November 14th, 2011

With social networks like Facebook and Twitter on the rise, businesses must be able to utilize them to their advantage. One social network, LinkedIn, offers unique benefits since it is specifically targeted toward professionals and businesses.

Among the many social networks on the World Wide Web today, one stands out from the pack: LinkedIn. It stands out because it is one of the few (if there are any like it to begin with) that uses the principle behind social networking but adapts it to suit business and professional purposes.

If regular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can help a business, LinkedIn can do so even more since it is specifically targeted for businesses and professionals. With LinkedIn, you make contacts that are more relevant to your line of work minus the clutter, noise, and nonsense compared to the more social feedback, comments, and discussions you are inevitably going to have from content you put out on Facebook and Twitter.

Another advantage to LinkedIn is that you are more likely to connect with people and businesses that help you move forward be it additional staff, suppliers, or clients. The site's recommendation feature and referrals from other contacts will help you find what you are looking for faster. Also, you are able to better connect to people who are in your own industry or are doing similar things, allowing you to better assess what else you can do to give your business an added edge.

Using LinkedIn is a definite advantage, regardless of what business you are in. If you are interested in knowing more, please don't hesitate to contact us so we can sit down with you and talk about various custom LinkedIn strategies that meet your specific needs.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
November 4th, 2011

With more and more businesses using online banking for its convenience and ease, more and more hackers and cyber-thieves are also making it their mission to infiltrate and manipulate these transactions for their benefit. More than ever, it is important for businesses to ensure that they have the proper security protocols in place to prevent cyber-theft.

Online banking is a tool that many businesses utilize because of the ease, efficiency, and convenience it offers. Especially when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses, online banking is a great way to manage and track finances for day-to-day operations.

However, the increase in online banking also has the unfortunate effect of luring unsavoury parties such as cyber-thieves and hackers who target and steal from the businesses who use it. This is why security experts are urging companies to beef up their security systems to keep them safe from cyber and identity theft. The more companies rely on the internet, especially when it comes to managing finances through online banking, the more prudent it is to take steps to prevent that hard-earned money from being stolen.

One tip experts give is to establish proper protocols for transacting with the bank, such as requiring two people to verify a transaction before it is approved. This helps create a checks-and-balance system that hackers will be hard-pressed to get around. Having a dedicated workstation used for only online financial transactions is also recommended, as this lessens the likelihood of it being infiltrated by Trojans, viruses, spyware, and other malware that may come from the machine being used for other purposes. Having the right anti-virus and anti-malware software as well as regularly updating it can also go a long way in keeping your online banking transactions safe from unfriendly eyes.

Your finances are the lifeblood of your business, so if you are interested in how you can make your online banking experience safe and secure, we'd be happy to sit down with you to discuss security solutions that are tailor-fit to your specific requirements and needs.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
November 1st, 2011

The knee-jerk reaction to Facebook of most businesses is to throw it out the door. But many companies also need to realize the value of using a massive social networking platform like Facebook to help the business grow and put itself out in the market more.

When it comes to Facebook, the usual default attitude of businesses is to shun it completely. And while there is merit to the argument that social networks, Facebook especially, can hamper and derail productivity in an organization, there is also a lot Facebook can do to help your business grow.

Reports cite that as many as 800 million people around the world are on Facebook that's a larger-than-life audience that makes marketing experts giddy with excitement. When you think about it, Facebook presents a huge marketing opportunity for you and your business to connect with a lot of people who may become potential clients in the future. Think of having a Facebook page as a mini-website of sorts, one that supplements and complements your main website.

Since it's a medium to establish rapport with potential clients, experts suggest that a business Facebook page must contain more interesting content related to your business, of course designed to attract readers and visitors, rather than hard-sell information about your products and services. Your Facebook page serves as a complement to your website, not a duplicate of it. If you consistently serve up interesting and useful information, people will then go to your website to see what you're all about.

Also, don't hesitate to establish more personal relationships with people who visit your Facebook page the 'likers' and the people who comment and ask questions. Answer queries promptly and make yourself visible. One of the points of having a Facebook page is so people won't feel intimidated by a stiff corporate front a Facebook page tells them that you're a company that's willing to hear them out and listen to what they want.

If you want to know more about how to use Facebook pages to help your business grow, please give us a call and we'll be happy to sit down with you to draw up potential strategies to increase your online presence and potential client base.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
October 3rd, 2011

Studies and news reports are showing a marked increase in the number of small and medium-sized businesses that are being targeted by hackers. One major reason for this is their general lack of security systems, making them very vulnerable to theft.

