Are 1 in 4 UK Businesses Unprepared for GDPR?

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will come into force in May 2018. However, recent research has indicated that nearly a quarter of UK businesses are completely unprepared for it.

The survey was conducted of senior IT decision makers at major UK companies by information management company Crown Records. In the survey, they found that as many as 44% of senior IT specialists believed the GDPR wouldn’t apply to them once the UK had left the European Union. A further 24% had already cancelled all preparations to comply with the regulation.

The GDPR is a far reaching EU regulation designed to unify and strengthen data protection laws across the European Union. Data protection regulations are designed to protect the personal information of individuals online. Through an extensive legal framework, the GDPR holds any business accountable for protecting personal information. By ensuring data isn’t kept indefinitely, it also enshrines the principle of ‘the right to be forgotten’, which is a key aspect for individuals maintaining their reputation online.

The GDPR will go into force by May 2018. Failure by any business, large or small, to follow these regulations will result in hefty fines and sanctions. Sanctions for noncompliance with the regulations include fines up to 4% of global turnover, which could be as high as 20 million euros.

The alarming level of confusion surrounding the GDPR seems to be largely caused by the UK’s currently confusing relationship with the European Union. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has left many people under the impression that EU laws will no longer apply to them.

In the case of the GDPR, EU laws are definitely being retained. For starters, the GDPR is coming into force in 2018, before the UK will have fully withdrawn from the EU. The UK government has also expressed its intention to retain many EU regulations, including the GDPR. Furthermore, the UK’s Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matthew Hancock, has confirmed that the UK is intending to continue with the GDPR even after it has left the EU. So, those 24% of businesses that have dropped their plans to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations will be running a serious risk of hefty fines.

With so many business leaders confused about the GDPR, it will be essential for the UK government to clearly clarify the legal situation. Otherwise, many businesses could face major sanctions.

Which 4 Social Media Platforms Will Enhance Your Online Reputation?

It’s predicted that by 2018 the UK alone will have over 17 million Twitter users. That’s just one indicator of how essential social media has become for businesses and private individuals today. A strong presence on social media can greatly enhance your online reputation, whereas a limited presence can hinder it.

To start, there are some platforms you may want to steer clear of. Myspace and Bebo are two examples of outdated social networks. Both popular at their peak, Bebo was sold and closed in 2008 and Myspace has seen a significant collapse in users. Today, Bebo exists as a messaging app while Myspace – under the ownership of Justin Timberlake – has shifted from social media into a music and news media platform. Google+ is another largely ignored social network. Of 2.2 billion Google users, only 1% of them were actively on Google+ in 2015.

YouTube

YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing platform and actually the world’s second largest search engine. Every month, users watch 3.25 billion hours of videos on YouTube. There’s a staggering opportunity to reach consumers through YouTube. Using video content can be a great way to strongly engage users through multimedia. Videos made on YouTube can also be shared easily on other social media platforms, so a YouTube profile perfectly complements a social media network.

Twitter

With 328 million monthly active users in 2017’s first quarter, Twitter is very popular. Designed for short messages of no more than 140 characters, as well as picture and video sharing, Twitter is a great and easy way to interact with customers as individuals.

Facebook

Facebook had over 32 million user profiles in 2016 and that’s just in the UK. Facebook is great for sharing pictures, statuses and videos, and communicating directly with customers. A strong Facebook presence is a great way to improve your online reputation.

It’s not just businesses that benefit from Facebook. 60% of employers use social media to screen candidates. A great Facebook profile lets you appear professional and highlights any personal detail you think make you interesting to employers.

LinkedIn

Different from Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn is a networking tool for professionals. LinkedIn is particularly useful for individuals seeking to boost their online reputation and enhance their careers. A well-made LinkedIn profile with plenty of connections is a great way to appear professional to potential employers.

6 Ways A Blog Can Improve Your Company’s Reputation

If you’re running your own business, writing a blog is probably the last thing you have time for. Yet this simple promotional tool can help more than you think. A professional blog gives customers a way to learn more about you; it can add a personal touch to your image that sets you apart from other companies.

