Posts

Where Professionalism Is Important In Running A Business

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Professionalism in Business|Where Professionalism Is Important In Running A BusinessSure, you can be as free and liberal with your brand as you want; you can present a silly and non serious front, or you can present a laid back and easy going front. Branding is all about what you want it to be, and who you want to attract!

But even with this in mind, even with the kind of customers you’re pulling in, when it comes to certain areas of running your company, there are quite a few factors in which you’re going to have to be professional. Here are three key components of business that require you to be skilled, experienced, and professional in your manner.

In Customer Security

Your customers need to feel secure when they’re shopping with you. They need to know their payment details are safe and will never fall into the wrong hands. And seeing as you’re the retail portal they’re relying on, this is up to you.

Both online and offline, you need to be professional about security. Sure, you lock up your shop and make sure there’s no cash in the till at the end of the day, but what about your website? Is it even encrypted, when the time comes to put in card details to pay for items? It’s time to check on that.

In Shipping and Delivery

You need to be very professional about the way you pack, ship, and deliver any and all products and services. You need to have a safe and secure way to get your packages from point A to point B, and without professionalism to guide your way, there’s a good chance your delivery options will be subpar for the time being.

It’s why you might want to look into courier services; this will allow you to have more control over the process, be able to bundle your shipping needs, and with a handy Transport Marketplace to make use of, you’ll have a surefire way to chop and change your delivery services as you need to. There’s nothing quite like speed to show off your professionalism!

In Running Your Sales

And finally, you need to be very professional about the amount of sales you’re bringing in. After all, when it comes to building a customer base, and then ensuring you’ve got plenty of return sales to make profit off of, you need to cast a sure and professional eye over your books.

And being able to balance your books is another area that requires professionalism; if you can’t do it yourself, be sure to outsource your issues here to a trained and experienced accountant. Bring in the skills you need to ensure there’s plenty of professional talent behind the scenes, and your business will steadily climb up the profit margins.

Professionalism is something every single business needs. If you’re not sure about what you can manage in terms of bringing the right experience to your customers, make sure you’re working behind the scenes first, and then brand yourself second.

Office 365 phishing: the latest scams your employees need to know about

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Office 365 Phishing|Office 365 phishing: the latest scams your employees need to know aboutMicrosoft’s Office 365 is often targeted by scammers and cybercriminals. This is a major problem, as Office 365 is one of the most widely used software suites by businesses around the world – undoubtedly part of the reason that it is so often under attack.

Despite the fact that the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has made a concerted effort to implore system admins to implement stronger cybersecurity practice, Office 365 is still exceptionally vulnerable. In fact, there is damning evidence from Microsoft itself about the security practice of its users.

Through a security dashboard available to Office 365 administrators, users are given a ‘security score’ to indicate the strength of their defences and security processes. The maximum score is 707, and yet the average Office 365 score is just 37.

Businesses using Office 365 need to ensure that they are taking their cybersecurity extremely seriously. One of the most important ways of doing this is to provide your employees with as much information on the types of attacks they can face as possible. Some of the most common scams are phishing schemes – and these can take many forms.

Some of the Office 365 scams to look out for

Cybercriminals use a wide variety of tricks in attempting to compromise users – this can involve impersonating Microsoft or other well-known businesses. While there is an almost unlimited variation in the types of scams, some of the most widely seen include the following

  • Fake meeting requests – this type of phishing scam sends messages that spoof the name and email address of a senior executive and asks the users to reschedule a meeting, by taking part in a poll to choose the new date and time. When a user clicks on the link, they are presented with what appears to be an Office 365 login page but it is in fact a phishing site.
  • Employee pay rises – this scam uses the bait of a pay rise to convince employees to give up their Office 365 login credentials. The email contains a link to an apparent spreadsheet containing details of an employee salary increase – however, the link takes the user to a phishing site that looks like the Office 365 login page. This scam is especially effective because the login page displays the user’s email address prominently.
  • Voicemail scams – this scam makes use of a genuine audio recording that requests employees allow Microsoft access to their Office 365 account, along with an almost identical login page that actually harvests the victim’s details.
  • Content scams – it is also possible for criminals to utilise Microsoft Sway – a genuine presentation software – to create a spoofed site. This looks genuine and even experienced and knowledgeable users have been tricked into entering their details. The fact that the phishing email contains a link to a genuine Microsoft product makes it very difficult to spot this form of cybercrime.
  • Conversation hijacking – this scam sees phishers infiltrate a genuine email account using previously compromised credentials, and then insert themselves into a conversion – essentially taking on the persona of the account that they have gained access to. When another employee gets an email from this ‘trusted’ colleague, they will happily click on the links they contain, which takes them through to a spoofed site.

