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December 18th, 2015

Security_Dec18_AEarlier this month, social media platform Twitter alerted a number of its users to the fact that their accounts may have been hacked into by something, or someone, known as a “state-sponsored actor.” While a warning of this kind is certainly not unprecedented – for some time now, both Facebook and Google have also been contacting any of their users who they think may have been targeted – it suggests that attacks of this type are becoming more widespread.

But how at risk actually are you from a state-sponsored cyber attack? Is your small or medium-sized business in danger of being targeted? And who is behind these hacking attempts? Well, going by the warnings recently issued by Twitter, reports so far suggest that people, companies or organizations connected to internet security and freedom of speech are currently most likely to be at risk. But ‘currently’ is somewhat ambiguous, for in the world of cybercrime things can happen at lightning speed, and someone who is a target today might be deemed out of danger tomorrow – and vice versa.

As always, the best form of protection is to be forewarned, and you can only do that by learning as much as you can about the latest threats, scams and attacks. If you are a Twitter user, be it personal or for business use, you may be wondering why you have not yet heard of these alerts. That’s because Twitter’s messages were only sent to a small, and mostly rather niche, group of users. The email informed these users that Twitter was contacting them as a precaution due to their accounts “possibly” having been hacked by the state-sponsored actors. The email also stated that they believed that the actors may (or may not) be associated with a government, and that those involved had been looking to obtain personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers and/or IP addresses. So far, so vague!

Twitter then goes on to say that, although they have no evidence that any accounts were compromised or any data was stolen, they are actively investigating. They also lamented the fact that they wished they could say more…but that they had no additional information at that time. The email goes on to attempt to reassure users that their accounts may not have been an intentional target, but admits that if a user tweets under a pseudonym, that Twitter understands they may have cause for concern. But with so many Twitter users tweeting under a different name – and perfectly innocently, at that – what’s the real cause for concern here?

The issue lies with the type of accounts that were mostly targeted. The majority of these belonged to people or organizations connected to, or concerned with, cyber security. In fact, Twitter even offered some handy advice on protecting your online identity, suggesting users read up on the subject at the Tor Project website. Somewhat coincidentally, one of the victims of the attempted Twitter account hack is an activist and writer who currently educates journalists about security and privacy – and who used to work for the Tor Project. Another is a Canada-based not-for-profit organization involved with freedom of speech, privacy and security issues, and one of its founders is a contractor for the Tor Project.

Other Twitter users who received the email are also involved in some way or another in cyber security, albeit as self-described “security researchers” or simply by way of following or engaging with the online security community. This might lead you to the conclusion that, if you’re not in the business of security and instead keep your tweets to sport, entertainment, and the latest must-have gadgets, you are not at risk. But we urge you not to be so hasty. That’s because, within that small group of people who were contacted by Twitter, a large proportion of them had nothing to do with activism, freedom of speech, calls for greater privacy, or anything of the sort.

This means that, far from brushing this latest round of cyber threats under the carpet, individuals and business owners – whatever industry they are in – do have at least some cause for concern. As yet Twitter has not released details of the state the “actors” are sponsored by, so for now we are none the wiser as to whether it’s a homegrown issue or one from further afar – say North Korea or China.

What does all this mean for you as a business owner or manager? It means that you should be taking your online security more seriously than ever. It’s no longer just your network that is at risk; now simply having an account on a social media site such as Facebook or Twitter could be providing less-than-desirable third parties with the portal they need to access your company’s private information.

If you’d like to know how to ensure the online safety of your organization, give us a call today. Our experts have experience in everything from securing your computer network to increasing safety when it comes to sending out those all-important tweets!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
December 17th, 2015

Security_Dec17_AWith the vast majority of end users turning to Google as their search engine or default browser of choice, it comes as no surprise to learn that the company takes security seriously. But in a perpetually changing landscape where anti-virus and anti-malware tools are constantly chasing their tails in order to stay up to date with the latest threats, there cannot be many small to medium-sized business owners who can afford to ignore the issues surrounding cyber security. So what exactly is the internet giant doing to keep your users – and your organization - safe?

With more than one billion people using Google’s search engine on their desktops, and over a billion more accessing it through mobile devices, it is clear that security is – or should be - paramount. Google already claims to protect desktop users with its Safe Browsing service, but what about its mobile users?

