3 Ways To Prevent Your Employees From Leaking Confidential Information

A lot of businesses need to come to terms with the fact that their employees are their greatest IT threat. As a business owner, you may be aware of cyberthreats to your business, but your employees might not be. They might not know about the threat of cyber-attacks or malware. They might use unsecured WiFi on company equipment. As a result, your employees may be putting your business at serious risk.

What can you do to change that?

1. IT ALL STARTS WITH EDUCATION. One of the biggest reasons why employees put their employer at risk simply comes down to a lack of education. They don’t know about the threats targeting businesses or that small businesses are a major target of hackers and scammers.

You need to do everything you can to train your employees. Give them the education and resources to be a line of defense rather than a risk. Develop a consistent training regimen. If you need to bring in IT professionals to help, do it. Don’t make assumptions about critical IT security training if you aren’t sure. Professionals can answer your questions and make sure you and your employees have everything you need to know to keep your business secure.

Another important thing is to hold this training regularly. Threats evolve, and you need to stay ahead of the curve. Keep IT security on the minds of your employees. When they forget about it, that’s when the risk is highest.

2. SAY NO TO UNSECURED, PUBLIC WIFI. This is a big problem for businesses with remote employees, employees who work from home or employees who use company technology outside of the business walls. According to a Spiceworks study, 61% of employees said they have connected to unsecured WiFi while working remotely.

This is cause for concern. Connecting to public WiFi is like leaving the front door of your home wide-open while posting on social media that you’re going to be out of town for a week. You never know who is going to let themselves in and snoop around. Hackers use public hot spots to circulate malware and steal data. Sometimes they even set up fake hot spots with the same name as a legitimate hot spot to trick users into connecting to their WiFi, which makes data theft even easier.

Discouraging your employees from using unsecured, public WiFi is a good step to take, but don’t be afraid to take it further. Don’t let them connect company equipment to unsecured WiFi at all. And place a bigger focus on endpoint security – make sure your equipment has up-to-date software, malware protection, local firewalls, as well as a VPN (virtual private network). The more layers of security, the better.

“It’s all about understanding the threats and taking a proactive approach to security.”

3. PROTECT ALL OF YOUR DATA. Your employees should never save personal or business data on portable/external hard drives, USB drives or even as printed material – and then take that data out of the office. The theft of these types of devices is a real threat. An external hard drive is a tempting target for thieves because they will search the drive for sensitive data, such as financial or customer information that they can use or sell.

If you have remote employees who need to access company data, put a method in place to do just that (it should be discussed as part of your regular company IT security training). They need to know how to properly access the data, save the data or delete it, if necessary. Many businesses go with a secure cloud option, but you need to determine what makes the most sense for your business and its security.

While these three tips are great, nothing beats helping your employees develop a positive IT security mindset. It’s all about understanding the threats and taking a proactive approach to security. Proactivity reduces risk. But you don’t have to go it alone. Working with experienced IT security professionals is the best way to cover all your bases – and to ensure your employees have everything they need to protect your business.

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Employees Keeping Your Data Safe? … Don’t Count On It

In any business, big or small, employees can be your biggest IT threat, and they might not even realize it. Businesses already face countless cyberthreats, like data breaches, cyber-attacks, online viruses and malicious e-mails. But despite all these outside threats, the real problem can come from the inside.

One of the biggest threats to your business’s security is simply a lack of awareness on the part of your employees. It comes down to this: your employees just aren’t aware of current threats or how to safely navigate e-mails and the web. They might not be aware when they connect to an unsecured WiFi network or if they’re using a firewall. They may be haphazard in all things IT. There are a lot of variables.

Your best defence, in this case, is training. Get all of your employees on the same page. Look at your current training and find the gaps, or start putting together training if you don’t have it. You want a training program that covers all your bases and gives your employees the knowledge and tools they need to keep themselves and your business secure. (Don’t know where to begin? Work with professional IT specialists. They know what your employees NEED to know!)

Another major security threat is phishing e-mails. On any given day, you and your employees can be on the receiving end of dozens, if not hundreds, of fraudulent e-mails. Data from Symantec shows that 71% of targeted cyber-attacks stem from phishing e-mails. While awareness regarding phishing scams is better than ever, it’s still far from perfect. And it doesn’t help that phishing e-mails have gotten more advanced.

