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February 11th, 2014

Security_Feb10_AThe 2014 Olympic Winter Games is underway and athletes from all over the world have made their way to Sochi, Russia to compete. As with almost every other Olympic Games, there have been a number of issues for organizers to deal with. However, unlike the last Olympics, one of those complaints is about hacking of mobile devices and computers.

Hacking at the Winter Olympics 2014

Well before the Olympics even started in Russia, the Russian government said that they will be surveilling phone and computer communications. Many scoffed at this, writing off the government as being overly ambitious and boasting about a nearly impossible task. The thing is, the Internet in Russia may not be as secure as many believe, being full of hackers. At least according to a report aired on NBC shortly before the games started.

In the report, reporter Richard Engel took new, never opened laptops and mobile devices to Russia and used them. He found that within 24 hours all of the devices had been hacked, exposing the data stored within.

In part of the segment, Engel and a security expert go to a local coffee shop in Moscow and search for Sochi on a mobile device. Almost immediately the device is hacked and malicious software downloaded. Engel notes that the hackers have access to data on the phone along with the ability to record phone calls.

In a follow-up segment, Engel explains a bit more about the laptop issues. When he boots one up and connects to the Internet, hackers are almost immediately snooping around the information, transferring from the machine to the networks. Within a couple of hours, he received a personalized email from a hacker welcoming him to Russia and providing him with some links to interesting websites. Clicking on the link allowed the hackers to access his machine.

One issue is that it hasn't been stated in any reports whether the Russian government is behind this, or if it's hackers out to steal information. While you can be sure that the Russians are monitoring communication during the Winter Olympics, it is highly likely that they are not the ones installing malware on phones, rather it's probably organized crime rings or individual hackers.

I'm not at Sochi so why do I care?

As a business owner half the world away you may be wondering why this news is so important to you, or why you should care. Take a look at any tech-oriented blog or news channel and you will quickly see that the number of attacks on devices, including malware, phishing, spam, etc. is on the rise. It's now likely a matter of when you will be hacked, not if.

Combine this with the fact that many businesses are going global, or doing business with other companies at a big distance. This has caused many people to go mobile and the tools that have allowed this are laptops and smart devices. Because so many people are now working on a laptop, phone or tablet, these devices have become big targets. The main reason for this is that many people simply don't take the same safety precautions they take while on the office or even the home computer.

Hackers know this, so logically they have started going after the easier targets. The news reports concerning Russia highlight this issue and is a warning business owners around the world should be aware of, especially if they are going to be traveling with computers or phones that have sensitive information stored within.

That being said, there are a number of tips you can employ to ensure your data is secure when you go mobile. Here are six:

1. Use cloud services wherever possible

Cloud storage services can be incredibly helpful when traveling. They often require a password to access and are usually more secure than most personal and even some business devices. If you are traveling to an area where you are unsure of the security of the Internet or your devices, you could put your most important data in a trusted cloud storage solution.

This is also a good idea because if your device gets stolen, the data is in the cloud and is recoverable. If you have data just stored locally on your hard drive, and your device is stolen, there is a good chance it's gone forever. For enhanced security, be sure to use a different password for every service.

2. Back up your data before leaving

Speaking of losing data, it is advisable to do a full system backup of all the devices you are taking with you before you leave. This will ensure that if something does happen while you are away, you have a backup of recent data that is recoverable.

3. Secure and update all of your devices

One of the best ways to ensure that your data is secure is to update all of your devices. This means ensuring that the operating systems are up-to-date and any security updates are also installed.

Also, ensure that the programs installed on the devices are updated. This includes the apps on your phone, including the ones that you don't use.

You should also secure your devices by not only having an antivirus and malware scanner but also requiring a password to access your device.

4. Watch where you connect

These days Internet connections are almost everywhere. In many public spaces like airports, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. many of the connections are open, or free to connect to, and don't require a password.

