Workplace Safety: Online and Physical

Managing safety in the workplace — both in the office as well as online — is becoming a more complicated task by the day. Whether the concern is about hackers coming for your intellectual property, or process ownership during building maintenance, the security of your people is nothing to take for granted. Here are five things any company leader can do to make a greater effort in the name of safety.

Make Sure Everybody Understands What’Be Prepared’ Means

The impression that the world is unsafe and violent has only been amplified by popular media. We have, regrettably, let ourselves fall victim to a false narrative where our collective security is concerned. Nevertheless: it’s clear that when unfortunate events do occur in the world, they can happen just about anyplace.

What does “being prepared” look like for your workplace?If you ask different employees, will they tell you different things? Does everybody have a planned way out of the building or off your campus? It might sound too theoretical to justify spending time on it, but your company should have detailed contingency plans already drawn up for a variety of possible events — be it natural, as in extreme weather events, or something regrettably more man-made.

Perform Intermittent Online Security Audits

Since we’re talking about online and offline security, let’s talk about how business leaders can know, one way or another, whether their employees are practicing good security “hygiene” at work. There are two things you should be doing:

  1. Consider having an outside security company perform penetration testing for your company’s networks. They should be able to help you find any weak points that would-be criminals could exploit purposefully, or undisciplined employees could trigger accidentally.
  2. And when it comes to employees, have your IT team or that same third-party consultant perform or schedule fake phishing attempts for all of your company email addresses. Done correctly, the email will look like a plea for personal information, a reply, or for the user to click a link. Knowing how, and whether, your employees are interacting with emails like these, even fake ones,will tell you something about how at-risk your organization is.

Take Another Look at Your Building and the State of Its Maintenance

With the exception of companies that get started in attics,basements, and garages, most business visionaries take great pride in their immediate surroundings, including their business locations, their employees’accommodations and any environment in which a customer or client might find themselves.

We’re talking about two different things here. The first is curb appeal and “atmosphere.” Your workplace should present itself as a harmonious, well-considered space with tasteful and comfortable furnishings.Someplace employees can feel at home, in other words — since we know (workplaces with objectively pleasing aesthetics) tend to encourage creative free-thought,lower levels of aggression and heightened productivity overall.

But the second part of taking stock of your location and its amenities is a little more serious. It concerns the environment within your building, including its temperature during highs and lows and the quality of air your people are breathing all day. The phrase might sound alarmist, but”Sick Building Syndrome” is very real — and it generally results from poor air circulation in an environment already compromised by end-of-life HVAC systems, dirty duct work and noxious chemicals in furniture and building materials.

Implement BYOD Policies Responsibly

In another return to online safety, so-called “BYOD culture” is worth a look at as another potential threat vector in the well-being of your company and its employees. If the work you perform is conducive to it, you’ve likely already implemented, or plan to explore, BYOD policies. The benefits to company morale and productivity can be significant.When employees can do their work on familiar platforms and using hardware they’re comfortable with, it makes sense that they’d get more done.

The thing is, even if your workflows aren’t necessarily conducive to BYOD culture, your employees and guests might be bringing in smartwatches and other devices that aren’t as obvious. You might even have deployed these and other IoT devices yourself, as part of an internal wellness program. This itself can be a great influence on your organization’s collective health, and consequently your safety and productivity.

You’ve likely heard something about the several recent high-profile data breaches, including several, like Wanna Cry and Petya, which preyed specifically on unsecured and unsiloed IoT devices. Objects like these can be a boon in the workplace for many reasons, but the least you can do,safety-wise, is create a separate internal network for any connected devices you can’t vouch for 100 percent, including for employee BYOD programs as well as guests to your campus who might just want to use some free Wi-Fi.

Know Who’s Accountable and Have a Reporting Process in Place

This final point is a reminder about accountability in the workplace. We’re not talking about pointing fingers — we’re talking about”process ownership” and the idea that anything significant that requires doing deserves a specific appointed person to oversee it. If you do business in a climate where employee or customer safety depends on contacting snow removal companies quickly, you need a chain of command to get this and any other mission-critical safety or productivity concerns taken care of.

