Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The popularity of the internet after 2002 saw several changes in the business sector and the world saw the rise of E-Commerce. There's more than a billion users on the internet and it has become a global marketplace which has further given rise to several new marketing techniques such as content marketing. Content marketing is simply the creation of online media and publishing of online content in order to promote a particular product or service. Creation of relevant content is essential to specifically target a group of potential customers. Being the type of marketing that holds great value, content marketing must be planned carefully keeping all the needs of the potential customers and target audience in mind. Here are a few tips on how content marketing can boost your online business to new heights.

1. Creating Fresh and Relevant Content The first and foremost rule is the creation of relevant content that attracts the interest of the target audience. The created content should not only be appealing to the readers but also help them identify their problems and see the marketed product as a viable solution. It is also important to constantly update existing content and creating fresh content to maintain the reader’s interest. The more appealing the content, the higher would be the number of visits on your website.

2. Utilize the Power of Social Media Most people are aware that a strong social media presence can increase your reach. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+ are some of the best way to direct traffic to your website. Regularly share your interesting content through any of these social medias to attract audience and bring them back to your site. If your content is really interesting, other users can also share them across their personal networks thus maximizing your reach. Creating shareable content is a must for a strong social media following.

3. Optimize Your Content It is not only important to create relevant content but to also make it appear where your target audience can clearly see it. Placing an adequate amount of keywords at strategic places can not only improve search engine ratings but will also help the customer find your content easily. Providing interesting and factual information as well as adding some images will only enhance the overall attractiveness of your content and ease of access. Even if you write quality content, your target audience or customer will never be able to find it if it is not properly categorized by the search engine.

4. Create Content That Builds Credibility Simply providing the customers with the basic information about your products and services is no longer enough for proper lead generation. Content creators must make sure to attract the audience’s interest through content that provides them with a solution to common problems. Professional advice, helpful tips and interesting observations will not only build your customer's trust in the company but also helps in brand awareness.

5. Use Visual Aid Reading is boring for a majority of readers and most potential customers and clients are often discouraged by just plain texts. Combining the information with visual aid is always much more efficient at helping the readers understand the content and maintain interest in your website. Posting relevant images and videos will help capture your reader's attention as well as make your content more shareable.

The popularity of online businesses has made most traditional marketing methods almost obsolete and outdated. Content marketing is essentially the future of marketing and as suggested by several experts, is the only form of marketing that’s left. When you plan your next content, try to keep the above points in mind as this will lead to a much greater online presence.

Luke Peters is the current contributor for, one of the best place for finding RTB advertising services and has written several articles across many websites and blogs. He is a keen reader of materials related to finance, marketing, management and advertising.
Monday, August 4, 2014

Media buying refers to the internet advertisement model through which one can buy a space inside a website to place an advertisement for a specific period of time. Media Buying, as opposed to the auctioning of top ranking ad spaces in real time bidding involves the selling of ad spaces on websites, at a fixed price. The revolutionary advertisement module enabled several companies to handle their own promotion without the involvement of SEO companies. One can make their own advertisements and can put them in the ad spaces one can buy through the several media buying websites across the internet. While there is a plethora of media buying websites on the internet, listed below are the top 6 media buying websites.

1. Buysellads.Com Founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 2008, is arguably the most popular online media buying websites in the world. The website was ranked number 248 on Inc. magazine on their 2012 issue among the 500 fastest growing private limited companies in the US. The prices on the website depend on the number of impressions and will allow you to buy ad spaces for your product or services to be displayed with relative ease. 2. Advertise.Com The best feature of the website is that it lets you to customize the ad placement and offer several other services that help boost the traffic on your website. You can also custom design your marketing campaign and display your product to a wider audience though its unique ad placement system at affordable prices.

3. AMPkeywords.Com Another popular media buying website with a slightly distinctive user interface, allows one to buy ad space across various popular websites on the internet. The minimum order is as low as $100 and is great value of money due to its effective ad placement method.

