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The Best Cybersecurity Practices for Remote Employees

While some companies are becoming more and more open to the idea of remote employees, a lot of corporate companies still have reservations. When a company opens up to the idea of remote employees, a few things happen. People who are efficient in-house workers become interested in moving their work to a home office. And corporate starts to worry about data breaches on their remote employees’ computers. A study done by the popular company Shred-It showed that over 85% of C-Level executives thought that the risk of getting company data breached was more prevalent when employees were stationed at home. And these executives aren’t worried without cause. Data breaches affected an entire third of remote workers in the United Kingdom over the last year which has put companies at risk left and right. 

However, data breaches should not deter all companies from allowing workers to work remotely. The benefits of remote employees far outweigh the downfalls. When a company chooses to allow employees to work from home they not only open up brick and mortar space but also widen their search area when looking for qualified employees to hire. And there are ways to practice safe cybersecurity and prevent data breaches from affecting remote employees. This is what we’re talking about on our blog today, so follow along to learn more about the best safe cybersecurity practices for remote employees.

5 Essential Cybersecurity Practices Remote Employees Should Follow

When it comes down to it, once an employee is working remotely there isn’t much the company can do to protect their devices and data from being hacked. However, there are plenty of safe cybersecurity practices that employees can apply to their work routine to keep themselves, their equipment, and the company’s data secure.

1. Keep Track and Control Of All Devices

One of the main reasons that data breaches occur is because an employee loses their device that holds their work-related information. Across airports in the United States, a laptop is stolen every minute and the majority of those stolen objects are never reunited with their owners. As a remote employee, it is crucial to understand that hackers, and other cybercriminals, are keeping an eye out for the opportune moment to knick a laptop or tablet in hopes it has sensitive information on it. Therefore it is critical to keep track and have control over all your devices when in public. There are multiple ways to do this including:

  • Use the highest level of security to lock and unlock your devices. Touch IDs, 6-digit passcodes, and double factor authentication should be activated.
  • Enable the “Find My Device” feature, so if your computer, laptop, or phone is lost then it may be easier to find if it is lost or stolen.
  • Keep your phone, tablet, or computer with you at all times with no exceptions.

2. Be Careful Using Public WiFi

It can be tempting to take advantage of free WiFi in cafes, restaurants, book stores, and the like; however, it is not always a safe option. Public computers and WiFi connections are easily hackable and, if cracked, hackers can gain access to all files and stored credentials you accessed while on the computer. It is better to avoid public computers and password-free WiFi connections altogether, but if you absolutely must use it then be sure to remember the following:

  • Obscure the view of your screen as best as possible. In an ideal situation, you are able to have your back facing a wall and limited space to your sides.
  • Do not go to any websites that store sensitive information in regards to your job. This includes usernames, passwords, client information, etc.
  • Manually clear all documents you downloaded while using a public computer. This is so others cannot see what files you downloaded and access them, as well.
  • Make sure that the computer is not storing any of your login credentials permanently and restart the device after you are done using it to remove temporary files.

3. Setup and Use Encrypted Email

If you’re in a position that requires you to send sensitive information through email then email encryption is a must. 90% of email is sent as plain text which is not secure in any way and susceptible to spies and hackers. However, with email encryption, any information sent over email is scrambled. This way it is only able to be read when the recipient receives the email and decrypts it.

If you’re working from home and it’s been approved by your employer, they should be able to install email encryption software onto your remote work technology. It will ensure that your computer, tablet, and phone are more secure and their information is safe.

4. Do Not Use USBs That Have Not Been Proven Safe

It’s not uncommon for remote employees to use USB drives. Whether they are needing something from the office or need to send something to the office, USB drives help. However, USB drives from unknown sources can contain malicious software. It’s important to remember to never insert an unverified USB into your remote work computer. This even includes USB drives that you may pick up at work-related events. Risking a security breach is not worth waiting to verify the USB or get the files another way (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.)

If you want to go further into safe cybersecurity practices, it’s also important to not let other users plug their USB drives into your computer. There is no way to know what is on their USB drives. They may or may not be aware of a malicious file. Even if you know the person, do not allow it.

5. If Any Issues Arise, Get Your Company’s IT Team Involved

If you fear that the device you use for work has been compromised, notify your company’s IT team immediately. It is so important to be aware of what a breach looks like:

  • Increasing amounts of pop-up ads and spam while you’re browsing or using programs.
  • Slowing down of the computer despite it not running a lot of programs.
  • More and more error messages when trying to perform simple tasks.
  • A change to your homepage, search engine, or browsing settings.

