Press Releases

Sinu Blog: Playing with Sand

  • Thursday

    2014 Survey: Favorite Tech Tools For Small Businesses 

    Time is money and tech companies are designing new innovations to save both for small businesses. Whether it’s plugging in your Square to make an on-the-go sale, or managing your payroll from your tablet in a coffee shop, the tech-abilities are endless.

    Breaking through the clutter of the new and shiny advancements, SurePayroll (@SurePayroll) surveyed small business owners across the country to find out what was working for them – and what their top picks are for 2014.

    Overall, business leaders prized their company website above all else. Following right behind, the survey found email, social media, online advertising and online video presentation resources to be key. As businesses begin moving their data storage to the cloud, Dropbox continues to reign as the most preferred company. Google is hot on their tail followed by Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive (which recently announced a merger of its personal and professional service suite) and then Box.

    It was hardly a surprise to see Facebook leading the social media category, followed by LinkedIn. The big surprise is that Google+ came in third beating out Yelp (fourth place) and Twitter (tied for fifth with Quora).

    CRM picks started with Salesforce and followed with Act and then NetSuite while email marketing was again dominated by Constant Contact. InfusionSoft and Marketo tied for second place with MailChimp pulling into third place with its quirky personality and free use up to 2,500 emails/month.

    Google Drive dominates the organizational app category. Evernote comes in second, followed by Tripit and Trello. The interesting thing to see here is that Microsoft OneNote doesn’t even make it to the list. If this trend continues, Google could well push Microsoft out of the office suite market it has dominated for more than two decades. 

    Looking at broader tech trends, the survey noted, “that 70 percent of small business owners are changing the way they do business to adjust for a more technology-based market. As many as 80 percent are leveraging mobile technology for their businesses.” A recent blog we wrote documented that while cloud use is currently only at 37 percent, that it will reach 80 percent by 2020. 

    It is interesting to note that most of the favorite small business services listed in this survey are accessible through the cloud and have mobile-friendly versions. Companies are not just simply migrating to the cloud, they are embracing it.  

    At Sinu, our goal is to help our clients harness the power of technology to support business productivity, freeing them up to better serve their customers and grow their businesses. We believe that people matter...objects don’t. Whether you are looking to adopt more cloud-based solutions, find a better data backup system, or need full-time tech support for your employees, we are here to offer CTO-level consultation and affordable all-inclusive technology for your business.


    How secure is your password? 

    By John Christie, co-founder and COO

    In the days after the Heartbleed story broke earlier this year, Sinu, along with other technology experts, advised our customers to change the passwords of their online accounts to protect their data. Since then, a myriad of security breaches have been announced. 

    In August it was the “nude celebrity hacking” incident where several celebrities fell prey to a having their passwords stolen and their nude photos posted to the Internet. According to Apple chief executive Tim Cook in an interview by the Wall Street Journal, “celebrities' iCloud accounts were compromised when hackers correctly answered security questions to obtain their passwords, or when they were victimized by a phishing scam to obtain user IDs and passwords.”

    An in a more recent incident, 5 million Google passwords were leaked. It turns out that in this recent Google “credential dump,” only a small percentage of the passwords were actually active. However, this news highlights, once again, how critical it is to generate secure passwords.

    “The time it takes to crack a password is the only real way to determine its strength and value,” said Cameron Morris, a developer at defense contractor Partnet in an interview with ZDNet’s John Fontana. Morris developed an open-source tool called Passfault that predicts the time it takes to crack a specific password. So I randomly tested a password. I saw that my self-generated password would only take a day to figure out. Then I tried this free, secure password generation tool – xkpasswd – which creates easy-to-remember but hard-to-guess passwords. The password it generated based on my original password would take over one year to hack.

    Whether you decide to use a password generator or not, there are a few basic best practices that experts agree on for generating and managing secure passwords:

    • Generate a different password for each online account
    • Change your passwords every 3-6 months and don’t reuse them
    • When generating your own password it should contain upper and lowercase letters, punctuation, a number and be 8-14 characters long
    • Do not store your password list in the cloud, such as on Google Docs or Dropbox
    • Consider a two-step verification on services that provide it

    For most of us, it is difficult and time consuming to manage dozens, if not hundreds, of unique online passwords – not to mention changing them every time a new breach is announced! So we often just take a deep breath and hope it doesn’t happen to us. However, there are several password management solutions that can help you both generate and manage secure passwords for your online accounts.

    Last year, the New York Times reviewed a number of different apps to help manage your passwords. We have summarized this report below:

    Password security will continue to be increasingly important to protecting our online data. Fortunately, there are more and more options coming on the market that can help make secure passwords more convenient to generate and manage. As you find a balance between convenience and security with this issue, we suggest moving the balance point as far toward security as you can.


    How to protect your data when using public Wi-Fi

    According to PCWorld, if Google has its way, New York City’s antiquated pay-phone system will soon be converted to provide range of technology services, including a network of free wireless networks throughout the city. But as our access to public Wi-Fi increases, so do the opportunities for mobile hackers to access your data. For example, hackers are setting up “free Wi-Fi” hubs designed to entice unsuspecting users onto their network where they can quickly hijack passwords and other personal data. However, there are several simple ways you can protect yourself while using public Wi-Fi networks.

    1. Know Your WiFi: This sounds simple, but wherever  possible, use Wi-Fi networks you know and that are secured with a password. Ask your barista for the name of their network to be sure you’re accessing a legitimate one.

    2. Turn Off 'File Sharing': Whether you’re on a PC or an Apple computer, you can turn off access to your files from outside parties very quickly by turning off file and printer sharing. CNET has a good video that walks you through the process.

    3. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network): This is a great option to help protect yourself on public Wi-Fi, while preventing people from knowing who you are or what you’re looking at on the Internet. A VPN essentially creates a secure data tunnel between the end user and the destination. PC News wrote a great blog suggesting their ten VPN picks and Sinu offers several VPN solutions for its clients.

    4. Forget the Network: On the go, it’s often tempting to just shut off your laptop or device and then just go, but don’t forget to forget the network. On a device, just hold down on the network name until the option pops up. Or, on a computer, go into your network preferences and remove the network from your computer’s memory. This will prevent your computer or device from automatically connecting to that unsecured network in the future.

    5. Use a HotSpot: Most cell phone carriers are now offering the option for a personal hotspot, turning your cell phone into a mobile Wi-Fi. Be sure to secure the network with a password – if it doesn’t automatically require one – in order to prevent poachers and would-be hackers. About Technology  provides several suggestions on how to boost the security of your HotSpot, ensuring that it’s not just a more convenient source of WiF, it is a significantly more secure source, as well.

    At Sinu, our goal is to provide our clients with full-service technology services that increase productivity while mitigating risk. Should you have questions about device security, please contact your account manager for assistance.