4. Sitescout.Com Based in Toronto, Canada, Sitescout.Com was founded in 2009. The website is famous for its introduction of a self-serving interface which allows several users to customize their advertisement layout with several format and ad campaigns. also allows to bid through their mobile phones for the advertisements that appear on their multimedia enabled smartphones. 5. Adbrite.Com With a minimum price of $100 for creating and placing custom banner ads, is also a great resource to take care of your online advertising needs. The pay-per-click ad service is also featured on this website that allows the encryption of sponsored links in your advertisements. The quality however is not as great as the other mentioned websites and can have certain restrictions in placing advertisements.

6. Adread.Com A division of the media mogul CPXi, they are the largest display publishers and a popular media buying website. It provides a minimum order of $300 which is great value for money due to their high quality of service that have made them a favorite among the new companies looking forward to promote their product or services.

The main task of media buying is to ensure that the website owners get the access to the widest of audience with the most reasonable of prices. The above-mentioned websites are few of the most popular media buying and ad building platform across the internet. The high prices of certain websites are evenly matched by the high quality promotion that they offer with great value for money. For more details on media buying and to consult the services of a media buying agency please visit

Luke Peters is a blogger that has written several articles on travel, lifestyle, law, finance, healthcare, etc. Luke also blogs for a media buying agency, Media Group World Wide.
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Even in 2014, people are still making the same old SEO black hat trick mistakes, and some of the classics are even being recycled for new generations of SEO whizzes. As you know, one wrong move and search engines can greatly penalize you (just look at what happened when Google allegedly caught eBay engaging in black hat tricks). It’s time for a refresher course on what not to do with SEO, and best practices to keep your online presence shining.

First, remember that there’s no such thing as mastering SEO. It’s a constantly evolving tactic and once you think you’ve got it nailed, algorithms change and suddenly you’re back to square one. Don’t get frustrated, but just think of it like yoga or medicine. It’s a lifelong practice, and you’ll get better at it, but you won’t ever dominate it.

Here are some of the biggest SEO mistakes still being made today and how to correct them.

1. Poor quality content

People just can’t seem to grasp the fact that not everybody can write, and not all writers are SEO writers. Text content is still a huge deal in SEO, and if it’s not high quality you won’t get readers. It’s that simple. This leads to high bounce rates, which algorithms will read as poor quality content (because it is).

2. Invisible text

Just because someone can’t read the text (because it’s the same color as the background) doesn’t mean search engines can’t. If you stuff keywords or hide links in invisible text, you’re going to get caught and penalized for this black hat trick. It might not happen right away, but it’s not worth the risk.

3. Not following analytics

You’re doing everything right (or at least you think so), but those weekly reports you’re supposed to be running and analyzing just don’t seem that important come Friday afternoon. This is like trying to lose weight without ever weighing or measuring yourself and just hoping/assuming it’ll work. You need to know where you stand and many SEO reports are free.

4. Assuming videos and images are useless for SEO

“Content” can mean a lot of things, and the reality is that more people want images such as infographics as well as quality, brief videos as part of their content feed. Algorithms actually can see and translate the quality of images and videos, and you can help them with proper descriptions. Make the most of description options, tags and links.

5. Doing it yourself

There’s a very good reason there are SEO professionals and firms who are charging a pretty penny. This isn’t something you can do yourself, and even if it was it would eat up all of your time (and sanity) to do it right. If you really want to make the most of SEO, squeeze professional services into your budget. This is a niche and a specialty that requires years of training and practice.