While this may seem great, hackers are known to watch these networks and even hack them, gaining access to every bit of information that goes in and out of the network. When you are traveling, try avoiding connecting to these networks if you can. If you really have to, then be sure not to download anything or log into any accounts that hold private data.

5. Know the risks of where you are going

Before you leave, do a quick search for known Internet security issues in the area you will be visiting. If you find any news or posts about threats you can then take the appropriate steps to secure your system ahead of time.

6. If in doubt, leave it at home

In the NBC report, Engle finishes by telling viewers that if they are at all unsure about the security of their devices, or are worried about their data, they should leave the device at home, or delete the data before going. This is a good piece of advice and maybe instead of deleting data completely, you could move it to a storage device like an external hard drive that you leave behind.

If you are looking to learn more about ensuring the security of your devices while you are away from the office contact us today. We have solutions to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
February 5th, 2014

Productivity_Feb03_AIf you’re running a business, regardless of whether you have physical premises or operate in a virtual world, you probably receive a continuous stream of emails every minute of every day and beyond. Because of this, many business owners have a hard time simply handling the sheer volume of emails. If you’re dealing with the same issue, then you'll probably welcome our top five tips to solving your email deluge problem.

1. Turn off email notifications

Notification sounds are helpful in letting you know you have received a new email - important or not. However, they can also be distracting if you're trying to concentrate. To avoid this, turn off new message notifications on both your Smartphone and computer, and schedule a convenient time to check and respond to your emails instead. This will not only improve your organizational skills, but will also give you peace of mind that you are focusing on tasks without neglecting your inbox.

2. Schedule when to check your emails

Unless your work demands replying to emails instantly, checking emails can be scheduled to a specific time of the day. You don’t want to live in your inbox the entire day, just checking the emails you receive as this can seriously harm your overall productivity. According to studies, a person takes about 64 seconds to recover from email interruption, a minute you could have spent on a more productive task.

According to research, the best time to check your email is the moment you log in to your computer at work, and before leaving at the end of the day. If you do this, create a to-do list for the rest of the day. Upon going through your messages, delete spam immediately and any emails that aren’t of value, so you’ll have a clear idea of what needs to be prioritized.

3. Organize your inbox

The key to optimizing your email inbox is to choose one main purpose for it, and stick with it. For example, use your inbox only for high-priority messages and filter other emails into another folder. This can be done in the settings of almost every email service.

Another way to organize your inbox is to get rid of unnecessary messages such as newsletters, promo emails, advisories and spam messages - what tech experts like to call Bacn. These kinds of email can mess up your inbox, so clean them up by using the tools in the settings, leaving only emails that are important and relevant to you and your business.

4. Connect with your smartphone

With the advent of smartphones, email handling has become rather convenient. You just need to install the email app on your mobile devices, register, and connect. Many business owners use smartphones to get in touch even when they’re not in the office.

Checking your email on your smartphone can save a lot of time, largely because you can check and respond to emails even when you're out of the office. Furthermore, you can benefit from using your mobile to sort out high-priority emails before getting to work. As a result, you will be able to work more smoothly in the office.

5. Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read

Newsletters and other email marketing messages can be useful. They might notify you of the latest information about your clients, colleagues, shops, etc. and may even provide you with your next sales lead. However, these kinds of emails can pile up so fast in a day or two, and you don’t even have the time anymore to check this info out anyway.

If you have not read several newsletter issues for a while then it might be better to unsubscribe. This will reduce the number of emails in your inbox, giving you a better chance of managing it.

When you know how to manage emails effectively, you will surely be able to increase your productivity. Just take control of your inbox and create a systematic process comfortable to you.

If you want to know more about how to manage emails effectively, call us today and we’ll offer you solutions to add to our tips.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
February 5th, 2014

BusinessValue_Feb03_AIn this digital age it has become important to not only have an online presence but to create one that is active. In fact, many of your customers probably expect that you can be found online so you will need to be as visible as possible online. This means a business website and involvement with social media and even blogging. The question many business owners ask is whether a blog has any real value.