Admins are targeted too

It is not just general employees who are targeted with phishing scams. IT administrators are singled out by cybercriminals, as their accounts typically have greater privileges and access to more company data. With access to an admin account, criminals can carry out extremely effective attacks against other members of the organisation by creating new accounts.

Administrators in Office 365 typically have access to all of the email accounts on the domain, which may allow cybercriminals to take over those accounts or retrieve emails from them.

How to improve your Office 365 security

Of course, improving employee knowledge is a vital way to reduce the effectiveness of phishing attacks. But it is also important to take a multi-layered approach to Office 365 security and put additional defences in place in order to mitigate the potential damage of an attack.

There are various steps that businesses can take such as enforce multi-factor authentication as a part of account access, as well as ensuring that administrators have a separate account for day-to-day access and only use the admin account when necessary.

It is almost important to invest in proactive monitoring of your network in order to detect any malware or unusual activity. The earlier that any suspicious activity is detected, the sooner it can be acted upon. This reduces the window of opportunity for a cybercriminal to achieve his or her intended goal.

How Can You Shield Your Small Business From Disaster?

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Small Business Protection|How Can You Shield Your Small Business From Disaster?In the early days of launching a small business, getting everything set up and running smoothly, trying to attract new customers and generate some revenue, security is an easy matter to forget about. In fact, it’s an easy matter to forget about in general, as it usually isn’t until something goes wrong that you may even notice the lack of it.

But if the current global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we never quite know what is around the corner. There is a need to be prepared though, and safeguard the business assets that you have built up so carefully. Life is full of uncertainties, and there’s nothing worse than watching everything you’ve worked so hard for get destroyed by a random twist of fate. While you can’t completely insulate yourself from every single eventuality, there are steps you can take to ensure that you have the right insight and contingency plans in place should the worst happen.

Get Protected Against Cyber Attacks

One of the biggest threats to small businesses is cyber-security. We live in a data-driven society now, and unfortunately the illegal exchange of some of those details is big business on the black market. If customer or employee details fall into the wrong hands, it’s very bad news. These details can be used in criminal activity and the repercussions can be severe. Businesses who fall victim to these types of attacks suffer a lot of damage – both because they may fall foul of data protection laws and can be prosecuted by the authorities, but also because of the reputational damage. Customers talk, and if they feel that you have not taken the right measures with their data, they’re unlikely to come back again. This goes double for digital businesses where there is a strong element of trust involved in customers handing over their details for a transaction. It’s a fact that small and medium sized enterprises are targeted more regularly by those with malicious intent, as they assume the security systems will either not be in place, or will be less sophisticated than those used by blue-chip corporations. Start by making sure that you have the latest anti-virus and malware software installed with regular security patches – Norton even make this type of software specifically for small businesses. Make sure that when you transfer data it’s sent securely via an encrypted data transfer service. Only collect the minimum of customer data that you need, be sure of what the purpose of any piece of information that you collect is and securely dispose of it as soon as it’s no longer needed. Simple steps like never leaving company devices unattended, requiring use of a secure password that is regularly updated and using automatic screen locking can also help.

Dealing With Natural Disaster

It’s not something that anyone likes to think about, but events in the natural world can sometimes overtake us. The recent forest fires, or things like hurricanes show that extreme conditions can and do occur and seem to be getting more frequent. The Small Business Disaster Survey found that 74 per cent of small businesses in the US don’t have a proper disaster recovery plan in place – meaning that if a worst-case scenario did occur, it would effectively spell the end of their company. Getting the right insurances for your business should never be an area where you cut corners. Find an insurance broker that you can speak to about your needs who will be able to find the cover that fits your business best – it can be very specific to what you do. You may find the requirements of restaurant insurance are quite different from those of an office based or a manufacturing business.