And that’s not all, either. When something unexpected happens, whether it’s an accident, damage to company property or infrastructure, bad-faith bookkeeping, or workplace harassment of some kind, your employees deserve some kind of accommodating, anonymizing reporting process for elevating their concerns to their managers or impartial third parties. They shouldn’t be left guessing who to talk to, or what to do if they’ve just been through something upsetting.

You’re going to find that your employees are only too happy to help you keep your company and its work areas safe and sound. But they need to know what’s expected of them and they need to know they have your ear when they have concerns of their own. As usual, it’s about communication.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

How To Keep Customer And Client Data Secure

Small business owners will have to collect a lot of client and customer data. If you don’t keep that information secure, there is a chance your company could get into trouble. There is also a chance you might develop an adverse reputation if your brand appears in the newspapers alongside a story about hackers who stole money from consumers bank accounts. So, use the advice from this post.

Use cloud storage services

If you take a moment to check out the infographic at the bottom of this page; you should learn more about data and how you will need to use it in the coming years. Whatever information you collect, make sure you choose the most secure storage solution. That is usually the cloud.

Encrypt all private details

Companies that collect customer names, addresses and bank account details will need to make sure they encrypt all that data the moment they receive it. Failure to do that could mean a hacker breaks into your system and steals everything. That is not something you want to happen.

Hire an IT support specialist

IT support experts know how to test your system for vulnerabilities and then provide some advice designed to counteract the issues. Make sure you hire a professional and use their services if you want to guarantee you’re not missing anything vital.

Use the info from this page to make sure you never fall victim to a hacking attack that will ruin the reputation of your brand. Also, take a look at the infographic to learn more about some of the challenges your business will face in the future.


Graphic by USC Online

The Security Checklist for Online Businesses

Cybersecurity is not just a technology problem. The system is only as strong as its weakest link. To have an effective cybersecurity system, you need a comprehensive security policy for all employees that covers both online and offline behaviour, as well as leaders to instill a security-conscious culture.

One of the most recent scams is the “VP imposter scam,” which is a smaller version of CEO fraud. An employee receives an email from a VP. VP is in a customer meeting offsite, but he needs gift cards purchased immediately. The employee was told to immediately go buy the gift cards and send the VP the photos of the backs of gift cards before the meeting ends. Sounds urgent, so the employee complies. Unfortunately, the VP was an imposter, using a spoofed address from a “look-alike” domain. Once the card back photos were sent, their values are drained, and the imposter cuts contact. The victim employee eventually realized he was scammed when VP didn’t reimburse, triggering an IT investigation.

Technology will not solve this issue, because this is not something a spam or other email filter will catch. This is a targeted phishing message. But a security policy can stop this, and your company needs both to function properly.

What Makes a Good Security Policy?

There are several things that make a good security policy:

  • Make everyone understand the stakes – anyone can be compromised, from CEO on down to the lowliest grunt, including the vendors. A reported booking.com hack was actually phishing messages that compromised partner’s own backend.
  • Define the chain of command clearly – a VP should not be able to order a random employee around, but only his/her direct staff. Attempt to bypass such must be verified.
  • Define clear areas of control for each department – this can range from “regular users should not be able to install new programs, only IT” to “only CFO can edit transactions.”
  • Define risk in each job, and how to manage that risk – different jobs have different risk levels, and that determines how much training and how much technology is needed to manage that risk.
  • Plan for worst-case before it happens – If you are penetrated by a scammer, how do you proceed? This had to be planned properly ahead of time.

For any organization or individual, it is extremely important to keep your data secure from all kinds of different threats, ranging from hackers stealing your passwords to various different forms of viruses that are used to steal copies of your financial information or forcibly display a wide variety of different popups or advertisements or to open specific programs or web pages independently of any form of user input.