With cyber threats ranging from the annoying, such as adware, to the unsavory – hello spyware - and the downright terrifying (ransomware, we’re looking at you), mobile device users are increasingly demanding to know that they are being adequately protected when using Google’s products, tools and services. So in order to protect the mind-bogglingly large number of people who are using Google on their smartphones, laptops, notebooks and tablets, Google recently unveiled plans to extend its Safe Browsing service to mobile users - or at least to who are using Chrome on an Android device.

Whether you regard this as a blatant ploy to get users to switch to Android is something we’ll let you decide for yourself, but the fact is that Google is taking steps to protect its users. Back in August 2014, the company bolstered its Safe Browsing warnings with messages alerting users to unwanted software programs trying to sneak onto their computers by attaching themselves without warning to a legitimate download. In addition, both the Android platform and the Google Play Store have security measures in place to weed out potentially dangerous apps.

However, not every cyber security threat comes from an app or installation so, while Google is doing the right thing by guarding against threats in these areas, there are other issues that require a different means of protection. Enter social engineering, and phishing in particular, which can cause untold harm – such as data or identity theft - to a business or individual.

In order to protect against social engineering, an up-to-date list of malicious websites needs to be stored upon the device – this enables Google to send an alert to the user before they get ambushed. But there are problems with this which Google has had to overcome, not least of which is how to keep the list updated in the face of new threats. Compounding this issue further are factors that are unique to mobile browsing: mobile data speeds can be slow and connectivity patchy, depending where the user is. A fast, stable connection is crucial when the timing of an alert is paramount. Not only that, but using mobile data costs the end user money!

Bandwidth (and battery) limitations mean Google has had to find a way to ensure the data they send to users is as small as possible. Protecting their customers is crucial – but so too is not sapping battery life and data plans. Because this boils down to connectivity and speed factors, a device’s location is now taken into account. For example, if a known phishing scam is only affecting certain locations, only devices that are in that part of the world receive a warning.

Google also prioritizes data by sending information on a need-to-know basis - in other words, bigger threats take precedence over more minor issues. They have also designed the software to limit network traffic, and to be as light as possible on memory and processor usage.

Since its announcement in early December, Google is now protecting all Chrome users on Android devices as default, making Safe Browsing part of their Play services from Version 8.1 onwards. Chrome Version 46 is also the first app to initiate Safe Browsing.

How do you know whether you are protected by Safe Browsing mode? Go to your settings in Chrome, and check your Privacy menu. How do you know if your small or medium-sized business stands the best chance of survival in the face of a cyber attack or phishing scam? Talk to us today and we’ll be more than happy to share our up-to-date knowledge with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
December 12th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Dec7_BA Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a valuable security blanket for countless companies across the nation. And while business owners hope they never have to invoke their continuity plan, it is important to understand which events might necessitate it coming into action. By understanding how certain disasters can impact your business, you’ll have a better idea of when and if your BCP needs to take affect.

When a disaster happens, your first thoughts will likely revolve around how it will affect your business and the services it provides. Depending on what occurs, you might be required to call your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) into action to ensure your company remains operational and that any Recovery Time Objectives are met.

Unfortunately, too many business owners fail to properly prepare themselves for taking this action, by viewing disasters as two-dimensional events. Realistically, a disaster has many possible outcomes and is not as black and white as you may think. For instance, think about how a flood can disrupt your company.

The logical conclusion for most business owners is to picture their office underwater. While that is one possibility, several others may also exist that could require you to consider implementing your BCP. A flood may not disturb your office, but what if it strikes an off-site storage facility where you keep digital or paper data? This is likely to have just as great an impact on your business, and necessitate your BCP coming into action.

Here we’ll take a look at a few other disasters that can happen, and which factors you need to consider before implementing your BCP.

Fire

If a fire takes place at your business, invoking your BCP is a fairly obvious decision. However, what do you do if a fire occurs in the same building as your office, or next door to you? It can be a problematic situation as you may not know what, if any, damage has occurred. Smoke travels fast and can leave behind soot, which may render your servers inoperable or highly unstable. There may be health issues at play as well, and sometimes it is not be feasible to have your employees working in the office in the immediate aftermath of smoke damage.

