Why Managed Detection and Response is a Valuable Tool for Small to Medium Businesses

Managed Detection

Managed Detection and Response could be the solution businesses are looking for in a world where cybercrime is on the rise and security experts are hard to find.  

Managed Detection

Cybersecurity is becoming much more than just a buzz word as cyberattacks on businesses increase and companies face the challenge of finding skilled cybersecurity professionals. By 2022, there could potentially be as many as 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs, a pain point for many small to medium businesses.

While cybercrime continues to threaten these very businesses, many are wondering if there is a solution to these challenges. How does a company protect significant amounts of data with limited IT and security staff? The answer comes in the form of specialized teams of security and threat analysts, or Managed Detection and Response.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

Similar to other Managed Service Providers, companies that specialize in MDR work to provide cybersecurity support to companies that are either lacking skills or time to manage security. What makes Managed Detection and Response unique is its comprehensive approach to dealing with threats.

MDR requires both technology and human analysis to effectively and proactively detect, remediate, and eventually eliminate cyber threats. Where other providers offer an overall software and hardware-based alert system, they are often limited in their ability to respond to, research, and diagnose the number of alerts that happen daily.

With managed detection and response, analysts sift through alerts to determine if they require action. When a response is required, they offer immediate support in resolving the issue and determining its source so that a threat of that type is less likely to occur again.

MDR also takes a proactive approach to threat detection—also called threat hunting—that helps companies determine the overall state of their cybersecurity measures. Specialized analysts are able to research why or how a threat is occurring, resulting in a more comprehensive solution. This same skill set allows them to see beyond the individual incident and understand the greater need behind your network, server, and endpoint data protection.

Improving Your Cybersecurity Defenses

While cyberattacks on big companies dominate the news headlines, it is small to medium businesses that are facing the majority of threats—and they are doing it unprepared. At least 43% of cyberattacks are directed at small businesses, but very few are prepared to deal with the onslaught. On average, these attacks cost businesses $200,000, which is more than many of them can handle.

Managed Security Services provide necessary firewall and perimeter protection for your network, and prove to be helpful in providing alerts when anomalies arise. But the amount of protection most companies need can only come in the form of a specialized and highly trained in-house security team or an MDR.

As cybercrime continues to increase, protecting more than just your company’s network perimeter will be key to improving your cybersecurity defenses. Finding and outsourcing your security needs to Managed Detection and Response could be the best way forward in a world where cybersecurity is an essential part of your company’s future.

How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

Email Phishing

Email Phishing

Protecting Your Data from SHTML Phishing

Data security is vital to any business. Learn how SHTML phishing works and how to minimize the risk of your data falling into the hands of attackers.

Email phishing has been in the playbook of hackers since, well, email. What’s alarming is the scope in which criminals can conduct these attacks, the amount of data potentially at risk, and how vulnerable many businesses are to phishing attempts. Here’s what you need to know to spot the hook and protect your data from being reeled in.

How Does Email Phishing Work?

A phishing email typically contains an attachment in the form of a server-parsed HTML (SHTML) file. When opened, these shady files redirect the user to a malicious website often disguised as a legitimate product or service provider. The website then requests sensitive information such as the user’s address, date of birth, social security number, bank account number, etc. in exchange for providing said product or service.

Users who comply end up giving their information to a criminal who may then sell it to various illegal organizations. Victims may end up losing money and having their identity connected to criminal activity. The attackers may even offer to sell the information back to the owner for a hefty ransom. For businesses, the damages can be irreparable. Phishing is often the launchpad for large-scale cyber attacks, and businesses that fall victim can lose not only cash and assets, but the trust of current and would-be customers.

Who Does SHTML Phishing Target?

While many individuals fall victim to phishing, the main targets are businesses in the banking and finance sector. The sender may use a seemingly legitimate email address, often posing as a trusted, reputable organization. They may goad users to open attachments by claiming to be the IRS, a wealthy businessman offering a lucrative deal, or, ironically, a security provider offering to scan the user’s computer for vulnerabilities. While many phishing attempts are obvious, some can be convincing, and all it takes is a hasty click to give the phisher what they want.

Types of SHTML Phishing

Depending on the attacker, a phishing attempt can range from simple and generic to detailed and personalized to fit the target. For businesses that conduct large quantities of transactions, a phisher may send a simple email claiming to provide a receipt for their purchase. Others may send invoices. Sophisticated attackers may gather information about the business including its suppliers, partners, and even names of individual employees. They may then create fake accounts disguised as these trusted entities, fooling the target into giving away sensitive data. While most phishing attempts fail, a convincing premise combined with a busy, distracted user can equal success – and disaster.

