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Data thieves are getting wiser and more technical, and that means heightened threats to personal and company information. Cryptojacking, sophisticated malware, spyware, ransomware, Trojans- you name them- have become the new weapons of mass destruction (in the digital world, that is). Businesses and other organizations, as well as private citizens, can no longer depend on simple antivirus protection to keep data spies at bay. We can only counter these weapons through awareness and knowledge; knowing how they occur and how to prevent them beforehand. That is why this article focuses on ransomware attacks: What they are and how to prevent your digital infrastructure from them.
What is ransomware? Simply put, ransomware are cyber-attack software that hold your personal and important files at ransom, until you pay the sum of money the involved attackers demand. These ransom payments are in most cases demanded in digital assets such as cryptocurrency. Attackers will demand that you buy Bitcoin, for example, and transfer them to their untraceable accounts.
Unlike other malicious software, ransomware doesn’t steal or copy your data but instead encrypt some files in your computer so that you are unable to access your own files. They make it nearly impossible to recover affected data unless their demands are met in totality, after which they send you the decryption key. It is like a burglar breaking into your house, collecting all your valuables, and instead of stealing them, he locks them in a room or a safe within your house and then leaves with the key. If you can’t unlock the safe or room, your only option is to do as the burglar says.
With that understanding, how can you stay safe from ransomware attacks?
1.Don’t engage attackers in any way without consulting a trusted IT expert first
This tip might not help you recover the ransomed data, but it will help you keep the rest of your digital files safe. So, if the attackers call demanding that you provide them with some personal information in exchange for the decryption key, please dismiss them immediately. Don’t download or install any software they recommend. Don’t pay the ransom because there is no guarantee that they will send the decryption code. They are criminals, after all. In fact, don’t reply to any of their text messages or even click on their emails. The best thing to do immediately you learn of the attack is contact a trusted IT expert (or your IT department if company files are attacked) for expert advice.
2.Backup your data regularly
Take regular backup of your data to keep it under lock and key. That keeps cybercriminals guessing. If there are no files in your computer to hold at ransom, cyber attackers will have no business corrupting your computer. Some attackers choose to lock victims’ operating systems when they find no data to hold hostage, but you’d rather deal with locked OS than locked data, especially if that data is confidential. Client data, for example, can precipitate unwanted losses, reputation damage, and lawsuits if held hostage.
3.Avoid clicking links in spam emails or on unfamiliar websites
How does malicious ransomware get in your computer to begin with? Mostly, attackers trick you into downloading malicious smartphone apps, clicking spam emails, and downloading corrupted images or videos from unauthentic sources. You will stay safe from ransomware attacks by staying away from unnecessary downloads. Even when you need to download software or apps, be sure to confirm the authenticity of your sources.
4.Protect your remote connections
For businesses that allow flexible working, don’t forget to protect your remote workforce. Most remote collaborations happen via personal devices that, if protected, can make the entire system vulnerable. You should invest in Nord VPN, a virtual private network service provider, to keep all your office tech equipment as well as employees’’ connected devices secure. This VPN has desktop applications for Linux, Windows, and macOS operating systems. For people using iOS or android smartphones, you can trust NordVPN to secure your mobile apps.
It is best to avoid public Wi-Fi at airports and restaurants but if you have to, ensure that you use a trustworthy, secure VPN.
Other safety tips:
5. Keep your computer software up to date
6. Do not open email attachments from suspicious senders
7. Use an advanced, dynamic antivirus protection to help you identify malicious activity early enough.
8. Make sure your computer has a strong, hard-to-crack password
Ransomware attackers used to target large-scale companies, but they are now targeting everybody including private citizens and small businesses. Some are just malicious people who are happy to see you suffer even if they don’t get anything from your woes. That is why you have to stay woke and ready to repel them before they access your system.
Building a high-performing team to deliver impressive results at all times is an essential part of enhancing efficiency and productivity. Sadly, not all employers/team leaders understand how to develop their team to such a height of performance and efficiency. Some business owners outsource team development to professional trainers and get disappointed when their investment in both money and time doesn’t translate to improved team performance. Building a high-performing team involves ensuring everyone has attained the ideal level of competency and productivity. Here are 5 tips for developing a high-performing team for your business.
1.Resolve Conflicts Quickly and Encourage Cooperation
Differences are always going to arise. Even if you think your employees are the most laid-back in the world, differences of opinions will always come up. This is the reason: Bringing strangers together and requiring them to work in close cooperation creates room for tension. Whether it’s the smallest disagreement or a pretty huge argument, you must know how to resolve differences at work and foster cooperation.
When disputes aren’t resolved right away, a slight disagreement can quickly transform into an unproductive team. Handle conflict immediately you detect it. Initiate a conflict-resolution session between the conflicting employees to address the issue. Make sure there’s a civil discussion by mediating the session.
2.Communicate a Clear and Inspiring Vision and Direction
According to the findings of a 2012 survey by William Shiemann, only 14 percent of employees are aware of their company’s vision and direction. This means that most of your team members may be paddling in different directions and using huge amounts of energy without moving in the right direction.
It’s your duty as a leader to ensure the whole organization clearly understands your vision, direction, strategy, and steps you intend to take to get there. You must continuously communicate and keep the focus of each team member on the vision and goals to achieve. Regular communication keeps teammates well-versed, up-to-date, and on course.