In physics, there's a concept called 'the path of least resistance'. The meaning is plain enough objects that move in a system take the path where they will encounter the least challenges and hurdles in order to quickly move to wherever they are going.

Apparently, the same principle applies to hackers nowadays. Instead of targeting larger firms for that big 'score', hackers are now considering it more feasible and much easier to victimize smaller firms and companies, even for a much smaller amount of money.

Why is that? First, smaller companies generally have much more vulnerable IT systems. Security is minimal or average at best, and the hackers don't get as much heat or attention when compared to trying to breach the much more complicated, state-of-the-art security systems of bigger firms and businesses. Take a small newsstand business in Chicago: cyberthieves were able to install a Trojan in the cash registers which sent swiped credit card numbers to Russia. When the jig was discovered, Mastercard subsequently demanded an investigation – at the expense of the business owner – and the proprietor had to shell out a hefty $22,000.(i)

A survey in the United States reveals that more than half of small or medium-sized businesses believed that they ran no risk of being victimized by hackers, and less than half of the respondents had security systems in place.(ii) That looks like a path of least resistance, as far as hackers are concerned.

The loss of a few thousand bucks may not be much for a big business, but it can make a significant dent on the profits and sustainability of smaller organizations. And in the case of implanted viruses that steal credit card information, your reputation can also take a big hit. So if you want your business to stay truly safe before it's too late, please contact us so we can discuss options and blueprints to make your business secure.

References: (i) and (ii)

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
September 28th, 2011

With Microsoft's move to transition users to the newer Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 platforms through XP support discontinuation announcements, it may be high time to start thinking of an upgrade and how you can execute it efficiently and cost effectively.

One of the standard expectations when using technology is the inevitable need to change and upgrade. Technology moves forward on the principle that things that already seem great can be made even better and more often than not, the improvements are worth the change.

This principle applies to the operating system and SMB platform you may be using now. While it may have served you well so far (after all, if it ain't broke, why fix it, right?), that doesn't mean that things can't get any better and in a measureable way that improves your productivity. With systems like Windows 7 (which isn't exactly 'new', since it's been around for a good while) and Windows 2008 R2 gaining ground in the market and proving their worth, it may be time to start thinking about moving up and upgrading your current software.

Here are some thoughts to start the ball rolling: studies and tests have shown that Windows 7 and 2008 R2 outperform their predecessors in almost every conceivable situation. And considering Microsoft's recent announcement that they will discontinue support for Windows XP by 2014, the possibility of needing to upgrade becomes more pressing. Like it or not, you will eventually get left behind as technology marches on.

Of course, we realize that it's not as simple as waving a magic upgrade wand and that's that. It's important to understand the way you do business in order to accurately assess how an upgrade will affect your operations. So please contact us and we'll be happy to sit down with you and find ways to implement an upgrade in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
September 26th, 2011

Will the Windows Desktop PC become extinct? Is it going the way of the dinosaur? Are we seeing the beginning of an era in which a new wave of devices and operating systems will dominate the computing world? Read on and weigh in with your thoughts.

Last year, Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, proclaimed the beginning of what he called the "post-PC" era. This, just after news of stellar numbers for Apple, surpassing Microsoft in market valuation for the first time in recent historylargely on the back of strong sales from its iPhone and iPad computing devices, threatening to displace the market for traditional desktop PCs according to many analysts. In some ways this is an ironic turn of events, considering that it was this same CEO and company that ushered in the PC era to begin with, more than thirty years ago.

But in that era, it was really the IBM PC that was the iconic symbol of that period. In August of this year, the IBM PC celebrated its 30th anniversary, which was introduced nearly five years after the arrival of Apple's own desktop devices. But again in an interesting turn events, for nearly twenty of those thirty years, it was actually Microsoft and Intel, and not IBM, that reaped the benefits of the success of the PC device. It was Microsoft's Operating System and Intel's chips which earned the lion's share of profits from the rise of the Desktop PC, not the manufacturers and assemblers. And as PCs decline as Steve Jobs predicted they will, this has prompted even the largest PC manufacturers such as HP to reassess their future.

But is the PC truly dead, if not dying? Even one of the IBM PC's original inventors thinks so. In an interview with IBM Executive Mark Dean, who was one of the IBM PC's original engineers, he predicts a day when the desktop PC will go the way typewriters did when desktop PCs came along. They will still be around for several years, he says, but in the future people will primarily use handheld or mobile PCs for work and play.

