Small Business IT Solutions: In-House or Outsource?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 21, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Today, businesses of all types and sizes rely on technology to succeed. Whether it's email, online sales, social media or accounting (the list goes on), the need for reliable, secure and effective technology is crucial to business operations. Most companies are not in the business of technology per se, but it's a recognized means to an end. TECHPol has previously discussed the important IT decisions that new businesses should make. The question then becomes one of implementation. How will those technological needs be met? Is it best to hire IT professionals to work in-house or to contract with outside experts who can function as a business's IT department?  It's not necessarily an either-or proposition, but many small firms find that handling all of their technology needs internally is unwieldy. For business owners who are inclined to leave the IT headaches to someone else, managed services companies provide an option to consider.

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Topics: small business, technology, managed services

Cyber Resources for Small Business -- What the Government Offers

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 14, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Eighty-one percent of small businesses feel the government should be doing more to stop cyberattacks, according to a survey by Carbonite. Perhaps not a surprising statistic given that 43 percent of cybercrimes target small businesses, and those attacks can be lethal. Stopping attacks is tough, but helping companies defend against them is certainly doable. So what help is the government offering to small businesses? A congressional hearing held last week titled, "Small Business Cybersecurity: Federal Resources and Coordination" examined the issue. The testimony revealed that there are a variety of federal resources available to small firms that may prove useful.

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Topics: federal policy, small business IT, cybersecurity

The Shifting Regulatory Landscape

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 7, 2017 8:30:00 AM

The regulatory regime in Washington is under review. President Trump and the Republican Congress are taking steps to reduce regulation and reform the process by which the Federal government imposes new requirements on the private sector. There are a number of tactics being employed. The goal is to ensure regulations are not unduly burdensome and economic activity is not unnecessarily curtailed. Since January, there's been quite a bit of regulatory activity across government. If you haven't been following it closely, TECHPol has the lay of the land.

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Topics: regulations, small business, congressional agenda

Your File Is Saved, but Is It Safe?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 28, 2017 8:30:00 AM

If you've ever spent hours of time, effort and intellectual brilliance creating the perfect document, just under deadline, only to lose it because it wasn't saved, you've learned your lesson. You are now hyper-diligent about clicking your save button, and the existence of a document recovery function provides little comfort. However, you should know that all "saves" are not equal. Your hard work may still be lost if your saved document is stored in the wrong place.

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Topics: technology, cybersecurity, data loss

Unsafe Email Alert!  Know the Warning Signs of a Scam

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 21, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Email is cybercriminals' favorite tool to lure their victims into their traps.  In fact, some estimate that 91% of cyberattacks start with phishing -- an email that appears to come from a reputable source that seeks to steal valuable information. Phishing is not new, but it still works. Cybercriminals continue to up their game and can trick even a savvy target. Is it possible you'd fall for an email scam? Lower your chances by learning these warning signs.

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Topics: cybercrime, email

Updating Technology Policy:  3 Bills Moving in Washington

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 14, 2017 8:30:00 AM

A new Congress was sworn into office on January 3rd. In between confirmation hearings of new cabinet members, we've heard a lot about an ambitious legislative agenda including tax reform, health care reform, and infrastructure investment.  But not all 535 members of the House and Senate are focused on these "heavy lifts." Some are pushing bills that require less muscle and fanfare to enact. TECHPol is following several bipartisan, technology-related measures that Congress has already made progress on in the early days of the 115th Congress.

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Topics: technology

Saying Goodbye: Exit Interviews As a Tool for Small Business

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 7, 2017 8:30:00 AM

A company's employees are arguably its most important assets. That's why recruiting and retaining good workers is a priority of every business. Hiring practices, employee satisfaction, and company culture are all key components of a strategy to build a competent, loyal team. But, even when those bases are covered, inevitably some employees will move on. However painful those departures may be, they present an opportunity. Conducting effective exit interviews with employees who are on their way out can provide valuable information to improve an organization, including its human resources.

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Topics: small business, labor, human resources

The Promise and Problems of the Internet of Things for Small Business

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 31, 2017 8:30:00 AM

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers exciting new technologies that provide solutions of efficiency, convenience, and cost savings to businesses of all sizes. These connected devices that utilize the internet to communicate represent another tech revolution. Whether it's smart security cameras, lights and thermostats or equipment sensors, credit card readers, and smart labels, small businesses are incorporating IoT devices into their day-to-day business. Yet, with each new device that's connected to the network comes new security risks that hackers can exploit. 

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Topics: internet, cybersecurity

Law Firm Cybersecurity Threats:  More Risk, More Responsibility

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 24, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Law firms are one of the most attractive targets for cybercriminals. They have a treasure trove of information that has value and can be sold for financial gain. Whether it's corporate secrets, business strategies, intellectual property or personally identifiable and payment information, there is a market for this information that can line the pockets of criminals. The high risk should elicit a serious response from law firms, especially given the ethical obligations they have to protect clients' confidential information. Meeting these obligations by continually ensuring that efforts to secure information are effective in an threat environment that is evolving is especially challenging.

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Topics: cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Insurance Protection for Small Businesses

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 17, 2017 8:33:00 AM

Cyberthreats loom large, and businesses of all sizes are at risk.  Small and medium-sized businesses are the victims of 62% of cyberattacks, and while the costs of recovering are significant for large businesses, they can be devastating for small companies. Insuring against that risk is one solution. Cybersecurity liability insurance is a relatively new product, but given the statistics noted above, both the demand and the market are rapidly growing. Offering a new product in an evolving market presents challenges, but that should not necessarily dissuade businesses in need of a backstop from buying.

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Topics: small business, cybersecurity

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FocusData: TECHPol is a blog on technology and business policy issues affecting small and mid-sized companies.  TECHPol’s primary author, Lori Salley Ring, spent 20-plus years working on Capitol Hill, including as the top staffer on the House Committee on Small Business.  FDS is an IT consulting firm providing managed services, office tech relocation, network security, and IT support for businesses in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.

Technology Policy Small Business


About the Author

Lori Salley Ring

Lori Salley Ring

Lori serves as Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist for Focus Data Solutions.  Lori spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff to a member of the House leadership and as the Staff Director for the Committee on Small Business.  Lori also ran a Washington-based non-profit organization between stints working for the Federal government. 

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