Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the subsequent shift to work and life online, cybercrime has been booming, forming a serious threat to the digital security of businesses.
According to a recent cybersecurity report, cyberattacks are the fastest-growing crime segment in the United States. For 2022, experts predict $6 trillion in global losses – almost 60 times higher than in 2015.
How to Develop a Cybersecurity Strategy for Your Online Business
Consequently, cybersecurity has become more important than ever across the board – whether in education or investment banking. The same is true for your online business.
However, to sustainably and effectively implement cybersecurity measures, you need a strategy – no matter whether you are a solo freelancer or run a virtual team.
To help you, here is an actionable step-by-step guide for developing a cybersecurity strategy for your online business.
1 – Understand the Risks and Raise Awareness in your Team
To begin with, you need to educate yourself on cybersecurity challenges in your industry.
Freelancers or small core teams run many online businesses, and digital safety is often an afterthought. After all – only cyberattacks on large corporations end up in the news. Small businesses, it seems, are not attractive targets.
This is simply untrue. Out of 2020’s successful data breaches, 28% – almost a third! – affected small businesses, according to Verizon.
Similarly, CNBC reports that 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. Moreover, the consequences of a breach can be devastating. On average, they cost businesses $200,000. Unsurprisingly, 60% of small businesses that suffered breaches find themselves unable to cope and go out of business within 6 months.
From the attacker’s point of view, targeting these businesses makes sense. While less lucrative than larger victims, they’re often low-hanging fruit. Breaching a small online business or a single freelancer and siphoning off all their clients – data is often trivial.
In creating your cybersecurity strategy, you need to be aware of these facts. More importantly, you also need to raise awareness of cybersecurity issues in your team. This includes other freelancers you might work with.
The world’s best cybersecurity strategy will fail to protect your business if your team won’t follow it – or if a less careful partner of yours is breached.
In fact, the World Economic Forum calls the lack of cybersecurity expertise and awareness in teams one of the top digital safety challenges for businesses in 2021.
For all these reasons, the first step in developing your cybersecurity strategy is researching current digital threats, both in general and especially those prevalent in your industry. Once you have a grounded idea of what you are facing, you can start work to secure your business.
2 – Take Stock of Your Current Setup, Data, and Digital Security
To develop your strategy, you need to assess your current virtual business setup. This includes 4 major components: people, hardware, software, and data.
First, you need to verify who has access to what accounts, tools, and platforms. Even for freelancers, this might not be as simple a question to answer as you may believe. Consider, for instance, the web designer who built your site, collaborating creatives on any of your cloud drives, or apps you’ve given permission.
Even something as simple as your family members using your devices can be a security risk in the long run. At this stage, also verify whether the people who can access your assets have themselves shared the credentials with anyone else.
Second, create an IT inventory. Besides computers, tablets and phones, this includes routers and external storage devices. Perform a network scan of your home and office network to see if you actually recognize all the devices that are connected. Also, check and list the technical specs and operating system (OS) versions of each device. The older the device and OS, the more vulnerable they generally are.
Third, compile a list of all the software solutions you use for your business, whether they are local apps, SaaS cloud solutions or plugins. Get an overview of the account, billing information, and access the information you use for each. For locally installed software, also note the version you are currently running.
Finally, you will need an inventory of all the data your business handles – and where that data is stored. Note which local drives, external drives, and online storage solutions you have. When doing this, be sure to highlight which data is particularly sensitive and needs to be prioritized in terms of digital security. For example, client payment information and account credentials are in this category.
3 – Protect Your Virtual Assets
As a next step, address the weak points in your current setup to protect your virtual assets.
To start with, evaluate and strengthen the passwords identified in the previous step and define who gets access to what.
This might seem menial, but weak passwords and account sharing have brought even large enterprises low.
Also, change all default credentials on your accounts and devices. Especially when it comes to your routers, there are several precautions you can take to increase security, from changing the network name and admin credentials to disabling WPS and Remote Access.
If you don’t have one yet, get a reputable password manager. This is invaluable in keeping track of all your passwords – and generating secure ones when you open a new account.
Secure your password resets, too: Set up customer service pins if you can, and don’t use real information for security questions. Where possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Next, go through all your devices, update the operating systems, and enable encryption and theft protection features. Updating your devices regularly is an essential element of maintaining your digital safety. The majority of technical data breaches don’t exploit new vulnerabilities, but developers have already fixed known ones. To benefit from these fixes, though, users need to actually install updates and patches.