Before invoking your BCP in this situation, you will want to speak with fire crews on the scene about when they will let you back into your office and what kind of damage has been done. This should give you the necessary information on how to proceed, and enable you to decide whether your BCP needs to be put into action.

Civil unrest

It can be hard to gauge what to expect in times of civil unrest. We have witnessed large protests that remained peaceful, but we have also seen ones that have become unruly and destructive. Several business owners had to halt or significantly reduce services in places like Missouri and Baltimore because of the latter. Only time will tell if they are able to recover, or end up having to shut their doors for good.

Due to the volatility of these events, it is impossible to fully prepare yourself, since you can never completely know how the situation will pan out. Instead make sure you and your staff are prepared to invoke your BCP should the situation deteriorate. Even if something were to happen at your premises, if you’re diligent and paying attention you should be able to act quickly and prevent a large-scale service disruption.

Security threats

Most people don’t put things like viruses and security breaches in the realm of disasters, and that in and of itself can be disastrous. Let’s use one of the fastest growing security threats to small businesses, ransomware, as an example. It could be downloaded to your network by a deceptive email and opened by an employee. When ransomware makes it way onto your network, it will encrypt or block all access to your data until you pay a sum of money.

Because ransomware can appear suddenly, often business owners get flustered and either pay the ransom or suffer a long period of downtime trying to figure out how to fix the problem. Either way, money is lost. If ransomware or any other security breach occurs, it’s important to quickly analyze the situation and determine whether you need to invoke your BCP, which should allow you to avoid both downtime and ransom payments.

It’s important to remember that a disaster can appear in many different ways, shapes and forms. If you need help on determining when it is appropriate to initiate your BCP, or have any other questions about how a BCP would help your business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 25th, 2015

From holiday scams and data leaks to CEO phishing, we have covered quite a bit of topics on how to protect yourself, your employees and your business against scammers trying to steal your identity and hard-earned money. Some scams are new and innovative while others, like spoofing, are tried and true tools that prey on human nature to gain unauthorized access to your workstation, data, or personal and financial information.


Sample of spoof email courtesy of Visa

According to a study by McAfee Labs, 80% of business users failed to spot a malicious email. Recently, we’ve heard from several customers about “spoofing” attempts. E-mail spoofing is a technique commonly used for spam e-mail and phishing to hide the origin of an e-mail message. By changing certain properties of the e-mail, such as the From, Return-Path and Reply-To fields (which can be found in the message header), ill-intentioned users can make the e-mail appear to be from someone other than the actual sender. In fact, scammers “spoof” because they know you are more likely to welcome and take action on an email from a familiar party (family, friend, vendors like PayPal, Amazon, Quickbooks, etc.).

Spoofing is possible because email was structured to allow for many systems (your primary mail system, your accounting system, your CRM system, your website, etc.) to send your mail. This flexibility also produces the vulnerability to spoofing.

Part of the threat related to spoofing is that it is not executed using malware or a virus, meaning that there is very little to detect, and so software and hardware protections are not entirely effective in filtering out this kind of email.

How to identify a spoofed email

There are a number of ways in which you can quickly and proactively identify a spoofed email before taking action on the email in your possession. Here are some things to look out for:

1. Absence of company logos and letterheads.

2. Poor grammar and/or spelling.

3. The body of the message is an image rather than true text.

4. File attachments ending in: .exe, .zip, .bat or any other container-type of file.

5. Check the origin web site of the email. Often, it will have the name of the familiar company in it, but it will have extraneous information in the web address. For example, instead of an email coming from info@amazon.com, it might come from info@amazon.xyz123.com meaning they simply added the Amazon part to make it look familiar to you, but the web site it came from was really www.xyz123.com.

6. Do you have a bad “gut feeling” about the email? Our instincts are honed to subconsciously detect slight aberrations, so trust the gut and check with our support team before you click any links or give up any information.

How to avoid malicious emails

  1. Be aware of email requests with high urgency and quick action. If you are ever in doubt, double check the request with the sender either by phone or by composing a new email—never reply to the email itself.

  2. Never give personal or financial information over email. Trusted parties will never ask you for personal information through email.