At Reputation Defender we encourage all our clients to use blogging as a reputation building tool. Any individual can improve their online profile with a professional well-written blog, but for a business this is even more important. Brand development is all about defining yourself online, and there’s no better way to do this than by creating genuine content. Unlike direct advertising, blog posts can draw in people interested in a variety of topics, and help show the company is committed to more than profit.

The good news is you don’t necessarily have to write the blog yourself.

You can delegate the job to a lower level marketer with a talent for writing, or even outsource it to a company that specialises in professional writing. Just be sure to proofread the finished posts and check for style or content that doesn’t fit with image you want to present.

The Advantages of Blogging

Here are 6 ways a blog can help your company:

  • Be Your Customers’ Best Resource – Some people visiting your website know exactly what they want and are prepared to purchase right away. Others have questions. Maybe they already bought the product and want to know more about it. Maybe they have a future purchase in mind and want to educate themselves before they make a decision. If customers know they can find answers on your blog, it will keep them coming back to your site.
  • Boost Rankings – More people visiting your site will generate more traffic and this will improve your rankings with Google and other search engines. Getting your website at the top of the search result page for your brand is the goal of any ORM campaign and blogging will help accomplish this.
  • Increase Revenue – Every time someone clicks on your website is another chance to gain a new customer. New customers who keep coming back to read your blog are likely to turn into long term clients. This all adds up to a sustained increase in profits.
  • Create Shareable Content – Blog posts can be shared across all the company’s social media pages, keeping them up-to-date and generating interest and traffic at the same time. Ranking these results is important, since they help to fill up the first page of a targeted search and push any negative stories or reviews onto later pages.
  • Build Credibility – Blog posts can also be republished on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform, one of the most important resources for professionals on the web. Over time, this will increase the company’s influence and standing within the industry so that smaller business start linking to your site.
  • Create a Socially Responsible Image – A blog is a good place to share why you decided to start your company and what your goals are for the future. You can tell customers what goes on behind the scenes and post updates on any charity work the company is involved with. Regular inspirational messages resonate with people emotionally and keep them coming back to read your blog and learn more about the company.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a company blog is just a frill. It is a worthwhile investment which will help to build the company’s reputation and generate long term positive relationships with customers.

5 Steps to Improve Your Restaurant’s Online Reputation

You might think that a restaurant’s online reputation is built on good food, but today this is only partially true. Of course, satisfying your customers’ taste buds is still a must, but any client experience starts with getting them through the door and this is becoming harder to achieve without a solid presence on the internet.

Today’s consumers make most of their choices based on information they find online, and this is especially true of restaurants. As far back as 2013, a study conducted by Single Platform found that 81 percent of consumers had searched for a restaurant on their mobile phone, while 92 percent had used a web browser, making restaurants easily the top, most-searched industry. Increasingly, consumers are adding detailed filters to their research, including cuisine type, location and price range. To succeed, you’ll need to appear where customers are looking, with a professional online profile that makes consumers want to pick you over a competitor.

Creating A Better Online Reputation

At ReputationDefender we help restaurants and other businesses build an online reputation that will increase their customer base and generate a positive buzz about the establishment. Whether you have just started a new business, or are trying to improve an existing reputation, our specialists can help create an online profile that will reach more people.

