Protect Your Data: Could it Be Your Most Valuable Asset?

In 2015 Uber, the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicles, Facebook the world’s most popular media owner creates no content, Alibaba the most valuable retailer has no inventory and Airbnb the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate. This statement made me think about these companies and what, in the absence of tangible assets could their most valuable asset be? It’s simple; it’s in the millions of data records which each of these companies holds.

Reports of data breaches are all too common these days hitting some of the biggest names in business such as Sony, Target and Home Depot. Whilst the big brand names occupy the media headlines, business owners should no longer be complacent towards the value of the data within their business. It is no longer a case of if but when a business will suffer a security breach. It’s time for every business to start treating data as an asset. To today’s cyber criminal, data is the new cash!

Cyber Criminal Activity

Findings from the 2014 Gemalto Breach Level Index found that over 1 billion records were successfully intercepted by cyber criminals earning 2014 its name as the “Year of the Hack”. In comparison to 2013, this represented a 78% increase in the number of breach incidents. That equals 2.8 million records stolen every single day!!
As large corporate companies sit up and take note of the increasing threat, cyber criminals are recognising that small to medium sized enterprises are easier targets where online security tends to be weaker due to a lack of trained resource and robust security policies.

Recently Bitglass undertook an experiment geared towards understanding what happens to sensitive data once it has been stolen. In the experiment, a fake list of 1500 employees which included social security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses and phone numbers travelled the globe, landing in five different continents and 22 countries within two weeks.

The experiment offers insight into how stolen records from data breaches are shared, bought and then sold on the black market. The falsified data was placed on Dropbox as well as on seven Dark Web sites believed to be frequented by cyber criminals.

The result of the experiment found that within 12 days the data was:

  • Accessed from five continents – North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and South America
  • Accessed from 22 countries – United States, Brazil, Belgium, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Finland, the Maldives,
  • New Zealand, Canada, Norway, the Russian Federation, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Turkey
  • Accessed most often from Nigeria, Russia and Brazil
  • Viewed 1,081 times, with 47 unique downloads.

Treat every record within your business as if it has commercial value. It may look like a list of names and addresses but the underground hacker markets are thriving with counterfeit documents to further enable cyber criminals to then utilise the compromised data to commit online fraud and identity theft.

Protect Your Data

Simple Steps to Protect Your Data:

  • Manage email security and validate potential threats.
  • Enforce strict password policies and ensure that passwords change on a regular basis.
  • Manage privileged user accounts.
  • People can often be the weakest link. Invest in your people and train your employees.
  • Ensure that your software is up to date and that security patches are set up to automatically update.
  • Implement a robust records management policy and only store data for as long as it is required.

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Cyber Security Tips: Stay Smart Against Cyber Hackers

When it comes to corporate cyber security attacks, the biggest threats originate from an unlikely and most of the time, unaware source—the employees.

According to a recent SolarWinds study, untrained employees are noted as the largest threat at federal agencies (53%). Furthermore, organizations without security awareness programs report security incidents costs to be four times higher than their peers. And as recent attacks have shown, recovering from the hack is no small cost.

Simply put, employee actions are one of the biggest threats when it comes to the fight against cyber hackers. Reasons range from lack of awareness, lack of training and lack of organizational security protocols. From sending emails to the wrong recipient to opening attachments from unknown senders, everyday employees add risk to their organization’s work and data. But the threats don’t just come from lack of email training either. Weak passwords are an additional risk, as more than one billion passwords are already stored in a Russian database.

The first step in the fight against cyber attacks is by having employees become aware of their actions. Below are SolarWinds’ 7 Simple Cyber Security Tips every employees should know and use in their daily work.


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Organize Your Business In 60 Seconds

Organize Your Business In 60 Seconds: Getting your business more organized can improve efficiency and reduce unnecessary overhead costs associated with archaic systems. Here are some simple yet highly impactful ways to start organizing your business in one minute or less:

Make your screen singular. If you leave windows on your computer screen to ensure you never miss an email, instant message or social media interaction, you’re adding unnecessary distraction to your day. In fact, workplace productivity studies conducted at Microsoft indicate that it takes about 15 minutes to reclaim focus to a task (especially one requiring concentration) just for quickly diverting your attention to another window on a computer screen.

