How Small Businesses Can Protect Against Hackers

Kevin Gardner

If your small business collects consumer data or payment information, it can become a target for hackers.

Although media reports typically focus primarily on hacks affecting high-profile brands like Starbucks and Target, nearly half of all cyber attacks are directed towards small businesses. Because many of these firms lack the infrastructure and security protocols necessary to prevent cyber attacks, they are an easy target for hackers looking to steal personal information like credit card details and social security numbers.

If you run a small business, here are some strategies that can help you prevent cyber attacks.

VPNs

VPNs, or virtual private networks, are a must for any business that manages customer data. If your employees use public wi-fi, personal computers, or mobile devices, or if they work with company data anywhere outside of your office’s secure network, they’re putting the company at risk. A VPN creates an encrypted connection between devices to obfuscate and protect data being transferred. VPNs are relatively inexpensive and can provide a huge boost to overall security without revamping your entire network.

Secure servers and transfers

Your security strategy should also include protecting the data on your company’s servers. While it’s OK to place some trust in external hosting providers, many businesses opt to manage their customer data themselves. An IT professional on your team can create a secure network that protects sensitive company data. Secure servers are also important if you have an internal network for employees to use. Servers’ exposure to the Internet can be limited when you manage connections yourself instead of relying on external hosting or storage.

Password management

One of the easiest ways a business can become compromised is by using the same password between accounts and devices. If a hacker obtains your email password and the same account information is used to manage customer databases, employee email accounts, or sales data, hackers can easily turn a single password breach into millions of dollars in damage.

Password managers like 1Password and LastPass address this problem by creating unique passwords for each account and storing them automatically so you don’t need to remember them. Using a series of encryption algorithms and tools like fingerprint recognition, password managers can secure your personal and business accounts.

Reaction strategy

Regardless of what security strategy you implement, you should always have a plan in place should you experience a data breach. This plan should include ways to notify customers and employees about the breach, what you’re doing to protect their data, and how you’ll be protecting them moving forward. If customers use the same account information for multiple services, the effects of your data breach could be farther-reaching than just a single account loss if the hackers try the same login information for other accounts.

Comprehensive solutions

While there is no one-size-fits-all security solution, software suites called data prevention tools (DLP), or PKI tools, can cover many of the most common areas of data breaches. Bundling features like encryption software, antivirus scanning, and automatic monitoring of communication patterns, data loss prevention tools can be a powerful element in your security strategy.

These tools typically work by encrypting the majority of data transferred within your network and detecting irregular patterns. If it detects abnormal activity such as an unknown connection or an irregular data transfer, the software can notify network administrators or take automatic corrective action to prevent a breach before it starts.

Cybersecurity requires constant strategic evolution, as cyber criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to hack networks and perform data breaches. Small businesses must stay especially vigilant and adapt to the newest trends to keep their customers’ data—and their own—secure.

For more on cybersecurity for small businesses, see How To Protect Your Small Business From The Alarming Cost Of Cybercrime.

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Kevin Gardner

About Kevin Gardner

Kevin Gardner loves everything and anything business and enjoys writing about his experiences in order to help others succeed in their own endeavors. Kevin also enjoys rock climbing and watching soccer. You can follow Kevin at @kevgardner83.

Cybercrimes Now Force Rethinking Public Safety And Security

Mohammed Karzoun

Public safety and security is a conceptual dynamic that hinges on the perception of the community related to the well-being of the people. At its core is the way individuals perceive and identify with threats and how authorities respond to those threats. This contemporary paradigm has the potential to create a safer world by effectively utilizing cutting-edge technology and advances.

Public safety agencies are operating in a fast-changing world. Evolving citizen expectations for safety and trust, new threats and patterns of crime, and increasing pressure to improve operational efficiency are driving a re-imagining of public policy. Should public safety leadership focus on fighting crime efficiently? Or should it focus on gaining public trust? Forward-thinking public safety leaders realize that to build legitimacy they must improve crime prevention and public trust. Police technology and digital applications offer public safety leaders ways to do both.