In terms of network security, get a high-quality VPN if you ever use anybody else’s or even public Wi-Fi. A more reliable (but also more expensive) alternative would be to get a mobile router.
Finally, also to think about digital security training – both for yourself and your team members. At the very least, make a cybersecurity briefing part of the onboarding procedure for new team members and freelancers.
4 – Detect Threats, Invest in Digital Security Solutions
Once you have put measures in place to protect your assets as well as possible, move on to installing safeguards that detect incoming threats.
Most obviously, you need to have antivirus software installed. Given the potential cost of a cyber breach, consider investing in a paid plan by a reputable, well-established antivirus provider (see: techradar dotcom — best antivirus). Examples include Bitdefender, Norton, or Kaspersky. Make sure to stick to a fixed schedule for installing updates on your antivirus and perform scans regularly.
When comparing solutions, comprehensive options have advantages over combining stand-alone services by different providers. Many vendors offer bundles that are simple to set up, yet combine VPNs, encryption solutions, backups, and various kinds of real-time protection.
Going even further, some services such as Aura provide all-encompassing digital security solutions that go beyond your system. They combine technical aspects like Wi-Fi protection, VPN, and antivirus with credit monitoring, reputation monitoring, and identity theft insurance.
5 – Set up a Response Plan to Round off Your Cybersecurity Strategy
The final part of your strategy to protect yourself from breaches is setting up a plan for how to respond to them.
Clearly define a procedure for worst-case scenarios, such as identity theft, a successful phish, or a ransomware attack. Layout all the steps you would have to take in each case – from wiping affected devices to requesting credit freezes.
Also, keep a list of those who need to be notified if your business is compromised, and who could help you if a breach does happen.
Having this information at your fingertips is invaluable if worse comes to worst. Responding swiftly to a suspected breach is critical to minimize the damage to your business and reputation.
The Bottom Line
Setting up a cybersecurity strategy to protect your online business is essential to operating in the virtual sphere in 2021. The cost of a data breach in your business is potentially devastating both in terms of reputation and finances.
By following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be able to develop an actionable strategy to minimize the risk of breaches. And to swiftly respond in case they do happen. Ultimately, this will help you operate more safely. And you’ll be able to rest assured that both your own and your client’s data is as secure as it can be.
How to Find a Professional Design Team
A business that wants to grow and scale will need a design team. According to Firstsiteguide, 70% of small-to-mid-sized enterprises invest more in their digital presence. As companies began to move online, the demand for user-friendly software to attract large numbers of customers has increased.
If existing enterprises require designers to create a website or application, startups also hire specialists to develop a product design. Software is essential for sales and recognition, so managers carefully approach personnel selection. If you’re looking for an experienced design team and want to know how to choose the best one, check out the tips for finding the perfect candidates.
When to Look for Designers
The online market is constantly improving, and with new digital features, customers are no longer willing to collaborate on the old model. To avoid losing your clients, you should keep up with innovations: update a legacy interface, introduce new communication ways and think about a payment system. Rapid adaptation gives the company a guarantee of maintaining sales and image.
Selling software needs a convenient and simple design, but only some entrepreneurs decide to improve it. To determine if it’s time to involve a designer in the project, analyze your situation:
- you do not have a selling website design or your product design;
- you are constantly selling your product or service using the software;
- you are not satisfied with your design quality at the moment;
- your potential users are not willing to interact with the content;
- your product design is different from the design of the application.
If you are familiar with these issues, your business needs an experienced team of designers who will analyze the product and create a modern structure for productive work with clients and partners.
Types of Design Teams
Before starting the search for specialists, managers decide on cooperation options. There are two types of employees: in-house and outsourced. Each has its pros and cons, making a choice more difficult.
In-house specialists are full-time employees engaged only in the company’s project. They are fully involved in internal workflows and communicate closely with the team. In-house designers understand the product they work with, its values, and its philosophy. It is much easier for the manager to control the result of such an employee and set new tasks at no additional cost.
In-house designers are well-versed only in a particular industry, so tasks from other niches can cause them difficulty. Also, constant work on one project can lead an employee to burnout and dismissal. The primary in-house designer disadvantage is the expense of sickness and vacation pay. While outsourcing teams only budget for working hours, a full-time employee also counts on vacation pay.
The outsourcing team is specialists who come to the company for a specific project or task. They help businesses free up time for more important things or help with tasks businesses can’t handle. Each outsourcing specialist offers a wide range of knowledge as they constantly interact with different niches.