That may be true, but the future is not here yet. Earlier, Microsoft gave a statement that it still expects over 400 million desktop PCs running its operating system to ship this yeara business well worth over $19 billion dollars for the company. There are still several things that a Desktop PC, in particular those running Windows, can do better than handheld or mobile devices today, such as:

  1. Running business applications. Although many applications may be moving to the cloud, many business-critical applications such as accounting and financials, operations, project management, and customer management still require a Windows PC.
  2. Content creation. Have you ever tried to create a blog post, edit a photo, or animate or render a movie from a tablet? It may be possible but it's still not easyeven for the pros. Most will still be doing their work on desktop workstations for still several years in the foreseeable future.
Do you agree? Are we in the beginning of a post-PC era or do you think it will be a PC-plus era as Microsoft believes? Weigh in and let us know!
Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
September 22nd, 2011

login-page-with-padlockHaving difficulty keeping track of all your online passwords? Here are some tools that may help you manage and make sense of the different passwords you have for your favorite social networking sites, blogs, phones, photos, games, documents, news, bank account, expenses, stores, books, and dozens of other services where a secure password is critical.

A few months ago, news and social networking sites warned users of the website RockYou that their account and password may have been compromised. Security firm Imperva warned users that a hacker may have made off with an alarming 32 million accounts from the social gaming website. While this is nothing new, what's interesting is the results of the security firm's analysis of the accounts and passwords stolen.

From the data that they were able to gather, it seems that a great number of users still tend to use insecure passwords for instance, passwords with lengths equal to or below six characters (30% of users), words confined to alpha-numeric characters (60%), passwords that include names, slang words, or dictionary words, and trivial passwords (consecutive digits, adjacent keyboard keys, and so on--50%). These types of passwords can easily fold in the face of automated brute force attacks designed to guess users’ passwords.

The reason these sorts of insecure passwords continue to be used may be simple. It's just too hard to track all of the online accounts we have, especially as more and more specialized services are introduced and become popular. While in the past users may have only needed to memorize their email and possibly their bank's password, today they must contend with passwords to access each of their favorite social networking sites, blogs, phones, photos, games, documents, news sites, bank accounts, expense tracking services, stores, books, and dozens of other online services.

The question for many is how can we possibly remember all of these passwords, especially if we’re using different highly secures ones (that are therefore not easily remembered) at each site as recommended? Here are some quick tips to help you be able to recall and easily manage them:

Use desktop password management tools. There are several desktop tools available that can help you manage and safely store your passwords by requiring you to download software that stores your passwords encrypted on your hard drive. You only need to provide one "master" password to access the rest. Examples of such tools include Keepass, LastPass (free and fee versions are available), 1Password for Macs, and more. These tools give you the feeling of security since your password information is stored solely within your device – but be aware that should that device get lost, stolen, or hacked, you can lose your password information as well as open yourself to attack. Store your passwords in the Cloud. An alternative is to use password managers that are solely accessible online and are hosted in the Cloud. These work the same way as desktop password managers but with the extra benefit of not having to download and install software on your PC. Another advantage is that they are available on any device or system as long as it is connected to the Internet, and losing your device does not put your passwords at risk. Examples are tools like Clipperz and LastPass. Be warned, though, that these sites can themselves be hacked, as LastPass experienced a few months back.

Use Browser Plugins. Some tools work as add-ons for your browser. Examples of such tools are many. Some generate passwords on the fly, some store the information within your PCs, and others store it in the cloud as well as sync it to your device. These services offer a compromise between solely desktop bound password tools vs. purely online ones. They are however often tied to the browser you use.

Trust a single site with your Identity. Another alternative is simply entrusting the security of your online identity to a single provider who hopefully has the resources to manage it in a more secure manner than you can on your own. These include large sites like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, which often allow many third-party sites to use your identity at their own sites with your permission. If you don’t trust these sites, you can manage such an online identity on your own from sites such as OpenID. This way you only need to secure and manage one password and identitywhich shares this to other sites as you see fit. The disadvantage of course is that not all sites may use or be compatible with these federated identity management systems. You may also have to consider the possibility that these large sites may become compromised themselves.

Managing your passwords can be a pain. Hopefully these tools can help you do so more efficiently and more effectively. Do you have other suggestions? Do you need assistance in setting these up for you or your company? Let us know we're happy to help!

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
September 19th, 2011

man on the phone with surprising faceA new scam has been making the rounds recently scammers calling through the phone and posing as people from Microsoft, scaring victims into paying for bogus services and stealing their credit information. These fraudsters can be very persistent so it's important to always be alert and informed.