Phishing e-mails are typically disguised as messages from a legitimate source, such as a colleague, a bank or an online retailer. They try to trick recipients into clicking a link or opening a file (which you should NEVER do if you are not 100% sure about the source). But there are easy ways to identify scam e-mails:

  1. They’re impersonal. They may be addressed to “customer,” “to whom it may concern” or “my friend.” But be careful – sometimes they are addressed properly and use your name.
  2. They’re full of spelling and grammar errors. Not every phishing e-mail will have these errors, but it’s good to read e-mails word for word rather than just glancing over them. Unusual errors often mean a scam is lurking.
  3. The “from” e-mail address is unfamiliar. This is one of the easiest ways to pinpoint a scam e-mail. Look at the sender, and if the address is filled with numbers, letters, misspelled words or is weirdly long, there’s a good chance it’s from a scammer.

The other major issue facing your business is your employees connecting to unsecured WiFi hot spots. It is such an easy mistake to make. Whether it’s a remote employee or an employee working during lunch at a corner café, you never know when they might connect to unsecured WiFi (it doesn’t help that it’s everywhere these days). One Spiceworks study found that upward of 61% of employees connect to unsecured public WiFi while working remotely.

The problem is, you never know who is watching or if the public WiFi is really the network you intend to connect to. Hackers can easily set up a “fake” network to divert traffic to their hot spot to circulate malware and steal data.

Another WiFi threat might be right at home. If you have employees who work from home, you need to make sure their home WiFi connection is secure. Too often, homeowners leave their WiFi wide-open because it’s home. They think no one’s going to sneak onto their WiFi or they keep it unsecure because it’s easier to connect a lot of devices.

While it might be easier to connect to, it can cause huge problems. For one, WiFi signals can reach hundreds of feet. It’s easy to sit outside of an apartment or out on the street and find dozens of WiFi signals. If any of these signals are unsecure, a hacker can sit outside undisturbed and go to work accessing data and planting malware.

It all comes back to this: Work with your employees to establish IT best practices. Educate them on threats and how to protect themselves and your company. Help them develop a positive IT security mindset at the office, at home or anywhere they work, whether they’re using company equipment or their own.

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry – one phone call and we can help get you started. Don’t wait. Let’s secure your business today.

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Cybercriminals Are Plotting To Hack Your Network RIGHT NOW…And What You Can Do To Prevent It

Did you know that small businesses are more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than any other business or organization? It’s true! While we hear about major breaches on the news, we don’t get to hear the stories of the businesses that struggle with hacking attempts and cyber-attacks.

Hackers love to go after small businesses for one very big reason: small businesses are less likely to invest in top-notch (or even worthwhile) cyber security. Hackers love this vulnerability.

According to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43% of cyber-attacks hit small businesses. The reason comes down to many factors, but there are two in particular that hackers really dig into when going after targets: lack of resources and lack of knowledge. Of course, there’s more to this story, as hackers also look at a business’s customer base and the type of data the business shares online.

A lot of small businesses are also relying more on the cloud (and this is the trend moving forward), but then they do little to keep their line of communication with the cloud storage, or just the cloud storage itself, secure. According to Symantec, a lot of businesses that rely on the cloud also fail to rely on strong encryption software. They just share their data to the cloud and let that be that.

Hackers attack small businesses because they want money. Hackers go after targets they can profit from, whether they hold a business’s data hostage and demand a ransom (and get that ransom – hackers got $460,000 from Lake City, Florida, officials after a ransomware attack on government computers, and that wasn’t the only Florida city to pay!), or by stealing customer data and either selling it on the dark web or black market, or using it for themselves.

The Verizon report also looked at the types of businesses that are targeting. The top three are:

  • Public administration (23,399 reported incidents and 330 confirmed data disclosure)
  • Information services (1,094 reported incidents and 155 confirmed data disclosure)
  • Financial and insurance (927 reported incidents and 207 confirmed data disclosure)

They go after these types of businesses because this is where they can make their money – and it’s where they’ve discovered the most vulnerability. However, while these types of businesses represent the top three, there are many more. Every type of business is targeted. Some businesses make it past the attack unscathed, but many don’t. Their data is compromised in one way or another.

Why are small businesses are targeted so much? It’s a numbers game. Hackers know most small businesses lack good cyber security. This makes these businesses easier targets. Target enough of them, and you’re going to make some serious money (from selling stolen data or paid ransoms).

