Cisco Blogs


Cisco Blog > Small Business

Are You Aware of the Dangers Lurking in Free Apps?

Though fun and even useful, free apps can pose security risks to your users and your business

The old adage “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” has more than a kernel of truth to it when it comes to free applications. Free apps seem harmless, and they’re very tempting. Who doesn’t want a free version of Angry Birds? What’s wrong with a free banking app from your credit card company? But even if the app itself is legitimate and thoroughly vetted, it can still pose a security risk to the device it’s running on. Free apps are more dangerous to your employees and your network than they appear at first glance.

People can easily download a wide range of free apps for their smartphones and tablets as well as for your company’s computers. From wildly popular games like Angry Birds Space (which was downloaded three million times in only three days) to fitness trackers and social media tools, there’s a free app for anything anyone would want to do on his or her mobile device. Likewise, the Internet is teeming with free apps to customize desktops and work more easily. But the problem with free is that the program use is almost always paid for through advertising or information gathering—and it’s in those aspects where the danger often lies. Read More »

Tags: , , , ,

6 Steps for Bolstering Your Business Defenses

This checklist can help you secure your network and critical company data

Every small business needs to protect its network and data from viruses, malware, and other malicious threats. A breach could cost your company not only lost revenue and the expense of recovering damaged systems but also your reputation in the marketplace. “Reputation is lost overnight. It takes a lifetime to get it back,” says Danny Pang, who runs a cyber café, Geek Terminal, in Singapore.

If you don’t currently have any safeguards in place or you’re not sure what they are, where do you start in bolstering your network and data security? Here are six steps you can take to fortify your defenses.

Read More »

Tags: , , ,

Social Media: A Swiss Army Knife for SMBs

Social media has become so ingrained in our culture these days that much of the time, we’re not even aware of it as anything “other.” But for some, it’s way more than just a recreational outlet. It turns out that small businesses that are using social media are seeing the biggest gains, according to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report: from new partnerships to qualified leads to improved sales to reduced marketing costs.

Gartner’s Anthony Bradley defines social media this way: “At its foundation, social media is a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate. IT tools to support collaboration have existed for decades. But social-media technologies, such as social networking, wikis and blogs, enable collaboration on a much grander scale and support tapping the power of the collective in ways previously unachievable.”

One company that’s doing exactly that is FanAxcess.com, an Oakland, California-based start up that aims to match up-and-coming musicians with potential brand sponsors, while also creating a simpler and more cost-effective pathway for advertisers to reach target markets.

Brands are always seeking fresh ways to differentiate—and personify—themselves with standout spokespersons. But, that can be tough when there’s always the same pool of big fish to choose from. “We provide a forum for artists to create very specific profiles that give insight into who they—and their fan bases—are. So, if you’re an advertiser, you can search artists by audience (based on their social media fans across sites or, their average number of live fans), by genre, by eco-friendliness (or other indicators), and by upcoming tours and promotions,” explains Suzanne Mino Koga, co-founder, artist manager and music marketing consultant. This creates a dynamic library for advertisers to source from, to find just the right match in terms of brand feel/aspirations and audience it wishes to target. “And along the way, musical artists can tap into new potential revenue streams and raise their visibility,” adds Koga.

For other businesses that use social media such as Yelp, Facebook or Twitter as a way to market and build community with their customers, there’s something else to think about: the caliber of the type of customers you attract when you engage in social media. These folks are more digitally connected. And that means they can be a powerful form of advertising on your behalf. So when your customers come to your place of business, you need to provide guest wireless access to let them be your spokespersons and to keep them coming back.

Consistently monitoring social media activity is also critical. In fact, according to Indaba, 66% of businesses were using or were planning  to use Social media monitoring for their business. Remember to watch out for potential security issues, as pointed out in a recent Cisco Small Business blog: As the line between personal and professional blurs, employees who might monitor or update your accounts could unknowingly introduce malware picked up from their own personal accounts.

Just as a Swiss Army knife can be a great productivity tool, so can social media—with care and clarity around how you want to use it, you can expand your community of customers and partners. Not only that, you can sharpen your results: If customers can be more productive interacting with your brand—and amplifying their experiences—you’ve carved out a really great success story.

If you’re going to be in Houston next week, be sure to register for The Small Business Tour: Time to Thrive, on June 7. Cisco executive Lief Koepsel will talk about how small businesses can use social media—as well as cloud and mobility—to reach new levels of productivity and success.

Tags: , , ,

IPv6 Hitting Closer to Home. Are You Ready?

Follow these 3 steps for preparing your network for the new Internet protocol

On June 6, currently being referred to as World IPv6 Day, several of the world’s largest ISPs and websites will permanently enable IPv6 —the next-generation Internet. With the explosive growth of Internet-enabled devices, the batch of IPv4 addresses that allows those devices to access the Internet have run out. The new Internet protocol, IPv6, provides a greater number of addresses to support more people, more companies, and more devices on the Internet. Consider this: By 2016, 39 percent of all global mobile devices could be capable of connecting to an IPv6 mobile network—that’s more than 4 billion devices.

Your current network running IPv4-based devices won’t be obsolete for some time. However, if you haven’t already started making plans for the transition to IPv6, you should. The first step you should take is determining how and when to transition to the new Internet protocol based on your business needs. For example, if you do business with others who are already on an IPv6 network, you may decide to migrate sooner rather than later.

Once you’ve made that decision, you can follow these steps for preparing your network for IPv6.

Read More »

Tags: , , ,

Personal Security Incidents Can Put Everyone at Risk

When employees use their own devices for work, there’s no such thing as a personal security breach

It’s no exaggeration to say that mobile smart devices have changed the way people work. With smartphone in hand, employees now expect to be able to check email from their kid’s baseball game, finalize financial transactions on the fly, and log into cloud-based services at the gym—not to mention play Angry Birds whenever they want. The downside to this round-the-clock connectivity is the security risk it can introduce to your network and, because devices are personally owned, the difficulty of locking them down. These days, there’s no such thing as a personal security breach. A security incident on a personal device can put your entire network at risk.

Read More »

Tags: , , ,