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Beware The Enemy Within

Below, I look at the nine most common threats that can compromise the internal security of your organisation.

Colin Thornton

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While few can argue against the dangers of malicious email attachments, security attacks inside the organisation have become significantly more sophisticated. Whether it is an employee who does not understand good  or tools that prey on people’s gullibility, protection is vital in this digital age.

1. USB devices

The humble flash drive poses a significant risk to the business. Infecting your network can be as easy as a visitor giving a service pitch on the boardroom PC using a presentation from a USB stick.

Another example is how a security firm loaded 20 USB drives with password-stealing malware and scattered them in the parking lot and other likely locations outside a target company. Fifteen of the drives were found by employees, who plugged them in to see what was on them.

It only took a few hours for the security firm to get a steady stream of passwords and other critical data.

Unfortunately, USB device protection under Windows is pretty limited. Basically, you can only enable or disable a USB on a system. But since this is the default peripheral connection for Windows, it does not make practical sense. Fortunately, third-party software such as Sophos, Devicelock, and Promisec remove this restriction and offer policy-based management for USB devices.

Related: How Dial A Nerd Managed To Dial Up Profits

2. Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing

Although unauthorised file-sharing programmes are often forbidden by company policy, many businesses are not even aware that staff have these applications installed on their computers.

An example of such an application is BitTorrent (or any other torrent software for that matter). Cyber-criminals have started using these P2P programmes to compromise and take over networked computers. And then there is the small matter of P2P being one of the primary methods of illegally distributing copyrighted material. Imagine the cost (and embarrassment) of the authorities knocking on your door after John in accounting downloaded the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

3. Anti-virus problems

The major anti-virus vendors release anything from 1,200 to 2,400 updates per week. Let that number sink in for a bit. Scarily, this does not necessarily match the number of new viruses hitting the internet.

Clearly, it is vital to keep your anti-virus current with the latest patches. This is particularly true because one infection strategy used by malicious users is to infect as many computers as possible in the shortest amount of time before a patch can be made available. For example, on 19 July, 2001, the Code Red worm infected 359 000 computers in 14 hours.

4. Outdated Microsoft Service Packs

Similar to the importance of installing the latest anti-virus updates, businesses that run on Windows need to ensure that the latest patches are downloaded and installed on all network machines.

The larger the organisation, the more challenging it becomes to guarantee that this is done. And that is not even examining the myriad of smartphones and tablets connecting to the corporate network. It seems a case of when rather than if a breach will occur.

5. Missing security agents

agent-smith-computer-agent

No, these are not the bloody agents you are thinking of. Many companies require agents to be installed on all their endpoints (essentially any networked device).

These agents may monitor network traffic, make sure patches are up to date, or track and report on stolen computers. However, requiring such agents and actually having them installed are two different things.

Related: Dial-a-Nerd: Staying on Top While the Market Changed

6. Unauthorised remote control software

Remote control software is invaluable for troubleshooting hardware and software. But then so unauthorised remote control becomes a great tool for malicious users who see it as the perfect way into a corporate computer.

7. Media files

Anybody remember all those Anna Kournikova emails doing the rounds many years ago promising all sorts of photo and video content of the tennis star? The names of the celebrities might have changed but unauthorised media files still remain dangerous both because of their content and what can be hidden in them.

Video and music files are an increasingly popular method of sneaking malware into an organisation – spyware, Trojans, viruses and just about any other kind of bad thing you can think of.

As with file-sharing, even if the files do not contain any embedded malicious code, you still have the small matter of copyright violations and distribution of pornography to think of.

8. Unsecured synchronisation software

Laptops, tablets, and smartphones use synchronisation software to keep information such as calendars and contact lists updated. While convenient, especially when combined with technologies like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, simply allowing any device to synchronise over the network can open a serious security hole.

This is more so the case given how many of these programmes work in the background with the user not even aware of what is being uploaded or downloaded.

9. Wireless connectivity

Recent research shows that almost 95 percent of all laptops ship with built-in wireless access. Again, while it might be convenient to have a wireless network in your office, the more secure route is to limit connectivity to physically having to plug devices into network points.

Generally, the recommended strategy is to control the threats rather than trying to totally eliminate them (because realistically you will never be able to do that). While some of the threats to endpoint security can be eliminated from corporate networks, others (think wireless and USB devices) are important for the modern business. Mitigating risks to the practicality of security should provide a good starting point to protect your organisation.

Colin Thornton founded Dial a Nerd in 1998 at the age of 19. His first clients were friends and family and his first computer repair room the garage of his parent’s home. By focusing on home users and offering a very high level of service, he occupied a niche at the time which helped Dial a Nerd grow into the business it now is. The business has a presence in most of the major South African cities, with five branches and over 70 staff members countrywide. It has over 40 000 customers consisting of home-based computer users and small to medium-sized businesses. Over the years Colin recognised that there were a few staff members that were essential to his business and to retain them he offered them shares as a way of ensuring Dial a Nerd’s longevity. There are now six shareholders who own the business, most of whom are still active in its management.

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Be 1 Of 3 High Growth Scale Ups Sponsored By FNB & Vumela To Participate For FREE In 10X Accelerator Program (Value Of R650 000)

FNB and Vumela are sponsoring 3 high growth Scale Ups on the 10X Accelerator Program, kicking off in February 2018.

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The 10X Program has received amazing reviews and huge interest, because of its unique approach:

  • Focused on businesses that are Scaling Up (past the start-up / typical Accelerator phase)
  • Business Scale Up focus, not capital raising / exit focused
  • Broad company-building focus, not a narrow technology commercialisation focus
  • Addressing the gnarly and complex issues that come with growth, like hiring, firing, performance managing, management systems, Boards, etc
  • 18 months of intensive, hands on support
  • Working with seasoned Scale Up leaders

Here’s what delegates are saying:

“We’ve grown really fast, but without the 10X Program we probably wouldn’t exist anymore because things were starting to break… It’s a game changer… Unlike most other workshops like this I have experienced, 10X-e combines theoretical concepts with real world applications so that I can make immediate changes to my business. The tools are easy to execute throughout my organisation and get the needed buy in from my management team. We now have every staff member fully aligned to the company’s strategy… we’re now scaling much faster and with less resources than we would have normally required without the 10x process…. – James Wilkinson, Founder, Sonic Telecoms

Related: Expansion Funding Options For Your Growing Business

“Within 1 month I doubled sales revenue, because it became so clear I had 2 people in the wrong roles. We swapped their roles and doubled revenue immediately.” – Richard Rayne, Founder, iLearn 

“I used to feel like I was sprinting up a sand-dune. If I stopped sprinting for a moment, the business would slide downhill. But since the program, we have much more momentum and its not all up to me because the entire team is pulling together in the same direction. Things won’t grind to a halt if I am away for 2 weeks” – Andrew Cook, Founder, Smoke Customer Intelligence

‘The [10X Strategy Workshop] process gave us the framework to focus and say no to distractions … [key] part of our journey to drive relentless focus. The Workshop catalysed us working on our business and not just in it… [and] supported a period of advancement… and scale’. – Brad McGrath, co-Founder, Zoona

‘The upfront Path To Scale Boot Camp… got us all thinking the same way and on the same page about how to Scale. It is something we have carried with us and that has guided us ever since.’. – Aisha Pandor, co-Founder, SweepSouth

The Program is worth R650k. FNB & Vumela are sponsoring 3 qualifying Companies.  Seats will be awarded to businesses with the greatest Scale Up potential.

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R33 Million Boost For Job Creation And Innovation In SA

The Craft + Design Institute (CDI) has launched R33 Million in funding to boost SME growth, job creation and innovation.

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The CDI has raised the R33m to establish three funds – a Growth Fund, an Innovation Fund and a Loan Book – these funds will be managed by its investment arm, CDI Capital.

The funding will be for developing 60 growth oriented SME’s and 20 innovative technological solutions – and to create 600 permanent jobs in the process over three years.

This funding has been enabled by the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund through the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT).

CDI Capital was specifically incorporated as a CDI subsidiary in 2016 to catalyse funding for SMEs. A level 1 B-BBEE company, it aims to combine government grants with corporate Enterprise Development spend and private funds to de-risk investments in SME’s to stimulate growth and returns.

Related: 3 Things You Must Have In Place To Get That Start-up Bank Finance

The Growth Fund is open to businesses with turnover or assets of more than R1m with the ability to create permanent jobs. Applications open on the 27th of November and close on the 31st of December 2017. For specific criteria and more information on the grant please visit www.cdicapital.co.za/GrowthFund

The Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF) is open to inventors who believe they have protectable innovative technological solutions that could impact on specific sectors and could create permanent jobs. This is the third round of this fund. Applications open on the 27th of November and close on the 31st of December 2017. For specific criteria and more information on the grant please visit www.cdicapital.co.za/DISF

In addition to the grant funding products, CDI Capital will also launch a R3.5m working capital and term loan facility at reduced rates for the duration of the three-year project to provide access to cash flow during the growth stage of these, and other qualifying SME’s.

 

The CDI has 16 years of experience in SME development and started supporting development in the craft and design sectors nationally in 2015. Signaling this change, the organisation changed its name in September from the Cape Craft + Design Institute to The Craft + Design Institute.

According to Erica Elk, Executive Director of the CDI, it was a landmark moment in the organisation’s history.

“Over the past few years our team has successfully taken our services across the country – we have conducted a business and product development workshop series in every single province and received incredibly positive feedback. The message clearly is ‘more please’.”

Elk said that there is a consensus in South Africa today that SMEs hold the solution to our intractable problems of a sluggish economy and high unemployment rates.