So, what can you do about this? How can you protect your network? First and foremost, you have to realize YOU are a target. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been hacked before. It just means the hackers haven’t gotten to you yet. Once you realize this, you can go to work and get your business ready for the eventual attack.

This is where a risk assessment can do a lot of good. You may already have some security measures in place, but do you know how effective those measures are? You need to know where your holes are so you can plug them and then reinforce them. You don’t want just a wall around your business, you want an entire ocean.

But it doesn’t end there. One of the most powerful tools against hackers and cybercriminals is knowledge. Next to securing your business, the best thing you can do is train your employees on understanding cyber security and the threats that exist to harm the business they work for. Your team MUST know how to identify phishing schemes, fraudulent websites and virus scams, then stay regularly updated on the threats out there. (And don’t forget using complex passwords that are locked away in a password vault or manager to add another layer of security).

On top of this, work with an IT team who knows what they’re doing. It’s one thing to tackle this all by yourself, as many businesses do, but it’s another to work with an experienced IT security firm. If you go it alone, you might miss something or you might not fully understand the security you have in place. Having an outsourced team of pros means you’re one step ahead of the hackers.

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Top 4 Strategies I Learned From Daymond John To Improve Leadership And Grow My Business

This past June, I got to hear the one and only Daymond John speak at a small private event. You may know Daymond as a successful entrepreneur who has appeared on the hit ABC show Shark Tank. Best known as the founder of the clothing brand, FUBU, he is also the author of The Power of Broke — an insightful look into his life and what he did to find success.

Daymond brought a lot of that insight to the room. While he had a lot of great things to say, there were four business strategies that really struck a chord with me — strategies any business can learn from to improve.

INVEST IN PEOPLE This is the most important thing for a business to realize, as Daymond put it. He talked about how he (and the Sharks) invests in people, not companies. Think about it: companies come and go. In fact, most companies will go. On the other hand, people learn from their experiences (good and bad), and they grow. Putting your people first is what gives companies staying power. Your team matters and your clients matter, and you should make every effort to ensure they know that.

DON’T BE REACTIVE — BE RESPONSIVE

A lot of businesses are reactionary. This was a lesson Daymond learned working with prolific rapper and music producer LL Cool J in the late 1980s. When you react to something, you’re already behind the times. Part of LL Cool J’s success in the rap world was being responsive. He didn’t just jump on trends, he helped create them. He recognized the rap world was constantly changing in terms of sound, lyrics and style (including his fashion).

Daymond was able to market his FUBU clothing because he was doing things other clothing makers weren’t. He was taking risks, working exceptionally hard (another one of Daymond’s points was “always be hustling”) and was willing to respond to changes in the marketplace.

BE TRUE TO YOUR WORD

When Daymond first got the call from Mark Burnett to join Shark Tank, Daymond knew he had to turn down the show. Signing onto Shark Tank meant he couldn’t appear on any other shows, and he was already working with the Kardashians — a family who, at the time, wasn’t quite the household brand name they are today.

Daymond told Burnett he was going to stick with the Kardashians because he had given them their word (and likely signed a few contracts with them). He wanted to help the Kardashians get their brands moving. He saw their potential. The family got word that Daymond had turned down the Shark Tank deal and said, “No, don’t let us get in your way!”

Daymond also recognized that the Kardashians are savvy business people. As he put it, “They know their analytics.” And that’s true! That’s why they found success on TV and in stores around the world where their many products are sold. But he wasn’t about the leave them high and dry for his own gain. Eventually, they found a solution, and he joined Shark Tank, but he wasn’t going to compromise his integrity. And that’s something none of us should compromise on.

REMEMBER, YOU ARE THE BRAND

The biggest brands are distilled down to three, four, five words. People know these words by heart, including Nike (Just Do It) and Apple (Think Different). You should have your own 2-5 words. “If you can’t describe yourself in 2-5 words and you walk into a room, you leave it up to us to interpret.”

Another thing to remember is that people associate your social media with your brand — whether you’re a business intentionally posting content related to your brand, or you’re an individual posting about your last vacation. What you share on social media is shared through a lens — your lens. Pictures, posts, you name it — it’s all a part of your brand.

That said, posting something negative will hurt that brand. It’s always important to be mindful of what you post and encourage your team to do the same. Having rules and policies regarding what can and cannot be shared on social media will go a long way in preventing a catastrophe.

