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When SMEs leave door open to data loss

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If you run a SME, you may think that data breaches and cybercrime are concerns mostly for big banks, retailers and telecoms companies. But you would be wrong, a data brach for an SME can damage a company for years to come, writes DARYL BLUNDELL, GM for Sage Pastel Accounting. 

Not just for big firms

Even though headlines about data breaches and losses focus on big companies like Sony and Dropbox, small businesses are not immune.  The UK’s Federation of Small Businesses found that 41% of SMEs in that country suffered from cybercrime last year. Though there’s a shortage of similar research for South Africa, our stats are likely to be in the same ballpark.

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Small companies are, if anything, more vulnerable than larger counterparts because their defences tend to be weaker. They don’t have the IT specialists or budgets of larger companies, so their information security is often more basic. Yet their customer data or access to their online banking systems are nonetheless lucrative targets for today’s highly motivated cybercriminals.

SMEs are likely to become even more attractive as targets as a spate of recent high-profile data breaches prompt bigger companies to redouble their security efforts. Thus, small companies must take firm steps to protect their businesses, especially with laws such as POPI compelling them to safeguard the processing, usage and handling of sensitive customer information.

A technical and financial challenge

For many small companies, this sounds daunting as they do not have the technical expertise or the budget to build an effective on-site security and backup solution. This is where cloud computing can be hugely valuable, due to its ability to offer any organisation top-of-the-line protection.

Credible cloud providers’ offers strong security measures to give firms peace of mind. The companies that provide cloud solutions have bullet-proof security in place because they serve thousands of clients who trust them to keep their data safe. Thus, they are able to invest in the sort of high-end information infrastructure and processes that no SME can afford.

Get up and running with data backups

Another key advantage of cloud services is that if a business does encounter data loss or breaches, it will be able to access backups stored in the cloud to immediately get up and running again, minimising any disruption to services and ensuring downtime doesn’t cost the company money.

Of course, it’s also important to follow common-sense precautions to protect your information. Use anti-malware software on your computers. Ensure that access to your devices and online services are protected by strong passwords.

Encrypt any sensitive data you must store on a device’s hard drive or flash memory. And educate your end-users about the importance following these simple policies as well as the dangers that phishing, malware, and other security threats pose to your business.

You wouldn’t leave your business premises unlocked overnight so that thieves can walk in and help themselves to your assets. Don’t leave a virtual door open for them, either. After all, your online banking logins, customer data, and good reputation are some of the most valuable things that your small business owns.

Protect them with care.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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