How SMBs can stay ahead of New Cybersecurity Threats in 2017

Your company will be hacked. Or, your competitor will be. Sooner than later. Though small business attacks don’t grab headlines, as companies rely on emerging technologies and big data, the risk of a data breach has become tangible, and can have devastating consequences.

Cyber attacks became a reality for government, enterprises, and startups in 2015. The US Office of Personnel Management hack exposed social security numbers of nearly 18 million current and former government employees. The Trump hotel chain suffered a months-long attack that uncloaked guest credit card numbers, and crowdfunding darling Patreon lost nearly 15GB of customer names and email addresses in a massive data dump.

Here’s what we can expect in 2016, according to a number of cyber security experts.

The Internet of Things will emerge as a prime target for hackers

Security in 2016 “will be IoT security themed,” said Rapid7 Security Research Manager Tod Beardsley. Deploying millions of connected refrigerators, televisions, and watches—produced by a slew of vendors, all with disparate security protocols—also raises a number of significant security flags. More devices means greater vulnerability.

“We’re looking to get loads and loads of these devices powered on and online through 2016,” said Beardsley, “and the IoT space doesn’t tend to get a lot of pre-sales security rigor applied to their design. The internet might get more unstable as these devices get compromised en masse.”

The good news is that—like the web before it—as platforms consolidate, the Internet of Things will be incrementally better and more secure with time, as researchers work with vendors to get ahead of problems, said Beardsley. “Or 2016 will be significantly worse as bad guys take advantage of immature IoT space. I’m hoping for the former, but worry about the latter.”

The hacking risk for small business will increase significantly

In their 2014-2018 forecast, data firm IDC issued a report showing that 71% of security breaches targeted small business. “Cyber-threats will continue to grow exponentially in volume, complexity, and threat vectors,” said Vijilan Security chief sales and marketing officer, Gary Mullen. “Small businesses are prime candidates for attacks, but lack the threat expertise and resources to monitor their security posture 24/7, leaving them exposed to hackers.

What you don’t know, can hurt you, said Mullen. “SMBs also tend to either ignore or not know about the cyber threats against them.” The best defense, he said, is to educate yourself and your employees about industry best practices, and to learn from the mistakes of others. Additionally, said Mullen, businesses will need to reallocate budget for security needs, and hold security firms accountable. According to Mullen, “asking [trusted security partners] to take full responsibility for the business’ cyber-security posture … will force the market to evolve in order to provide necessary cyber-threat detection and remediation services to their customers.”

Your phone is the threat

According to a recent study performed by mobile messaging company Pryvate, nearly 30% of US consumers share sensitive work data using a mobile phone. “[Small business] keenness to embrace the move towards ‘mobile first’ often sees them underestimating their need to invest in mobile security,” said CEO and Founder Jonathan Parker-Bray. “The use of personal devices in the work environment is now commonplace, yet many businesses still fail to have effective flexible working or Bring Your Own Device policies in place.”

The problem is aggravated further by the amount of malware targeted at mobile phones, said Parker-Bray. “The implications of [mobile malware] could be vast and it’s only a matter of time before a major data breach is caused by cyber criminals hacking a mobile device.”

Hacking is the new normal. As technology evolves, so too do targets. “In a mobile society where even small companies do business across the globe and sensitive work information is communicated digitally daily,” said Parker-Bray, “the need in 2016 for proper security is paramount.” Understanding emerging threats, he said, is the best way to prevent a data breach.

8 Ways Technology Is Improving Your Health

We hear all the time about how technology is bad for us. Since the introduction of computers, we spend more time sitting at a desk than moving around at work. We have created this sedentary lifestyle that is causing havoc in our overall life.

What if I were to tell you that technology has produced benefits? Would you believe me if I said that technology is good for your health?

Most of you wouldn’t look at first. Well, you may be able to think of a couple of ways that the computer has helped, but you are still stuck on all the negatives that ‘experts’ have shared in the past. The problem with the ‘experts’ is that they are only focused on the negatives. They haven’t looked at so many of the benefits.

So, that’s what we’ll do today. We’ll consider all the ways that technology improves our health. We’ll discuss just how it has boosted results in certain areas of healthcare and what it does for us daily.

Technology Is Everywhere in Medicine

Before we do move onto all the benefits, it’s worth discussing just how technology is used. It is found everywhere in medicine. Think about the x-ray machines, MRI scanners, and even the research equipment used daily.

There are people using it every day of the week to find cures to ailments, discover why diseases spread and creating ways to prevent the diseases. There are individuals performing tasks far more accurately than they ever did before, with keyhole surgery now a popular option for some of the most routine medical needs.

And the technology isn’t just in the hospital. It’s used in your own doctor’s office and even at home. It’s used to prolong life and create a better quality of life for those on around the clock care.

The improvements don’t just lead to better physical health. They support better mental health, which in turn improves the physical health. Technology improves connections and relationships, offering support to everyone.

We can’t get rid of technology. If we did, we would suffer greatly. Here are just eight ways that technology is improving our health and our lives.

It Pushes Us to Do More Activity

Sure, technology has led to us sitting more. And sitting is the new smoking when it comes to health problems. However, technology has also helped to push us to do more activity.

We just must take the examples of the Fitbit, pedometers, and apps that track our steps. They all encourage us to meet our daily targets—setting personal targets to get us to walk more and meet the goals that we know are realistic to us. While there is the goal to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, that just doesn’t seem realistic for many. The pedometers and smartphone apps give us more control.

