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IT Management Best Practices to Protect Your Business from Data Breaches

IT Management Best Practices to Protect Your Business from Data Breaches

50 million records at Facebook, 500 million at Marriott, and 143 million accounts at Equifax were all compromised from recent breaches. A breach at Quora exposed 100 million accounts. Other breaches have hit LinkedIn, eBay, Target, Yahoo, and Anthem in the past few years.

In the past five years, more than 14.7 billion records have been lost or stolen due to data breaches.

Deploy Strong Security Technology

Cyber security needs to be a top priority in any business handling sensitive data or personally identifiable data. Traditional security such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and intrusion protection provide a base level of protection, but it’s only the start. A layered security approach using real-time monitoring and alerting is critical.

Less than 5% of the data exposed in breaches over the past five years was encrypted. Encryption dramatically decreases your exposure from both a technical and legal standpoint. Military-grade encryption can prevent the data from being read even if cyber criminals manage to breach your systems and get it.

Breaches can occur when software hasn’t been patched or updated regularly. The breach at Equifax that exposed credit card records happened when attackers exploited a known flaw in the company’s Apache-Struts web application software. The breach happened months after the software manufacturer reported the problem and offered a patch. Equifax hadn’t gotten around to installing it. If they had, the breach likely would never have happened.

You need constant monitoring for intrusions and unusual activity.

Train Employees on Security

93% of data breaches begin with phishing attempts. Cyber criminals send legitimate-looking emails in an attempt to obtain login credentials, passwords, and sensitive information. While software solutions can help filter email phishing attempts, employees need to be trained to recognize them to avoid falling victim. You can have the best security systems, but if an employee gives up their login and password, cyber thieves may be able to bypass your security.

Your employees are your weakest links. Cloud-based storage, mobile devices, and more employees mixing company-owned and personal devices for business open up more potential access points. Employees need to know how to detect threats and avoid data leakage by using tools like ExpressVPN when connecting to any unsecured WiFi location.

Companies should have clearly defined security policies.

Maintain Strict Compliance

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) governs security protocols and standards for anyone handling credit card information, including use and access. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulates access to personally-identifiable health and medical records.  Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) deals with controls on financial data by corporations.

There may be additional standards within your particular industry. Compliance may include security measures and reporting, but each sets measurable standards for protection.

Pay Attention To Emerging Regulations

Security breaches are bad enough. New privacy laws are increasing the responsibilities for data protection and increasing the penalties for when breaches happen. In some cases, they mandate pro-active actions you must take to ensure security and actions you must take immediately on discovery of a breach.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enacted in the European Union impact companies located in the EU as well as companies doing business with EU residents. Several U.S. companies have already been fined for failing to comply with strict regulations on privacy and data protection.

California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) provides additional consumer protection and privacy rights. It takes effect in 2020.

New legislation is being proposed regularly that makes the penalties for non-compliance high and may affect your IT policies, procedures, and staffing.

Conduct Security Audits

It’s important to regularly stress tests your systems. At a minimum, you should conduct security audits to make sure you are maintaining your established level of protection. Many companies conduct penetration tests with outside agencies to find weaknesses in their security.

Other companies use security audits in their training by identifying weaknesses and putting their team through the paces to identify and fix security threats while managing the business impact.

Develop A Disaster Response Plan

Every company that handles sensitive data or personally identifiable data needs to have a pre-established data breach response plan as per the experts on it services over the world. Roles and responsibilities should be spelled out in case you ever have to manage a breach.

It should include all levels of company management and not just IT professionals. In addition to repairing the damage to your systems, you also need people that will be responsible for managing your company’s reputation and business impacts.

This plan may be part of complying with regulations. It’s part of the GDPR, which has formal procedures you will need to enact within 72 hours of detecting a breach. This includes notifying the appropriate government authorities and informing all of those affected.

 

The post IT Management Best Practices to Protect Your Business from Data Breaches appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

How You Can Step Up Your Work Schedule Game

How You Can Step Up Your Work Schedule Game

Productivity is arguably the most important aspect of running a small business or any business for that matter. The more productive you and your employees get out of your work schedule, the more revenue your business will generate. In fact, more productive companies have 50% higher operating margins.

One way to go about boosting your productivity is by getting more organized.

When you organize every single day and your entire week with a specific purpose in mind, you and your employees will get more done and build a successful and profitable business.

Therefore, I have put this guide together to help organize your workweek at a small business…

Create a task value chart delegate tasks based on value:

Cutting down goals into tasks is a common method people use these days to simplify projects. But what they forget to do is make a task value chart. A task value chart is a spreadsheet where you detail how valuable a task is. Tasks that add more value to your business’s bottom line should come under high value tasks and tasks that don’t make that much of a difference should be categorized as low value tasks.