A significant advantage of companies providing outsourcing or outstaff services is strict personnel selection. They choose only experienced employees and introduce them to the modern features of the digital environment. Outsourced teams do not require payment in the event of an employee’s illness or vacation. If one of the employees falls ill or is unsuitable for your project, they replace them with another in a short time.
The main disadvantage of outsourcing is the price. You need to pay for each hour of work of each specialist, reducing the quality of cost control. Also, you will be unable to assign additional tasks to an outsourced designer in other areas, which sometimes burdens internal processes. Outsourcing workers cannot be trained for themselves, as they come to your company for a certain period and work only on the agreed tasks.
Signs of a Professional Design Team
Meeting future colleagues for the first time can take time to determine their competence fully. Since candidates want to make a good impression, they will highlight their good qualities while glossing over their flaws. Catch the details to avoid falling for this trick and make the right decision.
The portfolio of a professional design team should impress every beholder. And this does not apply to individual works but to the entire portfolio. When selecting candidates, check the quality of each design rather than picking only the best.
To understand your compatibility with potential employees, find a project similar to yours in their examples. If the design team already has experience in your industry, they know how to interact with your audience and hook them for a successful sale. Experienced specialists will tell you about your niche’s design features, what design details they can add to software development, and which ones you should avoid.
If you are hiring an outsourcing team for a project or using an outstaff, you need to determine how these people will interact with your full-time employees. Since designers communicate closely with developers and project managers, they will have to find a common language to understand and support each other. At the interview, ask your future designers about their attitude to working in a team with employees from different departments.
The outsourcing design team is fully responsible for the work specified in the contract. The project implementation is a long, complex process, but the specialist must adhere to the designated deadlines. The ability to self-organize and write a clear action plan to avoid going over budget is an important criterion when selecting web designers.
A person’s design skills, as well as managerial skills, play a significant role in the successful completion of a project. Experienced workers will competently build an action plan, and you will be calm about the timing of work completion.
One of the vital signs of a good specialist in any field is the desire to grow and develop. Progress does not stand still, and the digital environment offers new solutions for IT engineers. Since any leader wants to make gradual progress in their product, they will opt for a designer who wants to learn something new and implement it into current projects.
An experienced worker will make changes to avoid confusing the client and let them get used to the latest software version. Thanks to the constant improvement of the user experience, the business will not only scale but also increase sales.
Where to Find a Professional Design Team
Finding a reliable outsourcing development team is a manager’s first and most challenging task. Many entrepreneurs need help finding professionals with extensive experience in their industry and how to make sure that they are experts.
The best way to search quickly is word of mouth. Ask for recommendations from your friends or colleagues who will tell you the right decision. You can also search the Internet yourself. The most popular sites for designers are Clutch, Dribbble, and Behance. These resources provide complete information about the company, customer reviews, ratings, and examples of work. Having found an attractive offer, you can read reviews about the design team on third-party resources and conclude.
Hiring employees is a responsible job that must be approached with caution. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn as much as you can about designers’ expertise. Hiring the right people can build a successful business and achieve your goals faster than your competitors.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!
No Cookies? Retention.com Helps Provide Privacy-First Actionable Data
The ongoing struggle over safe data management continues to heat up. Third-party cookies have had a bad rap for years, and while their future for providing actionable data remains murky, it doesn’t look good.
This leaves businesses scrambling to look for new, more ethical ways to collect and utilize customer data. This is especially the case in an information-first environment that has no intention of reducing the importance of analytics going forward.
Retention.com is a revolutionary e-commerce retention marketing solutions provider that has been sounding the alarm on the demise of third-party cookies for a while now. In response, the innovative brand has developed industry-leading identity resolution technology. This offers timely aid to companies looking for alternative customer data management solutions.
Retention.com has created a unique, user-friendly approach to first-party actionable data. Before considering its impact, though, let’s start with the major issue facing marketers at the moment: the slow but steady death of third-party cookies.
The Delayed (But Inevitable) Doom of Third-Party Cookies
Digital marketing has always relied on cookies. This browser-based form of tracking analyzes basic user behaviors, from dwell time and frequency of site visits to past purchases.
Sometimes brands gather this information directly from a consumer for internal use. Often, though, it’s collected by others and utilized across various other websites without consent — something called third-party cookies.
Third-party cookies are an unpopular form of data collection.
In fact, they’re not just unpopular. They’re unsafe, which is why Google has announced it will phase them out in the name of greater data protection and consumer security. However, the search engine giant has delayed this deprecation process to 2024 (as of the time of this writing).
