Small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs setting out on the road to commercial success now find an internationalised market at their fingertips.
Where before potential markets would be restricted to just the local or perhaps the national, now it is easy to reach specific niche audiences and pockets of consumers tucked in the various corners of the world. The internet has kicked down all those doors which remained locked to businesses before.
Calibrating your business so that it is digitally ready to meet the needs and demands of different international consumers is a big challenge. You are going to need to make sure that your IT infrastructure can take the strain of potential activity, and store and process valuable data effectively. You are also going to need to make sure it is safeguarded too. It is a good idea to start thinking about your IT in terms of its ‘health’, that is if you are not already doing so. Your business’s IT and digital health, just like your own, needs to be carefully considered, well maintained and looked after. It will certainly need more than just a status check every now and then.
Hackers, as it is now well documented, just love to target those startups, entrepreneurial organisations and small businesses who have not spent quite as much time securing their IT and data as they should do. Small businesses and organisations of this size simply do not have the manpower or resources to invest in IT security. Or so they think. Hackers are wise to this and know there are easy pickings to be had. However, in reality, small businesses have never been better supported.
Big business, governmental organisations and international agencies are well aware of the dangers posed by cybercrime and threats – both to businesses and to consumers, and therefore the global economy too.
There are so many resources out there it can be tricky to get a handle on where you should go for the best advice.
With that in mind, here are some of the most thorough, practically useful and applicable tools and resources:
1. US National Webcast Initiative
The National Webcast Initiative is “a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) as a means to provide timely and relevant cyber security education and information to a broad audience.” It’s also brimming with useful advice for businesses and is well worth a listen.
2. Infraguard Awareness
This is a free IT security training course to businesses with less than 25 employees which teaches employees at all levels how to make their business more secure. If your business fits that bill, you may want to integrate into new starters’ induction process to offer a thorough grounding at the get-go.
3. SANS Reading Room, Blogs and Courses
A treasure trove of multimedia material and learning tools for anyone interested in cyber crime and improving their IT security. Wide-ranging in topic and form, the SANS reading room is well worth a thorough browse.
4. Get Safe Online videos
For the consumer or business manager who is not so clued up on matters pertaining to internet security, the Get Safe Online campaign offers a great primer for concerned parents and conscientious internet users
5. AVG IT Health Check Tool
Anti-virus and internet security provider AVG has recently launched an excellent 17-step IT Health Check Tool designed to make small businesses think more profoundly about the various aspects of their own IT security and gives a rating on where the current level of activity stands in relation to the recommended levels.
6. Cyber Security Resources from Homeland Security
Finally, the US agency which keeps a very close eye on all things cybercrime has made public a wealth of resources for businesses – not just US-based – for those wishing to inform themselves and better prepare for the threat of hacking and cybercrime.