Risks of Third-party Apps You Probably Didn’t Think About

An app for this, an app for that.  It seems in this day and age, there is an “app” for just about anything you want to do or accomplish.  We certainly live in an app-filled world. If previous decades were the age of infrastructure, we are now in the age of applications.

Applications are key to business processes and productivity today.  Most organizations run on top of an application stack that allows carrying out many key business functions.  Now, most organizations are leveraging the public cloud and cloud-based applications for even more powerful collaboration and technology-driven processes.  

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environments like G Suite and Office 365 are extremely popular among organizations to host business collaboration, file sharing, email and other services.  Cloud SaaS environments today contain a large number of third-party apps that can easily be integrated into your environment. While there can be benefits to these third-party applications, let’s talk about the risks of third-party apps you didn’t know about.  

What are Third-Party Apps?

First of all, what are the third-party apps we are referring to when thinking about potential risks to your environment?  Third-party “apps” are readily available in both Google’s G Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365 environments. There are third-party apps available covering a wide range of functionality for your SaaS users.  

An example of available third-party application categories include:

  • Remote video conference tools
  • Business Tools
  • Office applications
  • Accounting & finance
  • Administration & management
  • ERP & Logistics
  • HR & Legal
  • Marketing & analytics
  • Sales & CRM
  • Creative tools
  • Web development
  • Task management 

The beauty of third-party apps in regards to cloud SaaS environments like G Suite or Office 365 is that if you have any gaps in the native cloud SaaS tools offered, you can most certainly find a third-party app that provides the functionality you need.  

Third-party apps augment the capabilities of SaaS environments with even more robust tooling, features, and capabilities.  These applications generally follow the same SaaS license model of a “per user” license. By means of the third-party apps offered in cloud SaaS marketplaces, your organization can have an “ala carte” style menu available to pick and choose the apps to satisfy the business functionality needed.  

Below is an example of the G Suite Marketplace where users have an almost unlimited selection of applications to chose from.  By default, users can search and install applications using their G Suite user accounts.  You can browse by application type, or applications can be found by searching for apps by name. 

In today’s mobile-driven world, third-party apps have become a staple of how we interact with services and data.  It has also become an extremely important part of the public cloud. Despite the functionality provided by robust third-party apps, they can bring risks to your organization.  How is this the case?

Risks of third-party apps you probably didn’t think about

Despite their numerous benefits, third-party apps can certainly bring risk to your organization data, compliance, and security.  Let’s take a look at the potential risks that are presented by the use of third-party apps in your cloud SaaS environment.

 

1. Malware including ransomware

2. Data-leak concerns

3. Compliance and regulatory violations

 

 

Often, these particular risks of third-party apps go unnoticed by organizations who are making use of cloud SaaS environments.  Let’s explore these further and see why and how your organization can give attention to these specific third-party app risks.

Malware including ransomware

There is arguably no greater risk to your business-critical data today than ransomware.  Ransomware insidiously and silently encrypts your data so that you can no longer access what is rightfully yours.  Once the encryption process has locked you out of your data, a ransom demand appears, demanding payment before access is restored.

While many have incorrectly assumed that ransomware is an on-premises problem only, this can lead to dangerous consequences for data stored in public cloud storage.  Many organizations today are migrating business-critical services like email and file storage to cloud SaaS environments. Without an understanding of the risks at play with third-party apps integrating with cloud SaaS, data can easily be affected.

Ransomware can easily propagate to cloud SaaS environments by means of file synchronization as well as malicious third-party apps and browser extensions that gain access to cloud data.  New ransomware variants affecting environments today are “cloud-aware” and are able to compromise cloud SaaS environments by means of these malicious applications.  

“Ransomcloud” attacks show how easily a malicious application granted permissions in cloud environments can totally compromise your data.  As demonstrated in the “ransomcloud” attack, an entire user’s mailbox is encrypted by granting permissions to a seemingly benign application that in all actuality is ransomware in disguise.  

This proof of concept demonstrates the dangers of third-party applications that are granted access to your cloud SaaS environments, either intentionally or by accident.  Ransomware attacks can propagate by means of a malicious application or even a browser plugin that has the permissions needed to start encrypting your data. How can malicious third-party apps and browser plugins obtain this level of access to your business-critical data stored in G Suite or Office 365 storage?

End users easily grant permissions

Risky or malicious third-party apps often gain easy access to cloud SaaS environments like G Suite or Office 365 by means of end user-granted permissions.  Public cloud vendors use an OAuth 2.0 token technology to allow end users to grant access to their data without the need for a password to do so. All the end user has to do is grant permissions to a permissions request coming from a third-party app.

All of us are guilty of blindly granting permissions to apps that request them during installation.  How many of us actually read the details of the permissions requested by third-party applications we install on our mobile devices?  Think about an end user with either a company-issued mobile device, or a personal device used to also access company data.

