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A Cyber Security Toolkit For Your Small Business

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Cyber Security Toolkit
As unfortunate as it may be to say, 2013 marked a monumental year in data breaches, mainly for businesses that weren’t prepared with the necessary level of cyber security. According to Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Report there was a 493% increase in stolen identities since 2012, amounting to over 550 million affected customers.

Many remember recent headlines involving breaches in Apple’s iCloud, but most of us will never hear about the smaller targets data thieves have been cleaning out due to the lack of media attention. The National Small Business Association put out a survey, through which they found nearly half of all small businesses reported being victim of a cyber-attack.

With a reported 66% of all small businesses depending on the internet for day to day operations, there is still a resounding unawareness to to how damaging a data breach can be to your company’s future and reputation.

Thankfully those coding for cyber security are always a few steps ahead. October is recognized by the Tech Community as National Cyber Security Awareness month, so we wanted to compile a comprehensive guide for small businesses to prevent any such data breaches from occurring as we head towards the end of 2014.

Using four levels of protection will ensure your data stays safe.

 

Securing Your Foundation

Regardless of how big your business is, there are mandatory steps to ensuring the foundation of your cyber security is rock solid. Just like you lock away your valuable possessions, you’re going to need to categorize and document what digital files you’re keeping in vulnerable areas. These categories should be broken down like this:

  • Highly Confidential – All of your most sensitive data should be placed in this tier. This includes anything that if stolen could impact your customers, employees, or business as a a whole. Think identity information, things like: passwords, social security numbers, credit-card info, or names and addresses.
  • Sensitive – The fine line between sensitive and highly confidential is what couldn’t destroy something if stolen in the financial sense. Sensitive documents are things you wouldn’t want seen externally of your business for privacy reasons. Reports on your employees, marketing plans, contact info, or performance data are all sensitive and would be best stored separately.
  • Internal Use Only – Information that is available to all your employees, but still would be best unknown to the public can be classified as internal only. This data may not harm your company, but still is considered items you won’t post publicly.

 

Securing the foundation also means safeguarding all your devices, should a hard drive or thumb device get lost.

 

Level 1 Threat Protection

  1. Restrict Access Points - Knowing which data is the most sensitive will help in choosing who can access it, the less people capable of opening the bridge the less likely a hacker will be able to get in. Always be conservative here, if there’s a document someone will need there will usually be an Admin capable of getting it for them.
  2. Train Employees On Digital Security Basics - Using email, and having to download software isn’t always black and white in terms of what is safe, and what might have some nasty malware zipped up inside. Provide the resources necessary to help your company recognize what threats may be present in the forms of phishing schemes, identity thieves, or even scammers calling in over the phone.
  3. Consider Storing Data On A Device Disconnected From Any Network – If your company has no reason to transfer crucial data remotely, don’t make it available anywhere except in the office, on a machine where employees can access it in person.
  4. Use Reputable Free Software- Not all Cyber Security comes with a hefty subscription fee, check out some verified by the National Cyber Security Alliance on this list.

 

Level 2 Protection

  1. Two-Factor Authentication – This is for the most sensitive data. Not only will employees need a password, they will also need a second step such as a PIN number, or ID card.
  2. Encryption - Encryption essentially mixes up data to look like a bunch of nonsense to those unauthorized to access it. The encryption you use will need to meet the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS-Certified), otherwise there’s still potential hackers can read the data by cracking your key.
  3. Hire A Security Specialist - This might mean paying to send a current employee to get certified as a security compliance officer, or consulting a local IT Professional to secure all the devices and networks with current protection capabilities.

 

Level 3 Protection

  1. Physical Facility Lock Down – Despite the transcendence into digital storage and remote access points, much of what can be stolen is still buried in physical machines and data units that can be broken into once removed from your facility. Preventing criminals from entering your building altogether cuts down the possibility what’s inside can be accessed.
  2. Consult Security Tests - Hiring an outside specialist who knows how to test infiltration points is your best friend when it comes to knowing for sure whether or not your system’s security is air tight. If they can get in, you’re not losing everything, and will know what to improve upon.
  3. Personal Device Protocol – Personal electronic devices can be detriments to certain access points. Smart phones that employees have connected to the wifi is as simple as it gets to allowing hackers to tap the network and get whatever data they want being transferred between the device and server. Your IT team can set up minimum security requirements so these outside devices won;t be able to access the network in the first place.

