How to protect yourself from phone and email hack nightmares

Your telephone and email are vulnerable points of attack by hackers, but you can guard these portals with simple security steps. Ed Bott with reports on devastating hacking incidents that could have been prevented. Continue reading for tips to protect your phone and email data from devastating attacks.

Increase profits with personalized marketing

Personalization pays. According to Forbes, an Epsilon survey revealed that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to choose companies that offer personalized experiences, and 90 percent of respondents find personalization appealing. But reaching customers on a personal level takes time and effort.  Here you will find tips for small businesses on how to master this 500-pound gorilla of the marketing world.

Time is almost up: Microsoft urges Windows 7 users to migrate to Windows 10

Time is running out for Windows 7 users, and nonprofits and small businesses are being urged to switch to Windows 10 and its host of support services. After 14 January 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for computers running Windows 7. Continue reading for additional support for making the transition.

How to protect your devices, data while on vacation


Even if you’re on vacation, don’t expect hackers and other bad actors to take a break from attacking your tech devices. However, there are several steps you can take before and during your vacation to help keep your devices and data safe.

In this article, we summarize tips and best practices from several sources including the National Cyber Security Alliance, Sue Marquette Poremba in Tom’s Guide, and

Before you leave for vacation

  • Conduct financial transactions and download podcasts, books and movies on your own, secure Internet connection.

  • Don’t broadcast your vacation plans on social media. 

  • Clean your web browsers by deleting your browsing history and clearing the cache, especially any stored passwords.

  • Update your security software and applications to ensure the latest security patches are installed.

  • Create new temporary passwords for any accounts you'll use while traveling. We strongly recommend you use unique passwords or passphrases for each online account. Passwords should be at least 14 characters long and utilize special characters and numbers. (For more information about password safety, see Sinu’s blogs: How Secure is Your Password and The New Language of Data Security: From Passwords to Passphrases.)

While on vacation

  • Take only the devices you absolutely need on vacation.

  • Set up the ‘find my phone’ feature on your devices, so you can find, remotely wipe data and/or disable the device if it gets into the wrong hands. 

  • Make sure all devices are password protected. 

  • Use a passcode or security feature (like a finger swipe) to lock your phone or other mobile devices in case they are misplaced or stolen.

  • Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi and avoid logging into accounts that have sensitive information. Set your device settings to ask permission before connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

  • Either keep your devices with you or lock them in a safe if you are staying at a hotel. If a safe is not available, lock them in your luggage. 

  • If you use the business center at a hotel, avoid using public equipment (ex. phones, computers and fax machines) for sensitive communication.

  • Use a credit card rather than a debit card for any purchase (online or otherwise). 

At Sinu, our goal is to provide our clients with full-service managed IT support services that increase productivity while mitigating risk. Should you have questions about device, data, or other tech safety while on vacation, please contact your account manager for assistance. A little bit of preparation and being a little tech security savvy can prevent headaches during your summer vacation and the rest of the year.

New iCloud app allows Apple, Microsoft customers to share files

Apple and Microsoft are embracing a message that we learned in kindergarten: It’s good to share. A new iCloud for Windows app, which rolled out on June 11, allows customers of both tech giants to access files and share photos, videos, mail and other information.

Chicken Tax and Tesla, the Native Invasive Species

With increased tariffs – real and threatened – by the current administration, there’s more mention in the media of a five-decade-old tariff called the Chicken Tax. However, something I’m not hearing much about is that the Chicken Tax will likely provide a significant competitive advantage to Tesla in the very near future.

How the Google Ad Grants program can benefit your nonprofit

Google Ad Grants is an in-kind program that gives qualified nonprofits free access to Google business tools, as well as $10,000 per month in free advertising on the Google Ads platform. The following write-up gives you valuable information about these resources including how to apply for ad grants, tips for using Google, and maintaining and getting the most from these marketing resources.

IT and legal teams play key role when assessing cybersecurity risks

While cybersecurity remains a burning issue for organizations in 2019, many businesses and nonprofits don’t plan on or budget for a cybersecurity risk assessment. However, once organizations understand the value of their data and reputation, assessments often become a regular component of their tech management strategies.

The world’s most hacked passwords

Watch the  ZDNet report  on most hacked passwords.

Watch the ZDNet report on most hacked passwords.

The phrase, “simpler is better,” doesn’t apply when you're deciding how to choose a password.

A new report from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, the cyber arm of the GCHQ intelligence service, reveals the 100,000 most hacked passwords. Not surprisingly, the simplest are easiest to hack.

