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Sinu Blog: Playing with Sand

  • Thursday

    Beware of new holiday shopping scam using fake order confirmations

    This holiday season, hackers have created an ingenious way of getting even the most tech and security savvy person to open their virus-laden email. Playing on our natural curiosity, they send emails seemingly from online stores many of us shop at such as Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Costco, confirming an online order. The email asks recipients to “click here” for more information on the order. Each email is properly branded and looks legit, luring email users to click, but their PC computer becomes infected with the malware that powers Asprox spam botnet.

    Image from as part of the "Be Wary of ‘Order Confirmation’ Emails" report on 12/14/14.According to security blogger, Brian Krebs of, “Asprox is a nasty Trojan that harvests email credentials and other passwords from infected machines, turns the host into a zombie for relaying junk email (such as the pharmaceutical spam detailed in my new book Spam Nation), and perpetuates additional Asprox malware attacks. Asprox also deploys a scanning module that forces hacked PCs to scan websites for vulnerabilities that can be used to hack the sites and foist malware on visitors to that site. For an exhaustive and fairly recent analysis of Asprox, see this writeup (PDF) from Trend Micro.”

    Fox Business reports that Walmart will be updating its security page soon to warn consumers about the scam. “We encourage customers to exercise caution when receiving suspicious email and we recommend frequently updating the antivirus software on their computer,” the company’s spokesman Dan Toporek said. 

    What Can You Do?

    1. Always check the “reply to” email carefully for clues to its origin. Often, the origin address will reference a legitimate brand name, but it will often look like “” instead of just “” If the reply email looks remotely suspicious, don’t open it.

    2. Most legitimate sites will reference an order confirmation number in the email. If it does not, you should not proceed and should delete the email.

    3. Don’t click on any of the links provided if you are suspicious. Instead, go to the legitimate website, login and search for your order history (if any) from there. If a phone number is supplied, try calling that – chances are the number will not work.

    At Sinu, we want you to be safe and secure online, during the holidays and every day of the year. For more tips on how to protect you and your business online, also check out another recent blog, “7 Data Security Tips.”



    With today’s technology, there is no better time to be an entrepreneur

    Experts agree, technology has provided small business with the edge they need to successfully compete in today’s global economy.

    Forbes reports, “It used to be that ‘economies of scale’ meant bigger was better. Since the days of Henry Ford, mass production brought down the price of everything from cell phones to washing machines, and big box sellers were the purchase point of choice as a result… But today we find ourselves in an era of ‘unscale,’ where small businesses and entrepreneurs can successfully compete with far larger competitors, as Hemut Taneja of General Catalyst wrote last year in the Harvard Business Review.”

    According to the report, there are several reasons why small businesses are better positioned to compete today.

     1. Small businesses now view their markets as global.

    Last year, 64% of small businesses reported selling goods or services outside the U.S. (National Small Business Association’s (NSBA) 2013 survey), up 12% from 2010. Forecasts predict this increase will continue.     

    2.The Internet is only one of the many ways that technology is changing the game for small businesses.

    Sinu was established over 10 years ago because small businesses and entrepreneurs were often at a competitive disadvantage when it came to technology – it is expensive to buy and maintain computer systems and keep up with changing software and upgrades. Now with the myriad of cloud computing solutions, the question for small business owners in not whether there is a solution out there, but which one and how do you most effectively adopt and manage these technologies so your employees can maximize productivity using these tools.

    3. Small businesses are more nimble than their larger competitors and often well-poised for acquisition.

    Because of their scale and large infrastructure investment, large firms often find it harder to innovate and less costly to just buy up new ideas in the form of small companies.

    Today, with the right technology and support in place, small business owners can spend less time and investment on infrastructure and more time innovating and outselling their larger competitors. Let us know how the Sinu team can help you grow your business!



    Technology on most holiday gift lists… please shop wisely!

    According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®63 percent of American adults – or 89 million people – will purchase technology holiday gifts. CEA predicts total tech spending will increase 2.5 percent from 2013, to reach a record $33.76 billion during the 2014 holiday season.

    If your Internet seems a bit bogged down this week, it could be because a record-breaking 103.3 million Americans will shop online between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday this year, according to CEA. The top five tech products consumers plan to during that time are:

    1) Tablets (for the second year in a row)

    2) Televisions (moving up from fourth place last year)

    3) Laptop/notebook computers

    4) Smartphones (jumping six percentage points from last year)

    5) Video game consoles (slipping two spots)

    If you're looking to purchase technology this holiday, there are several reviews out there to help you with your decision. One of the most comprehensive tech gift guide is from Washington Post tech reporter, Hayley Tsukayama, who does a series of reports covering everything from smartphones and tablets, to cool tech gifts under $100, and interesting gadgets for the hard-to-buy-for person on your list.

    As your tech partner, we would be remiss if we did not mention a few ways you can keep your data safe online when shopping this weekend:

    1) Only shop from reputable and recognized online sites;

    2) Use a credit card, not debit card, to make purchases because credit cards often come with insurance should your data be compromised;

    3) Avoid public Wi-Fi – it is one of the ways hackers steal data from unsuspecting victims; and

    4) Create good passwords for any new online accounts you create using a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters and two-factor authentication if possible.

    See previous Sinu blogs for more detailed information about creating good passwords and wi-fi security.

    Have a happy and safe holiday!