I’M A SMALL BUSINESS. THE HACKERS DON’T CARE ABOUT ME!

I’M A SMALL BUSINESS. THE HACKERS DON’T CARE ABOUT ME!

I used to think this way too. But then a business friend in town called me to let me know he was hacked. He has a small business just like I do. He didn’t even know it happened until government authorities contacted him to let him know. Lucky for him and his business and employees, they guided him through the process of fixing the hack.

Only the big boys get hacked, right? SONY, Target and Home Depot got hacked. The ransomware Wanna Cry only hit larger businesses. So why should I worry? Well, after some light research, here is why I should worry:

  1. Almost half of all phishing campaigns now target small companies.
  2. Only 5% of small companies carry Cyber Liability Insurance.
  3. The average data breach costs $4,000,000 to correct.
  4. The average cost per stolen record is $221 to correct! Ouch!

Turns out if you’ve been hacked and had records stolen, you need to hire a computer forensics firm to look at your computers and figure out how and where the hack happened. You’ll have to upgrade your security software and hardware. By law in almost every state you must contact each individual affected by your hack and provide them credit monitoring for a year. Your business could be sued by injured third parties. You could be penalized or fined by state government authorities if you were negligent in any way.

Recently in my emails, I have been asked to help sneak money out of foreign countries. I have been told by banks I don’t use that there has been suspicious activity on my account so please login with your username and password below. I have received dropbox files and have been asked to click and open them, but I have no idea who the sender is. The best one lately was from a realtor with an attachment stating that it was the closing statement for a recent client who purchased a new home and needed insurance. It wasn’t a client or prospect. That one almost got me; it was tailored for an insurance agent. I now believe the hackers are targeting small businesses.

Anyone who connects to the internet is vulnerable to be hacked! The average premium for a Cyber Liability Insurance Policy is only 0.1% of your company’s revenue, a small price to pay for Peace of Mind!

Why tech businesses are tackling society’s most taboo subject

Why tech businesses are tackling society’s most taboo subject

Why tech businesses are tackling society’s most taboo subject

Click here to view original web page at Why tech businesses are tackling society’s most taboo subject

Death will happen to us all, but it’s not something we like to talk about or prepare for. The UK population is now older than it has ever been – by 2039, more than one in 12 of the population is projected to be aged 80 or over – and the death rate has risen. There were 602,786 deaths in the UK during 2015, according to the cumulative England and WalesScotland and Northern Ireland figures, up 5.4% from 2014. But some digitally-focused entrepreneurs have spotted an opportunity in the rise, and see this traditional industry as ripe for disruption.

New challenges

Death in the modern age comes with an entirely new set of issues – how to handle our online legacies, such as our tweets, Facebook posts, playlists and other virtual creations. It is a question that has occupied Suelin Chen, founder and CEO of online end-of-life planning service Cake. The platform differs from others as it also provides a concierge facility to handle posthumous profiles online.

“Most people haven’t thought about what they would want to happen to their online accounts after they’ve passed away. We help people understand that there might be precious memories or even actual assets in their Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram accounts, etc,” she says.

Chen says the terms and conditions for each site vary and this can be a potential problem for grieving relatives. Also, digital legacy is such a new concept, it is often missed by traditional will makers. “[Wills] are not typically updated enough to manage how often the digital landscape of our lives change. Legacy-building in the digital age is a whole new frontier.”

Dan Garrett, founder and CEO of London-based startup Farewill, is aiming to make it easier for people to update their wills. The business enables people to create a will online for £50 and make updates for just £5 a year. Before launching, Garrett spent time interviewing funeral directors to gain an insight into their work. He discovered that more than half of all people fail to draw up a will and of those who do, most documents are old and unreflective of the owner’s final wishes.

Garrett and all of his team have training in writing wills and the business has created around 2,000 so far. “There are a lot of costs and problems if you die intestate,” he points out. Latest figures estimate the average cost to an estate of dying without a will is £9,700 because of unclaimed assets and poor tax planning.

For some, the financial burden of organising a funeral can also be vast. Insurance company Sun Life found that the average cost of a death in the UK is £8,802 once funeral costs, probate and the send off have been paid for. A 2014 report by the University of Bath estimates that 100,000 people cannot afford to die.

Among the business’ investors are Zoopla and Lovefilm founder, Alex Chesterman, venture capital company Kindred Capital, and Wonga founder, Errol Damelin. Garrett says the nature of his investors is a sign of his own ambition. “Alex Chesterman changed the whole real estate market so I was really excited to bring him on board – we want to do the same with the death industry. The industry is ripe for disruption. I think the fact it hasn’t been is more of a reflection of it being a taboo, than of technical difficulty,” he says.