An example of a high value task is a meeting with a potential client who could hire you and pay you thousands of dollars. While a low value task is scheduling the meeting with the client.

Another example of a high value task is creating a webinar that can generate sales. And a low value task is sharing details about the webinar with your social media followers.

This way you should asses tasks and grade them based on their value on a scale of 1 to 10 and then delegate them to the right people. You, yourself or your most skilled employees can handle high value tasks. While employees such as your assistants can handle low value tasks.

You can also hire virtual assistants to help you handle the low value tasks, especially if they are a lot of them. And of course, there are a lot of tasks you can automate. This can work out even cheaper than hiring a virtual assistant. Automation apps can also handle certain tasks more efficiently than virtual assistants.

Have a work schedule for each day:

Another tactic that works very well is having a work theme for each day of the week. This will help you and your team focus on one thing and minimize distractions. For example, Monday can be the day when you work on your marketing, Tuesday can be for sales and Wednesday can be for meetings.

This way choose a theme for each day. You can create a work schedule template in advance to help you stick to this format and make it a habit.

The main benefit of having a theme is that it prevents multitasking which most of us aren’t very good at. Studies have shown that multitasking can reduce productivity by 40%.

When you force yourself and your team to work based on a theme for an entire day, you will completely eliminate multi-tasking.

Plan even minor details beforehand:

There’s a problem many of us face almost every day that destroys our productivity. This is known as decision fatigue. When you have several decisions to make on a daily basis, it leads to paradox of choice. Having to make these decisions on a daily basis not only costs us time, but also makes us mentally tired and it reduces our focus and productivity rates.

So, plan every single thing you need to do beforehand. Decide on what you are going to eat, at what time you will get to work and more minor decisions like these at the beginning of the week or the previous night at least. Top entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg take decision fatigue very seriously. This is one of the reasons why he wears the same clothes every single day.

Conclusion:

This is the simple step by step process you can use to organize your week. It does take some effort and a lot of time to get organized, but the effect it will have on your business is priceless. If you are too busy to handle this, I recommend that you get one of your employees to do this or outsource a freelancer to help you out. There are many people out there who specialize in this.

The post How You Can Step Up Your Work Schedule Game appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Master The Art of Emailing With These 4 Simple Steps

Master The Art of Emailing With These 4 Simple Steps

Emailing is probably the best marketing medium out there. You can use it for everything from cold outreach to permission marketing.

3.9 billion people actively use email. Over 293 billion people send and receive emails every single day. And about 40% of people check their email 6 to 20 times per day.

If you master email marketing, you should be able to reach any of the marketing goals you have. So, here’s a quick guide on the 4 most important components of the perfect email and how to get them right…

A curiosity generating subject line

The subject line is probably the most important part of the email. If you ace it, you will convince more people to open the email and check out the rest of the content. So, spend an ample amount of time writing this part, especially if this is a cold email approach.

Remember that the main job of the subject line is to convince people to open the email and read the rest. Quite often people try to add the end goal of the email here and they end up writing a subject line that doesn’t generate any curiosity.

Here are a few advanced tactics you can use to write a better subject line…

Keep them short: A study from Sendgrid found that 3 word subject lines have the highest engagement rate at 21.2%. So, remember that less is more when it comes to email subject lines. Don’t try to write a sophisticated subject line just because you ‘need to’. Instead, in a few simple words get your main point across.

Only start the first word with a capital letter or don’t use any capitals at all: When you email friends or family do you use any capital letters in your subject lines?

I am guessing that you don’t, as most people write them quickly without using any capital characters at all.

This is the same tactic you should be using when you write emails to potential clients or customers. Most of your competitors are capitalizing each word in their emails. Therefore, when you send an email with no capitals in the subject line, it will stand out and draw the attention of the receiver and they will be more likely to open it.

Split test different subject lines: Another tactic you can try is to split test subject lines. This is where you create 2 or more versions of the subject line and test them out to see which one drives the highest engagement. The best way to do this is when you run big outreach campaigns using an email service provider as you can set the software to send emails with different subject lines to different people and then pick the winner.

It is possible to use this technique with cold outreach as well, but you will need to use an email tracker and analyze results manually.

The email introduction:

The next part of the email is the introduction. This is where you introduce yourself and add in some personalization to show the receiver that you wrote this email specifically with them in mind. You can easily do this by typing in ‘Hi’ and placing their name right after that. And then writing a couple of lines about what you like about the receiver’s work or the company they work at.

This personalization will help you build some rapport with the receiver.

Here are a couple of rules to follow while writing the subject line…

Write at the level of a 3rd grader: People receive an average of 88 emails per day. Going through all of them and replying is a straining task. This chore will cause their attention span to dwindle. This is why to ensure your email gets read, you need to keep it as simple as possible. The easier your email is to read more people will read it fully.

