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3 Tips for Keeping Data Safe in the Cloud

More businesses are relying on cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud to store, process and share their important documents.

Jason Fell

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It can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to managing tons of data in-house. But the recent hack of a journalist illustrates how working in the cloud also comes with risks.

Wired writer Mat Honan effectively had his digital life erased. Hackers tapped into his Apple iCloud account and deleted his email and social media accounts, as well as all the data on his mobile devices.

As a business owner, when you hand all of your firm’s most critical files over to another company to manage, you have to wonder how secure they will be. Are your remote employees sharing them appropriately? Will your data wind up in the hands of hackers or competitors?

There are steps businesses can take to mitigate those risks. Anthony Kennada, a senior manager of cloud products at California-based security company Symantec, offers three tips for keeping important business documents safe in the cloud:

1. Lock down access to your data.
While most cloud vendors have standardised their approach to security, it’s important for individual businesses to discuss who has access to their files and when they can access them.

“IT should press vendors on how their data is protected at all layers,” Kennada says. “How are encryption keys managed? Are the right controls in place to prevent employees at the vendor site from unauthorised access?”

2. Keep corporate and personal information separate.
As more companies are allowing their employees to bring their own devices to work, more are using those devices for work duties – including accessing documents in the cloud. Business data on personal devices raises red flags for IT managers if those devices are lost or stolen.

“In order to avoid this, Kennada says, “IT needs clear visibility into corporate data stored on personal devices and the ability to easily revoke access to that data when appropriate.”

3. Make sure to back up your files.
File syncing – by which files in two or more locations are updated – is not as effective as backing up your files on a separate external device. What happened to Honan drives that point home.

“Although most file-sharing vendors enable access to content from any device, it is clear that they’re not immune to clever [hackers],” Kennada says. Businesses should focus on both file sharing and backup solutions in order to hedge against something similar happening to them, he says.

Jason Fell is the technology editor of Entrepreneur.com in New York City. Previously, he served as online news editor of Foliomag.com, the online arm of Folio: magazine. He also worked as a staff writer for Soundings magazine and a reporter with the Journal Register Company of newspapers. Email him at jfell@entrepreneur.com. You can follow him on Twitter @jwfell.

Entrepreneur Today

The Average South African Sacrifices Over R500 000 Worth Of Unused Lunch Breaks Over Their Career

Research released today by online job board CareerJunction has revealed that only one in three South Africans take their full lunch break.

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The research conducted amongst 3,000 South African working respondents suggests that more than a third of South Africans skip their lunch break altogether between two to four times per week.

 “The average South African works two and a half years overtime during their lifetime due to unused lunch breaks. That amounts to a staggering *R512, 465.00 worth of free work and unnecessary time spent at their desks instead of taking a break,” says Odile Badenhorst, CareerJunction’s Communications Manager.

Despite their being no written rule, employees have an unhealthy belief that it’s expected of them to skip lunch. “In this fast-paced world of work, it’s a common, and unhealthy, mindset that the more hours we work, with no break, the more we’ll be admired or rewarded,” she adds.

The truth is quite the contrary – According to research, it has long been proven that regular breaks, and a healthy, well-balanced lunch break in particular, increase employee productivity, improve mental well-being, boost creativity, and encourage healthy habits in the workplace. The Cost of a Lunch Break Survey confirms this; when asked how skipping their lunch breaks make them feel, most respondents listed unhappy, indifferent and stressed as emotions that accompany them when working though their lunch breaks. So, why then, are we working ourselves until burn out?

CareerJunction says that the research also showed that while the average lunch break allocated to employees is 60 minutes, the average time taken each day by South African employees is only 24,5

minutes. Only 5% take their full 60 minutes and although over two thirds say their employer encourages them to take lunch, 19% claimed they feel pressured not to take lunch, while 38% have too much work. In fact, 73% of participants said the reason they skip their lunch break is because they have too much work to do or an unexpected task cropped up.

A large percentage, 67%, said they eat at their desks while working, with nearly 60% eating leftovers or a packed lunch. And, even though most workers have access to a full kitchen or seating area, many prefer to eat at their desks, with 45% saying they spend under R100 per week on lunch.  Therefore, the fact that 57% of respondents said that the availability of amenities close to work – such as restaurants, shops, delis, convenience stores – has no impact on their choice of job application, makes sense when you look at the majority bringing lunch from home, or not taking lunch at all.

Related: What The Law Says About Employee Leave And Absence

Smoke breaks have long been a contentious issue in the work place with many non-smokers resenting the number of extra breaks smokers get. Smokers in South Africa take, on average, three to four smoke breaks a day with 42% of their colleagues saying they don’t mind if they do. 29% said they didn’t know or care.

So, why aren’t South Africans taking lunch breaks? “While our research revealed that the majority of South African employees listed unexpected work responsibilities or too much work as reasons, other reasons included having to cover for others, sacrificing lunch breaks to leave work earlier, financial difficulties or simply not caring about lunch,” adds Badenhorst.

While it’s encouraging to see, from the research conducted, that the ‘work till burnout’ culture is largely coming from the employees themselves rather than being enforced by employers, Badenhorst is still calling on employers to encourage their staff to take regular breaks away from their desks and enjoy all the benefits that come with this.

For the full survey results, please visit www.careerjunction.co.za/lunch

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Entrepreneur Today

Applications For MEST Class of 2020 Now Open To Aspiring Software Entrepreneurs Across Africa

Applications for MEST Africa’s 1-year, fully-sponsored entrepreneurial training program in Accra, Ghana are now open for aspiring entrepreneurs from across the African continent.

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Interested applicants have until February 8th, 2019 to apply for the class of 2020. Successful applicants will receive in-depth training and mentorship, access to a global network and the opportunity to build the next generation of global software companies alongside successful graduates like Anitrack’s Winnie Akoko, Qisimah’s Sakhile Xulu, Bidiibuild’sKelvin Wachira, Kudobuzz’s Kena Amoah, MeQasa’s Kelvin Nyame, Amplify’s Segun Adeyemi and more.
 
“The MEST program has given me the opportunity to focus on developing the technical and business skills I need to succeed in the tech industry,” said Millicent Koranteng-Yorke, a member of the Developers in Vogue 2018 cohort and the MEST Class of 2019. “It is a chance for me to gain practical knowledge, experience and insight into my fields of interest and to develop solutions to the problems I am passionate about.”
 
Truly Pan-African, the MEST class of 2019 is its most diverse yet, representing entrepreneurs from 12 African nations. The Class of 2019 also welcomed the highest representation of women in a MEST cohort to date, at 37%. MEST will continue its strong focus on recruiting female leaders in tech, partnering with organisations including Developers in Vogue (DIV), Yielding Accomplished African Women(Yaa W), and Tech4her.
 
Over the course of 1 year, successful applicants will come to MEST HQ in Accra, Ghana and take part in an intensive entrepreneurial training program centred around business, communication and software development. The training is delivered by global experts and includes extensive hands-on project work, as well as mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, CEOs and other executives from Silicon Valley, Europe and Africa. The program culminates in an investor pitch for seed funding and the opportunity to grow their business out of one of the Pan-African MEST incubators in Lagos, Accra, Cape Town and Nairobi.
“Our goal at MEST is to enable entrepreneurs in Africa to build scalable businesses – not just apps,” said MEST managing director Aaron Fu. “One of the ways we look to do that is through the significant  Pan-African diversity in our program, which offers our EITs a strong network and a deeper understanding of problems and markets across the continent, from day 1.”
 
“This year, building on our 2018 admission of the most number of female founders in our history, we are also focused on continuing to increase our  representation of female founders, as we recognise the incredible value female leaders provide in tech.”
 
Establishing and expanding its presence on the continent over the past 10 years, MEST has invested over $20million in training nearly 400 individual entrepreneurs, and invested in 50+ early stage software companies from across Africa. MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local, regional and global markets, received follow-on funding from global investors, and been admitted to top accelerator programs such as Y-combinator, 500 start-ups and TechStars.
 
Some MEST portfolio successes include:
  • Qisimah, the first MEST-funded company with a South African CEO, selected as the Best National Digital Solution for the International World Summits Award in Business and Commerce

  • Tress, the all-female team with a product that’s changing the billion-dollar hair industry, recently accepted into Y Combinator

  • Asoriba, the church management startup that’s swept through West Africa, recently partnered with payments giant, Interswitch and has been featured on CNN, BBC, Forbes

  • Meqasa, Ghana’s number one real-estate portal which went on to raise $500,000 from Frontier Digital Ventures, and recently acquired Jumia House in Ghana.

  • Kudobuzz, an advertising and marketing software, was selected as one of the 14 ventures to represent Africa at the 2017 edition of PitchDrive, and recently acquired MEST-backed company AdGeek.

  • SynCommerce, a start-up helping customers sell across channels and keep inventory in sync, recently won the gaming and entertainment category at TechCrunch in Nairobi.

Related: 7 Factors That Influence Start-up Valuations

The Application Process
  • Attend a local MEST information session

  • Complete the application form

  • Successful applicants are contacted for a phone interview

  • Qualified applicants are asked to complete an aptitude test

  • Top candidates in each region will be invited for an in-person interview in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya or Cote d’Ivoire

  • Applications for the class of 2020 close February 8, 2019

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Eskom Competition Winner Targets More Growth

The Eskom Development Foundation is tasked with implementing Eskom’s CSI strategy in sectors including enterprise development, education, healthcare, social and community development.

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After recently winning a competition for small businesses, South Side Plumbing and Construction is looking at growing its brand and expanding its operations. Two months ago the company scooped R125 000 in prize money after winning the trade and services category of the 2018 Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC).

The company, which is based in Eldorado Park (Johannesburg), provides specialised services in plumbing and construction. Director Peter Lengweng started the business in 2015 with his partners, Jonathan and Cathy Khan, and they now have 45 permanent and 20 part time employees.

peter-lengweng

When the company was started, they primarily wanted to attract clients in the insurance sector and that’s how they got most of their clients. They devised a clever way to get their end-user clients by approaching and securing contracts with insurance companies. The insurance companies receive claims from their clients, and the ones that require services that Lengweng’s company provides are then assisted through this relationship. The company also does domestic work but most of their business is generated through the insurance companies.

Lengweng has a strong background in marketing and he believes no company that is serious about succeeding can go about its business and actually achieve maximum success while completely ignoring the importance of marketing it.

“We are going to be using a big chunk of our winnings from the Eskom BIC to rebrand the company. When we started, I did the company branding myself, which is not my forte, so winning a competition such as this one that comes with this kind of cash injection gives us a great opportunity to do things right in that respect and also augment our cash flow. We also want to grow the company by opening branches in other provinces as we currently only service the Johannesburg area in Gauteng,” says Lengweng.

Read next: Is Venture Capital Right For You?

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