Learn the seven key questions every business should ask when deciding on which Managed Security Service Provider to hire.
A Managed Security Service Provider is an extension of your IT services department that focuses solely on the security of your company. The services that a Managed Security Service Provider provides range on the network security management spectrum from virus and spam blocking, to intrusion detection, firewalls, and virtual private network (VPN) management. Additionally, some Managed Security Service Providers offer other features such as system changes, modifications, and upgrades. When your company’s security is on the line, it is incredibly important to fully evaluate your options for Managed Security Service Provider.
To help make this decision, here are seven questions every business should ask when deciding on which Managed Security Service Providers to hire.
- What Is Their Reputation?
Checking the reputation and reviews of a business doesn’t only apply to restaurants, but it is also essential when hiring a Managed Security Service Provider. Roger Smith, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, Experienced Cybercrime and CyberSecurity Expert, Speaker, and Trainer, explains that that reputation is critical in deciding whether to hire a Managed Security Service Provider. Smith goes on to further clarify that “Making a bad decision or deciding on one provider based solely on cost can cripple your business”.
- What Can The Managed Security Service Provider Do For Your Business?
Before you hire a Managed Security Service Provider, you need to know what they do, and what they can do for your business. You can evaluate their features by looking into four key categories: Technology, Management, Adaptability, and Compliance. A Managed Security Service Provider typically offers businesses technology such as firewalls, wireless solutions, VPNs and patch management. Managed Security Service Providers are responsible for managing policies, risks, procedures, processes, auditing, reports, training, and education. Managed Security Service Providers should be able to adapt to your business needs under any circumstance. For example, Managed Security Service Providers should offer disaster recovery, business continuity, and backup storage and protection as well.
Knowing each feature, and its importance to your company allows you to better evaluate which Managed Security Service Provider will work best for you. John Penland, the founder of InfoTech, states that “In order to provide exceptional value, a provider must first understand their customer’s business model. This helps providers develop a rock-solid solution that can create a long-lasting, happy customer”.
- Do They Have The Expertise?
Not all Managed Security Service Providers are the same. While they might all roughly do the same work, it doesn’t mean that they will all fit well with your company. For example, a Managed Security Service Provider that works for a healthcare business might not be as successful for an accounting business. There are differences in timelines, terms, and expertise that can affect their successful integration into your business. Ian Trump, an ITIL Certified Information Technology Consultant with 20 years’ experience, explains that “When evaluating the Managed Security Service Provider, you need to know whether they have some experience in your particular vertical. A Managed Security Service Provider that specializes in healthcare services may not be a good fit for a logistics and transport or manufacturing company”.
- Do They Have The Capability?
You need to be sure of what you need from your Managed Security Service Provider, then cross-reference that to ensure that they are capable of providing those services to you. Brian Laing, an IT Security innovator from Lastline, states that “The key to evaluating a Managed Security Service Provider is to first codify your requirements”. Splitting these into different requirements not only simplifies which Managed Security Service Provider might be better, but it can also completely remove a vendor from the selection process. This will save your business valuable money and time.
- What Are They Going To Change To Make Your Life Easier?
Hiring a Managed Security Service Provider should make running your business smoother. When hiring and evaluating your Managed Security Service Provider, ensure that you are firm on nonnegotiable expectations of service. Ian Trump further iterates the importance of a mutually beneficial relationship by explaining that “When contracting the services, I would approach negotiations as a partnership and use language which provides mutual benefit, measurable deliverables, service level agreements (on both sides), and dispute resolution mechanisms”.
- What Benefits Are You Going To Get Out Of It If You Partner With Them?
It is essential to create a specific service level agreement with your chosen Managed Security Service Provider. This ensures that all parties involved understand the requirements on both sides –
recognizing this as a mutual relationship is key. They are there to protect your company, data, customers, and staff and you are there to pay them. Just as you wouldn’t hire an employee to sit on Facebook all day, you shouldn’t hire a Managed Security Service Provider that won’t carry their own weight.
