Can You Trust Employees With Business Data?

Data breaches have increased in distressingly numbers in recent times and a major portion of these breaches have been linked with employee negligence. The Cost of Data Breach Study: United States, conducted in 2011, states that insider negligence is the number one cause of data leakage and the total cost translated into a $5.5 million loss a year ago.

Another analysis in the case of Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigation report reveals that attackers are using social engineering and phishing attacks, but they are not creating new accounts. In fact, their techniques are convincing employees to compromise company data credentials, and brute force attacks are also being used to gain access to the network. In the latter case, the hackers are preying on weak passwords set by untrained employees.

With more business data thefts being linked to careless employees, it can make you wonder whether employees should be trusted with business data, or whether the owner should take extra responsibility of ensuring internal compliance.

While the above-mentioned statistics do reveal a linkage between employee behavior and data breaches, the solution lies in… trusting the employees.

Trusting the cause of the breach?

Well, there are limited options, especially in the case of large corporation because it might not be feasible for the owner to take up the sole responsibility of protecting business data.

And here’s the thing; employees who have been properly trained and are well-versed in business security protocols can actually reduce security breaches.

As mentioned in the Verizon case study analysis, the major vulnerability was related to the weak passwords set by employees, but if they’re given adequate training (and are taught that companyname123 isn’t going to cut it), it can significantly improve company security. This is primarily the reason why companies are often recommended employee training for data protection compliance.

Some of the additional things employers/company owners can do to enhance data security when employees are involved include:

1.  Monitoring and protection

Trusting employees doesn’t mean that their activities go un-monitored or other measures shouldn’t be taken to avoid risks. There should be a company-wide employee monitoring policy that should be updated frequently depending on how well the staff complies with security protocols.

Also, data center security becomes important for businesses operating in virtualized environments. This is because new viruses and malware may be able to reach servers despite the adoption of security measures by employees, and by the time they take action with emergency patching, it might be too late. Therefore, deployment of programs that increase VM densities can be an appropriate option.

2.  Guidance on public access

Unauthorized access refers to guiding employees to avoid opening company accounts on public networks. Anchorfree, hotspot security specialists, surveyed 2,203 US travelers about what they thought about public Wi-Fi and security. The results indicate that 4 out of 5 were worried about data theft when using public Wi-Fi.

Therefore, employees should be strictly asked not to open any company account, and even their personal accounts linked to company credentials.

3.  BYOD training

The rising trend of BYOD means that employees are storing company data on mobiles and tablets. This can lead to several problems, such as old data being compromised, or the privacy of the device being breached because of a malicious application. Cloud storage, according to www.trendmicro.com, is of particular concern. It is important that, if you have a BYOD policy for your company that you secure your cloud servers as well as requiring your employees to secure their devices.

In this case, employees should be taught to adopt the required security provisions on their devices in order to make sure that the data synced, sent and received is encrypted.

Where do your employees stand when it comes to business data security?

A New Advancement For Electric Cars That Will Save Energy And Money

A New Advancement for Electric Cars that Will Save Energy and Money

Imagine a world where fossil fuels cease to exist and instead of gas stations we all took our cars to charging stations for batteries. Every car in America would just “plug and charge” with the press of a button, making the environment cleaner, safer, and saving us money in the process.

Well, open your eyes because we are now our way. Although every car in America is not running on batteries, huge technological advancements are taking place right now in the field of battery-operated vehicles – specifically noting BMW, Tesla, and Ford.

With electric cars flooding the roads of America, one of the biggest downfalls in past years has been the infrastructure to support the expanding trend. People want electric cars, but fear the ability to charge up as a major downfall in the investment. Therefore, industry moguls have begun building large networks of what we call “EV stations” throughout the country, spacing them out to accommodate all types of travel.

What is an EV Station?

EV stations are short for electric vehicle charging stations, which are recharging points of entry for full or hybrid electric vehicles. Some of these stations support faster charging at higher voltages and currents than domestically supplied charges upon customer purchase, but all of them get the job done for up to a 2 day charge.

In late 2012, over 50,000 non-residential slow charging points were constructed in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China. In 2013, approximately 3,000 quick chargers were implemented throughout the world.

But there is still a disadvantage for regular (slow or quick) EV stations – someone still has to fork out the bill for usage. Although a person is saving money on gas fill ups each week, electricity to power cars is not free. Instead of paying for gas, a person or company is paying for KWh and the time to implement each system.

