3 “Must-Do” IT Resolutions For 2017

To do list“Never before in the history of humankind have people across the world been subjected to extortion on a massive scale as they are today.” That’s what The Evolution of Ransomware, a study by Mountain View, California-based cybersecurity firm Symantec, reported recently.

If you have any illusions that your company is safe from cyber-attack in 2017, consider just a few findings stated in a recent report by the Herjavec Group, a global information security firm:

  • Every second, 12 people online become a victim of cybercrime, totalling more than 1 million victims around the world every day.
  • Nearly half of all cyber-attacks globally last year were committed against small businesses.
  • Ransomware attacks rose more than an astonishing 300% in 2016.
  • The world’s cyber-attack surface will grow an order of magnitude larger between now and 2021.
  • The US has declared a national emergency to deal with the cyberthreat.
  • There is no effective law enforcement for financial cybercrime today.

Clearly, your company’s information and financial well-being are at greater risk than ever in 2017. And you cannot count on the federal or state government or local police to protect your interests. That’s why I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you implement the following resolutions starting TODAY.

Resolution #1: Tune up your backup and recovery system. The #1 antidote to a ransomware attack is an up-to-date backup copy of all your data and software. Yet managing backups takes more than just storing a daily copy of your data. For one thing, if your business is at all typical, the amount of data you store grows by 35% or more PER YEAR. If your data management budget doesn’t expand likewise, expect trouble.

Resolution #2: Harness the power of the cloud—but watch your back. Huge productivity gains and reduced costs can be achieved by making full use of the cloud. Yet it’s a double-edged sword. Any oversight in security practices can lead to a breach. Here are two things you can do to harness the cloud safely:

  • Determine which data matters. Some data sets are more crucial to your business than others. Prioritize what must be protected. Trying to protect everything can take focus and resources away from protecting data such as bank account information, customer data and information that must be handled with compliance and regulatory requirements in mind.
  • Select cloud providers carefully. Cloud vendors know that data security is vital to your business and promote that fact. Yet not all cloud vendors are the same. You can’t control what happens to your data once it’s in the cloud, but you can control who’s managing it for you.

Resolution #3: Set and enforce a strict Mobile Device Policy. As BYOD becomes the norm, mobile devices open gaping holes in your network’s defenses. Don’t miss any of these three crucial steps:

  • Require that users agree with acceptable-use terms before connecting to your network. Be sure to include terms like required use of hard-to-crack passwords, conditions under which company data may be “wiped” and auto-locking after periods of inactivity.
  • Install a Mobile Device Management System on all connected devices. A good system creates a virtual wall between personal and company data. It lets you impose security measures, and it protects user privacy by limiting company access to work data only.
  • Establish a strong protocol for when a connected device is lost or stolen. Make sure features that allow device owners to locate, lock or wipe (destroy) all data on the phone are preset in advance. That way, the user can be instructed to follow your protocol when their phone is lost or stolen.

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Ever asked yourself why some business owners and CEOs seem so blithely unconcerned about data protection? Don’t let their ignorance lull you into a false sense of security. If you’ve read this far, you are smart enough to be concerned. Call us right now at 605-882-6900 and we’ll send one of our top network security experts over for a FREE Network and Security Audit. It’s your best first step to a safe and prosperous 2017.

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New Nintendo Classic Rules Them All!

The Old and New of Console Gaming

For anyone in their late 20s to early 40s, chances are nothing shaped your life more than Nintendo. If it was your first “gadget,” if may even have been love at first sight.

And now, for Nintendo lovers, the Nintendo Entertainment System is back and better than ever with the NES Classic Edition. It’s tiny, but designed to look just like the original NES. Setup is a snap. Just plug it into your TV’s USB port. Hit the power button and you’re greeted with a screen where you can browse games and options. You can even select a CRT filter that replicates the lines and look of an old TV.

The color is sharp, the timing dead on and each pixel is a perfect square so you see the games exactly as designed. At 60 bucks, it’s a great gift for your favorite millennial (maybe even YOU!).

Smart Closing Technique, Step 1

It’s one thing to help a client identify a problem. It’s another thing to help them solve it. Yet a key part of client service is winning the privilege to help a client solve his or her biggest problems that are standing in the way of achieving their vision.

I counsel my teammates on three simple closing techniques for smart people. I want to share them with you because I’ve seen what a dramatic positive difference they can make for your customers as well as your colleagues. In this issue we’ll explore the first one.

Summarize the underlying need.

