You_have_been_hacked_messageIt’s not the first time we have touched on this subject in our blog, but I think it is such an increasing threat to your business that the subject warrants an update.

According to the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses, The Voice July/August 2014), fewer small businesses are experiencing information security breaches and cyber attacks than a year ago, however the cost of dealing with incidents has increased significantly (research carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers).

The research found that 60% of small firms experienced a security breach in 2013, compared to 64% in 2012. The average cost of the worst security breach they experienced in 2013 was between £65,000 and £115,000, compared to £35,000 and £65,000 in 2012.

The department for business (BIS) has published new guidance to help small and medium sized firms protect themselves against online threats. To read more about the scheme visit www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/317482/Cyber_Essentials_Assurance_Framework.pdf


Protecting your business from Cyber crime and information theft

ISO 27001
An alternative route is to the BIS scheme is to achieve the International standard ISO 27001.
This is an Information Security Management System (ISMS) that is auditable to international standards and provides a structure to help you improve the security of your information.

You should always use a trusted certification body, which is UKAS accredited.

Cyber risk insurance
For ultimate peace of mind, you may want to consider taking out an insurance policy in case the worst happens. In view of the high costs involved in recovering from a breach, you can now mitigate the financial impact by taking out insurance that covers a variety of expenses including; IT support, adverse publicity, legal implications and financial loss.

A good commercial insurance broker will be able to help you with this.

IT support
Regardless of whether you have implemented management systems to limit your risks or taken out insurance to recover your costs, you are going to need some expert advice and support to strengthen your security and help you with damage limitation. You will need to identify where and how the breach was made, what damage was done and help to get your systems up and running again as fast as possible. You will also need to look at preventing a further breach.

To discuss the best way to protect your business from the effects of cyber crime or for contact details of local providers who can help you, please call one of our team on 01584 890725.

 

24th January 2014
Mobile_phone_websitesWe are frequently asked about making websites suitable for viewing on mobile and tablet devices.

Whilst it is true that more and more people are using different devices during the day to access information, before answering “yes, we can do that”, there are a few questions that need to be asked of the site owner.

Not all developers will ask these questions and some are jumping on the gravy train and offering to convert websites that don’t need or justify a mobile presence.  Worse still, they convert them badly, which can be detrimental to the brand and user experience.

Things to consider:
  • Why do you think your website needs to be accessible on a mobile device?
  • Do your website statistics show that a lot of users are viewing your site on mobile or tablet devices?
  • If they are, what pages are they looking at and responding to?
  • Is it viable to display or explain your services or products on a small screen?
  • Think about your target audience; would they search for your products or services on a mobile device?
How to achieve the most effective mobile web design

Some of the answers to these questions can be found by analysing your website statistics via Google Analytics. You can find out where users have come from, the pages they visit and what device they are using. The next step is to identify the information users are most interested in and how they navigate around your site. Only then can we prioritise the information to be shown on your mobile landing page.

For example, the research may tell us that mobile users are viewing your services before making an enquiry. Making it easy for them to navigate to your services pages quickly and adding a phone number or short enquiry form will help them to make contact with you.

The next decision is which method of implementation to choose. There are a number of ways and the choice will depend on your budget and what you want to achieve.

The two most used ways are:

Adaptive web design
This method is server-side (the server where the website is hosted) and means that the server identifies the attributes of the device being used and delivers a version of the site that is suitable for that device. This requires the development of new website pages that are specifically designed for the device being used. This route is the more expensive option but delivers well designed, targeted, fast loading content, designed specifically for the device being used.

Responsive web design
Instead of the server delivering the information to the browser, this method uses the browser to re- size the layout of the website when viewed on a smaller device. This has limitations and relies on the existing page layout to deliver the on-page information, which may not necessarily be in the best order of priority for the user to find what they need.

Layout changes to landing pages may be needed to alter the priority of information based on the research mentioned above. We believe that server-side work is also necessary to reduce image file sizes to ensure the site loads quickly on a mobile phone. Slow loading of websites is one of the major frustrations for users when trying to access websites on their mobile phones.

