16 Tips For Effectively Leading A Distributed Tech Team

Managing a tech team can be a complicated task. When a previously in-office team suddenly becomes distributed, it can complicate matters a lot more. Tech leaders guiding their teams through and after a shift to working remotely need to learn on their feet—fast.

Fortunately, many of the members of Forbes Technology Council have long-term experience in managing distributed teams. Below, 16 of them offer their experience and expertise for tech leaders learning the ropes of the remote workplace.

1. Bring human interaction online.

Our company has always been global, and we’ve been very focused on remote team building. The key is to keep it personal. We are all motivated by human interaction, and successful remote teams bring more human interaction online. Do this by requiring meeting attendees to enable cameras and set an example for active meeting participation. Also, build in time for culture no matter how busy things get! – Einat MetzerEmedgene

2. Lean more heavily on established tools.

Many are not equipped for this change and don’t have the necessary tools to heighten productivity. Rather than introduce a new work collaboration hub that may cause confusion, I think it’s best to build on the momentum of a tool you’ve already been using. We’ve increased the number of calls we have, intensified our use of Slack and switched on our cameras during Zoom calls to feel more connected. – Harinder TakharPaytm Labs

3. Talk to each other.

You have to communicate regularly—not just by email, but by phone and video. As leaders, we always have this need to control things. And right now, as we all face this pandemic, the feeling of control may seem elusive. Regain some of that feeling of control by staying connected with your team daily and encouraging them to avoid knee-jerk decision-making. Keep calm, and talk to each other. – Gail PeaceLudi, Inc.

4. Keep video conferences open while you work.

For teams that are accustomed to working next to each other and collaborating in real time as they work, I’d recommend hosting a video meeting that everyone can have up and running while they work. This would allow open discussions for whatever is needed. – Russell P ReederInfrascale

5. Clarify communication with custom emojis.

Written communication is easily misconstrued, and sarcasm doesn’t always translate in writing or across cultures, so clearly communicating is huge. When meeting face-to-face isn’t an option, emojis can help set the tone for written communication. Creating custom emojis specific to your company culture is another great way to help convey thoughts while also unifying you as an organization. – Keith ValoryPLEX

6. Trust your gut to stay ahead of the curve.

I like to confer with my leadership team across the U.S. so I can see the situation from different angles—geography, family structures, local mandates and more. I also rely on my investors and venture capital community to share how other leaders manage their organizations. My advice is to huddle up with trusted colleagues, listen to your employees and make decisions to stay ahead of the curve. Trust your gut. – Cameron WeeksEdify Labs

7. Share and store knowledge.

Whether you are meeting one-on-one or with a group, there should be nonephemeral ways of capturing knowledge so that others may learn. It could be notes stored in Google Docs, issues in Asana, recordings in Google Drive or code in GitHub. A culture that encourages team members to help others learn by sharing matters more than the tools you use to share this knowledge. – Paul DuvallMphasis Stelligent

8. Introduce rituals and document processes.

Things can get disorganized quickly, so it’s key to set up routines—such as daily standups—to help team members establish effective remote-working habits and boost productivity. It’s also important to have a regularly updated internal process document—a “self-service” manual your team can use to ask questions and share solutions, even if they can’t physically be in the same room. – Fred de GombertAkeneo

9. Support flexible work schedules.

Within reason, give remote employees the ability to design their own day. Depending on the job this may not always be possible, but managers who make an honest effort to be flexible will often see teams respond more positively and productively. This flexibility may be even more critical during the COVID-19 crisis when working remotely may be more complicated and stressful than usual. – Rita SelvaggiActivTrak

10. Embrace asynchronous work.

Just as transitioning to a fully work-from-home environment can be challenging, managing remote teams can feel disconcerting. Stay connected by supporting and protecting your teams so they have the balance and focus to create great things. Embrace asynchronous work in these uncertain times; empathy and mental health are exceptionally important to retaining and elevating great talent. – Sid SijbrandijGitLab Inc.

11. Keep the lines of communication open.

Your team will look to you for guidance. What and how you communicate matter, even if it’s via Zoom, conference calls or other channels. Remain calm and be transparent, and keep the lines of communication open (and constant) via Slack or email. Make sure your employees know you are prioritizing them and they will prioritize the business. – Hari RavichandranAura™

12. Ask clarifying questions.

A lot is lost when you can’t be in the same room together. Don’t assume people are on the same page after a brief video call. Everyone needs to assume that you’re not on the same page and take the time to ask clarifying questions. Many times I think I have given a clear answer, but then found out later I didn’t even answer the question. There can be a question behind the question. – Steff KelseyBlues Wireless

