When You Should Change Your Online Passwords

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Just because you want to make sure you have strong security in ((blog.city)), ((blog.state)); it doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on expensive software and do a ton of research on the latest threats. Knowing the basics is all you need if you are just an average person with normal security concerns.

The basics of cybersecurity include using strong passwords, storing the passwords in a password manager, so they aren’t forgotten, and using multi-factor authentication for everything. 

You should also be changing your passwords regularly for even more protection. So, how often should you do this?

Change Passwords Monthly

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends that you change your passwords every thirty days at least once per month. You should also follow the advice as already outlined here regarding using multi-factor authentication. You should also always make your security questions random and not something that can be easily figured out by someone trying to gain access to your information. 

However, is it absolutely necessary to change all of your passwords that often? We have information telling you otherwise.

No More Frequent Password Changes

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published that it is not necessary to have such frequent password changes. These recommendations were also published in their Digital Identity Guidelines. They are saying that doing so actually doesn’t improve a person’s security and just ends up making passwords too complex.

When You Should Change Passwords

So, instead of changing all your passwords every thirty days, it is recommended that you change them at key times as outlined below:

  • After a security incident is disclosed
  • You have evidence of unauthorized access to any of your accounts
  • There may be malware
  • You had shared access with someone else that no longer use the login for the account
  • You logged in on a public computer
  • It has been more than a year since your last password change

Changing your password after any of the above incidents in ((blog.city)), ((blog.state)) can help protect your accounts and make sure no one can get into them with the old password.

Best Way to Change Passwords

Now that you know when you should change your passwords, it is important to understand password guidelines to help save time and be smart about protecting your accounts.

Small Business Tips: Preventing Fraud

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Over the past few years, identity theft and fraud have become a nationwide epidemic. Although many people associate these issues on a personal level, fraud issues are also prevalent to small businesses. If you are a small business owner in Los Angeles CA, you should be concerned about fraud and how you can prevent it from happening. Below, you’ll find of the best tips and tricks to help avoid your Los Angeles CA business becoming the victim of fraud.

Conduct Thorough Background Checks

One of the best ways to ensure that your Los Angeles CA business does not fall victim to fraud is by conducting extensive background checks. Not only should you run background checks on the employees you hire, but you should also do so for any contractors with which you work.

Unfortunately, many small business owners in Los Angeles CA forgo background checks because it’s an added cost, and they don’t believe they have the funds available to cover the cost. However, the cost of background checks pales in comparison the cost of falling victim to fraud. When it comes to conducting background checks, you should:

  • Run criminal records
  • Check the individual’s references
  • Verify other information on the individual’s resume

Establish A Fraud Policy Statement

Another way small business owners can prevent fraud is by establishing a policy statement. Many small business owners assume that fraud is against company policy – and typically it is. However, you need to make sure that you put this in writing so that it is clear to all employees. You should also explain this to your employees upon hiring. Your employees should not have any doubts about how seriously the company considers fraud and why this is the case.

Work with your legal counsel to amend your Operations Guide and make sure that you include something that defines clearly what fraud is, why you’re against it and some of the instances that would constitute fraud. You should also make clear the consequences were someone to commit fraud. Once you’ve crafted this definition, you’ll need all of your current employees to sign a document acknowledging that they accept and understand the fraud policy.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

When it comes to preventing fraud, many small business owners overlook intellectual property. If you have an idea, it could be protected. You should make efforts to protect things such as your company:

  • Contact lists
  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Patents

Do you have something in your current Operations Manual protecting your intellectual property? If not, nothing is stopping an employee from obtaining your business’ thoughts and ideas, stealing them, and implementing them as his or her own. You should clearly define that intellectual property is covered under the Fraud Policy Statement.

Furthermore, you should also try to protect all of your intellectual property legally. You can do so through the United States government. Although these processes can take a while to complete, many courts accept initial filings as proof of concept. Failure to protect these ideas could cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars.

IT Security

The 4 Most Important Cybersecurity Concerns For Small Business

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The internet is a wild place, and threats to your network’s security can come from all directions. Malware, hackers, and even disgruntled employees can threaten to steal or delete the information your business needs to succeed, and you’ll need to account for all of them if you want your network to stay secure and safe. Of course, you only have so much time and so many resources, so it’s also important to deal with the most dangerous threats first.

