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3 ways your business’s data is not as private as you think

Businesses of all sizes are vulnerable to risks and losses. Competitors can come up with new innovations that change the way the market views your products. Employees can leave and take with them a wealth of expertise.

Some risks are just too risky. Such as launching a product without doing any market research. Or by failing to set up a secure, cloud-based backup of your company’s servers, emails and documents.

Most businesses don’t realise that a password-protected company laptop is not satisfactory to secure your information. Even with in-house IT experts, many companies operate for years with little more than a simple password and anti-virus setup.

Take a moment to think what would happen to your business if all your servers, files, documents and emails were posted publicly. By not protecting your data using the most secure methods, this could be a real possibility.

You might ask whether people really want access to your company’s data anyway? The simple answer is yes. Customer data and commercially sensitive information is extremely valuable to hackers and can be very profitable for them.

So, how do unsolicited people get access to your data? There’s 3 ways:

1. Public Wifi

If you or any of your employees use public, unsecured Wifi networks, then you are potentially at risk of your data being accessed. If you ever connect your phone to a hotel or café network, it’s impossible to guarantee your emails and documents are not available to be accessed by other people using that same network. If you don’t have control over the security of a particular internet access point, it’s best to steer clear. Especially if you have sensitive data stored on that device.

2. Hackers

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are tempted to take shortcuts. It’s not always competitors who are looking to gain access to your customers and transaction data. International syndicates have success with hacking plans for new products, replicating them and taking them to market at a cheaper price. To avoid hackers, you need to take precautions to ensure you have a secure firewall in place. In the case that you were to lose any data it’s also a good idea to invest in an encrypted cloud-based archive and backup service.

3. Government agencies

Some government departments, both at home and abroad may also wish to gain access to your data. Whether they are looking at your intellectual property, strategic plans or financial results; there is incentive and motive for some of these departments to try to force access.

The main purpose of this post is not to scare you. For most companies, a high-quality anti-virus and firewall protection is a good start However, they can’t keep up with the sheer volume of virus attacks happening.

The reality is, be prepared to be hacked. No anti-virus is ever going to be fool proof. If you can’t refer to the old-school pen and paper method then it’s better to be safe than sorry and have a good backup that can be restored within seconds of an attack occurring.

SOS Online Backup has an affordable business plan, starting at $29.99 per month. So no matter what happens to your data, at least you will still have access to your most valuable files and can pick up where you left off without starting from scratch.

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The true cost of losing your customer’s data

When it comes to running a business your customer’s personal information is your most valuable asset.

Not only do your customers trust you with their hard earned cash and take the time to research and invest in your product or service; they also hand over their personal details.

Even with a basic transaction a customer will give you their name, contact number, email address and in some cases, details about their financial institution, credit card and personal shopping preferences.

With any transaction, there is a certain level of trust. A customer trusts a business to deliver the promised product and that the quality of that product lives up to how it’s been described.

The other assumption of trust is that the business will securely store their customer’s personal data and not on-sell or make it publicly available.

Broken trust

Despite many company’s best efforts, this trust is broken regularly. Earlier this year, Salesforce, the giant marketing and customer analytics platform, experienced a full-day outage. The pain didn’t end there. When the database was restored, they wiped 4 hours’ worth of customer transactions and data – for all their users.

For businesses who use the Salesforce service, this was a massive disaster. Not only were they without the service for a whole day, they had lost the ability to contact and fulfil customer orders made during those 4 hours.

For any medium to large e-commerce site, this could amount to tens of millions of dollars of lost revenue and future marketing benefit.

It’s not just internet companies that have to be vigilant. Banks like Bank of America, Barclays and Lloyds have all had instances of customer data loss or malicious data hacks.

These sorts of breaches don’t only affect the customer relationship. They affect the confidence of shareholders, investors, staff and future customers.

In many cases, the share price and loss of revenue following a major breach is instant and devastating. The total estimated cost of Home Depot’s data hack in 2014 was $62 million. It can take years for a business to recover from these events, and even lead to their eventual demise.

Causes

While some data breaches are caused by malicious forces or hackers, not all can be explained away so easily. With Salesforce’s data loss, it was down to human error and a poorly restored database that caused the loss.

In other cases, technological error or process breakdown can be the key ingredient.

Even if your business succumbs to a data hack, leak or breach, there is no reason why this should mean you have to permanently lose that data and suffer the financial and reputational losses that come with it.