Most importantly, remember that you can always improve your SEO. There’s no such thing as a lost cause, unless of course you’ve been penalized and then it might be better to start from scratch.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Working from home and being your own boss is everyone's dream job. Who doesn't want to sit in front of a computer and make money from their pajamas? However, did you know that a workspace that doesn't look professional can be unproductive? Work-at-home entrepreneurs should not let the comfort of their homes interfere with their tasks, and to maintain the delicate balance you need to cut yourself off from whatever is going on in your home. There must be a physical barrier which can radiate an aura of restriction to not just the usual sounds we hear at homes but also to interruptions from family members. The simplest way that can be achieved is by creating that space from scratch. 1. Useful, efficient equipment It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that your speed and efficiency is vital when you’re working at home. The trick is to not pay for tools and equipment you’re not going to use every day. If you have to scan and print pages on a daily basis, chances are you already own a scanner and a printer. What this means is that you do not need to buy a separate photo copy machine just to copy a few page occasionally. Flexibility is another issue you should address when it comes to improving the level of comfort you can work in. A wireless router will allow you to work from anywhere in your house. Although this will make the atmosphere more casual but when it comes to improving your efficiency, it will actually help boost creativity and allow you to get more things done. It is important to note that when you’re buying new equipment, you’re investing money on the fastest machines because you do not want to waste your time waiting for them to work.

2. Proper lighting Natural daylight is always a better option than artificial light bulbs since sunlight contains almost equal proportions of each color in the spectrum. Windows in the office space will help light up the room perfectly. The lighting in a room is often associated with psychological effects so it’s best to keep the room bright and sunny if possible.

Proper furniture can also boost lighting effects, so it's important to make the right choices. Glass tables (even a glass desk) are excellent design pieces. They don't just reflect natural light but they also make your workspace look wider and more modern. 3. Privacy is paramount It’s impossible to work with maximum efficiency if you are constantly being interrupted by a wave of random noises. Privacy must be taken into consideration when designing your home office. Although headphones are always an option when it comes to reducing surrounding noises, it’s neither easy nor comfortable to wear headphones throughout the day. The windows may be noise insulated by using portable screens and to create a segregate room, bookcases may double as walls which will not only provide privacy but also give you more storage space.

4. Layout/organization It’s essential to figure out how much space you’re going to need to keep your work-related things neatly stored before you build your office. You can save a lot of space this way which can later be allocated for other uses. When you start working from home, you will spend a lot of time on your desk, so you need to make sure that it’s fit for that exact purpose. If you plan on using a computer to work, then you need to make sure that there's ample space to do paper work beside your computer. The only way you can work with maximum efficiency is to be organized. 5. Ergonomics No matter how important your work is? your health and safety must always come first. It is essential to create an environment where your health is always taken into account. There are many ways this can be achieved – the simplest is to get an adjustable chair. Different people have different seating positions based and their height, weight and many other factors. Make a sensible choice, ensure that your body posture is adequate, and working from home will be extremely productive. 6. Modular furniture Modular furniture should help keep your stuff organized. Also, these items are chic, practical, and they don't take up much space. If you can't afford a huge work station at home, it's paramount to make smart investments as far as the furniture is concerned. Working from home and being a successful entrepreneur from the comfort of your living room can be challenging. It's up to you to make the most with the space you have available. Don't get too comfortable and try to make that area look professional.

William Taylor is the writer of this article, he's interested in writing about business related products. He also writes for the site where you can get a vast range of office furniture.
Friday, February 14, 2014

There is no doubt your business will benefit from a comprehensive marketing plan, so long as you have one and you work it. Yet knowing that fact and actually implementing a workable marketing plan are two very different things. Small businesses have a lot to contend with, and even though we all know marketing is a critical component to success, it can become very easy to veer off course while tending to customers, employees, and day-to-day business operation. To make it easier to market and grow your business, consider the following five ways to get your marketing plan on track early this year.

1. Set your budget Before you can effectively market your business, you need to know how much you are able to invest in marketing. Determine your annual marketing budget, then break it down into a monthly budget. It's a simple step yet plays a major role in your decision-making process all year.

2. Set your annual marketing goals What do you want to achieve with your marketing this year? Naturally, you want to earn greater profits, but you have to set measurable goals in order to determine which marketing tactics yield the best results. Set goals not only for revenues and return on investment but also response rate, number of current customers who buy again, number of new customers you gained, and any other metric that will help you make better marketing decisions.

3. Develop your action plan Once you have your budget and goals in mind, determine how, exactly, you're going to use your marketing budget to achieve those goals. My suggestion is to research what your successful competitors do and what is the norm for your industry, and start there. If you're an established business, continue doing what has historically worked – but resolve to try something new each month.

