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August 26th, 2016

2016August26_BusinessIntelligence_AIf genie lamps were out of stock before you could place an order for one, the next best thing to manage and grow your small- and medium-sized business lies in CRM. Short for customer relationship management, a real difference is possible, with the right software of course. With the numerous options out there, finding the most suitable one is like walking into a maze without a flashlight or GPS. We spared you the trouble and rounded up the best CRM software options for 2016:

Since every business differs in terms of size, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to CRM. Thus, varying corporate sizes require unique CRM software that best addresses requirements. We’ll be taking a look at ideal CRM software options for the following categories: businesses in general, very small businesses and ones that are free.

Best CRM Software for Small Businesses: Salesforce

Salesforce has long been considered one of the top-tier CRM solutions, mainly due to its cloud-based nature coupled with full-featured capabilities that cater to businesses of every size. Typically, Salesforce is synonymous with larger enterprises, but that doesn’t mean small- and medium-sized businesses are denied the same perks. Enter Salesforce’s small business edition: with it, SMBs can utilize the robust set of CRM tools at an affordable rate.

Salesforce Small Business Solutions offer packages that are tailor-made for small businesses. With it you’ll be able to fully utilize all that Salesforce has to offer. In order for your company to really thrive, your CRM should be equipped with features such as lead generation, contact and opportunity management, sales forecasting, workflow automation as well as collaborative tools -- all of which can be found in Salesforce. Also, the software is cloud-based, meaning that you can access data and files anywhere at anytime via mobile devices.

Best CRM Software for Very Small Businesses: Insightly

Underneath its simple and navigable facade lies a CRM software that is abundant with capabilities, all of which fit the bill for microbusinesses. Aside from the fact that it has the vital components small businesses really look for in CRM software, it’s also highly scalable to accommodate the growth of your company. Furthermore, Insightly is currently one of the more affordable CRM solutions on the market; there’s even a free version if you wish to test the waters. There are also paid plans available at a fraction of the price when compared with other CRM software solutions.

Even with the free version or paid plans that start at $12, Insightly doesn’t compromise utility with affordability. It comes equipped with all the vital CRM capabilities any microbusiness would need. This includes detailed sales reports, opportunity, contact and project management as well. It’s also scalable to meet the needs of your business as it grows. To top it all off, it’s a cloud-based CRM software allowing you to access data anywhere at anytime via Internet-enabled mobile devices.

Best Free CRM Software: Zoho CRM

Not having to pay for Zoho doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t deliver the necessary capabilities required from CRM software. Zoho CRM provides your business with all the core functions it needs. Moreover, it allows you to onboard up ten users for free. Courtesy of Zoho CRM’s mobile app, you’ll be able be access data regardless of time or location. Here are some of the other features that the free version of Zoho CRM has to offer:
  • 360-view - all the vital information is stored and displayed, allowing you to make the best business decisions. This includes contacts, sale cycles, pipelines, and discover trends. It also helps you identify opportunities.
  • Automation - spend less time dealing with mundane tasks by automating tasks such as lead generation, contact management, calendars and even call logs.
  • Collaboration - Zoho CRM doubles as a social media platform integrating with Twitter and Facebook to link contacts to their social media accounts. This allows you to see their updates as well as the interactions you’ve had on social media right from your dashboard.
  • Analytics - you can track sales as well as measure both business and employee performance via a range of reporting capabilities.
  • Security - with Zoho CRM, you are given full control over who can do what with the software. Besides creating individual user profiles, you can assign roles and even restrict access.
Unlike farms, the main component to a company's growth isn’t fertilizer and sunshine. Instead, it’s competent CRM software that allows your business to reach its full potential. If you have any questions on customer relationship management software, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re more than happy to not only provide answers but also be part of your success.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
August 18th, 2016

2016August18_Security_AEvery time we learn about a cyberattack that has affected so many businesses, we invest in security technologies that will safeguard our systems. This year, however, social engineering attacks have taken center stage in the Rio Olympics. Using various scams, hackers can circumvent network security systems by convincing gullible users into giving away sensitive information. But spectators aren’t the only victims. Without knowing the most common social engineering exploits, your business’s data is also at risk. That’s why we have compiled four of the most frequently used social engineering scams to help protect you and your business.