A secure, encrypted backup

 Customers with SOS Online Backup don’t have to worry about losing their customer data – ever. They have peace of mind.

Even in the worst case scenario where your systems are compromised, our secure, encrypted backups are bulletproof.

What does that mean? It means your files are never deleted. Documents, photos, databases and all file types stored on all your devices (yes, even your iPhone), servers, MS SQL, Exchange and SharePoint are all backed up and securely archived.

With so many examples from history where things have gone horribly wrong, there really is no reason your business has to suffer the same fate.

To protect your customer’s precious data, our business plans start from as little as $29.99 per month. Check out our plans or start a 30 day free trial here.

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Top disasters that threaten your business

The top 5 natural disasters threatening your business

Natural disasters can occur when we don’t often expect them. And while you might be taught to ‘batten down the hatches’ when it comes to your office or your equipment, what about protecting your data?

Here’s what we’re talking about when we look at the types of natural disasters that can threaten your business operations. It comes from data put together in 2015 by the the Eastern Kentucky University Department of Safety, Security, and Emergency Management, who looked at the top 5 significant events in the US in 2013:

  1. May 2013: Severe weather resulting in 29 deaths and an economic loss of $3.8 billion
  2. Jan 2013: Drought resulting in an economic loss of $3.5 billion
  3. March 2013: Severe drought resulting in 2 deaths and an economic loss of $3.5 billion
  4. May/June 2013: Severe weather resultings in 27 deaths and an economic loss of $3.5 billion
  5. September 2014: Catastrophic flooding JUST in Colorado resulted in an economic loss of $2 billion

Preparation is key

While you might not think your business will ever get hit by a natural disaster (and let’s not forget about fires), the reality is they can happen anywhere, when you least expect them and, according to these stats, when you haven’t prepared adequately:

  • 1 in 4 small businesses hit by a major storm do not open ever again
  • The average loss to a small business after closing due to a major storm is $3,000 a day
  • 1 in 3 small biz owners said they have been personally affected by a storm or extreme weather; and
  • While 94% of small businesses back up critical financial data to prepare for an emergency only 4 in 10 of them keep that data off-site!

Back-ups need to be off-site

Being the backup specialists as we are here at SOS Online Backup, it’s only natural we want to highlight this last point: that less than half of businesses hold their critical data off-site. There is very little point in having backups of your business data all in the one place. Let’s look at one specific example of why this can be awful should your business be hit by a natural disaster.

Think about the types of data that can be lost: not just customer information, finances etc… but what about employee data? If your business is hit by a natural disaster, chances are homes in your area are hit too – potentially the homes of your employees. If you don’t have quick access to their records you might not be able to help them – or pay them – when they really need it. Employees might be the last think you think of when looking at a business disaster recovery plan – but human nature dictates it’s probably the first thing you’ll think of should a disaster hit.

Most people get frustrated trying to run their business when they have to refresh their cache and lose their bookmarks, what if you lost the entirety of your data? Customer records, product notes, new projects you’re working on, photos of your stock… literally everything and anything saved on a hard drive or network that you need to run your business.

At SOS Online Backup we like to suggest you follow the rule of 3-2-1 rule of backing up: three copies of what you need, stored in two different formats, with at least one copy of those being stored offsite.

Thinking laterally like this is important when planning for an emergency as it can make you see how even though a natural disaster might not hit your physical business, it could affect suppliers such as your technology service provider.

So, what decisions will you make today about your data protection?

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Is Your Biz Sitting On A Data Lawsuit Time bomb?

As a business owner you have a crucial role to play in risk management. While you and your team grinds out the day to day operations, it’s also your responsibility to stand on the top of the mountain scanning the plains for threats that could bring your business to its knees.

You have the unenviable task of identifying the unknown – those ‘Black Swan’ events that seem so rare, they couldn’t possibly happen to you.

… But this is dangerous thinking.

There is one “it will never happen to me” threat that most business owners are ignoring.

That threat, is criminal prosecution, under data protection laws.

The Biggest Data Mistake You Don’t Want To Make

Do you have confidential client data stored in Cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and iCloud? If so, you could be in breach of these data protection laws.

On September 22nd 2016, Yahoo Inc. was sued by Ronald Schwartz over the 2014 hack, which compromised the data of 500 million accounts. The case is Schwartz v. Yahoo Inc., U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 16-05456.

