Protect Your Business Information

Protect your information and your business

It is not uncommon to encounter media accounts of a data breach or loss. The consequences are usually severe, including monetary loss and loss of confidence in the organization. In fact, a study completed by Symantec in 2006 determined that 60% of organizations that lose their data shut down within six months of the loss. You don’t want to find yourself in this number, but where can you begin to make a difference?

What information do you have?

In order to effectively and efficiently manage information, it is necessary to first confirm what information assets the organization has and also to identify people in the organization that “own” the information. The owner of the information is responsible to determine who can access information and how it will be used.

What types of data do you have?

After information assets are identified, they should be classified according to their sensitivity relative to unauthorized disclosure. For example, there may be legal or regulatory requirements that specify that certain information must be protected. There may be industry guidelines that address information protection, for example the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard that outlines requirements to protect credit card data. When classifying information, it helps to consider information in broad categories, for example, corporate intellectual property, human resource information, financial information, information to access systems and records (user-ids and passwords) and information that could typically be found in the public domain.

It is important not to develop too many classifications of information because such a scenario will likely become unmanageable. Quite often, three classifications are often sufficient. For example, information that should only be shared amongst management may be classified as restricted. Information that is less sensitive, but should not leave the organization may be classified as confidential. Information that typically exists in the public domain may be classified as non-sensitive.

Getting started?

  1. Make a list of the information: who is responsible for it? Who should have access to it?
  2. Determine the different categories of information: remember, probably no more than 3 categories should be enough.

How to Start a Business Information As a Unique Christmas Gift

Starting a business in no “walk in the park” for most of us. There are expenses to consider, the likely hood of success verses failure. A person has to take their time to research their idea, find out every scrap of information they possibly can about this business. In truth starting a business from scratch is a whole lot of hard work. Just when you think you have asked every possible question there is a dozen more pop up. Would it not be a unique Christmas gift to find a way to help your friend or loved one with some of that much needed information?

When searching for a business to start many of us do not have thousands and thousands of dollars in liquid assets to invest in a franchise. Today’s new business owners have had to get creative and find “real” businesses that can be operated from home. This is where the word “real” applies, there are many scammers out there trying to get your money. You will see overwhelming amounts of sites that offer to make you rich while you are lazy, asleep, in your pajamas – you name it! And get this – it will only cost you 29.00 to start your business. Get real; it is not going to happen so easily.

Creative people need to think outside the box to find a business that they can work from home. Look at service businesses especially. Mobile gyms, mobile pet care, mobile car wash, mobile windshield, mobile oil change and mobile lawnmower repair. People are starting cleaning businesses, delivery service and daycare centers in and from their own home. These businesses allow you to start and run them from your own home at a much lower cost than your typical “sticks and bricks” businesses.

Back to the unique Christmas gift, that is easy. If you know someone who is looking to start their own business but needs guidance, support and most of all information why not do a little research yourself and print it out, put it in a binder and present that as a gift? Or better yet, if you can find a “How to Start” manual that applies to the subject your friend or loved one is interested in buy it as a gift. It not only shows that you are a crafty shopper but a person who cares about their dream. It shows your support for their idea.

Just a thought…

Online Home Business Information Overload

When starting an internet online business it seems there is just so much information to digest. For most people this becomes overwhelming and causes them to believe they will never be able to get started in the online business.

The “experts” do not help. It seems that once you start looking at internet businesses your email inbox is filled to bursting point everyday. Usually these emails are offering a “one time only” special secret which will make you a fortune.

This makes it very difficult to remain focused on what you want to achieve. Because you are constantly distracted by the latest “unique previously unreleased” method of making your fortune with an online business. So let us look at some structured methods you need to apply before you get going.

First and probably most obvious is what product you will sell. This is normally referred to as your Niche. You need to spend some time on this and you need to understand your product inside out. If you don’t really believe in your product you will not convince anyone to buy it.

