Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 4: How to Keep Your Company’s Data Secure

Entrepreneurs put a lot on the line for their businesses. Although certainly not recommended, entrepreneurs often sacrifice their health, their time, and their personal financial security for their businesses. However, one of the things that entrepreneurs should never sacrifice is security.

In a day and age when security is of the utmost importance for customers and businesses alike, businesses should invest in implementing solid security practices to keep data, employees, customers and equipment safe from cyber attacks and other malicious security threats.

Read on to learn more about why data retention is important, what ransomware is and how to avoid it, and how to implement best general security practices to keep your customers, your employees, and your business safe.

Data retention

The Internet and technology have made the impossible possible. With a seamless network and a mobile device, business owners and employees have access to just about anything from just about anywhere. Powerful? Absolutely. But dangerous? You bet.

Think about it: If your employees can access your data from anywhere, others probably can, too—even if you think your data is secure. This is why implementing password-protected and encrypted email and cloud accounts is so important for protecting data.

Avoiding ransomware

Ransomware is a malicious attack on a computer system that can cause devastating results. A common example of ransomware is a virus. A cybercriminal will upload a virus to computer, which can damage programs, compromise data, and render your computer or system useless.

Unfortunately, ransomware attacks are on the rise; therefore, it’s important to take the proper steps to ensure your data and your equipment are protected. Install a firewall, encrypt your data and files, and educate your employees on identifying a potential security attack, such as suspicious emails, potentially hazardous email attachments or suspicious links. These are all crafty tactics used by cybercriminals to successfully attack a system.

Best general security practices

Implementing best general security practices can protect your business, your customers, and your employees. Taking simple measures, such as implementing a data backup system and a company security policy are just a few examples of how you can easily protect your business from security attacks.

Additionally, your own employees are likely your greatest risk. Taking the time to educate and train them on your company’s security policies and teaching them about common signs of cybersecurity attacks and phishing attacks will dramatically reduce security risks.

Your business is your lifeblood, so going the extra mile to care for your data and your systems is absolutely necessary today. If you want to learn more about how to implement best security practices in your business, check out this article.

Look for part 5 in our Leadership in Small Business 101 series next Wednesday: “5 Ways to Keep Your Finances Healthy.”

Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 3: How to Plan and Execute for Growth

Being an entrepreneur is no doubt a full time job. It’s no secret that entrepreneurs and small business owners have a lot on their plates—not to mention the overwhelming pressure of knowing that 80 to 90 percent of startups fail during the growth stage.

Whether you own or operate a business in a physical location, such as a small retail store or office, or whether you operate virtually, the principles of being a true business leader don’t change, nor do the steps for planning and executing growth.

One of the biggest mistakes that most entrepreneurs and small business owners make is that they often confuse being a manager versus a leader. And, yes, there is a difference. A true business leader does more than delegate, oversee the day-to-day tasks, and review time sheets at the end of each pay period. This is a manager. A leader, however:

   •     Taking control of finances
   •     Networking
   •     Creating a synergy with your employees

So how exactly does this relate to business growth? Let’s take a look at how becoming a true business leader can help align employees with your vision, how to set your business up for success, as well as how to plan and execute for growth.

Get your finances under control

Let’s talk money for a second. Although “entrepreneurship” seems like it’s all about the money—especially since we are all in the game to make a living and put food on the table—deep down we know that money isn’t the real driver behind what we do.

Unfortunately, the primary reason why most small businesses fail during the growth stage is due to lack of money. You can easily avoid this by making smarter financial decisions, cutting down on frivolous spending, and teaching your employees the same. Getting your finances under control and improving cash flow will put your business in a better position to grow.

Get employees behind your vision

A number of organizational tactics and methods can be used to help employees think outside the box, use active creative problem-solving, and embrace innovative solutions. Small business owners can do this by simply deploying action-oriented training to encourage the entrepreneurial mind. Additionally, creating a collaborative company culture is key to getting employees behind your vision.

Start Networking

Networking is the key to growth. Although as an entrepreneur or small business owner you already have enough on your plate, finding the time to network might seem impossible. However, networking and staying in touch with your community—both online and offline—will open doors to multiple opportunities. Some ways to do this include hosting events and attending events, such as local meetups, conferences and seminars, and joining other organizations and associations. Additionally, teaching your employees to stay in touch with your network will help boost morale.