Even with the delay, the removal of third-party cookies still poses very real concerns for e-commerce businesses. Any company that doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed by the shift when it does finally take place needs to find an alternative to third-party data now.
The Struggle to Capture Actionable Data from Customers
For those who lean on third-party data to market and engage with consumers, the impending doom of third-party cookies is a monumental concern.
Even for those who don’t tap the unsavory data source, it still leaves them with the challenge of capturing customer data first-hand — something referred to as first-party data. Brands can glean first-party data through various tools like surveys and sign-up forms, but these are only effective up to a certain point.
For instance, consider a customer who visits an e-commerce site from their desktop computer. The visitor ignores a request to sign up for their newsletter. They start looking at products and then leave without making a purchase.
They could be at any point in the sales journey. Perhaps they are discovering information on a sales page, adding items to their cart, or even looking for a promotional code. Regardless, if they leave before clicking that all-important “complete purchase” button, they disappear into the ether. They leave no possible way of following up.
To make matters worse, they might hop back onto the site later from their phone, and the company wouldn’t even know that it’s them. The visitor would have to start the purchase process all over again, too, making the likelihood of completing the activity that much lower.
All of this can be resolved with actionable data.
When a brand has basic customer data, it can reserve its clients’ past activity. It then catalogs their preferences and streamlines future purchases. With third-party data on the way out and a cookieless future ahead, though, companies must find effective ways to collect first-party data if they want to boost ROI.
That’s where Retention.com comes into the picture.
Retention.com Streamlines First-Party Data Collection
Retention.com has developed a solution to first-party data collection in the form of its identity resolution software, Reclaim. This addresses a key area of underperforming ROI that the e-commerce retention marketing solutions provider refers to as “abandonment revenue.”
The definition of the term is in the name. When potential customers abandon a sales funnel, they leave unrealized revenue behind. When a company doesn’t have its website visitors’ personal information, it can’t follow up or provide personalized interactions.
Reclaim boosts abandonment revenue as much as 10 times over. The software does this by quickly and effectively tying unidentified customers to first-party cookies. This turns anonymous e-commerce site users into bonafide, real-world individuals.
The ability to identify who is on a site can have a dramatic effect on engagement (and consequentially ROI) by triggering different activities, such as cart abandonment emails and SMS flows. This leads to more browsing and greater dwell time.
One of the key factors of Retention.com’s revolutionary marketing software is its ease of use. Reclaim doesn’t require days of setup and integration. It takes hours to implement the code and proliferate it across an e-commerce site. This creates a quick-and-easy, set-it-and-forget-it solution that businesses can use to start tapping into their abandonment revenue streams. The software is even designed to scale along with businesses as they grow.
No Cookies, No Problem
As third-party cookies continue to die a slow death, every e-commerce business faces the prospect of a dramatic change to the status quo. The question is, which enterprises will be able to find creative solutions to help them operate in a cookieless environment?
Retention.com offers a simple, effective way to outsource the issue of first-party data collection. Its Reclaim software takes less than a day to implement and integrates with countless e-commerce applications.
This fast application leads to near-immediate results in the form of boosted abandonment revenue. Customers begin receiving SMS and email communications through ethical first-party cookie connections that offer personalized messages and encourage results-oriented engagement.
To top it off, the service is affordable, and customers only pay for incremental performance. Retention.com even offers its “Flow Insurance” as a 100% guaranteed refund if clients don’t see their abandonment flow revenue improve.
From the ease of use to its impressive impact, Retention.com’s software solutions are showing e-commerce companies that it’s perfectly possible to not just survive but thrive in a cookieless world.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you!
What is Metaverse and How is it Changing AR/VR World?
VR augmented reality has already been a mainstay of science fiction. The idea has been the subject of numerous works of fiction and popular media, but we are finally at the point where it can become a reality.
It’s safe to say that the Metaverse has been the subject of several discussions and arguments. While some see it as the future of technology, others dismiss it as nothing more than a fad. The reality is that the Metaverse is here to stay, and its effects on everything from our mental health to our ability to do our jobs will be profound.
The Metaverse: what is it?
The term “metaverse” refers to a network of socially-connected 3D virtual worlds. It’s defined as a simulated online setting that uses VR augmented reality, blockchain, and social media concepts to create environments that seem very much like the actual world but allow for more nuanced human participation.
Everything can be found there, from sports to conventions to retail therapy. Putting on a headset and logging into the virtual reality portal is the only way into Metaverse.
Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Meta (formerly known as Facebook), estimates that it will take five to 10 years for the core features of the Facebook metaverse to become standard.
