Which of Your Employees Are Most Likely to Expose Your Company to a Cyberattack?

• Your employees are often the weakest link when it comes to enterprise cybersecurity.
• Your IT Department, Finance and C-Suite are particularly risky when it comes to cyberattacks.
• Harvard Business Review identifies 4 areas to mitigate the risk of cyberthreats through human error.

Cybersecurity has now expanded far beyond external threats of hackers attacking network vulnerabilities. Your employees are often the weakest link when it comes to enterprise cybersecurity. Insider threats are much more complex and difficult to manage. The nature of insider threats can be categorized into malicious, accidental, or negligent.

Some departments are more likely to fall victim to cyberattacks:

  • IT and development: These employees have system access and passwords to sensitive company files.
  • Finance: Attacks target these employees to transfer large sums of money, bypassing normal accounts payable procedures and controls.
  • The C-Suite: Executives often work long hours, are rarely confined to the office, and have unrestricted access to the most sensitive company data, making them highly valuable and highly available targets.

Harvard Business Review wrote an excellent article about the problem of employees exposing your organization to cyberthreats through human error. They identified four areas where you can significantly mitigate this risk:

  • Rethink employee training: In order to make a meaningful and lasting impact on employee behavior, organizations should organize frequent and interactive training sessions.
  • Identify high-risk users and intervene: Another technique is to send out mock-phishing emails to see who clicks. Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence can also monitor and influence risky behavior.
  • Shape the solution to the human user and not vice versa: Secure systems such as encrypted email can be complex and cumbersome to use. Companies should engage with employees to find a viable and workable solution to support cybersecurity efforts
  • Constantly adapt to changing threats: Rapid advancements in technology makes it easier to secure data and to apply advanced analytics.

The Harvard Business Review article ends with: “It’s true that to err is human, and humans will keep erring. But increasingly, technology and improved practices can help you identify those employees who are most at risk of exposing your company to a cyberattack — before it becomes a major problem.”

Abilita and our cybersecurity business partners can help protect your company against cyber attacks. If you are ready to explore some of the strategies outlined in this report, contact your Abilita consultant today!

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How to Run a Highly Effective Meeting

We’ve all been in meetings without a clear purpose that drags on and on. Inefficient meetings result in huge costs since employees are kept from doing other important work. Inefficient meetings also lower employee satisfaction possibly leading to higher employee turnover. Here are some meeting tips to set you up for success:

Make the purpose clear

Most of the time you spend on a meeting should be spent before you even enter the meeting room. Send an extremely focused and actionable agenda including any background materials ahead of time so people know what you’ll cover.

The purpose of meetings is to make decisions and get work done. For the most part, meetings are not the best way to simply share information.

Control the size and have appropriate attendees

Meetings can get out of control if there are too many people in the room. By limiting the number of attendees and only inviting key people, you ensure that your meeting stays structured and you achieve the outcome you want.

The people in the meeting room make or break your effectiveness. You will want to have the key person present – a manager or executive – so significant decisions can be made.

Set the appropriate tone and structure

As a manager, it is up to you to ensure meeting attendees feel comfortable enough to contribute. Instead of lecturing or trying to convince people of your viewpoint, be open to hearing other’s perspectives. Before you transition from one agenda item to the next, ask if everyone is finished with the current topic. Giving enough people time to discuss their viewpoints will help keep the conversation focused.

Keep meetings as short and concise as possible

Ideally, you should only schedule 15-minute meetings up to a maximum of 30-minutes. This allows you to ensure your agenda is kept focused and clear of clutter. If you limit the number of attendees and your colleagues have done their homework, you won’t need more time.

Stick to your agenda

At the beginning of the meeting, explain you expect everyone to focus their discussions on the agenda. All meeting attendees should prepare their input before the actual meeting.

For constant interrupters: Instead of letting employees dominate the conversation, you can ask them to continue during the break or after the meeting.