Will you sell digital products (reports, books, training videos etc.) or will you sell store type products (this can include anything you like) Will you hold inventory (stock) or will you use a dropship supplier. Dropshipping is where the supplier sends the product directly to your client on your behalf. This means you do not require holding any inventory.

Or you could choose to become an affiliate. An affiliate simply put, is a salesperson who sells products for other companies. Once a sale is completed the affiliate gets a commission. The commission can be substantial 50-70% is common.

If you are just starting out the affiliate route is probably the easiest. Being an affiliate means you do not even need a website and can get started straight away. It is a good way to get the money coming in whilst you develop your long term business strategy. You just simply send clients directly to the landing page of your affiliate company and once they buy you get paid.

To make money long term and to build a business with some value, you will need to eventually have your own website. You want to capture the details of your clients. You can use this information in the future to promote other products and make extra sales.

This information should be enough to get you thinking in the right direction. In my next article I will cover: GETTING TRAFFIC, GETTING SALES, OUTSOURCING, RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS DAY TO DAY.

Protect Your Business Information – Prevent Document Deterioration, Misuse and Loss With EDM

Security concerns are in the news a lot lately. The government has issued public alerts against terrorist activity. Military experts are debating how to maximize armed forces’ safety amid intensified conflict in Afghanistan. Medical experts are producing vaccine to combat Swine Flu. Each issue focuses on the need to ensure public safety. Yet most businesses – including agencies that rely on timely, accurate information to make decisions about public safety – overlook a serious risk that jeopardizes their effectiveness and ability to survive. The threat? Inadequate document security.

Businesses need secure access to accurate information to make smart decisions. Usually information is scattered: on paper (subject to deterioration, misfiling, security breaches, and loss); trapped in the minds of executives, managers and workers (subject to unintentional alteration and selective memory); and stored in electronic documents and software applications (subject to inconsistent rules, conflicting policies, and difficult to lock down). A recent 2009 AIIM report entitled Electronic Records Management – Still Playing Catch-up with Paper shows 60% of managers surveyed couldn’t be confident their records hadn’t been altered, deleted, or inappropriately accessed if they were challenged. More than 70% had no provisions for long-term electronic record archival; 31% had twenty or more content repositories that could be usefully linked (and presumably weren’t, complicating access and security). Many respondents described their electronic records as unmanaged; most lacked email management policies. It doesn’t take an expert to uncover a foul brew of document security concerns. Ignoring document security invites trouble.

Set clear policies Document security has two sides: human and technological. Management has the onerous job of weighing rules and regulations against operational needs and determining acceptable risks versus those that jeopardize their business objectives. Identifying unacceptable risk is a precursor to creating governance policy.

Communicate policies frequently – in writing Rules are futile unless they’re communicated – frequently, understandably, and in writing. Understanding what constitutes risk, acceptable behavior, and the penalties for disobedience dramatically reduces employee blunders. Convey your rules and reasoning clearly. Document your communications. You’ll reduce company risk by demonstrating intent to comply.

Well-laid plans, smart hiring decisions, and regular communications minimize risk, but they don’t guarantee document security. Where 100% document control is hindered by human limitations, web-based electronic document management (EDM) excels – governing, observing, and tracking file use, 24/7.

Emulate policies electronically Everyone hears about planned security breaches. Yet typically, compromised document security is unintentional:

People view sensitive information while searching for unrelated information. Employees inadvertently destroy original files without noticing copies or imported documents are faulty or illegible. New employees don’t know the rules and handle documents improperly. Temporarily removed or inappropriately stored documents can’t be located on demand for audits, subpoenas, or processing. Workers delete documents deemed worthless, learning afterward that retention rules changed or they were mistaken. EDM ensures security from the moment of capture, preserving file integrity throughout the business lifecycle and providing a central repository for stored information. Readability and integrity are verified upon capture. Digital storage eliminates deterioration, misfiling, or loss. Files are readable, properly stored, and secure. Customizable security determines who can retrieve, view, edit, annotate, manage, move, or delete files. Administrators can set rules for data use and walk away, knowing employees can access whatever they need.

