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Top five apps for home workers

With more of the workforce seeing the benefits of working from home or on the move, digital tools are popping up to replace your traditional scanner, accounts ledger or diary. In fact, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) one in three employed Aussies spend at least some time working from home, either as employees, freelancers or small business owners.

If you fall into the latter two categories, you’re likely working unpredictable hours that don’t neatly fall into the nine-to-five time bracket. And for those without a dedicated HR, accounts or IT department, you’ll also need to find time for any day-to-day admin on top of your workload.

Thankfully, there’s a host of digital tools available to help manage your time and boost your productivity. We take a look at five must-have mobile apps for home workers to make your life easier.


Best for: Fast digital approvals.

Benefit: If you can sign documents without printing them out, you don’t need a printer – or the costly toner top-ups that come with it. Check and sign documents securely from any internet-connected device, or share them with others who need to add their signature. Not only will this app give you back the office space that would’ve gone to a printer, it will also help remove the clutter of unsigned contracts sitting on your desk.


Best for: Organising your tasks.

Benefit: It’s an intuitive digital diary. Log and track your to-dos, manage multiple projects and collaborate with others. You can also send reminders, turn pressing emails into to-do items and access them from any connected device. This app is convenient for those who work on the move and rely on their phones to track and manage multiple tasks.


Best for: Scanning documents.

Benefit: Turn your smart device’s camera into a scanner that functions pretty much the same as the real thing. With clear imaging and optical character recognition, Scanbot can even turn scanned items into editable digital documents.


Best for: Tracking your time.

Benefit: Do you struggle keeping track of your hours to make sure you’re not spending too long on tasks? Then Toggl is the app for you. Track your time with ease, as this digital timer records how long you spend on each task. Even when your work doesn’t require you to log hours, it’s still useful to see how you spend your time to identify areas where you could manage it better.


Best for: Storing your stuff online, securely.

Benefit: While Google Drive is a popular choice for storing documents on the cloud, SugarSync is different in that it also allows you to back up your existing file structure. You can then access this data across any device. SugarSync even lets you sync files via email.

Take advantage of the digital tools out there to make the most of your valuable time so you can focus on growing your business.

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The elevation of security



We live in the era of digital disruption, when always-on connectivity, a mobile workforce and globalization leave us more vulnerable than ever to cybersecurity assaults. In this brave new world, keeping customer and company data safe is a seemingly insurmountable challenge.




Feel like you’re drowning in a sea of data? You are. We create about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. To better comprehend just how much data that is, the earth is thought to contain 7.5 quintillion grains of sand.11




Threats are increasing, but some IT admins are stuck in the security paradox.




Data everywhere, overwhelming security threats, hackers seeking vulnerabilities – paralyzing alarm fatigue and paradoxical viewpoints are natural responses to a problem that exploits the weaknesses (and underdeveloped strengths) of the modern workforce.




Today’s workforce is in a state of flux. Work habits considered standard just a few years ago are growing outdated, with emerging trends – including cloud-enabled anytime / anywhere work schedules – disrupting traditional practices.




Learn more about how HP can help protect your company.




The Security Evolution.

In today’s changing employee environment, where numerous entry points are spread across a decentralized workforce, it’s critical to adopt new, holistic approaches to data security.

Holistic security allows workers to connect when and where they need to, via secure connections that authenticate users accessing the network. And it empowers IT professionals to tackle cybersecurity threats regardless of their origin. A security ecosystem complements – not conflicts with – how work gets done.

That’s the paradox antidote.

An ecosystem of protection delivers endpoint security when and where it’s needed.

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The smart office you want to live in

Google first showed us offices could be fun. But between the playground slides and the ping-pong tables, the tech giant’s interior can be a little daunting for those not accustomed to a fun-filled office space.

Fortunately, office design has matured. Research and tech are now coming together to make intelligent, beautiful, surprising and comforting office spaces that boost productivity, while keeping people happy and healthy. It’s the office you actually look forward to visiting. Less campus, more comfortable.

We take a look at some of the most popular office design trends.

Trend 1: Design for healthy movement

Office work is fundamentally unhealthy. It’s sedentary and the spaces are notoriously poorly ventilated. Design for healthy movement promotes human activity and air flow. Both have a huge influence on productivity.

The World Green Building Council’s (WGBC) 2014 report on Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Officesmakes a strong case for investing in better air flow with research suggesting that good indoor air quality can boost productivity by up to 11 per cent.