One of the most obvious threats that are most neglected is that some people use the most basic and rudimentary forms of security software that only do the most basic things. The more concerning part of this is the fact that many people do not even bother to update their security software to modern standards and just let the software do its job in the background. However, the problem with them doing this lies in the fact that they are neglecting to update their security software in favour of just using the default version without updates which can lead them to be unable to defend against more modern threats as their security software becomes more and more outdated. Let cyber security managed for you by professionals.

In addition to the use of outdated security software, some people have been known to use a form of data transmission that did an extremely poor job of correctly encrypting their data which left the data in question open to be discovered and stolen by almost any hacker who could gain access to that data stream.

This access control, or authorization, limits certain visitors access to certain areas of the website through security checks. Sometimes, however, access control can be broken, granting access to users who do not have clearance to areas of your website containing sensitive information. If this has ever happened with your website, you know the stress and headache it can cause and have wondered how you can better protect yourself. Lucky for you, we’re here to help.

Why Does Broken Access Control Happen?

The first thing we will want to look at when it comes to resolving broken access control is to determine what causes it in the first place. The first place where developers may fail is in an underestimation in what it takes to implement access control that is reliable. To brake access control, all that a hacker needs to do is simply figure out the access control scheme in order to find a way around it. This is often done by a simple request for access to areas of the website that are not permitted. The hacker will then find a flaw in the access control scheme in order to break it. Once they are in, the attacker is able to do a lot of damage such as deleting content or even taking control of your website. As you can see, the effects of broken access control can be detrimental, and it cannot be over-stressing the importance of knowing the best way to resolve broken access control.

How Can I be Sure I am Protected?

So how can you be sure you are protected? First and foremost, you will want to evaluate the access control requirements for your application and make sure that it is well documented in your policy. This policy should contain details such as who has access and what they should be able to see on your website. You will then want to perform numerous tests from multiple accounts to be sure it cannot be bypassed.

Conclusion

Finally, it is always wise to keep an eye out for social engineering techniques being used to threaten your security. These threats are a little less obvious than most, but they are another thing to keep an eye on. These methods are far less technical and more personal as it mostly involves manipulating people into sharing their personal data rather than hacking your systems.

A Beginners Guide to Online Growth!

With the boom that is being experienced within the world of e-commerce, it is no wonder that more and more online businesses are popping up all over the place. This is a good thing that you should take advantage of and use to finally get you in a position that you are doing what you love and able to leave that job that ha a dead end. There is a lot that you need to make sure that you keep in mind before you even begin this journey for your business needs. Having this information beforehand will help to reduce the number of mistakes that you will make when you get ready to begin your online business. Let us take a look at a few of the things that you need to make sure that you keep in mind before you start this journey.

Market to the Right Demographics

There is something to be said about making sure that you are sending the right message to the right people. One example of this would be to make sure that if you are going for a crowd that is into surfing, then you do not want to target people that are into buying customized dog collars. The key to being popular is to make sure that your marketing is hitting the mark in the demographics you are aiming for. This can save you a lot of trial and error that many beginners will make when trying to get their business up and running. The next tip will be just as important as you will want to make sure that you look at the method of getting paid for your goods and services.

Setup a Payment Gateway to Accept Payment

Having a way to accept payments will be just as important as the business end of things. This is why you need to make sure that you set up a payment portal that is reliable, safe and easy. This is a step that many people will forget about as it will not be at the top of their thought process. Knowing how to find a good payment gateway and how to get it set up will be a very important process that you have to make sure that you keep in mind.

Accept Multiple Forms of Payment

There is no need to move forward if the payment side of your business is not in place. Even once you get the payment gateway established, you will need to make sure that you are accepting all forms of payment. Many businesses lose out on potential customers due to the fact that they limit the types of payment that they are able to accept. If you only accept cash, then that will reduce you from being able to be an online business. If you only accept Visa then you are not getting the customers that have other forms of credit cards that they use online.

