What small businesses need to know about ransomware (and why backups are so important)

Ransomware is a family of malware that blocks access to a PC, server or mobile device, or encrypts all the data stored on that machine. It's typically delivered via malicious email or infected third-party websites. To regain access or control of the data, the user must pay a ransom — typically via bitcoin. The encryption is unbreakable and simply removing the malware will not solve the problem. The victim is forced to pay for the unique software key that will unlock everything. Malwarebytes reports that 60 percent of all malware observed last year was ransomware.

Do you have control of your IT assets? These stories may give you pause…

An employee or consultant leaves (often dismissed) and takes critical information with them, such as sales reports, prospect and vendor lists, or instructions to keep the HVAC running at just the right temperature. It’s disruptive, and can take significant time and resources to retrieve. But, when someone has critical information or access to your IT, it can be a nightmare and create real risk for your business.

Webinar featuring Sinu’s Larry Velez: “New Administration, New Risks? How To Protect Your Nonprofit’s Data”

The 2016 election brought digital security and surveillance into tight focus. The webinar, “New Administration, New Risks? How To Protect Your Nonprofit’s Data,” held with Idealware and Fission Strategy, encourages organizations to rethink their security. Panelists from several organizations, including Sinu co-founder and CTO, Larry Velez, Idealware board member Leon Wilson of the Cleveland Foundation, and Shauna Dillavou of Community Red, contribute to the conversation about keeping your nonprofit data safe while bringing more productivity and safety to your team and constituents.

 

Small businesses have edge with consumer trust

Americans trust small businesses.  If you are a small business, you rank second only to the military in consumer confidence. So what can you do to build upon and grow that trust?

Based on best practices we have seen with our small business customers (and within our own business), here are a few tips:

Internet of Things: A convenience-risk balancing act

There is a subtle but profound paradigm shift occurring in technology. Cloud-connected hardware is becoming the preferred standard, replacing self-contained hardware. It’s the Internet of Things and it’s happening in just about every industry across consumer and enterprise solutions..

Don’t wait! 3 easy steps to protect your Yahoo account

Some time around August 2013, the email system of Yahoo was attacked and the records of more than 1 billion users were stolen. Information included names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords which were encrypted with an easily broken form of security. Now they are for sale on the Dark Web.

Tech gifts and services that keep giving

‘Tis the season for holiday office parties, family gatherings, and end-of-year business deadlines that can often leave us feeling maxed out. Not to mention planning for the New Year ahead. For many small business owners and nonprofit professionals, the gift of efficiency is the one thing we all could use more of as we juggle and balance the numerous commitments this time of year demands of us while effectively maintaining operations. 

 

Buyer Beware: Fake Mobile Apps Target Holiday Shoppers

In our attempt to avoid the holiday rush while securing the best deals on brands we love,  it is tempting to seek out apps promising a more convenient shopping experience – but mobile buyers BEWARE! The Washington Post reports that a recent study by researchers at RiskIQ found an estimated one in 10 apps advertising Black Friday deals was fraudulent.

Looking ahead to 2017: Microsoft to end support for Office 2007 and Exchange 2007

As you budget for 2017, note that Microsoft will end support for several of their most prominent products in 2017: The final security updates for Windows Vista  is April 11, 2017 for and Office 2007 ends on October 10, 2017. Support of Office Exchange 2007 servers will also end in 2017.

Budgeting for system updates and technology replacement

Most nonprofit organizations work off of a strategic plan to guide them to achieve their mission. Many organizations, however, have not developed a plan for their technology and how it can support that mission. Instead, they take a more reactionary stance toward hardware and software: if hardware breaks down or mission-critical software cannot run on an obsolete operating system, it gets replaced. However, adopting a more strategic approach to technology replacement can help avoid surprise expenses, save money, mitigate data security risks, and increase productivity.

What's the future of technology? Our top picks from Wall Street Journal's 3rd Technology Conference

Wall Street Journal’s much anticipated WSJ.D Live Conference brought together some of the most recognized influencers, thought leaders and innovators to unveil their top predictions on the state of technology and where it’s headed in 2017 and beyond. ­

 

How household devices brought down the Internet (And how to avoid a DNS attack)

On October 18, unknown hackers used the Mirai malware bot network to hijack Internet of Things (IoT) devices to bring down large swaths of the Internet itself. The specific DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack was on Dyn, a company providing critical Internet services to sites like Reddit, Twitter, Amazon, Spotify and Soundcloud. An attack of this scale is unprecedented, but could be an early hint of more to come.

Top Tech Challenges for Nonprofits: Training staff (and board) on new technologies

While the benefits of the new technologies may be evident to you, they are not always immediately embraced by the team and can cause disruption if proper training is not part of the roll-out.  Before rolling out any new technology, it’s good to be aware of some of the top reasons employees may resist the change.

Enterprise Wi-Fi technology comes home

As the Internet of Things continues to evolve, most people would agree, the one key ingredient left out of this recipe for Jetson’s bliss has been a smart Wi-Fi router. Typically, we have one router in our home. Many have tried extenders to increase coverage and speed, with little success. The challenge lies in the fact that Wi-Fi signals are, at their core, just radio signals. And, radio signals are not good at passing through hard surfaces like walls, ceilings and floors. As one gets further away from the router, the signal gets weaker.

Top Tech Challenges for Nonprofits: Migrating to appropriate cloud solutions

Look for opportunities to immediately mitigate the risk of data loss and potential downtime. For nonprofits with fewer than 1,000 employees, we suggest moving at least 80 percent of your basic infrastructure into the cloud over the next three years. Email and backup are critical and should be migrated immediately. Payroll is another critical application that can be moved to the cloud to help avoid disruption of compensation for employees even during local outages or disasters. 

Trying to compete in enterprise market, Apple to bring iWork to the cloud

Apple announced they were taking iWork to the iCloud to attempt to compete with Microsoft 365 and Google Docs for office product market share. 

Four Clear Signs You Absolutely Need an Office Manager (or another one)

Check out some telltale signs that your office could benefit from some office management help below; if these sound like what your company is experiencing, it’s probably time to take the leap. 

Top Tech Challenges for Nonprofits: Creating and enforcing IT policies

When developing a comprehensive IT Management and Security Policy, be sure that it is easy for staff to understand and follow – finding the balance between policies and procedures that support physical and virtual security while ensuring employees have access to the data when and where they need it to stay productive is key.

Top Nonprofit Tech Challenges: Data backup and continuity solutions

Business continuity planning includes developing policies and procedures your organization can use to mitigate risk and ensure that your operational work can continue should there be disruption to your technology solutions, whether it's caused by human error or natural disaster. An important part of business continuity planning is identifying which operations are essential and to map out what technologies must be set up through back-up plans or redundant systems to enable your work to continue.

The New Language of Data Security: From Passwords to Passphrases

Now, a new standard is emerging for passwords, backed by a growing number of businesses and government agencies — to the relief of computer users everywhere. No longer must passwords be changed so often, or include an incomprehensible string of special characters. The new direction is one that champions less complexity in favor of length.”