Potential Signs of SHTML Phishing

Being proactive and training your employees to spot phishing is the best line of defense. Here are some potential red flags that may, but not always, indicate that an email is a phishing attack:

  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • Strange characters and punctuation
  • Email addresses comprised of a seemingly random combination of letters and numbers
  • Emails claiming to offer large sums of money
  • Emails claiming that you owe a large sum of money
  • Emails claiming that your data is at risk and offering protection
  • An overly lengthy or short email body
  • Attachments with file types you don’t recognize

How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

While there’s no way to guarantee that your business will be 100% safe from phishing attacks, you can take precautions to greatly minimize your risk of becoming a victim. Many email clients have rules that automatically filter out suspicious or spam emails. Savvy IT professionals can create additional rules to identify and block phishing emails.

The greatest defense is training every employee to recognize the red flags, especially the not-so-obvious ones. Make basic data security a part of the onboarding process, and hold presentations and seminars several times a year to keep employees aware and bring to light any new threats they should look for.

Data security is more relevant than ever, and businesses need to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats. Is your business taking the necessary precautions to keep phishers away?

Clearing Up The Cloud – Have You Harnessed Its Strategic Advantages?

Cloud Services

Cloud Services

The cloud may still feel like a new technology – but in reality, it’s been around for more than 10 years now.

Does that make you feel old?

Let’s be clear about something – the cloud is here to stay. In recent years you may have still heard the occasional “industry insider” suggest that the world may be moving too quickly to an untested and unsure platform in cloud computing, but no more. The cloud is now an integral part of daily life for private consumer and business users alike.

What Is The Cloud?

The cloud is a network of technologies that allows access to computing resources, such as storage, processing power, and more. That’s where the data is – in these data centers all around the world. Which data center your data is in depends on what cloud service provider you’re working with.

The Cloud’s Many Layers

Public Cloud

Ideal for small businesses that may have trouble budgeting for any other type of cloud deployment, a public cloud is simple and cost-effective. Your data is stored in a “communal” data center, which, while not offering the best possible security or compliance guarantees, is often sufficient enough for organizations that aren’t required to maintain regulated compliance.

Private Cloud

A secure, dedicated environment to ensure maximum performance, security, and functionality for your business applications and employees. This is usually deployed for complaint-driven businesses such as healthcare and finance.

A Hybrid Cloud

This is like a dedicated cloud computing resource on Office 365 and Azure Stack with an extension to on-premise resources for maximum performance, control, security, and functionality. This is for businesses that require maximum control and scalability.

Instead of entrusting your legacy solutions to a public or private cloud, many businesses are opting for a hybrid cloud. They use a mix of on-premise, private and third-party public cloud services because this provides an infrastructure where one or many touchpoints exist between the environments.

Using a hybrid cloud gives you the freedom to choose which applications and resources you want to keep in the data center and which ones you want to store in the Cloud.

The Cloud Isn’t As New As You Might Think…

Would you say the cloud is “new”?

To some, this may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but it’s not that simple.

The way in which we think about technology can lead to something feeling new for a lot longer than would make sense otherwise.

After all, the cloud is more than a decade old, but a lot of people still think of it as a new technology.

For context, it was 2006 when Google and Amazon began using the term “cloud computing” – not necessarily the beginning of the cloud, but as good a point to choose as any.

In that year, the now woefully dated Crash won Best Picture at the Oscars. The Tesla Roadster was still two years from hitting the streets. Netflix was more than a year away from launching its now prolific streaming services.

Does that put it in perspective?

How Is The Cloud-Delivered?

SaaS (Software as a Service)

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are being adopted at a much faster pace today than in the past. These are productivity applications like Microsoft Office 365, cloud-based practice management solutions, accounting programs, and more.

Your SaaS provider helps you identify and select line of business applications that will run well in the cloud. They can migrate your data and integrate it with software platforms in your current premise or cloud technology stack, or help you implement new ones.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)
This is whole cloth delivery of web applications that are based in the cloud, all via a comprehensive platform. The idea is that, in accessing this platform, you can utilize, develop and even deliver applications based on resources that you don’t need to maintain on-site.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivers IT infrastructure on an outsourced basis and provides hardware, storage, servers, data center space, and software if needed. It’s used on-demand, rather than requiring you to purchase their own equipment. That means you don’t have to expend the capital to invest in new hardware.

