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Is Your Business Cyber-Secure?

Written by Chris Delker

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Is Your Business Cyber Secure

Cyber attacks upon large companies are reported in the news quite regularly. In recent times, companies like Target, Ebay, Domino’s Pizza, Home Depot, and AT&T were all hacked, resulting in varying degrees of damages.

And it seems that cyber-criminals are getting better at what they do. The Heritage Organization reported that the cost of cyber crime against U.S. retailers more than doubled in just a year’s time.

But in spite of the regular news reports about attacks that have occurred, many attacks are never reported publicly. The Heritage report indicates that cyber crime occurs on a daily basis. And many companies that fall victim aren’t even aware that their security has been compromised – at least not initially.

 

Small Companies Are Also At Risk

Most cyber crime reported in the news involves large companies. And that fact might be feeding the false sense of security that exists among a number of small business owners. Many small business owners, in fact, believe that they simply aren’t attractive targets for cyber-criminals.

But unfortunately, that’s wrong. That’s very wrong.

According to the National Small Business Association, half of small businesses were the victims of a cyber attack last year. Half! And the average cost of each of those attacks was nearly $21,000.

So while big businesses are getting most of the spotlight when it comes to cyber crime, small businesses are doing their share of the suffering.

It’s true that large companies are attractive to cyber criminals due to the size of the potential payoff from a successful hack. But small businesses are also attractive targets because of the ease with which they can be compromised. Many small businesses just don’t have an effective security plan in place for thwarting cyber criminals.

 

How To Increase the Cyber-Security of Your Small Business

Your small business certainly can’t match the resources allocated to cyber security by a Fortune 500 company. But that doesn’t mean that your company is unavoidably destined to become easy pickings for cyber criminals.

The Small Business Administration offers a number of tips for tightening your cyber security, including the following:

 

  • Protective Software. Install antivirus and antispy software on all of your company’s computers. Make sure that the software is regularly updated (automated updates are recommended).
  • Cyber-Secure Policies. Put in place policies for the handling of sensitive customer data. Make sure that all employees understand and comply with those policies.
  • Up-To-Date Software. Software such as web browsers and operating systems are regularly updated with maintenance releases, and quite frequently the updates address security issues. Make certain that the software on your computers is kept up-to-date with the latest maintenance releases.

 

A great way to get started in your quest to tighten your cyber security would be to utilize the Small Biz Cyber Planner offered by the SBA. It’s free, and will help you to create an effective plan for making your business safer.

And since knowledge is power, it might also be wise to invest some time in taking the SBA’s free training course about small business cyber security.

 

The Bigger They Are…

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And that’s why cyber criminals like hacking into big companies. The potential windfall is massive.

But cyber crime against small business is also on the rise – big time. That’s partly because of the resources that big companies are committing to increasing their cyber security.

And small businesses can fall awfully hard too, relatively speaking. If your small company is the one out of every two that is hit, the consequences can be devastating. So if you haven’t been putting lots of thought and effort into protecting your business against cyber crime, it’s time to do so.

In fact, it’s way past time.

 

*****

Chris Delker is a freelance copywriter based in Dallas, Texas.

Google Changes That Business Owners Need To Prepare For

Written by Josh Gershonowicz

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

If Google were a superhero, it would be the Avengers. If Google had a superpower, it would be the ability to purchase other superpowers. If Google ran the world, well, they pretty much already have an iron grip on the World Wide Web…

Google currently possesses 75.2% of the U.S. search market, as of this January, and 81.7% of the U.S. mobile search market, as of March 2014. When Google adjusts an algorithm, like their 4/21/15 mobile update, it has the potential to impact businesses, big and small.

Even with its current dominance of the world’s Internet usage, Google still maintains an air of secrecy with regards to any upcoming updates. It’s not that the Google team wants to keep businesses, marketers and users out of the loop, but that innovation takes time, and nobody stays in power if they reveal their algorithmic tricks.

Ignoring the secrecy and lack of upcoming announcements, a trend has started to emerge. Although the following are merely predictions, based on competitors and recent changes, it is clear that Google is moving towards a more user-friendly experience.