Increasing transparency

Perhaps because of its taboo nature, the death and funeral industry lacks the transparency of other sectors. Kim Bird is attempting to alter this with her Cardiff-based company About the Funeral, which was founded in 2012. The business received £250,000 from the investment consortium InspireWales, including GoCompare founders Hayley Parsons and Kevin Hughes (Hughes is on her board), and aims to bring price comparison services to the funeral market. “People are unfamiliar with buying a funeral. They either haven’t done it before, or not for a long time.”

Bird, who previously worked in the funeral industry as a bereavement support volunteer, says there are calls from both the public and parliamentarians (including Frank Field MP, chair of the work and pensions select committee) for greater transparency in the industry. She points to research from YouGov suggesting 85% of people want funeral prices published online. “The main challenges have been the nature of the market. It is a traditional industry – changing it is a big challenge,” she says.

It is early days for her company, which has so far signed up 100 funeral directors to its subscription service, but Bird believes now she has the funding and an experienced board, she is well placed to make a difference. “These days, the internet is where most people go for information and About the Funeral is just an extension of that. Many industries have been disrupted in this way – the insurance industry has been through it and now price comparison is the norm for that sector.”

Derrick Grant, who recently launched his funeral director’s network Willow, says he was shocked by the sheer cost of funerals and felt that grieving families were all too often getting a raw deal. “Having watched a friend struggle to pay for his wife’s funeral, I wanted to understand why it was so expensive. After doing research, it became obvious that a lot of the cost is simply because we don’t have the time or access to question the traditional funeral process,” he says.

Grant launched his business in December 2016 with a handful of independent funeral directors connected to his site. Users fill in a simple questionnaire and are directed to the provider who most closely matches their needs. The business makes money through the sale of funeral products such as coffins, flowers and celebrant services. Grant says people often pay large sums for these and it is easy to undercut his competition. He believes he is also making the process easier.

“There are a lot of questions to answer at a time when most people aren’t concerned with paperwork and chasing phone calls,” Grant says. “Booking a cremation can take several phone calls to agree a time and date. Digitising processes so the public and funeral directors are on equal footing and can make decisions faster will make huge differences in the industry. Talking about death is becoming easier, but it’s still difficult to understand what to do when you lose someone.”

Sign up to become a member of the Guardian Small Business Network here for more advice, insight and best practice direct to your inbox.

4 Ways To Protect Your Accounts From Beyond The Grave

4 Ways To Protect Your Accounts From Beyond The Grave

4 Ways To Protect Your Accounts From Beyond The Grave

Click here to view original web page at 4 Ways To Protect Your Accounts From Beyond The Grave

Guides

Hanging on to online passwords is hard enough when you’re alive, so how can you ensure continued access to important business accounts when your not?

A key aspect of today’s digital economy is businesses of all sizes running operations online. In small businesses, whether it’s accessing cloud technology, social media, e-commerce or financial transactions, the keys to these accounts often lie with the business owner, who stores passwords and logins in a place they deem secure.

This could range from a piece of paper in the bookcase, to an excel file on the computer.

However, there is one grim eventuality which is often not considered: what happens if that business owner suddenly passes away? If vital accounts that house customer data or legal documents are blocked off to anyone who doesn’t have access, the business itself could be at risk.

At least half of all business owners are expected to continue working beyond current retirement age, and yet few think about what will happen to their digital information when they pass. Business owners need to ensure that someone can carry on their business with ease, in the case of unexpected death. A digital estate plan should be created to ensure that everything is covered, while still maintaining the security of key information.

passwords
How you store passwords will dictate how easy or hard it is for others to retrieve them

These four tips should get you thinking of the best ways to secure the digital legacy of your business, should the worst happen:

Value your digital assets

Maintaining an inventory for all your digital assets is crucial. This is everything that is electronically stored; from email accounts, to internet banking, social media accounts, and paid-for domain addresses.

As your company increases in size, these will become increasingly harder to track. Larger companies have more employees, clients, suppliers, and vendors, and therefore a variety of technology, and accounts, to manage.

The easiest way to store important details is to catalogue passwords and usernames for online accounts, even down to WiFi configurations, and of course, making sure it stays up to date. Consider using a password manager, such as LastPass, as an easy and secure way to help you do this.

Create secure login details

If you’re starting to think about the digital legacy of your business, it might be worth checking the current state of your account login details. In a global study by LastPass, 91% of us are aware that reusing passwords across different accounts is risky, yet 61% continue to do so.

This increases your chances of getting hacked, and therefore puts your whole business at risk. Of course, it’s never easy to think of and remember so many different combinations of characters and numbers, so the easiest thing to do is to use a password generator, to create randomised sequences for each account.

hacker
Hackers love it when you reuse the same password

Don’t under-estimate social media

We all know the benefits of social media for business: drive customer engagement and loyalty with existing customers, attract new customers, and increase brand awareness with influencers, and amongst competitors.

