Everyday Human Error Can Affect Data Protection

Everyday Human Error Can Affect Data Protection

Are you under the impression that data loss is all about putting up firewalls to protect against evil cyberattacks? Some of the biggest sources of data loss include sloppiness, human error, and just plain forgetfulness.

What are some of the unglamorous things that we do everyday that leave us vulnerable?

Passwords
Old or easy passwords are a good first example. Employees set up simple passwords that are easy to crack. More importantly, employees may share passwords, and many often fail to create new ones on a frequent basis. Both of these represent critical breakdowns of good data protection practices.

Emails
Another significant problem caused by bad judgment is the tendency of people to open phishing scams. Almost everyone now knows about the Nigerian who wants to send money to your bank account, but many new scams come along every day and people fall for them. This is such a serious source of virus infection that some companies now deliberately send out their own phishing email to teach workers not to open anything from an unknown source. (The employee who opens one of these gets a pop up screen that tells them they’ve been tricked and then offers guidelines for identifying bad emails.)

Browsing the Web
Bad websites. Yes, everyone has policies about internet use at work, but that doesn’t mean people pay attention and don’t visit places they shouldn’t. Most significantly, a lot of those “sites they shouldn’t visit” are far more likely to be infected than CNN, Ebay or Amazon!

Losing Your Belongings
And finally there is just old-fashioned forgetfulness. Phones left on a bar stool.Or the bus. Sigh. There isn’t much more to be said about this one.

To learn more about the risks that your employees pose to your business’s data integrity, see our e-guide “Now you see it, There IT…Stays”.

Disaster Recovery Plans: Do You Have One?

Disaster Recovery Plans: Do You Have One?

Disaster recovery and business continuity plans are issues that almost all small businesses fail to think about. More frequently, they decide they haven’t the resources to address such “unthinkables.”

If your business was down for 1-2 days or more, what costs would you incur?

  1. Lost revenues and lost productivity. These are obvious. You won’t make the money that you would have if you remained open. This is especially true if you provide a service. Services are inherently tied to time, and time cannot be re-created. Sure, you can work extra hours next week, but it won’t be a service provided at the time it was expected. However, even if you provide a product that can be purchased next week instead of today, a customer didn’t get it when they most wanted or needed it.

    There are other far more serious consequences of business downtime than just unsold goods and services. There are the intangibles that can’t be so easily measured but have long-term consequences.

  2. Helping the competition – You give your competition a real edge. Present clients and potential ones may go to a competitor while you are down. Not all will return. Your competitors now have ammunition against you to use in sales pitches.
  3. Employee frustration – Employees will carry the burden of the extra hours and stress of helping get things back together. That can lead to a lot of frustration, which, if things don’t get back to normal quickly, can damage long-term productivity. Most importantly, it can damage the respect they have for management (that means you). In general, they will recognize that you didn’t have the foresight and wisdom to anticipate the need to create disaster recovery and continuity plans. How can that not damage their trust and support for the company and you?
  4. Negative brand reputation –Your customers will also wonder how you couldn’t have cared enough to make plans to handle trouble. Think of the negative way a customer sees it. The event suggests a company that doesn’t think ahead. A client is not “off base” to feel angry that you didn’t care enough to make plans to support him if a disaster hit. Also, if you can’t handle disasters well, what else aren’t you handling properly?

These are just a few of the reasons everyone needs to consider disaster recovery. To learn more, see our e-guide “Staying Alive: The Definitive Guide to Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery for Small Businesses”.

Why Small Businesses Shouldn’t Avoid Making Disaster Recovery Plans.

 
 
Why Small Businesses Shouldn’t Avoid Making Disaster Recovery Plans.
 
Entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially ones that are fairly new, often don’t think about making plans to recover in case of a disaster. However, it is the smallest business that most likely has the fewest resources to fall back on in case of disaster.
 
Why does this happen?
  1. It isn’t on an entrepreneur’s radar – The challenge and hurdles of starting out are what drive small business owners. The excitement that comes with getting a new client or releasing a new product are what motivates them. To be honest, things like disaster recovery plans are a little dull and aren’t part of the exciting day-to-day hustle of running a company. As a result, these issues get put on the back burner.
  2. Planning tools can seem too complex – Ideas like “risk assessment” and “business impact analysis” can be intimidating. Many SMBs may just feel the whole area is overwhelming and leave it to another day.
  3. It is perceived to be unaffordable – Many owners may believe that putting disaster recovery plans into place involves a lot of additional spending on consultants, backup hardware and more software. That isn’t true. With cloud technology and the use of a managed service provider, disaster recovery doesn’t need to be an intimidating or expensive proposition.

Outsourcing? Really. Its OK: How it can save time and money

Outsourcing? Really. It’s OK: How it can save time and money

Almost by definition, small business owners and entrepreneurs cringe at the concept of outsourcing. Those who start their own companies like the control and autonomy it provides them. Unfortunately, that preference for control and autonomy may have some bad side effects when it comes to IT.

Small business don’t have the resources to fully support all of their IT infrastructure needs. The present in-house staff is most likely very busy putting out day-to-day fires. One statistic suggests 65% of IT budgets go to nothing more than keeping the lights on. In short, staff is busy making sure the printer works or reloading a PC infected by a virus after an employee fell for a phishing email. This means that small firm’s expenditures on IT are not improving operational, efficiency, or enhancing productivity or competitiveness.

There is an alternative. Managed Service Providers are outside consultants you can bring in to handle the day-to-day tasks, so your own IT resources can be used more productively.

How might an MSP supplement your IT efforts?

  • 24/7 operations center – Small businesses can benefit from, but simply cannot afford 24/7 internal monitoring of their IT infrastructure. Many of the issues that become costly business disruptions, such as hardware, software, and applications failures are completely preventable if they’re detected and addressed early enough. It is a reality that your systems run 24/7, but you can’t support a 24/7 IT staff. A MSP, however, can use economies of scale to provide around the clock monitoring of your IT operations.
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity plans – Small businesses have limited resources, so if there were to be a serious business interruption or data loss, they could be completely out of luck. However, risk assessments and continuity plans are likely outside of a small business owners field of expertise. A MSP can be brought in to design a complete solution.

These are just 2 ways that a small business owner can benefit from passing along IT support to an outside source. In both cases, small business owners don’t lose any control of the key parts of the business operation. Instead, the distractions of IT support are moved along to an expert, while the entrepreneur focuses on what she does best: running her business. We’ll talk in another blog about other benefits of outsourcing IT, but in the meantime, see our e-guide “Outsourcing Isn’t a Dirty Word: Meet Managed Services, Your IT Team’s New Best Friend – Managed Services”.