Now, you can lay out your marketing plan, month-by-month, so you'll know when you'll be sending direct mail postcards, placing posters and banners in targeted areas, pushing PPC ads online, or investing in social media reach, for example. Make sure each method has a tracking mechanism – a coupon code, personalized URL, or other tool – so you can measure response.

Assign a realistic projected investment to each marketing step you take until you reach your annual budget. Now, you have an entire marketing plan laid out for the next 12 months.

4. Create tasks Once you have your plan, you have to implement it. To do so, break down each month's marketing actions into weekly and daily tasks. Track your progress each day; by achieving each daily task, you can rest assured knowing you're on track for achieving your annual goals.

5. Analyze results Each month, set aside a day to analyze the results of your marketing campaigns using the tracking mechanisms you incorporated into each marketing channel. Use that data to tweak future campaigns in order to achieve even better results.

It sounds like a lot of work, but a determined marketer can lay the foundation for a full year of marketing success in just a couple of days. That will make keeping to your plan with daily tasks a breeze – they won't take up much time, and you'll be encouraged to do them by knowing your plan is working.

This strategy also frees you to investigate new opportunities as they arise (in fact, I recommend withholding a portion of your marketing budget just for unexpected opportunities). In this manner, you'll not only have a comprehensive and effective marketing campaign, you'll also have the ability to profit from unexpected opportunities.

Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's easier than ever to start a small business, but it's also easier than ever to fail. No matter how long you've been in business, whether a startup or a seasoned success, you're always at risk of failure. In 2014, knowing how to grow your business and continue to operate efficiently and profitably is critical. It starts with knowing where your business stands, where you want it to go, and how you'll get it there. That's why knowing the following 10 things is essential to small-business survival in 2014.

1. Your goals and how you'll achieve them

Start planning for 2014 by writing down measurable business goals as well as the steps you'll need to take to achieve them. Break each goal down into monthly and weekly tasks so you can track your progress. Without goals and a goal achievement plan, you're blindly moving in a random direction when you want to be moving forward.

2. Marketing plan

Your marketing plan for 2014 should cover everything you're going to do to promote your company, products, and services. From print marketing such as posters and flyers to direct mail marketing such as postcards to digital marketing and advertising, you should have your comprehensive marketing plan ready to go – along with a reasonable budget.

3. What your competitors are up to

To be sure, your competitors aren't going to reveal their marketing strategies for 2014; however, you can keep tabs on what they're doing early in the year to gain a sense of the direction they're going. Know your enemy, so you can beat your enemy.

4. What about health care?

Changes in health care laws will have a major impact on small businesses in 2014. Get with a knowledgeable health insurance broker to help figure out how to keep health care costs manageable.

5. How customers perceive your brand

The beginning of the year is a great time to survey customers to determine how they perceive your brand, products, and services. Capitalize on what they love about you, fix what they don't, and then measure again in 2015 to see how you've improved.

6. What challenges you'll face and how you'll solve them

Your business is in a unique situation; I don't know what that is, but I know you're going to face challenges that are likewise unique to your business. Determine what they are and create a plan for solving them early in 2014.

7. Product and service changes

Will you be offering new products or services in 2014? Discontinuing others? Making sweeping changes to how you deliver your products? Make sure you've anticipated customer reaction to changes before you make major moves.

8. Missed opportunities

Consider what opportunities you missed out on in 2013 and then determine why you missed those opportunities and how you can be prepared to take advantage of similar opportunities in 2014. To err is human; to not learn from mistakes is a recipe for disaster.

9. What your most valuable employees want

Happy employees are easy to retain. Find out what will make work life better for your most valuable employees. It doesn't necessarily mean more money; days off, shorter working hours, performance-based rewards, and other incentives can be more powerful methods of employee retention.

10. Whom you're going to count on for advice

Do you have a small-business advisory board? A SCORE mentor? Determine who you're going to count on for business advice in 2014. You don't have to follow every piece of advice, but listening is free and can lead to innovative insights that foster better business practices.