Outsourcing to a Managed Security Service Provider can save your business 60-75%. Managed Security Service Providers cost on average about $75,000 a year. While this sounds hefty, you can compare it to the cost of a small IT department doing the same amount of work. Three IT staff, with a salary of $72,000 annually plus the cost of cybersecurity software, hardware, and equipment can easily run you upwards of $300,000.
Additionally, the use of a Managed Security Service Provider saves you money by providing your business with critical cyber protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The cost of this with a traditional employee would be exponentially expensive.
It is important to understand all aspects of your contract and to thoroughly investigate the financial aspects of it. Protecting your investment in a business is no different in the process of hiring a Managed Security Service Provider. Due diligence is important during the hiring and evaluating stage, as it provides your business peace of mind and ensures that your Managed Security Service Provider will continue to work as hard as you are.
Following in the footsteps of other social media giants, Instagram is now trying to add flexibility to their platform in order to attract more business owners. Since their inception in 2010, Instagram has had no way to allow users to schedule posts. Posting manually can be time-consuming for businesses that want to send out posts daily at certain times. Savvy business owners are well-versed on the best days of the week and the most optimal times for post scheduling.
This type of scheduling feature is already available on many platforms including WordPress and is considered indispensable, allowing users to schedule a post for whenever they like. Research shows that there are better times and days of the week to post content.
What days and times are best for your posts?
One study claims that videos that get posted to Instagram at 9:00 PM get 34 percent more action. Regular content will get more attention if posted on Monday or Thursday between 3:00 – 4:00 PM. Instagram traffic decreases on Sundays. All these little facts can help users reap a big reward in engagement from their audience, which is why business owners are taking the time to learn all the nuances of optimizing traffic on their favorite social media platforms.
A few drawbacks
Instagram will add support to its API, then use the functionality of applications like SocialFlow, Sprout Social, and HootSuite to support the feature. Eventually, they do believe that post-scheduling will be added to the product itself. At the moment, the post-scheduling feature doesn’t include ads, but that could change as well.
“The scheduling and publishing of Instagram content has been the number one request for our 16 million customers,” said Ryan Holmes, HootSuite CEO. “Now, they (business owners) can manage large volumes of content, multiple team members and multiple Instagram accounts with ease and security. HootSuite is excited to partner with Instagram to make this happen.”
The major drawback is that most regular users will not be able to take advantage of post scheduling. Only larger companies that use third-party software programs with Instagram will be able to use the new feature. Industry experts do believe that it’s only a matter of time before post scheduling will be free and available to everyone.
SocialFlow CEO Jim Anderson commented that, “It’s always been very time-consuming to create Instagram posts. That’s not necessarily a problem for individual consumers, but when you’re a media company that creates more than 100,000 posts a month, it’s simply impossible to do everything manually”.
Instagram replacing older API platforms
Instagram has plans to phase out their older API Platform during the next two years. The older API will be replaced with a newer Graph API. This will give users the ability to analyze metrics on their company’s performance. By allowing business owners to gain insights and analyze metrics, Instagram believes it can better compete with giants like Facebook and Twitter. The new API will also allow users to moderate comments and respond to them. These changes are set to take place on July 31, 2018.
Ingenious new features in the works for Instagram
Other features aimed at attracting more businesses to its platform are being considered by Instagram. These include a feature called business discovery, which, similar to LinkedIn, will give Instagram users the ability to check out other business profiles. The company notes that it will eventually roll out these cool features to all its regular users, and not just business owners.
Post images directly to Instagram with HootSuite
One of the more popular software platforms that integrates with Instagram is HootSuite. Posts can be scheduled from the HootSuite dashboard or the mobile app. As previously stated, only business accounts are eligible for this service at this time. Using HootSuite, customers can schedule their posts so that they are published on a specific day and timed. HootSuite also allows companies to run analytics to discover information that can help them reach a broader audience.
Other new features
The early results are in and the majority of business owners are reporting better conversion rates and more traffic with these new Instagram features. This success has spawned a new revolution for Instagram, a platform that has always been about photos and videos. Now, using a feature called “Type Mode”, users can type words that can be placed on colorful backgrounds (e.g., many users enjoy sharing the lyrics to their favorite song). Users can add fancy font styles, photos or videos to enhance the post. Instagram users are traditionally very imaginative people so this offers them an innovative outlet for their creativity.