I was in the office of a greatly admired billionaire CEO. He had asked my colleague and me to come strategize for 90 minutes with him on how to identify and solve his top leadership challenges. His story was very animated, very passionate, and the details swirled around like a hurricane. I appreciated the candor and the urgency of the issues on the mind of the CEO. He talked about scary changes in the industry, deficiencies in his senior leadership team, tactics for changing the culture and a range of other topics, from broad strategic thoughts to tactical concerns.

Then he just stopped talking. He took a sip of water. I thought this was a perfect time for my colleague to summarize the underlying need the client has (that he is fearful that his company’s spectacular stock performance won’t continue and he will feel like a failure, unless he makes some big changes to his strategic priorities, shakes up his leadership team and resets the cadence of communication and accountability).

Instead, my colleague asked the client, “What do you think next steps should be?” The client was like, “Well, I don’t know, I was hoping you might tell me.” The closing conversation should have looked like this:

“So that’s what’s on my mind.” (The CEO says, panting to catch his breath after giving us a lot of content for 60 minutes.)

“Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Okay, it sounds like your biggest need is this—you have a big, bold vision that you seem to us to be very excited about.”

“Yes.”

“But you fear you don’t have the organization to make it happen.”

“Definitely.”

“And if you don’t make some big changes to your strategic priorities, your team and your overall culture, you worry your stock price will take a round trip, and you’ll look like a failure.”

“Exactly.”

See how good that is for the client?

Clients want to know that you understand what their underlying need is. In this case, his underlying need was to not look like a failure. It’s so real, so visceral. Once you “touch” the emotion behind all of the formality, your client will trust you to propose a plan. You are ready to move to Step 2. Watch for Step 2 in the next issue of this newsletter.

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Geoff is Chairman & Founder of ghSMART. Geoff is co-author, with his colleague Randy Street, of the New Y ork Times bestselling book Who: The A Method for Hiring and the author of the #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller Leadocracy: Hiring More Great Leaders (Like Y ou) into Government. Geoff co-created the Topgrading brand of talent management. Geoff is the Founder of two 501c3 not-for-profit organizations. SMARTKids Leadership ProgramTM pro- vides 10 years of leadership tutoring and The Leaders InitiativeTM seeks to deploy society’s greatest leaders into government. Geoff earned a B.A. in Economics with Honors from North- western University, an M.A., and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.

If you work at a standing desk, you’ll love this.
Ergonomic experts agree that “your best position is your next position.” In other words, your body is meant to move. And constant motion reduces fatigue as well as back and joint pain. Enter the Wurf Board, an inflatable platform for working at a standing desk. As you stand on it, your body constantly adjusts, keeping you in a subtle state of constant motion. Benefits include greater energy, focus and calorie burn. While anti-fatigue mats make standing comfortable for an hour or so, the Wurf Board lets you stand easily for hours at a time. Priced at $199-$269 and available in three sizes, it lets you work out while you work. - TheBalance.com, 15.12.31

Here’s an easy way to start 2017 with a clean e-mail in-box.
Ever wonder how in the world you ended up on so many e-mail lists? They just pile up until you can’t even keep up with unsubscribing from the new ones. Unroll.me lets you manage your subscriptions by unsubscribing and bundling the ones you want to keep into a single daily “rollup.” It makes unsubscribing easy and painless. It simply lists all your subscriptions for you. You just click an X next to the ones you want to unsubscribe from and Unroll.me takes care of the rest. It’s a great way to organize your in-box while keeping all the subscriptions you love. - Lifewire.com, 10.17.16

Imagine your team, smarter and faster in 2017.
Unlike project collaboration platforms, Asana is an app that specializes in workflow management. While it doesn’t give you Gantt charts and billing information, it’s one of the best tools you’ll find to keep track of the daily to-do’s of your business, while giving employees a more productive workspace than e-mails to track job progress. It’s web-based and sports a free mobile app for iPhone and Android. And it also lets you work offline. Asana works best when one person envisions how it will work and then sets it up that way. This takes trial and error, but once up to speed, your customized version can be a powerful work tool. - PCmag.com, 09.26.16

Progress doesn’t have to grind to a halt during an Internet outage.
First, realize how a loss of Internet access messes with people’s heads. When you can’t connect with people online, your primal brain feels isolated because it sees inclusion as key to survival. Then there’s that little endorphin rush you start missing when you can’t check a task as complete. Add to all that a fear of missing out (FOMO) when you lose touch with friends on Twitter, Facebook or e-mail, and you have a formula for widespread panic among the troops. Instead, keep your cool and carry on with these four activities: 1) Call a meeting, or do training. 2) Complete your “later” list. 3) Compose drafts. 4) Hit the streets and do some face-to-face marketing. - Inc.com, 10.25.16