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Cybersecurity: Russia cyberattacks pose concerns for US hacking red lines

(BUSINESS) Governments are beefing up their cybersecurity in the midst of Russian cyberattacks. What does this mean for the US’s hacking red lines?

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Lock in computer keys representing cyberwarfare, cyber attacks, and threats against Cybersecurity..

Digital lines in digital sand in cyberspace – how does one define what across the line means? As governments around the world bring cyberwarfare into their wheelhouse, what does this mean for defense and cybersecurity? The US government is making moves to define policy around these topics in the face of known Russian government malicious activities and fears amass around the consequences of the Ukraine conflict. What is our government doing and how worried should we be?

I think we should absolutely be concerned about what the government is getting up to in this arena. We are entering an era of a sort of “cyber arms race” where who has the best hackers, best defenses, etc. is in a constant state of flux. The sands are constantly in motion, which makes drawing lines all the more challenging.

First of all, how do you define cyberattacks and responses? A lot of people envision whole electric, sewage, and other utility grids going offline without warning. There are proposals to add digital attacks against any critical civilian infrastructure as a crime in the Geneva Conventions.

I spoke with an IT and Cybersecurity consultant and he stated,

That stuff shouldn’t happen. Not to mean that it can’t, but it shouldn’t. Critical systems like that should be abstracted from the internet. What that means, is it there should be no way from the internet to connect to those internal systems. They should be oh, if not completely isolated, then have a few very, very secure layers in between, and should those be compromised or cut off, then the system should continue to run without issue.

So what would a war inciting cyber-attack entail exactly? Access to certain parts of the internet could be disrupted. You could theoretically attack news sites, government sites, or websites that provide the public with information. You could also hijack those, sending out your own messages, propaganda, whatever. However, this is fairly easy to disrupt.

Our consultant cited an instance from several years ago where a county website in Kentucky frequented by lawyers, mortgage companies, builders, and landscapers to get property info was compromised once, and it took them weeks to acknowledge the problem, much less fix it. It was ill-preparedness, pure and simple. How much spyware got onto computers and law firms and construction company systems? We’ll never know.

This sort of happening could become a big problem if we look to compromising systems for use in information gathering and reconnaissance. If your target is critical infrastructure, infecting a construction company with spyware and stealing architectural drawings might be a big deal.

The most logical plan of attack is the financial sector. If you cut off people’s ability to purchase things online, transfer money reliably or securely, or do banking, you can cripple a lot of the economy of a country, if nobody trusts the internet anymore. Hit too hard, all at once, it could be devastating because people, simply, are not careful and if too many of them lose faith in a system at the same time, it’s going to put a kink and everyone’s day-to-day life. If someone took out PayPal or Venmo, who declares war on who?

However, most tensions around cybersecurity are founded in psychological manipulation, threats to financial security, and the disruption of services impacting day-to-day life. A big permanent, catastrophic strike, comparable to the nuclear arms race,  is difficult to imagine. The military approach of treating cybersecurity like a nuclear mutually assured destruction, or MAD scenario is inherently misleading and caricatures the wrong end of the crisis spectrum. The real threat is in more sublime ongoing interactions, and targeted attacks compromising commercial systems

Lastly, some food for thought lest we forget: this conversation is focused on government versus government conflict. Attacks against multi-national corporations, special interest groups, and cyber activity by known terrorist hotspots aren’t even on the table, but arguably compose a larger proportion of risk. The question “When does one country declare war on another?” has many layers. Can a corporation request a government response to an attack against them by a third party?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Business News

Keep your company’s operations lean by following these proven strategies

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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keeping operations lean

The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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Business News

How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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board of directors

What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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startup founders average age is 45

There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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