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10 Solutions for Better Cyber Security of Small Businesses

10 Solutions for Better Cyber Security of Small Businesses
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In today’s online world, if you aren’t making use of a number of different cyber security solutions, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to attack. Don’t make the mistake that you’re not important enough or large enough to come under attack from a hacker, either.

Even the smallest business may be targeted by a cyber-attack. Sometimes these attackers even seek out small businesses with little to no security just to have fun destroying their servers and data. If you’re a small business, here are ten cyber security solutions you need to consider implementing today.

1. Symantec

Symantec’s small business option provides the same level of security that many larger enterprises make use of, only at a much more affordable rate. These cyber security packages are designed to keep your data secure and your equipment protected from cyber assaults.

Implementing Symantec’s small business package provides you with antivirus and antispyware programs, a strong firewall, and programs that automatically back up data, provide quick disaster recovery options, keep your connections private, and much more.

2. Random.org

One area that is often a security weakness that isn’t something you can fix with some additional software is weak passwords. If your employees don’t use strong, difficult to guess passwords to access their accounts, hackers can gain access to your entire network fairly easily.

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Even if you give your employees guidelines to use, some may still select weak passwords that can easily be broken. Random.org takes care of that problem. It randomly creates a strong password for each employee, giving them no excuse not to have their accounts protected.

3. Comodo

Comodo is a top of the line security tool that is available for free. It allows you to remotely monitor and manage computers, patch programs remotely, and more.

Comodo also offers several other programs that provide solutions to isolating machines infected with malware and blocking malware from accessing your network. Some options are free, while some upgrades must be paid for.

4. Snort

Snort is designed to watch over your network when you can’t be there to do so. This intrusion prevention and detection software monitors the entire network in real-time.

As soon as a user or program tries to access something they shouldn’t, that user or program is flagged. Too many unauthorized attempts will lead to the user being blocked or the program being quarantined until you can review it and decide if it should be given an exception or not.

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5. ESET

ESET is a security system that can be expanded to cover more than just your desktops and laptops. It can cover your servers, networks, mobile devices, and even your USB drives. It also covers Mac and Windows systems, Android and iPhones, and a variety of different email and file servers.

You can even create custom solutions for your network. Simply select your company’s size, the type of product you have, and your industry to begin customizing your package. You can add remote management, endpoint security, encryption, mobile security, file security, two-factor authentication, and much more.

6. Lookout Mobile Security

If many of your employees use mobile devices or their smartphones for work, you need Lookout Mobile Security. It’s designed specifically for these products and helps to cut down on the number of data leakages, malware, and other risks.

These risks often come with apps and devices that have been jailbroken or otherwise tampered with. The program also lets you add apps and mobile software to a white list, view what devices are using your network, and investigate any security breaches.

7. StaySafeOnline.org

If you know that you have security issues but aren’t sure where to start addressing them, look at StaySafeOnline.org. This website includes a number of different resources that will help you assess your overall risks, create a plan for handling your cyber-security, and prepare training materials for your employees.

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The website is a part of the National Cyber Security Alliance and contains new information related to cyber-security as it becomes available. It’s a great place to start preparing your business’s cyber-defenses.

8. CloudFlare

CloudFlare offers another set of free tools that help prevent your website from coming under attack from things such as denial of service or SQL injections. These types of attacks can lead to your website going offline or losing data, so it’s vital you protect against them.

CloudFlare detects and blocks attacks automatically, then creates a detailed report so you know what’s happened. It also tracks visitors and assesses their IP address, reputation, and a number of other factors. It can use these factors to block those that may cause you harm.

9. CSID

CSID is a protection service designed to keep a business from falling victim to identity theft. While you have heard of individuals having their identities stolen, you may not realize it can happen to your business, too.

CSID, however, is a full-service identity protection solution designed to battle many different fraudulent activities and scams designed to steal your business identity or authority. The program also provides advanced authentication tools to help protect the transmission and storage of sensitive data.

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10. HTTPS Everywhere

This final tool is designed to protect your network from virus-filled websites and scripts that try to come into your network through the internet. It is a browser extension that can be used in Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Opera to encrypt all of your communications.

While many believe that HTTPS, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is enough to protection all online communications, few people realize that only a select number of pages are coded in HTTPS.

Conclusion

Many websites, in fact, mix HTTP and HTTPS pages, and that can lead to gaps in their security. HTTPS Everywhere adds additional protection as you browse, protecting you from these security gaps so you are secure no matter what webpage you’re on.

While these ten tools may not provide full coverage of your network, they can address many issues you may have. As a small business, the fact that many are free or are budget-friendly is a major plus.

Featured photo credit: Small Business via picjumbo.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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