Define business blogging

When we talk about blogging, most people ask two questions: "What is blogging?" and "Is business blogging any different from personal blogging?"

A blog, a portmanteau of Web log, is usually a page on a website where authors post written articles. The content, usually called a post, can be incredibly varied, from along the lines of a journal style to breaking news or even thoughts and opinions to open up debate.

Business blogging is the act of creating content that is related to your business. The topics are usually narrowed down to relate to the products or services you provide. For example, you are reading this post on our blog, which largely focuses on technology in business. The vast majority of business blogs are not profit oriented (the company isn't out to make money directly from their blog articles) and is usually a part of their marketing plan.

Why do businesses blog?

There are 3 main reasons many businesses blog:

1. A blog can increase traffic to your website

One common complaint many business owners have about their website traffic, or the number of people who visit their site, is that it is lower than expected. There can be many reasons behind this, the most common being that the content on the website is static. Think about when it the last time you updated your whole site was.

Even if your site effectively explains what your business does, search engines generally look kindly on websites that are active. It is incredibly hard to keep re-writing your website, so one of the best ways to fix this is by blogging. When you create a new blog post, a new page on your website is usually indexed - added to the site structure, kind of like the index at the back of textbooks. This activity tells search engines that your website is active. Active websites will usually show higher in search results.

Blog articles are also great to share on social media services. By sharing content with your existing customers there is an increased chance of your name and profile being seen by people who aren't your customer yet but could be in the future.

If you have more people seeing your content in different places - search results, social media, etc. - you should see an increase in overall traffic to your website.

2. A blog is a great way to show your expertise

Think about the last time you needed to purchase a new item, say a computer. Did you pick the first shop you saw, then walk in and purchase a computer? Chances are high that you didn't. Most people research companies and retailers who have a good rating or who come across as an expert, and purchase from them.

As many people do this research online, it can be a challenge to establish your company as the expert in your field. Your blog can be the perfect tool to establish your company as a go-to expert. If you answer common questions and provide tips, there is a higher chance that your articles will be regarded as helpful and having potential customers contact you. What this means for you is an increased chance of conversion.

3. Blog articles have a positive long-term effect

When you search on the Internet you will often find a number of blog posts at the top, with some maybe even being from the last year or so. A well crafted blog post will often see a wealth of interest within the first few days of posting largely because of sharing via social media services and users who have subscribed to your posts.

If your posts get a fair number of shares, comments, etc. there is a good chance that search engines will begin to show it higher in results. What this means for you is that the post will continue to be seen in results for a of couple weeks to months or more, depending on keywords, etc. This translates to longer visibility, and a higher chance of traffic and leads in the future.

Of course, not every post will be a smash hit and bring leads pouring in, but an active blog that produces good content could prove to be of great value to your business. It will take time, but most bloggers do see increased payoffs.

Looking to learn more about blogging? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 3rd, 2014

by David Owen, CSO

The team here at Sinu, like most businesses this time of year, met to analyze data from 2013, discuss opportunities to better serve our customers, and form a business strategy for 2014. What surprised us (or maybe it shouldn’t) is that we just kept coming back to our core business model and how we could improve upon it: simplify the way we offer solutions and provide superior customer service.

We often take a look at other businesses that just ‘get it’ in order to inform how we can improve our own model. We know that the ever-increasing technology options for businesses out there can be distracting, if not outright confusing. So Sinu’s mission has always been to develop and curate a platform which allows for the delivery of the kind of enterprise class tools that business need to stay competitive and productive. Yet, businesses have evolving needs and goals, and new technologies continue to emerge. So how to keep it simple? We looked at Acura as an example. When you buy one of their cars, you get a few simple options – performance or technology.

