Understanding Data Breaches Is The First Step To Stopping Them

Since the very beginning of the year, over 10 million personal records have been lost or stolen on a daily basis. As a result, chances are high that you or someone you know has been victimized by a data breach. However, since many individuals and businesses are never notified, they may have incorrectly come to the conclusion that they are not at risk. This, unfortunately, is not the case.

In actuality, there is a considerably good chance that your personal information has already been compromised–but the company responsible for losing your information wasn’t required to inform you. This is just one reason why it is critical to understand your rights as outlined in data breach laws. Do you know what information is considered ‘personal’? How many loopholes could a company have used to avoid notifying you of the breach?

Legal Definition of Personal Information

Each state has its own laws that govern how businesses must respond to a data breach, and while there is a consensus on the basic responsibilities these organizations have once data is accessed without permission, there are differentiating opinions on what constitutes personal information. Two qualifications most jurisdictions agree on are:

First name or first initial and last name

AND

One or more of the following elements: social security number, driver’s license or state ID number, finance account numbers.

Some states choose to go a step further than this by only considering accounts secured with a PIN or password as being worthy of notification. For example, if your debit card number was stolen, the business that let it happen doesn’t need to contact you unless both the number AND the pin were compromised.

In states that have a more advanced view of data security, such as North Carolina and Nebraska, they include biometric information as part of their personal information considerations. Other states, like Missouri, have specific laws on the books that limit the legal portability that is inherent in the overreaching statutes.

Since the majority of health and medical data is protected under the federal Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), only a few states include this information in their definition of personal information.
Additionally, some state laws state a limit of personal information a company can have compromised before having to contact their state’s attorney general’s office. This number is variable, but most states agree that anything over 1,000-to-5,000 files lost constitute an offense in which reporting becomes necessary.

Currently, however, the statutes on the books are biased to protect organizations from individual legal reprisals. Qualifications that protect corporate interests include:

Encryption:

Many states have deliberately put in specific language to protect corporations if information was encrypted by an organization, stolen, and decrypted afterwards. This also goes for redacted information. If it was found that a business worked to secure the data, no breach notification would be necessary.

Questionable non-personal information:

In various states, questionable information can be included as non-personal information. One example is the last four digits of a person’s social security number. Since the whole number’s integrity remains intact, the organization would not have to file it as having been compromised with the state’s A.G.

Good-faith acquisitions:

Most states list “good faith acquisitions” as exemptions from standing data breach statutes. A ‘good faith acquisition’ is defined as an event where data is lost or compromised by people employed by the organization where an individual works, or had a working relationship with (like a vendor). Since a co-worker, superior, or vendor is not as likely to misuse or lose personal information, no breach notification is necessary if the event meets this very subjective ‘good faith’ requirement.

Risk of harm analysis:

Around half of U.S. states have laws that allow an information-holding entity to run a ‘Risk of Harm’ analysis to quantify the risk any compromised personal information has in regards to its use by another party, or potential abuse that information could have in unauthorized transactions. If they find that risk from harm is minimal, the organization doesn’t need to notify parties involved.

The fact is that a data breach, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, can be completely categorized as a negative event. Call the IT professionals at Kite Tech to find out how we can proactively manage your network to keep threats from affecting your data. Call us today at 410-356-3113.

 

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10 Ingredients To A Winning UCC Strategy

There is one thing that superior customer service, employee satisfaction, and overall productivity have in common: Communication. It’s the backbone of any company’s structure. With so much technology developed to improve the way humans interact with one another, businesses have begun to use technology to achieve a level of customer satisfaction and understanding that has never been reached before.

To do this, businesses call upon a unified communication and collaboration (UCC) strategy to encompass all the aspects their business needs to grow in the digital age. These are ten common elements that you might find included in a UCC.

Instant Messaging (IM)

When it comes to preferred methods of communication, instant messaging has been popular among individuals since the days of ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger. Since then, it’s proving to be useful as part of business communication strategies. It allows simultaneous and group conversations and immediate delivery/response. Are you concerned that instant messaging will prove a distraction for you and your team? Don’t be. 83% of employees reported being as productive or more productive with instant messaging than without. Companies who are already using IM in the workplace have cited work-efficiency, team collaboration, and email volume reduction as the top three benefits experienced after adopting instant messaging.

ChatBots

When programmed and executed properly, a ChatBot can be an effective communication tool for a business website. Most commonly associated with a popup, instant message-like blurb, ChatBots combine the use of human and artificial intelligence to improve the customer service experience. Chatbots serve a few basic functions.

Encourages Engagement: One of the main objectives of a company’s website is persuading visitors to engage or interact with the site using calls-to-action. ChatBots can be looked at as a call-to-action that follows the user as they navigate through the site, offering information and assistance.

Boosts Conversion through Personalization: When a user engages with a ChatBot, they’re going to give you an idea of why they’re on your website. This information can be utilized in a few ways. Not only will you learn how to personalize your sales approach for the visitor’s company but you’ll be able to track and evaluate user behavior on your site. This allows your organization to gain insight on what types of content are most valuable.