If an end user blindly accepts permissions while installing a risky third-party app and the end user’s phone is connected to your organization’s data, all business-critical or sensitive data the end user has access to is now at risk of compromise by a risky third-party app.

The same is true for browser extensions.  Third-party browser extensions can request the same types of permissions to cloud data as other third-party applications that are installed via mobile devices.  A recent study found that more than a third of all Google Chrome extensions ask users for permission to access and read all their data on any website.

When you think about the possible security implications of third-party apps installed on mobile devices as well as third-party browser extensions, it is imperative to have visibility to and the ability to block these dangers.  This requires controlling which applications are installed in your cloud SaaS environments.  

Data leak concerns

Aside from an all-out ransomware attack on your organization’s data, there is another scary cybersecurity concern that should get the attention of businesses everywhere – data leak.  Next, to ransomware data leak should be extremely concerning to your business.

With data leak, confidential or otherwise sensitive data is “leaked” outside the “walls” of your organization and disclosed to the outside world.  Many businesses deal with confidential data by its nature. You may think of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) information processed by hospitals and other healthcare organizations or financial data that is housed by banking institutions and other financial organizations.  There are many different sources of confidential and other sensitive data that you would never want to leak outside the realms of sanctioned use.

While you may have restrictions in place on who has access to sensitive types of data that exist inside cloud environments, what about the applications that have access to this data?  Think of a scenario with a seemingly legitimate widget application that is downloaded for use on an Android device. The end user who installs the Android widget application also has high-level access to sensitive and confidential data stored in your organization’s cloud SaaS environment.  

Even though the application requests extremely high-level device permissions such as the following, the user simply grants all permissions to the new widget app:

  • Read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
  • Full Network Access
  • Read phone status and identity
  • Modify or delete the contents of your device storage

The widget application now has a high level of access to both the network and storage of the device.  The seemingly legitimate third-party app is actually malicious in nature and starts reading and copying data synchronized with your cloud SaaS environment to a dark web repository defined by the attacker.  What can this cost your business?  

The cost of data breach can be significant as outlined by IBM’s “The Cost of a Data Breach Report 2019”.  According to the yearly report by IBM’s research team, in 2019, the cost of a data breach included the following eye-opening statistics:

  • Average total cost of a data breach – $3.92 million
  • Most expensive country – United States, $8.19 million
  • Most expensive industry – Healthcare, $6.45 million
  • Average size of a data breach – 25,575 records

Keep in mind these are average statistics and may cost your business even more according to the degree and effectiveness of cybersecurity responses you have in place.  It helps to underscore the tremendous responsibility of your organization when it comes to limiting the exposure of your data to third-party applications.  

Compliance and regulatory violations

There is another aspect for businesses today to consider when it comes to keeping data safe and out of the wrong hands – compliance and regulatory.  Compliance and regulatory frameworks are designed to protect customer and other sensitive data.  Compliance regulations provide a framework of standards that, when followed by organizations, helps to ensure the proper security and other fail safes are put in place to protect important types of data.  

Compliance and regulatory frameworks are a good thing for both your business as well as your customer information.  It serves to protect both from negative consequences of data breach. However, today’s compliance and regulatory frameworks can also levy huge fines if your organization is found in violation of or grossly negligent to the point where customer data is compromised.

A great example of this the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect May, 2018.  GDPR is not only a recommendation, it is required for those who “touch” data of any European citizen.  The fines and consequences for those organizations found in violation of GDPR guidelines can be tremendous.  

As noted here, fines can include:

“For especially severe violations, listed in Art. 83(5) GDPR, the fine framework can be up to 20 million euros, or in the case of an undertaking, up to 4 % of their total global turnover of the preceding fiscal year, whichever is higher. But even the catalogue of less severe violations in Art. 83(4) GDPR sets forth fines of up to 10 million euros, or, in the case of an undertaking, up to 2% of its entire global turnover of the preceding fiscal year, whichever is higher.”

Under the GDPR guidelines, it is extremely important that organizations take seriously their responsibility to provide data security.  The overall import of the GDPR data protection framework is data protection by design and by default.  A portion of the GDPR checklist helps to highlight this as organizations are expected to ensure the following:

  • Take data protection into account at all times, from the moment you begin developing a product to each time you process data
  • Encrypt, pseudonymize, or anonymize personal data wherever possible
  • Create an internal security policy for your team members, and build awareness about data protection
  • Know when to conduct a data protection impact assessment, and have a process in place to carry it out
  • Have a process in place to notify the authorities and your data subjects in the event of a data breach

 

 

The walkthrough in the data leak example demonstrates how easy it is for a malicious third-party application that is granted permissions by an end user to access sensitive data.  It also demonstrates how easy it would be for an organization to be in violation of compliance regulations like GDPR when customer data is exposed without safeguards in place.  