Know where your time goes. Schedule “to do” lists with a purpose — including how much time you’ll devote to each task before finishing it, or moving to the next. Though even menial tasks are sometimes unavoidable, they zap you of mental energy, time and potential opportunity cost of not focusing on something else that stands to deliver a bigger benefit based on business goals. Evaluate how much time you’ll spend on each task on your list to ensure you don’t reach a point of diminishing returns — and hold yourself to it. Before starting any new task, set a timer on your computer. When it signals the time to put a task aside for another day, focus on when you’ll complete it, or re-evaluate its perceived importance altogether if it proves more of a time investment than its ultimately worth.

Bring integrity to your inbox. Jordan Weissman, writer for The Atlantic, estimates that workers spend a whopping 650 hours a year tending to business-related email, based on figures compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute. Minimize the amount of email waste by reserving your inbox for exactly that purpose. Before you start sifting through your inbox and firing off replies, organize it into appropriate folders — which may include business categories like “finance” or “operations,” or by relevance to a particular project or client.

Craft a happy-centric business culture. A 2012 study conducted by professors at the University of Warwick revealed that happiness actually boosts workplace productivity by more than 12 percent. In the study of 700 participants, some were shown a funny movie clip or treated to free chocolate, drinks and fruit. Others were questioned about sad events, like recent family tragedies. The study revealed that those whose moods were brought down in the study were indeed, less productive for the remainder of the day. “The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality,” explain the authors. Know what your employees value, and implement such activities into their workday that deliver on what makes them happy, whether that means an on-site fitness program, the option to maintain flexible hours, or have lunch catered to their desk.

Minimalize your workspaces. Visual clutter in the form of files, stacks of papers and Post-it notes strewn about can create feelings of stress and anxiety. Take advantage of document management tools that offer customized solutions for your business, which may include digital storage, or off-site file management to make a space that makes employees feel more mentally free to create and produce.

Promote employee partnership. In the paper “European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, 2013” authors examined the best practices of three separate Irish companies known for innovation and engagement. The companies shared one common characteristic: A strong sense of social partnership among all employees. You can implement the same approach with basic shifts in workplace communication. For example, simply holding “town hall” style quarterly meetings with employees of all levels increases transparency, and feelings of inclusion. Invite employees to offer input on critical business processes and decisions. Empower employees to be accountable about their contributions, and the subsequent outcomes they present. The impact of such small changes can immediately improve the efficacy of all involved: When “managers gave more responsibility to employees, staff became more [conscientious] about quality standards and more engaged with fixing problems,” conclude the case study authors.

Author Bio
Denny Hammack has over 25 years of experihttpence working in the records management business for more than 25 years. He is currently the President of FileSolve, an industry-leading supplier File & Document Solutions.

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[Events] Women in Tech

In 2014, we launched our “Women in Tech” programme to support diversity in the technology sector. One of the features of this programme is our lunchtime series which we have recently enhanced. The core aim of this series is to highlight the success of leading, talented female role models.

We are delighted to announce that Margaret E. Ward will address us on the theme of personal brand, communication and influence.

The event takes place on Wed 20 May at 12:00 PM in the The Clarion Hotel, Cork (Pegasus 3 & 4).

Margaret E. Ward is a award-winning journalist, broadcaster and managing director of Clear Ink. She spent most of her print journalism career as a business columnist for The Irish Times and Editor of The Sunday Times’ Money section. Since 2010, she has focused on broadcasting and is a regular contributor to many RTE programmes including Tubridy on 2FM, The History Show, Saturday View, The Late Debate and TV3’s Tonight with Vincent Browne. She was also presenter of Newstalk’s Breakfast Business.

Tickets are available at €30 for members and €40 for non members and includes a two course lunch so this is an ideal opportunity to invite clients or colleagues. Discounted table rates also available. If you would like to find out more about the event or book tickets, please contact

Sponsorship opportunities also available. More information here.

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What You Should Know As an Entrepreneur before Embarking On International Business

After most businesses become successful in their area of trade and in a particular locale, the entrepreneur usually seeks the next challenge. The next challenge is usually to grow beyond the borders and become a global business. Not everyone can manage to get into international business as seamlessly as they should, and to be fair, not every business is meant to be a global business.

