You’ve probably heard of bitcoins. But what are they, really? It’s hard to explain so let’s watch this video.
There’s an old saying that everything is worth what its purchaser will pay. Bitcoins are a great example of that. They first started trading a few cents apiece. As of May 23rd, 2013 they are trading at $126 to one bitcoin.
So the real question is: should your business accept them? In my personal opinion, I’m going to have to say no. Recently in the news, bitcoin exchanges have been shut down . Also, because the volatile nature of bitcoins, you may end up worrying about the market rate rather than running your business.
On the other hand, most businesses that accept bitcoin see such transactions as a very small percentage of their total revenue. However, the fact that bitcoins are untraceable currency from the ether (most currencies are) attracts less than upstanding citizens.
Everything seems to be going up into the cloud. Is accounting in the cloud for you? Should your books be accessible from anywhere? Here are a few things you should know before answering those questions.
So Who Owns What?
Unlike desktop versions of software, cloud based products tend to be subscriptions based. People still run their old versions of Quickbook and Word that ran on Windows 95. This won’t be the case with cloud based software. The advantage of this is that with cloud based software like Office 365, you can pick and chose what features you want. Desktop software tend to come out in one format or a tiered system. Now you can pick and chose what you pay for.
Where Is Your Data?
If you’re using a cloud based software, then your data is stored offsite. It’s not on your local hard drive. It’s some where out there, in the cloud. So is it secure? Well, you paying another company to store your data and give you access to it all the time. This is the biggest crux that the cloud community has to deal with. But think about your ATM. You could have all your money stored locally, like in a shoe box under your bed. Or you give it to your bank and they give you access to your money via tellers, ATMs, etc.
Who Is It for?
In my opinion, cloud based software is really for the medium guy. If you’re a tiny business and you can count your daily sales on one hand, then this isn’t for you. A simple double ledger spreadsheet in Excel would do you better. If you’re a mega-corporation then you would build or higher your own accounting department and have an in-house system. However, the medium business that is always on the go and in flux will have use for a cloud based accounting system. As your business grows and changes the cloud is more apt to scale. It’s going to be easier than making that tough choice to spend a whole lot of money on a software upgrade.
As long as there has been money there has been people looking to making by means that are less than ethical. Now, with all the technology people half a world away can can attempt to pick your pocket.
I happened to come across a new type of call center fraud. Well, it’s actually a twist on an old trick. Con-men calling you up at home in an attempt to sell you something you don’t need or to gain personal information is nothing new.
However, the twist is that they try to have you open up a backdoor for them into your personal computer. They come under the guise of saying that they are calling from Windows Tech Support.
They then usually say that they’ve received reports that your PC is under assault by viruses, from the Internet no less. After that, they direct you to a web to download some variant of remote access software, programs that let someone else directly control your computer from across the Internet.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons for doing this, like IT support. But let it be known that IT support will never call you unless you them first.
To stay safe, best to never install software direct to you by someone you don’t know on the phone. It may sound like common sense, but it can be hard to turn away someone who’s calm, polite, and pretending to help you.
In fact, many of these scammers can be so persistent and calm that there is a whole subculture that revolves around messing with them. Click here for a laugh. Trust me, I didn’t cold call you on the phone asking for your credit card number.
It’s that time of year again. Whenever you walk into a big box store you hear that music playing, people are ringing bells outside, and you’re looking for gifts online. Now, more than ever one must be careful when making purchases. However, you can thwart these thieves and scam artists hoping to cash in on your holiday cheer by following a few simple rules.
1. When Purchasing always look for the SSL
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. It’s security method that restricts other computers from accessing information during a transfer. You can see if SSL is enabled by looking for a padlock symbol or by checking if the URL (address bar) is preceded by HTTPS:// which indicates a secure portal. This isn’t a sure fire way, but it’s a start.
2. Never give out your credit or debit card numbers over e-mail
No reputable retailer asks for credit card information via e-mail. If they’re worth their two cents then they’ll set-up a secure portal like the one mentioned above. Honest retailers will also never ask for your social security number. The more information someone is asking for, the more likely they are phisher, an online data miner looking to steal and sell personal information.
3. Above all else: Use common sense
The greatest defense against an online thief is common sense. With the number of online retailers there are out there, the moment you sense something fishy just move on. Look online for reviews of companies to make sure they are on the level. The Better Business Bureau is an excellent resource. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
The prefix mal comes from the Latin for bad. Anything with mal in it is bad news, malcontents, malnutrition, Mal Reynolds. Now there are malnets. Malnets are complex systems of servers and domains that are continuously on the attack.
It is estimated that this year, the majority of all spam will come from these malnet systems. For example, Rubol a known malnet was found to have 476 unique domain names. That’s a lot of vectors of attack. A malnet was found to be the culprit in the MySQL.com attack.
So what do you do? How can you protect your businesses infrastructure against such an organized malware ecosystem?
Most malnets are actually nets, malicious traps. Don’t fall into the trap. Rubol’s 476 domain names were fronts, mainly offering deals or quick cash. You might be thinking only a fool would fall for a something that’s too good to be true. However, some of these sites disguise themselves as legitimate businesses offering good deals.
The next step is to really isolate your sensitive data from the Internet as much as possible. The easiest way to do that is move customer data onto a removable storage device.
Keeping your security software up-to-date is also a boon to the safety of your data. And last of all, when in doubt, don’t click on it.