ORM for Restaurants

Here are some of the most important steps:

  • Professional Website – The design of your website can really make a difference by helping customers find the information they need quickly. Include pictures that show the ambience of the restaurant and the type of food you offer, but compress the images for a smooth load time, even on mobile. A sample menu helps customers get a feel for what you have to offer.
  • Create an Online Presence – Expand your internet presence beyond the website. Give the restaurant a social media profile on Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites and share news and updates on a regular basis. Write a blog focused on some of the foods and dishes you serve and other topics your customers may be interested in. Link all these pages to the website so it will be easy for a casual researcher to learn more about what you do.
  • Engage with Your Audience – Respond to comments as they appear. Even if feedback is negative, a professional response can help to undo the damage and make other customers realise you take their opinions seriously. People who feel they know you personally online will be more likely to become regular customers.
  • Put Technology to Work for You – There are many different programs which will make reputation management easier and less time consuming. A simple Google Alert lets you know when your brand is mentioned on Google. More sophisticated software, such as Hootsuite, will assist with regular social media updates. Other programs, like Upserve, are specifically geared toward restaurants, helping to manage everything from ordering to a personalised guest experience.
  • Ordering and Delivery Apps – Today many people don’t even want to go out to a restaurant, they want good food delivered to their door with minimal effort. Apps, such as Just Eat, will help you capitalise on this market by letting customers order and pay online. GrubHub research has shown that small restaurants often see a 50 percent increase in revenue when they invest in online ordering and delivery.

Leveraging the internet to create a better reputation will bring more local customers to your restaurant and increase the chances that travelling visitors will try out your cuisine. Even a small, family-owned restaurant or pub can’t afford to depend on people who’ve been coming for years. It’s important to make use of modern technology to attract today’s customers who are used to finding what they want online. For more information or tips on restaurant ORM, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

7 Types of Malware and How They Attack Your Computer

Did you know that the first malware dates back to the 1970s, long before the internet even existed? Harmful computer codes and software were considered a prank in the early days of programming, but as our dependence on computers has grown, criminal attacks have become sophisticated and lucrative.

The term malware, short for ‘malicious software’, was first used by an early security researcher, Yisrael Radai, in the 1990s. It refers to any harmful program capable of controlling a computer, usually for the purpose of stealing sensitive information or destroying functionality. Destructive code can be hidden in any program, but today’s malware are most commonly delivered via the internet where criminals can conceal their identity more easily. Once hackers gain access to sensitive data, they use it for financial gain, or to destroy personal and professional reputation. At ReputationDefender, we help our clients safeguard their personal information with ongoing surveillance and privacy reporting. We also assist with removal and reputation rebuilding if you’ve already become a victim.

Antivirus and other software will protect against many types of malware, but hackers are constantly developing new programs and delivery techniques that will pass under the radar. Malware concealed in a harmless looking link can infect your computer almost immediately and be very difficult to get rid of.

Defining Malware

Today, there are so many different types of malware it’s hard to keep up with all the terms. These are seven of the most common malware and how they affect your computer.

  1. Viruses – just like a cold virus, a computer virus infects by reproducing, copying its source code until it can control the entire computer. This type of malware is delivered in a file attachment and it can also spread to other computers via corrupted files that you send. Today, viruses are frequently detected by antivirus software, so they are less common than they used to be.
  2. Worms – this is a ‘standalone malware’. Like a virus, a worm is self-propagating and can spread to other computers, but it infects networks rather than computer files.
  3. Trojans – like the famous story of the Trojan horse, this type of malware masquerades as a legitimate download, often an email attachment such as a routine form. Trojans don’t replicate themselves, but they do open a backdoor that will allow hackers to steal data from your computer.
  4. Ransomware – this type of malware will encrypt computer files so they are unreadable. Once the files are scrambled, the hackers will demand a ransom price in return for the key that can decrypt the data. This new type of malware has been on the rise over the past few years, with large scale attacks aimed at organisations that store a lot of valuable information, like hospitals and police networks.
  5. Spyware – this is a form of malware that will monitor your browsing activity and sometimes try to steal passwords. Spyware works similarly to adware, which is responsible for the annoying, but harmless, advertising that pops up on some websites or apps.
  6. Browser Hijackers – malware that will take over a browser, usually creating a new homepage and redirecting searches to pages you don’t want to visit.
  7. Rootkit – this is a term you’ve probably heard in relation to malware. A rootkit won’t actually harm your computer, but it will hide a virus or other malware from detection. Most major antivirus software now include rootkit removal.