 

Small businesses have it especially tough when it comes to maintaining the security of their data. One breach can ruin the trust of an entire community, which is usually how small businesses thrive in the first place. Don’t allow your business to suffer.

SSLv3 Security Vulnerability aka POODLE

Written by Patrick Pelanne

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Tonight Google announced a flaw in the design of SSL v3. We have been tracking this issue after we heard whisperings in private security circles last week. Upon disclosure of the details we began remediating immediately.

The vast majority of end users should not experience any issues as a result of the changes we’re making. In fact, Google estimates this change will affect less than 1% of the internet. (The SSL 3.0 protocol is almost 15 years old but has remained in place to support users running older browsers.)

The attack vector for this vulnerability has prerequisites and is very sophisticated. As such, the real world severity is far below the recent Heartbleed & Shellshock vulnerabilities.

Check out Google’s Security blog for details.

If you would like to be 100% protected, you can disable SSLv3 in your browser settings. Information on how to do this in a few popular browsers can be found here.
 

*****

Patrick Pelanne is Endurance’s Vice President in charge of System Operations. Previously he has served as HostGator’s Chief Operating Officer and HostGator’s Deputy Chief Technical Officer.

Which Is Easier To Learn, Java Or Python?

Written by Natalie Lehrer

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Which Is Easier to Learn Java or Python

When it comes to learning an object-oriented programming language, you might consider starting with either Python or Java. While Python can be more user-friendly than Java, as it has a more intuitive coding style, both languages do have their unique advantages for developers and end users. However, if you are just beginning your path towards a programming career, you might want to start by learning Python, as it is less complex. On the other hand, you will be ahead of many of your colleagues if you are able to understand both. With that in mind, here are the main similarities and differences.

 

Java

Java is unique in its own way and for an advanced programmer, no problem to use. The first Java version 1.0 was released in 1995. By 2004, Java 5.0 was released; this version saw the insertion of generics into the Java language, providing Java with more efficient code and type safety. To date, the latest version of Java is SE 8, and it made its debut in 2014.

Currently, it is widely used as the key programming platform on smartphones and tablets. Additionally, Java programming language forms a large part of the basis for Android’s operating systems. Java syntax is primarily a derivative from C++ and combines universal, organized and object oriented programming that offers automatic memory management. Using Java byte-code is advantageous to porting since it has similarities to machine code. Other benefits to Java include:

•Static typing
•Curly braces used for noting the start and end of functions
•Programs are larger
•Does not compile native bytecode
•Can be run on any operating system that can run the Java Virtual Machine
•Cannot change data types of variables
•Object-oriented programming is mandatory

 

Python

Python was first released in 1989. As a high-level programming language, it makes a strong case for readable code. In addition to supporting object-oriented programming, it also supports imperative and functional programming. This multi-paradigm language is also structure supportive. It offers ‘meta-programming’ and ‘logic programming,’ as well as ‘magic methods.’ Other features include:

•Duck typing (Strongly typed)
•Uses whitespace to convey the beginning and end of blocks of code.
•Programs are small and therefore run much faster
•You need less code to create a program
•This program is slow in execution
•Compiles native bytecode
•You can assign a string to a variable that once held an integer
•Easier to read and understand relative to Java
•Is not supported across a wide variety of platforms
•Object-oriented programming is optional

 

Variances

Both of these development programs come with their strong suits. While Java allows you to enjoy cross-platform support, you can still execute Python on at least 10 different operating systems. You need to determine what your end goal is before you decide on which program to use. Java, however, is not recommended for beginners as it is a more complex program. Python is more forgiving as you can take shortcuts such as reusing an old variable.

Additionally, many users find Python easier to read and understand than Java. At the same time, Java code can be written once and executed from anywhere. A benefit to the Java platform is that it lets you download questionable code and run it in a secure environment, which cannot affect its host system. Furthermore, Java is network-centric, meaning you can create network-based applications.