At Sinu, we spend a lot of time and thought finding solutions that will not only fit our customer’s needs today but that have the flexibility and mobility needed to mold to our customer’s needs tomorrow. We then strive to present a couple of easy-to-understand solutions that we are confident get to the core of what is really important in that area of our customer’s business.  When reviewing easy-to-understand options, we have a much more informed conversation with our customers about what is really important in that decision because at the end of the day we all know whether that car we are buying needs to perform or be comfortable. We spend our time ruling out the solutions that cannot be flexible enough to meet the core need of our customers now or evolve into their exact needs into the future. Our goal in 2014 is to continue to find ways to simplify the way we offer these solutions so you better understand the benefits of the technology and how it will support your employee productivity and business growth.

We take customer service, first and foremost, and understand that providing functionality goes well beyond technologies and bits and bytes and mega pixels and all of the jargon that comes along with our industry. While technology evolves and we continue to aspire to simplify it for our customers, the person using that technology has always remained the focus. Zappos, not surprisingly, came up during our discussions about customer service. The online retailer has 500 employees who have all received seven weeks of training on how to make customers happy, and the lengths they will go for their customers are legendary. We learned that while we pride ourselves for using real-world speak to explain technology, and can calmly talk someone off the ledge when their computer crashes, there is an opportunity for us to truly get to know our customers at a deeper level for a more seamless customer service experience.

Simplifying the way we offer solutions and humanizing the customer service experience – this is the core of our business model and what we continue to aspire to master. Let us know how we are doing as we work to be the best IT management company, and perhaps even your most favorite vendor!

Topic Articles
January 30th, 2014

BI_Jan27_AIt seems like over the past five years or so, understanding, processing and leveraging of data has become one of the most important parts of a business. When reading about data you often come across the term 'business analytics'. Despite this terms common usage many people are confused as to what exactly it is and where exactly it fits into business processes.

In this article we will take a brief look at business analytics and why it is so important to businesses of all sizes.

Business analytics defined

When experts talk about analytics most audiences will agree that it is the analysis of data and statistics. The vast majority of business owners have some experience with analytics, with some having even taken courses on it at University. This being said, the idea of business analytics is often hard to pin down - ask 10 people and you will likely get 10 different answers defining what exactly it is.

We like to define business analytics as a process rather than a science. This process uses skills, business experience, technology, applications, and common business practices, to enable business owners, managers, and employees to explore past performance. Simply put, it's the study of the past performance of a business.

With most businesses, the goal of business analytics is to gain insights into the state of the company, and even drive future decisions based on existing data. If you can successfully implement a business analytics process, you and your employees will gain a higher understanding of your business which will lead to better decision making abilities and even higher growth and profits.

What makes up business analytics

As we noted above, this is a process that involves a number of separate components. Four to be exact:
  • Analytics - Using modern data mining and predictive tools to identify patterns that can help make better business decisions and give managers foresight into potential future trends. Usually the questions answered include, "What is the best outcome?", "Why did this work?", etc.
  • Data management - This covers the collection and storage of data. Concepts include how and where the data is stored, who has access to it, how it is accessed, and even when it can be accessed. Some examples of this include using cloud-based storage or even a storage server that is hosted in the office. When looking at data management in terms of analytics, most managers will concentrate on what has worked in the past, why it worked, and what will work in the future.
  • Business Intelligence - This is the use of reporting tools and dashboards to gain an understanding of largely event-based questions like, "How many?", etc. When you implement business intelligence operations you will normally gain better insights into current events and what happened in the past to influence them.
  • Performance Management - This broad term covers actions and tools that are used to track and manage business performance. This includes tasks such a financial reporting and budget forecasting.
The main reason businesses implement the components of business analytics is so that they have a way to not only harness the data their business generates, but to also leverage it in a constructive way so that their business can make better decisions. If used properly, it really helps businesses answer two of the hardest questions to answer: "What do I need to know?" and "What do I need to do?"

If you are looking to learn more about using business analytics or the components that make up this process, contact us today to see how our solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 23rd, 2014

Security_Jan20_ATechnology is becoming increasingly complex and many small to medium business owners and managers are finding it an increasing challenge to manage their systems, while also ensuring that they are secure. One way to prioritize security is to turn to an IT partner, many of whom offer managed antivirus solutions. While this is a viable option, it can still be a slightly confusing topic.

