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5 Tips to Stop Hackers

5 Tips to Stop Hackers

If you’re just starting out in business, you probably think you’re too small for black-hat hackers to mess with. Yet according to Symantec, 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses, while a January 2016 NY Times article says up to 60% of all online attacks target small and midsize businesses.

It’s not just your product data that can be compromised—it could be your clients’ information, your bank accounts, your credit cards, or even your customers’ credit cards. Any of these can be disastrous as you begin your business, or as you strive to instill trust and confidence in your existing company and in your product and services.

And even if you build a robust information security system in your office, your data can get hacked while you travel. According to Christopher Elliot, a consumer advocate and editor at large for National Geographic Traveler, rental cars (computers on wheels), charging stations at the airport and “free” Internet hot spots in your hotel lobby can open your data to the “bad guys.”[1]

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Of course, you may be thinking good protection on all these fronts is too expensive for your small business to afford. But don’t make that mistake! There are plenty of affordable options for protecting your company out there. 

Here are 5 inexpensive ways to protect yourself,  your employees, your startup, or your small or medium sized business:

1. Make your passwords secure—use a password app. (Free and paid)

It’s hard to think up truly random passwords. It’s even harder to remember them. A password app makes both those tasks a breeze.

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LastPass and Dashlane offer free and paid versions for both MacOS and Windows. Both apps protect your passwords and make it easy to access your account from devices you trust.

2Have all employees encrypt their hard drives with built-in programs. (Free)

Hacking isn’t just about illicitly accessing your data through the web—it can also be more immediate. Someone can simply steal one of your office computers and have access to a trove of valuable data.

That’s why all your employees should encrypt their data so that it’s only accessible with a password. Both Mac and Windows have built-in functions that accomplish this. Mac users should turn on File Vault in “System Preferences.” Windows users should use “BitLocker.”

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3. Don’t use text messages—use a messaging app. (Free)

Messages you send over text are vulnerable to hacking. Instant messaging apps provide end-to-end encryption to make sure conversations about financial information or intellectual property are truly private.

WhatsApp and LINE are both great free options. You can also use them for voice calls, saving you money on your phone bill as well.

4. Set your operating system to auto-update. (Free)

Companies are constantly offering updates that enhance the security of apps and operating systems they build. Have your employees set all company devices to update automatically to ensure you are never unnecessarily vulnerable to attacks.

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5. Secure your internet with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). (Paid)

When you use the internet in public places, you are exposed to other people on the same wireless network. Using a VPN on your laptop and phone encrypts your internet data and protects you from data thieves. With a VPN you are assured of secure communication.

Bottom line: You do not have to spend a lot of money to make sure your startup or your small or medium sized business is protected against constant hacking threats! Sometimes it’s knowing where and when you and your employees are in the highest danger, and then taking simple steps and creating good habits to prevent the worst from happening.

Featured photo credit: Luis Lierena via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Atkins

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in our craft, we cannot excel in our chosen careers or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation.

But content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

But it all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts.

Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However. I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

There are several types of learning styles known to mankind. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

The four most popular types of learning styles are:

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  • Visual learning style (what this article talks about).
  • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information presented).
  • Verbal or linguistic learning style (learning that involves speech and writing).
  • Tactile learning style (learning by touching and doing)

But for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning to boost your career or business.

How to Know If You’re a Visual Learner?

When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

I’m talking about preferring to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. I’m talking about discovering that you actually have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

However, visual learning in particular CAN 10x your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not. And here’s why:

Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[1]

While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e learning about the human DNA).

Visual learning does use a different part of the brain and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

How to Use Visual Learning for Success

Here’re 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

1. Bring back the to-do list. Then add shapes and colors to boost productivity.

We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. But written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and boosts aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

2. Add graphs, charts and symbols to your reports.

Yes, it seems like more work cut out for you. However, graphs enable you monitor the heartbeat of your business.

Graphs and charts help you trend your finances, budget, and pretty much any data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and in a matter of seconds, have relevant information displayed in different shapes and images.

As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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And when broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

3. Effectively brainstorm with mind-mapping.

Mind-mapping is not new but I don’t think it’s been talked about as often as we do to-do lists.

With mind mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole.

Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

4. Add video streaming to meetings.

What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation at the same time?

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When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories into images in our minds.

For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance during if people can see their colleagues in addition to flash animation or whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

Is Visual Learning Better Than Other Learning Styles?

No, that is not the point. The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

You might discover that understanding scientific concepts are much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

More About Learning Styles

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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