For dissenters: For those unhappy with the direction or territorial about decisions made, you may need to address the underlying issue head on before refocusing on the stated agenda. Tackling this directly will help to appease the dissenter and get your meeting back on topic.

For ramblers: The meeting can degenerate if extraneous points are being raised. If your co-workers start to discuss items that are outside of the scope of your meeting, you can suggest a separate one-on-one conversation to go through their concerns. In this situation, you can also use the Parking Lot technique: advise the topic raised is outside the scope of this meeting but you will write it down in the parking lot and include in meeting notes to explore further if necessary.

End your meeting with action items

The main purpose of a meeting is to achieve completion of tasks through decisions and/or actions. When further action is needed, ask the following 3 questions:

  • What are the next steps?
  • Who is responsible for them?
  • What is the timeframe?

Spend a couple minutes to recap so everyone is aware of their responsibilities and is held accountable. After the meeting, send out meeting minutes on a timely basis with the specific action items discussed at the end of the meeting.

Whether you’re getting ready for a weekly departmental meeting or convening an executive group to discuss corporate strategy, these tips can help make your next meeting the most focused and productive one yet.

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Your Next Telecom System

As 2018 begins, many companies are starting to look at technology upgrades for the coming year. One area that has become much more complex and challenging for CEO’s, CFO’s, CIO’s, and IT managers is voice communications. No longer defined and relegated to a phone system, or PBX, voice is leading the way in integrating collaborative technology.

In order for you to make an informed, intelligent decision about which of the competing technology platforms, transport choices, features, functions and payment options are right for your business, it is very important to understand the benefits and limitations of each choice.

Background
Let’s start with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). In a nutshell; your voice (which is analog) is converted to digital (think of listening to music on a CD instead of an LP record) and is layered in with other data applications on your network. It is the underlying technology of most of today’s voice platforms.

VoIP telephone systems are popular options and they can offer substantial advantages. But buying a VoIP system can be challenging because of the various combinations of technology and providers can be mind-boggling. The graphic below identifies some major features along with pros/cons of cloud-based, on-premise and hybrid solutions.

Communications Systems Choices

 

A Critical Business Decision
In the end, whether a business chooses a Cloud, On-Premise, or Hybrid solution, the new telecom system can have a profound effect on business processes and ultimately profitability.  Selection and implementation is critical. Change is both a risk and an opportunity. An effective implementation can improve everything from customer experience to overall profitability. How a business functions and how it wants to function is as much a determinant on the selection of a new  business communications system as the price or the choice of technology.

These are not easy decisions nor are they simple. If your company is not prepared with educated staff, you can define the scope of work to outsource this to a Communications Technology Consultant. Just make sure he/she is independent, experienced and aligned with your company’s objectives.

For more details, download your complimentary Abilita research report “YOUR NEXT TELECOM SYSTEM – A Primer on Cloud, On-Premise and Hybrid Systems”

Educating yourself on the benefits and potential challenges that come with using cloud, on-premise or hybrid phone systems can help you make a good decision to ensure your business needs are met and you get the greatest value for your investment. This special report explains why you need to upgrade, key considerations for each option and a review of this important business decision.

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The Lion Tamer Who Survived

Over a century ago, a lion tamer named Clyde Beatty learned a lesson that is so important that it impacts nearly every area of your life today. What was that lesson? Keep reading to find out what a lion tamer can teach you about how to focus, concentrate better, and live a healthier life.

The Lion Tamer Who Survived

Clyde Beatty was born in Bainbridge, Ohio in 1903. When he was a teenager, he left home to join the circus and landed a job as a cage cleaner. In the years that followed, Beatty quickly progressed from a lowly cage boy to a popular entertainer.

Beatty’s act included a segment where he brought lions, tigers, cougars, and hyenas into the circus ring all at once and tamed the entire group.

But here’s the most impressive feat of all…

In an era when the majority of lion tamers died in the ring, Beatty lived into his 60s. How did he manage to survive? Thanks to a simple idea. Clyde Beatty was one of the first lion tamers to bring a chair into the circus ring.