What exactly is managed antivirus?

By now, most people are familiar with the term 'antivirus'. They know that the majority of solutions are a monthly or yearly subscription that they pay for. By subscribing, the company that created the program will update virus databases, allowing scanners to identify viruses during a computer scan. This type of antivirus software is often referred to as unmanaged, largely because the end-user has the ability to deny updates, turn off the scanner, or uninstall it.

A managed antivirus solution is provided by IT partners. These tech experts take care of installing the software on computers and other devices, and will then manage the solution. They will also ensure that scanners are up-to-date and scans are scheduled for a convenient time, thus protecting computers. The best way to think of these solutions is that they are specifically provided by a company to look after your computers and protect them from viruses.

Benefits of managed antivirus solutions

Companies that choose to integrate a managed antivirus solution generally see five main benefits.
  1. All systems will have the same level of security - With a managed service, your IT partner will make sure to install software on all your systems. This means that there should be the same program installed on your systems, and that the antivirus will be updated to ensure that systems are protected from new security threats that come along.
  2. It is easier to manage - Managing your antivirus solution can be a tough task, especially in larger companies where different solutions may need to be employed. By working with an IT partner, your antivirus solutions are managed by tech experts. This is a great solution for business owners who aren't too familiar with technology, or an overworked IT department.
  3. The solutions can be low-cost - Most managed antivirus solutions are offered as a monthly package, where companies pay per user. For some companies, this solution is more affordable per user than a non-managed solution. This is especially true if you have a high number of users and need to purchase multiple licenses.
  4. Management is continual - With unmanaged solutions, many users turn the antivirus protection off because it can slow their computer down or because they believe their usage habits are not compromising security. Managed antivirus solutions usually can't be uninstalled or turned off, meaning your systems are continually protected.
  5. Your systems are truly protected - Regardless of how secure your systems are and the steps you take to ensure that malware doesn't get through, the chances are you will eventually be infected. When you are, it may be tricky to actually completely remove the virus. IT partners are trained in how to do this quickly and efficiently and can usually completely remove the virus, ensuring that your systems are truly secure.
If you are looking for a managed antivirus solution, contact us today as we may have a solution that will work with your business.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 22nd, 2014

BCP_Jan20_A2013 saw some interesting disaster conditions around the world. From a nearly US-wide cold snap, to flooding in numerous locations, and even the super typhoon that slammed into the Philippines, there was hardly any country not affected by a disaster of some form. In order to be able to recover from negative events many companies have adopted some form of disaster recovery plan. As we look forward to 2014, many business owners and managers are wondering what disaster recovery or business continuity trends they should be aware of.

Certain trends relevant to small to medium size businesses are vital for company leaders to be aware of in 2014:

Recovery will get even faster

When looking into recovery options, almost every company wants a solution that is as fast as possible. Recovery speed often depends largely on bandwidth and the storage method used. Each year, companies are able to access faster bandwidth connections and obtain more affordable, yet faster storage options.

In 2014, this trend is set to continue. Businesses around the world will continue to gain access to faster Internet connections and disaster recovery specialists will likely improve the speed with which they can implement a backup.

Many solutions will also be able to help businesses align or optimize their processes. ln turn, this will enable faster recovery and stronger protection. It's highly likely that with this combination you could see a business up and running again within hours instead of days.

Increased reliance on social media as a communications channel

During a disaster it can often be a challenge to communicate with employees and stakeholders. Traditional communication methods, like the phone, may not be working well, if at all, which make it more difficult for plans to be enacted. One alternative is to use social media to make contact and communicate.

Because most social media platforms are hosted in numerous locations around the world, they are hardly ever down. If you have an Internet connection, you can pretty much guarantee that you will be able to get a message out. Combine this with the fact that almost everyone has a social media account on at least one platform, and this proves to be a great option that allows you to reach people quickly.

