Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mobile Technology Reshaping Small Business

Mobile technologies are creating a big impact on small businesses, according to a recent report conducted by AT&T and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. This report found that small business owners that have implemented smart phones and tablets in their daily business activities have gained $67.5 billion a year from this incorporation of mobile technology. The report shows that mobile technology saves businesses money ($32.3 billion dollars annually) and time (1.24 billion hours). Bizness Apps outlines a few more of the perks of mobile technology below:
·         Employee productivity: According to the report, small business owners and employees are using their smart phones seven days a week – even in companies that may only be open five days a week.
·         The use of smart phones is huge: Small businesses are using smart phones for just about everything, and the numbers are growing. In 2013, the number of small businesses using smart phones was 85%; this year it is 94%.
·         More apps are being used: The report recalled that approximately 77% of small businesses are using mobile apps, sometimes three or four at a time. GPS, navigation and map apps were the most popular.
·         Companies are also using apps: Many small businesses are using apps for every day functions like planning trips, GPS navigation, remote document access, banking and finance, and more.
·         Mobile Banking is the new thing: 34% of small businesses surveyed use mobile banking at least once a week, with only 18% opting out of mobile banking.
·         Smart phones aren’t the only device proving helpful: Tablets and other devices that use apps are also saving businesses money. Tablets saved small businesses 754.2 million hours and $19.6 billion a year, and apps themselves have saved businesses 599.6 million hours and $15.6 billion a year.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Smartphones and USB Flash Drives Should be Treated as Toothbrushes – Personal Use Only

Universal Serial Bus ports (USB) have become essential because they are just that, universal. Cell phone chargers, computer mice, printers, keyboards and more can all connect to your computer with ease because of the universality of USB ports. But that ease of connection may actually be considered a flaw, as anything that connects via USB to your computer can be reprogrammed to pose as another device. A USB stick could be programmed to pose as a keyboard, then type commands that allow complete control of your computer. USBs can also pose as network cards, which allow rerouting of your internet traffic so that everything you view may be viewed by someone else. These situations can lead to identity theft, bank fraud, extortion and more. Unfortunately, antivirus and protection software cannot catch these issues, as it is not technically a computer virus. To protect your computer and your personal information, do not let just anyone charge their phone or plug a USB drive into your computer. Security experts recommend considering your USB drives as personal use only, and to be extremely cautious when allowing others access.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

5 Online Privacy Tips from an ex-FBI Agent

Mary Galligan is an ex-FBI agent who led the cyber and special operations team at the FBI’s New York office, which is the agency’s largest surveillance operation. She now works as a security and privacy consultant, and is sharing advice on how to protect your privacy. Galligan’s top 5 pieces of advice are listed below:
1.      Change your passwords once a month. If a criminal gets access to your email or any of your online accounts, it becomes very easy for them to worm into other aspects of your life. Galligan recommends to assume your passwords will periodically get compromised, and to change them accordingly.
2.      Give the wrong contact information at checkout. Anytime a store clerk asks for your zip code or phone number, that data gets aggregated. Retailers not only have databases that show where you live, they can also find out your salary, credit history and birthday. Recent big company data breaches show that companies cannot always be trusted to safeguard your information. Galligan recommends giving clerks phone numbers and zip codes that aren’t yours.
3.      Need photo ID? Don’t show your driver’s license. This is a general rule for privacy. Your driver’s license shows your birthday and address. Galligan suggests using another form of photo ID with less personal information if you have one available.
4.      No banking apps. Although most credit cards have fraud protection, your checking and savings accounts don’t. Because of how easy it is for a computer to get infected with a malware that spies on you, Galligan does not shop and bank on the same computer, and that includes her phone.
5.      Keep one email account for junk mail only. When companies demand an email address, Galligan gives them a dummy account reserved for marketing. It gets bombarded with spam and advertisements, but shields her real email from the junk. If those companies sending emails were to get hacked, her real accounts remain safe.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Microsoft Unveils New Webmail Encryption