While the company’s IT team may not be able to save your computer, they need to know that data has been breached. This way they can take the necessary steps to further protect the company’s data and servers. It is best practice to tell your IT team everything you can about the breach. Try to remember when exactly it could have occurred, how, and why.

There are a lot of benefits to companies having remote workers. However, concerns of a cybersecurity breach can deter executives from taking the leap. By being aware of ways to prevent cybersecurity breaches through common practices, workers can further prove remote work is safe.

At Number8, we have offices in Louisville, Kentucky and Costa Rica where we employee remote workers. With the proper training, awareness, and precautions, we are able to employ remote workers without any trouble. To learn more about what we do at Number8, visit our About page. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and how we can help your business, contact us today.

Preparing for the Remote Work Culture

If you’re making the transition to remote work after working in an office from 9-5, 5 days a week, you’ll quickly learn a notable difference in the work culture. Whether you’re looking to work from home or are an employer wanting to outsource tasks, getting familiar with the customs of those who work remotely will help you know what to expect.

Here are 3 unwritten rules of remote work:

1. Everything starts on time.

Because you’re not sitting in traffic during your morning commute, there’s really no excuse for being late. In the remote world, meetings start on time down to the minute. One of the biggest benefits of working from home is that it allows you to better manage every minute of your day. Couple that with the fact that you could be collaborating with someone in a different time zone, and every minute really starts to count. To make sure you don’t experience a technical delay, get used to checking your equipment early each morning.

2. Communication is key.

Sure, communication is key in any work situation. But when you’re communicating with someone who isn’t sitting in the next cubicle, it becomes even more prudent. In fact, 90% of how we communicate is nonverbal, so if you’re working remotely online, it can be easy for a few things to get lost in translation. Expect to over communicate by being prompt in your responses and utilizing the many tools available to you. Remember that the tone of online communication tends to be straightforward and casual. When it applies, provide links or visual examples for full transparency. Shared calendars and collaborative applications can help to keep everyone on the same page, whether it be project deadlines, tasks or vacation days. 

3. Nurture workplace relationships.

Yes, workplace relationships are still a thing when you work from home. While they can be hard to cultivate because of language barriers and time zones, a good workplace dynamic is an invaluable asset and can help ensure a project’s success. Taking the time to build camaraderie through friendly correspondence can go a long way. When possible, opt for an in person meeting, video or phone call, and consider using a chat app for water cooler talk.

As an employer, think about implementing a remote work policy to help establish standards and keep everyone accountable. A company mission can help communicate your vision and values, and as a result keep remote employees motivated.

At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

What to Look For In a Nearshore Development Partnership

More and more throughout the United States, development work for web-based companies is moving out of the country. The reason that a company decides to look for offshore or nearshore developers is different from situation to situation. Some reasons for looking into nearshore outsourcing can include budget restrictions preventing the company from expanding in-house or office spacing being too limited to hire additional in-house developers. Regardless of the reason that a company decides to enter a nearshore development partnership, there are things to look for in the hired team.

Location

One of the main motivators behind web-based companies using nearshore outsourcing for development work is the fact that nearshore developers are usually in the same time zone as the company. If they aren’t in the same time zone, they are in a time zone with operating hours more similar to the company’s. This has a lot of benefits in regards to communication than working an outsourcing company located in India or another country on the opposite side of the world. Nearshore development partnerships are often established for this reason.

By operating in the same, or similar, business hours companies enjoy the benefit of being able to discuss problems in real time with their development counterparts. Being able to quickly address and resolve development issues results in faster turnaround times and happier clientele. When looking for a nearshore development partnership, consider the time zone potential teams are in and how that will affect your business.

Communication

When considering nearshore development companies to partner with, it is also important to consider if there will be a language barrier. While most nearshore development companies employ people who speak fluent English, some do not. Clear communication is a huge part of a successful partnership and a necessity for getting development work done quickly and correctly. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively will also affect how the business operates between the onshore employees and their counterparts. Without an open line of communication, it doesn’t really matter whether the nearshore development team is operating in the same hours as the onshore company or not. If the two teams cannot work together without a language barrier then the IT project will ultimately end up failing.

