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Archive for October 2018

5 Ways Small Business Can Prevent Dangerous Cyber Attacks

5 Ways Small Business Can Prevent Dangerous Cyber Attacks

Small businesses are increasingly encouraged to step up digital efforts — and for good reason. But while investing in a digital reach and digital tools can boost your bottom line, it can also make your business vulnerable to cyber attacks. Big businesses aren’t the only ones attracting hackers — and small businesses with smaller budgets for cybersecurity can be more vulnerable. A recent report suggests that cyber attacks against small businesses are on the rise.

So what can small businesses do to protect their companies and customers from hacks? Here are five things small business owners can do to prevent cyber attacks.

Download a good antivirus software on all computers and mobile devices.

Protecting your small business starts by making it not worth the extra effort for hackers to get in, under any guise. Make sure your office devices use an antivirus software. Look for a software that helps protect against viruses, ransomware and malware. Anti-virus is a small investment that can help protect your company from expensive cyber threats in the future.

Don’t forget to protect your mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, with antivirus apps designed for your device. And before investing in any smart device that’s connected to the internet, consider if the smart convenience is really worth it and make sure the device has security measures in place as well.

Use a firewall to prevent data theft.

Firewalls limit the ways in which your internet connection can send data — which also helps keep data more secure against hacks. Firewalls can be software or a device that you install on your internet line — and for the most protection, small businesses can use both. Hiring a professional to set up the firewall is often the best route.

Use two-factor authentication and be wary of any email links.

Phishing schemes aren’t always targeted to individuals — because why get into an individual’s bank account when you can get into a businesses? To avoid phishing, use caution whenever clicking on a link in your inbox. Phishing attempts look like they are coming from a legitimate company but instead send you to a site where you unintentionally give away your data. Always check the full sender address before clicking on a link. Anytime you need to type in sensitive information, go directly to the url yourself instead of using an email link.

Keep customer data encrypted and use an SSL security certificate.

Online stores save data like payment information for later — and hackers might target that information instead of yours. Make sure you use software that encrypts any customer data — check your current software to ensure that customer data is encrypted.

An SSL security certificate is also a must for any small business completing transactions online. An SSL is an extra layer of protection that protects credit card information — and many web browsers will now warn customers if they are trying to buy something from a website that doesn’t have a valid SSL. Besides protecting customer data, using an SSL will help customers feel more confident when buying from you online.

Make a cybersecurity plan for your entire small business.

Chances are, your small business isn’t just you. Make a plan so employees know the best practices for keeping data safe. For example, this plan should tell employees to install software updates every so often, since updates often include patches to correct vulnerabilities. Your plan can also include a guideline on changing passwords often and whether employees are allowed to use flash drives or connect to a personal social or chat network.

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

As the calendar begins to approach the end of 2018, business are already looking to the next year — and the trends that come along with it. Analysing retail trends can help small businesses identify where to grow next to keep up with what customers are looking for. So what retail trends are experts predicting for the next year? Here are a few trends for small businesses to keep in mind.

Artificial intelligence is growing.

More and more, artificial intelligence is changing the face of technology. But retailers could see shifts too because of this technology trend. Today, shoppers can ask Alexa to order them something — that’s a prime example of artificial intelligence working inside retail. Small businesses probably can’t afford to develop their own digital assistant, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the trend. AI software can help streamline your tasks and save time, or help customers save time. Watch out for AI trends that could help in both, like Messenger bots for answering commonly asked questions or smarter software for helping customers design photo albums.

Shopping isn’t just one channel any more.

Today, more customers are looking at multiple channels before digging out their wallet (or digital payment). Retailers with more than one way to buy will likely be rewarded. Besides a brick and mortar store and website, consider selling on social media outlets, in apps or with third-party companies. While there are more ways to buy than ever, the traditional isn’t going anywhere — statistics predict 45 percent of consumers prefer the physical stores anyway.

Think personal and custom.

Shoppers have always loved a bit of personalisation — remember how easy it was to find your name on a pencil or a key chain in the 80s and 90s? But what’s changed is the technology that makes personalisation easier to do. From including a first name in those marketing emails to creating custom photography packages, brainstorm ways that your business can offer a custom experience. Personalising ads by reaching out to target groups is also a good idea — if you also respect user privacy.

Recommendations are still essential — and easier than ever.

Word of mouth isn’t going anywhere, but it’s becoming word of fingers — those written reviews play a big role in business today. While online reviews have been around for awhile, experts predict increasing importance on recommendations, in whatever form. Make it easy for customers to leave a review by adding a review tool to your website. Encourage reviews on your social media page. If you don’t have one already, claim your business on review sites like Yelp and Google’s listings.

Focus on mobile reach.

Online shopping has been around for some time, but mobile shopping is getting its time in the sun. Statistics show a growing number of consumers are shopping on a smartphone, not a desktop computer. Start by making sure your website is responsive, looking good both on desktop and mobile. Consider outlets that are easy to access from mobile — like selling through social media. Make sure your online ordering system is just as easy to use on a smartphone.