Whichever you choose to learn is based upon your preferences, determination, and background. If you already comprehend the basics of Python, you might want to expand upon your knowledge before moving on to Java. However, if you have the time and will, learning Java allows you to program for a wide variety of environments that might make it more fulfilling in the long run.

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Author Bio:
Natalie Lehrer is a senior contributor for CloudWedge. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys exploring all things cloud and is a music enthusiast. Follow Natalie’s daily posts on Google Plus, Twitter @Cloudwedge, or on Facebook.

 

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ahayward/21203103/in/photolist-2SEWK-gu8vyH-9dampt-gu9efE-gu8wyi-gu82cw-gu9eKC-gu9pbP-gu98Fd-gu8wge-gu8QvR-gu93vo-gu9e7o-6Fypq-9H4Sh6-4p3T96-2SEWd-chREkJ-ez4jVd-gu9fpa-gu87nS-gu9ntk-gu8XML-gu8MRx-gu8Ryx-gu988E-gu9cke-gu9eca-gu9oRv-gu88r5-gu95sj-6hJWKV-gu82XE-gu8RZx-gu8NJz-gu9hst-gu8SHh-gu8c5C-gu9ubZ-gu9tTz-gu9w4X-gu8Xa3-gu8a5f-gu8CPp-gu9env-gu8Ayc-gu7Z6N-gu8Ex4-gu9aHE-gu86V9

Scheduling Hassles Are Disappearing

Written by Brandi Bennett

Monday, October 6th, 2014

google now

Scheduling

Scheduling matters. It’s a concept that everyone is made aware of from an early age; first with working to make sure that you’re up and dressed and ready to go for school on time, and later as a busy entrepreneur, a seasoned CEO, or as a new start-up owner. It doesn’t matter what your position is in the world, from the time that you’re old enough to go to school, you have a basic concept of what a schedule is, and that you’re supposed to be on one.

As you get older, these schedules become more and more important. You’re no longer on your own time as you were when you were a child on those lazy days of summer; the doctor can only see you at a set time, you’ve got to be at work at a certain time, and you’ve got that conference call at a certain time. Everything is on someone’s schedule.

 

Partial Systems

Over time, you come to have a system; that system may be sticky notes all over the place, a calendar on the wall in the kitchen, or even a reminder programmed into your phone. Still, you’ve got to remember to add all those important tasks to that calendar, into your phone, or write them down. The human mind can only remember so many things. If there’s not a system in place, it becomes easy to forget (“failing to plan is planning to fail,” after all). Little things, it may be argued, are okay to forget: failing to pick up an item out of the twenty you need from the grocery store is one thing, but failing to meet your boss to talk about a raise is something else entirely.

 

Tools

With today’s digital world, there are a host of different programs available that work to ensure that you can keep track of the events that make up the fifteen minute blocks of time that your days have been regulated to; still, in order for these tools to work, they require you to remember to input that information into their program.

Every email client and every online email provider has a calendar equivalent that can be utilized, and there are hundreds more that come in the form of apps or programs that may be installed; and yet, none of these are intuitive enough to be able to take your life and act as a secretary, at least, not until now. For those of you who use Gmail, there is a new light on the horizon; if you use Google’s Calendar, Google Now will take the conversations you have in your email and infer calendar events, asking you automatically if you want these events added to your calendar. What’s more is that the program will likewise notify you, based on how you setup the notifications, in advance, thus ensuring that you don’t miss an event simply because you forgot. The program will take everything from confirmation emails regarding travel plans to your message to your next door neighbor asking if he wants to get together for a barbecue on Saturday night and prompt you to see if you want the event added.

Now, it won’t create the events automatically, and if you forget after the notification, it’s hardly the program’s fault, but the fact of the matter is that this is a far more intuitive method than others currently available. Combine this with Google’s ability to setup business email addresses for the company, and you have a way to work to ensure that your employees will be able to make all their meetings without issue. While it’s not the be all and end all for all people, it does offer an additional means of working to ensure that your business runs smoothly, regardless of what that business is.

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