Unfortunately, in the case of death, there’s currently no continuity across social platforms for what to do. Apart from Google’s Inactive Account Manager, and Facebook’s legacy contact feature, you’re largely left in the dark when it comes to your social media presence. If you’ve signed up for an account using a personal email, it will be even harder for others to gain access. Therefore, it’s vital that as a small business, that you have a recovery plan to suit your individual needs.

Passing on the information – don’t put it in a will

The average Brit holds 19 online accounts, so as a business you will undoubtedly hold many more. Keeping track of all these accounts can be hard enough, let alone finding and remembering the passwords. Naturally, you might think that the safest place for your passwords is in a will.

However, as soon as the owner is deceased, these become public record. Your accounts, and business, are therefore left vulnerable, open for anyone to access. New and existing usernames, emails and passwords need to be securely recorded, with access given to authorised parties in the event of the owner’s death.

As a business owner, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of calculating risk, and not leaving things to chance. It’s important to apply this same attitude to the digital future of your business.

While it’s not always easy (or nice) to prepare for death, planning and foresight will ensure that the remaining management can continue the business with ease and minimal disruption. In order to prevent fiscal and emotional repercussions, pick your successor, and give them the tools to continue leading your business.

Learn How Your Digital Assets Can Be Bequeathed

Learn How Your Digital Assets Can Be Bequeathed

More and more individuals and corporations are relying heavily on Web-based environments to engage in business. From simple, lead-generating Web pages for small businesses to blogs that have multiple streams of revenue such as affiliate activity and sponsored posts, the ways in which we use the Web in association with our for-profit endeavors are almost endless. Today we are going to visit the processes associated with the transfer of for-profit digital assets as part of a legacy or inheritance.

Learn more about creating a digital estate plan.

If any of your revenue or business interactions are intertwined with a Web page, then it is essential that you take the necessary steps to ensure continuity for your customers as well as access to revenue opportunities for your heirs. If your business or blog is relatively small, then you may be able to keep it under your personal name as private property, without resorting to creating a limited-liability corporation. If, on the other hand, your business involves several individuals such as employees to whom you have payroll obligations, then you may want to consider creating an LLC with several individuals having joint ownership, if applicable, to ensure continuity in the case of your death.

Regardless of the size or complexity of your Web pages, there are steps you can take to make sure those you love and those who depend on your Web pages continue to have access to functions and digital assets. This will enable them to manage your digital resources immediately after your death, and move forward when decisions are made based on your testament as to whom should manage your digital assets.

Audit All Your for-Profit Digital Interactions
Set time aside to step back and identify your digital assets that may have an impact on businesses or revenue streams after you die. This may include active, inactive, or parked domains associated with websites representing brick-and-mortar businesses, or businesses that are fully online. Once you have identified the totality of your for-profit digital assets, create a list with passwords and validation questions associated with your profiles as well as the email and password principally used for business communications for each domain. Don’t neglect to document more obscure passwords such as cPanel and database passwords. Your heirs, executors, or agents should be able to access the hosting company as well as CMS platforms such as WordPress. Note that each has a separate password as well as a different way of validating when you have placed two-factor authentication processes.

Discuss Your Vision and Totality of Digital Assets with a Trusted Party
Discuss Your Vision and Totality of Digital Assets with a Trusted Party

Discuss Your Vision and Totality of Digital Assets with a Trusted Party
Assume the best and plan for the worst. If you have selected an individual to manage your affairs after your death, then discuss the intricacies of your digital assets. Make sure he or she is familiar with external revenue streams such as affiliate marketing and Google advertising. Meet with certain frequency to ensure the person tasked with handling your affairs after your death has the latest and greatest in terms of strategy and revenue sources.

Seriously Consider Creating an LLC
Having a limited-liability corporation as owner of your digital assets can be of significant advantage when it comes to creating continuity after you die. While giving someone your password can certainly facilitate access in some situations, it is illegal for another to “impersonate” you when accessing certain digital assets. For this reason, an LLC is a perfect solution to protect all stakeholders and heirs and guarantee seamless transfer of assets.

Become Familiar with the Terms of Service
You know you won’t live forever. As you enter into contracts associated with your digital assets and digital streams of revenue, take time to read and understand the terms of service. By understanding the conditions associated with your digital assets, you will be able to better prepare, should something happen to you.

By maintaining an online and offline location with all of the information pertaining to your digital assets, you’ll ensure continutity in business should something happen to you.
By maintaining an online and offline location with all of the information pertaining to your digital assets, you’ll ensure continutity in business should something happen to you.

Centralize Your Access Information
Create both an online and offline centralized and updated location with all of the information pertaining to your digital assets. Update it often, and discuss with stakeholders what it would take to access the information and ensure continuity in business.

Take a look at our newest solution, Estate Assist’s Safe.

Finally, if you are a service provider, take the necessary steps to ensure continuity in service to your customers. Maintain updated customer lists, and create procedures designed to ensure your representative handles his or her matters in a professional and timely manner.