“In most countries, SMEs play a vital role as drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation, but, in South Africa, this value is yet to be properly realised. To achieve this, the challenges experienced by SMEs need to be addressed. Namely access to markets, finance and credit, infrastructure, resources for R&D, and access to adequately skilled and work ready labour.”

She added that the CDI, through its specialised investment arm CDI Capital, is gearing up to provide solutions to some of these challenges, particularly in the craft and design sector and related sectors where design and innovation can catalyse growth.

“Our first Jobs Fund project, completed successfully in December 2015, had 45 participating companies creating 464 jobs off an investment of R14.5m. This was 105% of the target of jobs to be created. Participating SMEs grew their combined annual revenue by 73% over three years – from R60m to R104m. Funds were used to improve their products, processes and competitiveness through the acquisition of new machinery or specialist staff, and to expand local and international market reach.”

“We also completed a first round of DISF grants in 2016, and are currently working with seven innovative SMEs in round two – round one attracted private funding of over R10m in equity funding into some of the high-potential innovators. The DISF gives innovators and entrepreneurs in the Western Cape an opportunity to get the finance and support needed to get their ideas to the next stages.”

“We have put a significant amount of work into developing these offerings, not only ensuring good governance and appropriate monitoring and evaluation measures, but realising real and sustainable impact with the businesses we support. We are excited to have raised R33m to launch this new funding for SMEs, and we thank our funders and supporters – we look forward to making meaningful investments.”

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

“Now – having led the way with investment from the public sector – we would like to partner with the private sector to support and strengthen this initiative. We believe this project – which aims to catalyse innovation, support growth orientated SME’s and create 600 jobs – would be an ideal Enterprise Development spend opportunity. CDI would gladly partner with corporate growth orientated accelerators and mentorship programmes to further strengthen the support offered to the participating SMEs.”

 

Najwah Allie-Edries, Deputy Director General: Employment Facilitation within the Jobs Fund:

“The Jobs Fund supports this initiative in recognition of the critical role that SMEs play in creating a more inclusive economy and job creation and also because it will contribute toward CDI becoming a more self-sustaining entity. The aim of this initiative is to provide appropriate financing options to SMEs in the craft and design sector in order to catalyse sustainable growth which will result in attracting further investment into a sector that has often been neglected. The introduction of a revolving loan facility will not only ensure that over time more SMEs can benefit from access to finance, the enhanced revenue streams will also contribute to the CDI’s goal of becoming a sustainable entity in its own right.”

Mr Vusi Skosana, Head: Technology Stations & IATs (TSP) at TIA, said that the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology, was established with an objective to support the State in stimulating and intensifying technological innovation in order to improve economic growth and the quality of life of all South Africans by developing and exploiting technological innovations.

Solly Fourie, Head of Department, Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape Government:

“We know that there is a strong need to develop and improve the socio-economic conditions of the citizens in our region. To this end, the creation of a healthy and vibrant regional innovation system can be a catalytic driver of sustainable economic growth and development. But neither DEDAT, nor the WCG, are able to tackle this alone. The partnerships created through the Seed Fund and Jobs Fund; and initiatives like it, go a long way to creating an enabling regional innovation system in which we collectively draw on the Quad helix’s expertise and resources; promote local industry and attract and grow innovative businesses. By doing this, we are crafting the best possible conditions for businesses to develop in this region.”

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Start-ups Require A Strong Legal Foundation Webber Wentzel Ignite

Entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups are a lifeline to South Africa’s economy.

Entrepreneur

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Entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups are a lifeline to South Africa’s economy.  It is however a harsh environment and many entrepreneurs find themselves in a situation where they are wearing many hats and navigating potential pitfalls without the knowledge that many professionals have from years of experience.

This is especially true from a legal point of view where entrepreneurs are faced with real world regulatory challenges that could have far-reaching consequences on their fledgling business, such as financial regulatory, tax, exchange control and intellectual property.

A common example is that start-ups often forget to secure the rights and licenses they need to operate. For example, would you invest or partner with a company that:

  • doesn’t have a legal right to use their brand
  • doesn’t have proprietary technology; and/or
  • is reliant on a third party agreement that doesn’t permit commercial use?

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

These avoidable shortcomings often result in failures at critical junctures. The specialist legal services needed to avoid these problems are typically not easily accessible to start-ups.

With this in mind, Webber Wentzel has launched a project called ‘Webber Wentzel Ignite’ – a legal incubation programme that will provide selected entrepreneurs and innovators from any sector with:

  • tailored legal services valued at up to ZAR 100,000;
  • bespoke mentoring and training support – focused on legal knowledge and developing key legal skills relevant to start-up businesses; and
  • targeted networking and profile-raising opportunities.

Video about Ignite

Webber Wentzel is not asking for equity or exclusivity; only an opportunity to connect and make a difference as a trusted advisor over the long-term. It is a wonderful opportunity that will set the selected entrepreneurs apart in the marketplace. Applications close on 15 January 2018

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