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Home business entrepreneurs: The 6 best ways to prevent data breaches

(ENTREPRENEUR) Data breaches are an imposing threat for big to small businesses alike. We have 6 tips to prevent and protect data in your business.

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Two employees working on computers representing data breaches.

The best way to avoid the stress and high costs that come with data breaches is to prevent them from happening. Data breaches are costly and hard to recover from. Therefore, it’s critical for home business entrepreneurs to learn and adopt preventive techniques. A data breach occurs when cyber criminals access your business data and other sensitive information.

A report released by IBM and the Ponemon Institute in 2020 revealed that the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 worldwide and $8.64 million in the U.S. According to this report, it takes an average of 280 days for businesses to notice and contain a data breach.

When a data breach occurs, you can mitigate risks by acting promptly, containing the breach, and commencing the recovery process. However, by the time most businesses realize that they are victims of a data breach, much of the damage is already done.

Preventing a Data Breach

Contrary to common belief, data breaches are not limited to big companies. Every business is at risk, irrespective of its size. Criminals do not merely focus on the biggest score; they seek a path of least resistance. Data breaches take many different forms; you should be on your guard and combine different strategies to protect your business.

Below are six ways you can protect your home business from data breaches.

1.  Create a comprehensive cyber security plan

Cybercriminals are sophisticated and organized, and the demands they pose calls for a well-defined plan. Home business cyber security plans do not need to be expensive or elaborate. However, they should be designed to meet the unique needs of the business.

2.  Restrict access

The more people with access to your business data, the higher the chances of a data breach. Every person who logs into your business system could be the faulty link that exposes you to cyber criminals.

You could significantly reduce your vulnerability by limiting the number of people with access to your business data. You can restrict access by setting different user roles with varying levels of access to your internal systems. You should also avoid storing certain data like credit card numbers on electronic devices.

3.  Educate your employees

One of the most effective ways of preventing data breaches is by fighting ignorance. You can achieve this by educating your employees to ensure that your business data is not compromised.

For example, encourage your employees to create strong passwords and to change them regularly. You should also teach employees to identify and avoid phishing scams.

If employees have access to work-issued tablets, laptops, and smartphones, they should not lose track of these devices. Your company policy should prohibit leaving such devices in open areas or taking them to unsecured places.

4.  Install and update software

You should install and update antivirus software to guard your systems from malware and viruses. All business systems and access points should maintain the latest version of antivirus software. Remember to hire software developers that can build robust cybersecurity software for your business. Also, ensure that you update software regularly, including browsers, applications, and operating systems.

5.  Data backup and recovery

It’s common for data breaches to maliciously delete your entire business data. Therefore, you should have your data backed up so that you can recover it in case of a data breach. Your IT department should have automated remote backup systems to prevent you from losing important data.

6.  Network monitoring

It is important to have around-the-clock monitoring for your network. You don’t have to staff IT personnel at all times. Instead, you can work with managed IT services providers.

Protect Your Business Against Data Breaches

You should never underestimate the consequences of a data breach, irrespective of the size of your business. According to Inc., 60% of businesses close within six months of a cyber-attack. So, if you are a home business owner seeking to protect your business against data breaches, use the above simple tips.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Business Entrepreneur

Scammers are out to prey on MLM victims and small businesses

(ENTREPRENEUR) MLM pyramid schemes are already predatory enough, but for victims trying to get out of the cycle, scammers are waiting on the sidelines.

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Thieves Young Living MLM Oil

Predatory, scam, rip-off, shady, trap… all of these may be words that rightfully come to mind when I mention pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing campaigns, or “MLM.”

It probably conjures images of annoying messages from the one gullible high school friend you haven’t quite had the heart to unfriend on Facebook. Perhaps you know someone who got put through the wringer themselves. The one thing victims of these predatory marketing schemes have in common is being in the hole of a lot of money. Usually money the victims can’t afford, since these scams prey on the economically vulnerable. Truly, there are few things more universally detestable than MLM pyramid schemes… but I found one.

Did you know there is an entire secondary scammer market to recycle victims of MLMs?

A new spin on the idea of ambulance chasers, there is an entire demographic of scammers out there that trawl social media such as Facebook and Reddit to find recently victimized people looking for a way out of the pyramid-shaped hole they’ve found themselves in, offer services to these victims to “assist” them in recovering lost investments or liquidating their almost valueless inventory, and then ghosting the victims – taking them for their non-existent money a second time. They often pose as legal representation or consumer relief of one flavor or another.