Phishing Phishing scams are perhaps the most common type of social engineering attack. Usually seen as links embedded in email messages, these scams lead potential victims into seemingly trustworthy web pages, where they are prompted to fill in their name, address, login information, social security number, and credit card number.

Phishing emails often appear to come from reputable sources, which makes the embedded link even more compelling to click on. Sometimes phishing emails masquerade as government agencies urging you to fill up a personal survey, and other times phishing scams pose as false banking sites. In fact earlier this year, fraudulent Olympics-themed emails redirected potential victims to fake ticketing services, where they would eventually input their personal and financial information. This led to several cases of stolen identities.

Tailgating

What’s the best way to infiltrate your business? Through your office’s front door, of course! Scam artists can simply befriend an employee near the entrance of the building and ask them to hold the door, thereby gaining access into a restricted area. From here, they can steal valuable company secrets and wreak havoc on your IT infrastructure. Though larger enterprises with sophisticated surveillance systems are prepared for these attacks, small- to mid-sized companies are less so.

Quid pro quo

Similar to phishing, quid pro quo attacks offer appealing services or goods in exchange for highly sensitive information. For example, an attacker may offer potential targets free tickets to attend the Olympic games in exchange for their login credentials. Chances are if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Pretexting

Pretexting is another form of social engineering whereby an attacker fabricates a scenario to convince a potential victim into providing access to sensitive data and systems. These types of attacks involve scammers who request personal information from their targets in order to verify their identity. Attackers will usually impersonate co-workers, police, tax authorities, or IT auditors in order to gain their targets’ trust and trick them into divulging company secrets.

The unfortunate reality is that fraudsters and their social engineering tactics are becoming more sophisticated. And with the Olympics underway, individuals and businesses alike should prepare for the oncoming wave of social engineering attacks that threaten our sensitive information. Nevertheless, the best way to avoid these scams is knowing what they are and being critical of every email, pop-up ad, and embedded link that you encounter in the internet.

To find out how you can further protect your business from social engineering attacks, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 12th, 2016

2016August12_Productivity_AWhile an impressive arsenal of weapons can help you win a battle, you need diligence, perseverance and sacrifice to win the war. But when that war is waged in the arena of calendar management, you’re dealing with a whole other monster. When scheduling meetings, uncontrollable factors like varying schedules and department-specific time constraints mean that the same war strategy won’t yield the same successful results. Allow Microsoft FindTime to lead your organization to victory in the battle of cross-organization meeting arrangement.

Before any meetings take place, you’ll need to download Microsoft FindTime first. Fear not, because this Microsoft Outlook add-in is easily downloadable and is 100 percent free. FindTime was developed to help you and your guests do just that -- find time! Coordinating all attendees’ schedules, FindTime will iron out a time that works for everyone.

Just the thought of having to organize a meeting across your organization can stir up anxiety and elicit a huge sigh... Sigh! Why? On top of handling your own hectic schedule, you’re expected to juggle your attendees’ schedules as well. This would be the moment when telephone calls start to flood in and emails start to go back and forth, rarely heading toward a unified decision.

Bid adieu to all of that with Microsoft FindTime. Simply compose a new email or reply to an existing one and click the New Messaging Poll at the upper right hand corner. From there, choose the attendees, propose a couple tentative meeting times, and let the voting begin! Once a consensus is reached, a confirmation email is automatically sent to everyone attending.

What makes it even easier is that attendees can take a look at the visual summary that tallies all the votes, and who voted for what times. This lets you see what times the majority of people have chosen, giving you a chance to rework your schedule in advance if and when necessary.

Another plus is that to receive a Microsoft FindTime invitation, your friends and family don’t need an email address or even an Internet connection! Participants aren’t required to have Office 365 either; only the organizers need to access Office 365. This means that you can reach out to your friends, loved ones, and colleagues to organize your meetings, set up playdates, and even plan surprise birthday parties -- the possibilities are endless.

