandy, small businesses and enterprises throughout the US have been left devastated after feeling the wrath of Mother Nature. While a best-case scenario may entail losing a few days sales during a power outage, at the other end of the scale you could find yourself dealing with a destroyed warehouse, an office that no longer has a roof, or thousands of dollars worth of stock destroyed by flooding.

And the reality is that your regular insurance is probably not going to reimburse you for storage or relocation costs if you need to move operations elsewhere, temporarily or otherwise. The majority of policies will only cover the loss of, or damage to, physical items like stock, equipment and property. They will usually not cover you for any loss in profit if a disaster means that you need to temporarily cease trading. On the other hand, tightly drawn up business interruption insurance should cover you in the event you need to move. It should also cover a decrease in sales due to power failures that shut your communication lines down, as well as a drop in profits due to delays in the delivery of stock or equipment.

Think the chances of a natural disaster affecting you are still slim despite the scenes of chaos and devastation reported in the media? Consider that a recent survey conducted by insurance giant Allianz found that there are now typically 600 major incidents per year – compare that to the previous 400 per annum and it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that disasters are on the rise.

So, as a small or medium-sized business owner, what do you need to know before you consider purchasing interruption insurance? If you’re thinking of adding interruption coverage to your existing policy, first record your current net income – but watch out because, if your net profit is high, you might be hit by a low per-incident limit. You could find your insurer has limited your coverage and left you inadequately protected.

Is business booming? If you are undergoing rapid growth, keep records spanning many months so you have proof of revenue increase. Without this, you will not be able to forecast month-on-month profit growth and your insurer might cap coverage at the rate of the previous year’s profit, not at your accelerated one. Be aware, too, that the type of interruptions you want protection for should reflect the areas covered in your general business policy. If your existing policy doesn’t include coverage for fire damage, neither will your interruption insurance.

There are many other aspects of an interruption policy to take into account – such as add-ons that protect you in the event of a power outage (something that standard policies normally don’t normally cover), and knock-on effects caused by a disaster at your supplier’s end.

Once you have taken out interruption insurance, should you have to use it then the most important aspect for you will be getting reimbursed. Crucially, you need to be able to provide your insurer with as many details concerning profit loss as possible. Consider storing files electronically, either offsite or in the cloud. That way, if your office or store is destroyed, you’ll still have access to your documents – and a far greater chance of recovering your losses.

If you’d like to learn more about protecting your data, files and documents, as well as about business continuity planning to help you get back up and running should disaster strike, please get in touch with our team today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

How to start your company’s ORM

Almost every company out there has a website and social media presence, but the most successful ones also use Online Reputation Management (ORM). Simply having an online presence is no longer enough; your company must also be constantly monitoring it. It’s easy to start working on your ORM and use it to take your company to the next level.

ORM is still a relatively new concept, and one that small and medium-sized business owners may not yet be familiar with. Simply put, ORM is the monitoring and protecting of your company’s reputation online. Not only are you looking out for what your company is producing, but also what other people are saying about you.

You only control a limited amount of your company’s message. Consumers using social media control the rest and can often times make or break your company. That is why more and more businesses are investing resources in ORM. While many companies choose to handle their ORM in-house, there are ORM service providers who can take care of the process for you.

Search for your company

Once you’ve determined who will be looking after your ORM, it’s important to see how your business stacks up. The first thing you should do is search for your company on Google. The results are often telling for your business. Being at the top of the search results is a good sign, and shows your website has strong SEO terms and social media presence. If your company doesn’t appear on the first two pages of search results, or the results that come up aren’t what you want people to see, it’s time for your ORM team to get to work.

Bolster your online presence

Creating quality content – to boost where your business shows up in the search results, or push down negative content – is the next step for your ORM. Remember, most people only bother with the first two pages of Google search results, so you want to own those. Other ways to bolster your online presence include registering with online business directories like Yelp or Yellowpages.com. These sites almost always rank very well in search results.

Another positive step would be to expand your social media portfolio to include sites you might not think of right away, like Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and even Tumblr. Being active on just a couple of these channels can further improve your exposure.

Set up a monitoring system

Finally, setting up a monitoring system will ensure your ORM is always up to date with your company’s online profile. Signing up for Google Alerts can guarantee you are always informed of new brand or keyword mentions, while tools like Tagboard and TweetBinder will search various social networks for keywords and hashtags related to your business. These are valuable tools to ensure you’re on top of what’s happening to your business online.

At the end of the day, your online reputation needs to be not only robust, but sterling as well. That is why dedicating resources to ORM can not only protect your business, but help it grow as well. Clients will find your business easily when they search for it, and the results they do find will be the things you want them to see.

Want to know more about ORM or anything else internet-related? Contact us and we can help your business today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.