  3. Don’t click on links from messages that contain misspellings. If an email from a well-known company is formatted badly, has obvious misspellings or is unrelated to the product or company, this is a red flag.

  4. Think about whether you initiated the action. Always be suspicious of unsolicited email; if you didn’t prompt a password reset — don’t click the link.

If you ever have a question about an email you receive, don’t hesitate to give us a call. With cybersecurity threats on the rise, it really is better to be safe than sorry – and we are here to help!


Note: Thanks to our friends at Intermedia for providing several tips on how to avoid phishing. They have published an informative e-book, Harpooning Executives: how phishing evolved into the C-suite.
November 23rd, 2015

Blogging has gone from being a fun side project for aspiring creatives to an absolute necessity for businesses of all sizes. For many companies, especially small to medium-sized ones, it’s likely to be just about the only web page that is updated with any regularity on their websites. And that’s why you need to be pushing your blogs. With hard work and engaging content, you can morph your company’s blog from afterthought to valuable asset that brings in people to your site.

Do any of these sound like your blog?

Sporadic posts often months apart A once vibrant blog that is now nothing more than digital tumbleweeds blowing by A page that says “coming soon”

We’re not here to judge. However, if any one of these scenarios resembles the current state of your blog, it might be time to do something about it. We know you’re busy and that the last thing you want to do is write about your business but, with content that is carefully crafted and curated, your company will have an unique asset that can help lead your marketing, by establishing you as an expert in your field, and promote sales efforts by driving people to your website.

You’re probably wondering where to begin. Well go ahead and reset the password for your WordPress or Tumblr account, because we have a few pointers to help you get started.

Use your blog to build your brand identity

For small and medium-sized businesses, it can be difficult to build a brand identity. You have your logo and colors, but what does your brand consist of beyond that? What is its personality, what characteristics does it have, and what is its tone? These are just a few of the questions you need to consider before you begin writing your blog posts, or having someone else write them for you, of course, which is a good option for busy business people.

A blog that reflects the personality of your business helps to give you a brand identity in the minds of readers by letting them know just what your company is. A hardware store is most likely going to want the contents of its blog to be straightforward, reliable and no-nonsense, while a marketing company is likely to have a blog that shows off its creativity, playfulness and skill at design and wordplay. This is your chance to develop your company’s identity, and explore just how you wish to be perceived by online readers.

Tip: Before starting to write posts for your blog, picture your business as a person, and write down what this person would say and how they would say it. This should be used as the foundation for each and every blog post.

Create a strategy and schedule for your blog

A clearly defined schedule and game plan for your blog will help make sure that once the ball starts rolling, it keeps rolling. Your goal from a scheduling perspective should be to have at least one new post a week. More is always better, but weekly posts will at least let both readers and Google know your site is still active.

In terms of a blogging strategy, don’t feel like every post needs to be a second coming of The Odyssey. Sometimes all you need to do is come up with a quick tip, or share a video you think is useful to people visiting your website. Varying the the length and type of content featured on your blog is a good way to keep things fresh.

Tip: At the start of each month, you should come up with blog topics and a deadline for each post. This should help make sure content is always going up on your blog.

Lead and inform, but do not sell

One of the biggest challenges for small and medium-sized businesses with a blog is to keep the content related to your company without putting on the hard sell. Realistically, the goal of your blog should be to point people in the direction of your business without pushing them into buying something. They should be able to reach that conclusion organically.

Let’s use an auto parts store as an example. A blog on the quality of the windshield wipers it sells is unlikely to generate a lot of interest. That’s because it is not something that resonates with a lot of people. A post on the dangers of driving with old wiper blades, however, will help get readers more interested in investing in new blades. And the good news for them is that they can purchase new wiper blades right, without even having to leave your website.

Tip: In addition to creating informational posts, don’t be afraid to add blog posts about your employees, especially if you do not have dedicated staff pages on your website. This can enable people get to know the names and faces behind your business, and help potential customers to feel more comfortable with your company as a whole.

You made it to our blog, so there must be something to this whole blogging thing. Get in touch with us if you want to know more about how blogging, or any other technology-related tools, can help add value to your business. And of course, feel free to keep reading our blog while you’re here!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 16th, 2015

You have finally decided your small or medium-sized business is ready to utilize Business Intelligence (BI) software. This is a big step for your company and one that must be approached with diligence. If you are not careful the cost of BI software, not to mention training, could far outweigh the actual benefits you end up receiving. However, with thoughtful BI planning, you are likely to see results you would have never thought possible.