Stairs, flexible work stations and smart stand-up spaces can also boost efficiency and wellbeing. They accomplish this by giving people the freedom to move about, encouraging socialisation and providing the option to work from a quiet corner of the office. Diversity and choice are key when it comes to positive work environments.

Take for example, Facebook’s sprawling office in Menlo Park, California, which boasts the largest open floor plan in the world. This freedom for the staff to move about and keep active is also complemented by a 3.6-hectare rooftop park.

Trend 2: Think like home

Think about your home. Your morning coffee in the sunroom. Your book in bed. Your late nights in the study. Your Netflix binge while glued to the couch. You’re doing different things in different places, and each space is designed to make you most comfortable while doing it. That’s the future of office design.

“This is particularly evident in European workplaces where designers are combining elements of residential architecture and home comforts, predominantly through the use of textiles, with functional office solutions to create relaxed commercial spaces,” says RIBA Journal.

Airbnb has taken this ‘residential inspired’ approach to the next level by designing its San Francisco HQ meeting spaces after its various residential listings.

Ambient computing has a role to play in residential-styled offices too. Deloitte University Press put it succinctly: “Companies are exploring the IoT [internet of things], but some only vaguely understand its full potential. To realise that potential, organisations should look beyond physical ‘things’ and the role of sensors, machines and other devices as signals and actuators.”

Businesses can embrace ambient computing by designing spaces that perfect lighting, air temperature and airflow through sensors and signals. Comfortable people work better. It’s that simple.

Trend 3: Be inspired by nature

Nature-inspired commercial design goes hand-in-hand with emerging residential influences. Textures, lights and colours that help reproduce an outdoor setting can sooth urban employee stress.

Airbnb Tokyo extensively researched what its staff wanted before starting its latest office redesign. “In response to employee feedback, nature was heavily incorporated into the new design to create a peaceful working space where employees can escape the chaotic urban environment of the local area in Shinjuku,” says the Australian Design Review.

The WGBC’s 2014 report also pointed to several studies showing productivity was connected to proximity to windows, especially where views offered a connection to nature.

Trend 4: Design for healthy employees

The physical health of employees is taking centre stage in commercial design. The communal work table, height-adjustable desk, lounge space, breakout space, stairs and more flexible working spaces are all designed to get people moving.

But designing for employee health lends itself to healthier social spaces too. Moreover, open break rooms, cafes and foyers that allow for casual conversation when people cross paths can boost the social capital of your office space. These chance encounters help take talk offline and inspire cross-team collaboration and break down the walls of the traditionally siloed department.

Take LinkedIn’s New York office, for example, where the employees can use a number of communal areas for socialising and open-spaced meeting areas. This is designed to not only keep workers engaged, but also to encourage teamwork and interaction.

Even making just a few of these workplace changes could ultimately make a big difference to the productivity and morale of your team.

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Is your technology holding you back?

This article first appeared on ThinkFWD.

In an environment of fast change and constant innovation, businesses can’t afford to let old technologies slow them down. Modern businesses that are agile enough to adopt the latest productivity-enhancing technologies gain significant advantages over their legacy-laden competitors.

A recent Harvard Business Review feature emphasized the useful distinction between ‘economic’ obsolescence (when an asset reaches the end of its accounting life) and ‘functional’ obsolescence (when an asset doesn’t help its owner remain competitive).

Unsurprisingly, businesses that plan to replace assets when they’re functionally obsolete are generally more competitive than those that replace them only when they’re economically obsolete.

This may sound esoteric, but most workers intrinsically understand that they need the right tools to do their job. Ernst & Young’s 2014 Australian Productivity Pulse report found that “35 per cent of workers reported being hindered by issues with legacy IT systems, while 70 per cent said their productivity would improve if they had faster access to more accurate data and analytics allowing them to make better business decisions”.

We understand that change can be difficult – expensive, uncertain and even intimidating. But businesses can’t let themselves fall behind their competitors. Technology startups have eagerly adopted mobile, cloud and other lightweight technologies that are funded from operational, not capital, budgets. This helps remove the problem of economic obsolescence and allows them to adopt competitiveness-enhancing new technologies. Their less agile competitors, meanwhile, are stuck with their existing investments in hardware and software while they wait for the clock to run out on their depreciation schedules.

Staff morale can also be negatively affected by frustration with obsolete systems, which in turn contributes to reduced productivity and increased staff turnover. This reduces business competitiveness – it’s not just a theoretical or HR problem.