For more info about Microsoft FindTime, feel free to send us an email or give us a call! Our experts will gladly answer your questions. We believe that time is money, and money is the last thing you’d want to jeopardize. Allow us to help safeguard your assets by ensuring that all the time you spend on the clock doesn’t go to waste. Every minute counts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
August 8th, 2016

2016August8_SocialMedia_AFacebook’s most recent monthly active users numbered over 1.7 billion. Billion, with a ‘b.’ Since creating and managing a page for your business is free, there simply isn’t an excuse to put off doing so another day. Whether your page is being neglected because of low traffic or ROI on the time you invest in it, 1.7 billion is too large a number to ignore. Here are our six tricks for making your page a worthwhile endeavor.

Use video whenever possible

Recently, Mr. Zuckerberg himself was caught opining about the value of video in social media. And while there hasn’t yet been any news about newsfeed algorithms giving preference to video, it’s definitely a safe bet when compared to texts and graphics. Facebook Live is an excellent way to engage your subscribers, and there are several ways to leverage it for increased profitability. Whether it’s an Ask Me Anything segment or a promotional announcement, hit that record button more often for more engagement.

Facebook only promos

While we’re on the topic of promotions, make sure you’re creating some that are only available through Facebook. If you’re simply reposting those from your website or e-commerce store, it’s harder for followers to justify maintaining any interest in your page. Use Facebook Live or a pre-recorded video to introduce a better-than-usual discount on your products or services. The key here is getting customers to actually visit your page, so make sure it’s not a coupon code or a link they can just pass on to friends. Ask the first 100 viewers to post their email address in the comments section of the video. If their increased dwelling time doesn’t make a lasting impression on them, it probably will make an impression on their Facebook newsfeed algorithm.

Facebook CTAs: use them and update them

Unbeknownst to most, the ‘call to action’ button on your business page can be edited to display more than a dozen different messages. Experiment with the different messages and where they link to. You’ve probably stared at the CTAs on your .com page for hours, hoping to come up with a hard-hitting sell -- why wouldn’t you do the same on Facebook?

Don’t just link to yourself

The most insightful page will always be the most valuable one. If someone has already liked your page, they know you exist and they have a decent idea of what you sell. Make sure to take a break from posting links to your site, and include relevant news and information that relates to your field. If your merchandise is videogames, inventory updates aren’t going to provide much value to your followers. Post third-party reviews of items you stock or industry news that readers will find interesting.

Pin to top function

When you find the post that keeps followers coming back for more, why bury it beneath more recent and less popular posts? Click the arrow in the upper-right corner of the post and select Pin to Top. This will keep it above everything else and impossible to miss for anyone visiting your page. It could be anything we’ve already discussed in this article: promotions, videos, popular third-party content -- anything timely and relevant.

Be personal

Lastly, use your company’s Facebook page as a place where followers can engage you on a personal level. There are countless opportunities for stiff, formal business language and attitudes, but social media isn’t the place for that. Post fun, behind-the-scenes photos of your business, respond to comments in a conversational tone, make jokes -- anything that sets your page apart from your customer service accounts.

Facebook may be free, but that doesn’t mean a profitable page is a walk in the park. For all the latest tips, trends, and features, you’ll need an expert. Exploiting social media for your bottom line is a slippery game, but it’s one we play every day. For a partner who can turn your ‘Likes’ into dollars, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 5th, 2016

Stolen data from the Democratic National Committee was carefully timed to be leaked during the Convention last month and consequently shared the media stage with the candidates. This latest data breach sent a chill down the spines of many organizations as they question their own information security policies.

While there is no one silver bullet to manage data security, there are several steps your organization can take to help mitigate the risk:

1. Create and Manage Strong Passwords

The most secure passwords are long, include special characters, do not repeat between accounts, and are changed often.

Here are some tips for generating secure passwords:

  • Generate a different password for each online account
  • Make a random 2 to 4 word paraphrase that does not include any elements from your name, organization, address or any information associated with you
  • When generating your own password, it should contain upper and lowercase letters, punctuation, a number and be a minimum of 14 characters long
  • Change your passwords every 3-6 months and don’t reuse them
  • Do not store your password list in the cloud, such as on Google Docs or Dropbox

There are several password management solutions that can help you both generate and manage secure passwords for your online accounts. Lastpass offers free and premium password generation and management services. With Lastpass you only need to remember one master password to access the other passwords it encrypts and stores for you. A good, free tool is xkpasswd which can help generate strong passwords.

2. Review Your Password-Protected Systems

Keep track of which systems require passwords and who has access to them. Review system security regularly and remove any unused accounts. Reset those passwords at least once a year – more often if you have high employee turnover.