Taking into consideration the threat and risks of malicious or “leaky” third-party applications and browser plugins must be part of the design when it comes to housing your business-critical data in cloud SaaS environments.  

Eliminate Third-Party App Risks

To effectively eliminate the risks of third-party apps to your business-critical and sensitive data, you need both visibility and control.  First of all, you need visibility to any potential risks in your organization.  Cloud SaaS data security can be challenging for organizations who are accustomed to on-premises environments and who lack the tooling needed to monitor data access properly in the cloud.

Controlling access to data can also be challenging without the right toolsets since data can be accessed from many different kinds of devices and networks.  How can your organization effectively monitor and manage data access and protect the environment from risky third-party applications accessing your cloud data?  

The sheer complexity of today’s environments spanning both on-premises and public cloud locations and the enormity of attack vectors require you use an automated approach to both detect and remediate threats effectively.

An ideal SaaS data protection platform should have an automated sentinel that guards your cloud SaaS environment 24x7x365. You can also utilise an API-based Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) that integrates to provide Google Apps Security or protect your Office 365 environment.  It provides you with the tools you need to have both the visibility and control over third-party applications in your environment.  

Protection against risky third-party apps as well as other cybersecurity threats to your business is critical.

Be sure to choose the best protection platform for your cloud environment.

The Future for Custom Vending Machines

More than ever, we are living in a time where we are accustomed to having practically everything that we could possibly ever want at our fingertips. And on top of that is the reality that we have so much customisation at our immediate disposal literally always. We are so used to it at this point, that we are far more comfortable, familiar, and even reliant on having all that connection and customisation there, than we would be in its absence now.

Practically every aspect of life as we know it has been fundamentally changed in the wake of widespread digitalisation and exceedingly rapid technological advancement, and the customisation of life as we know it in just about every way is no different – even, as it turns out, when it comes to vending machines (yes, really).

Introducing custom vending machines

One perhaps surprising product that has taken to the custom products and services trend like a duck to water is that of vending machines. The introduction of customised vending machines around the globe has come with many little challenges and rewards along the way, all of which play their own important role in the way that life continues to progress and unfold.

In the case of custom vending machines specifically, there is the awareness that having immediate and unfiltered access to not only basic food and drink supplies, but all kinds of products and services (including, but not limited to, makeup – think Kylie Cosmetics vending machines, hygiene and sanitary products, gift cards, and even experiences, is changing the way that we experience the world in so many ways.

The appeal of custom vending machines

Custom vending machines are appealing because they essentially provide us all with that instantaneous access that we all have grown to crave so much and so often, without having to necessarily go into a store to get it. Additionally, custom vending machines are fantastic because they give individuals access to all these products and services in exciting new ways.

Custom vending machines are all about embracing immediate consumerism in instantaneous ways for (sometimes unexpected) products and services. That is their power and the underlying reason that they continue to become more and more popular all the time.

The future for custom vending machines

Whether it is a custom vending machine that exclusively offers hand sanitizer dispenser and other hygiene products or a custom vending machine that provides access to gift cards (to name two examples among the many), the point is always the same: custom vending machines have essentially and successfully gone from strength to strength since they were first introduced.

And more to the point, there is no sign of this truth slowing down or becoming any less true in the near future (if ever). Custom vending machines are creative, fun, and they are just getting started. We can expect a whole lot more from the custom vending machine industry in the coming years and beyond, that is for sure.

The Evolution of Social Media Marketing

There have been many great technological advancements over the years, each of them having made their own unique impact and found their place in this ever-evolving modern world that we know and love. While of course each of these advancements is important in and of itself, there are some technological advancements that are more widely applicable and thus more valuable across the board and around the globe. Without a doubt, social media is one of the most widely applicable and overwhelmingly successful modern marvels to date.

Today, social media is a multitool in the digital era, however it has inevitably taken some time for social media to build up to be the way that it is today. This is the case for every technological advancement, of course, however in the case of social media, it has been a definitively and undeniably incredible evolution to get to this point. From the moment that social media was first introduced to the world, it was changing everything from the ground up. An exceptional example of the power of technological growth, social media does it all.

Global communication made easy

Before social media, global communications were more time consuming, expensive, and tedious. Sending letters took a long time and cost a lot, speaking on the phone was expensive, and flying across vast oceans to communicate in person was expensive. Then, when social media first appeared on the scene, everything started to change. It was not long before social media proved itself to be a valuable asset. Through social media, global communications were easier and more efficient than they had ever been. It was a revolutionary shift that spanned the globe. As it turned out, it was a shift that was just getting started too.