We predict that in 2014 companies will realize this in higher numbers and begin to implement social media into their existing plans and even train employees on how to use this platform in an emergency situation where other communication lines are down.

Geographical based backup solutions

There were a number of high-profile disasters in 2013 that affected large areas. Some companies saw their backups and secondary backups wiped out because the location at which they were stored was situated in a disaster zone.

In order to have a truly effective backup solution, many experts are suggesting that multiple backups of data should be made and stored in multiple locations that are as geographically diverse as possible.

There is little doubt that businesses have learnt this lesson from the fate of either themselves or others, and will be implementing or looking for solutions that host backups in different locations more readily. In 2014, we predict that many providers will be marketing multi-location backups as a main feature. What this means for businesses is more secure backup and a higher chance of recovery when faced with disaster.

Growing reliance on managed backup solutions

As systems become increasingly complex they become more challenging for many small business owners to back up and manage at the same time. In 2014, there will likely be an increase in the demand for managed backup services.

These services are managed by an IT partner, who can not only help set up backup and recovery systems, but also support recovery after a disaster. The key here is that they give businesses of all sizes a way to implement a backup and continuity plan properly, at a fraction of the cost as was previously the case. We predict that small to medium businesses will take full advantage of services like this, and providers will begin to focus more on offering this type of service.

If you are looking for a backup solution, why not contact us. We may have something that will work for you. Give us a shout today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 15th, 2014

SocialMedia_Jan13_ASocial media and the various platforms that comprise it has started to move into more of a mature phase. Many businesses are using at least one platform on a daily basis and this is likely to continue. As we enter 2014, social media will continue to become not only more influential but also far more prevalent in businesses of all sizes too. As a result of this, certain trends will be set for the year to come.

Here are five social media trends we believe businesses should track throughout 2014.

Successful content will become more helpful

One of the key rules of marketing is that you need to create content that is relevant to your target audience. If you can't show how your company, service or product will help the customer there is a high chance that they won't invest, or will look elsewhere.

Throughout 2014, we should see a shift of strategy with companies using social media to engage with customers to leverage data and create content aimed at being helpful to 'fans' and followers. This might include tips on how to use products and visual images that show fans how to use products, etc.

The key idea business owners should grasp is that they should not be using social media to promote their company, but rather using social media to help. When you can help your followers, you will see more positive association with your brand and possibly even more sales.

Planning ahead will become increasingly important

It used to be enough to simply have a social media account, but now you need to also be active. As more companies break into social media, you will need to post more content on a regular basis.

Because many managers and business owners are busy, they often lack the time to concentrate on social media, especially as demand grows. This means that companies will have to start planning ahead if they want to be successful on social media. What this means is likely hiring a new employee, or appointing a staff member, to run your social media activities. You will also need to schedule posts and content well ahead of time, as well as set budgets.

If you just post occasionally now, or have a profile that isn't that active, the first step you need to take is to schedule a day each week where content goes out. Take a look at older posts and see what worked well with your audience and create similar content. Schedule the content to be posted at roughly the same time each day. Over time, ramp up when you post - try posting new content on different days to see how reactions and interest changes. The key is to stick with it, and you will begin to see some positive returns - likely an increase in Likes, Shares and Comments.

Content will need to be mobile

It's not difficult to see that the mobile device - smartphone and tablet - has become the gadget of choice for many social media users. Some have even gone so far as to stop using social media on their computers entirely. This trend will grow throughout 2014 and what this means for businesses is that they need to be creating content that can be viewed easily on mobile devices.

Because mobile screens are smaller, and many companies are starting to create mobile oriented content, we should see some more visually oriented posts, including both movies and images. At the very least you should ensure that your content posted on social media platforms can be easily viewed by users on mobile devices and your other social related sites, like your blog, can also scale to fit on smaller screens.