The Whip and The Chair

The classic image of a lion tamer is one of the entertainer holding a whip and a chair. The whip gets all of the attention, but it’s mostly for show. In reality, it’s the chair that does the important work.

When a lion tamer holds a chair in front of the lion’s face, the lion tries to focus on all four legs of the chair at the same time. With its focus divided, the lion becomes confused and is unsure about what to do next. When faced with so many options, the lion chooses to freeze and wait instead of attacking the man holding the chair.

Avoid the Fate of the Lion

How often do you find yourself in the same position as the lion? How often do you have something you want to achieve (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle, start a business, travel more) … only to end up confused by all of the options in front of you and never make progress?

This is especially true in health, fitness, and medicine, where every person and company seems to believe it is their duty to make things more complex. Every workout routine you find is the best one. Every diet expert says their plan is the optimal one.

The end result is that we feel like we can’t focus or that we’re focused on the wrong things, and so we take less action, make less progress, and stay the same when we could be improving.

Here is how to Focus and Concentrate Better

Anytime you find the world waving a chair in your face, remember this: all you need to do is commit to one thing.  In the beginning, you don’t even have to succeed. You just need to get started. Starting before you feel ready is one of the habits of successful people.

Most of the time, the ability to get started and commit to a task is the only thing you need to do to focus better. Most people don’t have trouble with focusing. They have trouble with deciding.

Have you ever had a task that you absolutely had to get done? What happened? You got it done. Maybe you procrastinated, but once you committed to doing it, you got it finished.

In other words: making progress in your health, your work, and your life isn’t about learning how to focus and concentrate better, it’s about learning how to choose and commit to a specific task.

You have the ability to focus, you just need to choose what to direct it towards instead of acting like the lion and dividing your attention among the four legs of the chair.

We all have the ability to focus and concentrate, but only if we decide what is important to us and what we want to commit to accomplishing. The only wrong choice is no choice.

Stop Gazing at the Chair

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the ring. We all are. Most of the time, we sit quietly, gazing at the chair in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you have somewhere you want to go, something you want to accomplish, someone you want to become… then make a decision. If you’re clear about where you want to go, the rest of the world will either help you get there or get out of the way. Both of those are useful.

You don’t have to do it all at once, but there is something that you need to do now. Something that’s calling you, something that’s important to you, something that you’re destined to do. I don’t know what it is, but you do. Swipe the chair out of the way and choose it.


This article was originally published on JamesClear.com. James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science‐based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.

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Abilita Consultants Giving Back

Taki Remtulla Volunteers at Eye Camp in Tanzania

Taki Remtulla, Abilita Chief Technology Officer, spends time each year volunteering at a Cataract Surgery camp in Kabaha, a small city located in eastern Tanzania.

Patients report to the Hospital for the unique opportunity of having free treatment for their eyes. Many come with a perception that their eyes will be removed!! Treatments include cataract surgeries to 1 or both eyes, or other ocular pathologies that require medications or corrective glasses.

 

  

Treatment also includes post-op evaluation and follow-up care including free eye drops, sunglasses, protective eye shields and pain medication. In many cases, there is great excitement among the patients as they restore their eyesight allowing them to change their life from dependency to independence.

Thank you to Taki for his humanitarian efforts in helping those in need.

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25th Anniversary of the Text Message

It’s been 25 years since the world’s first-ever text message was sent, an innovation that has shaped modern communication.  The first text message was sent in December 1992 by British engineer Neil Papworth to an executive at Vodafone. It was sent as the company celebrated its Christmas party and read “Merry Christmas”.

That first SMS (it stands for short message service) wasn’t even sent on a mobile phone. Handsets could only receive messages, not send them, so Mr. Papworth typed out the message on a computer.

It took nearly a year to develop the technology for phones to also send text messages, but took several more years for texting to catch on. It was in 1993 that Nokia introduced the SMS feature on its handsets, with a 160-character limit. In 1999, the text messages could be exchanged over different telecom networks, and the first emojis were created in Japan.

Papworth says about the SMS, “In 1992, I had no idea just how popular texting would become, and that this would give rise to emojis and messaging apps used by millions.” SMS can be considered the first step towards the modern smartphone.

Senior Consultant Wim Cassard (Baltimore, MD) gave us his comments on using this technology before mass adaptation:

While working for Bell Atlantic Mobile (later Verizon) in 1994, Wim Cassard and his colleagues were provided with Motorola 550 “flip phones”…state of the art at the time.

Wim noted “As we were located in the mid-Atlantic area, and so close to DC, our office often was awarded new products or technologies to try”. “One day some office personnel and we sales types were all trying a new technology…Send a TEXT message! We stood next to each other and typed HI (4×2, 4×1) soon a very analog looking HI showed up on our phone’s screen.”

“Others tried more complex notes like HI KAREN.  I remember thinking…wow, kind of neat, but kind of clumsy…why would anyone want to do this on a regular basis? I’d rather push ONE BUTTON (speed dial back then) and TALK to my contact.”

Pretty amazing to think we’ve gone from
This:  to THIS: 

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The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Business

​It was 1955 and Disneyland had just opened in Anaheim, California when a ten-year-old boy walked in and asked for a job. Labor laws were loose back then and the boy managed to land a position selling guidebooks to visitors for $0.50 a piece.

Within a year, he had transitioned to Disney’s magic shop where he learned tricks from the older employees. He experimented with jokes and tried out simple magic routines on the visitors. Soon, he discovered that what he loved was not performing magic, but performing in general. The young boy set his sights on becoming a comedian.

Once he entered high school, he started performing in small clubs around Los Angeles. The crowds were small and his act was short. He was rarely on stage for more than five minutes. In one case, he literally delivered his standup routine to an empty club.

It wasn’t glamorous work, but there was no doubt he was getting better. His first magic routines would only last one or two minutes. By high school his material had expanded to include a five minute skit and then a ten minute show. At the age of 19, he was performing weekly at clubs for twenty minutes at a time. Of course, he had to read three poems during the act just to make the routine long enough, but still. He was improving.

He spent another decade experimenting, adjusting, and practicing his act. He took a job as a television writer and, gradually, he was able to land his own appearances on television shows. By the mid-1970s, he had worked his way into being a regular guest on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.

After nearly 15 years of work, he broke through to wild success. He toured 60 cities in 63 days. Then 72 cities in 80 days. Then 85 cities in 90 days. 18,695 people attended one show in Ohio. 45,000 tickets were sold for his 3-day show in New York. He catapulted to the top of his genre and became one of the most important comedians of his time.

His name was Steve Martin.

Comedy is not for the faint of heart. It is hard to imagine a situation that would strike fear into the hearts of more people than failing to get a single laugh on stage. And yet, Steve Martin worked at it for 18 years. In his words, “10 years spent learning, 4 years spent refining, and 4 years spent in wild success.” His story offers a fascinating perspective on motivation, perseverance, and consistency.

Why do we stay motivated to reach some goals, but not others? Why do we say we want something, but give up on it after a few days? What is the difference between the areas where we naturally stay motivated and those where we give up?

Scientists have been studying motivation for decades. While there is still much to learn, one of the most consistent findings is that perhaps the best way to stay motivated is to work on tasks of “just manageable difficulty.”

The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.

Martin’s comedy career was a perfect example of what The Goldilocks Rule looks like in the real world. Wanting to improve your life is easy. Sticking with it is a different story. If you want to stay motivated for good, then start with a challenge that is just manageable, measure your progress, and repeat the process.

Your Abilita consultant, with many years of experience in the industry, has that same motivation and dedication. This helps to ensure they get things right and provides you with the confidence you are looking for when hiring a consultant.