So, use a tool like Hemingway to edit and reduce the reading level of the email to that of a 3rd or 4th grader.

Make it all about the receiver: In order to make an impression, you need to get the receiver to like you. So, instead of talking about yourself, make it all about them. If necessary, conduct some research online to learn as much as you can about the receiver.

Main email content:

The next part is the main email content where you let the receiver know the reason why you are sending this email. Don’t try to dilly dally here and get to the point quickly. There’s no need to write your life history. As aforementioned people receive several emails daily and they don’t want to spend hours reading unnecessary text. In a few lines just let them know what you want and the next steps they need to take.

The email introduction along with the main email content should be no longer than 300 words.

Here are a couple of tips that will ensure your main email content gets the job done…

Include a call to action: You should ensure that the main message of your emails ends with a call to action and a link that gets people to take action. You can actually try using a button call to action instead of the usual anchor text with a link option as buttons can increase click-throughs by 28%.

Check grammar: As I mentioned earlier, people receive several emails daily. Therefore, it is your job to make a good impression and stand out from the rest.

One way to do this is to make sure you write your email with impeccable grammar. When your writing is clear, more people will read it completely and follow through with the call to action.

So, take your time to write the email and proofread it a couple of times before hitting send. If necessary, you can use a browser extension that checks for errors.

The Email Signature:

The signature is what you end your email with. A basic signature should start with a greeting like ‘Thank you’ and should be followed with your details and links to your website. There are so many variations for email signatures. For some ideas check out these examples of email signatures.

A good signature should establish credibility and increase the chances of a response. So, add in details such as companies you have worked with and sites you have been featured on. You can even include links to your social networks (especially if you have a lot of followers) to show that you are the real deal.

Bonus: 3 tips for writing a better email

Here are some bonus tips to help you get the most out of the above 4 components…

Have one goal:

The key to great emailing skills is to have one goal. When you have too many goals for each email it leads to the paradox of choice and the reader doesn’t follow through on any of them. So, think about what your most important goal is: is it get more traffic or get a reply or get a sale or something else like getting a backlink for SEO and then build up towards it in your email.

Optimize for mobile:

49.1% of people will read your email on mobile devices. To ensure that these people have the best experience while reading your emails you will need to optimize your emails for mobile. If you share any links, images or attachments in your emails make sure they are optimized for mobile as well.

Follow up:

People can sometimes miss your email because they have had a busy day or week or because your email could have ended up in the spam folder. So, make sure you follow up with people who don’t open in 2 to 3 weeks. You can try using a different subject line. Check these stats to see how follow-up emails can make a difference.

Conclusion:

These are the 4 most important components of an email. If you want more people to open your emails, read them completely and take action you will need to include all 4 of them in every email you send. And to get even better results, you can make use of the 3 extra bonus tips I shared.

The post Master The Art of Emailing With These 4 Simple Steps appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

4 Home & Auto Tech Innovations You Should Be Aware of

4 Home & Auto Tech Innovations You Should Be Aware of

Whether it’s innovations in the car industry or for the home, trends are trends for a reason  — because they are popular, and people love to keep up with them. While there were many tech trends in 2019, the new year is looking pretty good as well. 

The American public has been fascinated by the automobile since Henry Ford drove the first Model T off the assembly line in 1908. Since then the technological advances in the car realm have been nothing short of spectacular  — and 2020 is destined to impress yet again.

First of all something very important that you’ll need for everything on this list to work, Wireless communications. Yes, it’s essential. Check this https://wave1.com.au/ offers high range and quality.

Electric Trucks

While electric vehicles are steadily becoming more efficient, they still have quite a ways to go before they become mainstream, but it looks like we’re about to see some significant advancements.

One of the latest and greatest ideas is the electric truck. Tesla’s Cybertruck, for example, is claiming an impressive range of up to 500 miles and a quick 0-60 time of as low as 2.9 seconds. Its futuristic look has people divided, but you can’t argue with over 250,000 preorders for the new model.

It also appears Tesla will have an advantage over other automakers like GM, Ford and newcomers, Lordstown, Rivian and Bollinger  — who won’t have their all electric trucks ready until sometime in 2021.

Wireless and Quick Charging 

The question of “how long do electric cars last?” might be a thing of the past as electric cars and the chargers to go with them continue to improve. If car companies choose to go down the supercapacitor route, then having an electric car will be easy to charge and wireless as well. Instead of sitting for hours waiting on your car to charge, you might be able to do it in almost an instant. For example, you might only have to stop for 10 minutes to charge your vehicle and then continue on your way.

Fully Autonomous Driving Systems 

Self-driving cars are not a futuristic dream with several companies have models in the testing phase right now. While it might not happen as soon as 2020, experts are predicting that cars will be driving themselves fully by 2025 at the latest. The mechanics of how this is going to work are still being developed, but it involves 3D sensors and a ton of AI. 