You have to give it to scammers for constantly finding new ways to victimize people. One such new scam has been making the rounds recently, and more than a few people have fallen for it. This particular modus operandi involves a person calling you claiming to be from Microsoft customer support, and insisting that you have a virus or that you need to install a certain program to help speed up your system.

Actually, Microsoft will NEVER call you up unless you ask them to. And when they do call, they will not ask for credit or personal information, and they will always have a support reference number assigned to you which you should already have beforehand from filing a report or request for support from Microsoft. While it's possible that Microsoft MIGHT call you unsolicited if they have a new promotion or products, but they'll NEVER call to alert you regarding the status of your computer system.

Knowing scammers, it's highly likely that you'll see this scam applied in various forms in the near future a call from your bank, credit consultant, or even IT support. The best thing is to have the proper security protocols in place so you can verify the identity of the people who will call you, as well as keep your system safe.

Having the proper security system in place will do wonders for your business not to mention your peace of mind. And it's not just in terms of hardware or software: don't discount the human factor as well. Please give us a call if you'd like to know more, and we'll be happy to discuss a security system that's tailor fit for your specific needs.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
September 15th, 2011

Consumerization is the trend in which new information technology first makes waves in the consumer market, and its popularity then prompts businesses to adopt strategies to incorporate it into their processes. But the real questions are: how does it really affect your business, and what should you do about it?

"People say you have better technology at home than at work. That's true. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. info workers are solving customer and business problems using technology they master first at home, then bring to work."i

So says Vahé Torossian, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) group at Microsoft. His comment illustrates the growing trend in IT referred to as consumerization, which is when new IT comes out first in the consumer market and is then adopted by business organizations.

With more and more organizations adopting this trend, many companies find it hard to catch up with everything else that comes with the package. For some, consumerization works fine and is beneficial, but there are also those whose operations become more open to risk because of it.

It's become quite clear that, at the very least, companies need to look at both the short and long term effects of consumerization on the way they do business. Studies should be completed on its effects, and policies need to be developed to properly address the trend. The benefits can be significant, but the risks such as the increased vulnerability of your system due to decreased security when work is done outside the office can pose a serious threat as well.

While the general consensus is that new trends mean better business, it's the way you handle the details that determines how they affect your organization and your productivity which is why it's best to fully understand the trend and its impact on you. We encourage you to give us a call so we can sit down with you and discuss strategies and policies you can use to respond to consumerization based on your specific needs.

i Reference

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech
September 12th, 2011

In today's increasingly hyper-connected world where anyone can easily post photos, videos, and other personal information about themselves online for everyone to see, it's becoming more and more important to be smart about exactly what and how much to post online. After all, what you put up in cyberspace today (such as those raucous pictures of last year's Christmas party) may come back to haunt you later on.

There is no denying that the Internet (and especially online social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter) has brought about great change in people's behaviormany of them for the better. These tools have allowed easier information sharing, greater collaboration, and the fostering of communities like never before. However, these tools also have a darker side, and if not used properly they can be a source of problems for you or your organization later on.

One problem is how these media can potentially misrepresent you or your organization. Online, the line between the personal and the professional can get blurry, and the moment you do something inappropriate, even during your personal or private time, whether right or wrong, it can affect how you are perceived. It's becoming more common to screen the personal profiles of job applicants or potential business partners, and an inappropriate picture or even a little tweet can leave a damaging mark on your reputation.

Engaging in inappropriate behavior even behind the cover of anonymity can also be problematic. Examples include commenting in blogs or forums where you obviously have a vested interest. There are countless stories of unscrupulous people or businesses that clearly mislead others by posting good reviews or endorsements about their business, product, or service, only to have their real identity discovered later on. If you must do this, it's better to be up front and honestand disclose any vested interest so you won't be judged poorly later on.

If you must express an opinion, weigh carefully how it relates to your work and your career. If you are identified with an organization, be clear about whether you have the authority to speak on its behalf. If you don't, state clearly that you are speaking on your own behalf by providing a disclaimer. This can come in handy later if your employer happens to see your posts online. An example disclaimer might be a statement similar to this: The opinions expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent my employer's position or opinion.

Be sure to also respect the ideas, privacy, and property of others. You would not want to be called a plagiarist or a thief. Online etiquette requires that you provide references, links, or attributions to the ideas or material you use that are not yours. When in doubt, get permission first. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

These are simple guidelines for conducting yourself and your affairs online. To share your own experiences, ideas and thoughts, or just to provide feedback or suggestions, drop us a line we would love to hear from you!

Published with permission from Source.

Topic General Tech