Summary
As more users access the internet via their mobile phones and tablets, site owners will have to assess the needs of their customers and adapt their websites to meet mobile demand.  Only the most useable, correctly adapted websites will win. If implementation is not done properly you could end up doing more harm than good.

Mark Langston

30th April 2013
content-marketingGenerating relevant and interesting content to build customer loyalty has never been more important.

Whether you are producing content for a blog, white paper, website, video, app, magazine article or for social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked in, you will need to have an ongoing strategy for developing content that is of interest to your customers.

How can it work for you?
Content marketing is about creating and sharing your valuable knowledge with customers. We all know a lot about our own business sector, products, services and related topics; therefore by freely sharing that knowledge you are developing a wider relationship and interacting with your customers.

A good example of this integrated approach is a blog. Adding content to your website via a blog has many advantages:
  1. If you have a blog on your website and post regular articles, not only does the blog provide useful information for your visitors, but it will improve the page rank of your website on search engines.
  2. New content shows search engines that your website is being regularly updated, again good for page rank.
  3. Search engines will "crawl" the new content in your posts, which have the potential to show up in online searches.
  4. By allowing readers to comment on your blog, they can leave a message against your post, which may be useful for market research and customer insight.
  5. Link your blog to Twitter, Facebook and Linked in and gain backlinks to your site.
  6. More visitors to your website will help to improve page rank.
  7. Circulate your latest blog posts via a monthly email to your customers and prospects list.
  8. Provide an option for visitors to subscribe to your blog to receive notification of new posts.
Whichever method you choose to communicate with your audience, it is important that the content is useful, interesting and informative and does not sell.

Well written content can improve the position of your website in search engine rankings; poor content can alienate your readers and have an adverse effect on your ranking.

The same rules apply to case studies, videos and press articles; think about what content your readers would be interested in and decide on the best way to communicate with them.

Mark Langston

17th December 2012
It is all too easy to get discouraged when you have to find new and interesting topics to write about that will keep your audience captivated. Here are a few thoughts that will help to keep you motivated.

Who is your audience?
It is not just your clients or visitors to your website, who are reading your blog, Google and other search engines “crawling” your website will be picking up the new content too.

So, how can you make sure your blog is being effective?

Good content
Your blog needs to be well written, interesting, relevant and useful. It should also include the keywords that are relevant to your business or industry. It helps to have a good understanding of your customers and detailed knowledge of your product and services so that you can write informative and engaging content.

Keywords
As part of your Search Engine Optimisation strategy you will need to know your keywords – these are the search terms most used by your customers to find your products or services.

These can relate to each of your individual products or services. You will naturally use these keywords when writing about your business, however it does help to know which keywords are most searched and if there are any other search terms being used that you have not thought of.

Software is available that will provide this information. This research can often help you come up with ideas for the articles you are writing.

Social media
Your blog can be used to integrate with your social media activity. Your blog provides a two way link for users of social media:

1. Your blog visitors can - like (Facebook), tweet (Twitter), g +1 (Google), In share (Linked In) your blog.
2. Users of your social media sites can link to your blog from your page.

Keep blogging
Don’t give up, it does take time and effort, but if you persevere and get it right the result will raise your company profile and improve communications with your customers.

Mark Langston
Domain Names
If you own a website you will own a domain name. Domain names typically follow the 'www.yourname.co.uk' format.

These domain names need to be renewed, usually every two years. The registered keeper of the domain name will receive notification in good time via email, of the requirement to re-register.

Spam
There are however unscrupulous fraudsters that send out emails to domain owners purporting to be 'expiry notices' or 'expiration notice' for your domain. They are made to make you think you need to pay, but in fact most are fake and are just trying to get you to pay money for a service that is not necessary.

If you read these emails carefully you should not be fooled, but if not, a glance is enough to make people worry about losing their domain name. In reality this is a very unlikely occurrence, but it is possible in certain circumstances if email reminders are ignored. The fraudsters play on this.

At Crystal Thought we take care of all domain registrations on behalf of our clients who choose to host their domain names with us. This guarantees that you do not need to worry about your domain name again, as we ensure that the registration is kept up to date and you need not waste your time reading spam emails about it.

William Withers
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