Why Should You Use With The Cloud?
For the same reasons that thousands of other businesses around the world have already adopted cloud computing:

  • Computing Power: The cloud has the ability to activate tens of thousands of CPUs. This unparalleled power can quickly perform deep analytics of your data, and process nearly any ad-hoc queries that you require.
  • Reliable Costs: The cloud services subscription model offers the strategic advantage of low-cost, low-risk opt-in combined with a simple, predictable monthly fee.
  • Easy Scalability: Cloud services have the unique strategic characteristic of being able to stretch or shrink to suit your current level of demand. This is especially useful for businesses of scale or companies that go through seasons of activity.
  • Real-Time Collaboration: With cloud technology, your staff doesn’t have to wait for each other to be done with their part of the document or project in order to tackle their own aspect. They can all work on the same project at the same time to maximize productivity.
  • Remote Work Capability: This cloud feature allows you and your employees to work remotely as need be, which will give your business members the flexibility they desire to have a more balanced home/work life.

You Need To Keep An Eye On Your Cloud

As beneficial as the cloud can be, it’s important to note that it can also pose risks if it isn’t managed properly. It all comes down to the classic binary relationship between convenience and security.

The cloud gives you unparalleled access to your data from anywhere with an Internet connection. That means that external parties (including cybercriminals) can have undue access to your data as well if you don’t take the necessary steps to secure your environment.

That’s why you need to monitor your cloud. No matter who you entrust your data to, you should ensure that you or someone in your organization is given appropriate visibility over your cloud environment. That way, you can guarantee that security and compliance standards are being maintained.

If you don’t have the resources to manage this type of ongoing monitoring, then it would be wise to work with the right third party IT services company. Doing so will allow you to outsource the migration, management, and monitoring of your cloud. You’ll get the best of both world – security and convenience.

Microsoft Office 365 and Your Business: Boost Productivity with the Right Tech Tools

Modern Workplace

Office Workers In A Modern Workplace

Microsoft Office 365 and Your Business: Boost Productivity with the Right Tech Tools

The workplace is becoming more and more digital every day. New tech tools are developed regularly, and most have the same goal—to make your life easier. While some new developments end up making life harder because they are hard to learn, cumbersome, or have glitches or bugs, most are specifically designed to be easy to understand and use. Getting things done faster and more efficiently is a huge driver for technology generally, but that is especially true today.

Defining the Modern Digital Workplace

The “Modern Digital Workplace” is a phrase used today that describes utilizing the technology that is most useful for your team. It helps your team by:

  • Making collaboration easier
  • Training and educating faster and more efficiently
  • Compiling documents and information in an easy-to-use and access way
  • Automating processes, to the extent possible, in a way that make sense for your industry and your team
  • Improving digital processes not only internally, but also with partners, suppliers, and other third parties

Technology, when used properly, can make the entire workplace run in a much smoother, more efficient way. New tools allow your team to meet the needs of customers, and the business as a whole, better. When goals are easier to accomplish, productivity gets a huge boost.

The Obvious Connection: Technology and Productivity

In general, the new digital workplace focuses on improving three key areas of a company. These include the following:

  • Employee Collaboration. When employees can team up and get work done easier, it makes projects faster and more efficient. Sometimes talking to one another is the best way to come up with new ideas and simply ensure that everyone is getting their job done effectively and promptly. Making sure that information and the ability to connect with one another is all on one platform is one of the best ways to encourage and foster this type of collaboration.
  • Content Collaboration. Many teams work on the same content at similar times. Being able to share documents, files, and even external information at the same time can be a huge time saver within a company.
  • Business Application. Administrative processes, such as workflow, forms, and rules, can often be automated in a way that cuts down significantly on processing time and time spent requesting or obtaining status updates. Even something as simple as creating digital versions of forms and allowing employees or third parties to input the information themselves can be a huge time saver in many industries.

Transparency regarding work product and processes is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your team is getting their work done and creating a final product that is the best version that you can provide.

Certain technologies often focus on a different area of these three overarching ideas. Some attempt to address all of them, while others target just one or two sections of particular concern. When all three can be addressed, you have a powerful system that encourages accountability, efficiency, and, in turn, productivity.

Office 365’s Role in the Modern Digital Workplace

Office 365 has been created with the Modern Digital Workplace in mind. It is specifically designed to address these three major concerns in an easy-to-use way.

While Office is commonly associated with their most popular programs, like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, they have a whole host of programs that can significantly boost your team’s productivity because they make collaboration and transparency ridiculously easy.

Outlook

Microsoft’s email program, Outlook, has been a staple for many businesses for years. Outlook is more than just email, however. Users can use the calendar to schedule meetings and create task lists. They can also create contact lists and share documents through OneDrive. Outlook’s key focus is employee collaboration.

Microsoft Teams

This relatively new feature allows employees and third parties to chat, share documents, work on documents at the same time, schedule meetings, have audio and visual video calls, create notes, and more. It is also integrated with several very popular apps and services, including OneDrive, SharePoint, Yammer, Dynamics 365, and Skype.

Delve

Microsoft Delve shows what your team is working on, popular documents, and provides insightful information to workers who might be interested in them. Employees develop profiles, and they can find and organize information based on interests. It also allows workers to search for documents that are connected through SharePoint and OneDrive.

Yammer

Yammer is similar to a social networking site, but it is limited to your employees and other workers. It is designed to encourage communication throughout your organization. Its focus is on ensuring that information is accessible and shared at virtually every level.

Microsoft Planner

This tool allows your team to create new plans, assign tasks, share files, and organize projects. You can easily see what people are working on and get updates on progress for various tasks. This type of open communication makes assigning projects and getting status updates easy and more efficient.

SharePoint and OneDrive

OneDrive is a straight-forward means to share files, both internally and externally. SharePoint uses sites and files, team news, lists, libraries, and more to encourage collaboration on documents and files. Both are based on sharing information in the cloud.

Microsoft Flow

This tool is focused on making internal processes easier and more efficient. It helps automate and exchange data. It has built-in alerts and notifications to help address organizational processes like approvals, multi-stage processes, and more.

Using Office 365 to Help Your Business

Every company is different. Office 365 has enough unique tools focused on making your company better that you are bound to find something that fits well for your needs. Encouraging collaboration and automated processing can lead to huge productivity boosts for your business.

Habits You Want From Your Technology Partner

IT support partnership

Habits You Want From Your Technology Partner

When you are running a business, you want your technology to integrate well with the other tech you use in your business and with your overall IT platform. When you run into situations where your tech fails to integrate well, it can cause serious problems—leading to lost productivity, lost data, and general inefficiency that is not desirable for any business.

IT support partnership

Choosing technology partners requires looking carefully at how those partners play with others. You want to know that your tech will integrate and operate well, which means you want a tech partner that is interested in ensuring cross-compatibility and integration. Many tech partners will be interested in such cooperation, but not all will. It is important to know what to look for in such a partner to ensure that you team up with a business that you can rely on.

Tech Partner Habits—Must-Haves from a Tech Partner

1. Interest in improving the overall experience, not just the bottom line

There are plenty of tech partnerships that develop to increase profits. After all, money drives business and it only makes sense for companies to seek arrangements that will improve their profitability. But creating the best customer experience requires more than just a focus on profitability—it also requires a real and sustained interest in ongoing improvement, which necessitates cross-pollination.

You want a partner who wants to ensure that everything works and strives to avoid tech silos that inhibit customers and companies alike. However, you also want a partner who will offer ideas for improvement and accept constructive feedback for their own improvement. The sharing of knowledge and insight and interest in such sharing makes a great tech partner.

2. Willingness to be part of a team

It may seem like asking too much for a tech partner to treat your business and the other tech vendors you work with as a team—but the fact is, you need a team player to achieve your goals. Sure, it can take some serious self-reflection on the part of one business to decide to team up with another business and actively engage in such teamwork, especially if there is a fear of missing out on extra earnings. But the long-term benefit of teamwork will yield future rewards that are otherwise unachievable. The tech partner that is willing to forgo a little extra profit today for benefits for the entire team, later on, is one worth keeping.

3. Interest in a long-term partnership

Many of the best results are only achievable through long-term planning and implementation. Some tech partners may see the option of a partnership as more of a short-term advantage that is not worth maintaining for the long-term. These potential tech partners fail to realize that whatever short-term benefits they can get now will pale in comparison to the benefits they could realize through long-term engagement and partnership. Of course, the challenge of long-term relationships is that they typically require some sacrifice on the front-end. Tech partners that are wise enough to see the value in such early sacrifice are more likely to benefit your business in the future.

4. Desire to contribute to the partnership

One of the best ways to facilitate a successful partnership in technology is to give as much access to your technology base as possible. There are many reasons for this need. For example, by giving as much open access to their technology base and IT stack as they can—within reason—a tech partner can make it much easier and faster to develop integration between their tech and the tech of other partners. The harder partners have to push to gain access to the information they need, the longer it will take to achieve true integration. It is possible that with enough pushback on access, a partner could just give up on the idea of achieving integration and go somewhere else.

5. Seek regular and open communication

The need for communication in business is significant when partnering with tech vendors and service providers. You want a company that will keep you up to date about everything that is going on—at least all the things that are relevant to you and your business—and you want a company that will take your need to communicate seriously. When you want to communicate, your partner should be available or make themselves available at a reasonable time. You also need to know what your partner wants and expects out of the business relationship, just as your partner should know what you want and need out of the partnership.

How Does Windows 10 Improve Security and Data Protection?

Windows 10 Data Protection

Windows 10 Data Protection

Windows 10 comes a step closer to preventing cyberattacks and privacy threats facing users. It’s a next-generation solution that helps you fight threats from hackers and criminals who target your business. This is a big plus for cybersecurity managers. The past several years have brought some of the worst and most frequent cyberattacks in history. Security professionals are constantly on the lookout for new ways to prevent network breaches and safeguard the data of clients and the enterprise. Let’s take a closer look at how Windows 10 can help.

What Are the Security Advantages of Window 10?

Microsoft introduces Windows as a service in this version of their OS. It includes a unique way of creating, implementing and maintaining Windows. Each update adds new features to protect the security and privacy of users. The idea is that protection is layered into the functionality so that it doesn’t affect performance or distract users.

Windows; Core Services Engineering and Operations is thus better able to protect data and privacy. Built-in features identify suspicious activity that can put your business in jeopardy. This helps your security team detect and block sophisticated attacks faster. Releases focus on adding new features that combat new or anticipated risks. This is all possible thanks to the software giant’s finger on the pulse of the latest ransomware and malware hitting around the globe.

Windows 10 is considered to be the most secure version yet released. Because Microsoft has addressed cyberattacks during the engineering phase, improved security itself becomes a major bulwark, protecting your system from files and executables sent by hackers.

How Does Windows 10 Protect Your Data Better?

Here are some of the ways that Windows 10 improves its protection, including the new tools that can detect threats:

  • Windows 10 disrupts malware and thwarts hackers by changing the playing field. Bad actors can’t attack systems in the same old ways.
  • Device Guard acts as a shield against malware by allowing you to block unwanted apps. This gives users a proactive way to prevent ransomware and malware attacks as well as spyware.
  • Windows Defender uses machine learning, the cloud and behavior analysis to respond to new threats. This is like having a smart guard dog that not only prevents intruders from entering but smells them coming a mile away.
  • Microsoft Edge systemically disrupts malware, phishing and hacking attacks so that fewer threats make it through the system to trick users.
  • Windows 10 has aggressive data protection that meets compliance requirements without slowing down users, who expect the same solid performance Windows has always offered.
  • Windows Information Protection contains business data so it cannot be leaked to unauthorized users via apps, docs and the web.
  • BitLocker helps your security team protect sensitive data from prying eyes. Military-grade encryption takes over when a device is lost, stolen or otherwise compromised.
  • Azure Information Protection partners with Windows Information Protection to assign permissions that govern how certain data is shared.

What Ways Does Windows 10 Protect User Identify?

Windows 10 has built-in identity and access management protocols. This advanced technology safeguards user identities. For example, Windows Hello presents an alternative to passwords. It uses many factors to achieve solid security, such as a PIN, biometrics and a companion device.

Credential Guard uses NTLM-based authentication protocols, while Windows pass the hash (PtH) method authenticates without displaying the user’s text when a password is being entered. There’s also a hardware-based component that also limits access.

What Does This Additional Protection Mean for Security Teams?

While 57% of organizations offer training and incentives to security recruits, it’s hard to keep these resources for very long. This is due mainly to the high demand for qualified candidates. With additional protection built into applications themselves, busy cybersecurity teams can concentrate on other crucial tasks to protect the company’s data and reputation.

How to Keep Your Business Safe From the Dark Web

Dark Web

Dark Web

Assassins for hire, drugs by mail order, and fake passports: What do all these things have in common?

You can find them all on the dark web.

“Okay …” you may be thinking, “Sounds like a blast — but how does this affect me and my business?”

Well, most likely, you’re not surfing the dark web for fake travel documents and drugs by mail. But as it turns out, the dark web can affect you and your business. Most notably, your information can end up there — and that’s exactly where you don’t to find it.

Below, we’ll learn more about what the dark web is, how it came into existence, and how you can protect your business from the trouble that lurks there.

First Thing’s First: What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web began much more innocently than one might assume. In fact, at its very beginning in the late 1990s, it was the brainchild of a government entity, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

The NRL’s main goal was to cloak their online presence, effectively protecting their clandestine communications online while also anonymously monitoring the world market and getting access to hidden data without a trace. The software development stage went by the name The Onion Routing Project and resulted in the creation of Tor (The Onion Router).

Whether you’d call these beginnings “innocent” or not, to be sure, the NRL never anticipated their creation to morph into the toxic netherworld it is today. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the software was for government use only, but in 2004, it was open-sourced and went public, effectively creating an anonymous web browser for anyone and everyone to use.

What Is Tor?

Tor or The Onion Router is the software program used by the dark web. Normally, when you surf the web, you can be traced wherever you go because you always have an IP address trailing your clicks and searches.

Tor facilitates an Internet browser that messes with your device’s IP address, effectively enabling you to travel around the Internet anonymously. It does this by bouncing your IP address to a multitude of diverse locations. As a result, if someone were to attempt to track your site visits when you were using Tor, it would be an impossible challenge to pinpoint your exact location. For Tor to work, individuals from around the world “donate” their Internet browsing devices (computers, tablets, etc.) so that the bouncing IP addresses have more places to land.