Here is an example posted on the subreddit r/antiMLM:

That website doesn’t exist. That is not a real law firm. The premise is a scam looking to make a sucker twice out of the same victim. One commenter using the user name ‘lemontest’ shared the following account:

After my relative got scammed by a company that promised to help her set up a drop-shipping business, another business magically appeared that promised to get her money back. She gave them money and never heard from them again. I’m sure there’s a lot of money to be made selling contact lists of people who fall for get rich quick schemes.

How incredibly filthy toxic is that? Be vigilant out there, the scammers are creative.

If you (asking for a friend of course) or anyone else you know has fallen victim to any online scam, I recommend this light-hearted, and a little bit cheeky, recovery guide found on the Federal Trade Commission website and authored by Jon M. Taylor, MBA, Ph.D. of the Consumer Awareness Institute.

Any stories to share about MLMs or other comments? I’d love to hear from you.

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Business Entrepreneur

The BEST report to gain perspective on all sides of the media (bye bias!)

(ENTREPRENEUR) We all want to stay informed, but American media has both obvious bias and hidden agendas. Sign up for these reports to see all sides.

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Getting no bias breaking news media.

Especially near elections, politically-charged business decisions, and on highly controversial topics, it’s hard to find non-bias media nowadays. Every news site or TV show seems to have a hidden agenda, but this new report aims to show all sides.

Ground News aims to give readers an opportunity to reduce their own media bias by aggregating news from many different sources in a way to showcase stories across the political spectrum. The Blindspot Report identifies news stories from both sides of the arena, helping readers see how bias is impacting the information they receive. This newsletter can give you a different perspective to understand both sides of the issue.

Is media bias even a thing?

Technology may have revolutionized the way we share information, but it has also exacerbated the divide between different views. Americans seem to be more polarized than ever before. It feels as if there isn’t any common ground for civil discourse. Although most Americans are getting better at identifying fake news, media bias often gives us a slanted perspective on the news. Media bias occurs when journalists or producers allow their own opinions to impact the way they report the news. A study out of UCLA found that media bias is real. When you get all your news from one source, you may not be getting the entire picture.

Sign up for the Blindspot Report

We’re all biased, regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum. We want information that supports our morals and ethics. We want someone to confirm what we believe. It’s human nature to want to listen to people who agree with us. Reading alternate sources to get your news isn’t about changing your own point of view. It’s about helping you compare different perspectives to let you think more clearly.

Ground News has three newsletters that help you stay informed. Sign up for the Blindspot Report to see what you’re missing.

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Business Entrepreneur

Small businesses angry at depletion of COVID-19 relief funds without warning

(ENTREPRENEUR) Small businesses are in shock when they find out COVID-19 relief funds are no longer available, with an email update from the SBA.

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Small businesses are no longer offered EDIL loans from the SBA.

In May, the Small Business Administration (SBA) sent out an update to borrowers of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for COVID-19 relief. The EIDL program is now out of funds, according to an email sent to borrowers.

The loan program formally closed back in December 2021, but there was a period when small businesses who had already received funding could request additional money. That period is now officially over, and the $345 billion that was allotted for COVID-19 relief is gone.

The impact of EIDL

Many owners and entrepreneurs are outraged and frustrated with the lack of transparency from the SBA. There was no warning that the funds were almost depleted and many businesses were relying on that loan money to keep their businesses afloat as the economy rebounds. However, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman praised the program,

“The SBA has delivered historic economic relief to millions of America’s small businesses through the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program…”

According to an SBA press release, over $390 billion in aid was distributed to nearly 4 million businesses.

Small businesses still need help

In May, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), told health ministers that COVID-19 and its effects are not over. Here in the United States, life seems to be getting back to normal, if you discount the horrific inflation and gas prices, which are further impacting the recovery of small businesses.

Congress has been wrangling with legislation (H.R. 3807) that would offer more funding for those that were hit hard due to covid. Getting the House and Senate to agree on this legislation is expected to be difficult. So, no guarantees that more help is coming.

The SBA recommends that businesses who need more resources contact their local SBA office. Virtual appointments can be made for those who wish to avoid contact.

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