There are a number of things that entrepreneurs and small business owners can do to making planning and executing for growth easier. Here are a few examples:

   •     Taking control of finances
   •     Networking
   •     Creating a synergy with your employees

As for you brave entrepreneur, never lose sight of why you started your business in the first place. Remember that a true business leader should strive to be a better entrepreneur and a better leader each day. Keep an open mind, embrace new opportunities, and never stop learning.

Look for part 4 in our Leadership in Small Business 101 series next Tuesday: “How to Keep Your Company’s Data Secure.”

Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 2: Creating Opportunities Through Management

The best way to see the quality of a leader is to look at the people they lead. Look for opportunities being created. Look for innovation being driven from the ground up. If you see meaningful productivity in a company, that’s the sign of a great leader.

So how do you get your employees to create these opportunities for your company? What can you do as a leader to build a culture that drives innovation? You have to give your employees a feeling of ownership.

There are 3 ways to build
a sense of ownership in
your employees:

1. Get out of the way.

If you hired well, you’ve hired experts. While your employees may not know everything there is to know about running a company, they do know how to do their job. Instead of telling your employees exactly how to get something done, give them a problem. Tell them you need to find a way to get 500 more leads to the sales team a month. Ask them to take some time, think about it, and come back with a solution. Important: Make it really easy for them to actually come back and talk to you about it.

2. Create vision.

One of the best ways to get your employees behind your vision is show them the details. Be as transparent as possible with your employees. Here’s how:

   •     Show them the financials.
   •     Show them where you want to be.
   •     Show them how you want to get there.

If you can get your employees to share in that vision with you, you’ll have a team of competent people working towards a common goal, instead of people sitting around taking orders.

3. Know how and when to say no.

Occasionally, your well-meaning employees are going to come to you and present something that is an obvious dud.

First, make sure it’s actually a dud. Listen to them, get a second opinion, and take your time to form a response. You might be overlooking something.

Second, if it’s actually a dud, see if it can be tweaked into something that’s not. But remember, the further away it is from the original plan, the less likely they are to feel ownership.

Third, if it’s just really bad, let them down gently. Tell them clearly that you appreciate them and their proposal, but it’s not right. Give them some direction, try rephrasing the original problem, and let them try again.

If you create a feeling of ownership in your employees and you get them behind your vision, they’ll take you to where you want to go.

Look for part 3 in our Leadership in Small Business 101 series next Wednesday: “How to Plan and Execute for Growth.”

Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 1: Hiring and Retaining the Best Employees

If you look closely at strong businesses around the country, you can find one thing in common: a strong leader. Without a strong leader, a business lacks the vision, the foresight, and the drive to grow into something extraordinary. Here at Mozy, we’ve seen businesses grow from small startups to huge enterprises, and they all had one thing in common: a strong leader.

In our Leadership in Small Business 101 series, we’re going to take a look at some of the skills and traits that great business leaders share, and then provide real world tactics you can use to lead your business to success.

Hiring the right talent

One of the traits strong leaders share is the ability to find the right people to work with. When you’re looking to grow your small business, it can be tempting to go with the less expensive employee. This can be a costly mistake.

Generally, the employees you find on the lower end of the pay spectrum have the least experience. While in some cases this is appropriate, such as entry-level positions, hiring someone with no experience to run something important like marketing, sales or finance is risky.

When you’re hiring, hire the best people you can afford. Start by reaching out to friends and associates (or current employees) for referrals. When you hire people through personal connects, you start building a company culture that keeps people around. According to Gallup.com, 74% of people use friends and family to hunt for jobs.

If you’re not having luck with your personal connections, post your job on LinkedIn, Monster.com, and other job boards. Cast your net wide and then start interviewing.

Getting the right talent to join your company takes more than just a nice paycheck. Employees want to know where the company is heading, and they want a  sense of purpose. Give them vision for where your company is heading. During the interview process, show them how they would be a part of that vision.

Don’t overpromise and underdeliver with future pay and benefits, or you’ll lose them down the road.

Building a strong culture

While there are a lot of gimmicks out there to build a strong company culture, the number one most important thing you can do is prove to your employees that you care about them. If you’re going to buy a pool table for your employees, make sure you let them use it. Other things to ensure about your employees:

   •     Make sure they’re taking breaks.
   •     Give them raises when you can.
   •     Tell your employees to take a vacation, and
   •     Make sure they’re not stressed about work they need to do while they’re there.

If you can show your employees you care, you’ll keep them around.

Being a strong leader is challenging but rewarding. If you can lead your company well, you will have all the tools you need to grow your business.

Next Wednesday: “Leadership in Small Business 101, Part 2: Creating Opportunities Through Management.”