Criminals are becoming smarter, more technologically advanced – even collaborating in what’s called “Crime as a Service.” New patterns of crime are surfacing, such as organized crime, terrorism, drug production and distribution, human trafficking, and cybercrime. Public safely agencies need to work hand-in-hand with citizens to be steps ahead of the criminals.

The difficulty arises when considering the diversity of communities, often conveying contradictory priorities, demands, and concerns. This results in a complex policing model, where each facet has to be covered adequately and differently. Digital policing needs to encompass transformative solutions that are as much about citizens feeling secure and protected as apprehending offenders.

Cybercrime investigations adapt to the changing archetype

The increasingly sophisticated criminality of cybercriminals ensures that modern communities are facing an ever-changing and evolving threat to public safety, in the form of terrorism, conflicts, and the malicious use of technology. The continuously increasing frequency, scale, and severity of cyberattacks must be fought on the same turf.

Embracing the power of real-time analytics and situational awareness, wrong-doers can be identified based on the cornucopia of data generated daily and in real time.

  • Solutions can be found by using this data to identify and subsequently eliminate threats. By integrating various databases from different agencies and cross-referencing information for possible criminal activities, government can effectively derive meaning and take action against these crimes, often preemptively.
  • Cybercrime investigation management needs to take a holistic approach, from beginning to end. To ensure human resource capability and competence, investments must be made into front-line empowerment with skills such as investigative case management.
  • Incident response time is an important factor when garnering community support, and all incidents. Internal and external events and emergencies must receive a prompt response. Situational awareness is essential, supporting officers’ ability to sense, analyze, predict, and act with immediate effect.
  • Cybercrime units are at the forefront of forensic investigation and must be trained to comply with correct and legally binding methods for evidence collection. The benefits of a functional, successful cybercrime investigative unit will have far-reaching consequences, in that it can process cases faster, improving the ends of justice.

Digital government can protect our children

Society must do all it can to protect our children from those who exploit technology to create misery, loss, and ruin. Digital and real-time technology should be used to detect, deny, deter, and disrupt predators.

Governments can use technologies to develop strategies, programs, and policies to protect children and achieve predictive real-time situational awareness with effective operational models.

Social media analysis, especially in contemporary society, is a valuable platform for providing leads and investigative trails against child predators. Sentiment analysis – determining emotional responses and feelings based on text or words – is also invaluable in the investigative procedure, as it can facilitate behavior prediction and insights into criminal activities.

The future of public safety

Digital policing epitomizes the future of public safety, providing heightened awareness, better risk mitigation, improved situational awareness, and enhanced threat anticipation. All will lower the crime rate and effectively reduce the impact of emergencies and disasters.

Technology can improve preparedness, which is demonstrated by increased operational capacity, better adaptability and agility, reduced response time, and, consequently, reduced risks and threats.

Real-time solutions and technologies can support public security agencies by connecting local, vital information – such as traffic, police cases, crimes, disasters, social media, and public events – and making them available in real-time so law enforcement can sense, analyze, predict, and respond effectively and efficiently to prevent crime and protect citizens. Efficient security response and technology capabilities result in improved trust and respect for authorities.

Superior incident resolution, better detection rates, and reduced time to justice all positively affect the community, and digital policing embodies this ethos.

Cybercrime is a bottom-line concern. See The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.

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Mohammed Karzoun

About Mohammed Karzoun

Mohammed Karzoun is the Industry Leader for Public Sector at SAP. He manages government, smart cities, healthcare, public security, defense, higher education, and postal services sectors across the United Arab Emirates and Oman. With 20 years of experience in primarily public sector transformation, Mohammed has been engaged with multiple government entities to help drive their strategies and digital transformation initiatives.

Digitalist Flash Briefing: IT And HR Work Together To Keep Employee Data Safe

Peter Johnson

Today, we’re taking a look at the collaboration between IT and HR and their mission to ensure employee data safety.