These EV stations are linked to the same grid that powers our homes and businesses and costs money to operate. Most electric cars, like the Nissan’s and Ford’s of the world, fully charge at around 20KWh and the average American commercial cost per KWh is 10 cents. Therefore, every car that charges fully costs around $2.00 at capacity. This is minor, but imagine every car in America needing a charge every 2 days – that $2.00 charge will add up quickly.

Solar EV Stations to Save the Day

For every problem, there is a solution. In this case, Envision Solar has implemented a new system called “The Arc” which is one of the first solar powered stand-alone charging stations. These bad boys are portable because they do not plug into a grid or traditional power source, but rather use the sun to harness all electricity needed to charge a vehicle.

The full system does have a hefty price tag at around $40,000 but does seem to create a positive ROI for commercial customers looking for self-sustaining charging stations. The only disadvantage to the system is the capable volume allowed for each day. The solar panels can only store 16 KWh per day, but has a 22 KWh battery back-up. Therefore, the system can only fully charge one electrical vehicle per day, or approximately four quarter charges on four vehicles.

Conclusion

As solar technology increases, this efficiency will continue to increase as well and people will see the economic benefits involved with solar powered EV stations. But even as they stand today there is a payback period. At $2.00 for a full charge, it may seem like a lifetime for the system to make its money back, but people underestimate transformers, face demand charges, and utility bills – all of which the solar EV station does not have. Those savings paralleled with government tax incentives makes this system economically viable in the long run.

That margin will only increase as technology continues to drive the economy.

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This article was written by Matthew Hall, a proud owner of a fully electric car. Matthew understands the struggles associated with recharging and has been following the great strides in technological advancements of new charging technologies. He writes professionally for BobHeinmillerSolar.com. You can learn more about Matthew by visiting his Google+.

5 Ways Small Business Owners Fudge Up Their Cash Flow

Small business owners typically commit a series of cash flow errors which cripple their ventures. Cash is the lifeblood of any growing small business. Severely mismanaging your business cash flow usually results in your venture going belly up.

Settling Bills Before Due Dates

If the vendor offers a discount before the bill due date feel free to pay bills early. Under no other conditions should you pay bills early. Keeping cash on the balance sheet should be a chief priority. Decreasing your cash reserves at an earlier date than necessary only hurts your small business. Cash is the lifeblood of any entrepreneurial venture. Hold onto cash until the last minute possible to promote your small business growth.

Not Paying Strict Attention to Accounts Receivable

Don’t neglect accounts receivable. Hire an employee to handle AR or review your accounts receivable on your own to see if customers are paying their bills. If you find customers paying late on a regular basis take the appropriate actions to speed up payment. Build business relationships with paying customers and penalize late paying customers to make your point. Decreasing AR days outstanding is critical if you want boost your small business cash flow.

One of the biggest issues here is many businesses do not have a set process in place to handle past due invoices–their collection efforts are unorganized and haphazard. If you are really struggling with this issue, it may be worth looking into funding alternatives like accounts receivable financing, until you turn things around.

Substandard Inventory Management

Tying up too much cash in inventory can stifle your cash flow and hurt your small business. Stocking up on more inventory than you need is an inefficient approach to growing your business. Sitting on products while giving up much needed cash to fund your bloated purchase can seriously stunt your small business growth. Don’t go to the other extreme either; having too little inventory might hamper your ability to fulfill orders which can ruin your reputation. Forecast your sales effectively. Estimate needed inventory levels by predicting how many products you expect to fly off of the shelves.

Blowing Money on Poor Investments

Stop investing capital in unnecessary expenses. Critically assess any cash out flow. Is the spending justified? Go over each investment with a discerning eye to cut down on frivolous or unnecessary spending. Attach a justification document to each spending or purchase report. Cut down on unneeded purchases by reviewing spending on a frequent basis. Hold buyers accountable for any foolish or non essential purchase. Grow your small business by cutting back on non- essential spending.

Freely Granting Credit

Before extending credit to customers do thorough due diligence. Research your customer’s credit history. Dig into their payment history. Are they responsible? Lending money freely to irresponsible, late-paying customers with poor credit histories can do irreparable damage to your small business. Check for references from suppliers who have a history with the company. Ensure that the customers have made timely payments by contacting the list of references. If you cannot find any references simply do a credit check on the business. Never extend credit to a customer who does not receive glowing endorsements from the references you have spoken to for doing so could be financial suicide for your small business.

Featured images:
  • License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/08/accounts-receivable-financing-and-factoring-may-help-small-biz-cash-flow.html

Kelli Cooper has covered the gamut of business topics, from internet marketing to how to improve finances.