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Tips on Strengthening your Company's Cybersecurity

Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: PPI Partner ASI

In a scant few years, terms like hacker, ransomware and botnets have become as commonplace – and as unsettling – as cybercrime itself. With the World Economic Forum estimating the economic cost of cybercrime to be $3 trillion worldwide, with costs expected to double by 2021, even small companies need to double down on their efforts to protect themselves and their clients.

The increasing importance of cybersecurity prompted ASI to expand our global security program and create a new online “sheriff” – Seth Kusiak, a 16-year veteran of the promotional products industry, who was recently promoted to VP of infrastructure and security services.

Data breaches and other online security problems can arise any number of ways, from nefarious overseas hackers, computer viruses and poor security to accidental publication and lost or stolen devices. To help ASI members and their employees better understand what companies worldwide are facing in this new era of cyber defense and cybercrime, I’ve prepared a short Q&A, along with some tips on protecting your home and office computers:

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Q: What does cybersecurity mean to ASI?

A: Security’s always been integral to ASI’s information services team, but we’re strengthening our commitment to a security-focused and application-delivery platform. Our expanded focus includes implementation and oversight of an expanded global security program addressing compliance and insurance, governance, information security policies, incident response, threat modeling, risk analysis and security awareness.

Q: How have threats evolved in recent years?

A: Surprisingly, threat actors use the same techniques they used 15-20 years ago. But technologies continue to evolve and there are more internet-connected devices than ever before, from computers and mobile phones to consumer electronics like “smart” appliances, which can be easily hacked thanks to lax security. Second, the rise of Bitcoin has made it possible for criminals to get paid more reliably and with little risk. Third, threat actors from various foreign countries pursue U.S.-based victims because it’s easy money and there are few criminal consequences.

Q: How does ASI distinguish between different types of cyber-attacks?

A: Security-conscious organizations like ASI go through a process known as threat modeling to identify threats, objectives and vulnerabilities that apply to our systems, network and apps. We prioritize and define countermeasures to prevent or mitigate identified threats. As you might imagine, this is a very tedious process that’s ever-evolving and ever-changing. A threat that may be innocuous today may evolve into one that causes us to drop everything to address it. Our threats are very different than those in financial, government or healthcare.

Currently, the most prominent security threat is social engineering – the art of manipulating people to give up confidential financial, personal or company information to attackers who will use it to their own benefit.

Q: How will cyber security – and threats – evolve in the next few years?

A: To be honest, we haven’t yet hit a low point in regards to security-related incidents, as frightening as that sounds. Things will get worse before they get better (but they will get better). This year, companies throughout the world can expect more large-scale data breaches, significant increases in ransomware infections, more critical software vulnerabilities and widespread internet outages due to cyber-attacks. Looking beyond, we’ll likely see more sophisticated social engineering attacks driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). We’ll also see more businesses impacted. Just recently, Verizon’s $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo was put on hold due to Yahoo’s massive data breach.

On the positive side, technology companies are starting to get it and are focusing on improving the security of their products and services. The security community is very active in pushing for better security and privacy by calling out vendors for poor security, which is having a positive impact.

Q: How can I guard against cyber threats?

A: Think before you click. Carefully review emails before responding or clicking links.Don’t reuse passwords across multiple sites or applications. When a data breach takes place, criminals attempt to use the stolen passwords to access other sites.Enable two-/multi-factor authentication on your accounts, including banks, social media and any other account that offers it.

Don’t install software from unknown sources, especially stolen/pirated software.Be careful when giving permission for apps to access your accounts. For example, by generating a “What kind of cat are you” Facebook post, you may inadvertently give those apps permission to access your profile information or even the ability to post to your accounts.Keep your software updated with security patches.

If you’re interested in more information on what’s ahead, I suggest reading a Wired magazine article on the biggest security threats facing us in 2017 – and keeping watch for emails from ASI about the cybersecurity webinar we’ll be offering in coming months.

My last piece of advice is a variation on an old newspaper adage about confirming information from sources: Even if your own mother emails you, check it out before you click it. Be vigilant and be safe.

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Five Ways to Boost Your Google Search Ranking

Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

alt textBy: John Foley, Jr. CEO interlinkONE and Grow Socially

As we begin this new year, 2017, it’s a good time to start thinking about marketing techniques for the new year and what has worked so far since last year and what we can improve on going forward this year. So, let’s start by taking a look at how we can improve search engine optimization moving forward. With the Internet being such a prominent part of your company’s marketing efforts, having strong SEO is crucial to marketing and developing new business. Below are five tips that will help boost your business’s SEO and improve your search ranking on Google.

Optimizing Keywords

Having a well-optimized site is important, especially if you are looking to improve your search ranking results. From improving the quality of visitors to having higher conversion rates, optimizing your site is necessary if you want to close more sales. When optimizing keywords, be sure to include them on your site. Titles, descriptions, headings, content, image file names, and URLS are all important to have optimized. Be sure to avoid forcing keywords where they don’t belong or stuffing them into titles or URLS, because it will only lead your customer into believing it is spam.

Adding Search Engine Optimized Content for Keywords

In order to optimize content for keywords, you have to select the right keyword and use it throughout your content. Don’t force the word into unnecessary places; carefully choose where and when it should be added. Once you develop content, link it to other pages that are related to the topic. By doing this, you will receive great results and show search engines know that you have authority in that specific topic. Content that can be optimized includes blog posts, e-Articles, website page copy, or even social media posts that are integrated with your site.

Setting Up and Optimizing Social Properties

Set up your social media for optimizing, and get it ready for your specific audience. By linking your social media pages together, they will co-exist and provide better responses to your content. Whether it’s your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page, have customized information that supports your business, and include images that will maximize your social media engagement.

Back Linking and Posting Articles to High Quality Websites

When back linking in articles, make sure your links are high quality and relevant, avoiding any spam or untrustworthy sources. Avoid simple and cliché tags like “Click Here” or “Read More,” and instead try to optimize your text with keyword content that has a purpose. Search engines want to make sure you have a strong variety of domains, so if all your back links are coming from only one source, it shows that your website may not be relevant. Developing a back linking strategy and involving relevant and trustworthy third party sites is one of the best ways to boost your own site’s ranking with Google.

Analyzing Your Website

Analyzing and tracking your data is necessary to having a successful and structured website. By analyzing your website, you will be able to see exactly which keywords search engines are seeing from your site, breakdown any errors, check for broken links, and track all site traffic. By doing this, you are able to get a sense of what really is going on with your website, and catch any mistakes that could happen.

By following these five tips, you are taking the necessary steps to make improvements towards your company’s SEO and search ranking with Google. Optimizing your website does take time, but with dedication, it will ultimately be worth it for the overall success of your business. Does your organization need help implementing any of these strategies? Contact me at JohnF@GrowSocially.com—I’d love the chance to help you improve your business’s Google ranking!

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Guest Lecturers Needed for USPTO Patent Examiner Technical Training Program

Posted Monday, March 20, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

alt textSource: United States Patent Office

In accordance with a White House executive action call to strengthen our patent system and foster innovation, the USPTO is expanding its Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP). The USPTO is requesting voluntary assistance from technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts from industry and academia to participate as guest lecturers and provide technical training and expertise to patent examiners regarding the state of the art.

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On May 31st, USPTO is hosting a technology fair in the areas of semiconductors/memories, optics, circuits, and printing/measuring/testing. We’re requesting voluntary assistance from technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts from industry and academia to participate in-person at our Alexandria, VA, headquarters or virtually as guest lecturers to provide technical training and expertise.

Guest lecturers will have relevant, historic and current technical knowledge, including industry practices/standards in technological areas of interest. Guest lecturers must also have relevant technical knowledge, as well as familiarity with prior art and industry practices/standards in areas of technologies where such lectures would be beneficial.

Guest lecturers have the option of presenting a lecture in-person or virtually from their own location. In-person presentations can be made at our Alexandria, Virginia headquarters.

If Interested Contact:

Melissa C. Davis

United States Patent and Trademark Office

571.272.2776

melissa.davis@uspto.gov

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PIA Applauds Passage of the Postal Service Reform Act

Posted Friday, March 17, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

alt textSource: PIA Warrendale, Pennsylvania, March 17, 2017—Printing Industries of America (PIA) and its member companies today applaud the passage of H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act, by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The legislation, which would bring desperately needed financial modernization to the United States Postal Service (USPS) was sponsored by Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and was reported favorably out of committee by a bipartisan voice vote.

“PIA commends the hard work of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and congratulates lawmakers on achieving the first step toward meaningful postal reform in the 115th Congress,” said Michael Makin, PIA President and CEO. “PIA member companies are in constant innovation mode to offer new techniques that make the mail more relevant to consumers. A viable USPS offering affordable, predictable rates is a critical delivery partner for print. H.R. 756—a true bipartisan compromise supported by industry, labor, and USPS—would provide necessary stability for USPS.”

“Equally as important, H.R. 756 addresses and corrects unrealistic financial burdens placed on USPS—ultimately protecting taxpayers from a potential government bailout of the mail system.”

“PIA now looks to the full U.S. House of Representatives to urgently pass this much needed postal reform and modernization legislation.”

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Daily and Weekly Overtime in Oregon Changes Again for Workers in Mills, Factories, and Manufacturing Establishments

Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2017 by Jules VanSant.

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Source: Barran LiebmanBy Amy Angel and Nicole Elgin

In good news for employers, on March 9, 2017, in Mazahua Reyes v. Portland Specialty Baking, LLC, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Kathleen Dailey held that employees working in mills, factories, and manufacturing establishments are entitled only to the greater of daily or weekly overtime pay in a workweek, not both.

While this lawsuit has been pending, in December 2016, BOLI quietly changed its interpretation on daily and weekly overtime pay requirements for those workers employed in a “mill, factory, or manufacturing establishment.” In our alert, we explained that BOLI’s new rule required those employees working over 10 hours in a day to be paid both daily and weekly overtime. That new interpretation was a break with BOLI’s past practice of requiring employers to pay only the greater of the daily or weekly overtime in a workweek.

Judge Dailey’s opinion explained that BOLI’s new interpretation failed to give effect to the relationship between Oregon’s general overtime law and the particular daily overtime law for workers in mills, factories, and manufacturing establishments. Her opinion specifically states that the pre-December BOLI interpretation is the proper interpretation for calculating daily and weekly overtime requirements and dismissed the lawsuit’s claims seeking both daily and weekly overtime payments in the same workweek. While Judge Dailey’s decision will likely be appealed, at this point in time, employers are only required to pay “the greater” of daily or weekly overtime owed to employees.

Additionally, Senate Bill 984 is pending before the Oregon legislature, which would codify the “greater of the two” calculation method. However, what is still unclear is the scope of the definition of “mill, factory, or manufacturing establishment.” Affected employers should contact their state legislators and urge them to pass Senate Bill 984 and to clarify what constitutes a “manufacturing establishment.”

We will keep you apprised of further developments as they unfold.

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