The challenge in growing beyond the borders then becomes: how you can leverage your skills and current expertise into being a success in the global arena? After all, you don’t want to remain the biggest fish in a small pond. You want to become a success by embracing international commerce and availing your goods or services to the rest of the world.

Below are a few pointers or tips that you should consider if you want to run a successful global business.

  1. Develop a global mindset

Every entrepreneur has a particular temperament that has made them successful at what they do. At the same time, you have to be able to do some inner reflection to know that you have the right skill set and attitude to be able to operate on a global scale. You have to be able to differentiate how being a success in a local business differs, or is similar, from/to being a success on a global scale.

In other words, you need to have a global mindset or quickly learn how to think with a global mindset. But with all the different qualities and temperaments of successful global entrepreneurs and international expansion executives, they all have a few traits that are consistent. These include;

  • Self-awareness
  • Awareness and sensitivity to cross-cultural similarities and differences
  • An open and authentic attitude to the world
  • A need to engage with different cultures and do business under diverse conditions and circumstances
  • Being able to adapt quickly
  • An adventurous spirit with some international travel experience
  • Core business and life competencies

If you can genuinely say that you have these skills or that you will be ready to put in the work to achieve these skills, then you will most likely find a way to succeed in international business as well.

  1. Is your business ready for the global arena?

The next most important step after determining that you are ready for international business is to determine whether your business is well placed for international trade. One of the best ways to do this is to find out if you will be relevant on a global scale.

It may be best to have organic growth and test a particular market before jumping in with both feet. This means that you should have an international mindset, but have a local mindset in the countries where you will be operating.

For example, if your business has a product line that includes 20 different products that have been a success in your country, you should realize that it may not be so in a foreign country. The people in the foreign country may be used to choosing between one or two products only.

Other considerations include;

  • Do you have enough production capacity that can be committed to the new international markets?
  • Does your company have the financial resources to support the growth and expansion into new markets including administrative capacity, marketing, legal, import/export, customer care, etc.?
  • Does your company have the skill and expertise to dedicate staff, time and resources to the global expansion plan? Or can you acquire the same?
  1. Put in place the right team

After you ensure that your business is ready for expansion, then you will need a specialized team to ensure that your business will be a success in the global arena. Your most important goal, as you begin to put your global team together, should be to get the following skill sets as a priority:

  • An accountant with international credentials and experience: your accountant should especially have skills in accounting standards, taxation and currency trading. The accountant should be able to help you avoid overpaying taxes due to operating in two different jurisdictions and protect your cash flow from attrition due to international transactions including currency conversions.
  • A lawyer with international trade and commerce experience and with good networking skills: The lawyer will help you play hard ball when you need to while at the same time helping you remain within the confines of the law, as well as protecting you and your business from those who want to take advantage.
  • A savvy banker with international skills, who has put together, or used, different international financial vehicles: The banker can help you finance an export sale while protecting your investment and the banks at the same time, advise you on the risks of international transactions as well as protect you from them and help you structure competitive payment terms.
  • An expert in international logistics and experience in import-export and different government customs and tax regulations: A logistics expert is important in ensuring that goods move safely from the country of origin to the destination, negotiates with taxes and customs officials in foreign countries, organizes the safe shipping of goods while ensuring the correct goods are sent to the right place.

A seasoned logistics expert will help you use the path of least resistance while doing things legally. They should also minimize your risk and costs of doing international trade.

Other members of your international team will also be necessary, but the ones mentioned above will be crucial to get as soon as you are ready to begin planning your expansion.

Putting together such a team will definitely require a lot of resources and networking on your part, but if you succeed in putting together a good team, you will have more than halved most of the problems that would have been stumbling blocks and prevented you from succeeding in international business.

Author bio: Charlie Brown is a web developer and UI/UX specialist at He works at a Remote DBA Expert firm, having founded the same firm 9 years ago. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other Oracle developers and consumers on platforms.

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Confidential Company Information – A Lesson from Game of Thrones!