 

Google’s Last big Update: Mobile Friendly

Let’s quickly analyze the 4/21/15 mobile update before looking forward. In order to cater to the increasing number of mobile Internet users Google adapted how it ranks websites on mobile searches. Websites that are not responsive, or do not have a mobile version, were bumped downwards on Google’s search rankings while websites that were mobile-friendly saw their rankings rise.

Why?

With users in mind, Google has forced websites that are easier to use higher up in their lists. Mobile searches are on the rise. 94% of USA smartphone users search for local info on their phones. In order to be relevant, websites have to ‘get with the times, man’. Google doesn’t want outdated, difficult to use, sites bogging down the top of their searches. They want us to have the easiest experience possible.

mobile friendly test

While the current system incentivizes keywords and backlinks, it is not hard to imagine Google moving somewhat away from these metrics and instead continuing their user experience trend. Questions like the following will hold a greater weight on how a website ranks:

Does the website adapt to what screen/device it is being viewed on? What is the site’s bounce rate? How long do users spend on the page? How often is the site updated?

Currently, 55% of website visitors spend 15 seconds on a website. In order to ensure people are finding what they are searching for Google will prioritize websites in which people spend more time viewing. Google wants us to find what we’re looking for, not to click a site and disappointingly exit out after two seconds.

Constantly updating, whether content on existing pages or adding new pages to a site, will add more leverage to a site in than it currently does. Instead of focusing on adding a smorgasbord of specifically targeted words, adding content will prove that the site is keeping its information fresh. Sites that do not update will, hopefully, fall down in rankings. Google will doubtless develop algorithms to estimate how often a website should be updated based on it’s niche – for example, a news website should likely be updated more often than a plumber’s website.

 

The Knowledge Graph

Google currently tries to know and understand what you’re searching for, and most of the time its algorithm is right! Displayed on the right of many Google searches is the knowledge graph. It is comprised of data such as pictures, contact information, statistics, and reviews (depending on the search).

detroit

This presumed information would become more prevalent on all searches, and possibly be the default click on devices with smaller screens. Google will use the knowledge graph to quicken searches and time spent clicking. If you were using Google on a smart-watch, for example, and looked up a local bike shop, wouldn’t it be nice if it automatically brought you to closest shop’s website? Google does know your location, after all, which brings us to…

 

Geotracking

Your location, or your store(s) location for that matter, will continue to become more and more relevant. Depending on what you and/or others are searching and based on where they are, the results will differ greatly. This will have a much larger impact on smaller, one-shop, businesses. As we continue to add the Internet to more and more items that we wear daily, our location is going to matter more and more.

What’s nice about these predictions is that it has consumer’s best interests in mind. Businesses and advertisers will have to adjust their marketing plans, but being that these are predictions, we recommend waiting. Still, it’s always fun to imagine what the next Avenger’s movie will be about, and what our next Google update just might be…

 

*****

Josh Gershonowicz is the founder and CEO of Rebuild Nation, a marketing firm which focuses on the dental and health industry.

How To Sell A Website

Written by Luke McCormack

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

for-sale-sign

Do you own a website with stable traffic and revenue, but have grown tired of maintaining it, don’t know how to take it to the next level, or you could simply use some extra cash? If you answered yes, you might want to consider selling your website.

Website flipping, as it is affectionately termed, is a quickly growing industry that allows owners of websites and web businesses to easily liquidate their online assets. With over 600,000 users and upwards of $140,000,000 in transactions processed to date, Flippa is universally regarded as the premiere destination for selling websites. Sellers on Flippa list their websites up for sale in eBay style auctions where buyers looking to make acquisitions have the opportunity to place a bid.

Sites sold on Flippa include the massively popular ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com sold for $85,000 in January 2015, the viral news publisher The Inquisitr for $330,000 in May 2011, and even FaceMash, which was originally launched by Mark Zuckerberg and sold on Flippa for $30,000 in 2010.

So, it’s clear that Flippa is the premiere destination for web entrepreneurs, but how does one actually go about selling a website on the platform? Check out the following tips and tricks that can help you successfully sell your website.

 

Pre-Sale

Preparing your site for sale is a key step in the process of selling a website. The reason being that when it comes time to list your site for sale, the more information you provide the more confidence buyer will have in the listing. In order to provide the right information, it is crucial that you have several things in place before you. Of course, the two most important things you will want to keep track of are traffic and revenue. Keeping detailed records of both of these metrics is essential to a successful sale.