Mobilize

Make sure that you are making yourself mobile ready to deal with all of the customers that will be doing business with you on a regular basis. More and more people are living online and as such, they want sites that are mobile friendly. Nothing is more frustrating than having a site that has not been optimized for mobile devices and as such will not display the correct way. This can hurt you in the fact that customers will not want to do business with you as well as it may affect the ability for you to accept payments.

Offer Feedback Options

A customer having the ability to leave feedback is one of the most important things that you can do in helping to build a customer base that will in the end trust you. Having the ability to accept this feedback as well as helping to listen to the feedback and take the advice that is being given to you via the customers. The feedback that they are able to provide to you will help you to better cater to their needs and allow you the chance to make things better for your business and thus allow you to improve on areas where you are a little weak.

Market the Business as Much as Possible

Marketing the business is as essential as the other parts of running the business. If you fail to market it correctly, then your efforts will not be as successful when trying to get new customers to come and check out your business. The ones that you do have will get bored as there will not be anything there to help and keep the customer engaged. If you are not sure what you need to do in the marketing of your business, then you can always hire a firm that will handle all of the details for you.

As you are able to see, there is a lot of running your own business and the more that you understand from the beginning, then the better results that you will have. Following these tips, will make sure that you have a business that will be profitable and will go a long way in helping to give you a sense of accomplishment.

Have Content/ Products that People want

There is no use in having products to sell if the people do not want to buy them. This will involve a lot of research to see what people are and are not into and what types of goods or services that they are seeking out. A little research, in the beginning, will lead to a lot better results for you down the road. Look closely at the things that are doing well and those that are not doing so good and shift your focus on these accordingly. Take ideas from established online stores like Oroton outlet to have a clear idea and implement them in your case. This will help to lead to you having a lot better results with getting products sold in a timely manner. After you have established the selection of products that you are going to sell, you will then want to make sure that you focus on the marketing of the products.

5 Ways Your Security Team Can Help Keep Your Company Safe

Business owners have a lot of responsibilities. This includes responsibilities to customers, employees, business partners, suppliers and the government. One of the most important responsibilities a business owner has is managing security operations. If you ignore security, it can put the well-being of the entire company at risk. Below are five things you should make sure your security team has covered to ensure that your business remains protected.

Secure Your Network

In today’s interconnected world, the biggest threats to businesses aren’t necessarily criminals that show up in person. Today, some of the biggest threats to businesses are hackers, cyber criminals, malware, viruses, Trojans and other cyber security threats. It has been estimated the annual cost of cyber-crime will rise to $2 trillion by 2019. Make cyber security a cornerstone of your security operations for your business.

Screen Your Employees

Your human resources department is actually directly related to security. If you don’t properly screen your employees with criminal background checks during the hiring process, you could hire criminals that are likely reoffend while under your employment. This could mean losing money to theft. It could even mean being sued when customers or other employees are put at risk.

Provide Radio Communications to Security Staff

In regards to securing your physical buildings and grounds, you will need to have security personnel on hand to deal with intruders and other security threats. However, your security personnel will not be able to accomplish much without the ability to efficiently communicate. Companies like Altech Electronics provide radio communications solutions specifically designed for security purposes.

Install Security Cameras

Something else you will need is electronic surveillance of your grounds. Without surveillance camera footage to examine after the fact, it can be very hard to solve or prove crimes. Make sure all significant areas of your grounds and buildings where theft or crime could occur are under video camera surveillance at all times.

Train Employees on Security Procedures

Even employees that are not part of your security staff should be trained on important security procedures. If employees do not know what to do when they come across evidence of a crime taking place, significant mistakes can be made. Employees must also be trained on how to maintain cyber security when dealing with company computer systems.

Overall, maintaining security is one of the most important responsibilities of a business owner. If you ignore security threats, the ramifications can be severe. It can even lead to the end of your business. Make security a priority and make the proper investments to protect your company.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Don’t Dilly Dally About Data

Do I need a cloud server or should I use a hard drive? Is it worth hiring a data management expert? What type of security do I need? What penalties are there for not remaining compliant? These are just some of the questions that are probably swirling around your head when thinking about data issues in your company. You probably think that you have time to ponder these and make the right decisions, but you don’t.