Improves User Experience: Practically every business has a list of frequently asked questions or requested information. With a ChatBot, you can set it so that certain responses are triggered when a website visitor uses certain keywords in their conversation. The ChatBot can then use that information to find the answers visitors are looking for, easily.

Discussion Forums

Another approach to simplifying a user’s search for information is through a discussion forum. For most businesses, forums offer a way for clients and prospects to collaborate with their peers, as well as, allowing your team to address issues, concerns, comments, and suggestions when needed. Rather than a direct ask/answer session between you and a single prospect or client, making and using forums are a great way to nurture sales and drive revenue by establishing you and your team as thought leaders.

As with ChatBots, discussion forums give you just as much information about your target market’s behavior and demographics as they are able to learn from the information about your products and services they find there.

Videoconferencing

Even though some primitive versions of the technology have been around for decades, video conferencing has really become practical over the past five years. Improvements in technology and higher Internet speeds allow clear audio and visual communication, in real time, from anywhere in the world.

A few statistics to consider when making a decision about video marketing for your MSP:

  • 96% of survey participants agreed that Video Conferencing improves productivity. (IDG Enterprise Video Conferencing Trends in 2016)
  • Companies that use video conferencing see a 30% reduction in travel costs. (IDG Enterprise Video Conferencing Trends in 2016)
  • Up to 37% of an employee’s work day consists of attending meetings. (United States Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Podcasts

Look at it this way: A podcast gives you the opportunity to cohesively educate or address a topic you know your audience would benefit from with less opportunity for interruption. The benefit of offering this type of ‘on demand’ content gives listeners flexibility to listen to your message in its entirety, as they see fit. Additionally, many people listen to podcasts exclusively through headphones, forging a deeper connection with the contents of the program. For those of you considering a podcast, here’s some essentials you should have ironed out when you begin planning your podcast.

  • Topic
  • Length
  • Frequency
  • Format
  • Distribution

Project Management Software

When it comes to project management, the majority of businesses make use of at least some type of business management software for a variety of tasks including planning and monitoring of project development, information centralization, simplification of exchanges, transparency and visibility. The right project management software can encourage collaborative work and organization among the team, as well as improve performance and effectiveness.

  • 77% of companies use project management software.
  • The most used features are document sharing, time tracking, email integration and Gantt charts.
  • 66% of organizations use project management software to communicate with their clients.

Collaborative Software

“If you’ve got development centers all over the world, you’ve got a sales force out with the customers, the fact that tools like Skype [and] digital collaboration are letting people work better at a distance—that is a wonderful thing.” – Bill Gates

Considering the popularity of the Microsoft Office productivity suite and the G Suite, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the concept of collaborative software. These popular apps are just a fraction of the software available that allows multiple users to work on a project or document simultaneously, in real time. Many also include their own instant messaging and video conference software. Considering the number of employers who allow their employees to telecommute or work remotely, collaboration software resources are integral to keeping your team connected and in sync with one another regardless of where they’re actually located.

Enterprise Social Networking

Despite what the name implies, Enterprise Social Networking has some great benefits for businesses of any size. The premise of enterprise social networking is that a company uses social media to develop their business both internally and externally. Public facing social media can be used as a way to seek out businesses that might benefit from their services or offer raw materials needed for a fraction of the price as a local distributer. Additionally, many businesses encourage employees to use social media to be a brand ambassador – promoting your business through company culture and audience engagement. This trend continues to grow as more businesses are deciding to take a risk and engage with their target audience on social media.

In terms of a UCC, businesses can choose from a variety of applications and software that improve internal collaboration and communication, driving productivity and streamlining processes. Luckily, many line-of-business applications are now being built with enterprise social media platforms as a component.

Email

Last but not least is email. Businesses no longer see it as a mere method of exchanging a message with a person or group. It’s now viewed as the primary record of more than three-quarters of business related correspondence.

Businesses often call upon an archived email to remind them of a transaction. In the event of a lawsuit, companies have been penalized because of failure to produce email records that corroborated one party’s version of the events.

When including an email platform into your UCC solution, you’ll want to make sure that your email is secure, has searchable archives, can be accessed easily on mobile devices, and integrates with your other software and applications when possible. Many offer the opportunity to archive emails in the cloud, as well as locally.

The number of businesses that are seeking a unified collaboration and communication solution has grown significantly over the past several years. As technology continues to evolve, so will the way businesses communicate. Would you like to learn more about how a UCC can enhance your business communications? Call us at 410-356-3113.

 

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Tip of the Week: How to Print Directly From Your Android Device

Have you ever tried to print something from your smartphone? Yes, we know that sounds kind of absurd–but it’s certainly not impossible. In fact, it’s often easier to do this than sending yourself an email with the attachment, or accessing the files on your desktop. We’ll go over how you can print a document or picture from your Android smartphone so that you can make things just a little bit simpler.