So, the Dark Web Provides Anonymity and Privacy – How Does That Put My Business at Risk?

While Tor and the dark web can be used for good (namely, identity protection, which is often beneficial to whistleblowers or journalists, for example), it can also protect criminals. And it does protect criminals — lots of them.

Cybercrime is the number one thing going on on the dark web, and unless you have good reason to require the benefits of The Onion Router, the dark web is definitely not a place you want to find your information. This is what we mean by being wary of your business getting mixed up with the dark web.

There are numerous threats that the dark web poses to businesses of various sizes, industries, and backgrounds. This is where cybercriminals can learn how to obtain information such as access codes and passwords, credit card information, gift card information, customer data, and more. It’s also where they can sell such information to third parties who can then do with it what they please.

In other words, you should want to know the moment your company name, address, or other company-related information is noticed on the dark web because what happens next is bound to be bad.

How Can Businesses Protect Themselves From the Dark Web?

Essentially, you can protect your business from the dark web by doing two things: Ensuring a strong setup of cyber privacy practices (hiring a cybersecurity-savvy IT company) and monitoring the dark web so that you’re notified the moment your information is found there.

The latter can be a part of the services you outsource to your IT company because actual dark web monitoring involves getting dark web access and knowing how to accumulate, parse, normalize, validate, refine, and enrich what you acquire. If you don’t know how to do that yourself, professionals can come to your aid.

While the dark web may be a place that helps good journalists and few others stay hidden and anonymous, it’s predominantly a place of crime and misdeeds. Keep your business safe from the dark web by knowing the risks and taking the appropriate precautions.

Introducing Canada’s Digital Charter

Canadian Digital Charter

Digital Technologies in Canada

Technology is rapidly entering all areas of commerce, banking and society due to increased digital communications both in person and online. Much of the business that Canadians do every day is assisted by technology including shopping for groceries, promoting a brand and socializing with friends and family. “Data is a resource that companies use to be more productive and to be more productive and to develop better products and services, unleashing a digital revolution around the world.” according to the Canadian Digital Charter website. Due to this expansion of data access worldwide, Canada has set up the Canadian Digital Charter (CDC) to ensure that “privacy is protected, data will not be misused, and companies operating in this space communicated in a simple and straightforward manner with their users.” The goal is to inspire trust in the government and businesses who handle private data.

Canada’s Digital Charter is Built on Ten Principles

The CDC was developed after the government conducted numerous conversations and surveys with Canadians from all walks of life. These discussions emphasized specific issues that Canadians were interested in and worried about. The result were the following ten principles that form the foundation of the CDC.

1. Universal Access:

All Canadians will have equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills.

2. Safety and Security:

Canadians will be able to rely on the integrity, authenticity and security of the services they use and should feel safe online.

3. Control and Consent:

Canadians will have control over what data they are sharing, who is using their personal data and for what purposes, and know that their privacy is protected.

4. Transparency, Portability and Interoperability:

Canadians will have clear and manageable access to their personal data and should be free to share or transfer it without undue burden.

5. Open and Modern Digital Government:

Canadians will be able to access modern digital services from the Government of Canada, which are secure and simple to use.

6. A Level Playing Field:

The Government of Canada will ensure fair competition in the online marketplace to facilitate the growth of Canadian businesses and affirm Canada’s leadership on digital and data innovation, while protecting Canadian consumers from market abuses.

7. Data and Digital for Good:

The Government of Canada will ensure the ethical use of data to create value, promote openness and improve the lives of people—at home and around the world.

8. Strong Democracy:

The Government of Canada will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions.

9. Free from Hate and Violent Extremism:

Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content.

10. Strong Enforcement and Real Accountability:

There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles.

Canadian Digital Charter

Digital Technology’s Impact on Canada

The ten principles listed above clearly display the Canadian Government’s vision of integrating ethics and law with digital access. In the discussions with Canadians that led to the CDC, three main issues came to the forefront.

A. How Can Canada Prepare for the Technology of the Future?

Canadians are concerned whether they will be trained for skills needed in the technology of the future. Examples of these are digital skills, including knowledge of coding, data analytics, AI, and machine learning as well as future technologies that have not yet been developed. Although not all careers require a special knowledge of technology,

Canada must instill comprehensive digital literacy and exposure to STEM skills from a young age, particularly for under-represented groups including women, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities. To build digital resilience, Canada must take a multidisciplinary approach to skills development and training that encourages a life-long learning mentality.

Other key issues include retraining workers to build skills that relate to STEM fields, and opening access to training in non-traditional formats including flexible, cost-effective options for attaining new skills in short time frames.