A newfound sense of togetherness

There is the distinct realisation that for better or worse, social media has essentially had a significant hand in creating a sense of togetherness that brings individuals from around the globe together in exciting and new ways. Social media is all about heightened awareness of everything that happens around someone, and more to the point, social media is specifically geared towards creating platforms for individuals to keep in touch with one another and with current events, not only locally but internationally. It is a tremendous accomplishment and it is an accomplishment that is worth its weight in gold.

A digital marketing powerplay

Today, social media is also one of the world’s leading digital marketing strategies. In fact, many companies now offer services on how to buy real instagram followers dedicated to assisting clients in getting from point A to point B through their digital marketing efforts. It is an exceptional example of how digital marketing can and does often change the entire trajectory of a company or an individual. Social media marketing is so powerful because it gives businesses and professionals alike a two-way form of communication that is centred around ensuring that all parties benefit as much as possible from the social media marketing efforts that are put into play – whether they are live videos, stories, posts, likes, comments, or messages.

The Most Popular Customised Products on the Market

The ecommerce market has grown exponentially in the years since it was introduced to the world as a digitally inclined iteration of traditional commerce. Together traditional commerce and ecommerce function and thrive as incredible examples of just how special and globally inclusive the consumer market is in this day and age. Of course, it has been a learning curve to get to this point, but now that we are here, this is a frontier that is going to go from strength to strength as time goes on. All one must do to realise this is take a step back and look at the nature of the consumer market as it lays in front of them. 

There are more emerging fields in the consumer market than ever, each with their own reason and rhyme – the customised product market, for example. Today, there is a larger customised product market than ever. Further, this is a field of the commerce market that is only gaining more and more traction as time goes on. Within that field, which personalised products are worth their weight in gold, which are the most popular, and which hold the most potential for being increasingly prominent in the consumer market in the future?

Custom travel gear

One of the most popular customised products on the international commerce market is custom travel gear. Whether it is your passport holder or your luggage itself, adding your initials or a nickname to your travel gear takes it to the next level, personalises it to a tee, and ensures that when you are looking for your luggage after your next flight, there is a personalised element to your bags that make them easy to spot even (and especially) when so many of the bags that are coming out onto the carousel look similar to yours. Custom travel gear is one of the most popular custom product fields on the market – and for good reason.

Custom tech devices

Today, you do not necessarily have to buy a new device empty and ready to be filled with many different applications and programs. These days, you can customise your device online before you even order it (for a price, of course), so that it comes fully equipped with all the programs and systems that you need for work or for your personal hobbies. From laptops and tablets to mobile phones and cameras, having custom additions to the base product essentially takes it to the next level and ensures that when you receive your new device, you just have to create a password – everything else is installed and ready to go. 

Custom wedding favours

One of the most creative and exciting customised products on the market is without a doubt custom wedding favours. Whether it is customised jewellery for the bridal party and mother of the bride and the groom, or custom tumblers or flasks for the wedding party, or any other type of customised wedding favours available to choose from, the point is always the same: custom wedding favours are one of the most delightful and exciting customised product brackets available on the market.

Steps to Make a House Secure

Research has shown that if a house takes a burglar 4 to 5 minutes to break into, they will most likely try the next house. This explains why you should make your house more secure.  Essentially, you should put in place measures that will make breaking into your house difficult for burglars. But, how do you do that? 

The current market has state-of-the-art systems that can be used to secure a house. For example, Frontpoint offers a modern approach to home safety – wireless security systems which are operated by touchscreen control panels. However, these are costly for some people. Luckily, they are not the only ones that can be used to make a house secure. You can also consider a wide range of in-expensive ways of making a house secure. 

Even with a tight budget for a house protection system, it’s unwise to overlook certain steps for ensuring the security of your house. Here are 6 steps to follow when you want to make your house more secure. 

1. Install Superior Windows and Door Locks 

Good security habits will go a long way in keeping burglars away. Home break-ins statistics show that many thieves look for easy targets. Most break-ins happen during the day between 10 am and 3 pm. And in most cases, burglars take 8 to 10 minutes to complete burglaries. 

34% of burglars use the front door to break into a house while 23% use the first-floor window. This shows that thieves look for easy access to houses. Therefore, install superior locks to your doors. Make sure that thieves can’t have an easy time breaking into your house through the windows or doors. 

2. Update Your House Locks 

Perhaps, it’s been years since you installed new locks. Well, this can make your home more vulnerable to future break-ins. It’s therefore, important to have a closer look at your house locks. Are some of the locks damaged? Is it possible that a stranger has keys to some of the locks? Does the house have exterior locks that are easy to bump open, jimmy, or pick? 

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you need to replace or rekey some of the locks. Install tamper-proof locks that will make your house more secure. Consider the latest and most innovative locks in the market and install them to enhance the security of your house. 

3. Reinforce Windows, Doors, Hardware, and Locks 

You may have rock solid locks but the hardware, windows, and doors could be flimsy and weak. That means a well-placed kick or slam will allow a person to enter your house within seconds. Therefore, inspect all the entry points, particularly on the first floor. Repair, replace, or reinforce them if necessary. 

If you have thin, broken, or hollow-core exterior doors, consider replacing them. Alternatively, add extra support with a security bar or door barricade. Also, make sure that the strike plate is installed properly with at least ¾ inches long screws. That way, the bolt won’t be easy to force out of your door jamb. You can also use door reinforcement kits to strengthen the weak points of the door with strike plates. 

4. Install an Effective Home Security System 

Ensuring that your house has updated locks, as well as, strong doors and windows alone is not enough. You need to go the extra mile and install an effective home security system. If your house has a security system in place already, have it checked by an experienced professional. This will determine whether the system has faulty sensors or battery issues. a good professional will inspect the overall performance of the system. 

It’s also important to have old passcodes of the previous homeowners deleted and a new security pin selected. An ideal security pin should be easy to recall but hard for burglars to guess. If your house doesn’t have a security system, have it installed to make it secure. Even the presence of a security system and its monitoring features alone can deter would-be thieves. 

5. Install Proper Lighting 

Installing motion sensor lighting is a great way to make a house secure. Thieves don’t want bright spotlights on break-ins. Therefore, installing sensors in the darkest parts of the compound and areas that are not easy to view from the house or streets can deter would-be burglars. 

A light illuminates the surrounding areas, as well as, burglars that may hide or pass near the motion sensors and trigger them. Installation of security lighting can be a relatively cheap investment. Therefore, consider installing security lighting around your back and front doors. That way, you will illuminate al entrances and potential places where burglars can hide within your property. 

6. Avoid Showing off Your Valuables 

To make your house secure, avoid being flashy with valuables. Ideally, minimize the time when people see the valuables in your house from the streets. Before breaking into a house, most thieves will scope out an area to determine whether there is anything valuable they can steal. And, if they spot something valuable inside your house, they will start formulating a break-in strategy. 

Therefore, making a house secure can simply entail the removal of items that are commonly stolen from the place where strangers can easily view them. Such items include jewelry, cash, firearms, tablets, TVs, computers, and stereos. 

Anything of value and lightweight is a priority for burglars that want to loot valuables. Therefore, lock such items in a safe or keep them in a well-hidden part of the house. Additionally, close curtains and blinds while away or at night to shield your valuable possessions from possible burglars. 

The Bottom Line 

Burglar-proofing a house does not have to be a costly investment. You just need to know the measures to take to ensure that your house is not an easy target for thieves. Things like keeping valuable possessions away from the eyes of burglars can help make your house secure. However, some measures like making the compound well lit and installing a security system require money. Nevertheless, this investment goes a long way in protecting yourself, family, and valuable possessions. It can also help you save on insurance premiums.

The Advancements in Pet Security Systems

Living in a modern world that becomes more heavily paved with modern marvels like digitalisation and technological advancement, it is little to no wonder that we have entered a time that is more heavily reliant on these modern marvels than ever. The advancements and enhancements in security systems, for instance, are getting bolder and smarter all the time. Further, we in turn are becoming more comfortable, more familiar with the rapidly advancing ideals of said advancements and enhancements. It seems that we are positively immersed in and surrounded by these modern marvels in just about every possible way. We have even delved into the technological advancements that assist in the protection of our pets. These days, pet owner security systems are exceedingly common security systems found in modern homes. Why is that?

The protection of our most precious assets

Considering we have home security systems, car security systems, etc, it should come as no surprise that we have also begun delving into pet security systems. Of course, in the beginning this might seem somewhat strange, even unexpected, but the fact of the matter is that pet security systems are not only here to stay – they are brilliant. The protection of our most precious assets obviously includes our pets. So, having protective measures in place that are appropriately equipped to handle the security of our pets is a technology that is valuable beyond any of the wildest expectations one could have.

How pet owner security systems work

Essentially, pet owner security systems work their magic by either sensing, viewing, or hearing your pets at home through a pet security system not only goes a long way in protecting them should they be stolen from your home, but also in giving you peace of mind when you are at work or otherwise unable to be with them at home. There is an undeniable piece of mind that comes hand in hand with the awareness that you can “check in” from afar when your pet is hanging out at home and you are elsewhere. Even more exciting, is that pet owner security systems are getting smarter all the time.

The current advancements in pet security systems

There are several exciting advancements in pet security systems that are changing the foundations of pet security from the ground up. One of the most thrilling for pet owners around the globe is the development of a pet owner security system that essentially allows pet owners to not only check in on their homes and their pets while they are away, but also allows them the opportunity to have a two-way screen where their pet can see and hear them as well. This is thought to give pets a sense of comfort if they are feeling upset or otherwise unsettled when their owner is not at home, hopefully working its magic by assisting pets in calming down. Moreover, this is just the start for pet owner security systems. The best is yet to come.

How Transforming Digital Media Is Influencing People in Today’s World

Digital media is a very vast concept of the transfer of knowledge and communication from technology mediums to the consumer. Initially, digital media was put into direct comparison with print media, making it directly linked to addressing mass communication like newspapers or magazines. 

However, over the years the meaning and effect of digital media and the understanding of it have grown to conclude that almost all technology can be considered digital media. Experts say that digital media can be anything from pictures, videos, and other content available online even social media, as well as, web development, artificial intelligence, and what is typically the backend of the internet world. 

Digital media has transformed intensely over the years and its effects have also started to increase. People have started spending a lot more time on their smartphones than they used to, which has increased the dependence and importance of digital media as it is the most practical means of getting information from one end to the other. 

In this regard getting necessary content more visible has become crucial for businesses of all types. SEO services help you stop wasting internet marketing dollars on campaigns that don’t get measurable results. It is time to start driving more customers to your business with unique digital media plans that will grow your business.

Digital media has changed the way people live, the way they work, the way they speak, and some research studies show that not all impacts of digital media are positive. In recent studies, a link between time spent online and attention deficiency has been noted. Digital media has transformed life, and the changes are various.

A big part of the impact of digital media has to do with social media as it continues growing as an essential addition to people’s life. It has been noted now and again that social media has changed the way people live and network with each other. 

Communication has become easier thanks to social media where people can talk from one end of the world to another at any moment. All sorts of social media have taken form; Facebook has become more than just a place to post statuses, it has become a platform for people to share their opinions and have a voice. Skype and other video calling platforms have made it easier for travelers to stay in touch with friends, family, and partners, making traveling more convenient. Reddit has become a source for discussing ideas and topics of a wide range. 

On the contrary, social media has been said to have caused mental health problems because of the constant visibility of other people’s lives and human tendencies of comparison and jealousy. Over time people have gotten informed about their privacy online too, regarding how much information they share with networks and where that information goes. This is a big reason as to why VPNs have gotten so popular as people want to have more secure networks, they want to use the best means to get directly to the information available online without having to be bothered about their information leaking. 

People can get security for particular pages or general VPN options which are also vastly available. Internet security has become important for countries as well which was demonstrated when the European Union asked websites to abide by their General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

It’s also necessary to note that almost all information now is readily available on the internet. People find it more convenient to be able to find out about current events on their phones. News websites like Huffington Post, NY Post, and Forbes are people’s form of connecting with the world news.

The attractiveness of digital media also has to do with the level of engagement, people are allowed to voice their opinions by commenting, sharing and linking to different platforms. Media is no longer a way to tell people what one section of society knows and believes, it’s a platform for discussion and understanding different perspectives. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots are another manner in which the transfer of information becomes more convenient and has been the biggest transition of the new digital media. AI like Siri and Google Assistant has become an essential part of how people organize and manage their day-to-day schedules, call people and get information on different topics. Virtual assistance has been portrayed as one of the most common ways for people to manage their work life.

It is also important to realize that as information on technology grows the attention span of people tends to decrease. People spend their whole days on their phone from one app to another, and although it has become a way of life, experts suggest decluttering from social media and the technological world can be very beneficial.

Digital media has changed the way information is not only transferred but also perceived. Moreover, as people become more aware of technology, new innovations are required. People want the information to be easily accessible and even more easily shareable. 

Technology giants are constantly working on how to grow digital media and the different ways in which it can become a more essential part of human life. Transfer of knowledge is now not only through the books and ancestors but through what people read and watch online and who they, directly and indirectly, communicate with. 

As the dependence on technology grows, however, people are to be more conscious of how they spend their time and how it affects their personality and mental health more than their livelihood. Digital media will continue to enhance life but people should know how to use it and make sure that they are using the platforms to positively impact their lives.

Business on Instagram: Does it Work?

Instagram is a widely used social media network. It’s popular among users from all walks of life. Today, Instagram has over 200 million users visiting a business profile per day. Over 25 million companies globally are using Instagram. In total, Instagram has more than 700 million active monthly users.

These users present a great opportunity for businesses to market their services and products to a more targeted audience. It’s therefore, not surprising to find many businesses creating accounts and trying to get more followers on Instagram. But, does creating a business account on Instagram help in increasing the selling rates via business promotion? Sure, however, businesses must follow contemporary trends in social networks in order to receive interest from Instagram users. For example, post a story with a shrug Emoji and a questionnaire.

Why a Business Account can Increase Sales Rate 

Creating an Instagram business account works in boosting sales but it depends on the overall quality of the account and the accompanying content. Essentially, having an Instagram page can help or harm your business. But, when used properly, Instagram can help a business increase sales.

The Power of Numbers 

When it comes to social media marketing, the number of followers, subscribers, and likes matter. As of June 2018, Instagram had hit 1billion active monthly users and 400 million daily active Instagram Story users. And, these numbers are growing every day. The social media platform has more than 1 million active monthly advertisers. More than 40 billion photos have been shared on Instagram.

Instagram users share around 95 million videos and photos every day. These are attractive numbers to any marketer. They are just mouth-watering. Where there are numbers there is a possibility of making sales. And just like with other platforms, what matters is how a marketer or product owner present their sales message to the audience. So, if the sales message is packaged and presented properly, it can help increase the sales of a business.

Boosting Brand Visibility 

More people are using mobile devices to access the internet than those using desktop computers. With more people using Smartphones to access the internet, it means they can access and share videos and photos. Instagram was initially meant to be a photo-sharing platform. So, if businesses can use their accounts to post relevant and quality content, they can increase boost their visibilities. Posting quality content via a business account can lead to more mentions of a brand. And, this can increase the interest people will have in a brand, which is a first step in the process of generating leads.

Improved Engagements 

Increased engagement is among the secrets to internet marketing success. And, Instagram is the best social media for engagements. Instagram provides an engagement rate of around 4.2 per follower. This is about 58 times the engagement delivered by Facebook.

As such, Instagram is the best place to start building a brand and boosting conversion. As long as business posts quality content, more users will like and share it. They will also leave comments. Such activities will boost engagement between the business and prospects.

Multi-Channel Marketing 

A major reason why Instagram works when it comes to promoting a business on social media is the fact that it allows brands to use videos, photos, and texts. And, once a business or brand has come up with videos or images for use on Instagram, it can use them on its website and other social media networks. If a business comes up with well-designed posts, it can reach a more targeted, wider audience. Thus, people that are not following a business on Instagram can still discover the brand and share its images.

Tips for Increasing Selling Rates with Instagram Business Account 

Many brands are competing with yours to increase their selling rates with Instagram. To beat your competitors, try the following tips.

Create a Good Business Profile 

If your business offers more solutions or does many things, it’s easy to be caught up trying to fit all the information in a profile. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to focus on the most important unique selling points of your business. You can also disclose the next big thing for your business. This can be a product launch, promotion, or event. Also, include a clickable link in the bio and make sure it’s working.

Use Instagram Features and Hashtags 

Try things like Instagram Stories to ensure your business stories are displayed at the top of the timelines of your followers prominently. And to increase the reach of your business posts, use hashtags. You can use general hashtags or campaign-specific hashtags. The most important thing is to ensure that every hashtag that you use is relevant.

Know Your Audience

Just like with any other marketing platform, it’s important to know the target audience when it comes to doing business on Instagram. For instance, a business should start by finding out what followers like. It’s easy to know this by finding out what they share. A business can also read comments of the audience to learn the best ways to improve its services and products.

Show Creativity 

When it comes to promoting a business on Instagram, focus on how you want to solve the problems the audiences are facing, not the product you are selling. The goal should be to show the audience how your product can add value to them. And, make sure that you look good when doing it.

Never forget that Instagram was meant to be a photo-sharing platform. Therefore, visual content is the most important asset when it comes to promoting a business, product, or service on Instagram.

If you run a service-oriented business, focus on showing prospects or customers the process of offering the service. For instance, you can share the mission of your mission and its culture. You can also share how-to guides or tips. If possible, upload short videos or photos. The best videos for Instagram are up to 1 minute long.

The Bottom Line 

Whether creating an Instagram account for business increases the selling rates for businesses depends on the account quality and the accompanying content. Overall, a business Instagram account works. Nevertheless, more effort should be put into the quality of the account and content.

Necessity of Cybersecurity in Digital Era

We live in the beginning of the digital era. Essentially, what that means is that we are living in a modern world that is paved to the brim with good intentions, digitalisation, and technological advancement. This is a world of our own creation, and so we should not be at all surprised at the way that this world has unfolded and continued to evolve and expand since the dawn of its introduction to the big, wide world. Today, modern society is more hinged on technologies than it has ever been, and it continues to become more so every single day. At the core of that realisation lies the distinct realisation that we are growing more comfortable, more familiar, with technological innovation than we are in its absence. In this way (and so many others), this truly is a whole (digitally empowered) new world.

The technologies that have changed the world

So, in a world that is steadily becoming more technologically inclined all the time, it comes as no surprise that our reliance on technological innovations like the worldwide web has become stronger and stronger too. The internet has been remarkable since it was first introduced to the world, changing life as we knew it forever. Over the years, the enhancements to the internet have only gotten more advanced and more impressive. In many ways, this is a positive, but it can and does also inevitably open doors that pose potential risks. Protecting ourselves has never been so important – especially online.