Social data will play a key role in company strategies

As the number of users on social media continues to grow, we are starting to see a trend where many users are basically using social media for everything. Because these systems are online, data regarding nearly everything is being tracked and made available to companies and users. This social data can be a huge help if leveraged properly. For example, it allows you to see what users like and dislike, and the content that works best in certain regions, and different dynamics, etc. You can extrapolate this information to your products or services e.g., if post on how to use your product is liked more than other posts, you can assume that the product is seen to be good.

In 2014, companies will increasingly come to realize that they have access to this data and will start to use it to plot their marketing and social strategies. If you aren't already tracking your social data, now would be a good time to start. It will also pay to learn how to analyze it and develop useful insight.

Social integration is the next step

The first step in social media was to get users, including businesses, online and interacting. Now that this is happening, it's time to move onto the next step. For businesses this means integrating social media into their company. In 2014, that's what we predict we will begin to see businesses doing in larger numbers.

This trend has already started with businesses linking their websites to social media profiles but we predict it will go even further with companies integrating social data and plans into the organization as a whole. This will likely be the connecting of social data with other streams of data to make marketing and overall business decisions. In other words, social media will become an integral part of business.

What do you think the biggest social media trend will be in 2014? Let us know today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 9th, 2014

Security_Jan07_AEach new year, experts like to take time and look back at the past year, and try to figure out what to expect in the coming year. It is also a good time to take a look at existing business systems and see if they are ready to handle whatever the coming year can throw at them. When it comes to security, the first step to ensuring your company is ready for the year, security wise, is actually knowing what to expect in 2014.

Here are four security threats businesses should be aware of in 2014.

Increased attacks on cloud end-points

Cloud-based systems saw solid growth throughout 2013, with numerous systems being introduced and older systems reaching new levels or maturity. Small to medium businesses in particular were heavy adopters of these systems. Because of this, we expect to see an increase in attacks against cloud providers.

Providers know this and take steps to ensure security of systems on their end. Hackers know this too, so will be likely going after the weaker points – end users. It is expected that hackers will begin targeting users of cloud systems with various schemes that try to gain control of computers and mobile devices. Once access is gained, they will go after their main target: Corporate or personal clouds and the data stored within.

This could pose a problem for many companies, especially those who access cloud systems from their mobile devices. January and February would be a good time to look into the security of all of your systems, ensuring that your cloud-based systems are secure on all devices.

Mobile malware will continue to gain popularity

Take a step back for a minute next time you are in public and look at how many people have smartphones or tablets in their hands. Chances are, at least 60% or higher will. It is fairly obvious that the mobile device is the most popular trend in tech at the moment, and whatever is popular is also a target.

We predict there will be an increase in mobile malware attacks throughout 2014. This could see either an increase in the number of apps that have malware in their code, or websites that host malware. When you visit a site with this malware, you are informed that you need to update an app, and when you agree to this the malware is downloaded and installed.

This could prove to be a tough for companies to manage, especially since the number of mobile users will likely grow. If you haven’t started looking into how to secure mobile devices, now would be a good time to start.

Growth in social engineering scams targeting mobile users

Social engineering is the act of essentially tricking people to give away confidential information. Hackers have been using this for years – for example, emailing users telling them their bank account has been compromised, and that if they click on the link in the email and enter their account info, the account will be secured. In reality, the link is to a fake site that captures information which can then be used for any number of illegal activities.

As we mentioned above, the number of mobile users is steadily increasing. This means that it is highly likely that hackers will begin to target these users with mobile specific social engineering. This could be tricking them into downloading an app which then steals information stored on the phone, or simply targeting those who use just their tablet.

In order to prevent this from happening, you need to brush up on how most social engineering schemes work. You should also encourage your employees to look where the links in emails lead to and be aware that generally, most major businesses like banks don’t email customers asking for passwords or user names.

Windows XP will become a big target

Microsoft will stop support for Windows XP and Office 2003 in April of this year. What this means is that they will no longer be offering security updates, software updates or support for these products. It is a sure thing that these programs are about to become a big target, and that new security loopholes and exploits will be found on a regular basis after the cessation of support.