According to a Vanson Bourne survey, most IT departments (86 per cent) are fielding complaints from users about legacy applications. These obsolete technologies cause staff members to feel “bored, frustrated, ambivalent and restricted” and are considered a problem by nearly half (44 per cent) of all IT managers surveyed.

Business agility is largely about adaptability, and workers know what’s at stake – Ernst & Young’s survey found that 33 per cent of Australians believe their role may not exist in 20 years because of emerging digital technologies and automation. Australia’s economy is changing and services of all kinds are taking over from traditional sectors like manufacturing, mining and agriculture.

Knowledge workers will drive growth and productivity in the new economy. They need to keep on learning new skills and adopting new technologies. Businesses that want to retain their skilled workers and their competitive advantage thus need to provide the latest tools and technologies to boost productivity and retain their staff’s trust and engagement. Only then will they thrive.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s a simple equation: old technologies are less efficient, are a drag upon the workforce and reduce your business’s competitiveness. The good news is that the reverse is also true: new technologies are more efficient, are a boon to the workforce and increase your business’s competitiveness. And with the current low cost of software, hardware and services, there’s never been a better, easier or more important time to upgrade your business tools.

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Investing in technology boosts productivity and growth

This article first appeared on ThinkFWD

Australian research confirms the link between business investment in new technology and productivity growth.

It’s well understood that optimising technology in your business can lead to improved productivity, efficiency and profits. So it’s nice to hear that Australian research confirms the link between business investment in new technology and productivity growth.

A nationwide cross-sector survey of CEOs found more than a third of businesses that invested in new technologies in 2012 reported improved labour productivity, compared to just 16 per cent of businesses that did not invest.

That’s consistent with long-term trends, with Australia’s ICT-intensive businesses showing labour productivity gains of around 45 per cent in the last decade, compared to the average across industry sectors of 13 per cent.

How the productivity gains were realized

Employee knowledge and skills had the most significant influence on the productivity gains that businesses realised from investment in technology, according to the Australian Industry Group National CEO Survey.

Of businesses that reported productivity growth, “40 percent said the main contributing factor was increased staff skills and capabilities, followed by process improvements (29 percent) and capital investment (17 percent). These findings suggest that skills, innovation and technology investment will be critical to lifting business productivity over coming years.”

Supply chains were the most common source of information on new technologies. Over 50 percent of businesses learn about a new technology from a client or supplier, with demands from supply chain partners and customers providing the impetus to invest in technology.

High-speed broadband network gap

Despite bipartisan support for high-speed broadband in some form, less than half the companies surveyed were ready to take advantage of the opportunities broadband will provide.

Most businesses cited improved collaboration as the key benefit of access to high-speed broadband, with other advantages including lower transaction and communications costs.

Businesses also expect broadband to provide better support for cloud computing, video conferencing, remote monitoring and sending and receiving large files.

Technology investment has flattened since 2008, with the outlook for business conditions still the biggest influence on decisions to invest in technology. However, for Australian businesses to grow and remain globally competitive, investment in technology and staff training will be essential.

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Cloud vs hardware: What’s right for your business?

Article sponsored by ThinkFWD –

This article first appeared on ThinkFWD


The cloud is touted as a technology that, along with mobile and analytics, will usher in a new age of limitless, on-demand computing for everyone. According to a Telesyte study,1 total market value for public cloud services is tipped to reach $775 million by 2019, with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) enjoying the biggest spending increase in 2015.

But is the cloud always the right choice for the small to medium business (SMB)? There are a few important deciding factors to consider when choosing between cloud services and on-site server hardware.


A major selling point of the cloud is its flexibility. Typically, businesses will purchase a monthly plan that includes a bundle of features that meet their needs. As the business grows or changes, it can move between plans. For example, you might choose to start with a basic data storage, CRM and email management plan, and move to one that includes advanced data analytics later.

Your business model will be the deciding factor. Are your employees working from a static location, or remotely? If it’s the latter, there can be less chance of data loss or duplication with the cloud. Are you unsure where you’re going, or confident that things will remain fairly static? If you don’t expect to scale quickly, it may be more cost-effective to purchase your own entry-level server outright. Choosing a solution that’s easily upgraded will mean you’re well placed for future growth.