In a quote from Yahoo tech,

“The lawsuit suggested that the breach might have been warded off had Yahoo, having been targeted by hackers before, lived up to its promise of taking user privacy “seriously” and bulked up its security measures… Yahoo demonstrated “reckless disregard for the security of its users’ personal information that it promised to protect”

… “Having been targeted by hackers before” …Don’t say you weren’t warned. If you are storing client data on a service that has – and can be hacked – you may just be in breach of data protection laws.

So again, lets ask the question. Is your confidential client data stored on Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive or Google Drive? These have been breached by hackers before, and are being targeted by hackers now.

It’s not a secret. It’s an identified risk. (SOS Online Backup helps you negate this risk. We’ve got a free trial here).

In the United Kingdom, the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) is investigating the August data breach from global accounting software firm Sage. Under the Data Protection Act 1998, they could be found guilty of negligence.

And in another case from the ICO…

“Telecoms company TalkTalk has been issued with a record £400,000 fine by the ICO for security failings that allowed a cyber attacker to access customer data ‘with ease’.”

How To Identify Data Negligence And Prevent Criminal Prosecution

In the UK, their Data Protection Act States –

  1.   Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data;
  2.   Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data (Wikipedia).

And in the US….

“Most US businesses are required to take reasonable technical, physical and organizational measures to protect the security of sensitive personal information”. – DLA Piper (Global Law Firm)

It can be safe to say that : reasonable, technical, physical and organizational measures means, never store data on a known hackable site!

The Best Risk Management Advice For Business Owners

As a business owner it’s your job to identify risk, and take reasonable measures to prevent it. Any avoidance, puts you in the firing line for negligence.

Here are some best practices for your data:

  • Move all client files to a secure online backup;
  • Never store sensitive files on Cloud platforms with a proven ‘hack record’;
  • Always change passwords regularly, and frequently (hackers are fast);
  • Use different passwords across multiple sites;
  • Create strong passwords – use a password generator.

We cannot urge you enough to consider removing your data from these Cloud platforms and moving to secure online backup like SOS. It only takes one disgruntled ‘Schwartz’ to land you in court.

The laws are clear and the risk has been identified. You now have the knowledge to take reasonable action.

So, what decisions will you make today about your data protection?

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Is Dropbox The Enemy Of Businesses?

When Dropbox suffered a severe data breach hackers walked away with 68 million records that enclosed the email addresses, passwords and confidential data of businesses right across the world!

I wish this was merely a story… unfortunately it’s a fact.

So here’s your official warning if you didn’t know. Have you changed your Dropbox password yet? Data was leaked and it’s now available for free to everyone.

Not just the hackers, everyone.

Users weren’t alerted until August 2016 when hackers made the breach public and they started selling email addresses and passwords online.

But the good news is, your private details aren’t for sale anymore. The bad news is they’re now free to download!

You can thank Thomas White aka The Cthulhu. If you haven’t heard of Thomas – this isn’t the first time he’s accessed hacked data and made it free to the public. Remember the Ashley Madison incident? Embarrassing for many.

But Thomas is not the hacker. He represents something more frightening… (p.s. you can skip along right here to a free trial if you already get that you need a better solution to backup your files).

He represents the flow-on effect of the Dropbox data breach. Hackers have your private information – but now, so does the entire world. Including your competitors and clients if they choose.

(… changed your password yet? hint hint)

Dropbox For Business Is Dead

Back in 2007, businesses started using Dropbox as an easy, fast and cost effective way of storing files across multiple devices. Let’s face it, that’s smart – it saves emailing documents back and forwards, or losing sensitive data on USB drives as you transfer it.

Dropbox used to be a wonderful place, until hackers started using it as their playground.

But the story gets worse. Not only were companies using it for daily file management, but some of the less savvy ones began using Dropbox as file backup. All data, from basic to sensitive was now available for hacking and deleting!

The Dropbox breach didn’t just put day to day files at risk, but also important backed up files like private client information, bank details and passwords to other sites. Data that, if in the wrong hands, could damage reputations, businesses and lives.

… Case in point, the public sharing of hacked Ashley Madison information.

“But it’ll never happen to me” – sadly, if you’re on Dropbox then we’re pretty sure it won’t be a case of IF… but WHEN.

The Dropbox hack happened to 68 million people. That accounted for almost every single registered user at the time. Dropbox now has over 500 million users, and hackers are already working on their next attack.