3. Reduce Risk by Removing Unused Technology

Eliminate any Business Solutions which are no longer used. You should export data to a permanent storage solution, like a DVD, and shut down the unused system. We don’t recommend keeping technology around “just in case,” because it is another security risk.

4. Integrate Authentication

Try to integrate the authentication of as many of your systems as possible. Several systems now support ‘Single Sign On’ where one system will let you in if you have already authenticated to another one. Explore these possibilities with your IT team to reduce the number of passwords you need to enter. The less passwords you have the more willing you will be to make your passwords “strong” and it will shrink your risk profile.

5. Online Transactions

Never use your debit card at a place you don’t trust completely, use a credit card instead because your credit card has limited liability while your debit card does not. The security protocols for online commerce vary greatly, and it’s important to shop from trusted sites.

6. Recognize Phishing

While most of us are now aware of the most popular phishing scams (someone you know is stuck in a European country and has lost all their credit cards), it’s becoming harder to tell a spam email from a legitimate one. Here are a few tips to help you recognize a hacker that might be phishing for your data:

  • If you receive an email from what looks like a trusted company (especially your bank), avoid clicking on the link. Instead, type the URL of that company directly in the browser. Banks don’t ask for personal information to be given by general URL or by email.
  • If a company sends you an email asking you to call them, look up their contact information online. Don’t use the phone number in the email. If it’s a criminal, you’ll be calling them and not your trusted company representative.
  • Review the email reply address. Once you click “reply,” you can see the email address in your reply field. If it looks suspicious, it probably isn’t safe to communicate. Phishers often cloak the email address when they email you, hoping you won’t look deeper to discover it’s a phony email.

7. Instant Messaging

Instant messaging (IM) has become a common means to communicate, even in the workplace. When you IM with friends or colleagues, do not give out critical information through IM because it is impossible to know whether the other computer is secure.

8. Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security that is known as “multi factor authentication” that requires not only a password and username but also something that only, and only, that user has on them, i.e. a piece of information only they should know or have immediately at hand. Many solutions request this, some require it. Whenever it is available, take the time to provide a second credential, such as your mobile phone number or an alternative email account for the added protection.

9. Limit Local Administrator Rights

IT best practices dictate that employees not be given local administrative rights. With local administrative rights, the security controls used to protect a company’s systems including password controls, anti-malware software, and similar tools, can be shut off. Unapproved software could also be installed, breaking business-critical applications and causing disruption and downtime. A company can also be exposed to malware, including a number of different phishing scams that can deliberately run code on systems with full permissions if someone inadvertently clicks on a malicious link or opens infected email content.

If you have any questions about the security of your technology, give us a call and we would be happy to tell you about the Sinu Solution and how we keep your data safe.

August 5th, 2016

This is the third in a series of tips and resources addressing top technology challenges facing nonprofit organizations. If you have a suggested topic, please email us, and we will try to address that topic in an upcoming article!

As the world quickly moves to the cloud, the need for physical offices is evaporating. According to a recent American Time Use Study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The share of workers doing some or all of their work at home grew from 19 percent in 2003—the first year the ATUS was conducted—to 24 percent in 2015. In this same period, the average time employed persons spent working at home on days they worked increased by 40 minutes.” A growing number of employees are telecommuting at least part of the time, either by working at home or on the go using devices.

With a mobility solutions in place, nonprofits can realize benefits like cost savings, improved employee morale, and more efficient use of time and resources. Further, new tools may also provide more efficient board engagement, improve member relationship management and even help increase volunteer hours. As with anything, proper planning goes a long way toward ensuring a smooth roll-out and successful outcomes.

Here are some quick tips to ensure your nonprofit technology is mobile-ready and secure, as well as some suggestions for mobile solutions and services that may aid in your productivity.

BYOD

Nonprofits are increasingly allowing employees to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). On the one hand, it makes it significantly easier for your employee to use the devices they are most accustomed to while reducing a nonprofit’s hardware investment. On the other, it means your nonprofit must decide who takes care of the device: you or the employee? What happens if the device becomes too old for your software? How do you manage security? What devices are allowed? BYOD can work, but the questions should be answered and built into a written policy that is uniformly enforced.

