Maintaining your IT infrastructure in-house can be a costly and resource intensive operation. According to IBM, it accounts for 70% of most organisations’ IT budgets yet offers little in return for business development. In addition, keeping up-to-date with technological advancements means increased capital expenditure and the need to continually invest in staff development. Moving to …
Rather than concerning themselves with malicious hacker groups like Lizard Squad, business owners may want to learn from federal agencies and look at their insiders and employees as the next threat to their company’s cybersecurity. Bumping up company cybersecurity may not be very effective if your employees aren’t well educated on how they can both reinforce and hamper security.
Facts and Figures
SolarWinds is an IT software management company that conducted a survey with Market Communications in 2014 that shed new light on the true threats to the digital security of the military and federal government. For instance, insider data leakage and theft was named by nearly 30 percent of respondents as the largest liability to cybersecurity. Roughly 40 percent of breaches were the result of poorly trained and careless insiders.
An online survey conducted earlier this month by Stroz Friedberg revealed that senior management might be the biggest vulnerability to a company’s cybersecurity. In the survey, more than 50 percent of senior managers confessed to having sent sensitive information to the wrong address, much lower than the 25 percent of employees who confessed to the same blunder. If that wasn’t bad enough, more than half of surveyed senior managers admitted to taking company files with them when they left their positions. Now may be a good time to get in touch with your old employees to see if they took more than just their desk plants with them on their last day.
The Reason Behind the Risk
Employees and insiders aren’t going out of their way to leave gaps and cracks in federal agency, military and company cybersecurity. There are instances where survey respondents simply didn’t have the money required to beef up security. Competing priorities was another reason for lax cybersecurity, in addition to complex internal environments. While it’s entirely possible for users to set up their own cybersecurity measures, many of them may not truly understand just how intricate digital security is, or how their online and electronic environments truly work.
While the rate at which technology is advancing is all well and good, it can also be a unique liability for users who don’t realize just how outdated their software is. There’s also the fact that not all users give their cybersecurity the degree of time and attention it truly deserves. There may be an ongoing problem or vulnerability users have no idea exists, which means that employees, insiders and management may not be aware they need to take action. Any of these liabilities can lead to a company or federal agency operating at a higher-than-necessary level of avoidable risk.
Rectifying the Situation
Proper education is one of the most powerful and effective methods of boosting cybersecurity no matter if you’re protecting your personal files and information or the personal and classified data of federal employees. In October of 2014, the Department of Energy realized just how many gaping holes there were in the infrastructure of its cybersecurity. Rather than repeating the DOE’s mistakes, you can instead learn from them and use them as a cautionary tale.
Make sure that your information security staff receives proper and regular training on the full scope of their responsibilities. The identity of anyone who logs in to or out of any system should be recorded in order to easily identify where and how a potential security threat may have started. Officials should also keep a close eye on anyone who either deletes or alters any information. Not only should cybersecurity policies for system use be established, but employees should also be made aware of what those policies entail and if they ever change.
Other things you can do include taking regular inventory of technology equipment and creating reports for any stolen or lost assets. All of this might sound tedious and time-consuming, but these methods could also keep your sensitive information safe and in your hands where it belongs.
The True Cost of Recovering From a Cybersecurity Breach
Even the smallest of data breaches can result in major expenses if the stolen information was particularly sensitive. In many states, companies are legally required to inform their customers if they even suspect their cybersecurity was in any way compromised. Not only does this take time away from regular day-to-day business activities, it can cost as much as $ 30 to properly notify each customer. This cost can mount even further if it turns out the suspected cyber attack was an actual attack. When the Department of Energy fell prey to a cyber attack in 2013, it was reported that more than approximately $ 4 million was spent on the cost of recovery.
In addition to a loss of finances and resources, companies and federal agencies also have to worry about a loss of confidence. Current customers and potential customers are sure to think twice about dealing with or entrusting their private information to a business or organization that has sustained a cyber attack in the past. This ripple effect can last for months and possibly even years to come, spreading to shareholder value, financial performance and corporate stability.