The chances are that as we get closer to a goal, we’re going to work harder to achieve it. We see how we do daily and look for ways to improve the chances of meeting those goals. They don’t mean getting to the gym daily. They just involve getting out and doing more. Some can involve doing home workouts and even walk on the spot to increase our step count.

There isn’t much that we need to do to set up these pieces of technology. Most of them involve some type of phone app or computer software just to sign up and create free accounts. We sync devices, and we get to go off and work our ways to being healthier and fitter.

The devices also come with different settings. Some are just designed to count your steps. They’re basic items to get you to do a little more throughout the day. Those who want to increase the amount of exercise they do and track their heart rate will be able to get more advanced options. Some will have exercise modes, count stairs, count calories burned, and even monitor your sleep.

The aim for so many of these new devices isn’t just to improve your activity levels. They are there to improve your overall lifestyle. Devices are set to help you live a healthier and more fulfilling life, helping you monitor your sleep patterns and make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. There’s more to them than just improving one element of your life and making sure your whole body and mind are working together to create a better quality of life.

These apps and devices can also monitor your weight loss efforts. They help you stick within a healthy BMI, so you focus on protecting your heart health. You will feel better for it, knowing that you can keep yourself from accidentally going over regarding calories throughout the day or over a certain weight. Of course, being within a healthy weight range is essential to help keep yourself healthy overall.

These are all personal devices. There’s no major cost for them, with many of them available for less than $200. Some of the apps are completely free to download, so you don’t even need to spend a penny on technology to improve your health.

Better Ability for Communication Between Doctors and Patients

With technology being widely available, there are chances that everyone has some sort of access to doctor and health websites. These sites can create chat boxes and instant messengers, where real doctors and nurses can monitor communications. When a patient comes on with a question, the doctors and nurses can provide factual answers and share their thoughts and advice.

Better ability to communicate is essential for keeping the health protected. It helps to keep the questions over information online to a minimum and reduces the number of people queuing up in the hospital with fears they are dying. The people online can read the symptoms and share their beliefs based on them, helping to minimize worry.

Individuals who do need to seek medical help will be able to get to the hospital or their own doctor right away. They can take the transcript of the chats to aid with a discussion of the symptoms and working through the reasons for certain medical beliefs. They also have a better understanding of how doctors or nurses come to certain decisions.

Those who don’t need to seek immediate medical attention can reduce their anxiety over their health. This helps to improve the health since anxiety leads to stress and that leads to high blood pressure and other health problems!

People who avoid doctors fearing that they are wasting time can get confirmation that they need to get the help. That’s that fear of people thinking they are silly for their thought processes eliminated, so they have more confidence in discussing all their health problems with their doctor.

When chat boxes aren’t available, telephones have made it easier to communicate and talk to a genuine doctor or nurse. This is the case with many emergency medical phone numbers, who can then arrange out of hours’ appointment when the case is necessary.

Getting people seen immediately protects their health. It also helps to reduce a number of times they will need to visit a doctor and keep the waiting times down since the minor ailments are taken care of before they can turn into something major.

More Ability to Do Research into Problems

The internet has certainly opened the ability to research. We all tend to turn to Google, calling it Dr. Google at times. The search engine allows you to input your symptoms or ask questions about a certain symptom to find out all the ailments that involve them/it. People can look through a list of other symptoms to determine the chances of suffering from certain ailments.

This is useful when it comes to determining whether to speak to a doctor. An individual can get the basic information and use it to decide whether their condition needs immediate attention. They can also use that basic research to get onto the chat boxes to get the advice from real doctors and nurses, as mentioned above.

Those that already have a diagnosis can take to the internet to do their own research into it. This is especially the case for a condition that they haven’t heard of before or that could be hereditary. They want to find out future symptoms, especially if it is a condition that doesn’t have a form of treatment or cure.

Individuals can find out if there are natural remedies that they can try and talk to others with the same condition. They can follow blogs for people who have that same condition and are living with it. They get to hear about success stories with treatments and learn about support groups in the area. This is especially important for treatments that are either terminal or lead to a lower quality of living.

Those caring for people with certain conditions can also get some support and help. There will be support groups online for carers and advice for people who care for individuals 24/7. Suddenly, the world doesn’t seem as isolating, which can quickly help to improve the mental health. People have more confidence in their abilities and find someone who can listen to vents or problems without judgment and with full understanding—friends are good, but they’re not always able to be the most supportive.

It is important to use the internet sparingly. Unfortunately, it can also have the opposite effect and make the health worse. You spend all this time researching conditions and fearing the worst, and you end up with problems with anxiety. You can end up researching more than talking to a real doctor, hearing about the horror stories of other patients. It’s important to take a step away and look out for success stories and real doctors’ opinions to help balance out some of the negatives.

When you are on websites, you will also need to check where the information is coming from. Who writes it and is it checked by someone in the medical profession? Does the person write a personal blog really suffer from the same condition? People can write absolutely anything, and there is plenty of misinformation online.

There are reputable medical websites. They usually include links to official studies and reports to help you get all the medical information that you could need. They will consider both pharmaceutical and herbal remedies to help you save money and put your health first. Check the reviews and reputation of any website before you start looking through the information and start trusting it!

Posted in Pryvate Blog on Apr 21, 2017

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