As systems and market demands continue to require better productivity and efficiency, it only follows that the software that businesses use also needs to upgrade sooner or later. Such is the case with Windows XP, which Microsoft will stop issuing support for in 2014. Part of using any sort of software is the inevitable need to upgrade. Most if not all software needs to either be replaced and upgraded as the demands of the market entail more efficient processing of the various data and information a business handles. Such is the case with Windows XP. While many continue to use this proven straightforward operating system, Microsoft has decided to stop support by the year 2014. Microsoft further recommends upgrading to its latest OS, Windows 7, in order for users to continue to receive OS support. While there are some lines of business applications that have not been upgraded to work with Windows 7, most have — and there are alternative approaches. Also, your business needs the security and protection that only a current, up-to-date operating system can provide. We understand that changing your OS will entail some expense, including new licenses, hardware, and some training. Fortunately, these things are designed to help you operate more efficiently and increase your productivity in the long run. But such change will take time, and if you are interested in starting to plan for an upgrade now, we’ll be happy to sit down with you and develop an upgrade process that meets your specific needs.
A recent attack by cyber-criminals has highlighted the need for many SMBs to re-evaluate the security protocols between themselves and their bank. Hackers exploit weaknesses in such systems, and when successful, can siphon tens of thousands of dollars from your accounts. In a recent attack, cyber-thieves managed to get away with $63,000 after they exploited vulnerabilities in the online payroll system of a small business with its bank. First, the crooks managed to infiltrate the company’s system through a piece of malware called the Zeus Trojan. This gave them access to the company’s data, including the password and username used in transacting with the company’s bank. The thieves then created several new ghost employees and created payroll accounts for them, which they sent to the bank and authenticated using the company controller’s username and password. And to cover their tracks, the hackers erased the confirmation emails regarding the transaction. This incident highlights the need for better security systems in both the business and their bank – as security experts cite online banking transactions as one of the favorite targets of cyber-criminals. Cyber-attacks such as this one exploit weaknesses in many existing systems that rely on very simple and automated authentication procedures to confirm transactions. A direct threat to your business finances is not something to be taken lightly. You not only need to review your current online banking system, but also the current security protocols you have installed, since hackers and cyber-criminals are constantly updating Trojans and other malware to adapt to changing IT protection systems. We encourage you to have us take a look at the systems you have in place to determine if you are at risk for attacks like these. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to draw up custom security solutions that address your specific needs. References: Sold a Lemon in Internet Banking Cybercrooks Drive Away With $63,000 from Car Dealership
With hackers and electronic thieves constantly on the lookout for the latest exploits and security breaches they can take advantage of, it is comforting to know that there are also people behind bold initiatives to make our web experiences much safer. If you think hackers are the only ones doing their research to release newer and scarier viruses and malware on the web, think again. It is comforting to know that there are also very capable people doing what they can to make the internet a safer place – like Professor Dawn Song, associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley and MacArthur Foundation fellow. In a nutshell, Professor Song has been looking at different ways to make the internet experience more secure. Her two initiatives – WebBlaze and BitBlaze – are aimed toward developers who want to create better and much more secure programs and applications. WebBlaze is a compilation of different strategies from Song and other like minds who tackle different problems and solutions in all sorts of platforms, and BitBlaze is an analysis tool for malicious software. While we won’t go into too much detail (it involves very complicated math), the gist is that Song and her colleagues are drawing up some very solid solutions to constantly evolving security issues on the web. It’s exciting to see developments like these in the security industry. As threats continue to evolve, so does the means through which they are fought. The more we use the internet and the more the online experience becomes integral to the day-to-day operations of businesses big and small, the more important securing your data and information becomes. And because of efforts such as Professor Song’s, we can expect security programs to be much more effective and efficient as time passes. Know more about BitBlaze and WebBlaze Learn more about Dawn Song here If you are looking to assess and beef up your security systems, we’d be happy to sit down with you and take a look at improvements that can make your business and your data much more secure.
With the growth of social networking, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate business connections with personal connections. November 17, 2010 was declared by Jimmy Kimmel during his television show as “National Unfriend Day”, the opportunity for all Facebook users to declutter their Facebook pages by “unfriending” people in their friends’ lists. He claims that Facebook has been “cheapening” the idea of friendship. To many the idea was hilarious, but others are seriously considering the wisdom of unfriending. Is Kimmel on to something here? Can unfriending benefit your online business? Research shows that as social media gets bigger, we’re getting smaller. Brian Wong, a network marketer says it simply: “With the growth of social networking, I am finding it increasingly difficult to separate business connections and personal connections.” He says that having almost 1,000 friends on Facebook has made it difficult for him to see the feeds and updates of his “real” friends and important business partners. Lately there is a growing trend of de-scaling on the internet. People have started “pruning” their social lives online. For example, the popular Farmville app lost 30 million players this year, and people are beginning to realize that conversations and comments are more important than a huge number of blog hits. So how can de-scaling and unfriending help your business? The drive to be more intimate can benefit your business by allowing you to form a tighter circle of customers, more successfully establishing you as a preferred channel for consumption. Luckily, there are tools that can help you descale your social networks: Path – Offers small-scale communities where people feel more comfortable sharing personal information. It controls who can view your information and does not include features that make your content viral. Letter.ly – A subscription-based newsletter for bloggers who feel that public posts decrease the quality of conversations. This newsletter opens discussion only to people who pay, or who are privately invited to read a blog post. GroupMe – A texting app which limits your group text participants to only 14, to ensure that meaningful dialogues take place. What about the flip side of unfriending and descaling? While you’re considering who to eliminate from your social circles, your contacts are likely doing the same. Here are some tips to help you make their cuts: 1. Be selective in your communications. Of course, your product is important – to you. But not every little detail is as important to your audience. Be sure to focus on key features and benefits from your audience’s perspective. 2. Stay on topic. Always give relevant communications to your customers, and never rant or badmouth competitors. This is a sure way to lose customers. 3. Provide value. In addition to talking about your product or service, find ways to provide value to your circle of friends. Understand topics and pain points important to them, and provide valuable information and advice to help them succeed. You’ll soon come to be considered as a valuable resource to your contacts – one that they want to keep in their online social groups. One thing is clear: quality is still more important than quantity, especially in the current economic downturn when people are downsizing everything. Start “pruning” your social network – and take steps to avoid being pruned – and you’ll reap the benefits of having a tight circle of loyal friends and customers.
Using shared Wi-Fi networks can be really convenient, but it is not without risks of its own. These days, more and more people are on the go, and many of them bring their work with them. And in this day and age, it’s ideal if you’re working – or playing for that matter – while connected to the internet, which is often through public Wi-Fi hotspots. While connecting to public and open-access Wi-Fi hotspots is indeed convenient, using open networks also poses risks that endanger your security. The open nature that allows anyone to use the connection also enables unscrupulous people to gain access to your private information. The whole act of stealing information from people who are using public Wi-Fi networks is called ‘sidejacking’. There are applications such as Firesheep, for example, that provide an easy-to-use platform that others can exploit to spy and harvest personal, sensitive information from you. And since Firesheep is a Mozilla Firefox plug in, virtually anyone can download and use it to sidejack people on the same network. You can’t be too cautious with your personal and business data these days, so you always need to have the proper laptop configuration and security infrastructure to protect your system, especially when you frequently avail of open and public networks. To know more about this, please feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to draw up some security options that meet your specific needs.