Five Tips for Communicating in a Crisis

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 18, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Any business of any size can experience a crisis. Whether you're United Airlines, Six Flags, the corner deli or neighborhood barber, mistakes happen. And, a disgruntled customer or employee can create major problems for your bottom line. In a communications environment that embraces a 24/7 news cycle and relies on social media, the ramifications of a blunder can quickly grow out of control. Does your business have a plan if your reputation is put on the line? Here are some tips from experts on how to prepare for and respond to crisis.

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Topics: small business, communications

Don't Fall for a Tax Scam

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 11, 2017 8:30:00 AM

It's tax time, and it's not just the government that wants your money. There are plenty of scam artists who view the annual ritual of filing tax returns as an opportunity to trick and defraud taxpayers. Criminals can make good money selling W2s and tax information, and identity theft provides even more ways to make a buck. Using fraudulent emails as a lure -- or phishing -- is a popular tactic among these opportunistic thieves.

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Topics: taxes, cybersecurity, phishing

Protecting Your Online Privacy

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 4, 2017 8:30:00 AM

There's been a brouhaha of late about Congress's vote to repeal regulations that seek to protect the privacy of broadband customers. In October, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published rules that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to let their customers opt in or opt out of providing certain information about them and their online activity. The rules were set to take effect later this year. Congress used the Congressional Review Act to invalidate the rules claiming that they unfairly target only one type of internet company, but don't hold websites (e.g., Facebook or Twitter) or search engines like Google to the same standard. The rule's opponents also argue that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the appropriate agency to regulate internet privacy, not the FCC. Rationale aside, the bottom line is that since FCC's rules will not take effect, the status quo will remain for the time being. But, that does not leave consumers powerless. There are steps individuals can take to protect their privacy online.

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Topics: internet, technology, online privacy

Is Shadow IT Lurking in Your Office?

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 28, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Shadow IT, also called rogue or stealth IT, exists in most offices. It refers to technology that employees use for business purposes, but which is not sanctioned by the IT department. In fact, the IT department may not even be aware that it's being used. Employees are likely utilizing shadow IT for laudable purposes:  to make their jobs easier and improve their productivity. But for those who are responsible for a company's IT strategy, it makes their jobs harder. Worse, it can pose compliance and security risks to the business.  

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Topics: small business, technology, cybersecurity

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

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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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