The necessity of cybersecurity measures today

This is exactly why cybersecurity is so important in this day and age. Now that we are engaging online more than ever and thus investing more and more of ourselves and our lives into the virtual landscape that is the worldwide web, it becomes more and more obvious that there is a growing necessity for cybersecurity measures. Essentially, cybersecurity is all about protecting online activity and users by initiating and upholding several different virtual security measures. Each of these measures is designed to protect the privacy and safety of a user’s online activity. In a time like today, this type of innovation is more important than it has ever been.

What we can expect going into the future now

There are so many cybersecurity options out there today, thankfully. Whether it is anti-malware programs or a standard VPN (to name a few examples among the many), cybersecurity is more powerful than it has ever been. What is more, is that it seems to only continue its upward trajectory, getting better and better all the time. Having a reliable, secure and private connection really can make the difference between being protected online and needing to get your ducks in a row when you find you have been too lax. Going forward, we can almost certainly expect more advancement. Cybersecurity continues to step it up all the time these days, and there is no reason to think that will change any time soon.

Why Do Canadians Use VPNs?

The internet might seem like a place of freedom but the sad reality is the average online user will be restricted when it comes to what they can watch and access. Big corporations, governments and authorities often use software designed to block certain sites, track users and steal their data.

This is certainly true for the citizens of Canada. In order for them to stay protected and get passed restrictions they too will have utilize effective software. That is why so many Canadians are turning to virtual private networks (VPNs). These are not only versatile and effective. They are also perfectly legal in Canada.

In simple terms a VPN connects a user to the internet in a secure way. Their data traffic will go through an encrypted virtual tunnel. Therefore the user will be less vulnerable to trackers, hackers and cyber criminals. A VPN extends the amount of freedom Canadians can have when browsing the internet and deep web. The main advantages of having one installed are anonymity, security and the ability to bypass blocks.

Torrenting

Torrenting is enjoyed by people all over the world. The ability to share data files with others in a free and easy way is a wonderful thing. However, this activity can potentially expose sensitive user information. If someone in Canada started downloading or uploading on a torrent site their IP address would most likely be visible.

An IP address can also reveal the user’s geographic location. In some cases this may be enough to expose their identity as well. People who regularly engage in P2P sharing run the risk of this exposure every time they torrent. If anyone can see their IP address it is only a matter of time before a malicious entity takes advantage of the sensitive information.

A VPN will conceal a person’s true IP and make it appear as though they are located somewhere else, ideally in a completely different country. The biggest VPN companies give their users access to thousands of global servers. If a Canadian used a server in Europe their IP origin would appear to be from that continent. Masking an IP with VPN technology is an essential aspect of modern torrenting. Without it the consequences can be disastrous.

Bypassing Geo Blocks

Numerous sites and services on the internet have geo based restrictions in place. This is especially true when it comes to streaming sites such as Netflix, iPlayer, Prime Video and many others. A person in Canada would not be able to watch the British version of Netflix without a VPN.

Conversely, if a Canadian ex-pat wanted to watch geo-blocked television station content from their home country they would also need to utilize a VPN. This technology is not however a way to watch restricted content for free. The user will still have to register and pay for the streaming service content.

Live sporting events are notorious for “black outs”. This is when the event is not allowed to be broadcast to a certain territory because the network is not local. A black out can be very frustrating for sports fans. VPNs let users watch sports through an international server, preventing this issue.

Keeping Data Protected

Accessing the internet without any security software in place is risky. There is always the potential that a third party is monitoring the user’s activity. They will need to be protected from malware, ransomware and other malicious software.

When people use the internet for extended periods of time they will inevitably have to share sensitive information. This could include bank details, login usernames and passwords, personal information, medical history or work files. Their connection will have to be safe and a VPN is ideal for this. It stops hackers in their tracks and secures user traffic.

Staying Anonymous

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the average person to keep their identity hidden when online. Criminals are not the only ones who want to get their hands on the general public’s data. Many legitimate but intrusive organizations try to collect user data. This could be for research and marketing purposes.

It is not uncommon for Canadians to search for items to buy and then be targeted by ads for these products. They have not had their mind read, instead their search information has been covertly collected. With this info a company can create an entire consumer profile and continue to target them with tailor made ads.

The practice of brazen data collection has become so disturbing that people use VPNs simply to stay anonymous. This does not mean they have anything to hide. They simply want to avoid creepy marketing practices.

Conclusion

VPNs have revolutionized the safety and freedom of regular people who use the internet. It is likely that the popularity of VPNs will increase even more in the near future.