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February 11th, 2014

Security_Feb10_CIt's 2014, and that means that it's an Olympic year. This year the Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia. As with almost every other Olympics there has been a number of organizational issues to deal with to ensure the Games run smoothly. Unlike other events however, one of this year's big issues is hacking of the computers and phones of attendees and visitors.

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 6th, 2014

iPhone_Feb03_CApple Inc. has produced one of the most revolutionary innovations ever - the iPhone. With all the hybrid attributes that the iPhone possesses, organizing your daily tasks and running your business has been made easier than ever before. And if that isn’t enough, there are several iPhone apps that can really increase your business productivity too.

1. Apple Pages

Word processing apps are considered as a necessity nowadays, especially if you are away from the office on a regular basis. For $9.99, Apple Pages is perhaps the least expensive word processing app out there.

Like any other word processing software, this app lets you edit, format, update, and share your word documents easily across a multitude of Apple devices using iCloud. With Apple Pages, you can definitely save time in making and sharing documents.

2. Evernote

Evernote has become a favorite because of its capability to capture and store information in a very efficient manner.

Evernote allows you to take and save videos, images, websites, ideas, and just about anything you want to capture in the Web. Anything you capture is immediately synced to your other devices, so all your data is organized in a single location for easy viewing and retrieval.

What makes Evernote so popular is the fact that it can be downloaded for free from the App Store. You can also sign up for the business version that has extra collaboration features, along with extra features and enhanced functionality.

3. Dropbox

Ever dreamed of an online-storage platform where you can store and retrieve your files wherever and whenever you want? If so, then Dropbox is the perfect solution.

Dropbox lets you access and share files from other devices from your iPhone. This app is a great storage app because it lets you access your files even without an Internet connection. For many business owners, there is no need to carry a bulky external hard-drive because Dropbox gives at least 5GB free space for new users.

4. Wunderlist

Remembering a long list of things to do in a day can be rather annoying and stressful. Fortunately, there is Wunderlist, a project planning app that makes planning and listing more fun. It is actually a free cloud-sync task manager that allows you to organize your ideas and share them easily across different platforms.

You can list all the things you need to do for the next day and for the upcoming days or weeks. This app can definitely help by reminding you of the things you need to accomplish in a specific timeframe.

5. OmniFocus 2

This is a standalone app for your iPhone. OmniFocus 2 includes nifty features like voice notes and picture attachments, diagram making, and task searchability. The ‘forecast’ option lets you take a look at your daily and weekly tasks ahead at a glance. Productivity nerds will definitely like this app for the fact that the beauty of its interface matches its brains.

While it is a tad bit expensive at $19.99, it is probably the only task manager you need. With an easy to use interface and powerful features, it can do almost everything except run your business!

6. Bento

If you are on the lookout for an all-around organizational app for your business, check out Bento. This app offers 25 different database templates designed to fit many subjects, including event planning, project planning, and contact organizing. All the templates can be tweaked to your own liking.

Bento allows you to keep track of all of the things going on with your life. Everything in this app can be synced with other devices so that tracking progress in your daily tasks can be easily accessible.

If you’re looking to increase your productivity, then these iPhone apps will surely be a game changer for you. Not only will you be able to better organize your business and workflow more easily, you can also use these in organizing your personal activities.

Not what you’re looking for?

If you’re looking for more apps to help you with your business needs, then give us a call and we’ll give you a helping hand to find all the help you need.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
February 5th, 2014

BusinessValue_Feb03_CMarketing is one of the most challenging aspects of business that companies face. One has to be constantly evolving and trying out new ideas and strategies in order to remain successful. Many businesses start with a website and social media platform, so that they can interact with customers and clients and create business relationships. While these can be effective, there is one really useful marketing tool that shouldn't be forgotten - the blog.

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.

January 30th, 2014

BI_Jan27_CThere are many important components of a business, and data is definitely among the most popular. Pause and think for a moment how much of your business relies on it. It would be a challenge for a business to function without it. For business owners that look into data, many will have heard the term 'business analytics' before. However, this term can be a bit ambiguous and confusing.

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 29th, 2014

AndroidTablet_Jan27_CThe app is one of the more essential pieces of software for Android devices, including Tablets. There are nearly a million apps on Google Play, and many users have installed at least 25 apps on their devices, if not more. This means that there is a good chance that you will have more than one app that does the same thing. When this happens, you are often asked to select a default app, or even change it.

How do you set a default app?

When you install a new app that does the same thing as an already installed app, you will not usually be asked to make it your default app for that task. Instead, you should be asked when you first open the new app.

You can usually select between different apps that do the same task and confirm your choice. Take for example your email. If you install a different app than the email app that came installed on your device and open it, you should be asked if you want to make the latest app the default for email instead.