Mobile-Ready Applications

Software that works on laptops and desktops may not be fully operational on devices such as tablets or smartphones. It’s important to check the mobile friendliness of your software, particularly accounting and CRM, prior to purchasing devices or new software. Most software companies have upgraded their programming to be available, but sometimes functionality is different when using a laptop vs. a tablet. Ensuring software-to-device compatibility ahead of time will save you money while also ensuring your employees have the tools they need to efficiently and securely perform their tasks remotely. For more information, check out our blog, “IT and the surge of remote workers.

Mobile Twinning

If you’re off to meetings or out of the office, it may be worth setting up a “mobile twinning” system for employees who need it. The system will ring both your work desk and an assigned cell phone at the same time (hence the “twin”), allowing you to choose which phone you wish to answer. The best part is that it allows you to keep your cell phone number private while still appearing like you’re simply answering your phone right from your desk. If you don’t pick up either phone, it pops the call automatically back into your work voicemail box.

Mobile Encryption

If mobile devices are storing sensitive information in cloud-based enterprise programs, local encryption may not be needed as the program will provide encryption. However, if contacts, photos and sensitive data is stored locally on the device, it becomes important to secure and back up that data, especially on laptops, which often get overlooked. (See our blog on laptop back up for more information.)

Video Chat and Conferencing

As demand grows for video conferencing, the competition is heating up. This means that your nonprofit can take advantage of more effective, user-friendly video conferencing features at significantly lower costs that what has been available in the past. For example, The Next Web reports, “The Chrome browser will have a new ‘Cast’ feature in the drop-down menu in Chrome 51, which is currently in beta.” The goal appears to couple this feature with Google Hangouts making it super easy to launch a video stream or video chat right from your browser.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft just launched Skype Meetings for small businesses in the US. TechTimes reports, “the service features PowerPoint integration, the laser pointer and whiteboard functionality, and screensharing, which are some of the most popular presentation tools on Skype for Business.

Video conferencing can provide opportunities to connect with your staff, volunteers, and board more often even when they cannot attend meetings in person. Since each service offers different functionality at different price points, we recommend that you do some research and “test” each product to determine what capabilities each solution offers, and whether it will meet the needs of your organization.

At Sinu, we believe that people matter, objects don’t. We look forward to helping your nonprofit best utilize technology to unleash the real power – the power of your people.

Topic Articles
August 1st, 2016

2016August1_Security_AIn computers, as in war, encryption is a way of encoding sensitive information so only authorized parties can make use of it. Unfortunately, computer hackers have developed ways to infiltrate your company's network and systems, take your confidential data hostage, and unlawfully encrypt it. Pay them a ransom and you may or may not get it back.

The way in which these nefarious operators commandeer your information and deny you access usually involves some fairly sophisticated stuff. The ransomware they install on your system is essentially a virus that “locks up” your data, and it can’t be unlocked unless you pay them for the keys.

Some of these data-encrypting viruses are strong, such as the CryptXXX strain. It has been infecting businesses for the past few months, and its latest mutation can’t be quelled by decryption programs found for free on the internet.

Two relatively new types of ransomware aren’t quite as virulent as CryptXXX, but we’d like to bring you up-to-date on them nonetheless. Here’s a look at what they’re called, what they do, and how you can defeat them should your business be impacted.

PowerWare

The first of these recent ransomware varieties is called PowerWare, which also goes by the name PoshCoder. It imitates a more complex ransomware program called Locky, although with less effectiveness.

This spring, PowerWare was discovered attacking healthcare organizations through Windows PowerShell, a scripting application used for systems administration. Fortunately, programmers at hi-tech security firm Palo Alto Researchers were able to quickly create a decryption tool named “powerware_decrypt.py” that unlocks ransomed data with relative ease.

Implementing the fix, however, does call for a bit of technical know-how, so if your IT department is experienced in this area it shouldn’t be a problem. The code that can cure you from PowerWare is published online and is free.

BART

The second new ransomware breed that we should address is called BART. Instead of employing intricate information-encrypting algorithms to take command of your data, BART will stash away your files inside password-protected ZIP folders… and you have to pay for the password.

