While ransomware has long been epidemic, the latest figures are positively chilling, with 61% of businesses surveyed last year saying they had been hit by ransomware, according to a study by CyberEdge Group (www.cyber-edge.com/cdr).
While it’ll be awhile before we can all have an IBM Watson supercomputer sitting atop our desktops, there are a number of artificial intelligence (AI) business tools you can use right now that will help you run smarter, faster and ahead of the competition. Essentially, these next-generation wonders tap into artificial intelligence’s ability to do a lot of the thinking and strategizing for you.
While any sort of website identity theft is alarming, the version that results in a hacker taking command and control of your website—and ultimately of your business dealings—is especially brutal. Under that scenario, hackers find a way to break into your website and then take over all of the interfaces your business uses to operate that website.
While chatbots—computer programs that conduct conversations via audio or text—have captured the imaginations of businesses hungry to automate conversations on the web, it will still be a while before any “digital friend” inside your computer can truly mimic human conversation. Even so, businesses which ignore chatbots do so at their peril, given that there is a great deal of money betting chatbots will emerge, sooner or later, as conversational charmers.
While many businesses are guilty of chasing the latest digital marketing craze, good old email marketing is still the killer app to beat when it comes to return on investment (ROI) for businesses. Indeed, a 2016 study released by marketing consulting firm Clutch found that email marketing still has the highest ROI of any marketing channel (https://clutch.co/marketing/email#survey).
Fans of Facebook—and there are more than a billion of them—now have a near mirror image of the social network that they can use for their businesses. Dubbed Workplace by Facebook, the new app offers all of the familiar features that have made Facebook the world’s most popular digital meeting place. The primary difference is that Workplace by Facebook enables businesses to use the familiar Facebook environment to create an entirely private social network for their employees and trusted trading partners.
Google is cracking down on mobile websites that intentionally degrade the web-browsing experience for the rest of us. Beginning in January 2017, the search-engine giant announced plans to push mobile websites down in its search-engine returns if they deliberately harass visitors with bothersome pop-up ads.
The scourge of ransomware has become so ingrained in the very fabric of computing that some of the criminals behind it have actually begun offering live chat support for victims who agree to pay their ransoms. The new “service” was discovered this past summer by Trend Micro, an IT security firm that posed as a victim of ransomware and was cheerfully offered live chat support in exchange for its ransom payment.
While hackers regularly make digital corpses of computer systems run by global giants and mom-and-pops alike, the hard fact is that few businesses have a plan in place to handle a cyber break-in.
While increasing numbers of companies are moving to “native advertising” (advertising that is woven into the very fabric of content produced by publishers), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned, “Watch your step.” Disturbed by the growing number of ads that are indistinguishable from news, radio commentary, entertainment video and other content, the agency released new rules this past December designed to reign in firms and ad agencies that are taking too free a hand in drawing the line between advertising and content.