Game of Thrones is arguably the biggest television series of all time with each season eagerly awaited. As such, it would have caused its broadcast network (HBO) some consternation when four brand new episodes were leaked online in early April before the episodes were due to air on TV.  This raises the question of confidentiality and how many companies will need to protect their valuable confidential company information to remain competitive and successful in their industries.

General Options

The main options open to HBO in this scenario, and any employer in general, are as follows:

  • Learning points on how the company can prevent the same from happening in the future.
  • Commence an investigative process and consider possible disciplinary sanction up to and including dismissal;

Prevention Better than the Cure

Employees of HBO will no doubt have very robust confidentiality clauses in their employment contracts which prohibit them from disclosing any information relating to the company and/or their products. Such confidentiality clauses act as a deterrent and mean that employees are less likely to disclose confidential information or data. In the event that an employee does disclose confidential information then an employer will have a clear policy in place to justify taking disciplinary measures up to and including dismissal. Having signed agreements for confidentiality is absolutely key in these cases, as the most basic response from any employee would be to plead ignorance of any wrongdoing “I didn’t know that I couldn’t”, “Nobody told me” etc.

A strong signed agreement will negate any such response and clearly show that the employee signed their understanding of a confidentiality agreement. If such clauses are outlined in the Employee Handbook, then it is again hugely important that an employer gets signed understanding of the company handbook returned from each employee. Ensuring the most up to date IT and Confidentiality policies available are in place should also be paramount if security of information is key to the business. Reviewing these policies regularly and updating them in light of any technological or relevant advancement should also be a proactive approach taken by the company. Remaining successful in any business area should always involve being proactive to change, instead of being reactive once an issue has arose.

Another avenue which employers should be interested in exploring is issuing “reminders” to employees in advance of any upcoming area likely to have risk of confidentiality issue. A lot can be said for simply holding a meeting with employees to advise them of what lays ahead and how the company envisions risks coming from this. Reminding such employees of the agreements they have made and how serious the company would view any breach of this would go as far as any method in protecting against a disclosure of private information. It would also be a good approach during this meeting for the company to flex their muscle in advising how robust their IT and Confidentiality policies are, which may act as a deterrent to any employee considering a breach.

Disciplinary Procedures

With these preventative steps, and a fact finding investigation completed beforehand, the employer can easily proceed to disciplinary procedures against the employee. Depending on the scale of the confidentiality breach and circumstances involved, such disciplinary proceedings may be viewed as Gross Misconduct in which case the employee should be suspended in light of the formal disciplinary proceedings. Previous precedent of how the company has dealt with confidentiality breaches would also have to be considered and followed again when applicable or possible.


Employees who have resigned and are working out their notice period, as well as those who are in the final days of a fixed term position are naturally those most likely to be involved in a secure information breach. While this may seem unfair to suggest, it is one of the most common queries we HR Consultants receive with regards to confidentiality and resignation.

For simple and obvious reasons such employees are the most “at risk” to be involved as they are in a period of transition and the trust involved in the employment relationship can potentially be affected by an employee having one foot out the door. One way to approach this potential could be to discuss such concern informally at the acceptance of resignation meeting, or if the employer has heard through the grape vine that an employee is likely to breach confidentiality, a short letter could be issued to them after an exit interview to remind them of the agreement they had made. As the employment agreement ends once the person leaves the company, such agreements can be a lot more difficult to pursue as a matter of civil law. Therefore, a short letter reminding the exiting employee of the agreement, but also suggesting legal proceedings would have to be taken against the person should a breach come to light after they have left, would also go a long way to protecting the valuable information of the company, and ensuring the trust involved in the employment relationship holds strong both during and after the employer/employee relationship.

In addition, an employer may consider exhausting any Garden Leave clauses whereby the employee would not be required to attend for work for the duration of their notice period. Garden leave allows an employer to ensure the employment relationship subsists, thus ensuring the confidentiality agreements remain actionable, whilst an employee is out of work and cannot cause any further damage.

If you have any queries in respect of the above article then please do not hesitate to contact our 24 Hour Advice Service on 01 855 50 50.

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How to Grow your Business: Financing vs. Bootstrapping

SMEs in the UK are borrowing more than ever to help startups and small businesses grow, but alternative means of finance are also gaining popularity.