Leadership in Small Business

Sometimes we place so much emphasis on the blockbuster brick and mortars or ginormous online businesses (you know who you are!) that we forget about the strength and contribution of the smaller businesses trying to make a go of it. Those startups often have to really put up a fight to establish themselves and become successful as they maneuver rocky roads of pitfalls, disappointments, and hard knocks. But somehow, in spite of all of the many challenges—or maybe because of all of those challenges—they survive and even thrive. They make it!

Trying to be successful is hard!

According to one source, “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months.”

Although not a cure-all for ensuring success, leadership—good leadership—plays an important role in the success of any business, especially a small business trying to elbow its way in to long-term success.

101 small business leadership

This week we will begin a five-part blog series that focuses on leadership in small business. It’s a 101 course about tactics to help you beat the odds.

Regardless of what size business you’re leading, always be sure to back up your important data. Without those files, you can’t focus on what’s most important, you can’t do the job. And who wants to worry about backing up data when there are so many other very important things to focus on?

Mozy by Dell backs up your important files to the cloud automatically. You can even choose when you back up—twice a week, every day, or multiple times a day. Knowing that, don’t you already feel like you’re going to be successful?

Be prepared to learn some rock-solid basics

Beginning Wednesday, the first part in our series will focus on hiring and retaining the best employees.

Until Wednesday, I would like to share a rock-solid quote from one of my favorite leaders, Abraham Lincoln:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

If the bad guys strike, is your data safe?

We talk a lot about ransomware on this blog. That’s because it’s a very real threat to your data. There is plenty of convincing data out there that attests to the significant increase in cybercrime and the consequences on personal and business data.

Europol, the organization that assists the European Union member states in their fight against crime and terrorism, reports that cybercrime offenses might have surpassed traditional crimes. In fact, Europol’s Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment found that ransomware continues to be the dominant concern for law enforcement. That’s not surprising. In many respects, cybercriminal activity is easier and more profitable than traditional crimes. A computer provides instant access to unlimited data and records and therefore millions of opportunities for generating revenue through nefarious activities.

Interestingly, it’s not always the easy money from ransomware that provides motive for cybercriminals; it’s the data that can be harvested.

If your system is hit by malware, then what?

What would you do if your computer system were hit by malware? Would you be able to restore your data? And if you were able to do so, how long would it take to regain access to your important files? And remember this: Just because you pay the ransom doesn’t mean you’ll get your data back.

“I have seen a massive uptick in ransomware attacks,” says Michael Jehnichen, president and senior network engineer at Computer Guy Technologies; a hardware, software, IT security services provider, and a reseller of Mozy cloud backup and restore software.

“You need to have an offsite copy of your data in the event the bad guys are successful,” Jehnichen says. He recalls a recent malware incident in which one of his clients was affected by a ransomware attack.

“Fortunately, this particular client was backed up on the MozyPro service when they needed it most,” he says. “A commercial plumbing contractor called us saying that they couldn’t access their email and that all of their files were locked. Once the security breach was located and eradicated, we began the disaster recovery process and had them back up and running in under three hours.”

A data disaster isn’t inevitable

It’s certain that malware and other cyberattacks will continue to make attempts to steal, hold for ransom, or destroy your data. But being a victim of a data disaster isn’t inevitable. Mozy by Dell acts as a second line of defense against ransomware and other types of cyberattacks.

Read more about Jehnichen’s experience battling ransomware and why he says he can count on Mozy.

Horror stories from computer crashes

Halloween approaches. There is more to scary than monsters, ghouls, goblins, and stale candy. Computer crashes are the scariest, in part because they can occur any time of the year. How scary is the thought of losing important files? Consider the following horror stories from computer crashes.

Lost photos—and lost memories

Jill L. spent years building an album of family photos, sorted by individual family members, on her computer. She moved pictures from her phone and camera, labelled them, and wrote captions for each. When lightning struck nearby, her surge protector couldn’t handle it the power bump when it came back on. He computer was literally fried. A friend tried replacing the power supply, but it didn’t revive the computer. Jill lost years of hard work—and a lot of memories.

Executive forgets to implement automatic backups

Bill F. is one of the most organized executives you’ll ever meet. He’s the kind of guy that saves and sorts his emails, and puts each into its own folder so that he can find them easily. Bill lost years of emails when his hard drive failed. He thought he would be OK since he had a portable drive attached and an automatic backup program installed. Unfortunately for Bill, he had somehow turned off the automatic backups over two years ago, and never noticed.