Tune in Monday through Friday for more Digitalist Flash Briefings on disruptive technologies and trends on your favorite device or app.

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Find and listen to previous Flash Briefings on Digitalistmag.com.

Read more on today’s topic

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Peter Johnson

About Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is a Senior Director of Marketing Strategy and Thought Leadership at SAP, responsible for developing easy to understand corporate level and cross solution messaging. Peter has proven experience leading innovative programs to accelerate and scale Go-To-Market activities, and drive operational efficiencies at industry leading solution providers and global manufactures respectively.

Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences

Kai Goerlich

 

Google Cardboard VR goggles cost US$8
By 2019, immersive solutions
will be adopted in 20% of enterprise businesses
By 2025, the market for immersive hardware and software technology could be $182 billion
In 2017, Lowe’s launched
Holoroom How To VR DIY clinics

From Dipping a Toe to Fully Immersed

The first wave of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is here,

using smartphones, glasses, and goggles to place us in the middle of 360-degree digital environments or overlay digital artifacts on the physical world. Prototypes, pilot projects, and first movers have already emerged:

  • Guiding warehouse pickers, cargo loaders, and truck drivers with AR
  • Overlaying constantly updated blueprints, measurements, and other construction data on building sites in real time with AR
  • Building 3D machine prototypes in VR for virtual testing and maintenance planning
  • Exhibiting new appliances and fixtures in a VR mockup of the customer’s home
  • Teaching medicine with AR tools that overlay diagnostics and instructions on patients’ bodies

A Vast Sea of Possibilities

Immersive technologies leapt forward in spring 2017 with the introduction of three new products:

  • Nvidia’s Project Holodeck, which generates shared photorealistic VR environments
  • A cloud-based platform for industrial AR from Lenovo New Vision AR and Wikitude
  • A workspace and headset from Meta that lets users use their hands to interact with AR artifacts

The Truly Digital Workplace

New immersive experiences won’t simply be new tools for existing tasks. They promise to create entirely new ways of working.

VR avatars that look and sound like their owners will soon be able to meet in realistic virtual meeting spaces without requiring users to leave their desks or even their homes. With enough computing power and a smart-enough AI, we could soon let VR avatars act as our proxies while we’re doing other things—and (theoretically) do it well enough that no one can tell the difference.

We’ll need a way to signal when an avatar is being human driven in real time, when it’s on autopilot, and when it’s owned by a bot.


What Is Immersion?

A completely immersive experience that’s indistinguishable from real life is impossible given the current constraints on power, throughput, and battery life.

To make current digital experiences more convincing, we’ll need interactive sensors in objects and materials, more powerful infrastructure to create realistic images, and smarter interfaces to interpret and interact with data.

When everything around us is intelligent and interactive, every environment could have an AR overlay or VR presence, with use cases ranging from gaming to firefighting.

We could see a backlash touting the superiority of the unmediated physical world—but multisensory immersive experiences that we can navigate in 360-degree space will change what we consider “real.”


Download the executive brief Diving Deep Into Digital Experiences.


Read the full article Swimming in the Immersive Digital Experience.

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Kai Goerlich

About Kai Goerlich

Kai Goerlich is the Chief Futurist at SAP Innovation Center network His specialties include Competitive Intelligence, Market Intelligence, Corporate Foresight, Trends, Futuring and ideation. Share your thoughts with Kai on Twitter @KaiGoe.heif Futu

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Jenny Dearborn: Soft Skills Will Be Essential for Future Careers

Jenny Dearborn

The Japanese culture has always shown a special reverence for its elderly. That’s why, in 1963, the government began a tradition of giving a silver dish, called a sakazuki, to each citizen who reached the age of 100 by Keiro no Hi (Respect for the Elders Day), which is celebrated on the third Monday of each September.

That first year, there were 153 recipients, according to The Japan Times. By 2016, the number had swelled to more than 65,000, and the dishes cost the already cash-strapped government more than US$2 million, Business Insider reports. Despite the country’s continued devotion to its seniors, the article continues, the government felt obliged to downgrade the finish of the dishes to silver plating to save money.