These four points only skim the surface of what Daymond talked about, but these are crucial things we all can learn from. It was great to hear him speak and to hear his story, and I send my thanks to him for all of his wonderful insights!

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3 IT Investments You Should NEVER Skimp On

What is standing between your business’s data and hackers a world away? What’s your plan when your on-site server fails?

When you skimp on technology and IT solutions for your business, the answers to these two questions are simple:

  1. There is nothing standing between your business’s sensitive data and people who want to take advantage of that data; and
  2. There is no plan. It happens way too often. Businesses cheap out on certain aspects of their technology to save a few bucks up-front. You may even know someone who has done just this. They jump at the chance to outfit their office with a huge monitor and a PC with top specs (even though they don’t need it) and then they decide that IT security isn’t a priority. They aren’t willing to pull out the credit card for a security solution because they don’t want to deal with a monthly or yearly cost.
  3. But skimping on security can cost them dearly in time, money, resources and clients. When it comes to investing in IT, here are three things you never want to cheap out on.

SECURITY. Far too many businesses – from small to large – underinvest in IT security. We touch on this topic a lot because we see it a lot. These are business owners and managers who fall into the mindset of “It won’t happen to me.” This is a dangerous line of thinking.

For small businesses, a data breach can be devastating. Not only is data compromised and potentially copied or stolen, but your clients will also immediately question whether or not they should trust you. There’s a good chance they end up taking their business elsewhere – and they may even sue you.

When IT security isn’t a priority and you invest in the cheapest option available, it’s like asking hackers to let themselves in. One study by the security firm Imperva found that over 50% of all Internet traffic is made by bots. Many of these bots are looking for security holes. They test websites and networks, looking for a way in. If they find their way in, they can do some serious damage.

Investing in solid IT security – with an experienced team of IT specialists behind that security – can prevent that damage from ever happening in the first place. It’s not only about protecting your business assets but also protecting your clients and giving them another reason why they should trust you.

BACKUPS. You keep all of your data on-site with no backups. It’s all stored in one central location and that’s it. This is a recipe for disaster if you get hacked, but it can be an even bigger disaster if a hard disk or server fails.

Suddenly, you find yourself unable to access client information, invoices, phone numbers – you name it. Having a backup onsite or in the cloud means everything you do has an extra layer of protection. A backup gives you the ability to restore your data should the worst-case scenario occur.

It’s even better to go a step further and have a backup for the backup. Have one on-site solution and one cloud-based solution. Even if the backup to the backup is as simple as a 4TB hard drive from Amazon, it has the potential to save your business should anything go wrong.

Of course, you also need a system in place to make sure data is being regularly and accurately updated. Another mistake

businesses make is buying a backup or backup services, but not making the best use out of it. For example, they simply never bother to set it up. Or it is set up but isn’t
configured correctly and isn’t backing up data as intended – or is backing up data too infrequently to be useful.

UPDATES. How old is your technology? Think about the hardware you’re running – and the software on that hardware. Letting your technology fall behind the times can spell trouble. Not only are you opening yourself up to security vulnerabilities, but you may also be operating on technology that’s no longer supported by the developers.

If the developers are no longer publishing updates or supporting the software, this is a huge security red flag that you need to update. On top of that, should you or an employee need to troubleshoot a piece of unsupported software, you may find yourself going up against walls. There might be no one to call, and if a Google search doesn’t help, you may be out of luck.

The potential headaches don’t end there. If you’re running unsupported software on shiny, new hardware, you may be voiding the warranty of that hardware (always check your warranties and the fine print of any hardware you buy).

Alternatively, if you’re trying to run brand-new software on old hardware, chances are you’re going to run into compatibility issues. That wonderful piece of software might not work, or work the way you expected it to, all because you didn’t want to update your old hardware.

It’s not always fun to reach into your pocketbook to invest in good IT security, cloud backup storage or new hardware, but when you cut corners and cheap out, you will end up paying for it later, one way or another. When that bill comes, it’s going to be a lot bigger than if you had committed to those IT investments in the first place. “… when you cut corners and cheap out, you will end up paying for it later..

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4 BIG Mistakes You’re Making By Being Cheap With Technology

Technology is more affordable and accessible than it’s ever been. Whatever you need is only a few clicks away, whether it’s a product or a service.

But there are still many small businesses that cheap out on their technology and IT solutions. They just don’t want to commit to quality hardware, software, security or backups – the list goes on. They go for the cheapest solutions, which often means they spend nothing at all. They don’t commit to reliable security or current software. They’re setting themselves, and their customers, up for disaster.