There are even self-driving semi-trucks in the works, with Tesla again, on the cutting edge with hopes of going into production in 2020.

In the future, while your car drives you where you want to go, you’ll be free to relax, study, read, or even talk to a friend on the phone, none of which you can do in today’s old-fashioned cars where you have to do the driving. This is definitely a market to keep your eye on.

Tech for Business Applications

Innovations in the business arena are moving forward by leaps and bounds as well. Things like factory automation have come a long way and are only getting more prevalent. Amazon’s already unveiled the automated grocery store where cashiers have been eliminated, and that’s just the beginning. 

Warehouse robots at Amazon are helping the retail online giant to speed up deliveries and increase accuracy. Sometimes working alongside human counterparts and sometimes in place of them, automated workers are changing the way industry does business.

These are just a few of the top innovation trends you might want to look out for in 2020 and beyond. From fully self-driving cars to advanced automation, the future is all about the tech and you get to go along for the ride.

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When Shorter Makes Sense: When to Use the 6-Second Video Format and Why

When Shorter Makes Sense: When to Use the 6-Second Video Format and Why

Remember when the 30-second Super Bowl spot was the king of video advertisements? Then, YouTube hit. The coveted Super Bowl placement still goes for more than $5 million, but pricing may be plateauing. These days, we’re in the middle of a digital video content explosion, and advertisers seem to be rethinking the value of traditional television’s captive audience.

After YouTube came Snapchat and a general shift to video by all social platforms. Surely and not so slowly, 30- and even 15-second video ads became far too long to the average consumer. Today, videos less than 10 seconds — and the six-second format in particular — are often preferred by advertisers.

Benefits of Short-Form Video

Put simply, short videos appeal to short attention spans. They get to the point and let your audience member get on with their content. Plus, when your key message is boiled down to six seconds, it tends to be more memorable than a message that took 30 seconds to communicate.

Short video is also the most efficient use of resources. For demonstrable bottom-line results, use an agile strategy focused on performance video. Instead of investing a lot in one big, linear video project, you can create several short videos that are hyper-personalized to your target segments. Then, analyze the performance of each video. Which format had the best click-through rate? Which call to action led to the most sales? This approach allows you to tweak your video assets in real time as you learn, generating powerful ROI.

4 Best Times to Use the 6-Second Format

Ready to incorporate short video into the mix, but not sure where to start? Here are four proven tactics to try:

1. Unskippable pre-roll

Using pre-roll video in your advertising program can be a risk. AdWeek reported that more than half of marketers are concerned about annoying consumers with their digital video ads, and an unskippable ad before a main video can be the epitome of annoying. However, pre-roll can be done well. If you’re going to serve your audience an unskippable video ad, make it short and relevant to them. Marketers overwhelming opt for the six-second format for unskippable pre-roll. They also consider them more effective than 15-second pre-roll or any skippable format.

2. Any auto-play video placement

Your design strategy for a 30-second video ad already rests heavily on the first few seconds. If your video is going to auto-play, there’s a good chance that the viewer will scroll by or navigate away long before the video is complete. Therefore, you must make sure it grabs the viewer’s attention and communicates the key message right away. Why not take this approach a step further by cutting the last 20 seconds of the piece, telling the full story in just a few seconds — the amount of time that most viewers will likely see?

3. Your audience’s Twitter feed

Six-second videos are a perfect fit for the fast-paced nature of Twitter. The platform announced that advertisers would be able to bid on six-second spots. Delivering your brand’s video in your audience’s organic Twitter feed can create a more meaningful connection. The content isn’t forced-view, so there’s not as much risk of frustration. Even better, this video placement is also a good bang for your buck: You’ll only pay if a user views the full six seconds.

4. Instagram stories

Did you know that one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories come from businesses? A short and sweet appearance in your consumers’ Instagram story feeds can be a great way to keep your brand top of mind without being intrusive. Here’s an added perk: In a world of auto-muted video ads, about 70% of Instagram stories are viewed with the sound on. Because users are mainly watching content from friends and influencers they care about, you’ll have the chance for your video to be heard, not just seen.

6-Second is the New 30-Second

According to many marketers, six-second video content is the next big thing. Short videos allow you to keep your viewer’s attention for the whole piece without leaving her annoyed — or, worse, making her reconsider choosing your brand at all. By implementing a performance-focused video strategy with multiple short videos, you can continuously improve your advertising efficiency and ROI.

Read to give the six-second format a shot? Try implementing short videos in digital advertising placements that are pre-roll or auto-play. For paid social media placements, start with Twitter and Instagram stories. You know your audience best. Maybe a Facebook story makes more sense for your consumers than Instagram. The bottom line: Six-second videos are an efficient and effective addition to your advertising strategy.

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