How to change the default app?

Because there are so many apps out there, we seem to follow a pattern where we use an app for a time then switch to another, either because we miss a feature, would like to try another app, or would just like to move back to one we've used before, etc.

Sure, you could just open the app manually, which is what many people do, but this can sometimes be tedious. The other alternative is to change the default app, which can be done by:

  1. Opening the Settings app on your Android device. This can normally be done by opening the app drawer and scrolling to Settings.
  2. Selecting Apps and scrolling to the app that is currently set as the default app.
  3. Tapping on it and scrolling down to Launch by default.
  4. Selecting Clear defaults.
The next step is to select the new app you would like to set as the default, and then open it. You should be asked whether you would like to make this the default app.

If you would like to learn how to get more out of your Android tablet, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 23rd, 2014

Security_Jan20_CLet's face it, technology, while essential, is getting increasingly challenging to manage. Many business owners are struggling to ensure that all of their systems are not only working properly but are also secure. One solution many turn to is the skills and support of an IT partner. These tech partners offer a wide variety of managed services, including managed antivirus solutions that help ensure systems are more secure. However, many business managers are not totally sure what managed antivirus solutions actually are.

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_CThere is always the chance of a disaster striking your company. That's why many business owners take steps to prevent negative events from affecting their company, often by implementing a disaster recovery or continuity plan. Both of these strategies and the technology that supports them are an important part of business process and planning. As 2014 is underway, many business owners are wondering that disaster recovery 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 16th, 2014

AndroidPhone_Jan13_CAndroid devices are among the most popular smartphones out there. These small computers have revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with one another and will continue to become increasingly integrated into our daily lives. Like their larger cousins, Android devices do freeze from time-to-time. If this happens to your device, will you know how to deal with it?

If your Android phone or an app on the phone has frozen, here are two things you can try.

Frozen app? Try to force close it

Oftentimes when people say their phone has stopped working, the phone is running fine, it's an app that isn't working properly or which may have frozen completely. Because this does happen from time-to-time, Android has a built-in way you can force close apps when they stop working. This can be achieved by:
  1. Hitting the home button on your phone to go to the Home Screen (If you are in the app).
  2. Sliding down the notifications menu (slide from the top of your phone's screen) and tapping on the profile icon in the top-right.
  3. Tapping on Settings followed by Apps.
  4. Scrolling to the app that has stopped working and pressing on it.
  5. Pressing Force stop under the app's icon followed by OK.
These steps will close the app and usually keep it closed until you reopen the app again. However, some apps are essential and need to remain open in order for your phone to operate properly. If you are unsure of what an app does, don't force close it.

Did you try turning it off and on again?

There is a long-running gag on the tv show the IT Crowd where the techies in the basement answer every phone call by asking the caller if they have tried turning their computer off and on again.

While this may sound silly, and maybe even a little patronizing, restarting your device could be the solution it needs. In fact, many common errors are usually fixed by simply restarting your device. There are two types of restart you can execute:

  1. If you can still navigate your phone - Press and hold the power button for a second or two and the shutdown window should open. Tap on Power off and wait a few seconds. Your screen should go black and the device will be off. If you have low power, it may be a good idea to plug your phone in and charge it for a few minutes before starting your device up again. This type of shutdown/restart is the best because it allows your device to close all apps and stop all processes before it turns off.
  2. If your phone has frozen - This means you are not able to select apps and pushing the buttons does nothing. Android devices have different force restarts with most requiring you to hold the power button and volume down buttons for up to 10 seconds. Others require you to hold the power button and both of the volume buttons down. When the screen goes black, your device should switch off.
When a device has frozen, many people take the battery out - this should be an absolute last resort, as you could damage your device. If you can't remove the back cover of your device to get to the batter, don't try to remove it. Instead, try a forced restart. If this doesn't work, try plugging your device in and letting it charge for a few minutes before restarting it.

Should the device still not work, the best thing to do is to bring it to a mobile expert like us. We may be able to help you. And, if you are looking to learn more about your Android device, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 15th, 2014

SocialMedia_Jan13_CSocial media is now so common that it's expected that a company has a presence on at least one network. Because of the high level of use, sites have started to enter a more mature phase, where users are finding other ways to leverage the services. We will undoubtedly see a change in the way businesses use social media platforms in 2014 and new trends emerging which companies will be acting upon.

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_CIn the first few weeks of each new year, you often see business leaders and managers setting goals for the year to come. Most of these goals are determined based off of trends that have been identified as valuable. When it comes to security however, it is a good idea to not look at trends but potential threats. By knowing what could threaten your business in the year to come, you can better prepare and protect.

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