Forgotten laptop means lost files

When a driver that was texting and driving banged into Elizabeth W.’s friend’s car, she thought it would make a good senior project to document the accident and produce a video talking about the dangers of texting and driving. She worked on the project for months, editing interviews and clips on her laptop. Her friend created a series of graphics helping tell the story. The project was coming together nicely, until she left her laptop at a restaurant and it was never recovered.

Virus destroys files and game highlights

Ron C. was a bit surprised when his oldest son told him this would be his last season playing soccer. Ron appointed himself the team photographer to document the season and took hundreds of photos, which he dumped onto his hard drive. He never thought to back them up and it cost him in the end. With just one game left, he got hit with a virus which wiped his hard drive. Thousands of precious memories for not just Ron, but the entire team family, were gone.

In each of these cases, secure, off-site backups could have allowed for recovery. Pictures, emails, data, videos, and projects would have been saved.

Reasons to back up data are many

There are lots of reasons to back up your data, including:

   •     Viruses and ransomware attacks
   •     Computer crashes
   •     Dying hard drives
   •     Lost and stolen devices
   •     Natural disasters
   •     Lightning and power surges
   •     Accidental deletion
   •     Corrupted files

Mozy by Dell is the world’s most trusted backup service with more than six million people using its cloud-based, secure backup service. For more information, visit Mozy.com.

What’s the best way to defend against ransomware?

Ransomware outbreaks are at an all-time high (check out our blog from last week for some real-life examples).

How can you protect your mission-critical data from ransomware? After all, not only is your data in jeopardy, so is your hard-earned money. The average ransomware demand is now more than $1,000, according to the latest Internet Security Threat Report. That’s a significant jump from the average $294 ransomware demand from the previous year.

To put that increase in perspective, consider that ransomware spiked a whopping 6,000% last year, according to a recent survey. And more than 70% who have experienced ransomware have paid to get their data back. How much have they paid? Check out the figures:

   •     11% paid at least $10,000 and as much as $20,000
   •     25% paid at least $20,000 and as much as $40,000
   •     20% paid more than $40,00011% paid at least $10,000 and as          much as $20,000

What can you do to combat ransomware?

Here are four actions you can take to help avoid a ransomware disaster:

        1. When it comes to email, always be on alert. Don’t open a suspicious-looking email. And just as important, don’t open a             suspicious-looking email attachment!
        2. Take advantage of antivirus software.
        3. Operating system updates and patches must be kept up to date.

Be aware that you can do everything above and still be exposed to a ransomware outbreak. For example, someone might inadvertently open an attachment that contains a ransomware virus. That’s where the fourth action comes into play:

        4. Mozy cloud backup and restore.

Why use Mozy cloud backup?

If any of the three actions above fail for whatever reason, Mozy can help you avoid losing your data. But you have to have Mozy installed on your computer before ransomware has infected your files!

Mozy provides you and your business with a second line of defense against ransomware attacks. What do we mean by a second line of defense? When the Mozy software is installed on your endpoints, Mozy begins to keep file versions of your important data. So if you do get hit by ransomware, say for example, because you or an employee opens an infected attachment, Mozy lets your restore your data from a particular backup prior to the ransomware infection. First-line defensive actions such as antivirus software are important, but they offer no guarantee that you won’t be exposed to ransomware.

Ransomware threat is off the scale

Advanced Computer Systems (ACS) relies on Mozy cloud backup to protect the data that resides on their clients’ endpoints. “The best way to prepare for a ransomware disaster is to have a backed up copy of the data,” says Mark Sticht, president and owner of ACS. “Mozy gives us the option to roll back to a specific point in time prior to the attack.”

Sticht deals with ransomware frequently and emphasizes that these days the danger from this form of malware is off the scale. Read Advanced Computer Systems’ testimonial about Mozy.

Ransomware: Frequently asked questions

For more information about protecting your data from ransomware with Mozy by Dell, download our free FAQ about ransomware.

Ransomware Causes Major Financial Damage

It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)

Note: The purpose of NCSAM is to raise awareness about the ongoing threat of cybercrime and preventing it with cybersecurity tools. NCSAM is just one more way to stay focused on protecting data. Today’s blog highlights recent ransomware activity and how you can avoid a ransomware disaster.

Ransomware predictions become reality

Some predictions do come true. For example, a year ago Forrester declared that “Targeted espionage, ransomware, denial of service, privacy breaches, and more will escalate in 2017.” In its 2017 Predictions: Dynamics That Will Shape The Future In The Age Of The Consumer report, Forrester predicted that a “Fortune 1000 company will fail because of a cyberbreach.”