On the other hand, the Metaverse is growing at an astounding rate.
Even though not everyone has access to them, ultra-fast broadband connections, virtual reality headsets, and always-on online worlds are now a reality.
Now we will examine the two most distinguishing features of a Metaverse platform:
The Metaverse tech would combine elements of vr augmented reality. Space and time in a Metaverse app should feel roughly equivalent to real life.
Visual, aural, and kinetic interaction modalities are all possible in the real world. Similar digital collaborative opportunities are anticipated from a Metaverse platform.
One of the requirements for a successful Metaverse software is that it can function on multiple Metaverse systems (s).
Creating applications for the Metaverse hints at a wide range of untested technology possibilities.
The developers, whether newcomers to the Metaverse or established figures with deep roots, might create either restrictive or flexible features.
Furthermore, there is an abundance of resources that can be used to bring this envisioned future into being. Unreal Engine, Unity, Amazon Sumerian, Blender, and Maya are just a few examples of such development environments.
Learn more about the practical applications of the Metaverse and the benefits it provides by looking at examples from other industries.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the Metaverse technology market could be worth $2.5 trillion by 2030, up from a projected $800 billion in 2025.
The sector is getting the outside stimulation and attention it needs to change both vr augmented reality technology and the future. Let’s look at some pioneering initiatives that have led to the development of Metaverse tools.
For example, the Metaverse Rules contain the following:
Only one Metaverse exists. All people should have access to the Metaverse.
The Metaverse exists beyond everyone’s control. The Metaverse must be accessible most of the time.
Most importantly, the Metaverse doesn’t care about your hardware. Both the internet and networks are part of the Metaverse.
When you put on your VR headset, you enter a virtual reality (VR) environment called the Metaverse.
It has enormous potential in many areas, including retail, business, and the workplace. In the Metaverse, real and virtual worlds are fused using tools like VR augmented reality (AR), describing a vision of a linked 3D digital global (AR).
Virtual worlds like Decentraland and online gaming platforms, like The Sandbox, are only two examples of existing metaverses. Participation in the Metaverse is growing at an unprecedented rate in the game industry.
According to Participation in the Metaverse is growing at an unprecedented rate in the game industry according to 65 % of the global population has participated in media extravagance, such as viewing a television show, movie, or premiere within a video game or working together to create a live concert.
Who Uses the Metaverse the Most?
Sixty-nine percent of humans have engaged in social activity, meeting new people, attending a group gathering, or visiting a virtual world while playing a game.
Almost three-quarters (72%) of people on Earth have engaged in some form of financial activity within the Metaverse. This can include the purchase of virtual goods, the purchase of virtual money, the purchase of digital goods from digital markets, or the purchase or sale of other gamers.
Augmented Reality (AR) in the Virtual World
Market leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are betting big on the potential of the “embodied internet” that is the Metaverse. It’s either a virtual reality experience or something that can be brought into your life (via AR).
The popularity of virtual worlds is on the rise, but the actual Metaverse may be the future wave regarding augmented reality.
The most natural way to supply digital content to the human perceptual system is to incorporate it directly into our physical surroundings.
How Does Your Brain Make a Unified Representation to You?
Your brain creates a unified representation of the arena based on information gleaned from your senses of sight, hearing, touch, and movement.
As long as virtual factors are powerfully recognized in your environment in terms of space and time, this is possible with augmented reality, even with reasonably poor visual constancy.
Now that our ability to judge distance (or intensity perception) is refined, it is not hard to believe this.
Augmented reality will inevitably become the norm. It may replace smartphones and computers as the dominant interface to digital content, and it will undoubtedly eclipse virtual reality as the primary doorway to the Metaverse.
Augmented reality may give us superpowers, allowing us to change our surroundings with a finger or an eye.
VR Augmented Reality in the Metaverse
Customers can now bridge the gap between their digital and physical worlds by entering the Metaverse thanks to virtual reality.
We will be able to explore new locations and make reports more accessible to more people by using virtual versions of people, objects, and landscapes.
In a nutshell, it’s an alternate reality where you can do all sorts of things like go to class, work, a concert, or shop without ever leaving your house. Virtual reality allows users to experience events, shop, and learn about new opportunities. Augmented and mixed reality, on the other hand, will open hitherto unimaginable possibilities for enhancing the physical world around us.
There are already add-ons to the XR landscape, such as haptic commenting tools, that will allow us to feel the handshakes and embraces of our contacts no matter where we are physically located.
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