3 Essential Security Measures to Take to Protect Your Business in 2020
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Recently, the security company Ring has been plagued with reports of “hacks” into its popular security camera systems. While it would be easy to just blame Ring for their lack of security, unfortunately, in this case, the users also share some of the blame.

Via a simple brute force attacking method, hackers were able to take email and password lists from other breaches to gain access to Ring cameras. By allowing users to set passwords that are known to have been compromised in other breaches, and not requiring two-factor authentication, Ring is leaving the last level of security up to their users. Unless you’re a security expert, you may not see the problem until it is too late.

When faced with a security breach at Evernote, my team and Imade the difficult decision to reset all of our users’ passwords– at the time, that was around 50 million of them. The decision was a no-brainer to us: it was the only way we could be certain to protect the data of the people on our system. We faced a lot of backlash from our users who wanted to keep or return to their original passwords, though.

To that end, here are some quick rules of thumb you should keep in mind to keep your business– and yourself– protected.

Use unique passwords.

I get it. When you’re in a small business, often you want to save money by purchasing one account and sharing a password to it amongst everyone in the business. And then you email this password back and forth to each other to make sure you have it. You can deny it all you want, but I guarantee you have at least one password that you’re using that isn’t unique.

Enter the app 1Password. Not only will it allow you to automatically generate random passwords to each site, but it will also give you the ability to see which passwords have been compromised, which have been reused, and– if you must– share them to team members straight from within the application.

Think before you click.

One of the worst things I hear in my company is “I clicked on this link and…” It doesn’t matter what the rest of the sentence is;it’s almost always bad and takes me hours to clean up the damage.

If you are suspicious about a link in an email, don’t immediately click on it. Hover over the link, or right-click and copy/paste it into a browser. This will prevent you from opening any suspicious links directly, and also allow you to see if the link matches what is presented. Some legitimate sites will add tracking codes, so what you’re looking for is the domain. Links might also lead you to .exe files or .dmg files. If you are not expecting to download a file from a link, this could be an attempt by a scammer to install a virus.

Leave no trace.

And lastly, if you’re no longer going to use an account, close it down and completely delete it. Just because you’re not using it anymore doesn’t mean the scammers won’t find it and use it against you. That password that you used years ago may lead them to the one you’re using now.

With these quick tips, you can protect yourself from irreparable — and expensive – harm.

Dec 20, 2019
John Bork and Stephanie Lynn, standing six feet apart.
John Bork and Stephanie Lynn, standing six feet apart.

Editor’s Note:Although the officialSmall Business Weekhas been postponed, we at Inc. feel it’s always appropriate to recognize the teams and companies that serve the needs of their communities and help keep Main Street humming–and not just for one week!

Sweet Spot Skirts and WellHaven Pet Health are just down the street from one another in downtown Vancouver, Washington. Until recently, location was about all they had in common.

Sweet Spot makes and sells derrière-cloaking skirts in funky colors and patterns for female bikers and runners to wear over shorts and tights.But despite owninga 12-year-old Australian shepherd, founder Stephanie Lynnhad never heard of WellHaven, a $50 million company operating 41 veterinary hospitals that employ 450 people in five states.

WellHaven founderJohn Bork was similarly unfamiliar with his neighbor.”I had seen Sweet Spot but I never used it,” Bork says. “I didn’t really know what it was.”

From the awarding of government loans to the designation of “essential” status, coronavirus frequently has set Main Street businesses at odds with larger companies. But in places like Vancouver, where a very active chamber of commerce is an enthusiastic yenta for its members, large and middle-market companies have formed surprising partnerships with mom-and-pops to fight the pandemic.

For example, when Chandelier Bakery was unable to obtain flour to fulfill all requests for bread donations for frontline workers, United Grain Corporation, among the Pacific Northwest’s largest grain exporters, supplied the wheat. Ryonet, a $50 million supplier of equipment to screen-printing businesses, not only stepped up to manufacture masks and face shields itself but has also contracted with two of its small local customers, Brainless Tees and Opake Screen Printing, to decorate them.

And in Lynn’s case,the larger companyhelped completely turn her business around. Sweet Spot does between $350,000 and $600,000 in annual revenue, much of itat sporting events. On March 12, Lynn was selling at a pickleball tournament in College Station, Texas, while thecountrywas rapidly shutting down.

“I got on the plane in Austin, and by the time I changed planes in Phoenix enough events had canceled to take $50,000 off my plate,” she says.

The next day, she was sitting with her landlord, in tears because she would not be able to make rent. The following Monday she laid off her entire staff of six.

Can you make this?

Bork, meanwhile, had approached the chamber for help. Government and industry leaders had begun asking veterinarians to donate their PPE to health-care workers who attend tohumans. Bork wanted to find a local business that could replace his surgical-grade masks and caps with something that would protect animals during procedures. The chamber quickly reached out to Sweet Spot.

The next morning, four days after Sweet Spot’s closure, Bork and his chief medical officer, Bob Lester, were at Lynn’s doorstep with a model surgical mask and cap. Lynn called in one of her seamstresses and over the next two days created prototypes from the fabric used for her skirts.

With check in hand for just over $10,000 to cover 500 masks and 500 caps,Lynn brought back her whole staff. “She would text me when she had 60 or 100 made,” Bork says. “I would walk over and fill up my backpack, bring them back to the office, box them up, and off they would go.” Sweet Spot filled the entire order in just under three weeks.

Bork ordered another 500 masks and caps, which he distributed to other veterinary hospitals in Vancouver and neighboring Portland, Oregon. With each donation, he included Lynn’s contact information.A few of those practices placed their own orders. Word spread, and other groups–Vancouver public schools, an organization of home inspectors–reached out.

With skirt orders down 90 percent, Lynn launched Facewear Fashions to go after the consumer PPE market. Those masks, with names like Pinch Me Pink Floral and Doilies for Your Face, retail for $14. (Businesses, which receive volume discounts, still account for 50 percentof mask sales.) Lynn plans to cross-promote her product lines. Buy a skirt, get a free mask made from the same material. “I match mine all the time,” she says.

The collaboration with WellHaven continues. Bork made an offer to match any donations of masks to worthy causes by other Vancouver businesses. When the Vancouver Farmers Market reopens, Sweet Spot will have a place in WellHaven’s booth.

“Had WellHaven not come about, I don’t know where I would be,” Lynn says. “They saved me completely.”

May 18, 2020

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