Are Your Employees Equipped to Protect Your Network?

Bad news. Many businesses fail to realize that network security is about more than just protecting your digital realm through outlets like advanced software and a dedicated IT company. Nowadays, protecting your network resides with your human capital as well.

Do your employees know how to protect your network and all the data within it? Can your coworkers spot a malicious email or link before clicking on it? Do your staff members know how to secure your digital information from social exploits by sophisticated hackers?

A London news outlet reported on a survey conducted on behalf of social engineering back in 2003. Yes, it was a while ago, but the results were shocking. Within this article, they discussed how workers were prepared to exchange their password for a free pen, and many of these workers nonchalantly communicated the origin of their password. What made this worse was that many of these passwords fell into easy-to-guess categories such as their name or favorite football team.

While this survey was conducted over a decade ago, much hasn’t changed. According to a report released by Verizon a couple years ago, 23% of allpeople open phishing messages. Social-engineer.org claims that social engineering is used in over 66% of attacks, and 67% of the people they interact with will give out their personal information, no questions asked.

So what exactly is social engineering? Social engineering is a tactic hackers use to exploit information from people. These attempts can expand from very general situations to an extremely targeted approach. From emails and phone calls to in-person meetings, hackers employ a variety of socialavenues to extract the information they need. Their goal? To get business workers and everyday people to break standard security procedures.

What do these attempts look like? Most often, these will come to people in the form of phishing emails, which many people are familiar with. But like mentioned previously, 23% of all phishing recipients still open these emails. Phishing emails contain malicious links or downloads and are intended to steal data and corrupt your system. These emails may even ask you to respond with personal information to assist in an “urgent” matter, and too many people will comply.

Hackers will go as far as to pick up the phone or travel to your place of employment. When this happens, you better believe they’ve done their research, and there are a few different methods hackers can take to trick you into breaking standard security protocols.

If you’ve ever worked in a building with a keyed entrance or lived in a gatedcommunity, have you ever let someone follow you in? Maybe even held the door open for them and allowed them to go in before you? This is social engineering. Once they’re inside, they’re good to go.

But it doesn’t stop there. They’ll ease their way in through social graces. All it takes is a few compliments and the right string of words to get people to let down their guards and release information they shouldn’t. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re stuck in an uncomfortable situation where people are acting angry or hostile towards you or your coworkers, you may just say, “Sure, fine,” to avoid feeling more discomfort.

So how do you avoid giving away the right information to the wrong person?Simple. You stay aware and skeptical. Always be aware of your environment and be suspicious of every unusual email you receive. If ever you’re concerned, hang up the phone or delete the email. Contact the source directly and never allow anyone to mislead you.

If you’re an employee, stay vigilant. If you’re an owner, make sure to take the time to educate your employees on the dangers of social engineering and how easy it is for hackers to take sensitive data. The best defense is knowledge, so stay on top of it!

3 Tips from Neil Patel’s Hustle

Dreams. We all have them, but few of us are making the moves necessary to discard unhealthy habits, and start building the momentum necessary to build a truly meaningful career.

Self-made digital marketing guru Neil Patel illustrates this point by citing the following Gallup poll stat in his book Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum: nearly 90% of workers feel emotionally disconnected from their jobs.

As student loans balloon to epic new proportions, and the starting salary for most positions fails to keep up with student load inflation, many college graduates feel stuck.

According to Hustle, the biggest barrier to success is “self-imposed friction.” So, how does one overcome this? By hustling, of course, which is defined as “how we use our idiosyncrasies to find our unique means and our own personal success.”

To find true freedom, working hard isn’t enough. Many people work extremely hard and never get out of the rat race. You have to be smart about it, and avoid these 4 common traps:
Expertise Trap– The idea that you should only focus on one thing. With technology advancing so quickly, it’s safer to be a generalist with transferable skill sets rather than a specialist.
Passion Trap – Not every passion can be turned into a revenue-producing venture. Instead of blindly following your passion, make sure it’s viable first.
Mastery Trap– Malcolm Gladwell famously said that anyone can master any subject simply by clocking 10,000 hours of study or practice, but there’s more to it than that. 10,000 hours of voice lessons won’t turn you into Beyoncé. It takes a little luck and natural talent, too.
Perfection Trap– Perfection is the enemy of a successful hustle. Set deadlines, and stick to them. If you have a great idea, striving for perfection could put you in a weakened position that enables competitors to beat you to market.

Hustle’s equation for success looks like this:

Success = hustle X Luck X Your Unique Talents

To find success, hard work, luck, and talent are necessary. If any one of these three items is missing, the likelihood of achieving success significantly decreases. But if you have all three of these attributes ready to go, here are the next-steps you can take to build momentum:

  • Take Risks
    Stop dreaming, and start doing. You can’t be afraid to take a swing, even if you think the likelihood of success is low. On the path to success, failure happens. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back.
    Even author Neil Patel encountered huge obstacles on his path to becoming a digital marketing icon. One of his first start-ups flopped when his partners disappeared with his investment, leaving him holding the bag on $1 million of debt.
    Because he didn’t accept failure, and kept hustling, Patel paid off his $1 million debt in less than a year, and today he’s a highly sought after digital marketing expert and author.
  • Create a Personal Opportunity Portfolio
    To do this, you must fill four buckets—Potential, People, Projects, and Proof. This entails testing new methods, meeting new people, taking on projects that help you grow, and capturing the results to demonstrate your value.
  • Steal Success
    Failure happens, and sometimes it can feel difficult to peel yourself off the pavement and keep going. The authors of Hustle suggest you steal success, which entails borrowing positivity from another area of your life to help you persevere.

The path to owning your dreams is a long, winding road that 90% of people give up on. There will be bumps along your road to success, but by creating habits that help you recover faster and keep hustling, you’ll be able to maintain the momentum necessary to succeed.

What social media outlets should your business be on?

Not every social media platform is created equal, and for good reason. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and is tailored for different things. The impulsive decision is to join each and every social media outlet to foster brand awareness and get client involvement, but in reality, your business doesn’t need to use every social platform out there. Quality over quantity, friends.

Depending on what type of business you run, some social media outlets won’t exactly make sense for your company. For example, as a managed services provider, creating an Instagram account could be rather pointless. We aren’t about to go around posting professional photos of servers with natural lighting and a ceramic coffee cup displayed next to it. However, if you run a local coffee shop, Instagram is a beautiful and strong option for you.

Confused? Let’s delve into the major players a little further.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is acceptable for any company. It grew out of a need for social networking between professionals, so it’s a suit-and-tie version of Facebook. You wouldn’t want your boss or management seeing your swimsuit photos from that trip to the Bahamas, and vice-versa, you don’t want employees seeing your family Thanksgiving trip. Hence, LinkedIn was born.

Posts shouldn’t be lighthearted and short. They should be longer, well thought-out, and professional.

You should share things about how to work better, why your business is doing the things it’s doing, and any available positions within your company. Don’t post things about your kids or silly videos you’ve found on the Internet. Save that for Facebook, and remember, LinkedIn is the classy tuxedo of the bunch.

Facebook

Facebook is on a mission to do it all—personal and professional—but when it comes to Facebook for business, you’re good to go no matter what industry you’re involved with. An active Facebook profile is good for a whole mess of things: for candidates who want to vet your company, for customers who want to contact you, for coworkers who want to share your accomplishments, and for leads who want to engage with you.

However, you should keep things short and simple. Share 1-2 lines of content at a time and as many videos and photos as you can muster up. In fact, the more videos and photos, the better. Why? Because that’s what people like to see. Too much text and interest is lost, quickly. You want something engaging that will catch the eye as people are scrolling.

Instagram

Instagram is all about photography. With that being said, if your business is involved with things like clothes, food, sports, fitness, community, and education, you should definitely be on Instagram.

At this point, you should consider familiarizing yourself with some photo editing apps, free or paid depending on your need. Simple ones that allow you to add text or borders to images are usually free, while advanced editing features can cost a couple bucks to hundreds of dollars.

Be realistic about your ability and work your way up if you’re starting at the bottom. There’s nothing worse than dropping mad cash on advanced equipment and software only to end up with mediocre product due to user inadequacies.

If you aren’t a professional photographer or don’t have one on staff, start with a good smartphone camera and those free apps.

And don’t forget those hashtags, people! The more avenues people have to search for you by, the better your analytics will be.

Snapchat

As a local, smaller business, you can use Snapchat to really focus on your company’s story. Customers love feeling like part of the family and seeing the ins-and-outs of how your business functions.

Show your employees interacting with one another, what goes on behind-the scenes, or any company-wide events. Once you start acquiring friends on Snapchat, you’ll have an invaluable opportunity to build up your brand in a fun and positive way. However, you don’t want to do a lot of work for no real ROI. Make sure your business is only on Snapchat if your target market is and your community as a whole is.

What is wireless charging and when can I have it?

We all want the latest and greatest when it comes to technology, and wireless charging is no different. How amazing would it be to just plop your phone on a specific spot on your desk or nightstand and have the battery go from that hideous red to beautiful green? Ideal world, right?

We aren’t entirely there yet, but the technology is being developed. Surprisingly enough, the idea started in 1899—no, that is NOT a typo—with none other than Nikola Tesla, that genius. He believed that one day, power would be transferred around the planet without a need for cables or cords, and he’s not far off. It took over 100 years, but his lofty idea has finally been realized.

So how does it work? Induction! The basis of all modern wireless charging uses an electromagnetic field to transfer power between two objects, like when you use your smartphone to pay at the grocery store and how your Bose SoundLink plays your music at the weekly pool party.

Unfortunately, most induction chargers operate optimally over a short distance. While physical contact between a device and its base unit isn’t necessary for induction to work, the fields lose so much power as the devices get farther away that it’s most useful to keep them as close together as possible. Think about your electric toothbrush: perfect example of induction charging. Induction hardware can be safely encased in thick plastic and still work, meaning you won’t shock yourself while brushing your pearly whites. And the electromagnetic fields create nothing more dangerous than radio waves, and it isn’t strong enough to have an effect on the human body. To be honest, plugging and unplugging a cable is technically more dangerous because it could fray and shock you. So the danger with induction is incredibly minimal.

So why don’t we all have massive induction chargers powering everything, everywhere? Cords are so annoying! Well, the process is slow going. Induction charging takes longer than traditional cord charging, and the process creates a lot of waste heat, so several wireless charging docks on the market now have fans built in to minimize the risk of overheating.

And from a more practical standpoint, you can easily use your phone to browse social media or catch up on emails while it’s plugged into your 12-foot long charging cord, but with a base charging station, you’ll have to sacrifice using your device while it charged itself in solitude. I don’t know if we can manage without our devices for that long, am I right?

10 Rules to Boost Productivity

You’re at work. This morning all you could think about was food and howmuch coffee a human can drink before overdosing. Now, it’s afternoon and all you can focus on is how comfortable your bed is and what you’d do for a nap. It’s not that you want to be unproductive, but you just can’t get your big brain to get itself together enough to work.

Time to boost that productivity and go home having actually accomplished the majority of your work goals for that day. Take some baby steps, follow these 10 rules, and watch yourself go from longing for 5:00 to losing track of time because you’re so focused.

  • Turn those tunes up: Research suggests that music positively affects mood and increases the desire to get work done. Make sure to have a playlist with songs you actually enjoy, because if you try to listen to classical music without being a classical music fan, you may find yourself snoozing on the desk. Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have pre-created playlists to choose from, so you don’t even have to worry about taking the time to collate all your preferred tracks.
  • Grab a healthy snack: If you have the rumbles in your tummy, it’s nearly impossible to focus on the task at hand. It’s human nature to prioritize survival over that Word document. So bring some fruit or nuts from home or raid the company pantry, but make sure to put healthy items down the tube or else you’ll just get more tired and antsy to go home.
  • Put your phone away: This one is a tough one, but it does help. Instead of leaving your personal phone on the desk, where it can easily distract you with notifications and texts, try putting it in a drawer for an hour or so. Out of sight, out of mind. That Instagram story can wait, I promise.
  • Go off-site for lunch: Pick yourself up off your office chair and leave the area for lunch. Just going outside and switching your environment will give you a natural boost in energy and refresh your mind. And work will seem less like jail when you can voluntarily leave at lunch and come back.
  • Make lists: The amount of tasks we need to do on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Get in the habit of making a to-do list in the mornings while you’re having that cup of coffee, and prioritize the most important projects. It’ll keep you from stressing out about forgetting something throughout the day.
  • Just say no: If something gets brought to you at work that isn’t your problem or responsibility, just say no. It’s a hard habit to get into, but once you do, suddenly your productivity is through the roof and you’re getting your tasks done timely.
  • Get some sun: When you take that lunch break outside of the office, try to sit outside (weather permitting, of course). Sunrays have been known to improve mood, help sleep habits, and reduce the likelihood of sickness.
  • Sleep more: Studies have shown that most Americans are sleep deprived, and the aftereffects can be more severe than we think. Strive for those full 8 hours or more—and no, 7 hours is not close enough. You’ll notice the heavy eyelids will go away.
  • Early and later: Leave for work a little early, avoid that stress-inducing traffic, and have some peace and quiet to start your morning. Or hang around a little past 5:00 and miss the traffic jam going home, finish up your tasks, and feel better about the next day.
  • Enjoy what you do: If you absolutely hate your job, even following these rules won’t make you want to work. You have to like what you do at least most of the time in order to devote yourself to your projects like a professional. So find a position you enjoy and you’ll see a huge difference.