“In order to nudge tech-savvy people in the right direction when it comes to staying secure online, the NCSC teamed up with Troy Hunt, an Australian cybersecurity expert who created Pwned Passwords API, to analyze millions of breached accounts worldwide to determine the most common hacked passwords,” Fox Business online reports.

And the top 10 winners for the most hacked passwords:

1. 123456

2. 123456789

3. qwerty

4. password

5. 111111

6. 12345678

7. abc123

8. 1234567

9. password1

10. 1234

According to the report, ‘123456,’ was identified 23 million times in breaches. The second worst password pick – ‘123456789’ – was breached 7.7 million times, and the third most hacked password, ‘qwerty,’ 3.8 million times.

While several simple series of numbers and/or letters made the top 10, the study found people often used names in passwords – whether it’s their own name, the name of their child or their favorite musician.

The five most common names used as passwords in breaches included: 1) Ashley; 2) Michael; 3) Daniel; 4) Jessica; and 5) Charlie.

The five most common musician-inspired passwords in breaches included: 1) Blink182; 2) 50 Cent; 3) Eminem; 4) Metallica; and 5) Slipknot.

Consumer Reports offers tips for password-based cyber security:

“Ideally, a password should be composed of a long string (think at least a dozen characters) of seemingly random uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols,” the publication reports. “One of the best and easiest things to do is to create a long password out of an easy-to-remember phrase, then throw in some special characters.”

Other tips on how to choose a password:

  • Create passwords or passphrases that do not use repeating words and number patterns, cannot be easily guessed, and do not use personal information.

  • Use a different password for each online account.

  • Change passwords annually and/or when prompted by your online accounts.

  • Always use two-factor authentication when available.

Consumer Reports also advises to avoid your name, birthday, or references to other personal details including your child’s personal details because hackers routinely troll Facebook and Twitter for clues to passwords like these.

It is important to remember to apply these same password standards to connected devices such as routers, webcams, and TVs. Many come with default passwords that should be changed the moment you take the product out of the box.

Well-meaning employees may be top threat to data security

Employees accessing company data with a multitude of devices present the largest security threat for organizations today, according to a new report from BetterCloud, an independent software vendor based in New York, NY. So how can your organization mitigate the risk from well-meaning employees? Here are a few of the most crucial steps you can take today to protect your data.

Humans and patience needed to make AI work for small business

Frustration and “inflated expectations” confront many business managers who try to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) into their operations, according to MIT Technology Review. “Despite what you might hear about AI sweeping the world, people in a wide range of industries say the technology is tricky to deploy. It can be costly. And the initial payoff is often modest,” reports the Review. So what does it take for AI to be successful?

Email marketing to Millennials: Values, personal appeals can boost clicks

“This socially conscious and fast-paced generation requires a set of rules different from those of Generation X and Z. And brands need to take into account that fact if they want their email marketing strategy to engage this important demographic,” Florian Bersier, founder and CEO of Gmail app Gmelius, writes.

Understanding the value of respect in the workplace

Employees can feel either motivated and valued or discouraged and neglected. The difference often boils down to respect. It might seem simple, but successfully creating a culture of respect in the workplace takes an understanding of the different types of respect, how to deliver it, and how it will be received.

Report: Small, medium-sized businesses lean on technology

Small and medium-sized businesses rely on technology to achieve their goals but also find the diversity of choices a challenge, according to a new industry study. The sheer number and types of solutions has grown in such size and complexity that many firms are “taking two steps forward and one back as they navigate these new learning curves.”

IRS, Social Security and iPhones: Sophisticated phone phishing scams on the rise

Sophisticated phone phishing scams are on the rise and agencies are urging people to be aware of telephone scams from callers posing as Internal Revenue Service agents. Learn more about how these complex phone phishing scams work, how to recognize and report them.

Accommodate Your Millennial Workers – or Another Organization Will: A Conversation with Larry Velez of Sinu

Successful Nonprofits, a firm that provides strategic planning, board development, executive coaching and transition assistance to help nonprofits, recently spoke with Larry Velez, founder and CTO of Sinu, to help them understand and accommodate millennials in the workplace. Listen to the podcast to learn more about shifting demographic trends and practices in the workplace.

CEOs Report a Bigger Focus on Technology

According to a 2018 survey by Gartner, CEOs report a growing focus on changing and upgrading the structure of their companies, including prioritizing IT-related issues and scaling up their digital business initiatives. Growth remains number one, but there is a shift from focusing on incremental growth to creating foundational change to become more competitive and support long-term growth. According to the survey, the top 4 priorities for CEOs in 2018/2019 are: