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Top Tips for Consumers and Businesses to Stay Safe Online this Holiday Season

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Top Tips for Consumers and Businesses to Stay Safe Online this Holiday Season

There is an uptick in cybercriminal activity during the final months of the year due to higher online retail activity – 90 million people shopped online on Black Friday 2021, spending $10.7 billion and 77 million on Cyber Monday, spending $8.9 billion. Compared to 2020, the 2021 Black Friday/Cyber Monday saw a 90% jump in mobile traffic and a 46% increase in desktop traffic.

Adobe expects netizens to splurge approximately $209.7 billion in the two months between November 1 through December 31, 2022. It is safe to say that there will be many distractions to lure in unsuspecting shoppers. There is also a relaxed attitude across organizations with a sense of being off-duty. However, cybercriminals never are.

“The holiday period is not just a time for bargain hunters, it’s also a time for criminals to hunt for financial information, sensitive data and new victims. People need to know the threats, they need to understand what to do, and what to look for. By helping people with the right security behaviors, we’ll keep more people safe,” Oz Alashe, CEO of CybSafe, told Spiceworks.

Besides carrying out run-of-the-mill scams, threat actors purposely turn on the aggression to exploit any publicly disclosed zero-day vulnerabilities. This has given rise to two of the most significant cyber incidents in recent years – the SolarWinds software supply chain attack that came to light in December 2020, and the Log4Shell vulnerabilities, first exploited in December 2021.

“As we enter into one of the busiest seasons of the year for online activities, it is imperative that users remain vigilant in preparation for the upcoming wave of expected cyber attacks,” Stu Sjouwerman, CEO at KnowBe4, told Spiceworks.

“The world is slowly but surely returning to normalcy post [the] pandemic. However, for many of us, spending more time online, especially when shopping and connecting with friends and family, is the new normal. This presents more opportunities for social engineering attacks and for bad actors to exploit organizations.”

So before you give into the allure of a deal too good to be true this Cyber Monday or any upcoming Christmas/Hanukkah sale, consider the following advice Spiceworks collated from security domain experts.

Security tips for the holiday season for consumers

Online shoppers are an easy target simply because of the higher number of consumers going online, resulting in greater transaction volumes. Surya Varanasi, CTO at StorCentric, believes consumers may be looking to save up by grabbing the best available deals.

“With inflation hitting its highest level since 1982, and a recession looming, retailers must ensure they are in an ideal position to meet customer demand, service expectations and capitalize on a time when consumers may be open to loosening their purse strings,” Varanasi said.

To cater to this increased interest, marketers amp up promotional campaigns. So it is challenging to spot malice in an email deluge. Scammers may try to steal personal and financial information through phishing to compromise data, deploy malicious software, steal identities, and dupe consumers off money.

“When it comes to phishing emails, these are increasingly common – and purport to be from banks to best selling brands,” Rachel Jones, CEO of SnapDragon Monitoring, told Spiceworks. “Increasingly sophisticated scams range from brand websites being duplicated, to what look like genuine ‘special offer’ emails and social links, all which ensnare unsuspecting shoppers. Serious fraud can result as financial details are captured and non-existent products are never delivered…the list is endless causing irreparable emotional and financial damage.”

Here’s what consumers need to stay wary of, according to KnowBe4:

  • Verify links by checking domain spellings. Malicious sites often have slight modifications or can also be entirely unfamiliar. 
  • Only tread and shop on sites you’re familiar with or are reputable.
  • Thoroughly review reseller and auctioneer profiles and check their history of selling.
  • Research the parent company of a website if you are shopping from it for the first time.
  • Monitor credit card usage after using it for a transaction.
  • Verify confirmation emails.
  • Refrain from shopping on social media.

“Much more needs to be done by businesses and online platforms to protect the consumer but, at the moment, the onus is very much on the shopper to ensure they are buying genuine products from genuine sellers,” Jones added.

Security tips for the holiday season for organizations

Ransomware gangs could ramp up operations during the holiday season against organizations with their guard down. Organizations also have more to lose; thus, the payoff is significantly higher than targeting individual users.

 “While retailers are well aware of the importance of uptime and data security, many continue to struggle, particularly during high-stakes shopping periods,” Varanasi added, highlighting the need for a rock-solid backup plan in place in case of a ransomware attack. “This is a time when data backup and data security best practices are critical.”

“Today, many backup and security processes have become highly automated. But, as ransomware and other malware attacks continue to increase in severity and sophistication, it is clear that proper cyber hygiene must include protecting backed up data by making it immutable and by eliminating any way that data can be deleted or corrupted,” Varanasi said.

Varanasi suggests policy-driven data integrity checks “that can scrub the data for faults, and auto-heals without any user intervention.”

For recovery, Brian Dunagan, VP of engineering at Retrospect, stressed the ability to detect ransomware or any other malware-based attacks clubbed with a high availability solution to mitigate the cost of downtime, which can have an “impact on a retailer’s business reaches far beyond the immediate loss in sales.”

“My advice to them is this,” Dunagan said. “It is a given that you must deploy data security and high availability (HA) solutions. A simple 3-2-1 backup strategy is also essential (i.e., always have at least three copies of data; two onsite on different media, and one in an offsite location). However, as a successful cyberattack is likely just around the corner, you must be able to detect ransomware as early as possible to stop the threat and ensure your ability to remediate and recover.”

“A backup solution that includes anomaly detection to identify changes in an environment that warrants the attention of IT is a must. Administrators must be able to tailor anomaly detection to their business’s specific systems and workflows, with capabilities such as customizable filtering and thresholds for each of their backup policies.”

Varanasi opined that dual controllers and RAID-based protection should help organizations provision uninterrupted data access as part of their high availability solutions in case of a cyberattack or a simple component failure. “In this manner, recovery of data will also be faster because RAID-protected disk arrays are able to read faster than they can write,” Varanasi said.

While Varanasi and Dunagan’s suggestions hold well as a response mechanism, DH2i CEO and co-founder Don Boxley recommended organizations avoid the issue entirely with a software-defined perimeter (SDP).

“As we head into what is arguably one of the busiest and most important seasons of the year for retailers, maintaining data access and security is paramount. What is virtually impossible to accomplish with VPNs can now however be achieved with the more modern, innovative and real-world proven software defined perimeter (SDP),” Boxley told Spiceworks.

“SDP enables organizations to build a secure software-defined perimeter and use Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) tunnels to seamlessly connect all applications, servers, IoT devices, and users behind any symmetric network address translation (NAT) to any full cone NAT: without having to reconfigure networks or set up complicated and problematic VPNs. By leveraging SDP this holiday shopping season, organizations can ensure safe, fast and easy network and data access; while slamming the door on any potential cybercriminals or Grinch.”

Jones pointed out that organizations can do more to help consumers stay safe. “Businesses must communicate with their customers about this [phishing email] threat, making clear what a genuine emails looks like and warning customers to be diligent, what a fraudulent email may seek to request (and what a genuine one would never do) and to seek direct advice if the slightest bit concerned,” Jones said.

“If a business sees its site is being duplicated by criminals, they must ensure it is taken offline with speed and efficiency before it causes harm. Common themes for fake sites are slight alterations in spellings, new domains (.co rather than .com for example). We would always recommend the shopper seeks out the genuine brand’s site with care and attention.”

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Trucking Companies: An Essential Part of the Supply Chain

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Trucking Companies: An Essential Part of the Supply Chain

Trucking companies are a crucial part of the modern-day supply chain, responsible for delivering goods and materials from one location to another. From small-scale local delivery services to large multinational corporations, trucking companies play a vital role in connecting businesses with consumers and ensuring that essential goods reach their destinations in a timely manner.

The history of trucking companies dates back to the early 20th century, when trucks first began to be used for commercial purposes. Since then, the industry has grown exponentially, with technological advancements, changes in regulations, and increased globalization driving the growth of trucking companies around the world.

Trucking companies typically offer a range of services, including local, regional, and long-haul deliveries. They may specialize in a particular type of cargo, such as hazardous materials, or offer a range of services, including warehousing and distribution. Some trucking companies also provide specialized services such as refrigerated transportation, flatbed hauling, or oversized loads.

One of the key benefits of working with trucking companies is their ability to offer flexible, efficient, and cost-effective delivery services. With a large fleet of vehicles and a network of distribution centers, trucking companies can provide fast and reliable delivery services, regardless of the size or type of shipment.

In addition to the delivery of goods, trucking companies also play a critical role in reducing congestion on the roads and highways. By utilizing advanced routing and dispatch systems, trucking companies can optimize their delivery routes, reducing the number of vehicles on the road and helping to minimize traffic delays.

Another advantage of working with trucking companies is their ability to offer a range of value-added services, such as packing, loading and unloading, and custom clearance. These services can help businesses streamline their operations, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

However, like any industry, trucking companies are not without their challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing the industry today is the shortage of qualified truck drivers, which has led to increased costs and reduced capacity for many companies. In addition, the high cost of fuel, insurance, and maintenance can also pose a significant challenge for trucking companies.

