Online education portals like Udacity and Coursera are really changing the world of remote learning in significant ways. By making free and high quality education accessible to a global audience, these platforms are opening up undreamt of possibilities for communities around the world to improve, grow, and prosper in the digital economy of the 21st century. Education at top tier colleges and universities has traditionally been a social and economic privilege, but now anyone can join in the learning revolution by sitting in virtual classrooms with the world’s best and brightest educators. Whether this involves learning how to code and build smart phone apps, or starting up a new business, or learning about public health literacy, the sky is the limit of what’s now possible.

Everything about Web and Network Monitoring


security 5Small businesses today are more vulnerable than ever to cyber attacks and therefore must take clear and strategic positioning around this topic. The recent Target debacle and the compromise of 40 million credit cards and 110 million identities highlight the vulnerabilities that exist in even the largest of retailers. How much more so for smaller players in the market.


So what exactly is a small business to do today in order to secure their private data and assets against malware, viruses, or hackers? Especially when hackers are becoming ever more professional and sophisticated in their attacks. If we can identify a trend in the preceding discussion it’s that cyber security really encompasses three major segments: protection, prevention, and proactive defense. Here are the main points in each category to remember.


Protect Your Environment


  • Anti-virus software: Keep all software updated and make it automatic.
  • Stronger passwords: Make passwords longer and with more symbols and numbers.
  • Browser security: Use HTTPS internet protocols to gain most secure connection points.
  • Router settings: Default settings are a giveaway and invite hackers in; change them!
  • Backup, backup, backup: Anything lost can be easily recovered if necessary.
  • Educate: Get buy-in from employees through annual or semi-annual compliance checks.
  • Emergency plan: When the need arises, have a plan for clearly communicating a breach.


Hacker Prevention


  • USBs & thumbdrives: Any devices found in isolation should be checked first with IT.
  • Secure network: Use the latest WEP-2 standards for securing your wireless.
  • Personal VPN: Low prices and high security make this a win-win option for any business.
  • No phishing!: Be aware of spammy looking email that requests information or funds.
  • Penetration testing: Help protect critical data, maintain compliance, and reduce risk.


Proactive Defense


  • Emergency team: Train a team that can identify the what, where, and why of an attack.
  • Catalog previous attacks: Document all tools, techniques, and methods already used.
  • Ethical hacking: Legitimate use of hacking to test a company’s vulnerabilities.
  • Counter measures: Reveal weaknesses in hackers tools of choice and then exploit them.
  • Black lists Work with your ISP to block all known attackers from reaching you.


Small businesses today are in an extremely vulnerable situation as most have no formal cyber security plan. Again, it bears repeating that if a retail giant like Target could experience such an epic security breach, then small businesses should do everything in their power to protect, prevent, and defend against cyber warfare by adopting clear cybersecurity strategies. Don’t feel that you have to tackle everything at once, but work deliberately and clearly with key stakeholders and business leaders to establish milestones and benchmarks for the implementation of the above measures. Establish clear goals on the road towards “compliance.” Introduce your employees to the topic and ensure that they understand the benefits of cyber security. Make 2014 the year your organization adopts cyber security best practices and advances its pledge for a safe and secure future.


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Ralph Eck

About Ralph Eck

Ralph is an international businessman with a wealth of experience in developing; telecommunications, data transmission, CATV and internet companies. His experience and expertise positions him uniquely in being able to; analyze, evaluate and critique technology and how it fits into a business’ operational needs while supporting its’ success.