Remove temptation and filing mistakes Companies are increasingly subject to strict regulations governing information use. EDM enforces your governance policies, letting you:

Restrict file access by creating pre-defined searches to retrieve files staff need. Restrict document viewing to specific personnel by job role and document type. Associate individual editing and annotation rights to pre-specified users and file types. Ensure only authorized persons can delete batches, files, and/or pages of documents. Assure consistent indexing Employee logic varies for document classification and search. EDM enables standardization, making filing consistent and search 100% successful.

Assign documents to batches during scanning or importing. Index documents by document type, customer ID number, and other unique identifiers. Associate related documents for a comprehensive view of information. Validate the integrity and accuracy of scanned and imported files through automated validation; request alerts when documents require intervention. Digital capture gives you control over your content.

Prevent document alteration Document alteration poses huge security risks, especially in the face of litigation and audits. ECM allays fears of inappropriately altered documents. You can:

Restrict document annotation and alteration rights to pre-designated persons. Ensure file alteration and editing rights reflect current policies. Store business-critical emails as unalterable documents. Avert inappropriate file deletion Missing and lost documents typically comprise 7.5% to 11% of all document requests, with workers spending anywhere from 20-50% of their time looking for information. MIA documents cost time and money to recreate; if they’re needed for an audit, subpoena, or industry mandate and not found, penalties can accrue.

EDM ensures documents aren’t deleted until they’re scheduled to be migrated or destroyed. By limiting user rights, you ensure against accidental and intentional purging. Automated retention assures document migration, purging, and deletion follow your rules. Regulatory changes? No problem: EDM grasps new instructions immediately, adhering to governance directives.

Adjust rules as hierarchies change Between a quarter and a third of employees change jobs or positions annually. Promoted employees suddenly need access to additional information. Demoted workers lose rights to access particular documents. Some are fired or leave, creating concerns they may take information with them, and new problems arise as knowledge must be transferred to new hires.

EDM tackles these issues with ease:

Users and feature rights are pre-designated electronically, making appropriate files accessible immediately to new employees. Administrators make documents instantly inaccessible to departing employees by deleting user rights and features, eliminating the risk of inappropriate file use. Rules and rights are easily reconfigured, ensuring new employees can access repositories and files they need without the risk of stumbling on sensitive information or overlooking policies for document access and use. Lock down email Email management eludes many managers. Critical communications about customers, partners, third-party vendors, staff, products plans, licensing information and more often are trapped in email Inboxes, inadequately archived and difficult to find.

By managing business email within EDM, you can:

Index and archive critical emails as documents of record. Restrict access to email content, while disclosing contents to authorized persons. Regulate printing, migration, and deletion of stored emails to specific users. Avoid disaster The topic of avoiding business disasters drew attention this year when the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) recommended that companies limit how many executives can travel simultaneously on the same corporate or commercial plane. Experts recognized that a single calamity involving the loss of multiple top-tier executives constituted unacceptable risk, as it could destroy a company and result in considerable job loss. The same is true with the loss of your business-critical documents.

Document preservation is the left hand to the right hand of document security. Careful planning, quality EDM, and appropriate professional services ensure you have:

Effective backups and fault-tolerant, redundant systems that ensure you stay connected to your information. A disaster recovery plan that outlines the hierarchy of document importance to ensure business continuity and accelerate document recovery. Uninterrupted access to your business-critical information if a disaster prevents staff from working onsite. Physical data recovery in case a real disaster strikes or your system is shut down. Forge ahead If your company makes the headlines, don’t let it be because of a security breach or shutdown. Creating a document management strategy and investing in EDM means your past, present, and future documents will be in the right hands, whenever and wherever they’re needed. By leaving the arduous task of document management to EDM, you’ll have more time to focus on taking your business to the next level. Good luck!