SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

GDPR: Who Needs To Know And What They Need To Do


Christine Ashton

It’s beyond debate that data is one of a company’s most valuable resources. The total revenue from online advertising in 2014, for example, reached US $49.5 billion, the majority of which is based on users’ personal and demographic information to show more relevant messages. The direction of travel since then has only been in one direction.

The European Union’s new law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), focuses on controlling the use of individual persons’ private information and ensuring that it can be protected. If your company violates the regulation, you could face penalties of as much as 4% of your annual global revenue or €20 million, depending on the details and severity of the violation.

To avoid incurring substantial fines, businesses need to plan well in advance on how to deal with the requirements of GDPR. Although the details may vary from one organization to the next, the roles and perspectives listed below are some of the most important for your company to take into account.

CEO and board of directors
These people will mainly be interested in GDPR’s impact on their business processes. This means performing a top-to-bottom review of the relevant personal data that you handle.

CEOs and the board of directors may also want to understand the cost-effectiveness of their data strategy. Are you collecting and access more personal data than necessary? If so, check into reducing this amount. Continuing to accumulate silos of unused and potentially toxic data increases the need for encryption, and therefore will require more investment.


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Why Analytics Are So Important For Businesses In 2018


Mario Farag

Last year, most of the world swooned over new technological evolutions such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things, and automation. Even though these technologies are proving to be catalysts for growth, many small business leaders have decided to concentrate most of their investments on data analytics.

In fact, according to IDC’s infobrief “The Next Steps in Digital Transformation,” 47% of surveyed entrepreneurial companies adopted business analytics or business intelligence software for data analytics in 2017. While IDC’s finding is encouraging, most small businesses also recognized in 2017 that they are only scratching the surface of what they need from analytics to compete effectively.

Ray Boggs, vice president of small and medium business research at IDC, recently commented in an IDC Analyst Connection that this reality can be attributed to the misunderstood value of analytics. “The benefits of advanced business intelligence can come not just from better [or] faster answers to current business questions, but from an appreciation of what the most important questions are that aren’t yet being asked,” he shared. “As small and midsize firms grow, there is a risk of extending business practices and processes without a critical review of what is essential.”

But this news is so 2017. It’s time to kick into high gear a brand-new mentality around analytics for 2018.

Why embracing predictability reveals the full potential of data analytics
Small business leaders have often felt left behind by the growing acceptance of analytics, fearing that their workforce, customer base, or operations were too small to justify the cost. Although this view is shortsighted, it’s entirely understandable. Budgets are usually so tight that it’s difficult to take money from one department to pay for a new solution when ROI is not 100% predictable.

While most things in life are anything but predictable, the cost of implementing and maintaining technology, especially business intelligence analytics in the cloud, is. Here are three reasons why.ks back to the primary network?

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Top Three Reasons Why HTTPS Should Be Enabled on Your Website



By Paul Simons

Spamming, hacking and the breach of cyber security are an unfortunate reality of the digital world. According to some reports, almost one in three internet users in the United States are a victim of cyber crimes in one way or another. The cyber security attackers are launching more and more harmful malware every day and are evolving their techniques to strike more devices than ever before.

The situation is even more alarming for small businesses and ecommerce stores. Some statistics indicate that almost 64% of online companies have experienced web-based attacks and millions of customers have been affected. This means that online retailers must take necessary safety measures to secure their websites and ensure that customer’s sensitive information is duly protected.

The Battle Against Hackers
The moment you create a website, it is at the risk of being hacked. As an online retailer, there is nothing more threatening than the damage done by hackers. Once they manage to penetrate, they can destroy all the records, steal information, and most importantly, they just ruin your customer reputation.

There is a lot you can do to secure your ecommerce website. The first and the foremost measures are to make sure that your passwords are secure, admin pages are hidden, and HTTPS is enabled on the website. Furthermore, you can use parameterized queries and CSP, limit file uploads and install further security plugins.

HTTPS – The Ultimate Warrior
HTTPS is the ultimate missile in your arsenal. What it does is that it encrypts the information traveling between a browser and a web server. This means that the communication between the browser and the website is protected from “man-in-the-middle” AKA hacker’s attacks. HTTPS typically deploys one or two secure protocols to encrypt communications, so the customer’s credit card information and logins remain secure from the perverts.

There are many instances when users need to share credentials like signing up for an account, placing an order, or submitting reviews and testimonials. They need to ensure the website is secure and trustworthy. The presence of SSL certificate symbolizes that the website is secure enough to share personal details. But, still they need privacy while placing orders or submitting details.