The truth is there’s really no way to determine for sure how much a potential or actual cyber attack can cost, no matter if the culprit is an employee, insider or hacker. It’s common for companies to underestimate how vulnerable they are to a security breach, regardless of how sophisticated and up-to-date their security measures might be.
Account for Every Contingency
Even if you already have an insurance policy that covers data security, there’s a chance it’s limited to only certain exposures and includes dedicated limits. As you’re upgrading your security and making sure your employees and insiders are well informed on new and current security measures, talk with your insurance provider to see how protected you actually are from a cyber threat. It’s always best to have more insurance and assurance than you think you may need.
No matter how busy companies, federal agencies and individuals may get, it’s essential they all take time out to learn about major threats to their cybersecurity that exist interiorly and exteriorly. Keep your digital kingdom safe behind gates reinforced with education, preparation and preservation.
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It has been over a century since Charles H. Duell, the Commissioner of the US patent office in 1899 declared that “everything that can be invented has been invented.” The numerous innovations of that time were so impressive that many felt there could be no more. Ironically, today the advances in technology are equally mind-blowing to us, and yet, there is no end in sight.
Another saying went “if you build a better mousetrap, people will buy it”, and yet modern technology advances according to the demands of the public, not vice-versa. Modern inventors do not have to wait for the voice of the users to know if their ideas will make money. For this reason, technology trends represent marketing demand more than ever before. This makes it important to follow the hottest trends, to keep offerings current, to keep up with market demands, and to discover the most promising service and sales opportunities for the future. Following are some of the most important hosting trends of 2014.
Hosting Has Become a Commodity Offering
In past decades, customers chose their providers for a variety of reasons. Initially, there were only several large companies from which to choose. Later, a proliferation of companies arose as entrepreneurs discovered that they could simply gather a few servers and open their doors for business. Competition helped lower prices, but few of the hosts of that time competed on customer service. Businesses were challenged to find companies that could guarantee the basic hosting spec required of all online service: percent down-time.
This left a market gap that was eventually filled by high-quality providers that could give both businesses and private parties the ability to get high quality service and good customer support at a reasonable price. As hosting providers offered more services such as web page report, server storage, and design tools, even more high quality providers entered the market. Today, there are so many that potential clients have hundreds of choices of providers.
Hosting Companies Measured Against Performance Metrics
In response to the huge number of providers and the need for businesses and individuals to make an informed choice, review sites began to emerge. These sites use targeted ads as a business model, rating groups of providers and providing links to the visitor’s eventual choice. Some sites focused on a few key parameters for the hosts they reviewed, while others offered dozens. In 2014, the largest trend was for visitors for all review sites to focus on performance parameters over such other features as customer service, ease of use, and available tools. In 2015, experts expect that this trend will induce hosting providers to focus on their performance metrics in order to gain the best reputation on the review sites, and in turn, garner the greatest market share of new or converted clients.
URLs Offer Additional Branding Strategies
Almost everyone today knows that website addresses begin with “www” and that most end with “.com”. Those sequences of characters are even programed onto dedicated keys of some modern devices. Because www is common to all addresses, it is not brand-able. Similarly, the .com extension pushed out “the competition” – including .net, .biz, and others – in the same way an early business adopter with high barriers to entry stymies competition. Once a company snared the doman.com address, the domain.net version generally got less attention, and by lowered familiarity, had the cast of a second-class citizen. At that point, the extension was generally only effective for specialty entities, such as .org of non-profits and .edu for educational facilities.
However, these extensions, known as TLDs or top-level domains, have gained a resurgence. It may have begun with the use of geo-specific TLDs to indicate the country of origin, such as co.uk for Great Britain or .es for Spain. Recently, generic TLDs (aka gTLDs) have become available. Geo-specific gTLDs include such extensions as .Vegas and .NYC. This allows service to define themselves as local to their target markets. The cost of such extensions is much less than the original .com address, making the use of gTLDs an effective way of differentiating businesses from their competition.