Consider the following related bad news regarding the recent NotPetya ransomware outbreak:

   •     A multinational courier delivery services company has attributed $300 million in lost earnings to the NotPetya attack on its          subsidiary in Europe.

   •     A container shipping company released a statement revealing that the NotPetya cyberattack led to a predominant loss of          business earlier in the year—as much as $200 million to $300 million in lost revenue.

   •     A multinational confectionery, food, and beverage company estimated that the NotPetya malware outbreak will cost it          more than $150 million in lost sales.

Simple backup is not enough

Ransomware and other forms of malware outbreaks will continue to harm businesses, regardless of their size. Mozy by Dell provides you and your business a second line of defense against ransomware attacks. Mozy cloud backup ensures that your important endpoint files and server data cannot be compromised by ransomware. Due to its unique backend technology, Mozy prevents any execution of code within the files that have been backed up. But simple backup in and of itself is not enough to ensure that your files are protected from ransomware.

Backup from a specific point in time

When a malware infection is involved, restoration of an endpoint or server from a backup works best when you can easily select a moment in time from where to restore. By default, Mozy keeps up to one year of file versions. If you have identified the point of infection (user and file) and the time the malware was introduced to the machine, Mozy can restore all of the files for the given user from the point in time just before the malware was introduced. For example, if the malware was introduced on October 2, you can restore files from the October 1 backup.

By keeping up to one year of file versions, Mozy allows you to restore files from any point in time prior to the attack, meaning your files are accessible when you need them most.

Healthcare data, HIPAA, and ransomware

The Forrester report also predicted that “Healthcare breaches will be as common as retail breaches.” Mozy by Dell protects your electronic protected health information (ePHI) from cyberattacks and helps businesses comply with HIPAA security and privacy rules. In fact, the Mozy service successfully completed an independent HIPAA-HITECH SSAE 16 Type 1 audit, which resulted in a SSAE 16 Type 1 report. To learn more, visit Mozy and HIPAA Security.

Avoiding a ransomware data loss disaster

To learn more about protecting your business-critical data and to access the FAQ, Ransomware and Mozy, and the white paper, Preventing a Rasomware Disaster, visit Mozy by Dell.

The Top 6 Reasons Why You Need to Back Up Your Data

No matter how careful you are, there are so many ways you can lose your valuable data—whether it’s the assignment you’ve been working on for weeks or those precious family photos you’ve saved on your computer.

Here are the top six ways data loss happens:

1. Human error

Malware and ransomware get the headlines, but human mistakes take the top prize when it comes to data loss. You edit and delete things just about any time you’re on the computer. It just takes a second to delete something or overwrite it.

2. Hardware failure

Stuff breaks. Hard drives wear out. Computers crash. Without a backup system in place, it’s easy to lose important files. Recovering data from a failed hard drive is difficult and expensive. As many as 13% of hard drives may fail, according to a study done by Carnegie Mellon University. How old is your computer? The study shows the failure rate increases with each year of age and showed marked increases after years 3 and 5.

3. Corrupted software or files

A simple power outage can cause corrupted files. Hardware failure can also lead to corrupted files and make them unrecoverable.

4. Natural disasters

Fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, and flooding can lead to catastrophic loss. Even the most robust computer equipment won’t stand up to disasters. Even if your company provides on-site backup, it won’t be safe in a natural disaster.

5. Virus, malware, hackers, ransomware

With more portable devices being used at home and at work, there are more opportunities for malware and viruses to find you. Open the wrong email and you may get infected. Reports of hackers taking control of your computer and holding it for ransom are increasing. The FBI estimates that ransomware payments are estimated to hit a billion dollars annually.

6. Theft

It’s way too easy to leave your laptop behind when you leave the local coffee shop or library, or have someone passing through your business grab it and go. In addition to your physical device, signing on to public Wi-Fi hotspots can open you up to mischief by troublemakers looking to dig through your computer without your knowledge.

Time is money

When it’s work related, losing important data amounts to lost productivity. Whether you need to re-create the work you’ve already done—if that’s even possible—or you need to start from scratch, it takes time. And as they say, time is money.

When it’s your personal data, you can’t afford to lose your precious memories. Just as important is your financial and personal data that can allow thieves to steal your identity.

The best way to protect yourself is through secure, off-site, automatic backups. Mozy by Dell can help. Mozy is the world’s most trusted cloud backup service for consumers and businesses.