13. Empower your team.

Treat Monday like it’s the most important day of the week—schedule recurring key meetings to ensure the team is aligned. I also strive to be available and communicate frequently and candidly with my senior leadership to ensure clarity on priorities and goals, enabling them to have meaningful conversations with their teams. Empowering teams unites us across geographies and boosts employee engagement. – Brian StaffordDiligent Corporation

14. Actively seek feedback from team members.

It is important to lead with empathy during this period. We should actively seek feedback from our competent team members. Members of my IT team work in four different countries, primarily in the Caribbean and the U.S. Collecting and sharing creative ideas for improving emotional and physical well-being, service-level agreements, and service excellence were thought-provoking. Our teams crave clarity and appreciate empathy. – Londell AlburyAdtalem Global Education

15. Avoid multitasking during meetings.

When teams are on calls or video conferencing, rather than in the same room, it’s tempting to multitask. However it’s clear when someone is distracted or typing away, and it can come across as disrespectful. If you are a manager or leader, make it clear that people in meetings should not be checking email or doing other things. Live that yourself. Block separate time for email, IM or text messaging. – Chris Barbin, GGV

16. Lean in and be helpful.

Now is not the time for unsolicited pitches. As a business that conducts remote technical interviews, it would be easy to dial up our sales campaigning. But instead, we’re focused on being helpful partners and human-centered leaders. The first question I ask—whether I’m speaking with an employee, client, prospect or investor—is “How are you doing?” It gets to the root of what is most important. – Mohit BhendeKarat

Every year as the weather starts to warm, brooms across the country are prepped for annual spring cleanings. With a majority of folks at home during this unprecedented time, take a moment to clear your browser. What most people don’t realize is that your digital life is vulnerable to clutter, too.

In a study conducted by Risk Based Security, there were over 3,800 publicly disclosed data breaches that exposed 4.1 billion records in the first six months of 2019 alone. In this digital age, spring cleaning should be about more than just purging homes; it should be about cleansing your digital footprint as well to ensure your personal information is organized and safe.

Many people are unaware of the importance of a digital cleanup, while others avoid tidying their cyberspace because they don’t fully comprehend all the harmful effects a disorganized digital presence can have. Cluttered devices and outdated profiles are all signs of a security breach waiting to happen. By following a few easy steps, everyone can take solace in knowing that their digital life is clean, secure and at less risk.

Empty The Trash

An easy first step is to literally take out the trash: Empty your desktop recycling bin. Nothing you delete is permanently gone until you’ve done so. All those old documents, embarrassing photos, and programs you no longer use are still lingering on your hard drive, taking up space and putting you at risk of old files resurfacing. It’s important to remember that once you’ve taken the time to clean out old files and downloads, always trash the trash.

Declutter Mobile Devices

Have you ever downloaded a seemingly “cool” app that you ended up using only once? Make sure you delete all those unused apps that are taking up space on your mobile devices. Most likely you were prompted to provide personal information upon downloading the app, and now that information is sitting on your device, at risk of being compromised. In addition to deleting unused apps, it’s important to make sure that the apps you do use are up to date, as outdated apps are at risk for malware and viruses.

The security settings you agreed to when you set up your Facebook account in 2005 are likely extremely outdated. Take the time to review privacy and security settings on all your social media accounts and online profiles to make sure you are comfortable with how much you are actually sharing and with whom. Having your location services turned on for all your accounts or apps is a decision you may have made years ago, but it may be time to reconsider. Do your acquaintances from college need to see all your family photos? What you’re making for dinner? Consider reviewing your list of friends to make sure everyone still belongs.

Minimize Your Online Accounts

With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, it’s likely that you’ve ordered items from websites you no longer frequent. Unfortunately, that means that your credit card and other personal information may still be floating around in cyberspace. Make sure you delete any online accounts that you don’t actively use to minimize the odds of having your personal details be part of a data hack. Remove saved personal information in accounts that you don’t use on a regular basis, including credit or debit card details and addresses.

Use Unique Passwords 

While remembering different passwords for a seemingly endless variety of personal or business accounts may feel tedious, it could be what saves you from identity theft. Using the same password for all your accounts makes it easier for hackers to access your personal information and your accounts. Consider using a password manager to store and protect all your unique passwords, and in an effort to keep your accounts even more secure, look into using multifactor authentication (also known as two-step verification) on critical accounts such as your email and banking accounts.

Dispose Of Old Electronics

When you finally get the newest device on the market that you’ve been eyeballing, don’t forget to properly clear out and dispose of your old one. Any device with the ability to store information can retain your data long after you deleted it. This includes mobile phones, copiers, printers, scanners and networking equipment such as Wi-Fi routers. It’s important to thoroughly wipe all electronics by clearing the data or consult with a trusted professional to help you properly and securely dispose of the device.

Tune Up Your Browser

It’s easy to forget about the cookies that store bits of your information within your browser as you surf the web. Moving forward, make a conscious effort to check your browser settings on a regular basis to ensure they’re configured to perform automatic updates. Also, consistently clear out your browsing history, and avoid using autofill to store passwords when possible.

Staying healthy during this time means washing your hands and taking precautions. But staying safe online can be simple when you remember to clean your data as often as you clear out your closet to stay as protected as possible in this digital age!

On February 11, 2020, millions of people in more than 140 countries teamed up to promote the responsible use of online technologies for Safer Internet Day. With the theme of “Together for a better internet,” this year’s event focused on engaging all stakeholders—politicians, technology companies, schools, parents, children, and young people—to do their part to promote internet safety.

More than just a once-a-year event, Safer Internet Day is a movement that advocates for online security and against cyberbullying, disinformation, and other harmful online content. Additionally, Safer Internet Day focuses on the need to protect kids from predatory behavior online.

 

With many benefits come serious problems

The internet is more than just useful—it’s an essential part of human culture that connects people and provides a way to share news, information, art, music, and ideas. It can bring much of the entire history of human knowledge and wisdom to anyone with a computer or mobile device. Thanks to the connectivity it facilitates, the internet can also act as a democratizing force across societies, particularly in its ability to help marginalized people to come together.

Yet its dark side is well known: propaganda, disinformation, identity theft, privacy concerns, and other threats. The wellbeing of children has become of particular concern as so many cases of online addiction, cyberbullying, and abuse have been widely publicized.

Safer Internet Day celebrates the benefits of the internet, increases awareness of its dangers, and empowers people to use digital technologies positively, creatively, critically, and responsibly.

 

Beginnings in Europe

Safer Internet Day began in 2004 as part of the European Union’s SafeBorders project. The event was designed from the start to help children and youth use online technologies safely. In 2018, the event achieved a significant growth milestone: it reached 30 million people around the world.

 

ConnectSafely leads in the United States

The Silicon Valley nonprofit ConnectSafely is the lead coordinator of Safer Internet Day in the US. The organization relies on an approach that is both global and community-oriented.

ConnectSafely provides evidence-based information and news updates on internet security, privacy, and safe practices for parents, teachers, and policymakers. The organization works to dispel panic-driven attempts to address these complex issues, instead promoting rational discussion about the benefits and problems that come with increasingly sophisticated technology.

For Safer Internet Day 2020, ConnectSafely sponsored two special events, including a live-streamed, student-centered program at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Attendees included local politicians, educators, and students, as well as representatives from Google, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Roblox, and other tech companies. Later in the day, TikTok’s office in Mountain View hosted the “Get Into the Game” family night for parents and kids. The event promised to show parents what their kids are doing online and demonstrate strategies for safely using these platforms.

 

The PTA and Google

Elsewhere, Safer Internet Day was also celebrated by the National Parent Teacher Association. Local PTA groups hosted hundreds of events around the country on February 11. In addition, the National PTA has also collaborated with Google to create digital safety education for parents.

Through its collaboration with the PTA, Google created the Be Internet Awesome campaign, which helps kids explore the internet and other technologies confidently and safely. The aim is to create a new generation of smart, kind digital citizens who make informed, positive decisions about what they want their online world to look like. A curriculum for educators, the Interland online game for kids, and even a family internet safety pledge are all available on the BIA website.

The campaign and all its resources focus on a few fundamental principles for kids online:

  • Share with Care: If it’s not right to say something “in real life,” it’s not right to post it online.
  • Don’t Fall for Fake: Think critically before acting online, and learn to spot lies and scams.
  • Secure Your Secrets: Create a strong password and practice good digital hygiene.
  • It’s Cool to Be Kind: Use the internet to spread positivity and speak out against bullying.
  • When In Doubt, Talk It Out: Parents and educators need to foster an open dialogue, so kids feel comfortable talking about anything iffy they see online.

 

A year-round dedication to internet safety

At the conclusion of the 2020 Safer Internet Day, organizers had already put out the call for planning for 2021, with the date set as February 9.

Anyone interested in learning more should visit SaferInternetDay.us to find out how to become involved. The website offers conversation-starters for families, a kit for organizing groups at the local level, and targeted lesson plans for students that put the focus on individual responsibility for using the internet to build people and communities up, rather than tear them down.

Safer Internet Day organizers have also created Twitter and Facebook accounts to help make it easier for people anywhere in the world to connect with its programming and resources. Check out the hashtag #SID2020 to see what people were saying about this year’s event.

‘Tis the season for sales! Historically, Black Friday has been the traditional time to grab a bargain during the holiday season, but times change, and technology is transforming our shopping habits. As a result, Cyber Monday, the digital version of Black Friday where you can find the best deals online, has been steadily gaining popularity.

Now, a survey from Deloitte (via CNBC) shows that of those looking for bargains this holiday season, 53% will be looking on Cyber Monday compared to 44% on Black Friday. As Cyber Monday takes over as the most popular shopping day, it’s time to take a step back and think about what that means for our online shopping safety overall.

Everyone knows that security is important when shopping online. However, when bargains are available, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget. Hackers and other online frauds are most active around the holidays. Unless you’re careful, the hunt for savings may cost you more.

There are plenty of things to keep in mind, including being careful, using common sense and avoiding anything that doesn’t feel quite right. However, at this time of year, the scams get creative, so let’s look at the more common ways consumers can be scammed during their search for online bargains.

 

Scam Watch

There are a number of scams we can fall prey to in the scramble to find a bargain. Always apply the old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” There are great deals to be had during the holiday season, but you should be wary of extreme savings. If that $1,000 TV is selling for $100, there may be something amiss.

Here are some scams that are common all over the holiday period:

• Fake Online Stores: This is unfortunately quite common. In this instance, a fake online store is set up featuring great offers. Behind the scenes, it’s harvesting card numbers and personal details.

• Account Hacking: This can affect both retailers and consumers. Account hacking is when accounts are hacked and orders are made to a different address. The cybercriminal may use fake credit card numbers or, for accounts that store payment details, may even use stolen card details.

• Email Links: Here, fake emails coming from seemingly trusted sites are distributed with links to tempting bargains. When the unknowing consumer clicks through to purchase, they’re sent to a copy site that harvests their details.

• Public Wi-Fi: While it may be tempting to do a bit of online shopping on the go and at the coffee shop, beware. Data is not secure on public Wi-Fi and may be intercepted, making it easier for cybercriminals to steal identities and card numbers.

• Unencrypted Sites: Some legitimate online stores fail to use encryption, leaving the consumer vulnerable. Unencrypted transmissions that store financial and personal details can be intercepted and stolen. In many cases, that’s why the site fails to use encryption in the first place.

• Goods Never Sent: A seemingly legitimate site may simply disappear after a sales scramble is over, meaning the consumer never actually receives their purchased goods.

There are many more scams out there, but most follow the patterns you can see in these examples. Knowing where the risk comes from is one thing, but how can you stay safe and still grab a bargain?

 

Staying Safe Online

• For Consumers: Around the holiday season especially, but whenever you’re shopping online, always be vigilant. You can limit the risk you are exposed to. Stick to stores you know, and if you find something from an unknown supplier, check out the site. Look for reviews or comments, and make sure the site is secure before making purchases. Check for contact details in case your order doesn’t arrive, and make sure credit card companies support their payment system.

Keeping your accounts secure means being careful. Don’t store passwords on your phone or devices that others can get access to. Use original, strong passwords that won’t be guessed, and check for activity on the account that may show signs of hacking.

During the holiday period, you’ll also be overwhelmed with email offers. Never just click a link. Double-check the sender’s legitimacy, and if in any doubt, visit the site via a bookmark, or enter the address manually. For additional peace of mind, you can also invest in a cybersecurity tool. This will help ensure your identity and your family remain safe from unwanted criminals during what should be the happy holiday season.

Above all, always be aware of what you’re clicking on, entering details in or looking at. It takes seconds to double-check, so always do, and you can have a great holiday.

• For Retailers: Identity fraud is one of the most common issues retailers come across during the holiday season, and it can be difficult to spot. Implementing an email validation for account setup or bank validation for payments can avoid many of the common identity fraud approaches before they cost you money. Delivery is another area where you can take measures. Many fraudsters will be looking to have parcels redirected to new addresses. If the goods are being sent to another city or state from the identity given, it may be something that could be flagged as a warning in the system.

Ensure all your software and systems are up to date to provide the best protection possible, and be aware of the signs of account takeover activity such as multiple failed password entries and the use of several IP addresses when logging in.

 

Conclusion

While this sounds scary, you can still enjoy shopping during the holiday season and grab those bargains you have been dreaming of. If you take care, double-check that sites and payments are legitimate and follow the advice here, you will have a safe (and successful) holiday.

Read the original article published at Forbes.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NSCAM) has been an annual fixture since October 2003. The goal of the last 16 years has been to raise awareness of the importance of security when it comes to your digital data, and today, that message is more important than ever.

Endless studies and reports are exposing our highly digital consumption habits. A 2019 report from Hootsuite and We Are Social shows we’re spending on average of six and a half hours online each day. Half of that is spent on mobile devices.

We’re spending more time online than ever before. We shop more online, spend more time on social media and do more of our financial and regulatory business online, too. Most of us use banking apps, file taxes online and share images of family, friends, holidays and almost every aspect of life on social media.

Online accounts for our grocery stores, video streaming and a hundred other things all add up, and the result is a huge amount of information about our personal lives out there in the digital world. At the time, how many of us think about entering names, dates of birth and other information when we are asked? It’s easy to put out there, and this is why cybersecurity awareness is so important — not just in October, but all year long.

Own it; secure it; protect it

“Own it; secure it; protect it” was the theme of this year’s NSCAM, with the focus on individual privacy, consumer devices and e-commerce security. All are areas that are increasingly under threat, especially as we approach the holidays, when e-commerce is even more popular.

Despite the increased threat, cybersecurity remains an afterthought for far too many. At a time when we, as a country, are spending more time on mobile devices than TV, the sheer amount of digital data out there about every one of us should make us stop and think. Yet, we are often unaware of the risks posed, never mind what the consequences might be. There are various common areas of attack that are increasingly in use today.

Cloud databases make life easier for us all, with images and messages uploaded to the cloud for easy access. But they are also a significant vulnerability. If you hear in the news that a celebrity had their phone hacked, what likely happened is their cloud storage was hacked, giving the hacker access to all their photos, messages and other data.

Another common threat you will often hear about is a data breach. In this case, a business’s databases or servers are compromised, giving criminals access to everything contained within. That could be your shopping history, credit card numbers and so on. And it happens with alarming regularity.

But that’s not all — biometric data often gives us a false sense of security, but systems are not as secure as we may think. Artificial intelligence (AI) has become so powerful that not only passwords but fingerprints or face detection may be bypassed. With AI quickly growing in sophistication, we must accept that soon, hackers will have access to tools that can overcome these kinds of locks on our devices and data.

What can we do?

The threefold idea behind this year’s theme helps individuals and businesses understand the risks they face and the often-simple solutions that can make all the difference:

• Own it: Update privacy settings to keep your data secure. Know which apps are running to ensure you always know where your data is going. Additionally, stay safe on social media by watching what is shared and with whom.

 Secure it: Create strong, secure passphrases — ideally, a different one for each account. Use multifactor authorization whenever possible, and always watch for phishing attacks. Never click on a link without first checking the sender.

• Protect it: Always protect whenever you connect. Have up-to-date security software on your devices, and be careful with public Wi-Fi. For businesses, always maintain adequate safety protocols for customer data.

To ensure these ideas are acted upon, it is up to us to spread the message and raise awareness. Whether individuals, businesses or government bodies, we must all act. Tell others; raise awareness, and put these ideas into practice yourself. If you are unsure about a site, double-check before handing over your data, and consider cybersecurity software for additional peace of mind.

Conclusion

Staying secure in the digital world shouldn’t be an afterthought. The more we rely on digital solutions for almost every aspect of life, the more vulnerable we become to cyberthreats. NCSAM is a timely reminder that we should all be more aware of that vulnerability and of both the threats and the things we can do to minimize them.

 

Click here to read Forbes article.

160over90 has been selected as AOR for Aura, a company that offers personal identity protection and digital security services including the product Identity Guard.

The agency will be helping Aura with media relations, entertainment PR, influencer marketing, corporate comms, thought leadership and partnerships, according to a 160over90 representative.

Aura began searching for a new agency earlier this year and signed the one-year, six figure agreement with 160over90 in mid-September, said Aura’s chief communications and branding officer Lark-Marie Anton.

Aura started thinking about bringing on an agency once its new brand launched in July, explained Anton.

In January, WC SACD One, a joint venture formed by iSubscribed, WndrCo and General Catalyst, acquired a company called Intersections. Right after that deal closed, according to a company statement, iSubscribed was merged into WC SACD and combined with Intersections. In July, the combined businesses were rebranded as Aura.

“We acquired Identity Guard in early January 2019 and then very quickly decided we were going to make sure we created a brand holistically for all our digital security offerings,” said Anton. “When that was completed and we launched Aura in July, it was beginning to be clear that we wanted to partner with an agency that would allow us to leverage the new brand and allow us to leverage culture and engage consumers in a meaningful way.”

Aura did not conduct a search or issue a formal RFP. Aura executives had existing ties to the agency’s PR and comms leaders, said a 160over90 rep.

iSubscribed engaged Ketchum for two projects between late 2018 and early 2019, the latter of which concluded in March.

“We wish [Aura] continued success,” said a Ketchum representative.

“Our CEO Hari Ravichandran had worked with [Ketchum] during his time with a previous company,” Anton said.

160over90 was chosen because it’s part of holding company Endeavor, which also owns WME, IMG, and organizations like Miss Universe Organization, Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Professional Bull Riders organization, said Anton.

“It was about finding the right partner and [160over90] does have an amazing network,” Anton said. “It’s absolutely the integration of those connections, the ties to things like culture, culinary and music, all of it. Having one holistic agency that has access to all of these different verticals is important for us.”

160over90’s seven-person core team working the account — split between its New York and Los Angeles offices — will be led by Rachel Goldman, a senior account director based in Los Angeles.

Original Article of PR Week – Aura selects 160over90 as AOR

PDF Version of Aura selects 160over90 as AOR

Aura Branding

NEW YORK, NY   — Award-winning branding and advertising agency Circus Maximus has created a distinctly human brand identity for tech company Aura, a digital-security brand that launched this month. Aura’s offering pairs intelligent-scanning antivirus software with an advanced data-enabled technology that uses artificial intelligence to monitor, manage and protect sensitive information.

Aura is a one-stop shop of integrated products that provides enterprise-grade security solutions. Intrusta and Identity Guard’s cybersecurity and identity-theft products give consumers a halo of protection, so they can enjoy the benefits of technology without fear. Aura is a combined business entity formed by iSubscribed and Intersections Inc with partners WndrCo and General Catalyst.

While most cyber-security brands favor a dark, scary vision and a high-tech Matrix message, Aura is treating people like…people. The company’s mission is to pioneer digital freedom for all and enable people to enjoy the benefits of technology simply and without fear. Aura’s brand principles include “caring,” “human,” “candid” and “vigilant.”

Circus Maximus created the naming, branding, website, and other materials—from the typography, color palette, logos, imagery and other assets detailed in the brand style guide to the corporate website where consumers can view Aura’s security services—to complement the brand’s goal of “simplifying digital security for our modern lives.”

The color scheme (Sunrise, Nightshade, Peach and Gradient) is warm, natural and accessible with crisp typefaces that are professional yet friendly. The website’s pages are airy—there’s plenty of white space and the language isn’t too lofty. Images show happy, secure and diverse families enjoying the digital world and Aura officemates working to protect consumers from the threat of cyber-security breaches.

Aura uses adaptive technology, so its easy-to-use interface learns from the user to continually improve security and the experience. Its near real-time alerts inform customers, so they can act quickly if their personal information is breached.

Circus Maximus also created the tagline for Aura: “Your Digital Halo.”

“We know that finding and articulating a brand’s empathy is the key to their consumer appeal, and long-term success,” said Ryan Kutscher, Circus Maximus founder and chief creative officer. “Aura represents how we implement that process in a category that falls into the trapping of fear tactics all too easily. We’re excited for the wonderful team at Aura as they launch this unique brand.”

Aura provides a host of personal-identity protection offerings, including monthly credit scores and annual credit reports with information from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, social media insights, dark web monitoring, bank account takeover alerts, cyberbullying alerts and intelligent antivirus scanning.

“Technology has become an ever-increasing presence in our lives,” said Hari Ravichandran, CEO and founder of Aura. “Aura is the digital halo that empowers people with tools, data, notifications, knowledge and relentless customer service to help them use their technology and devices freely.”

190816_Aura1 190816_Aura2 190816_Aura3

About Circus Maximus

An award-winning, top branding and advertising agency based in NYC. We build innovative, results-driven brands that consumers actively seek out. For more information, visit circusmaximus.com.

About Aura

Aura™ is a technology company dedicated to simplifying digital security for consumers. Committed to creating a unified platform of services, Aura uses adaptive technology to enable customers to manage disparate cybersecurity needs with ease. Innovative personal identity protection products such as Identity Guard and technology services including Intrusta antivirus are part of the Aura family. Trusted by more than 1 million customers, Aura is the digital halo that provides real-time peace of mind. For more information about Aura, visit: www.auracompany.com.

Two recently combined consumer cybersecurity companies are heading off under a new branding to make a run at providing some online peace of mind for regular folks, and they’re doing it with $150 million in capital from Boston-area venture firm General Catalyst and WndrCo, the West Coast technology investor run by former Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Burlington, MA-based iSubscribed completed its acquisition of Virginia-based Intersections in January and has since been focused on integrating the companies as well as rebranding the company, now known as Aura.

“From a consumer perspective people want something relatively simple and straightforward for their family and homes, something that protects their devices and all the things happening in their house,” Aura founder and CEO Hari Ravichandran tells Xconomy.

Ravichandran founded iSubscribed after he left another company he started, Endurance International Group (NASDAQ: EIGI), which started helping small businesses get a foothold on the World Wide Web but grew into a multi-faceted company that offered hosting, marketing, security, design, and more. Ravichandran stepped down from Endurance in 2017 amid an SEC investigation into the company.

ISubscribed’s, and now Aura’s, approach to meeting consumers’ needs is to get the best tools they can find, buy, or build under one roof. So far, Aura currently offers a malware and antivirus product called Intrusta as well as an identity theft protection system it acquired from Intersections.

Ravichandran says the company has a couple of ideas for its next products. First, something to cut off spam emails and communications for consumers once they go through the seemingly unavoidable experience of having their personal data leaked online or otherwise sold to some data brokers. The ideal technology would halt the spam, and also lock someone’s credit file before the personal data are misused by a hacker to open a bank or credit account.

Aura’s next focus is on the home and the exploding number of internet-connected devices, Ravichandran says, controlling how they communicate on the network and how much bandwidth they use, and even spot potential intrusions more easily.

iSubscribed raised a $12 million Series A funding round in May 2018, prior to its deal for Intersections. Aura now has $150 million in funding from General Catalyst, WndrCo, and the founding team. The company has 300 employees across offices in Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and New Mexico.

Ravichandran says the company has $150 million in revenue and 1.2 million customers who pay monthly fees to use the products.

Click to view XConomy – July 15, 2019

Networking has expanded from the traditional model of industry events and watercooler discussions to a broad digital world ruled by social media. Stuck in our old ways, many of us in the technology world are missing out on opportunities in the digital realm by not realizing that social is the modern way to learn about advancements in our profession, inspire employees and establish credibility.

Whether you are looking to expand your career journey, raise awareness of your current organization, attract new investors or talent, or enhance existing professional relationships, building and maintaining an authentic online presence is a great way for technology executives or entrepreneurs to expand their reach and impact. These activities offer clear value, both on a personal level and for businesses as social media continues to evolve from a business to consumer marketplace to an integral part of doing business in a digital-first world.

From building past businesses, I’ve seen firsthand how impactful social platforms can be. Now that I’m back to my entrepreneurial roots, it’s something I’m making a conscious effort to work on. I’ve learned that while establishing an authentic online presence takes time,  it’s easier than you may think. The key to success is actually quite simple — reach the right people with genuine, relevant content at the right time. Below are four key steps I’ve found success with to get you started.

Define Your Point of View

To me, the first and most important step in creating an effective online presence that will enable authentic interactions and constructive thought leadership is to define your unique point of view. Think about the topics you want to talk about based upon your current role and experience, including your life experience. You’re a distinct, one-of-a-kind individual with your own way of thinking, speaking and engaging with thoughts and ideas, so your online and social media presence should reflect that. Ask yourself what voice and content make the most sense considering your background and personality, and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Ask yourself: What is the biggest differentiator among your peers? What motivates you? What are you known for, personally and professionally? What trends do you notice in your industry?

Your online persona will be a combination of these traits, as expressed through what you post, share and say. This exercise can also allow you to establish some guide rails for approaching your channels, including content topics, voice and tone, engagement style and target audience. This will help you create consistent and authentic profiles and content, which your followers will be more likely to engage with (and hopefully share). It’s helpful to always remember you’re not just a conduit: Your individual voice and honest point of view should be a part of anything you share.

Build And Expand Your Network

Expanding and building your network online isn’t all that different from the traditional networking model. Just like how going to industry events builds your influence through personal connections, I’ve found that your following will grow just by being an active user online, producing content and engaging with others. You can organically grow your following by executing best practices, such as setting and sticking to a posting goal, making your content easier to find using hashtags and tagging other accounts, and following others with similar profiles or who are relevant to your audience.

After inviting your real-world network to connect, you can also actively identify and vet influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn with whom you can connect. On LinkedIn, two great assets I use for finding peers are the People You May Know section and LinkedIn Groups. You can also look at your peers and who they’re engaging with and following. A major underutilized asset on Twitter is the list function, which helps you to organize and filter people and organizations into separate streams. Not only can you create your own private or public lists, but you can also follow others’. Similar to your content, make sure your lists focus on your expertise and point of view. Once you have lists of relevant publications, reporters and industry thought leaders set up, following and engaging in relevant conversations will become much quicker and easier.

Use Your Judgement

The power of having an authentic online presence — namely, the ability to reach a broad audience quickly and directly — shouldn’t be taken lightly. You shouldn’t be afraid to engage, but there is always a place for caution and good judgment. Always remember that your digital presence is an extension of you as a tech leader. Assume that who you follow, what you share and the content and people or organizations that you engage with on social platforms is public (even if it’s set to private). You should directly engage with a speaker following a presentation or comment on a tech article shared by someone you admire. What you shouldn’t do is share anything that makes you uncomfortable, because others will likely feel the same.

It’s also important to be mindful of timing and what else is going on in the world. During an emergency or in the wake of terrible news, an otherwise innocuous business post can come off as tone deaf or offensive. Even during normal circumstances, an appropriate message shared at the wrong time can have an adverse impact.

Always use your judgment and when in doubt, I recommend keeping it to yourself.

Don’t Wait

I’ve found that the best time to build your network and online presence is before you really need it. Mastering your digital presence can be valuable for job seekers, tech entrepreneurs and corporate executives alike, but it takes time. Don’t wait until you’re being considered for the next step in your career or you need to course correct a reputation issue to establish your presence. Start laying the groundwork now. Beyond the network and knowledge mastery online thought leadership gives you, it can also provide you with an audience and reach, the ability to help shape your organization’s reputation, and the opportunity to build trust and new business from afar — all valuable in the modern workplace.

Click here to view the Forbes article.

Like any tech industry entrepreneur, I love technology and have since I was just 10 years old. Technology has allowed us to do absolutely incredible things on a global scale and has improved our way of life exponentially on a day-to-day level. Yet with all the benefits a more technology-rich and interconnected life brings, it also exposes us to risk as bad actors increasingly seek to take advantage of that interconnectivity. Every day, consumers benefitting from the increasingly digital world are also the ones who most often fall victim.

In the U.S. alone, 143 million consumers — more than half the adult population that is active online — were victims of cybercrime last year, according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report. U.S. consumers’ losses totaled $19.4 billion, and, on average, each victim lost nearly 20 hours dealing with the fallout.

These alarming stats make one thing clear: Cybersecurity literacy and readiness are lacking when they need to be growing. Unlike big companies with IT departments and resources dedicated to protecting cybersecurity, many consumers aren’t tech savvy and have little understanding of the complex world of cyberattacks, let alone what to do to combat them. To meet and withstand today’s online threats, consumers don’t just need better cybersecurity technology — they need realistic solutions. They need solutions that account for the ways they use their technology — on their computers, their phones and in the interconnected devices all around them. They need solutions that they understand and feel comfortable using. They need solutions that work.

Technology leaders, those of us with the skills and capacity to do something, need to pay more attention to people and how they use technology to design solutions that better confront the human element of cybersecurity. We also need to improve awareness of digital security threats by making technology and cybersecurity literacy easier and more accessible for everyone.

Considering The Human Element

Fraud and cybercrime are extremely common and can take on a wide variety of forms, from obvious scams to sophisticated and highly personalized attacks. Often, the subtle cause behind a security breach is human error (e.g., using a weak password, clicking a suspicious link, failing to download security updates, etc.).

As consumers become more and more comfortable making purchases, paying bills and sharing sensitive personal information online through digital interactions with their health care providers, financial services institutions and government entities, human factors can become serious vulnerabilities. Take passwords, for example. While we know that complex, frequently changed passwords are more secure, the distinctly human tendency to prioritize efficiency and convenience leads many to take shortcuts like using weak passwords because they are easy to remember or applying the same passwords to everything.

Cyberattackers rely heavily on user interaction and normal human behaviors like complacency and a desire for efficiency and convenience. Consumers need solutions that help make it easy for them to be more secure, ones that don’t ignore but rather embrace these human tendencies because security shouldn’t be a burden — it should be built in.

Developing Realistic Solutions

We can’t change human nature, but we can change technology to cut down on the shockingly high number of consumers who fall victim to an attack. All too often, people assume that if they’re using their phones, their desktops at work, the wearable devices on their wrists or their voice-enabled devices on their kitchen countertops that they’re safe. They don’t think twice. We need to design solutions that 1) educate consumers about the threats that exist as they interact with this technology, 2) empower them with the tools they need and 3) make it easy for them to use those tools.

I hate to use a cliché, but knowledge actually is power when it comes to staying safe in our interconnected world. If consumers know about potential threats to unsecured or outdated internet of things devices, understand how malware or ransomware can infiltrate a computer through an unwitting click of a link and have insight into password hacks, they’ll naturally be more equipped to avoid them. Software developers have an opportunity to build education into and around their technology as an extra line of defense.

When it comes to the technology itself, we often jump straight into complex software development without stopping to think about the natural tendencies of the consumers using that tech. Security doesn’t need to be overwhelming and scary. As technology leaders, we have a responsibility to make it much easier for consumers to both understand cybersecurity threats and take steps to make the digital world safer for themselves and their families. That means committing to rethinking and simplifying product design to account for human factors, with more mobile, user-friendly designs, better interfaces and more engaging, accessible content.

The best way for consumers to confront cybersecurity threats and prevent the damage associated with a security breach is to be prepared with the proper knowledge and smart tools.

Click here to read Forbes article.