What else do small businesses need to know in 2014?

Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Business negotiations are without a doubt puzzling. Whether you’re bargaining in person, on the phone, in a chat room, or by mail, it’s often difficult to find the right words and make the most of a business meeting. Still, we live in a world that’s overflowing with advanced technology. Everything we do we do online. How do we negotiate with people we can’t see? Both small and medium enterprises have started to use the services of online freelancers to promote their websites, increase ranking through search engine optimization, and ask for help with an advertising campaigns because they finally understood that hiring online can be both fruitful and affordable.

Communicating with people you don’t know and asking them to be part of your team calls for different negotiation strategies. You can be a savvy negotiator in the real world, but online your strategies might not work so well if they’re not adapted. The internet is like a mediator between two negotiators, so there’s no wonder why online business deals often start on the wrong foot. Make the most a negotiation and learn how to bargain with people you can’t see:

Be a good listener Whether you’re negotiating a deal by phone or via a chat room, it’s extremely important to listen to the demands of your opponent. In the online world you can’t read an opponent’s body language, so you can’t guess whether he’s being nervous or not. That’s probably the greatest disadvantage of online negotiations. If the conversation takes place on the phone, it might be a good idea to take notes. Write down everything that comes out the mouth of your opponent because you’ll have the chance to use that information to your advantage later on.

Negotiating by e-mail can be fruitful While it’s perfectly true that e-mail chatting with a negotiator can pose more issues than solutions, that shouldn’t mean the method is completely ineffective if used right. Interacting and changing business information via an e-mail is not the ideal way of bargaining for a deal. But what do you do if you have no choice? SMEs with established online headquarters must learn the art of negotiation in the virtual world. It takes a plain e-mail to show your interest in another business’s services, so if they want a partnership they’ll send a reply. Using e-mailing as a negotiation strategy can be extremely useful. Keep things short, don’t give a lot of explanation, and maintain their interest. Making them curious can eventually lead to a face-to-face negotiation even if they might come to see you from the other end of the world.

E-negotiations vs. face-to-face negotiations With the advent of advanced technology and growing interest in e-business, traditional negotiations are not that traditional anymore. Whether we like it or not, technology is influencing and completely changing the way people negotiate. While we can’t argue that face-to-face negotiations provide a much better flow of data between two or more negotiating parties, e-negotiations can be equally fruitful. Business people in general have mixed feelings as far as online negotiations are concerned; yet, we have to admit that the way we do business in today’s society has changed to 180% degrees.

Companies work a lot better in the online environment. Websites that offers complete services, e-commerce business, and even informational blogs, don’t have an office. How do these CEOs negotiate? How do they convince others to be on their team? It’s simple – they e-negotiate.

Benefits of negotiating with people you can’t see Conventional negotiations performed face-to-face may lead to inefficient outcomes, thus making more room to e-negotiations. SMEs have started to agree that bargaining online can be a quick, direct way of reaching a goal while maintaining anonymity. Anonymity in business can help two parties negotiate objectively without being influenced in any way by their opponents. The deficiency of non-verbal signals in hostile business negotiations can reduce conflictual situations and lead to successful deals.

Negotiating with people you can’t see can bring your company a lot of benefits. There’s no subjectivity in the virtual world, so an opponent can’t influence your decision in any way. SMEs with online businesses have great chances of settling on great deals providing that they learn how to master the art of negotiations online. The principles are the same as in the real world, yet they have to be adapted to the virtual environment.

The article is authored by a regular blogger and writer William Taylor. He loves writing and has contributed many articles on small business at various blogs. He writes for The Gap Partnership, a site offering negotiation workshops in 12 languages in over 50 countries.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's been said business partnership is a lot like marriage, and that adage is literally true for spouses who choose to go into business together. If you think husband and wife business partners are an infrequent novelty, think again. According to the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, an estimated 80 percent of businesses are family-owned, including companies that are co-owned by spouses. Some husbands and wives think they'd make good business partners while others are certain it would never work. The truth is you'll never know until you give it a shot, but there are a few steps you can take when going into business with your spouse that will make things run smoothly and increase your chances of remaining married.