Generic TLDs have also come to include other creative extensions. gTLDs such as “.florist” or “.shoes” grabs attention, sticks in customers’ minds, and shows exactly what the business offers. As business compete in commodity markets, the ability to use gTLDs to provide differentiation and market advantage becomes crucial. Hosts can work with clients to provide meaningful gTLDs.
Websites Become Responsive to Match the New Mobile Environment
When PCs were king, websites competed on content. Today, if a website is not mobile-friendly, it may be bypassed for a competing site with a responsive web design. This effect is easy to see. As modern tablets are often given away in provider promotions, almost anyone with a cell phone can now afford a tablet. A useful experiment is to visit a non-marketing site, such as one that publishes technical papers, and try to read. Non-responsive websites appear on mobile devices by either requiring the user to scroll horizontally, moving the scroll bar back and forth for each line, or to shrink the font to fit the web document, until the text is essentially non-readable. Responsive sites adjust their content to fit the target device screen, making the websites easy and attractive regardless of screen size.
In 2014, metrics companies showed that responsive storefront sites had a 60% higher conversion rate than those that were not responsive. This advantage of mobile-centric websites is expected to increase in 2015. Hosting providers can offer the tools to aid businesses in creating responsive websites.
Security Concerns Continue to Increase
Unfortunately, keeping pace with the technology explosion has been the ability to create malicious software. The power of e-commerce systems lies in its ability to engender trust in online shoppers. Even in 2014, many would-be online shoppers have been discouraged by the regular breaches of large companies, and the inability of Internet security systems to put an end to identity theft once and for all. For this reason, in the coming year 2015, hosting providers can help protect their business clients by offering security tools such as SSL certificates and malware removal. They can also ensure that sensitive customer data is backed up, critical software is updated on schedule, and firewalls retain the latest security measures.
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The cloud hosting dubai has enabled a faster as well as technically upgraded internet service for millions of business houses. The connectivity is faster along with a well trained service team providing a safer connectivity in the world of business.
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Surprisingly, it’s reported that over half the businesses in the United States still don’t have a web site. Of this half, more and more will bend to the pressure of entering the digital age as a necessity to stay competitive. 72% of consumers say they will first check out a business online before considering using a company. Unfortunately, many businesses will take the cheap way out for having a site created and that will hurt them more than having no web site at all.
I was recently contacted by a new business to cover their emergence into the industry and they included a link to their new web site. Their business plan was very sound and a unique innovation on a service to businesses, especially those about to consider their first web site. Unfortunately, their own web site was poorly planned, badly designed and would not impress any visitor considering them as a vendor. I felt I should reply to their request for public relations outreach:
I would be pleased to cover your new idea as it seems quite unique and has merit but if I could give you a few words of advice, you really need to get professional with your sell copy on the “How It Works” page as well as watch the spacing in the layout. On one line you use “u” for “you.” Text speak and the current copy will not engage professional clients to try your service. Even the design, which is minimal… and that’s okay, has no corporate strength behind it. It doesn’t sell itself within the first minute and that’s a mistake that will have people click off your page before they can see what your service is all about.
I suggest you incorporate these considerations, as well as your blog material, sharing tools and layout before you go live for the public.
To his credit, the business owner replied, agreeing with me but his excuses rang of the same problems I’ve noticed on other new sites:
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me. Also, thanks for your feedback as I value this above anything else. I’ll fix the grammar on the “How It Works” page, something I should have done before my developer made it go live. Also, I’m thinking about just totally redoing that page after listening to your feedback. As you know startups, especially bootstrapped ones have to watch where they allot resources to and I was using most of my resources in building the functionality of the site and not so much on the design as I was thinking of fixing that up later, once we get the MVP built. So do you think, I should just redo that page? I was just trying to get a landing page together to collect emails and see customer interest, but that’s pointless when the design detracts initial visitors.
I replied again, trying to explain further, without giving away too much information as I get paid to consult on such matters:
In my opinion, you need to put your best foot forward from the start. The whole site should reflect the professional stature you want to entice clients to trust you from the start and be impressed by what they see as a top source for their needs. Anything less and they’ll click away and never come back.