Microsoft has recently pulled back the curtain on its implementation of tougher encryption standards for Web-based email and some cloud services. In the works for more than six months, Microsoft has now activated Transport Layer Security encryption (TLS) for its webmail services at,, and This encryption makes it much harder for email originating from and being sent to a Microsoft account to be spied on, as long as the connecting email service also uses TLS. Microsoft also activated Perfect Forward Secrecy encryption (PFS) for its cloud storage service OneDrive. The OneDrive website, OneDrive mobile apps, and OneDrive syncing tools will now all use the tougher PFS encryption standard, which protects user confidentiality even when a third-party is eavesdropping on the network. And finally, Microsoft has opened a “transparency center” at its headquarters in Redmond, WA, where governments can review Microsoft source code for “key products” to confirm that no hidden backdoors have been added to the software. All these changes have come just a few weeks after a well-publicized Google webmail report that displayed Microsoft in less than flattering colors. Google scored Microsoft, along with ComCast and Apple, as webmail providers with inadequate levels of encryption to protect their users’ email. For more information about the new webmail encryption, click on this link here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

QuickBooks Online Users Can Now Accept Bitcoin Payments

Bitcoin payments have become increasingly more mainstream, and will continue to grow in popularity as QuickBooks now accepts the payment option. Intuit’s QuickBooks is the first web-based small business accounting solution that includes support for accepting Bitcoin payments through the PayByCoin service.  The PayByCoin service integrates QuickBooks Online with Coinbase, which is an online Bitcoin wallet service that is growing in popularity in the U.S. PayByCoin is now available as a free add-on to small business operators who use QuickBooks Online to generate electronic invoices. Here’s how it works:
·         Small business operators register with Coinbase and link their wallets to their existing QuickBooks Online account.
·         When a customer receives an invoice, they receive the option to pay by traditional methods, such as credit card, or by Bitcoin.
·         Intuit does not currently charge any fees for this new service, and there is no fee for small businesses that use Coinbase.
·         Intuit is providing the connectivity and software services to direct customers to the small business operators Coinbase wallet, and to record the transactions in QuickBooks Online. Intuit will not receive or hold any funds related to the PayByCoin transactions, either in USD or Bitcoins.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sage Introduces New Exchange Payment Management System

Sage North America has introduced its new Sage Exchange Payment Management System, which is designed to help small and midsized businesses by consolidating all of their payment activity onto one platform. Sage Exchange can also be used to monitor and manage payments from all sales environments: on the web, over the phone, through mobile devices, or at their storefront. The consolidated activity and information can be accessed and administered online from anywhere. Businesses can manage not only credit card transactions, but also gift cards, mobile payments and checks in real time. Sage Exchange also allows businesses to connect their Sage accounting or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to their payment devices for automated reconciliation activity, as well as access the Sage support group or self-service portal. The three core components the Sage Exchange Payment Management System was built on are:
1.      Consolidated access to all payment accounts and devices
2.      Advanced payments administration and reporting
3.      Simple integration tools to connect payment solutions with Sage accounting products
If you have any questions or would like more information about Sage services, please contact us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

McAfee Reports Mobile Malware Is On the Rise

According to the June 2014 McAfee Labs Threat Report, mobile threats are on the rise, and are expected to continue to increase. New mobile malware has increased for five straight quarters, with a total mobile malware growth of 167% in 2013 alone. Total mobile malware has increased steadily since the first quarter of 2012. The report also noted two key issues that are important to be aware of:
1.      Beware of Flappy Bird clones: After the original Flappy Bird app was pulled from app stores in February, clones of the app were created to meet demand and McAfee found that 79% of these apps contained malware. This malware could be used to make calls, install additional apps, send and receive messages, extract contact data, track geo-location, and establish root access (which would allow uninhibited control of the app). McAfee warns consumers to be wary of free, third-party apps.
2.      Mobile malware is attacking apps and services: Mobile malware traditionally attacked standard mobile platforms, but malware developers have recently started abusing vulnerability in apps and services. The McAfee report found malware that abuses Google account authentication, obtains money through VISA QIWI Wallet, and takes advantage of encryption weakness in the popular messaging app, WhatsApp. McAfee is urging consumers to be more careful when granting app permission requests, and developers to work harder to protect apps and services from malware.
This report from McAfee stresses that cyber threats are increasing and businesses and consumers need to be more alert and take greater precautions when using mobile application. The full report from McAfee can be accessed through this link.