Preventing Cyber Attacks

Technology Is Forcing Change – in a Good Way
Tech Change

In the past few years, technology has been disrupting global commerce. But, as it turns out, that’s not a negative.

Some call it “creative disruption,” and it means breaking long-held patterns to encourage positive change.

In LinkedIn Pulse, Devin Wenig, president and CEO of eBay, writes, “The transformative effect of smartphones and tablets, not just on our business, but also on the entire retail sector, has been staggering. Nobody understood the degree to which these devices would explode distribution and access points, and fundamentally change commerce… But what we’ve seen is only the beginning.”

Wenig predicts that, over the next five years, technology will further disrupt our world, by:

  • creating a “deeply customized shopping experience” for customers,
  • reinventing the traditional supply chain,
  • using virtual and augmented reality that will help customers experience what they’re buying… before they buy, and
  • enhancing the sustainable shopping experience (buy now; resell later).

The result will be “true global commerce,” suggests Wenig, which will be free from the barriers that have made achieving real globalization impossible. Propelled by technological change and driven by creative forces, the world will finally become a global marketplace, with all companies, even the smallest, able to access it.

In the next five years, creative disruption through technology will provide us with undreamed-of latitude in selling and buying. Wenig suggests that some $14 trillion in opportunities are waiting to be tapped. And disruptive or not, for small business that’s the kind of transformation to look forward to – with anticipation!

Looking for a New Home for Your Growing Small Business?
Moving Day

Has the best-before date expired on the space where you started your business? Do you now need a bigger office or more warehouse space? If the answer is yes, it may be time to purchase a commercial property to house your growing business… time to consider a commercial mortgage.

A commercial mortgage enables you to finance a real estate purchase without tying up short-term credit or diverting cash flow needed to operate the business. Plus, once you have a commercial mortgage, you can leverage the equity you build up to use as a source of funds to finance future growth

When shopping for a commercial mortgage, consider both short-term and long-term needs. Here are some things you’ll need to know in order to make the decision that’s right for your small business:

  • The total loan amount necessary to acquire and customize the premises
  • Costs associated with securing the loan, including fees and environmental assessments if needed
  • The down payment amount
  • Prepayment flexibility
  • Interest rate options (fixed or floating)
  • The loan term and amortization schedule
  • Is the loan assumable?
  • Will there be a balloon payment?

Be aware that commercial loans undergo extensive underwriting and due diligence prior to closing, and there may be ongoing reporting requirements to maintain the loan in good standing. Also note there are lending practice differences between banks and private lenders; in considering your options, it’s important to do your research.

The benefits of owning commercial real estate can be significant. These include tax advantages, predictable overhead costs, and asset appreciation. However, be sure you know what you’re getting into. An experienced commercial real estate agent can help you size up your situation and recommend some next steps.

How to Prepare Your Business for Cyber Attacks
Technology creates new opportunities and options for your business. Most of these are good; some aren’t. In today’s marketplace, businesses must be prepared for cyber threats. Here are five you should watch out for:

  • Hacktivists – These tech pros are on a mission to make a political point or embarrass your company. Their actions can range from benign to seriously damaging.
  • Criminal hackers – Not to be confused with hacktivists, criminal hackers are trying to accumulate funds illegally. Think of them as online thieves. Their hope is to find a way into your system to siphon your funds.
  • Intellectual property threats – Hackers may seek out technical plans, blueprints, patents, or other secured information. This intellectual property gives them access to sensitive information at a great cost to your business.
  • Terrorism – These hackers aren’t looking for monetary gain, and they definitely aren’t playing an embarrassing prank. Terrorists may want to steal information that aids in a physical attack.
  • Disgruntled employees – The other four types of cyber threats are all external; this one operates from the inside. An unhappy employee has access to passwords and other insider information and can use his or her insider status to inflict damage on your company.

Stop hackers in their tracks

To protect their companies and their employees, business owners must be prepared for these threats. However, it’s not about trying to avoid being hacked. You should expect these cyber threats to happen; no one can avoid them entirely. The goal is to make breaches as small as possible, and to act quickly to minimize damage.

Business owners should realize they can stop a hack in progress. Strong security and careful scanning can alert you to hackers’ activity. Hackers’ reconnaissance missions are often lengthy; on average, 240 days pass before they’re noticed. Try to spot them early to begin identifying who they are, what systems they’re in, and how you can cut them off.

Contain and act quickly

Once the hackers are ensconced, you need to implement a predetermined plan to handle the attack. It’s essential to have analytics and legal teams at the ready to intervene; if a plan is not already in place before a cyber threat happens, the proper resources cannot be moved quickly into place to handle the issue.

Something else to keep in mind is focus. Too often, companies and legal teams are worried about potential litigation later on. The initial focus must be on surviving the current threat.

Being aware of these potential threats can help business owners understand their vulnerabilities and prioritize protective measures. Because these attacks are nearly inevitable, company owners must take steps to prepare on all fronts.

Cyber insurance

A key part of your preparation is cyber insurance. These policies cover liability for data breeches, and they’re essential. Without insurance, a nasty cyber attack could bankrupt your company and destroy all you’ve worked for. Discuss cyber insurance with your commercial insurance agent, who can help you select the coverage that’s best for your company.