This infographic looks at the most popular ways to finance a business in the UK, including a look at traditional financing vs. the “bootstrapping” method.

Growing Your Business - Financing vs Bootstrapping infographicCreated by County Finance Group.



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7 Ways To Kick Out Negative Effects Of Work Burnout From Your Life

At some time in their career, many people reach to the point of burnout with their jobs. While some consider quitting the job, it is not an option for many especially those who have no other job vacancy waiting for them. In order to identify work burnout before you start dealing with the problem, take a look at common symptoms that indicate the need to tackle a total burnout situation at workplace:

  • Emotional and physical fatigue
  • Decreasing health conditions
  • Frustrations
  • Reduced efficiency
  • Resentful behavior
  • Lack of motivation

All these are the most common symptoms among those who are experiencing burnout at jobs. If you can relate yourself to any or all of these symptoms, take an action to help yourself today before it gets too late. Following is a list of few measures that you can adopt to make things better at workplace:

  1. Find Out The Root Cause

Diagnosis is always essential before you take any medications. Similarly, you cannot cure burnout at workplace unless you figure out the real reason behind the problems. Take help from colleagues at work who understand your situation or are experiencing the same for helping your figure out, and suggest appropriate measures to cope up with troubles if you are unable to identify the root cause on your own.

  1. Take Vacation

Sometimes all you need to forget and resolve problems at work is a vacation. Hectic daily routines, tight project schedules and long meeting with the clients often become overwhelming and make you tired and frustrated. Take time out from your busy schedule, and plan a vacation with family or friends to unwind and refresh yourself. If you have no time or no finances to plan lavish vacations, visit a nearby location or simply book a resort in the nearby town to get some relaxing time away from work.

  1. Stress Management Programs

Stress management programs are a taboo for some people with issues but definitely one of the best remedies to cure workplace burnout and relieve stress. While sometimes people feel more comfortable with taking help from counselors who can help an individual with particular issues, group counseling or stress management courses can also be an option to meet others with same problems and learn tricks for quick stress management.

  1. Accept The Unchangeable

Change what is in your hands, and accept what you cannot change. This is one golden principle everybody who wants to avoid workplace conflicts and workload stress must follow. If you do not like your boss or any co-worker due to their working habits or any personal reason, realize that changing somebody’s behavior is beyond your ability. So,alter your behavior to make situation better at work instead of exhausting yourself out in efforts to change others.

  1. Develop New Hobbies

Developing new hobbies is a great way to relax and refresh your mind when you get home from work. If nothing can be changed at work, try to spice up your personal life by adding new interests and hobbies so that you have something to look forward to in your daily tiring routines.

  1. Figure Out When To Say No

Learning to say No should be developed from early life. For instance, in the colleges when you can’t do the project due to any circumstances you should realize the weaknesses say no to it and get help instead like essay writing help with essays. Likewise in companies, many employees fear bad performance reviews and therefore, develop a tendency to say yes to every task they are asked to do at work. While sometimes this fear can be true, the best option would be to politely inform your boss about your job description and how extra work might affect your health, performance and personal life if you really want to avoid stress.

  1. Get A New Job

Winners never give up. However, if everything else fails, switch the job instead of losing your hope on a good career ahead. It is a bad idea to decide in a burst of anger or emotional moment to quit any job. Be wise, and take your time to make the decision by weighing pros and cons of quitting.

Maintaining good health is equally important as successful careers. So, make sure to adopt all the measures you can to improve your health, mood and personal life while pursuing a successful career at workplace.

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Tailored Payroll: Reward Your Staff Tax Free

This year you may consider rewarding your employees for their work. As an employer you can provide an employee with a small benefit with a value not exceeding €250 Tax Free. PAYE, PRSI and USC need not be applied to that benefit. This can only be given to an employee once in the income tax year. Where a benefit exceeds €250 in value, the full value of the benefit is liable to PAYE, PRSI and USC.

Monetary benefits e.g. cash, cheques, credit transfer etc.; do not qualify under the small benefit exemption. However, you can give a voucher up to the value of €250 which does qualify under the scheme. The small benefit exemption does not apply to the numerous values of benefits. It applies to a single benefit only.