 

Traffic

When it comes to monitoring and analyzing your traffic, Google Analytics is the industry standard. One of the great things about Google Analytics is that the platform easily allows for website owners to provide access to traffic data to interested buyers. Quite frankly, you should have Google Analytics installed on all of your websites from the moment you launch them. Before selling a website you should aim to have at least 12 months of Google Analytics data.

 

Revenue

As far as revenue goes, it is vital that you keep accurate records of all revenue and expenses month by month. By far, the number one thing buyers consider when valuing a website is profit, and without accurate financial records you are simply not going to be able to accurately convey the value of the site. In addition to keeping accurate records, make sure that your records are provable. To do this keep separate accounts for your web businesses, take advantage of backend sales reports, and avoid migrating platforms without saving all financial data beforehand.

 

Valuation

Before selling your site, you will want to get a general idea of what it can potentially sell for at auction. Typically, websites sell at a multiple of between 1x to 3x yearly profit. Of course, there are countless websites that sell below this range, there are wild fluctuations within the range, and there are even websites that sell for above this range. The more stable, sustainable, and unique the business the higher it should sell for. All of that said, the only way to get a true valuation is to list your site for sale and let the market decide.

 

Setting Up Your Auction

Flippa makes it easy to set up an auction for your website. You’ll be prompted to provide historical information about your site as well as detailed traffic and financial information. The more transparent and open you can be the better, as buyers are unlikely to place a bid on an auction in which the seller is withholding pertinent information about the site.

 

Listing Description

This is your opportunity to sell. Remember the person who will read this listing description is evaluating this as a business, so instead of attempting to sell them with superfluous and unnecessary language, try to sell them on the facts. Make sure to discuss factors about your website such as the business model, monetization method(s), marketing efforts, challenges, future opportunities, and the reason why you are selling.

 

Auction Management

Regardless of how the auction starts out, avoid jumping the gun and getting discouraged. Most bids typically come in the final 24 hours of an auction. If you list your site for sale, be prepared to stick it out to the end. The most important thing to remember is to stay active. Sellers that fail to respond in a timely manner to questions, or sellers that are clearly evasive almost always get called out on it and this leaves a bad taste in the mouth of potential buyers. Remember, you want to leave a good impression, because buyers are not only evaluating the business, they’re evaluating whether or not they would be comfortable doing business with you. In short, always put your best foot forward.

 

Post Sale

So, your site just sold to the high bidder, what comes next? You’re not quite done yet. It’s just as crucial that you remain involved and active in the post-sale process, as this will significantly reduce the chances of your sale falling through. The first thing you will want to determine is how the buyer will pay for the asset. It is ALWAYS recommended that you accept payment via escrow, as this is the safest option for both parties. Flippa offers a free escrow service, so it’s really the only option you should be using.

Once the money has been placed securely into escrow, you should be notified via email. At that point you can begin transferring the assets of the business over to the buyer. After the transfer of assets is complete, escrow should release the funds to you, and it may take 3 to 5 business days for the funds to clear into your account.

 

Closing Thoughts

An auction for an online business is a bit like a marathon. It’s a long and arduous process that will require significant involvement on your end. You should make sure that you have enough time to participate fully or you risk selling your site for less than it is worth. However, if you have legitimate money making web business, and you follow some of the tips and tricks above, you should have no issues in achieving a successful sale and putting cash in your pocket.

 

Image source: http://www.e-renter.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/for-sale-sign-on-post.jpg

Rebootless Venom Vulnerability Patch

Written by Sean Valant

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Unfortunately, it seems like new exploits are appearing more and more often these days.

The most recent exploit to make headlines is known as CVE-2015-3456, aka “Venom.” Ultimately this exploit, much like many before it, can allow a malicious individual to gain root privileges on a server.

However, we are not posting this blog to expound on this latest exploit, rather our security experts have developed a procedure to effectively patch this vulnerability without necessitating a reboot. We felt it would be in the best interest of the community at large to release this information as quickly as possible, therefore we have launched VenomFix.com in order to provide this resource and information to the public at large.

We are providing this resource simply as a counter-measure against this exploit; this patch carries no guarantee, implied or otherwise.

For full information, please visit VenomFix.com.