Creating A Communications Plan

Whether the situation is a natural disaster, a man-made one, or something completely unforeseen like Coronavirus, having a crisis communications plan in the event of things not being ‘business as usual’ is essential. You need to be able to send the right messages to employees and to customers when life throws a curveball. Your employee plan should include making sure that staff are safe, and determine if there are any alternative working arrangements that can be offered on a temporary basis. Remember that people are your most valuable resource, so be sensitive in your approach – if your staff have been through a crisis they may well need time to deal with their own lives and family issues as well. You should also consider what you might need to tell your customers. In some situations, you won’t be exactly sure what is happening and when business will be back to normal, and it’s okay to admit this. Just be clear that you are doing your utmost to get things back on track, keep communicating as the situation develops and be clear about channels customers can use to contact you.

Identifying Business Critical Activities

Not many small businesses can afford to shut down indefinitely if a crisis occurs. You’ll want to do what you can to get up and running again in some way, even if it’s not full service. So it’s a good idea to create a plan of which activities are business critical to your operations, and which ones could be temporarily shelved if need be. This allows you to plan resources better, and potentially redirect employees onto more urgently needed tasks. Work out of there are parts of it that can be done from an alternative location if your premises are affected. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan for a range of scenarios in place.

Keep In Contact With The Small Business Administration

There is some federal support available if disaster bites. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide disaster relief loans of up to $2 million on favourable terms, so if it’s a case of severe cash flow issues, look into those circumstances before turning to other sources of funding. You should be able to use social media to contact them if other lines of communication aren’t accessible. Equally, there can be some mileage in crowdfunding if you do it correctly. People are generally very willing to help out small businesses with a clear mission statement, so it can be worth stating your case.

Make Time To Look After Yourself

Small business owners are used to operating under a lot of pressure, and of course in times of hardship, this can go through the roof. It may seem like you’re getting pulled in every direction, but it’s important to remember that you need to treat yourself like any other resource and safeguard your own wellbeing. This means taking steps like ensuring you are getting adequate nutrition and a good night’s sleep where possible, taking some daily exercise and doing things to ease the anxiety you’re likely to be experiencing, such as using a mindfulness app or accessing a counselling service if necessary.

Securing Your Premises

Ensuring the physical security of your premises is also important. Any crime against your property is potentially a disaster that can raise the cost of doing business. Theft of business property is sadly a serious issue that does go on in companies of all sizes. Discovering one of these crimes on your own doorstep can be deeply upsetting, and take a long while to recover from. Deciding on a secure location for your premises and investing in things like a cctv network can all help to lessen the risks you face. A buildings security expert can help you to make an assessment of your premises and advise on what could be improved. Things such as steel security doors or shutters to prevent unauthorized entry, a secure alarm system throughout the building with motion sensors and automatic police notification may be worth it depending on what you do and store in your location and where it is. Adding lighting in darker areas and key entry points as well as cameras that can alert directly to your mobile phone are also steps you can take to make your physical business location a bit safer. Some businesses also decide they want to take the step of employing security guards or dogs to patrol at night – understanding how high risk your business is for an attack will help with this. Doing a comprehensive risk assessment for your premises is a good way to look at the situation dispassionately and identify any areas you could work on to make it easier to secure.

With all the many risks that going into business entails, it can be very hard to know where to concentrate efforts and resources. But it’s clear that failing to take any action at all could stand a real chance of jeopardizing everything you have worked so hard to build up. Taking small steps and pulling together a practical plan of action doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right preparation, you get the peace of mind of knowing that when everything goes a little crazy, you have the planning in place to help you get through the situation and survive to trade another day.

Protecting Your Business From The Threat Of Cybercrime

StrategyDriven Risk Management and Managing Your Business Article |Cybercrime|Protecting Your Business From The Threat Of CybercrimeThere are many threats to each and every business the whole world over. You might look at your company and think that just because you are only a small operation, then you won’t be at risk. But there is one thing that is a fact, cybercriminals do not discriminate.