Quality

Companies searching for a nearshore development team to partner with should also assess the quality of the development team’s work. Does the team you’re considering partnering with have a portfolio of previous work they’ve done? Can they offer you statistics on how many projects they’ve successfully completed? It’s difficult to forge a successful partnership with so many miles between locations. Therefore, it is important that the team you choose for a nearshore development partnership is a strong one. Companies should trust their developers to complete projects on time and turn around workloads in a timely manner. There is nothing wrong with asking for statistics on project completions, turnaround times, and more. High quality work from a nearshore development team will be pertinent to your success as a company. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of the quality of a company’s work.

Turnover

In a recent study, the 7th Annual Conference on Information Science, Technology, and Management revealed that the turnover rate of software developers in India falls between 30 and 40 percent. In comparison, the turnover rate of Americans in the IT industry sits at 13.2%. By choosing to forge a nearshore development partnership, your entering into an IT sector with a substantially lower turnover rate. This, in turn, opens up opportunities to work with the same development team over multiple projects. Familiarity with how a team member communicates, delivers work, and executes tasks only improves project turnaround time. It also improves the business relationship, in general. Being able to establish a long-term business connection is one of the biggest benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

Deciding to enter a nearshore development partnership has its benefits and its risks. Thankfully, we feel like the benefits highly outweigh the risks. No matter how perfect a situation may seem, you will want to look at some specific metrics. If you are thinking about hiring nearshore developers to outsource some of the work at your company, be sure to ask these 12 questions before you hire anyone. For more information on outsourcing benefits, visit our blog archive to read countless articles on the benefits of a nearshore development partnership.

At Number8, we pair onshore businesses with a dynamic nearshore development team that will effectively get complete development work. Our entire team of nearshore software developers are based in  San Jose, Costa Rica. They are fully trained in agile product development and will produce the solutions your company needs to succeed. Interested in learning more? You can learn more about what we do on our website or call us at (502) 890-7665 today!

 

3 Things That Set Number8 Apart

With so many options for IT consulting and agile software development, why choose Number8?

1. We offer a blended model.

At Number8, we offer all the benefits of typical offshore tech support with nearshore capabilities. Our headquarters are based out of Louisville, Kentucky and we have technical professionals throughout the U.S. We also have more than 100 associates in a total of six countries including our offshore team in Latin America and nearshore office location in San Jose, Costa Rica. Whether the need is local or can be handled off-site, we are able to work with our U.S. clients in their timezone and language with the best possible mix of development assistance.

2. We treat our employees differently.

It’s our mission at Number8 to give our associates and IT contractors the opportunity to develop a rewarding and challenging career while enjoying the best possible work-life balance. We pride ourselves on our employee retention rate and value building long term partnerships with our clients as a result of it.

We also understand just how important family is and the ability to have a flexible work schedule is a major benefit of working remotely. For example, one of our Junior Developers John Lewis, who came onboard about a year ago, has recently decided to shared his story with the Number8 family. After the passing of his wife last April, he now lives in Costa Rica with his three children.

“N8 is an incredibly unique company and I think that comes from its foundations. The entire team as well as my clients have been incredibly supportive during what has been a depressive period for me. I couldn’t work for a month, and though I thought I would lose my job I didn’t. I can’t even count the number of times someone has asked me if I needed anything. Though Christmas was particularly hard for us, as it was my wife’s favorite holiday and our gifts from the U.S. were stuck in customs, Number8 surprised us again. Literally the only things under the tree were the gifts that Number8 gave to my children. I am so grateful to Number8 for all the resources that they’ve put at my disposal. I honestly cannot express it any more because it is so emotional for me. To everyone who has supported me, I can’t say thank you enough.”

3. We are experienced in a breadth of programming languages.

Having been in the custom software development business for several years, our professionals specialize in a full range of programming languages and skill sets including:

-Microsoft .Net     -ASP.Net     -Javascript     -LINQ Visual Studio

-C++/C#         -MySQL       -Oracle       -OO Development

-Microsoft SQL Server        -Ruby         -Agile Development and Scrum.

Additionally, we do a considerable amount of Java development, and a lot of front-end development using javascript MVC frameworks like Angular, Knockout, Ember and Backbone. We also have software development teams working in PHP (Aura, Yii, Zend, Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, CodeIgniter, Cake).

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 give us a call at (502) 890-7665.

The Top 3 Locations for Outsourcing Software Development

Outsourcing software development has become an increasingly popular path for startups and small businesses alike. Instead of taking on the overhead of hiring employees in house, utilizing a remote workforce allows you to focus on your core business functions while growing at an affordable rate.

When it comes to outsourcing, there are a myriad of options available. One can opt to go Offshore, Nearshore or Onshore in terms of finding a remote workforce. Countries farther away are Offshore, those nearby are considered Nearshore, and Onshore means operating within your own country. Depending on your company’s origin, there are many pros and cons that come with selecting a specific location to outsource your software development needs.

While the U.S. and Canada each have tech reliant economies, the cost associated with doing business there tends to be higher and the demand for skilled workers has resulted in a shortage. Therefore, most businesses are left with the option to take advantage of the resources of a more global market. Here are the top 3 countries for software development in terms of quality and cost:

Latin America

While many South American countries including Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia are becoming increasingly adept in the tech world, Costa Rica is a popular choice when outsourcing software development work. Their top notch IT programs produce good programmers and their culture has embraced innovation in technology as well as the agile methodology of project management. 

Asia

While India and the Philippines are known for their IT services, China is the leader when it comes to the outsourcing industry in Asia. China produces twice as many graduates as the United States, and as a result has a vast tech advanced work force. Coupled with it’s growing economy, China is a hot bed for outsourcing software development tasks. 

Eastern Europe

In Eastern Europe, Poland and the Ukraine dominate the field of outsourced software development work. Both have an abundance of educated software engineers as a result of rich STEM educational programs. 

Before outsourcing your company’s software development, you’ll want to properly vet each agency to ensure a high quality of work. Take language, cultural barriers and possible travel expenses into account as well. Countries with a stable and supportive government offer a more favorable business climate to operate in, and a difference in time zone could reduce the time to market or make communication difficult. 

At Number8, we help businesses optimize their operations with onshore, nearshore, and offshore outsourcing. Our teams–both foreign and domestic– provide effective communication and service that allow your business to grow at a rate that keeps up with your market. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!

Unexpectedly Losing a Key Team Member- How to Keep Things Moving Along

It happens to the best of us. Things go wrong in business, sometime the best employees quit, and it can be hard for any team to move on.

Preparing for the loss of a leader is good practice to ensure that things get back up and running as smoothly as as possible, as soon as possible, should such a situation befall your company. Here’s how to handle the unexpected exit of a key employee, and minimize any disruption to the day to day operations.

1. Decide privately who is going to fill what role before breaking the news to the rest of the team.

Take the time to fully evaluate the company’s needs and explore all the options available. Whether you decide to promote internally or take the time to find an externally qualified candidate, having a clear direction and temporary solution in place will help prevent a drop in morale and overall productivity.

2. Tell everyone at the same time so they all receive the same information.

Clear communication is necessary in order to avoid inaccuracies and gossip from spreading around the office and instill a sense of leadership.

3. Remain positive and grateful for the lost team member’s contribution.

While everyone is essentially replaceable, you want your remaining team members to feel valued and supported professionally as well as personally. Exhibiting excitement for the lost employee’s success, even if it’s not with you, not only prevents future turnover, it leaves the door open for opportunities yet to come.

4. Conduct an exit interview.

Even though they are leaving, it’s important to find out why. This is a great moment for constructive criticism. Ask them how they would describe the culture as an employee, and what changes they would make if they could, etc. Gaining such insight allows for your team and company to improve and continue to keep employees that are integral assets.

Lastly, be prepared to offer support to your team as roles change, or take on more yourself to make up for the gap during this transition. Doing so will be key in succeeding with as well as finishing current projects.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

7 Industries Making Remote Work Commonplace

With greater schedule flexibility, it’s no surprise the trend towards remote work is growing. Whats more, cloud based technology has made working from home easier than ever before with files and data readily accessible. According to CNBC, “More than two-thirds of people around the world work away from the office at least once every week.”

Working from the comforts of home (or anywhere with a good wifi connection that is) is enticing when you factor in all the time not spent commuting and sitting in traffic. Additionally, remote workers tend to have more control over their workplace environment, and can usually juggle home and work life responsibilities with more finesse.  As happy employees make for a more productive workforce, many industries seem to be embracing this new kind of work culture.

Here are 7 Industries where Remote Workers are becoming Commonplace:

1. IT 

Remote work is no doubt ripe in the field of information technology. Jobs in security, website development, software engineering, app development, and database administration (just to name a few) can all be done remotely. In fact, many IT companies look to utilize remote workers in order to better offset costs and streamline projects. 

