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Your Data Is At Risk

Across the globe, data breaches are costing businesses — small and big alike — millions, and South Africa is no exception. Are you taking a risk your business can’t afford?

Kaspersky Lab

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Data breaches are costing enterprises an average of $1,23 million a year and SMEs $120 000 per cyber incident on average. The unfortunate reality is that these figures increase annually as we embrace the digital world and become increasingly connected.

Despite this, many decision-makers think that data security is the exclusive domain of the IT department and they do not need to worry about it. And, if you are an SME, the approach might be that those freely available anti-virus and internet security tools will be enough to keep your data safe. Sadly, this could not be further from the truth.

Technology has infiltrated almost all aspects of business today. And with more companies embracing the cloud and other hosted solutions, there is a growing awareness of the benefits of being able to access data irrespective of physical location and device used. The ubiquity of mobile devices mean employees are no longer office-bound.

The Wild West

But for all the advantages that this mobile lifestyle offers, how many have taken the time to think about effectively safeguarding their data on these devices (both business and personal)? Think about it this way – every mobile or other connected device that can access corporate data, is a likely entry point for malicious users to either compromise it, steal it, or hold it to ransom.

Related: Protect Your Business – Let The Right MSP Manage IT Security For You

Now, scroll through your phone and open your security application. Scarily, many South Africans do not even have a free cybersecurity solution installed on their mobile device. This is often the same device that accesses the company network and pulls mission-critical data from the system.

The days are long gone where viruses were just bouncing balls appearing on the computer screens slowing down a system. Today, malicious software (malware) has become big business. Hackers form collectives and target companies of all sizes, across industry sectors, and from any country. They are committed to getting access to what many have likened to the ‘oil’ of the digital world – data.

Data forms a core component of any business. Just imagine what would happen if you lost your data. Take a moment to reflect on how quickly you could recover from such a disaster and what the impact on your clients and your longevity would be.

Granted, these collectives do not quite have salaried hackers doing the dirty work, but it is fast approaching that stage. A few months ago, a well-known local insurer experienced a ransomware attack and went public with it. Think about all those companies that do not act as proactively to get ahead of the problem.

In this [digital] Wild West, it is only a matter of when your data gets compromised and not if. Are you ready for it?

Safeguarding data

Kaspersky Lab research is showing that people are starting to become more aware of the implications this could have for their businesses. In fact, 69% of respondents to our survey admit to feeling stressed out when hearing news of data breaches and the fact that companies often experience multiple breaches.

This is certainly a step in the right direction.

Sticking one’s head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away never helped any business. In theory, this awakening should lead to closely scrutinising existing security policies and systems. Given how increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks have become, such an internal audit is vital to get an understanding of the safeguards that currently exist and where improvements need to be made.

But while cybersecurity solutions are obviously important, it involves something more comprehensive than that. Protecting your data is not about installing a firewall or a piece of anti-virus software. It involves a comprehensive and considered approach that takes every point of contact into the business, reviews it, and protects it.

This is where employee education forms an integral step in keeping business data safe. Social engineering remains one of the biggest threats to organisational data. Those emails that come in asking for details to be verified or files to be opened – definitely a no-go area. And when it comes to real-world threats, workers need to be educated on what to look out for. The age-old example of a flash drive being left on a desk with a file called Salaries.xsl might be too big a temptation to resist for some. Even inserting an infected drive into a computer could be enough for the hackers to take care of the rest.

Related: Is Data Protection One Of Your Top Concerns? It Should Be

New focus

Local businesses must therefore embrace a new focus on cybersecurity. Not only does this make good corporate sense, but it is essential in complying with data regulation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) in South Africa.

Being found in breach of this compliance not only means significant financial fines (that could be crippling in itself), but also reputational damage that stems from showing customers that the organisation is not committed to keeping their data safe.

So, protecting against data breaches necessitates a multi-pronged strategy that encompasses solutions (hardware and software), employee education, multi-touchpoint assessments, and ongoing evaluation to keep up to date with the latest trends.