Define Your Individual Positions

The number one thing Inc. lists for married business partners to do is establish clear, distinct roles within the company. Everyone has a strong suit, so take on those responsibilities you're best at. For instance, the one who's the outgoing "people person" should head up marketing, sales and communications, because your gregarious nature is tailor-made for chatting people up and educating them on your business. The computer expert out of the two of will be better at assuming the inventory and accounting duties. Once you've separated responsibilities and roles, keep them separate and respect each other's work and boundaries to ensure toes don't get stepped on.

Communication Advice

Yes, communication is key in any relationship, and even more so in a business relationship that also happens to be a marriage. Not only is it important to place focus on speaking and listening carefully, but it's a good idea to have at least a third person present during business discussions. Doing so will keep conversation from drifting into personal areas, as well as help clarify issues. Husbands and wives sometime slip into speaking in shorthand, leaving sentences incomplete and assuming unspoken conclusions. With more than the two of you involved in business discussions, not only will your meetings stay on track, but nothing will be left unsaid.

The Marriage Comes First

Your business shouldn't flourish at the expense of your marriage. Both partners need to be on the same page when it comes to your relationship coming first. Go into business as a mutually supportive team. Running a business is stressful when alone or together, but if you have each other's back, one of you will always be up for the challenge.

Separate Business and Personal Life

Keeping personal and business issues separate is difficult for some couples, but it's essential if you want to stay married and make your business succeed. Make and keep a weekly date. "Shop talk" isn't always avoidable, but you can decide whether or not it's off limits during date night. Forbes admonishes business partner spouses to respect the rule of "no." If one spouse doesn't want to talk business during scheduled time away from the office, enjoy the evening and schedule the discussion during business hours or another agreed upon time.

Michael Pratt is a Southwest native and a pastor. He recently started a local soup kitchen and shelter as a charity project for his church. Michael and his wife also teaches small business about online accounting and how to improve their cash flow for free.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Have you been thinking about getting a WordPress site but are intimidated by the whole process? Well, the good news is that you can easily get everything set up. We are going to be covering all of the major aspects of setting up your new WordPress website.

Get a Domain Name & Hosting First of all, you are going to need to buy a domain name for your site. You can get one for pretty cheap, and usually from the same company that you can get your hosting from as well. You are going to want to make sure that your hosting company has easy WordPress installations. Since it is such a popular platform now, most major hosting companies have it.

Install WordPress The next step is to have it installed. This is usually a fairly simple process. You will just need to let your hosting company that you want to install it to your domain name, and within a short amount of time, you will have it up and running and be able to log in.

Pick & Install a Theme Alright, so now that you have your site up and running with WordPress installed, you are going to need to choose a theme to install. You can choose from thousands of free choices, or you can buy a premium theme for all of the extra benefits. Unless you are planning a professional site with a large amount of traffic, a free theme will usually be sufficient. Different themes will provide different layouts, widgets, and other major things. You will most likely need to go through lots of different themes before you find the exact one you want to choose.

Make all of Your Customizations Once you find a perfect theme, then it is time to customize it with everything that you need. This is where you will create pages, upload images, change your backgrounds, update your fonts, and anything else you think will make your site better. Anything you can think of will be available for you to change. One of the biggest parts of WordPress is that it is a open source platform, which means that people are able to make changes or create things for it freely. Since it is open source, the amount of plugins that have been created are incredible. You will be able to add anything you want. Some examples of popular plugins are, interactive sliders, forms, traffic statistics, extra security, and plenty more.

Start Posting Content Congratulations, if you have made it to this point you officially have a live website that is designed exactly how you want it. Now it's time to start posting content to attract more viewers. Since WordPress is a content management system, it makes its incredibly easy to get it done. You will have a text editor, be able to upload images, implement videos, and plenty more. You should have no problem creating perfect content for your target audience. If you plan to be posting a lot of content throughout the life of this website, then you are going to want to spend the time and effort that it takes to create the best content possible. The better the content, the more people you will attract.

