Tag: small businesses

Top cybersecurity tips for small businesses

Small businesses and self-employed people are big targets for hackers, and the financial implications can be crippling. Gone are the days of thinking “It’ll never happen to us.” A total of 61% of all data breaches this year occurred in businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, according to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.
Not only have hacks increased in frequency, but the impact on SMEs is getting much bigger.

But where do you begin? Many SMEs feel that being as secure as a big business is impossible. Corporations have large budgets, chief security officers and entire teams dedicated to cybersecurity. This perception stems from the impression that hacks are vastly complicated, and rely on a tireless horde of highly skilled attackers. Most hacks aren’t like that. The majority depend on poor passwords and a lack of awareness of what a hacker actually needs to compromise your systems — a simple phishing email or a leaked password and they’re in. It’s that simple.

Educating yourself and your staff is the only solution. Hackers always look for soft targets, so start with the basics.

1. Get a strong password

A total of 80% of hacking-related breaches use either stolen passwords and/or weak or guessable passwords. Getting a strong password is the bare minimum. What’s more, it’s easier than you think. A lot of people don’t know that you can use spaces in your passwords, for example: “horse mug table” is much a much better password than “Horse123.”

2. Then make your password unique

Having a single strong password doesn’t count for much if that password then gets leaked. We’ve seen massive, trusted companies like LinkedIn and Yahoo leak millions of passwords over the last few years, which opens the door to wide-ranging cyber attacks. Password managers like LastPass and OnePassword help you generate and keep track of unique and strong passwords.

3. Know what to look out for with phishing

Hackers are constantly sending “phishing” emails, trying to get you to click on their website so that they can install malware or convince you to give them your password. Understanding what a hacker is trying to do and what to look out for is key. Poor syntax, incorrect spelling, or email addresses and links that include a lot of full stops (for example, amazon.getcode.tickets.phishingattack.com ) are all key warning signs to look out for.

4. Understand the information you’re already giving away

Phishing attacks rely on the amount of information we share about ourselves online. Famously the hackers behind the celebrity iCloud leak in 2014 used information they’d gained from public posts to guess the answers to user’s secret questions. If your secret question is “The city I was born in” and you post that information on Facebook, then hackers have an easy way into your account.

5. Pay attention to Web page URLs

When you see “http” in a web page URL that means your communication with that page is unencrypted. Any communication could be easily read by a hacker waiting on that page; “http” is a warning sign to look out for if you ever think you might have stumbled onto a phishing or generally suspect website. If you’re ever entering sensitive information like credit card numbers or personal details, make sure the website has “https” in the website url. That way you’re more secure.

6. Update your software

Software is updated for a reason. Usually companies like Microsoft or Apple will discover a vulnerability that might let hackers in, fix it, then offer an update. Always take them up on it. We saw with the WanaCry attack earlier this year what happens when organizations don’t install patches (updates bringing computer systems to the most up-to-date version) and security updates. Unpatched vulnerabilities offer gaps into your systems that hackers use to install malware and ransomware, or to just gain control of your systems.

7. Encrypt everything

Should a breach happen, you want to make sure whatever information hackers get their hands on is, at the very least, difficult for them to understand. Encrypting your hard drives and databases with a modern algorithm like AES256 is a key defensive tool to protect your data in the event of a breach. It’s quick and easy to do. For more info you can check out this post by FreeCodeCamp to do it in under an hour.

Knowledge is the key to cybersecurity, but it’s important to think about the underlying structure of your business and the way it handles data more broadly. Organization-wide controls and data-protection policies help define sound technological defense, and ensure you know how to respond in the event of a breach. Just remember that industry standards like an ISO27001 certification and SOCII are beneficial, but only when combined with education and good user behavior.

By Sam Nixon for CIO Today

The best bank accounts for small cash businesses

Q: I have a business account with FNB. It’s a cheque account that has operational capital of about R70,000 in it. However, this account doesn’t pay interest on a positive balance. What type of account at FNB should I use to keep such extra funds? I need to be able to access the money on 14 days’ notice, should the need arise. – EB

A: Stephanus Buys, the head of strategic business development at FNB cash investments, recommends either the FNB savings account or the seven-day notice account. The FNB savings account, which gives the customer unfettered access to their money, pays 5.25% interest on balances of between R25,000 and R74,999, but this account is exclusive to customers with an Easy Account with FNB.

Buys says that if FNB is not the customer’s primary bank, the Money on Call product can be used instead: it pays interest of 5.10% on balances of between R70,000 and R79,999.

The customer would get the best rates if invested in a seven-day notice account. A sum of R70,000 would attract interest of between 6.35% and 6.45%, depending on how long it was invested (1-32 days, 33-63 days, or more than 65 days).

Charl Nel, the head of strategic communications at Capitec Bank, says Capitec pays interest of 5.40% on positive balances of between R25,000 and R99,999, and the customer need not use Capitec as their primary bank.

While Capitec does not offer business banking, many of its clients who are small-business owners opt to use its Global One account as a business account because of the competitive interest rate offered on a positive balance, as well as the low monthly fees.

Source: BusinessLive

 

Small businesses could save SA

The government has the opportunity to rev-up much needed economic growth in South Africa by creating a stable political environment and the right policies for small businesses.

This is the message from Anton van Heerden, MD and executive vice president at Sage for Africa and the Middle East.

“South Africa’s small businesses are resilient and it is heartening to see how determined our entrepreneurs are to get to the top,” he said.

“They hold the key to creating jobs, reducing inequality and creating a more thriving South Africa.”

Van Heerden explained that it is promising to see the South African government putting the small and medium business sector at the centre of its economic policies.

“The government’s National Development Plan envisages 90% of new employment by 2030 will be generated by (small, medium & micro enterprise businesses) SMMEs.”

He pointed out that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan also mentioned in his Budget Speech last year some small business-friendly steps, such as easing regulatory burdens for businesses.

“Minister Gordhan also announced that government has earmarked R475m for the Department of Small Business Development to help small and medium businesses.”

Van Heerden told Fin24 that Sage would like further details to be unveiled in the approaching Budget Speech in February.

“We hope that in the upcoming Budget Speech for 2017, we’ll see the finance minister put some more flesh on the bones of government’s plans to drive economic growth and entrepreneurial activity in South Africa.”

Sage is also interested to learn what is important for small businesses.

“By listening to small business owners and supporting them with a stable political environment and the right policies, government has the opportunity to turbo-charge South Africa’s growth.”

In this regard, Van Heerden explained that Sage would welcome more government support for SMMEs around export opportunities, more tax incentives and grants for companies that export successfully.

“We’d also like to see a simpler tax and regulatory environment for smaller companies. For example, turnover tax and exemption from VAT already simplify tax administration for the smallest businesses who take advantage of them, but these concepts could be extended to companies with slightly more than R1m in turnover.”

Van Heerden suggested that micro-business owners should be encouraged to grow rather than face more onerous tax and regulatory burdens once their turnover exceeds R1m. “What about lifting it to R2m or R3m?”

Global research published by Sage ahead of the World Economic Forum found that a mere 17% of small businesses feel represented by politicians in their country’s decision making.

Respondents were from Australia, Benelux, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, UK and the US.

Almost half (46%) of them singled out export opportunities, and grants as being the most important thing that government can do to help them.

Improvements around political stability (45%) was highlighted as the second most important, while creating a stable regulatory environment ranked third (38%).

Sage announced the launch of its Forum for Business Builders in a bid to give business builders a platform to connect with policy makers.

It aims to bring entrepreneurs from around the world insights, events and policy-forming partnerships to give them a powerful collective voice that can be heard on the world stage.

Source: www.fin24.com

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