Quite a few business owners see other companies using BI software and tools successfully and hope to emulate those results. Unfortunately, BI goes far beyond installing a program on your employee’s computers and expecting them to churn out results because of it. In fact, without proper planning in place, you could end up losing money on your BI investment.

If you’re ready to bring BI software and tools to your small or medium-sized business but aren’t quite sure what your should be looking for, here are four things you need to consider during the planning process.

What data do you need to know

BI software is great at helping you obtain data and presenting it to you in all kinds of different ways. But it’s only helpful if you can actually use the information. Too many businesses jump on the BI software bandwagon because they hear about the great results other companies have achieved using these tools. However, if you don’t know what information you’re looking for or how to use that data to your advantage, BI software essentially becomes a toy for you and your staff to play with.

That’s why you need to fully understand what information and data your business needs before implementing any BI software. This will help you pick the best tool for your needs and then utilize it to great effect.

Create specific goals

When you are planning to implement BI software it is vital to have a specific endgame in mind. Increasing profits sounds great but it’s hard to utilize BI effectively when tackling a goal of that magnitude. Instead focus on performance metrics you can measure like higher closing rates or more online conversations. This will help make your planning easier and allow you to find the BI tools required to reach those goals as well as track your progress along the way.

Think about today and the future

It is important to not only think about BI software in correlation to your short term goals but your long term ones as well. You want to make sure your BI software is useful both now and in the future. Find something that can grow alongside your company over the long haul. You don’t want to constantly be changing or adding on to BI tools unless it is absolutely necessary. If possible, find BI solutions that are scalable and flexible so they can help over a longer period of time.

Keep it simple

Sometimes the desire to know more about your company can see you end up overloading your staff and employees with complex toolsets and data. The goal, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, should be data that is quickly accessible and easy to comprehend. This will allow you and your team to make speedy and informed decisions. Convoluting the process with unnecessary information or complicated process will only serve to negate what you are trying to do by installing BI software in the first place.

BI tools and software are designed to help you work smarter, not harder. When you plan to bring them to your company, this is something you will want to keep at the forefront of your decision making process.

If your company is looking to start utilizing BI tools, our team of experts can help. Together we can create a BI plan that works best for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 9th, 2015

164_A_SMFor many business owners who have dabbled in social media, they may think their efforts have been in vain and growing a large social media presence is impossible. They may go as far to believe that social media simply doesn’t work, especially when you don’t have an exciting brand like Nike or Google. The truth is you can succeed with social media, even if you have a boring brand. And here is one company that is doing just that.

Owning a “boring brand” is not an excuse for a poor social media presence

You've probably heard of 3M but may not know exactly what they do. However, there’s a good chance you may have some of their products in your house. If you have Ace bandages, Scotchgard, or Post-it notes lying around your bathroom or home office, then you are guilty of being an owner of 3M products.

So when it comes to social media, why does this company matter? Simple. They have 121,000 followers on Twitter, which may sound pretty remarkable when the name of this brand isn’t Apple, BMW or Taylor Swift. So how does a company like 3M succeed? Here are a few things they do well, and you can do too.

Invest in people

If you’re the sole person shooting out tweets, updating the status of your business’s Facebook page or writing articles to post on Linkedin - all while you’re trying to run your business - it’s no wonder your social media presence is failing. You know as well as anyone, that you don’t have the time for it. And for this reason, it’s impossible to put your full effort into growing a social media presence. So why not hire at least one expert (or maybe a few) to manage it for you? You’ll likely see a noticeable uptick in your followers. And even better, you’ll no longer be distracted with social media, and can focus on growing your business. What’s not to love about that?

As for 3M...you may wonder, how many people do they employ to manage their social media presence? The answer is about ten, which is a very tiny percentage of the 90,000 employees who work there. Obviously, with 120,000 followers, their efforts are paying off.