Keep Your Data Safe With These Smart Business Practices

The most security conscious thing you can do right now for your business is STOP using Dropbox as backup for originals, archives, working files – everything! Once those files are hacked and deleted they are irretrievable. And if you lose client files, on a known unsecured platform you are at risk of being charged for negligence in data security.

Just move everything to a secure online backup, and you won’t have to worry about any of this.

And if you must use Dropbox for day to day operations, follow these best practices:

  • Change your password immediately. Especially if you haven’t since the big hack!
  • Never store sensitive files on Dropbox, not even temporarily.
  • Always change passwords regularly.
  • Never use the same password across multiple sites.
  • Use a password generator to create strong passwords.

Hackers aren’t going anywhere, in fact – they’re moving faster than many can keep up. The best thing you can do is practice ‘hack-proof’ file management.

Now while we may be a little bias, we hope you will believe us when we say Dropbox is the enemy of all Business Owners!

To putting the back into backup!

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Jan lost 8,000 photos by housing them on Dropbox. Don’t be Jan.

About two years ago Jan from the Czech Republic lost 8,000 photos from his private collection.

It’s easy to see how this could happen. In hindsight.

But Jan isn’t computer illiterate. In fact, he’s a former computer scientist.

His mistake? He used Dropbox as a supposedly foolproof backup storage solution.

Jan documented his whole journey in an article entitled: “How my own stupidity and a bug in Dropbox permanently deleted my 8000 photos.”

We’ve all been there…

So why isn’t Jan a fool? Because it’s a widely held belief that Dropbox or any other kind of cloud-based file hosting service (OneDrive, Google Drive etc) is a secure solution for your files in case of emergency.

Now don’t get me wrong, Dropbox is awesome. As a place to house a subset of your files, sync and get them on any device and share them easily. It’s certainly got its place, especially for online collaboration, and I don’t suggest getting rid of it for your day-to-day use.

Unfortunately for Jan, Dropbox crashed when he was in the process of moving some files. It’s an error that could very easily happen to any of us. Remember, Dropbox only keeps deleted files for 30 days, after that, you’re out of luck.

That’s why you need a secure online backup solution.

(If you can’t be bothered reading anymore, come and take a free trial now… if not, keep reading! Don’t worry, you’ll get another chance) 🙂

Unlike Dropbox, a cloud backup solution lets you securely back up all your personal files, including unlimited versions of these files, and keep them safe so you can easily restore them at any time.

Our guidance, echoed by security experts, is the 3-2-1 rule of backing up: three copies of what you need, stored in two different formats, with at least one copy of those being stored offsite. Your data really isn’t safe unless you’re following these steps and baking offsite ‘redundancy’ into your plan. This is especially important if you are running your whole business on Dropbox.

So what’s the big differences between cloud backup and cloud storage services like Dropbox. While they both let you access your files from anywhere, they fundamentally serve two different purposes…

The key differences?

Online storage software lets you sync and store files from one folder. But what online storage services like Dropbox don’t do is continually backup your ‘redundant files.’ These can’t be recovered if a version of a file is corrupted or you lose it.

An online backup product helps you protect your files in case of emergency – when your computer gets stolen, hacked, infected, damaged, or suffers a disk failure. Since your files are automatically backed up, you can access them in the cloud and quickly restore them at any time.

Also, backing up means not just the current version of your file, but all the previous versions. Some cloud backup services, like SOS Online Backup (check us out here with a free trial), offer unlimited versioning. If someone made a big error in a spreadsheet a week, a month or even a year ago and you need to revert to a clean version before it happened – you can. It doesn’t matter how far back someone has made a mistake in a file. SOS Online Backup keeps a complete history of all your files, even if you have deleted them from your computer.

It heavily depends on the type of security baked in

Another big difference between these services is the type of security baked into the solution.

In fact, Dropbox last week (September 2016) confirmed that more than 68 million emails and passwords have been compromised from a hack that originally was disclosed in 2012. Exposure from the breach was limited to email addresses, Dropbox originally claimed. However, based on the latest revelations, the hackers actually stole hashed and salted passwords. Even so, there have been no indications that they succeeded in accessing user accounts, the company said.

SOS Online Backup has invested heavily in three layers of security to avoid these types of breaches. All data is transferred to our global data centers with military grade, AES 256-bit encryption and then encrypted again within the data centers. Plus, we offer UltraSafe encryption which gives you the option to hold the encryption key so that your data is encrypted at the source, which means no one at our company can ever see your data.

So, if you want your data backed up, protected, and 100% private… try SOS Online Backup for FREE today.