First, take a moment to think about how often you use your smartphone to access important documents via a cloud connection. Why waste time to print something out when you can accomplish largely the same feat just by connecting your device to your printer via Google’s Cloud Print?


First, you’ll want to check to see if your printer is Cloud Ready. You can use this web page to search for the product number to find out if it is or not. If it’s Cloud Ready, you can then access the wireless setup for your device in your printer’s software, which should be available on a connected desktop. Just make sure that it’s connected to your wireless network.


Depending on the brand and manufacturer of your printer, you may need to visit their website for instructions on how to set it up for Google Cloud Print. Otherwise, you should see your device in your web browser by typing chrome://devices into the search bar. If your device appears under New Devices, click on Manage. You’ll then be able to Register it. When you return to chrome://devices, you’ll see your printer located in the My Devices section, and you’ll be able to select it as a Print destination.


This next step involves downloading the Cloud Print app on your smartphone, which acts as an add-on to services like Google Docs, Gallery, and other apps on your phone. Once you’ve downloaded it, just navigate through Settings > Printing > Cloud Print.


The next time you find yourself in need of a quick print job, just check the settings of the app you’re working in. It will generally be accessed through the three-dot menu in the top-right corner. One of the options should display Print or Cloud Print. Afterwards, it’s only a matter of choosing which device you want to use.


Does your business need a hand with printing documents and other mobile-related issues? Reach out to Kite Tech at 410-356-3113.

 

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Android Starts Zero-Touch With Google Pixel, More To Follow?

Google’s Android line of smart devices have made their presence well-known in the business world. Google now offers a zero-touch enterprise solution for its Pixel-line mobile devices. The primary reason for this is that mobile devices are somewhat time-consuming to set up, especially on the business level. You can save time by pre-configuring these devices for your business to use using Pixel’s zero-touch solution.


This isn’t the first time that Google has targeted businesses with their line of smart devices. With special editions of the Google Play store, additional security solutions, and management dashboards, businesses can customize their devices as they see fit. However, since all businesses are different, the amount of time it takes to configure each and every device for various departments can vary significantly between organizations. This is why it’s so beneficial to get these devices almost completely pre-configured.


This type of device management might sound ideal, but it has a couple of limitations that are worth mentioning. Zero-Touch is only available through carrier opt-in (in this case Verizon) in the United States, and it’s only possible on the Google Pixel line of smartphones. Other providers, including AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile also plan on implementing zero-touch at a later date.


Furthermore, third-party Android device manufacturers also want a stake in this development. Manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Sony, LG, Blackberry, and Motorola all want to help bring zero-touch to more businesses.


This type of solution solves one of the most challenging parts of implementing mobile devices in the business world: multiple devices using different operating systems. If there’s no uniform standards for your mobile devices, maintenance becomes more difficult. This is called fragmentation, and it’s something that has been happening ever since different mobile OSes were introduced.


Does your business need a way to better handle mobile devices? If so, reach out to Kite Technology Group at 410-356-3113.

 

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Data Security Must Be a Priority for Your Organization

After 143 million people had their personal information put at risk in the Equifax data breach, it comes as no surprise that data security is an even hotter topic than usual. As much as you’d like to think that a breach like that would never happen to your business, this is an unrealistic hope that won’t do you any good if the threat of a data breach does come around. It is much better to be prepared.


Here are three means of securing your business through preventative measures.


Make Sure Your Users Are Familiar With Best Practices


You entrust your employees with your entire business, whether you mean to or not. After all, they are most likely to encounter a threat, and as a result are in the most contact with them. Are they prepared enough to carry that responsibility? Do they know how to recognize a phishing attempt, or an email that could potentially contain a nasty bit of ransomware? It is best if you take the time and educate your users on the warning signs of the various threats that are out there. Who knows–it may just be an employee’s vigilance that saves you from a major snafu.


Enforce Password Standards and Require Two-Factor Authentication


Your password is often the only bit of verifiable data that distinguishes you from someone else, from the computer’s perspective. Most password requirements demand that a password has a certain amount of characters, including a least one letter, one number, and occasionally one symbol with both capitalized and lowercase letters. While these passwords are considerably effective against someone trying to deduce your credentials, a brute force attack will likely crack it.


There is also the option of using a passphrase, which is a sentence that takes the place of the password that only you know. Either of these approaches work well, as a hacker will have no idea if you are using one method or the other, let alone which one. Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is another effective means of securing an account, as it requires a second set of credentials that is delivered directly to you via a mobile device before it will permit access.


Use UTM to Help Defend Your Network


A UTM, or Unified Threat Management, tool is a comprehensive defense against threats of all varieties. Including a spam blocker to protect your inbox, enterprise-level firewalls and antivirus solutions to repel threats, and a content filter to keep your workforce away from risky websites, a UTM makes sure that your business’ bases are covered. In addition to these features, your threat reaction time can become much quicker, allowing you to respond to issues before they cause very much damage.


These three defenses are an effective way to minimize the risk of a data breach. For more best practices for maintaining and protecting your business, keep reading our blog, and reach out to us at 410-356-3113.

 

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