B. How Will Canada Support Growth of Competitive Canadian Companies?

In order for Canadian companies to be competitive on a global scale, they need to “adapt their traditional approaches, and identify, adopt and implement digital and data-driven technologies.” There are several issues that are obstacles to this type of growth including most notably affordability, access for remote, rural and Indigenous communities. Canada ranks among the most expensive countries in the G7 for many telecommunication services including mobile wireless and Internet.1 Other obstacles include awareness of how technology can improve and scale business in traditional sectors, and that technology implementation isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Recognition of the need for individual, personalized implementation is crucial to moving forward.

C. How Can Canada Be a Leader in the Digital Age Regarding Privacy and Trust?

The digital age has ushered in the usage of an explosion of data “helping to fuel innovations like AI, machine learning, and the Internet of things, however, the rapid acceleration of data being created, and its use as a commodity means Canada must re-evaluate the frameworks it has in place.” While laws such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) help to keep personal data private, there needs to be an ongoing effort to keep frameworks transparent and private data protected against hacking and other data breaches.

Trust and privacy of personal data is a key element in any future growth of technology in Canada.

The issue is complex with important questions around data access, ownership, use, and the consent and controls available to both citizens and providers. . . Canada has a mature regulatory environment, however with the growing complexity of vast amounts of data flows, privacy, and cross-border markets, many Canadian companies, in particular SMEs, expressed difficulty understanding how best to comply with existing data and privacy legislation and the corresponding regulations.

To continue to protect privacy, Canada needs to modernize PIPEDA and continue to offer effective and clear guidance on privacy issues, and at the same time effectively enforce any players appropriately to build trust with Canadians.

What Can A Business Impact Analysis Do For Your Organization?

Business Impact Analysis

Business Impact Analysis

When a company functions at a high level, productivity and profitability appear seamless. But it’s also incumbent on decision-makers to understand the potential ramifications for business disruption. Without a working knowledge of how a breakdown in one area of an operation impacts the other moving parts, viable solutions remain out of reach. Determined industry leaders take proactive measures to conduct a business impact analysis (BIA), so they are prepared for adversity.

Importance of a BIA

One of the primary reasons that some organizations fail to conduct the initial and subsequent BIAs is that it seems abstract. It’s common for CEOs and other decision-makers to have earned their position through experience and expertise. That offers a sense of confidence they can captain the ship during a crisis. A decade or two ago, that may have been sound thinking. However, today’s technology-driven companies are far removed from nuts and bolts fixes.

Data loss, hackers, malware infiltration, or just lost connectivity between departments can down an outfit’s productivity. Such realities create a burden to have multi-level solutions available that often are outside a CEOs area of expertise. Business leaders are wise to tap department heads to review likely and even unlikely vulnerabilities and develop a contingency plan for as many critical interruptions as imaginable. Consider this pair of foundation ideas in terms of your operation.

  • Idea 1: Your company functions like a living organism with each system relying on the others for its health and vitality.
  • Idea 2: Certain parts of the whole are more crucial to survival and long-term success. These areas require heightened resources.

With this anatomy analogy in mind, consider your operation with the perspective that specific departments and systems are vital. If the heart, brain, or lungs of your operation shut down, so does the entire company. Stubbing your toe, on the other hand, may only slow things. The point is that certain aspects of any business are critical, while others are support.

Once department heads are tapped to conduct a BIA due diligence and submit a report, leadership is tasked with understanding how all the moving parts work. With this in mind, first-run BIAs generally require interdepartmental meetings or communication to ensure key stakeholders are on the same page.

Motivation for Conducting BIA Due Diligence

Having the support and blessing of the leadership team remains critical to a thorough BIA. When such stakeholders view this as just an additional duty impeding their daily, profit-driving work, potential challenges are unlikely to get the due diligence necessary for improved success when a crisis occurs. Before moving forward, direct communication and articulation of why thoroughness is a priority must be established. Clarifying the following benefits of a BIA early in the process may improve team motivation.

  • BIA delivers management with vital data to make real-time decisions to ensure business continuity
  • BIA delivers insight about interdepartmental reliance
  • BIA provides a playbook for employee roles in critical situations
  • Identifies company-wide priorities for sustaining operations during crisis
  • Provides a tangible road map to restore full operations

At the end of the day, the BIA removes the fear of the unknown and puts guidance in its place. That offers otherwise panicking employees the confidence their jobs are secure and empowers them to work through adversity.

Working through the Tedious BIA Process

Getting leadership and rank-and-file employees on board to undertake a BIA is not a difficult sell. The bottom line for everyday workers is that it provides a rare level of job security. Infusing that positive attitude will likely go a long way toward working through the sometimes tedious information collection process. For each department or aspect of the company, data collection is necessary.