The question is, are you setting your own business up for disaster? Here are four HUGE mistakes you should do everything to avoid.

MISTAKE #1: You aren’t backing up data. As convenient as it is to have all of your business’s information in one place, such as a single local server or even a desktop PC, you’re toast if anything happens to that hardware. For one, if you’re lacking in IT security, you’re making a cybercriminal’s job easier. And two, if that hardware fails (as hardware eventually does; there’s no way around this), you’re left scrambling to recover that data and hoping it’s still accessible.

You should never risk your business like this, considering how easy it is to back up your business’s data. You can back up data on-site, get a cloud-based service or you can do both. The point is, you need to back up everything so you’re ready should anything go wrong.

Once you have a solution, you can customize how your data is backed up. Do you need to back up data every day? Once a week? Once a month? It’s up to you. Here’s another thing to remember: your backup system isn’t “set it and forget it.” You need to check on it regularly and keep it updated to ensure your data is safe and ready to go should you need it

MISTAKE #2: You aren’t keeping up with the times. Speaking of keeping things updated, you should always update your software. Developers are constantly fixing bugs, patching software and improving usability. Skipping updates can leave you vulnerable.

Earlier this year, Cisco’s Series 1001-X router was found to have a fatal flaw that opened it up to hackers. This flaw potentially gave hackers network access – and access to connected devices. This isn’t the first router to have this kind of flaw and it won’t be the last. Cisco pushed out an update to fix the flaw, but the update is useless if you don’t install it.

Updates don’t just apply to software; they apply to hardware as well. When you’re running old hardware, that hardware is more likely to fail. It’s already been put through its paces. Over time, hardware performance degrades. Plus, the older your hardware is, the less compatible it is with current software. You don’t have to invest in new hardware every year or two, but keeping up with the times keeps you on top of your game.

MISTAKE #3: You don’t train your team. While most businesses hire people who understand certain software products, you can’t assume they know everything about that software. Your business might use a certain CRM application in a very specific way. Proper training on your systems ensures everyone is on the same page – and that they are using the software to its (and their) greatest potential.

More than software training, your team also needs to be trained up on IT security. They need to know the risks and how to keep your business’s data secure. Never assume your team knows about the latest threats to small business – or that they even understand the basics of safe web browsing.

While you need to have IT security in place and protecting your network, servers, PCs and so on, you need to make sure your team understands that security and the threats that are out there. Your team should also be aware of the consequences if any data becomes compromised.

MISTAKE #4: You skip data security. Data breaches happen every day, and most of them go unreported. You only hear about the biggest breaches on TV or online. While major companies like Target or Facebook can more easily recover from a data breach (as they have a lot of money to throw at the problem), most small businesses can’t.

If you’re lacking in IT security, you’re putting sensitive data at risk. This is proprietary business data as well as the personal and financial records of your customers. It can mean the end of your business if credit card numbers, names, addresses or phone numbers fall into the wrong hands.

Customers will no longer trust you. Your own employees likely won’t trust you either, especially if their personal data is on the line, not to mention their reputation. When you skimp on IT security, you’re about one step away from handing hackers and cybercriminals all the data you should be keeping under digital lock and key. When you invest in a solid IT security and work with experts who understand today’s security landscape, these are things you don’t have to worry about.

The bottom line is, if you don’t invest in your business’s technology and IT solutions today, you will pay for it tomorrow. You’ll be dealing with upset customers if you get hacked, and you may end up closing your doors, temporarily or perhaps even permanently, as you attempt to recover lost data. Don’t make these mistakes because you wanted to save money

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The Shocking Truth Behind The Growing Cybercrime Threats You Face … And What You Can Do NOW To Protect Your Company

Are businesses losing the war on cybercrime? One recent article on ZDNet says yes. The number of security breaches has risen by 11% just in the last year. This is costing businesses even more in lost revenue dealing with these kinds of attacks. It’s wasting their time and resources.

In 2016, Cybersecurity Ventures stated that by 2021, digital crime will cost businesses a total of $6 trillion. So far, this projection seems on point as hackers continue to chip away at businesses around the world. They don’t care about the damage they’re doing.

Right now, the Internet is flooded with sensitive data. From passwords to financial information – it’s out there. Some of it is secure, some of it isn’t. Either way, because of the sheer amount of data floating out there, cybercriminals have a greater chance to get what they want. And over time, it becomes harder to protect that data.

But the cyber security industry has also grown in response. People are fighting back. In 2018, the investment into cyber security totaled $37 billion. However, it seems like it’s just not enough. When you look at small and medium-sized businesses – the targets of nearly 70% of cyber-attacks, according to SMB Group – cyber security isn’t taken as seriously as it should be.

In 2017, Harvard Business Review looked at the reasons behind why many businesses don’t take cyber security seriously. The results were interesting. It turned out, businesses don’t treat cyber security as “the ongoing process that it is.” Instead, it’s typically treated as a “finite problem that can be solved.” In other words, if you do the bare minimum for security today, the thinking goes, you’ll be protected tomorrow.

The problem is as the Internet changes and evolves, so do the threats against its users. It’s pretty much impossible to set up a one-and-done security solution. If you were to set up something like an SMB “quick fix” and walk away, there’s a good chance your business would be the successful target of an attack within a matter of months.

This kind of thinking is far more costly than many business owners realize. A study by Akouto and Alpha Logistics found that businesses that underinvest in cyber security end up spending more on cyber security in the long run as they deal with attacks – up to 58% more. These costs don’t even include downtime or lost wages caused by data breaches. In short, recovering from an attack is FAR more expensive than investing in security now. So what can you do to protect your business? You can start with changing the way you think about cyber security. You have to accept that the threats are out there and will always be out there. But there are things you can do to minimize those threats.

Start with your people. For many businesses, especially those smaller than Fortune 500 companies, your biggest threat is right inside your organization. For those of us who are Internet-savvy, most would never dream of clicking on a scammy link or responding to a phishing e-mail. We’ve been around the cyber block and we know what to look for.

However, people still fall for even the most basic scams. There will always be someone on your team who isn’t informed about these kinds of threats, or those who use obvious passwords. ZDNet points out that “only 26% of workers know what to do in the event of a breach” and that “7% openly acknowledge that they ignore or go around security policy.”

It pays to invest in a thorough and ongoing training program. It’s crucial to outline clear and firm security protocols so your team knows EXACTLY what to do. No one’s left guessing or clicking on anything they don’t recognize.

It’s also crucial to not go it alone. The single best way to stay on top of all things cyber security is to hire a highly experienced managed services provider who is up-to-date on the threats you’re facing. Having a partner means you don’t have to assume your business is protected. You’ll know your business is protected.

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Top Ways To Protect Your Business From The #1 Security Threat You Face

Today, cybercrime is more than a potential threat facing your business. It’s an unavoidable force of nature.

“It’s just like preparing for hurricanes, earthquakes or any type of natural or man-made disaster that could create business continuity issues,” says Theresa Payton, the Fortalice Solutions CEO and former White House CIO, in an interview with Cybercrime Magazine. “[It’s the] same thing with a digital cyber-event.” For many of us, it’s easy to imagine these kinds of things happening to “the other guy” and not us. The problem is that cybercriminals go after everyone. They cast a wide net because that gets results.

In fact, according to Roger A. Grimes, 11-year principal security architect for Microsoft and cyber security columnist and speaker, “Eventually every company is hacked.” After decades consulting for many businesses, he’s come to the conclusion that “every company is completely and utterly owned by a nefarious hacker or easily could be.”

Owners of small and midsize businesses might imagine that – lucky us! – we don’t have enough cash to justify some faceless hacker’s effort. We’d be wrong. The reality is around half of cyber-attacks go after small businesses. These don’t really get reported by the media. They’re not as flashy as a cyber-attack against a big bank or retailer. But it’s the attacks against small businesses that do the most damage. One 2016 study found that 60% of small businesses hit with a cyber-attack closed within six months.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. While some business owners have no clue what cyber security they have in place, others are looking for ways to shore up their businesses. There are steps you can take to keep the bad guys out.

Two of the best ways to do that are to simply keep all your software up-to-date and keep your team educated about the threats. As Grimes puts it, “The two most likely reasons you will get exploited are due to unpatched software or a social engineering event where someone is tricked into installing something they shouldn’t … It would be a stretch to claim every other exploit type in the world, added together, would account for 1% of the risk.”

How can you keep your software up-to-date? You can actually automate a lot of it. There are several easy-to-use tools built just for this. Many of them also let you manage your software across your entire network from one set location. Say goodbye to jumping around and coordinating updates. Even better, there are many platforms capable of updating themselves. You just want to keep a close eye on them.

More than that, it’s always a good idea to put strong company policies in place. You want to be clear about your security and help inform employees about the dangers posed by malicious files and e-mails, among other things. Take time to educate them on the threats that are out there. And keep the education ongoing, because the threats are ongoing. The bad guys are always looking for new ways to break in.

And don’t forget about accountability. Keep the conversation going and talk to your employees about what they know about cyber security. Some businesses go so far as including cyber security training in their onboarding. Education is everything.

Finally, you MUST partner with a highly trained, security-focused managed service provider or other IT organization dedicated to keeping you protected from these constant threats. Some businesses try to do it on their own only to realize they don’t have the resources. Others think they need an entire in-house IT team to handle all of these threats.

But the fact is, by outsourcing the work, you save money while keeping out the bad guys optimizing key parts of your network and software. It’s a win/win. It’s all about being proactive. When you have a group of experts working every day behind the scenes, cyber security stays top of mind in your organization, whether you’re thinking about it or not. Really, it’s one less thing you have to stress about.

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Top 3 Leadership Strategies I Learned From Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning doesn’t need much of an introduction. Whether you’re a football fan or not, you’ve got to respect his hustle: Considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, with a career spanning 18 seasons of play, he’s the only quarterback in history with Super Bowl wins under his belt from two different franchises. Not only that, but he’s been named MVP five times – more than any other NFL player – and holds the record for career touchdown passes. To top it off, he’s a consummate philanthropist: His charity, the Peyback Foundation, is dedicated to providing opportunities to disadvantaged and at-risk kids.

With so many accolades squirreled away in his trophy case, it’d be easy to assume that the friendly, easygoing Manning you see off the field is only a fabrication. As far as I could tell from seeing him speak at a recent boot camp, though, the man is frustratingly faultless. Luckily, as a born leader, he is also eager to share his wealth of knowledge with others. Here are three of the top leadership strategies I learned from the retired football icon and how to implement them in your life and business.

1. The 4 Keys To Being A Top Performer

At his peak, Manning was one of the few individuals in the world to truly reach that lofty pinnacle of being the absolute best at what he did. Asked what got him there, he cited an attitude founded on four primary pillars for success.

Whatever field you’re in, he says, “You certainly gotta have the ability.” But, of course, that’s far from enough. “You gotta combine that ability with a strong work ethic. You hear about it in sports all the time: ‘hard worker, just not very talented’ or ‘super-talented, just not a very hard worker.’” If you cultivate both traits, he argues, that’s what will set you apart from the pack.

And then, what will drive you a notch higher is your passion. “You gotta love your job. [My brother] Eli and I always used to kid – we’d never tell the owners this – we would play for free, ’cause we loved football that much.” If you lack that fire for what you do, he adds, “it’ll show up somewhere.” The final component, he says, is a sense of accountability. “That’s what always kind of drove me, that people were counting on me – coaches, teammates, fans. You don’t want to let them down.”

2. Do Your Homework

Manning had a reputation for being one of the most consistently prepared quarterbacks in the NFL. By all accounts, the sheer level of detail he would put into his game plan was second to none.

When asked what steered him toward this habit, he has a pretty straightforward answer. “I always felt that preparation was where I could get an edge on the competition,” he says. “I couldn’t outthrow anybody, I couldn’t throw at 75 to 80 yards down the field. If you’ve ever seen me play, you certainly know I couldn’t outrun anybody; I had a coach tell me once that I couldn’t run out of sight in a week – that was nice. But I thought that I could out-prepare anybody, and so that’s what I based my game plan on.”

“The best leaders, Manning says, walk the walk as well as they talk the talk.”

When he was growing up, he says, his dad was always providing him with the wisdom of sports leaders. When he was 14, his dad gave him a quote from Chuck Noll, thencoach of the Pittsburgh Steelers: “Pressure is something that you feel only when you don’t know what you’re doing.” It’s okay to get nervous and excited, Manning says – that just means you care about your work. “But pressure means you haven’t done your homework.” It’s easy to get bored of the fundamentals, he says, but their mastery will be what leads you to victory.

3. Learn from your mentor’s example, and then lead by it

Manning was fortunate to be coached for years by some of the most skilled sports leaders in the country. But one of his greatest influences was the legendary coach Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts. “He had a very unique style of leadership,” Manning says. “Never raised his voice. Never used any kind of language, but he treated you like such a professional that you just didn’t want to let him down.”