For businesses that are using a newer version of Windows like 7 or 8, you should be secure from these exploits. If you are using XP on the other hand, you might want to upgrade as soon as possible. Contact us, we can help with that.

From the overall looks of things, we think this year will see a drastic increase in mobile based security threats, along with attacks on older versions of software. Now is a good time to review your strategies regarding both mobile and the software/hardware you use, to ensure that it is secure. If you would like help with this, please contact us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 9th, 2014

Productivity_Jan07_AIt's a new year and with it many people, business owners included, are undoubtedly setting goals and resolutions for the year ahead. When it comes to businesses, many owners and managers set a resolution to become more productive, something which isn't always easy. Luckily, there are numerous apps out there that can help, and with the rise of the smartphone and tablet, many of these apps have mobile versions as well.

Here are five great mobile productivity apps that are free, or cheap enough where they won't break the bank.

Asana

Most small to medium businesses have team members working in different areas that often come together to work on projects. Managing who does what in these projects, and collaborating on tasks can be a chore. What Asana does is allow users to schedule and assign tasks within projects.

Each user's tasks are presented in a to-do list with due dates clearly divided, so each person knows what they need to focus on, and when the work is due. Other users can also see each of the tasks so they too know what each member is doing. If you are a project or task oriented business, this could be a great tool to help you and your teams stay on track.

While many businesses use the Web based version, there are mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices that could help if you or team members are often out of the office. It is free for teams of up to 15 members. Check out Asana's website for more information on pricing for teams with more than 15 users.

Evernote

Many working in smaller businesses often find themselves filling more than one role. This means they are likely constantly thinking about another task, often coming up with ideas, questions and even answers. The problem with this is many of us forget that one all important idea by the time we actually get around to switching our hats and our focus. Evernote is an app that allows users to jot down notes and ideas more readily.

Because this is a mobile app, you can share notes with your colleagues - kind of like a brainstorm - or even record images and sounds to keep something like a dictionary or wiki. What really sets this app apart from other note apps is that all of your notes are synced with an account, which makes them available on nearly every platform you use.

The basic version of Evernote is available for free on nearly all mobile platforms, and a full-featured business edition is available for USD$10.00 per user, per month. Visit the Evernote website to learn more about the program, and to download it for your device.

Any.do Cal

Part of the Any.do family of apps which focus on tasks, Cal is an extension that makes your device's calendar easier to focus on. At a quick glance, you can see your whole day's activities and events. This is really designed to be a calendar app that is used for both work and personal life, giving you a better idea of what your full day looks like - not just a part of it. In an effort to highlight or promote better work/life balance, it will also show you your free time.

The app is available for free on both Android and iOS, and if you are looking to further enhance it's capabilities, give Any.do - to do list - a try.

Pocket

The Internet is one of the best productivity boosters, yet it is also one of the best ways to waste time too. Because so many news outlets and stories are now online, you can spend literally hours of your day reading various articles and blogs. While these articles may be useful, reading them when you should be working instead is not the best for your productivity.

That's where Pocket comes in. This app allows you to save articles and blogs you come across in your browser or email for later reading on a mobile device. So, if you are at work and come across a really interesting article, don't stop to read it, save it to Pocket and read it on the way home or while on a break.

Pocket is free and works as an extension to your Web browser. First you need to go to the Pocket website and sign up for an account, then install the browser extension (click on Your Web Browser under Ways to Pocket). After that, install the app on your Android or iOS device.

Doodle

While the name suggests a drawing, Doodle is actually a scheduling app. It allows you to set a number of potential times and dates for a meeting and then ask all participants to select what works best for them. This makes it easier for you to schedule meetings with different people, while also reducing the number of back-and-forth emails that inevitably come about from setting up meetings.

When you pick the times, the participants tick what times or dates work best for them, which you can then view and pick the time that works best. What sets this app apart is that it syncs with almost all other major calendar apps like Google Calendar and Outlook. It's available on both the Apple App and Google Play stores for USD$2.99.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity