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Facebook, Amazon and Others Small Business Grants Programs During COVID-19

In Part 1 of our Small Business Grants Program, we reviewed the Google Shopping Listing Grants and other changes announced by Google this week to help small businesses during COVID-19.

In this article, we are going to review how other Fortune 100’s are responding to the crisis.

Facebook Offers $100 Million In Small-Business Grants 

Facebook is joining the long list of companies supporting small business during COVID-19 and offering cash grants and advertising credits to assist those whose revenues have been directly impacted by the global pandemic.

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 6 at 11:59p ET, but it’s recommended that you submit applications as soon as possible.

To learn more, visit Facebook’s Small Business Grants Program page and apply here.

Up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries where Facebook operates will be able to receive the grant. To be eligible to apply, your business must:

  • Have between 2 and 50 employees
  • Have been in business for over a year
  • Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
  • Be in or near a location where Facebook operates

Local Banks & Other Lenders Small Business Assistance Programs

Many financial institutions have offered deferment and forbearance to business loan and residential mortgage customers having trouble making payments. Check Forbes’ list of banks offering relief. You can also search for your bank on the American Bankers Association’s ongoing A-Z list of coronavirus response programs.

Amazon Neighborhood Offers $5 Million in Small Business Relief Funds

If you are a business that was impacted by COVID-19 in the Bellevue, Wash. and the South Lake Union and Regrade neighborhoods of Seattle — particularly “main street” businesses and those that rely on foot traffic — can apply online for a grant from Amazon’s $5 million fund. Amazon will then review your application and determine on a case-by-case basis the amount of the grant your business may qualify for. Keep in mind that only businesses with 50 employees or less, or that take in less than $7 million in annual revenue will qualify according to their guidelines.

What to do Next:

Begin gathering all the necessary documents to start the application process:

  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Partnership documents
  • Business license
  • Proof of incorporation
  • Official business registration
  • Contact information
  • Brief summary about your business
  • Explanation of how you would use the cash grant
  • And begin applying

Good luck and we are all rooting for our country to come out of this as quickly as possible!

Do you need help setting up your Facebook or Amazon Ads?

Please reach out to us if you need any help setting up or overseeing your Google Shopping campaigns by connecting with us. We are here to help you in any way we can.

Google Shopping – Small Business Grants Programs During COVID-19

A crisis always brings people together.  It brings out the best in us.  From surges in solidarity to wider acceptance to more overall tolerance. These simple facts have been confirmed by more solid evidence than almost any other scientific insight and now, more than ever, in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic, it’s imperative that we all remember this. 

Just as an additional $310 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) stimulus packages have been passed and officially signed by the President today, Google and Facebook are rolling out their own small business relief grants.

It doesn’t surprise us that Big Tech and other U.S. Fortune 100’s are rolling up their sleeves to help main street businesses continue to operate while coping with world-wide change across all sectors of professional and personal life. We are, after all, in this together!

In this article, we are going to cover Google Shopping Small Business Grants and how they may impact your current ad spend on the platform.

Big News from both Google and Facebook Tech Giants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

In response to COVID-19, both Google and Facebook have announced this week changes to their ad platforms to help small businesses through these tough times.

Below is an overview of how these new developments can help your small business.

Google Shopping Platform:

“Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google,” Bill Ready, President of Commerce, said on Google’s blog. “With hundreds of millions of shopping searches on Google each day, we know that many retailers have the items people need in stock and ready to ship, but are less discoverable online.”

An important note here is that this does not affect text ads in Google Search, Display ads, Remarketing ads, YouTube ads, or mobile ads. Those platforms will remain the same.

The change is only for the Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google’s Shopping tab of the search results. 

The expansion of free listings is slated to be completed by the end of April. Initially, it will only take place in the U.S. — but Google says it intends to roll out the change globally before the end of the year.

An example of the Google Product Listing ads are below:

Search for “Aquafina water” in Google and then click on the Shopping tab underneath the search bar, you will see the Google shopping results:

Desktop Results:

Mobile Results:

The benefit of having your products displayed in the Google Shopping results for e-commerce retailers is a direct lift in sales and increased consumer awareness of your brand as well as:

  1. Better qualified leads: As a merchant, you can increase the quality of your leads by featuring product information directly in your ads to help shoppers make informed purchase decisions. This makes shoppers more likely to complete a purchase on your site.
  2. Easy retail-centric campaign management: Instead of keywords, Shopping ads use the product attributes you defined in your Merchant Center data feed to show your ads on relevant searches. Browse your product inventory directly in Google Ads and create product groups for the items you want to bid on.
  3. Broader presence: More than one of your Shopping ads can appear for a given user search and, if relevant, a Shopping ad and a text ad can also appear at the same time. This means your reach with shoppers for a single search could double.
  4. Powerful reporting and competitive data: See how your products are performing at any level of granularity you want. For example, you can see how many clicks a particular brand of high-heeled shoes got just by filtering your products view — no new product groups needed.

What to do Next:

  1. If you currently do not have Google Shopping listings, the first step is to create your Merchant Center account if you haven’t already.
  2. Then, as you’re setting up your account in Merchant Center, you need to opt into surfaces across Google.
  3. If you already have a Merchant Center account, then log in, click on “Growth” in the left navigation, then click “Manage programs” and select “Surfaces across Google”. This will make your products eligible for the free Shopping listings.
  4. And finally, you will need to add your products to Merchant Center using a product feed.

Do you need help setting up your Google Shopping Listings?

Please reach out to us if you need any help setting up or overseeing your Google Shopping campaigns by connecting with us. We are here to help you in any way we can. 

Cybersecurity Implications for 2020 During COVID-19

We exist in an age where technology advances faster than we can keep up with it. Despite our good intentions, technology and intelligence will inevitably fall into the wrong hands. Cybersecurity threats are happening every second of the day, and while nothing is guaranteed, one thing is certain: technology advancements are not slowing down. Even without the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to build better security measures using data analysis and predictions.

If we choose not to improve our cybersecurity around specific predictions such as; artificial intelligence, cloud services and IoT devices, the innovations and investments we build will eventually fuel and fund cyberterrorists.

Artificial Intelligence

We are years away from when AI and machine learning (ML) was just a theory and the basis for science fiction movies. Today, AI and ML are a part of every program and every device, from simple auto-correct on our mobile devices to massive data-analysis applications. AI is without a doubt, a beneficial and crucial part of the first line of defense in cybersecurity. Its ability to detect and remediate cyberattacks without draining human IT resources makes its value priceless, but cybercriminals are capitalizing on the deficits of AI and counting on the lack of consumer education to leverage their time and attacks. Attackers are using AI to execute multiple attacks by relying on programmed code to do the dirty work.

Weaknesses in security infrastructure

When cybercriminals use their own human and artificial intelligence to figure out what a security program is looking for, they can create solutions that avoid detection and self-learn patterns for every device and network. As director Justin Fier of cyber intelligence and analytics at Darktrace puts it, “Malicious AI will be almost impossible for humans alone to detect or stop.” AI is entering a space that requires a user’s understanding and cooperation to keep up and fight the malicious and criminal backed artificial intelligence. In order to create better AI cybersecurity, we need more human intelligence to create better artificial intelligence.

Dissolving the Cloud

In the past, malware attacks have bankrolled cybercriminals’ extracurriculars by going after industries that require constant access to their technology platforms; banks, hospitals, governments, and the like. As more businesses move their data to cloud platforms, there will likely be a massive dissolution as ransomware targets cloud-based servers and assets.

Internet of things (IoT)

The average home utilizes no less than 10 IoT devices every day, that number can be tripled for small businesses. People and corporations are connected in ways like never before, from smartwatches and baby monitors, to light switches and doorbells. While these devices are made to simplify tasks, reduce overhead costs and streamline processes, they are all back doors to an experienced hacker.

The constant exchange of data that occurs through IoT devices is a cherry-picking paradise for hackers. Research from Gartner, Inc (2015) suggests that 21 billion IoT devices will circulate the marketplace by the end of 2020. With nearly all IoT devices having the ability to connect to the cloud – the threats are limitless. 

Extortion of weaknesses in infrastructure

Cybercriminals and cyberterrorists know their targets, and the potential monetary losses for a company equal a monetary gain for extortionists in 2020. Ransomware is evolving and targeting organizations in a customized manner, capitalizing on the weaknesses in operations. These advancements and upgrades will penetrate traditional security protocols and create a cat and mouse game that drains an organization’s resources. The average cost of a ransomware attack to a business is $133,000 and with the US ranking highest among those attacks, it is time to strengthen our cybersecurity. 

How Socialfix is here for you

As we all adjust to this rapidly changing economy, our team of experts is working at maximum capacity to keep you updated and informed.

We encourage you to follow legitimate and official sources and to always use a security solution on your devices that will protect you from phishing, fraud and malware.

Cybersecurity Predictions Amongst the COVID-19 Crisis

As the first quarter of 2020 comes to a close, the world is about to experience an unprecedented wave of cyberattacks, and the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding the opportunity to exploit businesses of all sizes. Even without a global pandemic, cyberattacks are expected to cost $6 trillion worldwide by the end of 2020. With the current novel Coronavirus outbreak of COVID-19, experts are now projecting that number to double by the end of the year. As if the turmoil caused by COVID-19 has not caused enough damage, cybercriminals are capitalizing on this global crisis to make a payday. Both experts and analysts agree, global emergencies are peak times for cyberattacks.

On any normal day, cyberattacks such as ransomware and phishing occur every 14 seconds. While attackers mostly target smaller businesses, a staggering 80% of those attacks can be prevented with proper configurations and assessments. But nothing about our world is normal right now; many people are out of work and falling victim to employment scams; those who are lucky enough to still be working, are doing so remotely, often without proper VPN’s. Students of all ages are using remote learning platforms, highly susceptible to malware; and the elderly population is more isolated and vulnerable than ever.

This sudden global shift in our economy is leaving both people and businesses susceptible to scams and cyberattacks. Now more than ever we must stay one step ahead of cybercriminals to protect our businesses and our livelihoods. To predict the biggest threats to cybersecurity amidst the COVID-19 crisis, we look at history, the economy, expert analysis’ and the ever-expanding technology platforms we use today. Let’s review some of the common ways threats occur: 

Phishing

Cybercriminals have been phishing for the better part of 25 years, and though the concept of acquiring sensitive information from victims has not changed much over the years, their methods and techniques have evolved exponentially, and they continue to become more sophisticated each year.

Phishing in COVID-19 Waters

Phishers typically use the power of numbers to target the most people in the least amount of time. This looks a lot like spoofed emails intent on obtaining sensitive and personal information from credit card companies, financial institutions, and other popular sites like Paypal and eBay. However, during this global pandemic, phishers are counting on human emotion to break down cybersecurity in new ways. COVID-19 has brought rise to spear phishing, where instead of random email configurations, spear phishers use a more targeted approach specific to a person, organization or business.  

Phishing for Work

State authorities are seeing unprecedented unemployment claims since COVID-19 made its way to the United States. A record-breaking 3.3. million people filed for unemployment as of March 27, 2020. Few people have emergency funds large enough to sustain the loss of income for extended periods of time, forcing them to look for new jobs. In a time of mandated social distancing, they are specifically looking for remote work. Cybercriminals are capitalizing on this disparity by launching phishing attacks to specific victims and network recruiters. Their goal is to gain access and credentials of organizations in an effort to appear more legitimate and trustworthy. This type of scam almost always results in the phisher seeking money for things like onboarding or training costs. Other phishers are seeking personal information in an effort to steal your identity. In either scenario, the cybercriminal makes a payday while you do not.

Phishing for the Good

Other methods being used by phishers during the COVID-19 crisis include preying on the good in people and seeking out the vulnerable. We have seen a massive surge in spoofed email spear phishing, emails designed to look reputable and noble. In the midst of this crisis, these emails are perceived as coming from a trustworthy organization, asking you to donate to COVID-19 victims and medical staff. However, your donation will never reach the hands of those in need, and will instead go into the accounts of cybercriminals, funding and fueling their nefarious activities.

Malware

Malware activity has steadily increased in recent years, and similar to phishing, malware attacks are becoming more refined in how they wreak havoc to a system. Much like a biological virus, malware attacks spread far and wide.

Malware Capitalizing on Crisis

Malware attacks come in many forms, most often we hear about viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and ransomware. This malicious software is intent on corrupting programs, stealing private information or spying on a person or organization. Experts warn that due to COVID-19, thousands of new malware sites are being created every single day by cybercriminals.

COVID Ransomware

There has been a recent upswing in mobile-based ransomware attacks, according to intelligence from Domain Tools. Cyberattackers are deploying ransomware in an app claiming to provide real-time COVID-19 information, but instead it locks the unsuspecting victim’s phones until a ransom is paid. This malware is specifically targeting Android devices, but new apps are being released every single day – some demanding ransom, others obtaining your passwords and a few even giving the attacker the power to control your device in real-time. 

With the increase in people working and studying remotely, this malware has the ability to infiltrate personal and professional networks alike. Kristin Del Rosso, a cybersecurity expert warns that cybercriminals will take advantage of as much as they can during a crisis. 

DDoS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks occur roughly 30,000 times per day. These attacks are designed to overwhelm or ‘crash’ a website by sending too much traffic to its network or servers. DDoS attacks occur for many reasons; blackmail, extortion, activism, revenge and even as a distraction for another attack. Sometimes, however, the victim never knows the reason for the attack, regardless, they can be costly and time-consuming to handle. Experts anticipate a rise in DDoS attacks as restrictions continue to be placed on brick and mortar stores due to COVID-19, ultimately forcing businesses to utilize their online platforms. 

DDoS Attack on Health and Human Services

The US Health and Human Services Department was recently the victim of a DDoS attack, albeit an unsuccessful one. Fortunately the site never crashed, and while there is no clear answer as to the motives behind the attack, the intent to spread fear and mistrust of the government is highly suspected. Since the attack on the HHS, cybersecurity researchers are warning that the cyberattacks driven by the coronavirus pandemic are only just beginning. 

Prevention and Protection

We are in uncharted territory, and even though our world has experienced disasters, both natural and man-made, we have never experienced anything like this. Despite the uncertainty and fear in a time when resources are low, you can protect yourself from one aspect of COVID-19 by being diligent and aware of what to look out for.

Popular COVID-19 Scams

  1. Treatment & Supply Scams: Scammers selling fake cures, vaccines and other high demand supplies like masks and gloves, pocketing the money and never delivering.
  2. Provider Scams: Scammers posing at Doctor’s demanding payment for treating family or friends with COVID-19.
  3. Charity Scams: Scammers soliciting donations for victims and organizations supporting COVID-19.
  4. Phishing Scams: Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to lure recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
  5. App Scams: Apps that are designed to spread COVID-19 information, but instead insert malware and compromise the users’ device.

Ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 Scams

  1. Update your anti-malware and anti-virus software.
  2. Verify the identity of any person or organization that contacts you soliciting donations for COVID-19.
  3. Triple check websites and email addresses.
  4. Do not click on links or open email attachments from unverified sources.
  5. Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
  6. Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

How Socialfix is here for you

As we all adjust to this rapidly changing economy, our team of experts is working at maximum capacity to keep you updated and informed.

We encourage you to follow legitimate and official sources and to always use a security solution on your devices that will protect you from phishing, fraud and malware.

If you would like help securing your website, please dont hesitate to reach out to our expert team.