The eCommerce websites that are powered by stand alone platforms like Magento or PrestaShop are made secure by default, whereas for improving user experience, merchants can integrate extensions and add-ons. Magento Testimonials extension is one of the reliable tools that create an autonomous environment for the end users to submit testimonials without fearing for data theft, whereas, the installation of SSL certificate is like the final nail in the coffin in gaining the consumer trust to share personal details.

Difference between HTTP and HTTPS
For someone who is new to web development or internet business might find it hard to figure out the difference between the two. HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application-based protocol designed for distributed, collaborative and hypermedia information systems. Whereas, HTTPS connections include an SSL certificate and the computer agree on a “code” that will transfer between them. They scramble the messages using that particular “code” so that no one in between can read them. This means that HTTPS connection is far more secure than HTTP connection.

Some Extra Benefits of Using HTTPS
Earlier, HTTPS was primarily used by the websites that involved the use of sensitive information or payment gateways. However, due to the increased security concerns and the severity of cyber security breach, HTTPS is now a must-have feature for all websites.

Apart from security, I have discussed further reasons why HTTPS must be enabled on your website.

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The Network “Hack” that Wasn’t To Be

Sometimes the idea looks great on paper but doesn’t really work out when you try to configure it. And often, the only way to be sure is to break out the good old scientific method and try. So I tried. And it didn’t work, so I’m putting here in case you get a similar wild idea in near future.

The goal was to start with a primary VNET in Azure for some VMs. This network was going to act as a collection point for data coming in from a number of remote physical sites all over the world. In addition, some machines on the primary network would need to send configuration data to the remote sites. Ultimately, we were looking at a classic hub and spoke network design, with an Azure VNET in the center.


There are several ways you can do this using Azure networking, VNET peering between Azure VNETs, Site-to-Site (S2S) VPNs, and even ExpressRoute. ExpressRoute was off the table for this proof of concept, and since the remote sites were not Azure VNETs, that left Site-to-Site VPN.

The features you have available to you for Site-to-Site VPN depend on the type of gateway devices you use on each end for routing purposes. For multi-site connections, route-based (aka dynamic) routing is required. However, the remote sites were connected to the internet using Cisco ASA devices. The Cisco ASA is a very popular Firewall/VPN that’s been around since about 2005, but it only uses policy-based (aka static) routing.

So while we could easily use a static route to connect our primary site to any SINGLE remote network using the S2S VPN, we couldn’t connect to them all a simultaneously. And since we couldn’t call this a “hack” without trying to get around that very specific limitation, we tried to figure out a way to mask the static route requirement from the primary network. So how about VNET Peering?

VNET Peering became generally available in Azure in late 2016. Prior to its debut, the ability to connect any network (VNET or physical) required the use of the VPN gateways. With peering, Azure VNETs in the same region can be connected using the Azure backbone network. While there are limits to the number of peers a single network can have (default is 10, max limit is 50) you can create a pretty complex mesh of networks in different resource groups as long as they are in the same region.

So our theory to test was…. What if we created a series of “proxy” VNETS to connect to the ASA devices using static routing but then used the VNET Peering feature to connect all those networks back to the primary network?

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How to Build Employee Engagement in Your Small or Medium Business

ToniBowers 72x80Toni BowersToni Bowers

SMB Tech 



Companies of all sizes often have difficulty understanding the importance of developing trust and engaging employees in their organizations. CEOs will sign off on a serverless API because someone has shown them that it can save cloud computing costs, but the value of employee engagement, employee collaboration and trust often goes uncalculated.

That is not to say that companies don’t see problems that result from the lack of employee engagement and collaboration. A survey by Forbes and Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends revealed that 76 percent of survey respondents (2,500 organizations in 90 countries) believe that they have a significant retention and engagement problem. Ninety percent of these leaders think an engagement strategy will have an impact on business success, but barely 25 percent of them have such a strategy.

How Employee Engagement Can Affect Your Bottom Line
There is a direct and tangible added business benefit to organizations that invest in their employees. In fact, Gallup (via Dale Carnegie) claims that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent.

On the flip side, there is a measurable cost to having unengaged employees: higher turnover (estimates show employee turnover equals about 150 percent of an employee’s salary), lower productivity while on the job, and increased employee absence. American businesses lose approximately $500+ billion per year because of disengaged workers, according to Gallup1 and Office Vibe.

How to Build Employee Engagement
Trust is a necessary ingredient of both engagement and innovation. If the people in your company are innovating, producing sustainable results, and building exceptional work relationships, they are also building trust in each other, and your company, in the process.

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