Despite these challenges, the trucking industry continues to play an essential role in the global economy, connecting businesses with consumers and helping to keep the wheels of commerce turning. With a focus on innovation, efficiency, and customer service, trucking companies will continue to play a key role in shaping the future of the supply chain.

In conclusion, trucking companies are an integral part of the modern-day supply chain, offering a range of delivery services that help businesses connect with consumers and ensure the timely delivery of goods. With a focus on innovation, efficiency, and customer service, trucking companies will continue to play a vital role in shaping the future of the industry.

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Landscaping Business: A Guide to Starting and Growing Your Own Business

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Landscaping Business: A Guide to Starting and Growing Your Own Business

Landscaping is a multi-billion dollar industry that offers a range of opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to start their own business. Whether you are an experienced landscaper or just starting out, this guide will provide you with the essential information you need to get your landscaping business up and running.

Step 1: Determine Your Niche

The first step in starting a landscaping business is to determine your niche. Are you going to specialize in residential or commercial landscaping? Do you want to offer lawn care services, garden design, or tree care? It’s important to choose a niche that you have a passion for and that you feel confident in delivering quality services to your clients.

Step 2: Create a Business Plan

Once you have determined your niche, the next step is to create a business plan. Your business plan should include your business goals, target market, marketing strategies, operating costs, and financial projections. This will help you stay focused and on track as you start your business.

Step 3: Register Your Business and Obtain Licenses

Before you start your landscaping business, you need to register your business and obtain any necessary licenses and permits. This will vary depending on your location, so it’s important to check with your local government to determine what you need to do.

Step 4: Invest in Equipment and Supplies

To provide quality landscaping services, you will need to invest in the right equipment and supplies. This may include lawn mowers, trimmers, edgers, and other landscaping tools. You will also need to purchase supplies such as mulch, soil, and plants.

Step 5: Market Your Business

Marketing your landscaping business is essential to attracting new clients and building your brand. You can use a variety of marketing strategies, including online advertising, social media, and local print ads. You can also offer special promotions and discounts to attract new customers and keep your existing ones coming back.

Step 6: Deliver Quality Services

The key to success in the landscaping business is delivering quality services to your clients. Make sure you are providing high-quality workmanship, and always be prompt and professional with your clients. You can also ask for referrals from satisfied customers to help grow your business.

In conclusion, starting a landscaping business can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. With hard work, dedication, and a passion for your work, you can build a successful landscaping business that provides you with a steady income and a sense of accomplishment.

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Catering Business: A Thriving Industry in the Food Service Industry

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Catering Business: A Thriving Industry in the Food Service Industry

Catering business is a subsector of the food service industry that involves providing food and drinks to clients at various locations such as weddings, corporate events, parties, and other special events. It is a growing and lucrative industry that offers a variety of opportunities for entrepreneurs who have a passion for food and hospitality. In this article, we will take a closer look at the catering business and its prospects for growth in the future.

The Demand for Catering Services

The demand for catering services has been steadily increasing in recent years due to the growing trend of hosting events and parties outside of the home. This trend has been driven by a number of factors including busy work schedules, the desire to create a memorable experience, and the convenience of having everything taken care of by a professional catering service. As a result, catering businesses have become increasingly popular, especially in urban areas where there is a high demand for their services.

Opportunities for Growth in the Catering Business

There are many opportunities for growth in the catering business, including expanding into new markets, offering new and innovative menu options, and investing in technology to streamline operations. For example, catering businesses that cater to specific dietary needs, such as gluten-free or vegan options, have seen significant growth in recent years. Additionally, the use of technology to streamline operations, such as online ordering and delivery systems, has made it easier for catering businesses to reach new customers and expand their reach.

Starting a Catering Business

Starting a catering business requires careful planning, hard work, and a passion for food and hospitality. It is important to conduct market research to determine the demand for catering services in your area, as well as to identify your target market and competition. From there, you will need to create a detailed business plan, secure financing, and develop a strong brand identity.

To be successful in the catering business, you will also need to have a strong culinary background and a good understanding of food safety and sanitation practices. You may also need to invest in equipment such as ovens, refrigerators, and other kitchen equipment, as well as in marketing and advertising to reach potential customers.

Conclusion

The catering business is a thriving industry that offers many opportunities for growth and success. By carefully planning and executing a solid business plan, entrepreneurs with a passion for food and hospitality can start their own successful catering business and make a real impact in the food service industry. With the increasing demand for catering services, the future of the catering business looks bright and full of potential.

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