Outsourcing the Work If you have read everything and just don't want to deal with it or are still a bit confused about exactly how to do some things, then another great option would be to outsource the work. There are plenty of people that are willing to do it all for you, for extremely cheap. You can use freelance websites to have a professional do it or you can use a professional design firm if you are looking to have a superior website. Depending on what your goal is for your site will determine how you should get your website created. WordPress was originally intended for people who wants to setup their own blogs but has eventually evolved. This guide to setting up WordPress is pretty basic, but it will give you the idea of exactly what the process is. If you want more tips on how to design a site or some more plugin options, you will have no problem finding other content that will go into more detail about those things.

This guest post is contributed by Ness. She writes articles on behalf of MakeAWebsite – a review website of hosting providers giving users an idea of how a particular web host performs.
Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cybersecurity has long been a concern amongst business entities and will continue to be at the forefront of their security concerns for the foreseeable future. This often thrown about term is, however, often misunderstood though it’s actually a rather simple concept – cybersecurity can be defined as the processes and technologies that protect against criminal or unauthorised use of electronic data.

Whilst a simple concept there’s actually nothing remotely simple about cybersecurity and due to the very real threat of criminal cyber activity it’s also big business, though that doesn’t mean that your business needs to break the bank protecting itself from cyber criminals.

We often hear about major corporations and government agencies coming under attack by hackers, but attacks against smaller business entities are on the rise and at the present point in time approximately 32 percent of all cyber attacks are aimed at businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Whilst your business might be much smaller, it’s still worth bearing in mind that the damage to a relatively small business can be devastating and that there are affordable preventive measures available.

Steps that your business can take to prevent cybercrime

There are a number of preventative measures your business can take to reduce the risk of attack by hackers and cyber criminals, many of which attack businesses for amusement and not only for financial gain.

1. Implement a cost effective VPN VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are well known for being a cost effective preventative measure that can reduce the risk of cyber attacks. Businesses with mobile workforces are increasingly at risk because there’s greater potential exposure to ‘eavesdroppers’ when using Wi-Fi in public places.

Whilst you can implement state-of-the-art VPNs that set your business back thousands of dollars this, however, is generally not necessary and there are many free or immensely affordable software programmes available. Some good examples of these are open source software programs of which there are a number available.

2. Understand your IDS Having a good Internal Detection System (IDS) isn’t enough, you need to adjust its configuration and understand the reports it generates and the activities it logs. If you don’t have an IT expert in your organisation an IDS can prove difficult to use effectively, though if you have some tech savvy individuals working for you get them on the case.

Some businesses have found it worthwhile sending a member of their organisation to receive training for the particular IDS they use. This could prove costly, but then again so too can a cyber attack, so you need to weigh the benefits against the risks here.

3. Use data encryption Sure, there once was a time when using encryption was something that only the military and spy agencies went for, though nowadays data encryption is used extensively in business and there are a number of low cost data encryption solutions available to enhance your cyber security. There are a couple of drawbacks to using data encryption programs, such as employees forgetting their key or failing to return them when they leave the organisation, though these are manageable drawbacks that you as a savvy business manager will surely be able to handle.

4. Secure powered-down switches This is an excellent investment and one that actually pays for itself in a short period of time by reducing power consumption. Locking down unused network ports with switches that turn the power off or down when not in use will help to secure your unused ports, as is auto shut-off which will help to keep prying computers from entering your network.

5. Create strong passwords It all seems so simple at times – for cyber criminals and for you. One of the biggest mistakes made is failing to make strong passwords and using the same password over and over. Whilst it can be difficult to remember a number of passwords, resist the temptation to use passwords that are easy to guess or just blatantly obvious.

Moreover, make your passwords lengthy and if you need to write them down, keep them far from your computer and make sure your staff do the same – many cyber attacks are actually the work of insiders.

Sienna Hart is a freelance writer for IT Governance Ltd, caters to the needs of those who are looking for comprehensive corporate and IT governance training, tools, books and information in UK. They also provide assistance for improving a company's cyber security.