Web sites are the first impression prospective clients will have of a business and if it looks cheap or unprofessional, then that is the impression they will have. Your site is your number one sales tool, backed up by service once the client is hooked. Why spin your wheels if you know the site isn’t the best it can be? I think you need to step back and look at your site from the perspective of a visitor. You may also want to do some market research and ask connections of yours for their HONEST feedback. What do they think? What was their first impression of business? Do they immediately know what your business is offering? Viewers should know within the first 30 seconds what it is you’re offering them and what your business is all about.
Give it a try but in the meantime, put up a landing page with an email opt-in so you don’t lose momentum from people coming to your page and deciding you’re not for them.
It is true that monetary considerations do come into play when planning any marketing initiative, such as a web site but if you knowingly cut corners or do a sub par job, it will reflect on your business and then any money spent is just a waste of those funds and a danger to your business brand and future success. Your web site is your growth mechanism. It will bring in new business and evolve with your business expansion.
When considering your web site, there are several step you need to take to assure your success:
How much do I have to pay for the design, domain registration and monthly hosting fees?
The answer, as with any major purchase; shop around. You can find web hosting reviews and most will handle your domain registrations as well. Many also have web design services that will work with you until you are satisfied with the design.
Look up some local web designers and talk with them about your needs. A professional designer has your best interest in mind because they want to continue servicing your web needs as the internet evolves and so does your business. They can also handle your domain registration and many can host your site on their server for one set price package deal.
There are sites that have design contests where you write a design brief of your needs and a dozen or more designers will design your site and you can choose the solution you like best and only pay for the design you choose. Further tweaks, if needed, are paid to the designer on an hourly basis.
How do I bring customers to my web site?
Marketing your site has several different avenues. First, you can list the URL to your web site on your cards, stationery and signs. If you advertise in the local phone book, you can also list your URL there, too.
Then there’s social media. Facebook, Twitter, a site blog, an newsletter and Pinterest are just a few of the popular social media channels available but not all businesses need all of them. Once again, it pays to shop around and speak with a social media expert as to what would best fit your business. The biggest mistake businesses make with their social media is to either ignore it, start it and then let it sit there unused or turn it over to an employee who is inexperienced at marketing and social outreach.
For example, one of my favorite small, local eateries had too many in-between meal hours that brought in no income. Naturally, I wanted to see them succeed as they had the best Gyro in town. I had the owner sit down with me, while I scarfed down the delicious meat filled pita and asked him what social media he used to bring in customers. He told me his son, who was also the cook, handled his social media. Settling on my meal as the fee for my consultation, his sone joined us and I asked which channels he used and how.
He told me he tweeted at 2:00 am about some menu items but often he was too tired to do anything. Both father and son insisted they had a web site with the menu and hoped that was enough.
“Ah,” I said, wiping generous portions of Gyro sauce from my face and hands. “But how do people find your site?”
They look perplexed. “For a restaurant,” I continued, “as with any service based business, you need to start soliciting feedback on sites like Yelp! and Urban Spoon. When people see those listings, as they search for Gyros or other popular menu items, they will then be able to view your site. You have great food, so let the reviews be your inbound marketing and it will entice other customers.”
“As for Twitter, why don’t you set up automatic tweets for a ‘snack time’ between 2:00-4:00 pm with specials so you can generate income during the off-times? Run daily specials for overstocked food items and let the big return items like fries and sodas pay for the profit on food items you’ll have to discard in a day or two.”
To this day, I am meet with a warm greeting when I walk into the restaurant. My Gyro is extra stuffed and my helping of fries is too much to finish. The owner’s daughter also winks at me and squeezes my arm when she brings me my meal, which is very pleasant but only on the days when she shaves her moustache and arms.
Web sites, as with the first example listed and the marketing of those sites as listed in the second example, are an important step in increasing your business. Taking cheap solutions or half-hearted stabs at trying will not succeed. There is no magic formula or shortcuts in business. You know working hard is the key and having a web site that works just as hard is a reality in today’s business world.
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