These infections aren’t hard to identify as the imprisoned files will appear with “.bart.zip” added to their original name (for example, “spreadsheet.xlsx.bart.zip”). Thankfully, not only are they easy to detect, but for antivirus firm AVG, they are easy to decode.

Applying the remedy that AVG has produced requires an unaffected copy of one of the files that’s been locked up. And if you can’t locate one somewhere on your network, a good IT services firm will be able to. The BART decryption tool is also available online at no cost.

The fact is, there are some shady, technologically savvy characters out there who are willing to do us harm. Keeping them at bay takes vigilance. So if your business doesn’t have the resources to stay safe and secure from threats like ransomware - or, in the event that you’ve been hit, you’re not sure how to recover your data without paying the ransom - call us today to talk things over.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 26th, 2016

2016July25_BusinessValue_AMore money on less investment, that’s the dream, right? Well, counterintuitive as it may seem, flash-in-the-pan tech fads and trends may be just the way to achieve that. With the right tools, you can associate your SMB with popular new technologies without much investment. These are our five tips on how to cash in on things as silly and childish as Pokémon GO and as technical and trendy as the internet of things.

Get in early

One of the biggest indicators of how successful your SMB will be in making big gains off of a new trend is how early you get in. Fads, especially in the tech world, can come and go in no time. Be careful not to invest in resources with a long-term commitment like new logos or graphics, but instead in low-cost workarounds like special promotions and social media campaigns that put you front and center immediately. Once the popular kids have moved onto a fresh fixation, you’ll be ready to move forward without skipping a beat.

Use existing tools

How can you get up to speed quickly without investing too much in permanent resources? The trick is to hijack existing opportunities and strategies for your own message. For example, John Deere has been selling farming equipment for over 150 years, with no signs of slowing down. But with a creative combination of existing GPS technology and mobile devices, they quickly jumped to the forefront of the “Internet of Things” craze by connecting their vehicles to crop planning practices.

Participate in the narrative

So you’ve identified a trend you want to cash in on and you’ve commandeered existing tools to help sell your product. How else can you gain momentum? Social media is everywhere nowadays, and it doesn’t seem to be a dying trend. However, it’s no panacea; simply posting “We’ve got a promotion on all seasonal products #inserttechfadhere” won’t bring obsessed customers to your doorstep. Take a minute to understand the mechanics of what pulls everyone away from work, friends, and family, and show participants you’re one of them. Is it competitive? Polarizing? Take a stand or pick a team and invite customers who are “on your side” to get a discount.

Merge the fad with your business model

With a little creative brainstorming, most business models can actually integrate their product or service with a passing trend. Chatbots have been shoring up the “deep learning” revolution, and clothing retailers have come up with a really creative way to employ them to drive sales. By simply providing their chatbots with a fashion tree, the bots can ask basic questions which whittle down clothing recommendations to those that align with customers’ tastes.

Address difficulties presented by the fad

What if you can’t find a way for your products or services to directly interact with the blazing new trend? The next best thing is to provide solutions to problems presented by it. Does interacting with the popular app or activity eat up a lot of mobile device battery? Remind passersby your outlets are available for customers, or that you sell mobile battery packs. Does it require driving all over town? Remind customers of your latest car rental promotion. Sometimes just associating yourself with the trend is enough.

Not sure how to integrate your business with the latest fads? We’re the experts on all things technology related, from the most recent to the ancient. As a small- to medium-sized business owner, getting the most value out of your technology investments is crucial to getting your foot in the door and working your way toward bigger profits. From machine learning to Pokémon GO, no question is too trivial -- ask us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
July 20th, 2016

2016July20_BusinessContinuity_AQuick, what’s the most important thing about your business’s precious data? Besides knowing how to back it up properly and protect it from catastrophic loss, how about understanding all the lingo used to describe it? The term “big data” - in reference to large, complex data sets - is a well-known buzzword these days, but a slew of new “data” terms are in style now, too.

Data is the lifeblood of the information age. It gets observed, collected, organized, and analyzed, and it allows businesses to compete for profit and prosperity. And it takes many forms, each one unique and often vividly-named by the addition of a simple descriptive word.

As such, we thought a short glossary was in order to help keep you current on a handful of new data buzzwords and how they might impact your business.