You may not know that nearly one-third of all companies on the market will be exposed to a cybersecurity issue at some point this year. That means if you haven’t already made the right decisions your data could already be vulnerable. You don’t want that, so let’s look at the ways that you can prevent it. You need to make snap decisions here as soon as your business is on the market or even before.

DO Use A Cloud A Server

You have probably been toying with the idea of either hiring or buying a cloud server for your company data. It’s time to stop thinking about it and start doing it. While some people like to point out the security holes in cloud servers, they are nothing compared to hard drives. Someone can hack into your hard drive from their home in minutes if it’s connected to a network. Or, they could just walk into your property and walk out with all your customer data. With a cloud server, it’s far more complicated because then the data is kept off-site.

When you are thinking about cloud servers, do make sure that you research different companies rather than opting for the first one you find online. Quality of service can vary dramatically here.

DON’T Think Your Industry Is Special

It isn’t, and this is a big mistake that business owners are making right now. It is true to say that some companies need to worry more about data than others. For instance, if you work in the medical sector, you need to make sure that you are remaining HIPAA compliant and you can learn more about that on sites like www.nahs.co. But, all companies are held be similar data guidelines and regulations. In Europe, for instance, The GDPR recently came into full force. This impacts every business with ties to Europe, and that brings us to our next point.

DO Hire An Industry Expert

If companies should learn one thing from the new GDPR it’s that data laws can change fast. You can learn more about the GDPR on www.cio.com. While companies were given two years warning here, it still wasn’t long enough for some businesses to get in shape before the strict penalties were imposed. That’s why you should hire a data compliance expert. They can help make sure that you do remain completely compliant and that your business is up to date with changes to the law.

We hope you find this information useful and start making quick decisions on how to protect your business from data issues right now.

 

 

Don’t Fall Into These Traps With Your Online Business!

There’s no denying that the world we live in today is almost entirely dominated by the internet. Whether you’re shopping, socialising, gaming, watching TV, or doing just about anything else, the internet is almost certainly going to be involved. Because of that, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that the business world has had to change and evolve. Online businesses are springing up every single day, and more and more people are able to create startups from virtually nothing thanks to the internet. And yet, despite this, there are a lot of businesses that end up falling at the very first hurdle because they end up falling into some incredibly common traps that come with running an online business. To help you avoid that fate, here are some of the most common pitfalls for new online startups.

trap1

Terrible web design

There’s an assumption that far too many people seem to have that as long as you have a website, you don’t really have to think about it that much. This is one of the most common reasons that online startups end up falling apart. If your web design is lacking, then customers aren’t going to be interested in your business. If it looks amateurish, then they’re going to assume that the rest of your business is the same and look elsewhere. That might sound shallow, but it’s a fundamental part of how many customers engage with businesses.

A misunderstanding of social media

Speaking of customer engagement, if you’re not using social media properly, then you’re missing out on an incredibly important aspect of your marketing. Far too many businesses end up using their social media pages for little more than copied and pasted advertising. If you do that, customers simply aren’t going to care and will unfollow your pages in an instant. You need to use social media to engage with customers on a personal level. This means creating entertaining and interesting content that they will want to share and enjoy.

Poor SEO

The other fundamental part of online marketing that is ignored all too often is that of SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. One of the big changes in the internet age is that customers can now come to you rather than you advertising to them. But to do this, you need to make yourself visible to those customers. That’s where SEO comes in. SEO is the way in which you ensure that your business is the first result when a customer searches for specific keywords on search engines like Google. If your SEO isn’t up to scratch, your business is going to end up getting buried.

One of the most important things to remember is that these things don’t just impact businesses that are exclusively online. Every business needs an online presence, and if you don’t consider these things, then you’re just going to end up wasting it. Even if your business has always been based in brick and mortar, you need the internet to succeed in the modern era, just make sure that you’re using it properly.