For a small business with 10 employees, we compared the price of a Microsoft Azure cloud solution with a comprehensive on-site server option.* With everything taken into account – including two virtual machines for network storage and applications – the cloud solution could certainly be more cost-effective upfront, but over time the subscription costs begin to add up. Over three years, an on-premises server could save you more than 50% compared to a cloud solution. According to IDC business data, the optimal server replacement cycle is three and a half years.2

Although there are ongoing costs associated with hardware – such as upgrades, power and troubleshooting – the cost of a physical server over such a period rarely adds up to the cost of cloud services. This is despite the cloud appearing cheap on a month-to-month basis compared to the higher initial costs of physical hardware.

In general, the flexibility and scalability of cloud may make it attractive for larger companies – but smaller businesses are unlikely to use the full range of cloud features they are paying for in their monthly fees. It’s also worth noting that your own hardware may be counted as a business asset, which has tax benefits.


Some of the risk of using cloud relates to data security and privacy. In Australia, it’s important that SMB cloud users are aware of their rights in relation to the Privacy Act (1988),3 which states that cloud providers must take “reasonable steps” to protect personal data from unauthorised disclosure, misuse or archiving. Australian Consumer Law also applies to cloud providers, although penalties can be difficult to enforce if they are based overseas.

When comparing cloud providers, find out whether they offer personalised encryption and data backup that protects your information if there is a breach or hardware failure. Also be sure to ask where they store their data, as privacy laws vary by country.

A physical in-house server will typically keep you protected from all but natural disaster and physical interference. Like all ICT systems, it’s a matter of weighing up the benefits while managing the risks.

Physical location and data bandwidth

To varying degrees, all cloud services will be subject to the congestion and unpredictable latencies of the public internet. This can be more of a problem for rural businesses that lack the reliable internet connection and bandwidth needed to consistently run cloud applications.

Another important factor to consider is data transfer limits. Cloud services usually allow you to upload an unlimited amount of data to the server (on your own bandwidth dime), but are less generous when it comes to downloads – services like Amazon EC2, for example, are capped at 1GB free outbound data per month.

The cloud can still be viable for SMBs that have a highly mobile workforce, want the freedom to scale up and down quickly, and can accept the risks of having their data handled by a third party. There is also the hybrid option, where non-critical business data is stored and processed using low-cost or free cloud plans. For many SMBs, however, maintaining their own on-site servers remains a more cost-effective and secure strategy.






*Azure configuration

  • D1 VM, single core, 3.5GB RAM, 50GB storage.
  • D2 VM, dual-core, 7GB RAM, 100GB storage.
  • VPN Gateway, incl. 100GB each inbound/outbound traffic per month.
  • 1TB file storage.
  • Costs based on pricing from Azure as at 21/11/2016.

On-site configuration

  • Lenovo TS450 tower server with 3 years 24/7 4-Hour Response Warranty, Intel Xeon E3-1245 v5 CPU, 32GB RAM, redundant 450W power supply.
  • Tape backup drive with 5 x 1TB cartridges.
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Multi-Language.
  • Windows Server 2012 User CALS.
  • 1.5kVA UPS.


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How to stop ransomware attacks in 2017

In May 2017, an ominous message greeted workers in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS): “Oops, your files have been encrypted!”

This is how malware known variously as WannaCry, WannaCrypt or WannaCryptor 2.0 announced itself to the wider world. With systems locked and critical files encrypted, doctor’s surgeries had to close and hospitals turned patients away from essential treatments.

How did this happen? Security experts believe an NHS user clicked a link or opened a file they shouldn’t have. Others pointed the finger at the NHS’s network of antiquated hardware and unsupported software as the main factor that facilitated the spread of WannaCry.

The worm spreads

Distributing ransomware isn’t hard. This type of malicious software is easy and cheap to spread. In the case of WannaCry, and its related variants, it can infect connected systems without any user interaction, much like a worm that continually replicates itself. The victim then has a powerful incentive to pay up and, if they don’t, the criminals’ investment has been minimal.

The victim then has a powerful incentive to pay up and, if they don’t, the criminals’ investment has been minimal.

Why is healthcare vulnerable to ransomware?

Hospitals and other organisations in the healthcare sector are attractive targets, specifically because of the:

  • Ageing hardware, software and security systems that they often run.
  • Misconfigured systems, specifically security software that is easy to bypass.
  • Valuable data they hold, including sensitive patient health records and personal information.

Should you pay hackers a ransom?

