Jan 052012

This data security article appeared in the December 2011 issue of Counselor magazine.  The article, Strengthen Data Security, offers several tips on how businesses can improve their data security.  Several data security experts are quoted, and since I happen to be one of them, and it is an excellent article offering good advice, I wanted to post it for my blog readers. 

Just click on the following image to read the article in PDF format, and as always if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below.

Data Security Article

Sep 232011

Social Engineering Attacks Can Cost Businesses More Than $100,000 per Incident, Emphasizing the Importance of Better Security and User Awareness – This article discusses the survey results of the growing social networking security incidents among businesses. Many small businesses cannot afford to ignore social network marketing so here are a few tips to help protect your small business.

  • Keep your personal social networks and your business networks separate as well as for your employees.
  • Dedicate employees to actively manage your social network accounts, and train them on how you want them to use the networks.
  • Make sure your employees know not to publish private or confidential information or information that could lead to password discovery.

Email Main Source of Data Leaks in Organizations: Survey – This article discusses a survey focusing on one of the biggest security threats to organizations today – email security. As a small business owner, you must ensure your employees avoid sending sensitive information via email, and if you have to do so, then encrpyt it first. I cover a couple of email encryption options in my 5 Step Data Security Plan for Small Businesses.

Facebook finally takes small business advertising seriously. Does it matter? – There has been a lot of news out this week about Facebook, and their push into small business advertising. It will be interesting to see how it all progresses. I think as a small business owner that if your customer base consists mostly of consumers, then you should consider Facebook for social marketing.

Cloud Computing Tips for Small Business – Cloud computing and storage is a huge consideration for small businesses right now so I always like to pass along helpful information when it becomes avaiable to help you make an informed decision. This article offers some good cloud usage tips.

Sep 162011

Organizations Experiencing Breaches Lost an Average of 388,000 Records per Day Over Past Six Years According to Largest Study of Its Kind – This article covers a report that examines the leading causes of data breaches over a six year period. Although the study is focused on large organizations, it can still give small businesses an idea of areas of high risk where they should spend their security budgets.

Social Media Report: Spending Time, Money and Going Mobile – This is a good report that small business should pay attention to on the topic of social marketing. One highlight from the study is that people spend nearly a quarter of their time online visting social networks and blogs.

Twitter is releasing web analytics

Identity theft puts small businesses at risk – This article lists some common scams criminals are using to target small businesses.

Survey: Many Small Businesses Not Prepared for Data Disaster – This article provides some statistics on small business disaster preparedness. If you have not already, take a look at my 5 Step Data Security Plan for Small Businesses. I discuss backing up your data in addition to putting together a disaster recovery plan.

Sep 092011

Buttoned Up: Back up computer data for security – This is an excellent article discussing the many different options available to small business for backing up their data. I discuss the importance of backing up your data in my 5 Step Data Security Plan for Small Businesses article.

Online Backup: Top Seven Data Security Concerns – The title says it all. My advice if you are considering cloud storage is to review it from all angles. As always security of your data should be your main concern, and I always advise if you are placing any sensitive data on cloud storage to encypt it yourself first.

Fewer people choose to be self-employed – This is an interesting article discussing the reduction in self-employed people today and the reasons behind the decline.

Social Media Tools Underused by Small Businesses: Survey – Another survey showing how small businesses are underutilizing social networks. Take it for what it is worth…

Online Marketing Will Account for 70% of Small Business Marketing Budgets by 2015 – This is an interesting article discussing the growing spending by small businesses on online marketing, and of course it should come as no surprise.

Sep 022011

Symantec security survey shows cyber attacks remain top risk for businesses – Interesting security survey covered in this article.

Ask SCORE: 10 mistakes that hurt a business – If you are not familiar with SCORE, they are an excellent resource for small businesses. This article has some good advice on some common business mistakes.

Adult Use of Social Media Soars – This article covers a recent survey on adult usage of social networking websites. If your small business does not have a presence on some of the major social networking sites, now is a good time to consider getting started. My advice remains the same. Pick one or two social marketing websites, become and expert, and then branch out to other social areas.

Aug 262011

Feds skeptical about security of Amazon, other cloud providers – Just another viewpoint to consider with cloud computing if you plan to use it for your small business.

Google hacking exposes large caches of personal data – If you have an online database, you should be aware of the vulnerabilities that exist even through search engine search results as covered in this article.

Norton releases free security app for Android – Here is another virus/malware protection app available if you use the Android mobile platform for your small business. I have covered many different security apps in previous blog posts. There are plenty of options available, but make sure you choose a security app no matter what mobile platform you are using for your small business.

Aug 122011

Most Mobile Apps Fail Password Security Test – This should be a big concern for small business security. Two ways you can help protect your business is to add a virus/malware program to your phone, and make sure you can disable the phone remotely if you lose it.

IT security spending does not equal data security, survey findsSmall business need a defined data security program, and if your client base demands it, you need a more formalized program such as ISO 27001. Admittedly these programs will take some time to setup, but once they are up and running they will actually save time because they give you a formalized and audited structure to follow to help you maintain and enahce your security awareness.

