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How Nice! Ransomware Makers Say They Won’t Target Hospitals…And Other COVID-19 Small Business Tech News

By April 1, 2020 No Comments

(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Ransomware operators want to do their part and promise to not target hospitals.

According to information released by BleepingComputer this past week, certain hackers are swearing to spare healthcare institutions and other related organizations in an effort to ease difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some ransomware operators are already taking advantage of the havoc in the healthcare industry due to the coronavirus, groups such as Ako Ransomware, PwndLocker, Maze, and DoppelPaymer are among the few who have committed to staying away from healthcare. Additionally, private cybersecurity organizations   —such as Coveware and Emsisoft — are providing ransomware negotiation and decryption services free-of-cost to healthcare providers who may find themselves victims of a ransomware attack. (Source: Android Central)

Why this is important for your business:

A few questions come to mind. For starters, if we already know the names of groups of like Ako Ransomware and PwndLocker then why aren’t they being shut down? Also, why just hospitals? Why not any firm working on treatments for Coronavirus? And since when did the makers of Ransomware get so philanthropic? More importantly for small businesses: more people working from home means more exposure to ransomware and other malware. Talk to your tech people now and make a security plan.

2 — Apple plans to reopen U.S. stores in April, following Trump’s guidance.

Apple announced this past week that they are hoping to reopen their stores sometime in the beginning of April. The announcement was made after President Trump shared that he aims to re-open the U.S. for business by the time Easter comes around. Apple’s announcement was made through a memo from the retail chief and detailed that their current work-from-home processes will continue until the 5th of April —at least —and that they will then revisit the current policy week-by-week depending on where workers are located and how greatly those areas are still impacted by COVID-19. Instead of opening all of the U.S. stores at the same time, Apple plans to ease into opening their brick and mortar stores by staggering which locations open first. (Source: Venture Beat).

Why this is important for your business:

I trust the strategic decisions of tech firms like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon more so than what I’m hearing from many politicians. When these tech firms are getting back to business, I’ll feel comfortable getting back to business. And so should you.

3 —Monitor, keyboard, and mouse sales have jumped as Coronavirus forces remote working.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, sales have increased dramatically for keyboards, mice, and monitors as companies hustle to try and figure out how to keep their businesses afloat by having employees work from home. During the week of March 8th, double the amount of IT monitors were purchased by Britons than the week before. As compared to the same week last year, sales have gone up by 132.3% by value and 133.9% by volume, while PC sellers share that sales have also increased as businesses work to provide the opportunity for as many employees to work from home as possible. The purchase of keyboards and monitors also increased that week, growing 68.8% year-on-year. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your business:

Don’t you have boxes of old mouses, keyboards and monitors stored in some supply closet somewhere? Now’s the time to bring it out. Otherwise you’ll need to reconsider your tech budgets for the unexpected purchases of these necessities.

4 — Verizon is giving customers extra mobile data to deal with COVID-19.

Verizon has announced that it will be providing small business and consumer customers an additional 15GB of LTE data speeds each month to add to their plans without having to do a thing. This extra mobile data will be available to all users, no matter what kind of device they have or whether their service is prepaid of subscription based. Verizon is also going to be providing some help to users who are suffering financially due to the outbreak by waiving late fees and any charges caused by overages. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your business:

It’s very important for your employees working from home that they have broadband. Think about: besides their normal personal usage, you’re now asking to have conference calls, video chats and share files of all sizes. Consider reimbursing employees short term to up their broadband speeds and encourage them to take advantage of any offers provided by their internet service providers, like Verizon above.

5— Ecommerce ad spend has doubled from $4.8 million to $9.6 million.

According to MediaRadar —between February 17th to March 9th —ecommerce ad spend doubled going from $4.8 million to $9.6 million. The jump occurred just as businesses remain closed due to the coronavirus and more companies are finding ways to work from home. Data shared by Coresight Research revealed that 47.2% of Americans who use the internet said —in February — they chose to stay away from malls and other shopping plazas. Similarly, approximately 75% of survey participants said that they would avoid malls and stores entirely if the pandemic were to worsen. (Source: A List Daily)

Why this is important for your business:

There will definitely a lot of lessons learned once the Coronavirus scare is over. One is that when people are forced to stay home they don’t stop shopping. If your Main Street store is hurting, do you have a website to compensate? If not, now you’ve learned.

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