Cybersecurity experts advise against paying a ransom to hackers.

In the first instance, there is no guarantee you will gain access to your encrypted files. An Australian study found that close to a third of affected organisations who did pay failed to recover their data. Paying may also encourage the criminals to continue their activities, and they could even re-target your organisation.

How to stop ransomware infecting your organisation

Like any infection, prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to the security of your network. Even if you are dealing with a tight budget, skeleton IT staff and minimal cybersecurity expertise, you don’t necessarily have to spend big to ensure your network remains free of malware like WannaCry.

Your users should be the first line of defence. If employees don’t know what to look for, how can you hope to remain malware free? As a matter of priority, you need to:

  • Train your staff so they know how to identify phishing attacks that could contain malicious ransomware.
  • Ensure your organisation is running updated software with the latest security patches.
  • Regularly back up your systems to physical sources and the cloud.
  • Have a clear email security protocol that discourages users from clicking on suspicious links, attachments or emails.
  • If a computer is infected, isolate it from the network and alert all staff.
  • Invest in hardware that’s up to the task of warding off threats.

Ransomware is constantly evolving, so it’s a case of mitigating the threat to ensure your networks, data and reputation aren’t compromised.

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Office 365 advances the learning process

Cloud-based technologies are revolutionising teaching and learning, and Microsoft’s Office 365 Education offers sophisticated tools to do just that.

Office 365 comes with a lot of the usual Microsoft software offerings, now bundled together in a subscription-based model. However, more importantly for school CIOs and IT education decision-makers, Office 365 features Education, a state-of-the-art collaboration product that has the potential to improve teaching and learning processes.

Office 365 Education offers students and teachers a whole new way to communicate via cloud-based email, web conferencing and document-editing tools. It also provides access to applications and files from any connected device.

Recognising the popularity of apps, Office 365 also has apps that can complement its Education package. These include OneDrive, which offers 1TB of file storage per user and accounts that can customised according to a school”s needs; Yammer, a private social networking app that lets students and teachers communicate at any time; and Lync Online that enables audio and video calls.

Additionally, students and teachers can share Excel, Word and PowerPoint files and simultaneously work on them from different locations, doing away with the hassle of needing to integrate document versions later.

Classrooms for the digital age

Office 365 Education includes Microsoft Classroom, a homepage where teachers can manage classes and assignments online. This can help with tasks such as organising multiple class sections (e.g. History or Geography A and B), creating assignments, collaborating with other teachers on syllabuses and providing students with feedback.

Students can engage with teachers and classmates as well as access class materials if they”re off sick, while apps such as Sway allow teachers to design interactive online lessons, assignments and even newsletters from a phone, tablet or browser.

Office 365 also comes with protection against spam and viruses, making it a secure place to share documents. As a cloud-based service, it”s also logical to use Office 365 for data backup and storage.

A long way from blackboards and chalk

Office 365”s education tools allow for anytime, anywhere learning. They also incorporate new ways for teachers and students to collaborate on assignments and projects while allowing for better management of files on all devices including mobiles.

Technology has advanced rapidly since the first Apple IIs and IBM PCs arrived in classrooms around the world. Today, schools have access to digital tools that were once the exclusive domain of the workplace. Student engagement is just one of the many benefits – because we know how much the typical K-12 pupil loves technology.

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The hidden costs of purchasing a PC

This article first appeared on ThinkFWD.

Contributor: Stuart Corner

“Procurement and deployment of the PC and other devices is about to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century as a growing number of companies explore the potential benefits of PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS) and Device-as-a-Service (DaaS),” says Tom Mainelli, program vice president of devices and displays at IDC.

According to a IDC survey from earlier this year, almost 25 per cent of IT decision-makers are already actively considering PCaaS, and a further 20 per cent say they plan to do so within 12 months. And it’s not difficult to see why.

At one extreme, running a fleet of PCs in a corporate environment requires considerable capital outlay for their purchase and for the provision of the IT resources needed to maintain them. At the other extreme, these functions can be outsourced through leasing and support contracts, but that typically requires three separate relationships: hardware supplier, finance company and support provider.

Most organisations will have a PC procurement and support regime that sits somewhere between these two extremes, but in any variant there are many hidden costs. IT consulting firm Nash Networks estimates that the purchase of hardware and software typically accounts for less than 50 per cent of the total direct costs.