3.Promote Employee Growth
Promoting employee development is another great strategy for building a high-performing team. Instead of micromanaging, mentor new leaders in your business. There are so many ways you can encourage employee growth. You can offer continuous education assistance. Staff members can leverage this benefit to advance their education and acquire new skills.
You can offer ongoing training to ensure employees don’t remain stagnant. Continuous training can help them assume new roles, expand their knowledge, and sharpen their skills. You can also come up with creative ways to assign your staff leadership roles. For instance, you can form committees and initiate new projects to create more leadership opportunities. By promoting employee growth, you provide your staff with the relevant skills and expertise to become excellent performers.
4.Set Clear Roles and Performance Expectations
Every team member should have a clear idea of what their responsibilities are, what their individual goals are, and what criteria will be used to measure their performance. By setting clear roles and responsibilities, you can ensure everyone is working on what they’re competent at. It also helps you eliminate instances where tasks are left unfinished or done twice.
Setting clear performance expectations, on the other hand, helps employees know precisely what to expect during performance reviews. It’s important to sit with your staff to agree on the team’s goals, their individual goals, and metrics for measuring performance. Offer them feedback on how they’re fairing based on these goals and performance measures. This way, you’ll be able to identify problems before they occur or resolve them right away when they do.
Pro Tip: Provide your employees with the right tools to help them unzip files free. With the best unzip programs, they can open zip files faster and complete their tasks on time.
If you aren’t trusted as a team leader, you won’t be inspiring or trusted to solve disputes amicably, get the team to adopt goals, or believe in your communications. The absence of trust significantly brings down the efficiency and performance of team members.
There are three major pillars of building trust in a team. The first pillar is nurturing positive relationships with your team members. The second one is using your knowledge or expertise to help them solve problems or offer them valuable insights. The third one is being consistent and true to your word.
Developing a high-performance team is an effort-intensive task. It involves resolving conflicts quickly, encouraging cooperation, communicating a clear vision regularly, encouraging employee development, defining roles, setting clear performance expectations, and building trust. When you do all these correctly, team members will definitely surpass expectations.
Out of all available online marketing methods, email marketing is said to have the highest ROI of them all, with one study putting it at 4300%. This ROI is possible because sending thousands of emails costs very little, and it can easily be combined with customer relationship marketing to send personalized messages. The challenge is finding an email marketing platform that allows you to achieve that ROI while minimizing the work involved.
While some people might assume that there is little that separates platforms, they’d be surprised. As a matter of fact, the choice of the platform alone could dictate how successful their campaigns are, even if they do everything else right. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular email marketing platforms for small and medium businesses and what they have to offer.
Mailchimp is one of the biggest players in this industry and has gained a solid reputation over the years. One reason is that there is a free version of it available, and there is no time limit on it. The rates also stay affordable as you grow your business. This makes it a popular choice for bloggers and small businesses.
Mailchimp has some social media integration and a reasonably sized email template library. It also allows you to run A/B testing of marketing campaigns and send segmented emails. With Mailchimp, you can send out messages at a set time based on the customer’s time-zone. It also provides customers with email auto-responders and offers a number of app and service integrations.
However, Mailchimp is not the only tool out there. One of the issues people have with Mailchimp is how limited it can feel. This is because it has a fairly low cap on the number of emails you can send on each plan. Also, their basic version, while being practical to some and one of the main reasons why so many end up signing up, doesn’t have many of the important features like send time optimization, advanced segmentation, or multivariate testing for instance. So, don’t expect it to take you very far.
Mailerlite made this list because it is one of the few other email marketing services with a free email marketing plan for small mailing lists. You have to pay once you hit a certain threshold on emails sent per month or the size of your subscriber base.
Mailerlite has an easy to use interface. This is true even for business processes like setting up landing pages and creating pop-up forms. There are some advanced features, such as allowing you to automatically resend messages to people who didn’t open the email the first time they received it. It is features like this that explain why 90% of Mailerlite customers are small businesses versus 70% of Mailchimp customers.
If you are torn between Mailerlite and MailChimp, then PieSync’s review should help. It gives a rundown of the differences between the two email marketing platforms. It discusses the features each has and explains when you should go with one or the other.
Constant Contact is one of the biggest email marketing platforms. It is still growing, too. It is easy to use out of the box. You can manage contacts, email campaigns, and templates and your calendar from within Constant Contact, and it has tons of built-in social media sharing tools.
Constant Contact gives you access to a free image library you can use when you need to insert graphics in your emails. There is also a massive database of email templates for various niches. It integrates seamlessly with online ads and e-commerce modules and has good customer support.
The biggest issue with Constant Contact, however, is that there aren’t any automation tools. That’s a drawback given how much you pay for it.
GetResponse is an all-in-one marketing platform that allows you to create landing pages with it and send out marketing emails via a drag and drop interface. It also has advanced features like list segmentation, A/B testing of marketing messages, and auto-responders.
GetResponse is unique for allowing you to host webinars through the platform. It has better than average data analytics. For example, its Perfect Timing tool will mine your email campaign data to tell you when the best time to send the next one will be, and nearly everything is very intuitive.
This tool is a great choice for mid-sized businesses. It is also ideal for those who are selling their expertise via webinars or want to use webinars as a perk for those who signed up for their email list. Also note that pricing is based on the number of subscribers you have, not per list.
Most email marketing platforms will hold email lists and let you blast a cookie-cutter template to your followers. However, you need something better if you want to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.