What tends to get lost in discussions about automation taking over jobs and Millennials taking over the workplace is the impact of increased longevity. In the future, people will need to be in the workforce much longer than they are today. Half of the people born in Japan today, for example, are predicted to live to 107, making their ancestors seem fragile, according to Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, professors at the London Business School and authors of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity.

The End of the Three-Stage Career

Assuming that advances in healthcare continue, future generations in wealthier societies could be looking at careers lasting 65 or more years, rather than at the roughly 40 years for today’s 70-year-olds, write Gratton and Scott. The three-stage model of employment that dominates the global economy today—education, work, and retirement—will be blown out of the water.

It will be replaced by a new model in which people continually learn new skills and shed old ones. Consider that today’s most in-demand occupations and specialties did not exist 10 years ago, according to The Future of Jobs, a report from the World Economic Forum.

And the pace of change is only going to accelerate. Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist, the report notes.

Our current educational systems are not equipped to cope with this degree of change. For example, roughly half of the subject knowledge acquired during the first year of a four-year technical degree, such as computer science, is outdated by the time students graduate, the report continues.

Skills That Transcend the Job Market

Instead of treating post-secondary education as a jumping-off point for a specific career path, we may see a switch to a shorter school career that focuses more on skills that transcend a constantly shifting job market. Today, some of these skills, such as complex problem solving and critical thinking, are taught mostly in the context of broader disciplines, such as math or the humanities.

Other competencies that will become critically important in the future are currently treated as if they come naturally or over time with maturity or experience. We receive little, if any, formal training, for example, in creativity and innovation, empathy, emotional intelligence, cross-cultural awareness, persuasion, active listening, and acceptance of change. (No wonder the self-help marketplace continues to thrive!)

The three-stage model of employment that dominates the global economy today—education, work, and retirement—will be blown out of the water.

These skills, which today are heaped together under the dismissive “soft” rubric, are going to harden up to become indispensable. They will become more important, thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will usher in an era of infinite information, rendering the concept of an expert in most of today’s job disciplines a quaint relic. As our ability to know more than those around us decreases, our need to be able to collaborate well (with both humans and machines) will help define our success in the future.

Individuals and organizations alike will have to learn how to become more flexible and ready to give up set-in-stone ideas about how businesses and careers are supposed to operate. Given the rapid advances in knowledge and attendant skills that the future will bring, we must be willing to say, repeatedly, that whatever we’ve learned to that point doesn’t apply anymore.

Careers will become more like life itself: a series of unpredictable, fluid experiences rather than a tightly scripted narrative. We need to think about the way forward and be more willing to accept change at the individual and organizational levels.

Rethink Employee Training

One way that organizations can help employees manage this shift is by rethinking training. Today, overworked and overwhelmed employees devote just 1% of their workweek to learning, according to a study by consultancy Bersin by Deloitte. Meanwhile, top business leaders such as Bill Gates and Nike founder Phil Knight spend about five hours a week reading, thinking, and experimenting, according to an article in Inc. magazine.

If organizations are to avoid high turnover costs in a world where the need for new skills is shifting constantly, they must give employees more time for learning and make training courses more relevant to the future needs of organizations and individuals, not just to their current needs.

The amount of learning required will vary by role. That’s why at SAP we’re creating learning personas for specific roles in the company and determining how many hours will be required for each. We’re also dividing up training hours into distinct topics:

  • Law: 10%. This is training required by law, such as training to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • Company: 20%. Company training includes internal policies and systems.

  • Business: 30%. Employees learn skills required for their current roles in their business units.

  • Future: 40%. This is internal, external, and employee-driven training to close critical skill gaps for jobs of the future.

In the future, we will always need to learn, grow, read, seek out knowledge and truth, and better ourselves with new skills. With the support of employers and educators, we will transform our hardwired fear of change into excitement for change.

We must be able to say to ourselves, “I’m excited to learn something new that I never thought I could do or that never seemed possible before.” D!

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