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Lessons from Catastrophic Events

Key Planning Guidelines for Disaster
Recovery and Business Continuity

Disaster recovery should be a critical component for any business that relies on technology. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma highlight an important lesson for businesses. On a more local level, cable cuts and other outages cause disruptions to data and/or voice services. It doesn’t take a natural disaster to create havoc. And today, it’s not a matter of if it happens…it’s when it happens. What would the impact be to your business if you lost voice or data communications?

A data and voice continuity plan is like insurance. You need to ask yourself what is the cost in lost business and productivity in the event of a failure in voice or data communications for an hour, 4 hours or even 4 days.

For many major service providers, the mean time to repair a lost connection is four hours. But as evidenced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, outages can be significantly longer.

Businesses need to assess the potential costs of any disruption, and how redundant coverage and alternate routes can lessen the consequence cost of lost business.

You can’t predict the effects of a disaster, but you can plan for one. A carefully considered business continuity plan will help make coping with a disaster less impactful, and enable you to minimize disruption to the business and your customers.

For more details, read our full report titled “Lessons From Catastrophic Events

An independent communications technology consultant can help you create a disaster recovery plan that meets your critical business needs. This will help to minimize the impact of service disruptions so you can get back up and running as quickly as possible after a disaster. As we have learned, and some the hard way, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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Learn Things Faster with the Feynman Technique

The Feynman Technique, developed by Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, helps you understand, recall and explain anything using concise thoughts and simple language.

You can use this model to quickly learn new concepts, shore up knowledge gaps, recall ideas you don’t want to forget, or grapple with complex subject matter. To adopt the Feynman Technique, follow these 4 steps:

1) Identify the Topic 

Pick something you want to understand and start studying it. Write down everything you know about the topic. Add to that page every time you learn something new.

2) Teach it to a Child

This forces you to make it really simple. When you write out an idea from start to finish in simple language that a child can understand, you force yourself to understand the concept at a deeper level and simplify relationships and connections between ideas.

3) Identify Your Knowledge Gaps

If you cannot find the words to describe your concept in layman terms, revisit problem areas until you can explain the topic fully. Go back to the source material and re-learn it until you can explain it in basic terms. Highlighting knowledge gaps will help you when you collect and organize your notes into a cohesive story (which is the next step.)

4) Simplify and use Analogies

Organize your notes into a simple story that flows. Use analogies and simple sentences to strengthen your understanding. Practice reading your story out loud. Pretend to tell the story to a classroom of students. Get to the hypothesis in as few words as possible. Avoid clunky, verbose language.

For a brief video outlining the Feynman Technique, click here. These concepts can be used anywhere and anytime. Learning is not only about remembering something difficult, but it is about making things easier. By forcing yourself to make something easier, you will remember it better!

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Software Defined Networks (SDN’s)

We at Abilita know that many of you are still struggling with various options related to the “Cloud”. This includes cloud providers, cloud apps, security, back-up and content ownership to name a few.

IT, Managed Services, Hosted, Carrier Provided Services and Telecommunications seem to evolve almost daily. And don’t forget 5G which has the potential to be a real game changer on many levels. Next up is another technology advancement called Software Defined Wide Area Network or SD-WAN.

As older networks strain to keep up with bandwidth demand, Enterprises are turning to SD-WAN as the preferred choice. Overall SD-WAN is one of the better technologies that has come along. There is little to no downside, but as we learned with “Cloud” not all terminology is used and means the same thing to everyone. Selecting the optimal SD-WAN solution for your enterprise is not easy.
It is more and more difficult to ensure that you have chosen and implemented the right technology, that it has been implemented correctly, and that you have all the necessary tools and training to manage it.

Abilita can help! If you are ready to explore if SD-WAN can benefit your business, remember that Abilita Consultants are vendor neutral and do not sell or represent any manufacturer or service provider. We work strictly for you and will help you find the best combination of product, price and service.

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