Nash Networks lists a whole set of indirect costs that it says can account for as much as 50 per cent of the total cost of ownership, and are often completely hidden. These costs generally arise through suboptimal maintenance and/or inadequate user support. They include lost or reduced productivity because of downtime and time spent by staff providing informal IT support to colleagues.

The DIY system

A good indication of what’s involved in supporting a fleet of PCs under a do-it-yourself (DIY) model is MTC Training’s course, Managing Enterprise Devices and Apps Using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). SCCM is a product from Microsoft designed to facilitate the management of Windows PCs. The course is intended for experienced IT professionals who are typically enterprise desktop administrators. These are people who deploy, manage and maintain PCs, devices and applications.

Here’s a list of topics covered – that is, what someone in such a role is expected to undertake:

  • Managing desktops and devices in the enterprise.
  • Preparing the infrastructure to support desktop and device.
  • Deploying and managing the configuration manager client.
  • Managing inventory for PCs and applications.
  • Distributing and managing content used for deployments.
  • Deploying and managing applications.
  • Maintaining software updates for managed PCs.
  • Implementing endpoint protection for managed PCs.
  • Managing compliance and secure data access.
  • Managing client status, power management and remote administration.
  • Maintaining configuration manager sites and site systems.

If not leaving it up to a provider, a business would have to single-handedly conquer all of this. It could represent a costly undertaking, and might also be well beyond the capabilities and resources of an organisation.

The PCaaS alternative

PCaaS replaces these with a single contract and a per-device monthly fee. PCaaS contracts are based on a fixed hardware refresh cycle, generally three years, with hardware and software support that includes ensuring software is kept up to date and, in particular, that the patches needed to keep systems secure are applied expeditiously.

There’s also a strong argument for PCaaS purely on the grounds of optimal deployment of capital. Every business needs access to capital to fund its growth, and while PCs are vital to the operation of most businesses, the operation of the PCs is not core business. Capital can be more usefully applied to business growth if PC provision is made an operating expense.

This is particularly true for startups and small businesses. The advent of Software-as-a-Service has reduced business small business costs enormously in recent years. Provided under an ‘as-as-service’ model, the PCs needed to access that software remove yet another barrier to entrepreneurship.

PCaaS allows businesses to not only outfit their offices without having to buy everything outright, but also streamlines their IT support costs as part of the service. It’s important to be aware of these costs, as you don’t want to be left unexpectedly out of pocket when you budget in your PCs.

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Four ways to enhance your endpoint security

It’s quite likely you use several devices, such as a smartphone and a laptop or desktop PC, to run your business. Each device, however, represents an access point for threats like viruses and malware. Endpoint security aims to secure these network ‘endpoints’ so that suspicious online activities are blocked at the point of entry.

The need for endpoint security has risen sharply, particularly in response to the rise in mobile threats and the growing internet of things (IoT). Most vulnerable are SMBs with offsite employees who need to access the company’s network. But the reality is that all businesses are at risk, given today’s ever-shifting and undefinable security perimeter.

So, what are today’s SMB leaders doing when it comes to endpoint security? How can you ensure every tech outpost in your business is secure? Here are four key strategies.

1. Remove or limit administrative access

Most employees don’t need administrative rights to perform their day-to-day jobs. If an endpoint app does require administrative access to your network, it can be added to a database of approved programs by an access control tool. Limiting administrative access in this manner can greatly limit damage within your core network caused by an attacker who is targeting the endpoint device.

2. Use advanced authentication

Many successful endpoint breaches are the result of employees using the same password across multiple sites. If just one site is compromised, it’s only a matter of time before yours is broken into. Two-factor authentication fixes this problem by requiring extra credentials to access the system, such as a token code or smart card. This blocks attackers even if the password has been stolen.

3. Keep your systems up to date

New security vulnerabilities are being discovered all the time. Hackers are constantly keeping watch – and using them against SMBs to find out which ones neglected to patch their systems. If you use various endpoint devices in your business, it’s important to ensure your business apps, anti-malware programs and other security tools are kept up to date with the latest security patches and virus definitions.

4. Conduct security training and awareness sessions

A recent IBM study found that 60 per cent of business data breaches originate from employees, with about a quarter of these being accidental. Ongoing awareness and training on security best practices, in areas such as data encryption, password security and BYOD (bring your own device), can help keep your network safe.

As your data network gains more endpoints, the number and variety of cyber risks will only increase. These steps will help to ensure that your SMB is better protected and more resilient against online attacks.