Majority of small businesses don’t use social media – There really is no surprise here. The social networking landscape can be overwhelming, and small businesses have limited resources. That being said social marketing, if done right, can drive additional business. One of the main drivers for small businesses is word of mouth referrrals, and social marketing can basically be the same thing online. The strategy I always advise is to pick one or two social marketing networks and become an expert before trying to expand. For example if your small business is focused on B2B marketing, then consider using LinkedIn, and here are some tips to get you started.

Study Says Drudge Report Drives More Traffic Than Facebook & Twitter Combined – The main takeaway from this article is that content websites and search engines continue to drive more traffic than social networks. While this is true, search engines are beginning to put more emphasis on social networking recommendations, likes, etc. so keep this in mind when you develop a social marketing strategy for your small business.

Aug 052011

Android Malware on the Rise, Study Finds – This is no surprise. The Android platform is growing in popularity, and they have an open market place for applications. The take-away message here is that you need to protect your mobile phones (no matter the platform) with virus/malware protection software.

Cybercrime Cleanup Costs Spike – There have been several studies released this year showing an increase in costs for data security breaches.

Roost Report Finds that Most SMB Facebook Fans Aren’t Local – This survey of 800 small businesses showed that only 15% of the fans of a small business are local. It is an interesting number, but honestly I would not read too much into it because it really depends on your business type and your social marketing message.

Let’s take my consulting business for example.  Although geographically I mainly target a local area, the social marketing content I produce around small business data security and internet marketing can have a worldwide audience so followers of my content are going to naturally be more spread out geographically.   A local restarurant or bar, in comparison, is only going to target local customers with their social marketing so they are going to have a much higher percentage of local followers. 

The key once again with small business social marketing is to provide useful and regular content which is not primarily advertising.  And do not overdo it…in other words pick one or two social marketing platforms and become an expert user before expanding your social marketing presence.

Choosing a small business backup strategy – I discuss the importance of backups in my 5 Step Data Security Plan for Small Businesses. This article provides some good small business backup alternatives along with a discussion of each.

Jul 292011

If you have read my 5 Step Data Security Plan for Small Businesses article in addition to many of my blog posts, you will see where I advise that encryption is one of the best and cheapest data security measures a small business can take to protect their data.

So let’s talk about the main areas where it makes sense to use encrytion.

  1. Files
  2. Computers and Servers
  3. Email

Files – There are several options for encrypting files. 

  1. If you need to do a quick file encryption, most programs today offer the ability to encypt files created within the program.  Microsoft Office 2007 and above for example allows you to do fairly easy AES 128-bit encryption.  Note:  Microsoft 2003 also offers encryption, but there are some weaknesses in the encryption so I would avoid it.  In Office 2007 just click on the Microsoft Office button in the top left corner, select Prepare, and then enter in a password.  In Office 2010 click the File tab, select Info, select Protect Document, select Encrypt with Password, and enter a password.  If someone is using an older verion of Office, they can still open your file by either installing the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack or running an MS operating system that supports AES encryption.  Other programs like Adobe also allow you to encrypt files. 
  2. An easier way to encrypt any and all files, that is not software platform dependant, is to download and use an encryption software like TrueCrypt or DiskCryptor.  Note:  TrueCrypt can be used with Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. DiskCryptor works with Microsoft operating systems only.

Computers and Servers – For computers or servers, you can use TrueCrypt to encrypt the entire hard drive or disk drive.  It is a fairly simple process, and TrueCrypt provides you with step-by-step instructions.  You should especially consider encrypting any servers or computers where you store critical data and mobile laptops. 

Email – There are several options for encrypting emails. 

  1. If you just need to encrypt a file before sending it, then follow the steps I covered above in the File encryption section. 
  2. If you would like to encrypt the entire email, you can use a third party software like MessageLock, or you can use a third party service like Sendinc.  Sendinc provides the most “hassle free” way to encrypt an email, but keep in mind you are using their third party cloud service.

Any of the options I mentioned above will provide you with solid encryption protection.  The last thing to remember is even though you are using encryption, you still want to use a strong password, and keep the password in a safe place.

Jul 292011

Enterprises using social media risk data loss, client trust, reputation: Symantec – This article discusses a recent survey covering data security/data leakage incidents involved with social marketing usage.

Companies Encrypting Data, But Not Everywhere, Venafi Survey Finds – I believe this survey targets mostly larger organizations, and my guess is that small businesses do not encrypt data as much. I am going to cover encryption more in-depth with a blog post later today.

Managers unaware of extent of IT access to company data – This article discusses how senior management in many cases may not be aware of the access the IT department has to sensitive data.

Let’s talk about this from a small business perspective. In many cases a small business will need to outsource IT. If you are outsourcing your IT work, make sure the IT company sets up temporary passwords to your email, network, etc and then when the work is complete, these accounts are deleted until the next time work is required. If you have an in-house IT department, you should conduct monthly audits of the IT department to determine what they are accessing. In addition if an IT employee leaves your company, you want to make sure you revoke their access rights which should also be covered in a monthly/quarterly audit.

Cyberattacks Now Targeting Small Business

Facebook targets small business – An interesting shot across the bow by Facebook as Google+ is closing business profiles until they introduce Google+ for business.

Small business owners ‘fed up’ with Groupon and its clones – This has been slowly bubbling, and it was only a matter of time before these issues started showing up in more news stories. Quite frankly a small business should carefully evaluate any type of online coupon service before going ahead with it. There are too many potential pitfalls if it is not done correctly.

 Posted by at 12:33 pm