Whether your business is worth billions, or you are a sole-trader, you are likely to come under attack. You might currently be facing several attempts each day. Although, depending on the type of business that you operate, this could be considerably more.

What Effects Will A Cyber Attack Have On Your Business?

In the event of an attack, and the very least, cybercrime will cause your websites and services to suffer from downtime which will have a financial knock-on. The outcome will generally be much worse.

You might end up losing customer data, which will result in mass-identity theft. You may face fines from the government if the breach could have been prevented, and you might face legal proceedings from affected customers.

All in all, you are likely to lose a lot of money and face severe damage to your reputation. It might all result in you going out of business completely.

How Can You Protect Your Business?

There are many ways that you can protect yourself. Firstly, you should make sure that you are following the best practice guides for data protection in your specific industry. If you are handling customer or client information, you have a duty to ensure stringent measures are in place to protect the data. Where you are working with data that is particularly sensitive, for example, financial information or even medical records, you may have additional regulations to adhere to because of the increased risk that you face.

One of the best ways that you can ensure that you are fully protected is to use the services of an IT specialist or a Managed Service Provider. You can learn more about the various services that an IT support team will be able to provide in order to help your business to protect itself.

What Measures Can You Take In House?

Keeping your business safe from cyberattacks is something that everyone in your business should be doing. It is so important that you should create policies and procedures around the threat, and implement a whole raft of training measures to ensure your team understand the risks and know how to take measures to keep your business safe.

Change passwords often. If your team are all changing their password every month to something that is new and unique, you will be able to minimize the risk of front-door access to your systems via stolen passwords.

Train your staff on phishing emails. Your team need to know not to click on links in emails, even if they look legitimate.

Use multifactor logins. By including a biometric element or a personal question as a secondary stage of any login, you can minimize the risk of anyone but the correct user logging in.

Never share passwords. Every employee needs their own unique login. If people share logins, it increases the risk dramatically.

Protecting Your Company from Cyber Attacks

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Risk Management Article |Cyber Attacks|Protecting Your Company from Cyber AttacksHow well are you protecting your company, client and staff data? Holding any kind of data will mean you need to be employing security measures to make sure all information you collate for whatever reason is secure.

Protecting your company from serious cyber threats is something you should be taking seriously within your business. How secure you need to be depends on the type of company you are running. Different sectors need different types of security measures to protect the company and also staff and customers details including personal information and banking details along with credit card numbers.

Use a Firewall

This should be something you use as standard. A firewall is your first one of defence against a security attack. And unfortunately, small businesses tend to be targeted more often than larger companies due to the level of security that is employed.

Consider an internal firewall along with an external one too for added protection against threats and potential hacks.

Educate Employees

Again, this is something most people are aware of. However, staff training on the use of technology and online habits and practises is never a waste of time. Especially as online security threats are changing and evolving all the time.

Draw up company guidelines for personal and work use and educate them on the many ways they could cause a breach in security unintentionally – such as opening links in unfamiliar emails. Make sure everyone understands and signs a document to agree to the security measures they have been trained on.

Limit Sensitive Information

Allowing certain employees access to sensitive information is another way you can reduce the risk of your staff creating a security breach. By giving different staff members limited access, the less the chance of that information getting into the wrong hands. And if it does, then you will know exactly who caused the breach and deal with it swiftly.

Regularly Back-Up Data

Making sure you have backups will help you get up and running again in the event of a security breach. Prevention is always the best option but you want to make sure that should the worst happen, you can still access everything you need to.

It is recommended that you back up to a cloud. The GCC High Cloud is now available for more companies to offer you another level of security.

Have your backups processed on a regular basis to ensure minimum disruption in the event of a security breach.

Install Anti Malware

A 2016 data breach investigation identified that 30% of employees opened phishing emails. You may presume that all employees know not to open phishing emails, some will still open them.

Phishing scams involve malware being placed on a computer when a link is clicked. installing anti-malware can help remove and/or block this before it gets any information or causes any damage. Include this as part of your training and make sure your anti-malware is running on all devices and internal and external networks.