1. Dangerous Emails

Phishing is the number one entry point for hackers who want to get into a private network. Phishing emails pretend to be official and either promise a reward or threaten some danger if the recipient doesn’t hand over sensitive information like passwords or bank account numbers. Other dangerous emails include virus carriers with attachments that will infect your computer if you try to download them. Your best defense is to learn what phishing looks like and train your employees to know what to look for, too.

2. Disguised Downloads

Outside of attachments, the way most viruses get onto a new computer is when a user downloads a file that promises to be one thing but is actually something else. A good web browser and antivirus software can identify threats before they can harm your computer, but new, unknown threats are popping up all the time. One quick way to check a file is by looking at its size: if it’s much bigger or much smaller than it should be, it’s probably malware in disguise.

3. No Backup

If a virus does corrupt your computer, it may destroy important data or else make it impossible to reach. If a hacker or a bribed employee steals information off your computer and destroys the original copy, it’s often gone forever. You might even lose your information from a natural disaster like a lightning strike or a flood. However, you can get everything back if you regularly back up your data, and it helps to have both a large storage system on-site and a cloud server as a remote backup.

4. Poor Password Protection

It’s all too common for otherwise sophisticated I.T. businesses to end up using default passwords or easily guessed passwords like “12345” and “password.” Make sure you let your employees know what a strong password is and that you’ll be expecting them to create them without leaving

a note near the keyboard with the password on it. Of course, you should never forget to follow your own rules, either.

All four of these security concerns are obvious, and any good I.T. professional will repeat them over and over again. However, businesses of every size continue to forget about how important they are and how simple it is to avoid these risks. If you can only do one thing about the security of your business network, make sure you and your employees are all familiar with the dangers and know what they ought to do to avoid the risks and maintain basic network security.

technology strategy

Defining Technology Strategy

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Businesses often rely on technology for their everyday business operations. Technology is used for many aspects of the business including sales, marketing, purchasing, accounting, finance, production, human resources. It doesn’t even matter where the business allocates most of their time either because it all comes back to a successful technology strategy. 

What is a Technology Strategy? 

A technology strategy is a plan that consists of different objectives, principles, and tactics as they relate to technology within a business or organization. These strategies focus more on the technology of the business and how that technology is managed.  

Elements of a Technology Strategy 

Many elements are involved in a technology strategy, and many of these are actionable items that can be used to help eliminate pitfalls you are experiencing while also keeping your budget in mind. 

Business Alignment: this part of the strategy helps a business fulfill their needs 

Roadmap: this shows how the business can go from point A to point B and shows how to reach their goals 

LongTerm Timeframe: this allows the business to set up a more long-term plan for success with different milestones and objectives to hit along the way 

Future Focused: this is when future technology needs are considered. You will need to think ahead into the future to come up with a strategy for improvement 

Rationalized: every item included in your strategy has a specific purpose or goal 

Business Needs: these refer to the specific goals and needs of the business 

Balance Budget with Reality: the goals and methods used to achieve those goals need to stay within a specified budget, and a realistic outlook for the results should be maintained 

Regular Updates: you will want to take another look at your strategy a couple of times each year to compensate for any updates or changes 

Creating a Technology Strategy 

To begin creating your technology strategy, you will want a clear understanding of your business, its needs, and the current state of technology being used. Where can you make improvements and what priorities should be set as you move forward? 

When you can prioritize a list, you can then find better resource estimates, so you can better plan for the labor and costs that will be involved with the changes and improvements you will be making. 

Plan for the Long Term 

Finally, as briefly touched upon already, you will want to be sure to plan for the long term when you begin to formulate your technology strategy. Finalize your list of priorities, sit down and determine your budget and how many business cycles may be needed to reach your objectives, and then create your roadmap to show you how to get from point A to point B successfully.  

When thinking long-term, think beyond just the next year. Stretch your strategy even further to make sure that you are covering all the important initiatives. Then you can begin to take a closer look at what technology will be most effective for your business and its specific needs and goals.