Cyber Security has jumped to a top ten issue for every business and industry. All large enterprises are now dramatically increasing their investments in cyber security due to the high-profile attacks this past year. The hackers know this and are now adding small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to their attacks as fast as possible.
Many executives are struggling on how to evaluate their cyber security technology and best practices. The following is a Cyber Security Checklist with the top 10 projects you should implement immediately to increase your business protection and reduce your company risk.
The next few years are going to be a lot harder than the last 50 years in business. The good news is that you're going to have higher profits, happier customers and more productive employees as you go forward with these fast-changing technologies.
Over the last five years, Venture Capital has shifted its investment focus from the consumer market to solving enterprise problems and improving the business world. New companies and technology have been quickly rolling out and changing every industry. If you're an industry leader and have been in business for the last five to 25 years, you should be very scared.
You have to be crazy to let your mobile professionals use the Starbucks Free WiFi without using a low-cost VPN App on their Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop. I'm not trying to pick on Starbucks (although it helped get your attention didn't it?). This issue exists with most FREE WiFi services, including Airports, Restaurants, Cafes, McDonald's, Starbucks, Hotels, etc. It's a bigger concern when you travel overseas.
If you are wondering... A virtual private network (VPN) enables a Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone and Tablet to send and receive encrypted data across open public networks like WiFi. In many small businesses, VPN is more secure than their own private company WiFi network. Wikipedia has a more technical description of a VPN Network
Why You Should Care
There's a popular free hacker app called FireSheep that lets anyone sitting near you in a room see (and copy) everything you are browsing, sending and receiving over a Free WiFi connection. All your passwords, emails, browsing, client info, business transactions, reports... you get the idea. If you have any doubts how easy this is to do, just read the FireSheep Test in this article.
The good news is that some of your existing apps already offer secure data protection. Google Apps and most Banking Apps have encryption built into their service to protect your data over the internet. However, you need to check your other apps to confirm if they are secure when using a Free public WiFi connection.
Is it hard to use?
No. The new companies have made this a lot easier. You need to select a vendor, sign up for a service level, download the app and turn it on. That's it.
In the past, VPN services were very expensive and only large companies used them. Now like much of the new technology today there are free and low-cost versions of VPN. Some services are less than $10 per month per user. The cost is low and the protection is very high. The challenge is always finding the best solution for you and your business.
Small Business VPN Vendors
Based on our research to date, we just started testing the following low-cost VPN services. Cloak for the all Apple Users: iPhone, iPad and Mac laptops ProXPN for Windows, Android, Apple Smartphones, Tablets and Laptops.
Does anyone have any other suggestions for Small Businesses on a tight budget?
In 2013, Microsoft significantly changed the Windows 8 and Office user interface. Your employees are going to have to re-learn how to use Office Applications after you upgrade your PCs and Laptops. Here are a few key tips to help evaluate this upgrade for your Small Business.
Small Business "Windows 8" Upgrade Tips:
1. Read the Walt Mossberg article (see link below) on Windows 8 before you spend any money
2. Increase (or establish) a budget for employee Office Software training
3. Line-up extra help for your staff, including: phone and one-to-one coaching
4. Make sure your existing software will work with Windows 8
5. Identify and Implement any business process changes
6. Re-write any office manuals
7. Confirm who in IT Support actually knows anything about Windows 8. It's new to everyone....
8. Check that all your existing PC & Laptop accessories will work
9. Budget lots of extra money to deal with the unknown
10. You may want to wait for the rest of the industry to come up to speed before you invest in this upgrade.
The bottom-line is that your Small Business Staff & Information Technology Resource "Productivity will likely go down" and your "PC Costs will go up" by implementing Windows 8 in 2013.
Hope these tips help....
Note: It's important for a Small Business Owner to read the Mossberg review below before you upgrade or buy a new Windows PC. Microsoft will have a Windows 8 upgrade by 2014 to fix many of the problems created by the new design.
"Microsoft is giving Windows its most radical overhaul since 1995 and even its most devoted users won’t recognize the venerable computer operating system in this new incarnation, called Windows 8, when it appears Oct. 26." Walt Mossberg
When you run a Small Business you are always looking for ways to improve productivity by saving time and money. Our last article on "18 Tips for using an iPad in a Small Business" focused on finding the top iPad Apps.
After you use an iPad for a day or two, you quickly begin asking yourself... "How can I print from my iPad?" Here's the good news. After much research, we found a very easy way to print from an iPad for under $20.
There are a three good options for printing from an iPad:
1. Buy a new Printer that works with Apple iPad AirPrint
2. Transfer your data to a PC or Mac and then print from there.
3. Buy "Printer Apps" that are compatible with Apple AirPrint technology and will let you print on most existing printers in the office
Here are the Details.........
Option 1. Buy a New Printer
You can print from an iPad on almost all the new Hewlett-Packard (HP) Printers and a few Epson Printers support Apple Airprint. Prices run from $100 to $300, plus the cost of any extended maintenance contract. Tip: Plan on extra time to evaluate, select, purchase, install, test, check printer drivers for the new printer and recycle the old printer. Click to see a list of the top printers that work with iPad Apple AirPrint technology.
Option 2. Transfer your data to your PC or Mac and then print from there.
Here are two good options for transferring the files from the iPad to a PC or Mac.
Use iTunes App (Free): You can sync an iPad with your PC or Mac using iTunes. After the sync is completed you can find the file on your PC or Mac and print it like any other file.
Use the DropBox App (there is a Free version): If you use the DropBox App on your iPad, PC and Mac, you can just save a file in the iPad Dropbox Folder and then go to your PC or Mac and print the file. The iPad App that created the page or file you want to print must be compatible with Dropbox. You can look this up on dropbox.com
Option 3. Buy a Printer App (NOT a new Printer) for your PC or Mac (Our Favorite - We Did This)
After doing a lot of research, we found a printer App for our PCs and one for our Apple Macs. Here's what you need to do.
First install the appropriate printer app on any relatively new PC or Mac that is connected to an inkjet or laser printer. Then make sure you have a WiFi Wireless Network turned on in the office (or home). Get the network Password... You'll need to enter the password in the printer software settings. That's it... you're done! Now anyone in the office (or home) that has an iPhone, iPad, iPod or Touch can print. It is amazing to watch... and it just works. Here are the two Apps we use and recomend:
Printopia - by ecamm Network: Works on the Mac only and costs $20
FingerPrint - by Collobos: Works on a PC or Mac and costs $10
Hope this helps. We have not had any problems with both of these Apps since they've been installed.
Please add your comments for any other Wireless iPad Printing Options that work for you (and you would recommend to a family member) :)
Give us a call @ 650-866-5517 or feel free to contact us to discuss how you can use the latest mobile technology to boost sales in your Small Business.
Are you starting to think about planning for next year? Do you have any feel for the top cost-effective new technology that will boost your company sales and productivity?
During the fourth quarter, we asked Small Business Executives, Managers or Owners to share the Top 3-4 NEW Technologies that they were thinking about implementing in 2012. Based on the survey, the following are the top 4 technologies for 2012:
Upgrading the Company Website with the Latest Technology
Implementing Smartphones and Tablets
Testing and Implementing Social Marketing
Adding Video Content for the Website including: Customer Demos, New Product Announcements, Success Stories and Best Practice Tips
Note: The votes were anonymous and we do NOT collecting any personal info. All poll results are available now.
Please share the poll results with other managers or owners... and add any comments or questions in the comment field below.
Your website is the most important technology needed today to grow your small business. Yes. It is more important than Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Smartphones, Tablets and everything else you read about.
We recently underwent a big project to move and update several of our company Websites and Blogs. We learned a lot from these projects and would like to share some of experiences.
The following are the top 10 tips that helped us minimize the time, cost and hassle of this project.
1. Move to a Popular Content Management System (CMS)
If you are spending the time and money to update an existing or create a new website or blog, you want to move to using a modern "Content Management System" or CMS. Some of the more popular Content Management Systems include: Wordpress, Google Blogs (Blogger), Drupal or Squarespace.
We suggest Wordpress for most Small Businesses. It may not the best solution for everyone. However, it is very popular, with 50+ million worldwide websites (that is not a typo). Wordpress is also very cheap and there are lots of resources for help everywhere. There is even a Free version available for companies that have virtual no budget or staff. More on this later.
2. Design Your Site for Mobile Visitors
According to Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley, by 2015, the majority of users will be accessing your website from a Smartphone, Tablet or even a TV.... NOT a laptop or desktop computer of today. If you are creating a new website or updating an existing site, you want to do this project once now and have it work for the short-term future.
You should only use a Content Management System (CMS) that will support mobile devices now... or will in the future.
3. Remember HTML 5.... NOT Flash
As I just mentioned in the last tip, mobile is important now and will be extremely important in the near future. Unfortunately, there is a website technology battle going on today in the industry. The older technology is Adobe Flash. The new technology is called HTML 5. HTML 5 is the worldwide standard. We recommend that you make sure your website is designed with HTML 5 support... not Flash.
Many website and marketing vendors like to push Adobe Flash technology because that's what they have been using for the last 5 to 10 years. Please DO NOT let someone talk you into creating an Adobe FLASH Website or Blog. The whole worldwide industry is quickly moving to the HTML 5 standard. Even Adobe, the developer of Flash recently announced that it will be selling a product to create HTML 5 websites in direct competition to their Flash technology.
By 2011, there were 200 million Apple mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch & Apple TVs) that use HTML 5... but DO NOT read FLASH technology. If you use Flash Technology on your new website or blog, you will exclude millions of potential customers. Many fancy restaurant and resort websites were designed using Flash... and for the last two years, million of potential customers haven't been able to see their websites. Now, many restaurants are rebuilding their sites using HTML 5 technology for mobile and desktop users.
Wordpress supports HTML 5.
4. Six Must-Have Websites Pages
If you are creating your 1st website, there are a six key pages that you need to publish on a website. Below are some thoughts about the type of information you would write for each page.
Home Page - You 1st page summarizes a few key points:
Poduct and Services List
One Paragraph describing your business
About Us - Tells everyone about who you are
Company Founder and Management Summary
List of each Product or Service with a description of key info
Blog - Blog Articles that are published on a regular basis and provides your readers and customers tips, key info and advice
Contact Us - The Page that gives your readers info on how to contact you
Address, Phone and eMail
Social Networking Info
Map and Directions to Your Office
Landing Page - A special page designed to capture Sales Leads
Key Sales Lead or Order Form
Info on a product or service
Tip: The best thing to do is to read other websites and blogs that you like and see what they have written on their key pages.
5. "Share Widgets"
It is very important to add a way to share your website and Blog content to help grow website visitors, marketing leads and provide customer service. There are two top FREE widgets you can use for your website: Addthis.com or Sharethis.com.
You publish a share widget on each page of content to help increase readership. These widgets should be placed in the website design templates or plug-ins. Here are a few of the top share links:
I was looking to store some company files (powerpoint presentations, excel workbooks, etc) in the cloud securely and inexpensively. That way my other managers and partners can access them and upload updates. Sort of like a Microsoft Share-point without the overhead. Any suggestions? ....keep reading for the answer!
One of our favorite Small and Midsize Business (SMB) File Sharing, Storing & Backup Solutions is Dropbox.com. They have a single user and a business version of their product. "Dropbox.com for Business" is ideal for a Small and Midsize Businesses. The service is secure, very easy to setup and use. You download a small app to your Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android Smartphone or Tablet and you're ready to start sharing files. You can share a folder or a file with your team members.
Dropbox.com works in 175+ countries and is available in English, French, Japanese, German and Spanish.
Dropbox for Business is affordable, and at a discount compared to buying personal Dropbox accounts individually.
List of Top 8 File Sharing and Storing Files on the Web
Here is a list of the top solutions for sharing & storing files on the web for a Small Business:
Dropbox - Our favorite easy-to-use way of sharing & Storing files these days. 2GB free/user. Also a team version (see above).