According to Manning, Dungy peppered his coaching with a lot of pithy little expressions, things like “Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves”; “Expectations, execution”; “No excuses, no explanations.” “He was just as calm in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl as he was out there at practice every day. When your leader is calm, the rest of your team following can be calm as well.”

The best leaders, Manning says, walk the walk as well as they talk the talk. Pay attention to the habits and advice of those you admire, implement them into your own practice and success will always follow.

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Top 3 Strategies I Learned From Peyton Manning To Improve Leadership And Grow My Business

Peyton Manning knows a thing or two about success. As one of the most legendary quarterbacks in the history of football, he’s reached heights few of us can ever hope to match, regardless of our field. When looking at a career as storied as Manning’s, it’s tempting to attribute his dominance to sheer innate talent and maybe some kind of preternatural work ethic. Certainly, if you ask him, he’ll tell you that these two are essential ingredients to any kind of outsized success. But there’s a third factor that we tend to overlook from the sidelines, one that has tremendous implications for our roles as business leaders: the influence of those who coach us along the way.

Speaking at a recent conference I attended, Manning said something that really stuck with me. “I think you always need to be coached,” he said. “Whatever level of success anyone in this room has reached, someone’s gonna hit a plateau. We need a coach to unlock our full potential.”

No matter where we’re at in our work and lives, it’s vital that we seek out folks to keep us accountable and moving forward. Luckily, I found Manning himself to be an invaluable resource in that regard. While he’s not about to sit down with me one-on-one, he definitely left us with a few key lessons we could all benefit from.

1. Recognize That You Don’t Know Everything.

It’s easy to balk when you hear a quarterback with two Super Bowl wins and five MVP awards under his belt tell you to remain humble in your self-perception, but it’s also telling. “I believe in mentoring and paying it forward,” he said, “but I also believe that we shouldn’t think we have it all figured out and that we don’t need to be mentored.”

Years back, Peyton and his brother, Eli, had a shared coach: David Cutcliffe, now the head coach at Duke University. Even after they’d entered the NFL, both he and his brother would return to Coach Cutcliffe and seek his insight and guidance to refresh and strengthen their fundamentals. It was “like we were 18-year-old college freshmen in college again, working on how to take a snap,” Manning says. Even as a 14-year all-pro quarterback, he continued to seek the counsel of his mentors on the most basic aspects of the game. “The point is that the little things do matter,” he said. “Keep being coached, and keep being evaluated.”

2. Be Adaptive.

As CEOs and managers, we’re the “coaches” of our business teams. And the best coaches, according to Manning, are the ones who know the members of their team and consistently play to their strengths. For example, the best offensive coordinators that Manning played for “were adaptive in designing the offensive system … around the players that he had on the team that year.” Since Manning is not particularly fast, coaches wouldn’t structure their offense on a lot of running plays, for instance. Rather than trying to magically turn him into a faster runner overnight, successful leaders tapped into the things he was good at.

Rather than complaining about your employees’ faults, hone in on their talents.

“Design plays that your team can do,” he said. “Don’t put them in situations where they’re not going to be really comfortable and not going to be successful … Being flexible based on who’s in the room is a good way to coach.”

Rather than complaining about your employees’ faults, hone in on their talents. This will not only motivate and inspire those you work for, but it’ll also optimize outcomes in your business for the long haul.

3. Practice Seriously.

When asked how he was able to consistently thrive under such incredible pressure, Manning cited a piece of advice he received early on in his football career: “Treat practice like a game.”

“Create those intense situations during practice, during the course of the week,” he said, “so that when Sunday afternoon or whenever that big moment comes around, you’re not overwhelmed by the moment.” At Manning’s practices, the team would always strive to maintain the same level of intensity they’d bring to a big game, from their own attitudes to the piping crowd noise.

“The biggest mistake people make in that mecca moment,” he said, speaking about the Super Bowl, “is to try to do something different from what they’ve been doing all season to get them to that point.” Find what works and cultivate it relentlessly, to the point that you and your team can do it in your sleep. “The competition’s going to be tough. It won’t be easy,” Manning said. “But there’s a reason you’re there in that moment … because you’ve had great success.” Keep doing those things while keeping a mind on your team, and further success will surely follow.

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