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Essential Tips For Protecting Your Business Data

Essential Tips For Protecting Your Business Data

Large corporations have invested time and resources in hiring the best professionals available in the IT area to provide their knowledge in data protection. But what is the big deal with securing our digital information that it has become an entire business on its own?

    An old saying goes, time is money. These days, we should rephrase it along the lines of information is money. No one could ever doubt how valuable data acquisition is today and how important it is to create your data bank of reliable sources, from ultra-competitive brands like Apple or Samsung, to whom suffering an information leak would translate in the loss of thousands or millions of dollars out on patent royalties, to small businesses that can’t risk their investments.

    1. Identify the sources of threat

    By saying business data, we don’t only refer to written information that came out of the investigation, but also to financial data, human resources data and so on.

    Potential threats to your business are labeled as:

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    1. Unintended disclosure: Also commonly known as “leaks.” This is prone to happen when non-disclosure terms are not adequately established, and people start sharing semi-confidential content through social media (most commonly Facebook, but can be by fax, mail, letters or phone calls).

    2. Hacking and Malware: From DoS attacks to wiping out your data, hackers can do an unprecedented amount of damage depending on their intent. Cyber-kidnapping is one of the latest trends on this behalf, where hackers encrypt your hard drive and demand a certain (high) amount of money to decrypt it – otherwise, you will end up losing your data.

    Corporations geared towards software testing and development, banks, manufacturers and health-related companies are the primary targets of hackers.

    3. Lost/Stolen Mobile Devices: Tablets, phones, flash drives, CDs, laptops and such, which contain sensitive information about your company.

    4. Intended disclosure: Also can be labeled as “spies.” People who, after securing a deal with your competitors, leak vital data from your business to them.

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    2. Set hierarchy for accessing data

    Not every employee, especially newcomers to your organization, should have access to sensitive data. That’s the first step towards a secure organization regarding its IT policies.

      Full-access or master login to your servers should be highly restricted, even for your IT managers, as you never know when your data can get leaked and who’s to blame in those circumstances.

      3. Data encryption: A must-have

      Another choice to make is to acquire data encryption software for your servers, computers and laptops alike. This decision has two aspects to consider:

      1. Does your company have a potential risk of hacker’s attacks?: The answer to this question depends on the amount of staff you have, the way your business ranks in both local and international market, and the area where you happen to work. A creative artist won’t suffer the same level of harassment as banks or law firms, for example.

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      2. Do you require portability? For some brands, traveling is as important as the air they breathe, so having your laptops encrypted is a must. Why? Because, depending on your software, you can make it nearly impossible to decrypt data without the user’s password. This is crucial to enact as a countermeasure against stealing sensitive information.

      4. Stronger passwords for the most reliable protection

      Passwords are under constant attacks from hackers, who would try every possible way to crack it.That’s the reason for setting stronger passwords at your workplace.

        Make it a requirement for your staff to set passwords with more than eight characters, including the following items:

        • Up and lowercase letters
        • Special characters like _ # ! or / (better if done twice through the password)
        • Numbers

        Don’t use the same password for all sensitive data if you are at the top of the hierarchy. Passwords should be changed quarterly to ensure extra protection.

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        5. Keep your software up-to-date

        Regardless of the operating system you use, keeping your software in line with the latest updates is an easy yet effective way of protecting your business data, since malware evolves constantly, and these updates ensure that potential security vulnerabilities get patched up.

        6. Secure access to your network

        As a countermeasure to prevent outsiders from accessing your network, you should set your WiFi SSID hidden and encrypted, so no one can use your Internet connection unless you allow them to do it. Large companies use their VPNs to provide secure access, even when working remotely.

        Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pexels.com

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        Last Updated on July 17, 2019

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        What happens in our heads when we set goals?

        Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

        Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

        According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

        Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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        Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

        Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

        The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

        Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

        So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

        Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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        One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

        Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

        Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

        The Neurology of Ownership

        Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

        In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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        But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

        This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

        Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

        The Upshot for Goal-Setters

        So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

        On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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        It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

        On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

        But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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        Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

        Reference

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