Shoot for more content over quality content

Quality content is undoubtedly important, but quality should not be an excuse to avoid publishing content. As a business owner, that means you can’t review and approve every post and article that goes out. You need to trust your social media team to do their job. What’s more, you may fear that your team could commit some social media faux pas and accidentally publish content that outrages some of your followers. Here’s a news flash for you: it’s likely going to happen at one point or another. 3M publishes content quickly. Do you think they’ve posted content that some of their 120,000 followers have disagreed with? Of course they have. When you speak to the masses, there is no way to please everybody. So sit back, accept it and trust your social media staff. Mistakes will happen, but nothing engages your followers more than fresh, timely content. That is except for this last pointer...

Ask questions

Many social media platforms are all about engagement. If you’re aiming for more followers, you need to engage your customers and prospects. And a perfect way to do so is to ask questions. Not only does this create a connection between your brand and your customer, but it also attracts new followers. 3M posed the question, “what does science mean to you?” to their Twitter following with some incredible results. The tweet generated more than 500 favorites and 200 retweets. This is an example of the power of a question. So when it comes to social media, remember to ask questions, respond and engage. This is what many of the platforms are designed for.

What it comes down to is that your business already provides value and improves your customers’ lives in one way or another. If it didn’t, no one would buy from you and you wouldn’t have a business to begin with. So leverage that value and educate your customers on social media. You are the expert, and there are people out there who are interested in what you have to say.

For assistance with your social media presence or any of your IT needs, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
November 2nd, 2015

As it is only a matter of time before the first winter storms hit in many places, you might want to consider taking a look at your company’s business continuity plan. Each year heavy snowfall and other weather-related incidents interrupt services and cost businesses money. One way to prevent this from happening is by communicating with clients and staff before a storm hits, in order to ensure everyone is prepared.

While weather varies drastically depending on where you live, nowhere is immune from inclement conditions during the winter. It’s only a matter of time before your local weatherperson appears on TV warning you to brace for yet another “Storm of the Century”, and in turn everyone whips themselves into a frenzy preparing for the worst-case scenario.

However, you shouldn’t just be focusing on your personal affairs; you need to make sure your business is ready as well. Even if the forecast doesn’t turn out to be accurate, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. For this to happen, you will need to stay in constant contact with both your employees and customers before and during a storm to make sure they know what to expect. Doing this will help limit interruptions and make sure clients can adjust the expectations they have of your business. Here is how you can use communication technology to prepare for any possible service interruptions caused by bad weather.

Employees

The great thing about technological advancements over the past few years is that they allow for many employees to work from home, or from anywhere that has an internet connection. However, they must be prepared to do so. That means you should be letting employees know that there is a chance they might be working from home three or four days before a storm is due to hit. During this time, have your IT department or provider check with those employees to ensure they have the capabilities to work from home, even if it is in a limited capacity.

During this time, designate certain employees as flex workers if you can’t determine just how bad the weather will be the next day. This means that they will check the weather in the morning and come in if it is safe. They will also be in charge of informing other employees whether or not they will need to come into work.

Finally, make sure there is an updated spreadsheet or file with all your employees’ contact details, and that this is available to those who may need it. It is important that each person at your company is able to be reached via multiple channels, because you never know which services a storm may knock out. Having this ready before anything happens will allow for more efficient communication during inclement weather.

Customers

Your customers depend on you, and it is absolutely vital that you keep them informed of how the weather situation will affect your business. One of the easiest ways to do this is via social media. In the days leading up to the storm, let your followers know that you are keeping an eye on the situation, and provide contact information for someone at your company who can give them additional information if needed.

If your business will have to close because of bad weather, it’s good practice to announce it as far ahead of time as possible. Ideally this will be done on the night before or, at the latest, early in the morning of the closure. You don’t want customers trekking in three feet of snow to get to your shop or office, only to find out it's closed.

Make sure you get in touch with clients right away to inform them of any delays that might occur in delivering goods or services because of the office shut-down, and give them an estimate as to when your business will be fully operational again. Just because you aren’t responsible for the weather doesn’t mean you can stop being accountable altogether. Staying ahead of the game will prove to clients that your company is organized and prepared for anything.

Of course, communication is just one part of a comprehensive business continuity plan. Contact our experts today and find out how we can keep your company functional no matter the weather.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 2nd, 2015

When asked about the future of enterprise technology, the chief executives from two of America’s largest companies agree that it is personalization.