From January 2013 to September 2017, the number of active Instagram users has risen from 90 million to 800 million. Though this does seem like a huge number of people interacting on their platform each week, for context, Facebook has over 2 billion users worldwide. Social media platforms with this type of potential exposure represent an unprecedented advertising market for companies of all sizes and types.
We all wish we had a magic crystal ball that would make our lives easier, whether that means knowing when to change our hairstyle, or when to apply for that dream job.
In business, there is no magic crystal ball that will tell us what’s going to happen, but with the right technology, we can get a good idea. Using incredible algorithms and analytics, technology can detect patterns that help you to adjust your business for the future. The use of this technology is called business intelligence.
Business intelligence tools are here to help you manage your business more effectively. Still, many small businesses don’t take advantage of the tools that they have available to them. Small business owners know that they should be analyzing their data but often fail to do so. In fact, the SMB Routes to Market Study found that small businesses reported “getting better insights out of the data they already have” is their primary challenge with technology. There is a common misconception that Business Intelligence Tools are mainly for large businesses and grand corporations. While analytics and other business intelligence tools are helpful to large businesses, they also work well for small businesses.
What is business intelligence and how can it help my small business?
Business Intelligence is software and tools that support the growth of a company through data collected such as department productivity, overall growth, sales trends, and customer behavior. Business Intelligence Tools can range from something as simple as Spreadsheets for the organization, analysis and storage of data to Online Analytical Processing or Reporting and Querying software. Each has a specific use, and offer various benefits to your small business.
Most common Business Intelligence Tools:
- Reporting and querying software
- Online analytical processing (OLAP)
- Digital Dashboards
- Business Activity Monitoring
- Local information systems
- Data Mining
- Data Warehouse
- Data Cleansing
Reporting and querying software extracts, sorts, summarizes, and presents selected data. This data could range from sale reports of specific items to a measurement of the efficiency of marketing plans. Sisense, an example of reporting and querying software, is one of the more well-known programs of this type, given that it won the Best Business Intelligence Software Award for 2016. Sisense collects data from multiple sources while offering the ability to complete analytics both on-premise and in the cloud.
Online analytical processing (OLAP) is part of the broader category of Business Intelligence, which also encompasses relational database, report writing, and data mining. Microsoft explains that “OLAP databases are designed to speed up the retrieval of data…It is a sophisticated technology that uses multidimensional structures to provide rapid access to data for analysis”. This is beneficial to your small business as it saves you time and money by constantly retrieving data and reporting its findings to you and your analyst in clear ways that help you improve your business. Looker is a popular example of OLAP software, using simplified language to give businesses a better understanding of their data analytics.
Digital dashboards give you a dashboard view of your data and sources. This is important when you need to view numerous reports and data sources, or when you need to present these findings in one location to numerous employees. This provides a clear representation of the data findings of your business, to anyone from the CEO to the temporary receptionist, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same data-driven goals. In a recent study, it was brought to light that only 40% of the workforce knew about the company’s goals, strategies, and tactics. Tools such as these fill that void by allowing employees the opportunity to be more productive and efficient in working towards the greater good for the business.
Some of the most important Business Intelligence Tools recognize and take advantage of patterns. If your company is losing money, it’s best to know why, and where, so that you can stop it. The same concept works in reverse. If your business is doing well, you’ll want to know specifically how and why in order to continue to do so. There are numerous Business Intelligence tools that can support this way of thinking.
For example, Business activity monitoring refers to the aggregation, analysis, and presentation of real-time information inside the organizations, as well as activities involving its customers and partners. Taking a closer look at all the activities of your business, from an analytical standpoint, would give you clear-cut answers on where there are gaps, and where there aren’t. These tools provide you with the opportunity to ensure that you, your staff, and your business are making efficient use of all your resources, no matter how large or small.
Tableau is one of the top software choices for business activity monitoring. This program helps you make improved decisions based on material and resources usage. This especially helps businesses ensure that they are ordering enough to meet demands while managing their risks.
Additionally, sometimes the answers lie outside of your business. Local information systems focus on collecting data in relation to geographic reporting. Similarly, data mining is the process of discovering patterns in large data sets involving methods at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and database systems. Recognizing these patterns help you depict optimal opportunities while making smart choices to avoid negative trends.
Domo is a popular program that optimizes the business’s marketing efforts by recognizing and measuring customer engagement through hundreds of different data sources. For example, Domo can help your business collect data from all types of social websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook as well as more technical ones such as Google Analytics and QuickBooks.
The term that is clearly repeated throughout business intelligence is “data”. Some of the most important and most beneficial tools of business intelligence are Data Warehouse and Data Cleansing. Data Warehouse is the storage of the data currently collected as well as previous data. Maintaining a secure and stable storage of important data helps your business to provide professional and trustworthy service. Google Analytics is a great Business Intelligence tool that allows you to improve your data collection. This type of data collection will help you improve your understanding of your audience and prioritize your marketing channels and make smarter advertising placements.
Data Cleansing is the process of monitoring stored data to detect any incorrect or corrupt data. After the file is identified as corrupt or incorrect, then Data Cleansing software works to safely correct or remove the corrupt data without damaging any other files. If you were at your doctor’s office and he prescribed you something that was researched with an 88% error rate, would you still take that pill? Of course not. So why do we continue to use data that is erroneous?
A recent study from the University of Hawaii shows that “88% of spreadsheets contain errors”. If you are storing corrupt files, you could lose other important data, therefore losing time and money. These corrupt or incorrect files can come from a few different sources, with misspellings and missing information being one of the most common errors. Without cleansing this data, your business could be making analytical decisions off incorrect or corrupt data.
Which ones should I choose?
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to determine which is the best for your business. The great news is that now business intelligence tools aren’t solely for the large corporations with the deep pockets. These systems are extremely affordable, and in fact, some are even free. For example, you can download Microsoft’s Power BI Desktop app for free with up to 1 GB of data. Once your business grows past those needs it will only cost you $10 a month.
What does this mean for my business?
Business Intelligence Tools are meant to eliminate guesswork while helping to monitor critical metrics. They provide you with valuable insight into your business’s activity and your customer behavior. There is no longer the need for whole teams of analysts and scientists to explain the data in layman’s terms. Now, programs and tools such as these will work as a middleman, giving even the most inexperienced employee access to powerful game-changing data.
These programs also increase your business’s profit, both now and in the future through the use of analytics and science-based predictors. Business Intelligence Tools increase your productivity within your business, as well as improving your efficient reach of a larger audience. Then with your improved business, it ensures that you are able to secure and protect your business and the data in which it holds.
Small businesses don’t grow big by continuing to think small. Businesses grow by having a good understanding of their company’s activities, and the needs of their customers. That requires Business Intelligence. Don’t sidestep Business Intelligence Tools because you aren’t sure if your business is large enough to need it. Take advantage of the tools available to you and make the most of your business today.
Cybercriminals are getting sneakier and savvier, making their tactics and tricks that much harder to recognize and avoid.
When it comes to email phishing scams, the conversation hasn’t changed much over the years – mostly because the scams themselves have stayed pretty consistent. That’s still the case, for the most part. Cybercriminals are still looking to trick unsuspecting targets into giving them sensitive information that they can use to turn a profit off of.
One of the most common phishing scams involves spoofing a recognizable institution, like a bank or government agency, or a company like Amazon or PayPal. The goal is to fool you into sharing account or credit card information or to convince you to open and download an infected file or click on a malicious link.
There was a time not that long ago that to a keen observer, these spoofed emails were easy to spot. The messages either contained spelling and grammatical errors that gave them away, displayed company logos that were the wrong size or color, or contained embedded links that were blatantly not what they pretended to be. Anyone with a decent grasp of good cybersecurity practices would be able to avoid playing into a hacker’s hands.
But as businesses and individuals alike learn more about how these scams operate, and companies continue to invest in more advanced security measures and spam filters, cybercriminals are working hard to stay a step ahead. The shoddy Photoshop jobs, Google-translated text, sloppy hyperlinks, and misspelled email domains are beginning to be replaced by the kinds of forgeries that even trained professionals can miss.
I know this from first-hand experience. Just the other day I found an email from Canada Post in my Junk Mail folder when I got to the office that morning. Thinking it might be something important that got caught up in my spam filter, I opened the email. At first, everything about it looked legitimate.
The company logo was the right size and color. The message – informing me that I’d missed a delivery attempt – was well-crafted, and the provided link didn’t seem overly suspicious. It passed a cursory inspection. However, after a closer look, I realized that the actual zip. the folder I was meant to download displayed a Russian connection – meaning it absolutely was not sent by Canada Post.
Had I not been as cautious as experience has taught me to be, I could have been in for a very, very long morning.
Seeing phishing attempts like this makes me nervous. If these messages are becoming sophisticated enough to almost fool someone who deals with cybersecurity for a living, it makes the job of protecting the businesses GAM Tech serves that much more of a challenge.
The fact that this particular message landed in my Junk Mail means that a high-end spam filter is still capable of detecting and blocking these malicious emails – which is only good news if your business has invested in advanced cybersecurity measures, and those measures are constantly kept up to date with the latest patches and virus definitions. Even then, there is a chance that something might still slip through.
This is where awareness and training become hugely important. Knowing how to spot the tiny details that separate a legitimate email message from a clever fake can make a huge difference. Especially with threats like ransomware still heavily targeting businesses of all sizes. One wrong click can spell disaster for your business.
The key is to provide your staff with ongoing cybersecurity training, keeping everyone with access to your technology infrastructure current on new threats and tactics. It’s that ability to catch little inconsistencies – or at least, the awareness that one needs to slow down and look for potential red flags – that will keep your business safe when you find yourself the target of a phishing scam.
A basic antivirus and spam filter simply are not enough to keep your business safe these days. The threat landscape is constantly evolving, presenting new challenges for cybersecurity measures to contend with. The more sophisticated threats become, the more advanced your cyber defenses need to be in order to keep up. And again, these defenses alone might not always be enough.
The number one reason phishing scams are still as prevalent as they are is that they work. These scams rely on the unknowing cooperation of someone inside your business in order for scammers to achieve their goals. It’s their ability to fool their targets that makes them such a dangerous threat, and it’s only by being fully aware of that threat can your business avoid become yet another cybercrime statistic.
Want to learn more about the steps you can take to protect your business against threats like phishing scams? Contact the cybersecurity experts at GAM Tech today.
There is no such thing as a safe investment. Investing is a scary business. Most people prefer to work with financial experts when it comes to finding the best place to put their money. Just like them, you’ve worked hard for every penny, and you don’t want to see it go to waste.
However, what if you’re the expert people turn to for financial advice? Are you using every tool at your disposal to make the best decision? The traditional marketing mix doesn’t apply to you because the result you provide is an intangible service that requires performance and industry expertise. Establishing your brand through performance is the proof your clientele and community needs.
Advising others on how to invest their money is a precarious profession. You potentially hold the key to your neighbor’s retirement, your cousin’s college fund, or even your parents’ elderly care costs.
In addition to your performance, you must portray a positive public image. Making a name for yourself in your community requires active engagement. Volunteering, advertising in your church bulletin, local civic participation – the list goes on. These are all great ways to be an active and respected member of your community.
But is this list enough? It can be, but only if the community gets your message.
The ABCs of Money
- Authority is all about perception – be the authority figure that people respect. Build on this authority with diligent research and by keeping up-to-date on the latest facts and information.
- Brand yourself. Your brand is what defines you, and it’s what makes people like you. It establishes the bedrock of trust. Your brand should be a reflection of who you are and should be consistent in every aspect of your life. Maintaining this consistency will help others trust you as an expert in the innermost of professional relationships: financial advice. The consistency of your brand builds trust and builds your business.
- Confidence is key–making the right series of decisions leads to confidence.
What’s missing in your marketing mix?
We’ve talked about the A-B-C’s of financial advice, but we can’t stop there. Focusing on your brand is what’s going to grow the business you’ve built. How well have you defined your brand? We’ve touched on the traditional marketing mix, but in the services industry, there are more than just the fundamental “4 P’s”: Price, Product, Promotion, and Placement. Providers of intangible goods – services – have more “P’s” to consider: Process, People, Performance, and sometimes Proof. Performance and Proof, in your case, go hand in hand.
Marketing your brand has always involved promotion via multiple channels to reach your target audience. Until just a few years ago this didn’t include social media. Why? Because platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were seen simply as social channels to connect with friends and family, like a digital dinner table. While Facebook has offered paid advertising options since its launch, the evolution of Facebook advertising means that ads have changed almost as much and as often as the Feed. Facebook is the primary social platform most B2C businesses use, and today’s marketing mix must absolutely involve a social media strategy.
Can social media make you money?
New businesses are born every day, and some from the wildest of ideas – just like Facebook was at its launch. That said, businesses are making money with social media every minute. Are you late to the game?
We talked about the A-B-C’s of Money, so let’s move on to the 1-2-3’s and see how we can make the most of 2018 together.
- Does your company have an established policy on the use of social media? Check for requirements you must follow, if there’s a corporate compliance department and be sure to verify rules for social media use.
- Define your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Do you have a target niche? Just like physicians and attorneys specialize in a specific field of study, like pediatrics or personal injury, financial advisors often focus on a niche. By understanding the specific needs and goals of your clients, you can create a comprehensive investment plan for them. This is your goal.
- Choose your channel according to your audience. If your clientele rarely visits LinkedIn, it makes sense to shift your focus elsewhere.
- Diversify! You advise your clients to diversify their portfolios for maximum returns, so why wouldn’t you do the same? If your audience doesn’t stay within one social circle, why would you?
- Invest in a professional headshot. Personal photos are great in digital albums, but not for your profile photo. Make it clear you take your job seriously, and your clients will feel like you take them – and their nest egg – just as seriously.
- Reveal personal interests, engage with others, and relate on a personal level. In marketing, you learn to follow the “80/20” rule, where 20% of your clients represent 80% of your business and revenue. When it comes to social media and content sharing, stick to a different “80/20” rule: Posts should be 80% professional and 20% personal. All business all the time will more likely result in a loss of client base. Relating on a personal level and helping people see how their success is your goal will grow your base.
- Avoid controversy. The rule of parties is to avoid politics, religion, and money. As a financial advisor, you have to break the rule about money – but do so carefully and tactfully, and without condescension.
- Google alerts are your friend. What are competitors doing? Who in your Rolodex started a new job or has a birthday this month? Is a client getting married or retiring? A personal message will go a long way.
- Share content aligned with your brand, but also to help your audience. Google alerts aren’t just your friend – they’re your best friend! Set up Google alerts for topics of interest for yourself and your clients, and share. Stick to content that represents your brand to underscore authenticity for yourself.
(10)Last, but certainly not least is – no sales pitches! You may violate industry rule – and even your company’s regulations by pitching a sale on social media. Furthermore, you’re also going to annoy and alienate those with whom you’ve worked so hard to build trust and relationships.
This is only a short list of how we can make the most of 2018 together. We have many more opportunities to help your career further blossom in the coming year, including:
- Start a blog. This is time-consuming but establishes a tone of authority and expertise with quality content.
- Expand connections on LinkedIn. Bigger isn’t always better, regarding number of connections, but LinkedIn is the one profile where networking is not only expected but encouraged, to further one’s profession
- Does your firm have a pre-approved library of content for use with social media? So long as it’s in line with your brand, there’s no reason not to take advantage of this knowledge base.
With social media, the possibilities are only limited by the user base. There will never be enough hours in the day to exhaust all the possibilities at your digital fingertips. Follow these A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s with us and your 2018 will be your best year yet!