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IT Management

Smaller firms less likely to keep up to date on the basics that protect them

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Smaller firms less likely to keep up to date on the basics that protect them

On the never ending problem of cyber security, small firms often do not have any/much in-house IT support. As a consequence, they may be less likely to be able to make sure their software is consistently updated to reflect any patches released by the product’s maker. This simple oversight, deliberate or not, is a major source of data breaches and ransomware attacks.Think back many years to when Microsoft pulled the plug on maintaining Windows XP. Many users refused to upgrade because there were afraid of losing compatibility with other software programs, the unintended consequences of moving to a new OS, or just not being sure how to install an upgrade. Whatever the issue, it meant those users had an operating system that was no longer updated to reflect the latest security fixes. Their operating system became an unlocked gate.

 You may not be scared of technology, but as a small business owner, tracking the release of new updates or taking the time to install them as soon as they come out probably just isn’t a priority. You have a business to run. Adding to this problem, you may also allow your employees to use their personal laptops, mobile devices, and tablets for work duties. If that is the case, then every program on each of those devices is subject to the owner’s willingness and ability to update everything in a timely fashion. If any single device accessing your corporate files and data misses a security patch and is breached, so is your business.

 The lesson here is that you need to take action to implement a company-wide process for maintaining all of your software applications so they don’t become an unlocked door in the middle of the night. A managed service provider can develop a plan to address update and security fixes on all the devices that access your data. It can be more than a small business owner can handle, so instead of ignoring the problem, reach out to find real solutions that will protect your business.

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Cyberattacks and the vulnerability of the small business

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Cyberattacks and the vulnerability of the small business

You cannot go a day without reading about some big name company or even government agency being hacked and critical data being compromised. What you don’t see in the media is that most of the attacks happen to small firms, and that this is where a lot of the cybercrime is occurring.

What any business, but especially a small business, needs to be afraid of are cyber attacks that disable your operations, disrupt customer interaction, or breach your customer’s personal data. Contrary to what one might expect, smaller firms are far more likely to be targets of hackers than large firms. They are also likely to have less sophisticated security measures in place. Any firm’s existence can be threatened by these events, but smaller firms are often unable to rebuild after a major breach.

Studies show that customers are less forgiving of smaller firms than larger ones when their personal data has been compromised. The lesson here is that smaller firms are more vulnerable and need to be extremely vigilant.

Each month your management team should review/discuss the components of the cybersecurity program and the business continuity/resiliency plans.

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Denial is not a solution: Something you owe your customers and your employees

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Denial is not a solution: Something you owe your customers and your employees

Why do so many people procrastinate about making a will? Why is it so hard to get young people to buy health insurance? Because it is one of those “probably won’t happen–at least in the foreseeable future, and I‘ve got more interesting things to worry about or spend my money on” issues.

Small business owners tend to take the same approach to making business continuity plans in case of a disaster. They are usually fully consumed just running the business and keeping revenues steady and growing. Diverting energies and resources to a “what if” scenario just isn’t an imperative.

There are affordable, effective tools out there that will allow any smaller firm to develop effective business continuity plans, but they only work if you take action. Our best advice to overcome denial? Think of this scenario: If something happened right now and your entire operation came to a halt because of a cyber attack, a power failure, data loss, or a single point of failure hardware event, what would you do? Do you even know who you would call in for help?

It can be a scary thought, but one that merits your attention. Talk to Net DirXions about a proposal to develop a complete business continuity plan. You owe it to yourself and to all the employees who rely on your for their livelihood.

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Data Protection Laws and PII's

Data Protection Laws and PII's

Last blog we discussed the overall concept of “Data Protection Laws,” which govern the handling and securing of specific data. While these laws are wide ranging, most of these laws reference Personally Identifiable Information (PII) This “refers to information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, either alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information that is linked or linkable to a specific individual.” (https://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104256) For example, if you possess an individual’s first initial and last name and store it with their credit card number, bank account, SSN or driver’s license number, that becomes a PII.

At the Federal level, the United States doesn’t have any overarching and comprehensive data protection laws of the sort that most European nations do, but they do exist and primarily affect individual sectors, such as healthcare. Presently 48 states in the US have some laws requiring private or governmental entities to notify anyone whose data has been breached. In other words, if you possess personal data, you may have a regulatory responsibility to report the breach to both a government entity and the individual victim. Failure to do so may mean you’re in violation of these laws and subject to fines and penalties.

So what does this mean for a small business? You need to be aware of the likelihood that you are regulated by such laws and that you have some responsibility to show that you have taken reasonable measures and put in place procedures to maintain the security and integrity of outside data.

As a responsible business owner, you have an obligation to be aware of any applicable laws, keeping in mind that your client or prospect data may include PII from those in other states or countries. You also have an obligation to protect that data. Keeping up with the best practices for protecting your important data from hackers and data thieves is an important responsibility of every small business. Contact Net DirXions to learn how we can support your business with a complete cyber protection plan.