According to a recent New York Times (NYT) report, Tim Cook of Apple and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric forecast that business technology will take a lesson from consumer Internet by using data to tailor the tech experience for businesses.   

Sinu noted in past blogs that Apple is aspiring to grow sales with new commitments to enterprise technology (see OS9: Apple eyes enterprise and Apple-IBM partnership promises new enterprise solutions).

Cook reaffirmed that position at a recent conference for Box, an online storage and collaboration tools company: “We want to make tools to help people change the world, and that means being in the enterprise.” 

Cook also noted that the world has changed over the past decade and “there aren’t nearly as many ‘consumer’ and ‘enterprise’ products—instead, corporate and BYOD buyers just look for the best tool for the job,” reported TechRepublic.

GE’s Immelt endorsed that viewpoint, reports the NYT: “Industrial companies have yet to feel the benefit of the Internet the way consumers have… We’re just getting started.”

Google and Facebook deliver ads based on your recent Internet activity and social behavior, and iPhone tracks your location and can conveniently suggest local businesses. In the battle between privacy and convenience, personalization has won in consumer tech. GE and Apple seem to be betting that it will be the same for enterprise.

“We can now track every jet engine separately throughout its life,” Immelt said in the NYT report, “giving each one the machine equivalent of a Facebook page, which states where it is and how it is ‘feeling,’ making maintenance more efficient.”

The NYT report also noted that Apple already uses personal identification and location awareness, and office apps exist today that interact with people depending on location and job status. 

But data security remains a real concern for the majority of business owners (August 2015 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard optimism survey), and the market has responded. The Wall Street Journal reports, venture firms invested $1.2 billion in cybersecurity startups in the first half of this year.  

Even with all the new security tech companies trying to assuage their fears, the question is whether business owners will be willing to share the amount of data needed for the type of personalization Apple and GE envision. It will likely depend heavily on where the burden of liability lies when data security breaches occur. In the meantime, business owners will continue to walk a tightrope between data security and providing employees the tools and conveniences they are used to from consumer technology.

Topic Articles
November 2nd, 2015


By Luis Cosme, 
VP of Managed Services

Mac users have waited anxiously for Office for Mac 2016 (the previous version Office for Mac 2011 was released in October 2010). While Office 2016 has been praised as the most robust Office version so far with a number of improvements, it comes with several limitations and bugs that have not been fixed as of the posting of this article. For this reason, we recommend against upgrading until these issues are worked out.   

We have found several major problems or limitations with Office 2016 for Mac. For example:

  • Outlook for Mac 2016 is not compatible with Exchange 2007
  • When using Office 2016 for Mac, it’s not possible to export data or import email from a PST (Outlook personal data file) into an existing profile
  • Many people have reported issues with online archiving in Microsoft 365 including the inability to move or copy folders between online archive and mailbox, cannot move multiple items at the same time or search mailbox and archives simultaneously
  • A full list of Microsoft’s Office 2016 ‘known issues’ can be found in this Microsoft Office KB article 

We also recommend waiting to install El Capitan, Apple’s latest operating system (OS X 10.11) which was released in September. For the past three weeks we’ve seen reports of Office 2016 for Mac crashing when using El Capitan when there is more than one app open. While the most common complaints are concerning Outlook, many Mac users have reported that even Excel and Word have problems after El Capitan is installed.

Microsoft released a statement several weeks after the release of El Capitan stating: “We have isolated the hang after crash/force quit that impacts all Office 2016 apps as well as Outlook 2016 repeated crash after launch. We are working with Apple on a solution, please stay tuned,” wrote Microsoft program manager Sunder Raman in a customer support post.

“Microsoft seems to be taking long in providing a fix for this, and Apple doesn’t seem to have any comments yet, but rest assured, the two tech firms are working together to resolve this case,” reported TechTimes.

On October 21, Apple released an update for El Capitan (OSX 10.11.1) stating that it “improves compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016” and provides a number of other improvements and fixes. “We’re currently uncertain if this resolves all of the issues reported and monitoring the situation closely,” said Apple.

In the meantime, we recommend, as with any new software updates, that you wait to install them and consult with Sinu to make sure your current business solutions are compatible and productivity unaffected. 

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