Small Data

If “big data” is about powerful machines, huge databases, and sophisticated analytics, its little brother “small data” is about people. Small data takes a scaled-down approach to data mining that relies on things like social media to acquire important information. Archiving it is also simpler since a complex central data warehouse isn’t necessary.

Slow Data

The notion of “slow data” may seem a bit counterintuitive since processing ones and zeroes means things are happening fast. Some information, however, is actually acquired more slowly. Take, for example, the polar ice caps, where things literally move at a glacial pace. Since this kind of data doesn’t require frequent analysis it is suitable for back-up in its native format in a secure data lake.

Fast Data

We’re guessing you knew this buzzword was coming next, and it’s probably exactly what you thought it would be. “Fast data” refers to data events that happen fast - as in thousands of times per second - such as financial tickers or electrical sensors. Being able to act on it without delay is critical, so storing it immediately in a stable, easy to access location is a must.

Dark Data

Put simply, “dark data” is nothing more than day-to-day operational data that’s not getting used. It often refers to unanalyzed information in the form of customer call records, competitors’ price fluctuations, or website visitor trends. It can also include data that’s no longer accessible, such as when a storage device becomes obsolete. Your business can bring some of this redundant, out-of-date, or hidden data into the light with software designed to tidy things up.

Dirty Data

And speaking of tidying, here we finally have “dirty data.” While not quite as provocative as, say, dirty dancing or a dirty martini, it does have a tendency to arouse anxiety. But it’s actually not harmful to your data warehouse; it merely refers to a data set prior to its being “cleaned,” such as a leads list that contains duplicates, spelling mistakes, or formatting errors. The key is ensuring it gets spruced up before moving it into production.

If this index of buzzwords has left you wondering about the ways that different types of information affect your specific business, we’ve got answers. Setting up and managing your databases, super-secure backup strategies, and a thorough understanding of information technology are what we provide, so call or message us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
July 14th, 2016

2016July14_Security_ADon't be put off by the tech jargon of security experts you find in forums and self-help books. A managed service provider is what you need to break down complex security ideas into easy-to-understand language. However, they generally focus on installing and managing protection software that's often far too complicated to operate without their help. And when that’s the case, what can you do to improve the safety of your business and its data? Keep reading for 5 effective, down-to-earth cybersecurity measures that you not only need to know, but need to put into action

1. Two-Factor Authentication

Did an attacker get your password? With two-factor authentication they’ll still need your mobile device to do any damage. Here’s how it works: every time you log into a service that requires a password, the service will send a code to your mobile device for another layer of authentication. Nowadays, most internet services have this option: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, Slack, etc. Check a full list here to see if you could be using two-factor authentication on any of your online accounts.

2. Password Manager

Say goodbye to the bygone era of memorizing a long list of different passwords for the various websites and services you use. Password manager software may have been around for a long time, but it’s still a viable solution for improving your login integrity. After installing it, all you need to do is create one secure master password and let the software do the rest. It will store and encrypt all of your passwords in one place for future reference and help generate random, more secure passwords for any new logins.

3. Keep All Software Up to Date

Update all of your software and your operating system as often as possible -- it’s that simple. New versions come with better protection and fix any newly discovered loopholes. If you are too busy or can’t find the time to do it, check for an automatic update option. Any excuse for postponing updates will feel a lot less valid when it means a security breach or system crash.

4. Disable Flash Player

Adobe Flash Player may be what allows you to play Candy Crush during your work breaks, but it has boasted such a poor security record that most experts recommend that users block the plugin entirely. Most internet browsers have the option to block Flash by default, while allowing you to enable blocked content you deem acceptable by simply right-clicking and selecting Run this Plugin.

5. HTTPS Everywhere

When dealing with technology, long acronyms tend to scare off novice users before they even make it to step two. But don’t panic, there’s only one step to this trick. ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ is a browser extension that forces your browser to automatically navigate to sites using a secured encryption, if the site allows it. The thing is, a significant percentage of websites offer HTTPS connections but don’t present them as the default. When that’s the case, ‘HTTPS Everywhere’ gives your browser a gentle nudge in the right direction.

While in-depth security measures need to be implemented and managed by experts, little steps like the ones listed here can be just as important. Check back often for more helpful cybersecurity tips, but if you have more urgent security needs for yourself and your business, our experts are ready and waiting to offer a helping hand -- why not reach out to us today?

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security