However, no organisation can realistically be expected to manage all of this on its own. This is where trusted managed service providers in the cybersecurity environment fulfil a critical role. They can take care of all the security needs while the business can focus on meeting its strategic objectives.

It is a dangerous new digital world out there. No company is safe and even start-ups must do what is necessary to protect their data. To do any less, would be to risk the future of the organisation.

Kaspersky Lab is a global cybersecurity company founded in 1997. Kaspersky Lab’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into security solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes leading endpoint protection and a number of specialised security solutions and services to fight sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky Lab technologies and we help 270,000 corporate clients protect what matters most to them.

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Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

Wits Plus

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Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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Company Posts

Your Investment In Knowledge

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

Wits Plus

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Most people spend their lives collecting, spending, and worrying about money — so much so, in fact, that they say they “don’t have time” to learn something new.

However, some of smartest and busiest people in the world — Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — all spend at least one hour a day on deliberate learning. They see what others don’t: That learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Benjamin Franklin said long ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

One of the very benefits of ongoing technological advances is that it empowers an accelerated and personalised learning experience that puts the learner in the driver’s seat. Modern learning harnesses the speed, power and ubiquity of digital capability. Online platforms, software and mobile devices means that the traditional hurdles to learning — such as income, status and location — have just about disappeared. Knowledge can now be gained by anyone with the passion to pursue it and the commitment to stick with it.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

We are only at the tipping point of what future learning technology can deliver. Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all aspects of human capital management, including learning. Technology-enabled learning will be immediate and directly relevant to the task, for example:

  • personally tailored learning content and experiences delivered to you as and when you want or need them
  • chatbots and virtual assistants can source and categorise the information that you need for optimal decision-making
  • augmented and virtual reality simulations can provide a multi-sensory experience to speed up and embed learning.

Additionally, social connectivity already enables user-generated content to outpace and outstrip what traditional education and learning institutions can deliver.

Knowledge may be the new money but, unlike money, you don’t lose it when you use knowledge or give it away. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s fun to acquire and it makes your brain work better. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances. It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.

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Are You Struggling To Find Financing For Your SME? Try Alternative Finance

If you don’t qualify for traditional funding or if it isn’t the right fit for your SME why not explore alternative funding? We specialise in alternative financing options by providing in-depth and custom plans for you and your business needs.

Spartan

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Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding. It does not replace traditional finance but rather functions as a complementary and additional form of funding.

Alternative financiers are specialists – they focus on a particular need and on a specific audience. As a result their ‘how’ is customised to deal with their chosen target market and for this targets unique needs. This applies to the funder’s processes and to their level of flexibility around things such as collateral.

An example of this is that a SME may have an existing R1 million overdraft (their traditional finance) secured by R 1.5 million collateral but suddenly they need R5 million for some kind of contract or bridging finance – they need it fast and don’t have that extent of collateral.

The traditional funder cannot provide what they need, their process is too long and their flexibility is too low. An alternative financier providing bridging finance and specialising in SMEs is ideally positioned to fill this gap.

One of the most significant differences between a traditional funder and an alternative financier is in their process. In the case of the alternative financier, they have often chosen to deal exclusively with a particular customer base, for example SMEs. As a result, this funder has both an affinity and contextually relevant empathy in working with SMEs.

Not only do they speak the same language the funder also has an appreciation for the time and material constraints of the SME and has developed their processes to cater to this market. This applies most notably to the turnaround time of the funding need and to the assessment aspect – where flexibility around things such as collateral is vital in making the finance happen for the SME.

A traditional funder is unable to meet the deadline of a bridging finance need, submitted on an urgent basis, where the finance is needed as soon as 2-3 days from time of application. A specialised or alternative funder is able to do exactly this. A traditional funder is also unable to find creative methods in solving the SMEs lack of high-value collateral in applying for finance.

This SME has generally already used their high-value collateral for traditional credit facilities but now needs funding for growth or resolution of a temporary cash flow challenge. An alternative financier is able to look at such an application in a different way, and has most likely already established alternative ways to make this happen for the SME.

Related: 5 Key Questions To Answer For Raising Funding

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