As a Tailored Payroll client we keep you up to date on how you can save Tax in your payroll. Contact us today for a competitive price and you can continue to make savings on your payroll while remaining compliant. Our flexible service includes:

  • PAYE,PRSI and USC Calculations
  • Registration of Employer with Revenue
  • All employer Revenue submissions to include: P30’s,P45’s, P35, P60’s and registration of new employees
  • We provide email Payslips and P60s to employees
  • Creation of Bank file for payment to employees
  • No hidden costs

For more information about this business visit their website or email to Tailored Payroll is part of Use SBC as a channel initiative. If you want your business to be featured, click here.




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Boost Your Business Sales with Video Meetings

With video conferencing technologies that offer quick connections, along with systems that are simple to install and easy to use, there’s simply no reason why your business sales should suffer in this day and age. Take advantage of web based solutions like Blue Jeans to get this done. From getting quick feedback on design and changes to learning how to pull off the perfect sales meeting with video conferencing technology, Blue Jeans has you covered.

Brainstorm with Key People

To survive, a business must have continuous growth. One way to keep this going is to ensure open lines of communication among members of your top management committee. However, in view of recent economic downturns, spending too much on travel costs just to bring your people together might end up hurting, rather than helping along, your bottom line.

However, there’s no mistaking the business value of face to face interaction, an observation noted in an article published by the Tech Radar, dated May of last year. This is one reason for the rising demand for unified communication platforms in the market. Users, a great many of which are millennials entering the workforce, demand an integrated system, one that combines social media messaging, emails and instant messaging with web conferencing. It’s a dinosaur of a system, packing a lot of features and all of them useful, all of them designed to encourage collaboration and engagement.

Physically absent, mentally present

Foremost among these is the high definition video conferencing capability. Given the fine video quality possible, management teams no longer have to travel through miles just to get to a meeting. These meetings can now happen online, via video. Here, they can spend the next few hours brainstorming ideas involving marketing strategies, campaign initiatives, process updates and system modifications all without leaving the office, their state or country. With regular meetings, top management executives and managers now have more time to iron out problems in their sales-model or any other point of the sales funnel.

Rapid Feedback in Teams

Meetings provide one of the best venues for asking and giving feedback. But how do you go about making that happen when half of your team works on the east and the other half on the west? That’s another way video conferencing rides to the rescue of businesses.

An article from Mashable, published last 2011, notes how immediate feedback is one of the best advantages that users can get from video conferencing. That’s an accurate observation. Faster feedback means speedier turn-around times for plans, initiatives and product designs.

Collaboration determines solutions

In terms of improving your sales, allowing all team members to discuss the matter via video conferencing is convenient and cost-effective. Remote and offsite teams can also join in on the process. For instance, try presenting the company’s sales model to the teams. Then ask for feedback. Then keep those comments in mind when you work on the next set of changes for the plan. Repeat the process until you get it right—or until your sales improve.

Picking the technology that works best

Doing this by email and instant messaging, though possible, isn’t really that convenient. Too many people in a group could lead to cumbersome, bulky chat conversations that do nothing to generate value. Also, consider the time it takes to write than to talk about changes or explain minute modifications. Video is faster than email and text messaging in this regard.

There’s also the matter of body language and facial cues to consider. Since debates are going to be inevitable, it’s easier to gauge a coworker’s feelings involving a particular revision in video rather than in text. Words can sometimes come off as abrupt, terse, or worse, angry. Via video conferencing, it’s much easier for everyone to explain and discuss changes, without worrying about being misread or misunderstood.

Build Consumer Engagement with Videos

This is one way to keep track of your customers. Try to check up on your clients on a regular basis. Sending them promotional content through email, instant messaging channels and social media platforms are all earmarks of a good marketing plan.

However, checking up on them by way of live videos—and not just sending them pre-recorded ones—goes a long way to ensuring and sustaining brand recall. You could also ask them for feedback, comments and suggestions via video. Try sending them birthday and holiday greetings, too.

That’s taking your marketing and business model a notch further. With video conferencing, you’re securing consumer engagement. After all, people pay more attention to someone when they can see who it is they’re talking to, rather than to a letter, email or text.

Adapt video conferencing into your marketing plans, put these plans into practice and watch your sales figures climb.

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