  • Lead function of a process or department
  • Detailed analysis of department function and processes
  • Disruption analysis and timetable regarding increased impact
  • Identify interdepartmental disruption
  • Analysis of the financial, legal and regulatory impact of disruption

With a detailed report, departmental leaders garner an enhanced understanding of impacts across the organization. Each department head can identify likely and unlikely disruptions and craft realistic solutions or ways to bridge crisis. This information can be compiled and shared with the goal of building a final report.

Value of a Comprehensive BIA Report

The final report moves beyond the data collection and single department solutions. The concept is to deliver a company-wide plan of action. It generally proves beneficial to make a hardcopy or online report that articulates reasoning, goals, strategies and empowers employees during duress. These are headings often found in a comprehensive BIA report.

  • Executive Summary
  • Analytic Methods Used
  • Potential Department or Function Disruption
  • Impact of Disruption
  • Protocols to Mitigate Disruption
  • Guidance for Organization Restoration

CEOs and other decision-makers generally enjoy enhanced confidence in their leadership abilities following a comprehensive BIA. It’s also imperative to set a schedule for BIA updates and create a policy that requires emerging technologies, business developments, and other evolutions to be included in the report. In many ways, a BIA gives everyone in your organization security.

Which Application Rules Supreme: Outlook or GMail

Office 365 or GMail

Office 365 or GMail

Currently, 30% of email addresses change every year. The majority of these changes are business related. No one wants to deal with the problems that come with changing personal contact information. Quite often, personal emails are attached to personal bills and subscriptions as well.

When the big change happens and it is time to make a move, is usually away from a smaller email platform into one of the two behemoths – Microsoft Outlook and Google Gmail. These two email providers have become the blue chip operators in what is now an essential part of everyone’s life.

What is so good about Outlook in Gmail? Are there aspects of one that makes it better than the other? We are here to look at the subtle differences between the two so that you can make an informed decision about which is better for you.

The Basics

The Outlook and Gmail user interfaces couldn’t be more different from each other. Outlook seems more business oriented on the surface, while Gmail’s UI maintains a feel that you might get from last year’s tech startup. In short, Outlook is Baby Boomer; Gmail is Generation Z.

Outlook is all about add on features while Gmail brings a “what you see is what you get” mentality to the forefront. Both services come as part of a larger suite that make a lot of money for their respective companies. If you go Pro with Outlook or Gmail, you will actually be purchasing Microsoft Office 365 or Google G suite. The first requires an annual commitment, and the second is based on a monthly subscription plan.

The Tools

So the cat out of the bag – Outlook and Gmail are actually loss leaders for the business suites that Microsoft and Google hope to sell to you eventually. Microsoft Office 365 has all of the industry standard programs that we are used to – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and all of the newer injuries that have become business staples such as OneDrive, OneNote and Microsoft Teams.

Believe it or not, Google is actually the challenger brand in this arena. Its Calendar and Hangouts tools are definitely name brands, but other aspects of its business suites such as Keep, Sites, Forms, Drive and Currents have not quite hit mainstream acceptance.

The result is the difference between a set of features that you know and love (Outlook) or a possibly wider and more robust feature set with a learning curve (Google).

Organization

If you are actually doing good business, your email is going to be a place of constantly changing activity. This is your mission-critical location, and some of the emails that you receive are essential in making mission-critical decisions. Keeping your emails organized is one of the most important things that you can do for your business. Outlook and Gmail have two entirely different philosophies for this.

Outlook works on a method of organization that predates the Internet. Its traditional system of folders looks and feels like a file cabinet. Anyone who makes use of Gmail can tell you this is definitely not the way that Google organizes things. Gmail uses labels and tags and allows you to customize your experience much more. If you know what you’re doing, you can quickly tier your email system and get to your most important emails more quickly. If not, then your email will probably look like a jumbled mess every time you open it.

The Company

With such powerful companies underwriting the programs, it is difficult to look past the influence of the brand. When you use Outlook, you have the advantages of Microsoft behind you. One of the most important features that Microsoft offers is the ability to completely delete unread emails from existence. This is simply not possible with Google, although Gmail offers many other advantages that are difficult to overlook. Gmail offers extended power of Google search and all of the associated features that Alphabet has now monopolized, meaning that you have an extremely powerful suite of tools behind you every time you open your Gmail.

So who wins the battle of emails between Outlook and Gmail? This is actually a question of your business philosophy. If you like more traditional, old-school methods of thinking and organizing yourself, the outlook is probably the brand for you. If you are a New Age thinker who wants a personalized digital experience, then Gmail will probably suit you better. There is no right and wrong; only good and bad for you.