2. Accounting & Finance

Bookkeepers and accountants can usually work from anywhere, often computing payroll and or taxes for clients both big and small. 

3. Customer Service

 Companies that function primarily online through a website rather than a store front need customer service just as much as brick and mortar businesses do. Online tech support jobs tend to be remote and act as a virtual help desk for customers or clients, including assisting with online orders as well as payment processing.

4. Healthcare

 Many administrative jobs in the healthcare industry are now remotely operated. These jobs include handling billing, insurance claims, as well as scheduling appointments.

5. Marketing

 The advertising industry has largely transformed in recent years due to the rise of digital platforms. Whether it’s as a graphic designer, content writer, influencer or social media manager, long gone are the days where you need to be in an office to run an ad or promote a business or product. Marketing jobs now come in many different shapes and sizes and can be done from anywhere. 

6. Education

Due to an increase in online classes being offered, there are more opportunities for teachers to work remotely. For example, many college level classes are being taught online by adjunct professors to better serve non-traditional students. Additionally, those homeschooling or looking for help to prepare for the SATs can do so via virtual tutors.

7. Sales

 Just as the marketing world has changed, so to have sales jobs. Now generating leads is more plausible through the use of social media channels, as well as email or text message marketing. All of this can be done remotely, especially if you’re in the real estate industry.  

At Number8, we believe one of the keys to achieving your business’s goals is great IT that supports your company. We help businesses access great IT by connecting them with remote workers that utilize best-practice tools and processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

4 Artificial Intelligence Trends to Watch

We probably haven’t fully realized the extent to which AI has already been incorporated into our everyday lives. The Internet of Things (IOT), commonly thought of as smart devices, have now come to include household appliances, as well as handheld phones and speakers; all of which are voice activated and designed to follow through with commands. This much is clear: how we are currently interacting with technology is vastly reshaping the tech industry, and it has everything to do with artificial intelligence. 

Both companies and governments are racing to develop the latest artificial intelligence platforms, with potential even in the medical and political arenas on the horizon. As automation continues to grow, so do cloud based solutions; providing the need for on demand storage. While people are quick to jump to the conclusion that AI is going to create a mass job exodus, it could very well fuel job creation as well. For example, there is a shortage of AI researches and engineers, and demand for those who can compile data efficiently. What follows are 4 AI trends to watch, and how they might affect the industry as we know it. 

4 Important AI Trends

  1. Logistics

    When it comes to coordinating facilities and supplies on a large scale, the robotic workforce is already taking over. Warehousing and distribution companies like Amazon are putting AI to work sorting and finding packages; a job that was once labor intense. 

  2. Automobiles

    The auto industry has grown leaps and bounds from OnStar vehicle and safety features. Artificial intelligence has allowed Tesla to bring the very first self driving cars to the street. Additionally, assisted driving features like automatic braking, parallel parking, and traffic alerts are now standard. The future holds more innovation, as Uber looks to implement driver-less cars. AI also continues to improve everything from automobile testing to software updates, problems and repairs.

  3. Data Analytics

    Many platforms are already running off of AI because it is simply better at analyzing data. AI algorithms are determined by machine learning from large amounts of data. Intelligent apps are able to make decisions based on patterns of behavior from said data. This is how music apps like Pandora and Spotify are able to recommend songs. Facebook for example already predetermines what users will or will not see, based off of their user data.

    As a result, AI platforms tend to be better at detecting security threats, fraudulent transactions or behavior. Additionally, when it comes to customer service, chat-bots are becoming popular with financial institutions in that they enable them to have virtual assistants 24/7. These chat bots are able to answer a customer’s questions based off of prior frequently asked and answered questions. Even e-commerce is utilizing AI in terms of price fluctuations and targeted ads. For example, an item’s price can change on it’s own based on how many times it is being viewed, or sits in a cart. Specific buyer habits and personas are also being gathered via membership or reward cards.

  4. Content Creation

    Surprisingly, AI will affect both white and blue collar jobs as many marketing strategies now include some form of AI wether it be via custom videos, social media posts, or emails. In fact, articles are already being published from many reputable news outlets using not journalists, but artificial intelligence. AI is specifically useful when it comes to writing many variations of the same message, or financial summaries and earnings reports where numbers are merely being translated.

At Number8, we connect companies with IT talent and software developers that are fully trained in product development. By encouraging talent to come up with creative solutions, they remain motivated and positively contribute to a healthy company culture. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.