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February 2015

IF This Then That, Is One of My Favorite Tools.

I first talked about ifttt a few years ago when it first debut. At that time it was somewhat of a hackers tool meant for geeks to bridge between mobile and other applications. Today IF from www.ifttt.com is a very sophisticated app that is a free website and service that lets you automate simple tasks in your digital life, such as "if there is an upcoming event on my Google Calendar, then send me a text message reminder with the event name, time, and address," or "If someone tags a photo of me on Facebook, then save a copy of that photo to Dropbox." I strongly recommend you download IF from your favorite app store, or visit the website from your computer and get started. There are a number of canned "recipes", as IF calls them, or you can learn to quickly create a few of your own.  IF can be used by management or IT departments to create canned recipes that can bridge applications or create automated events. Amazing, wonderful tool, check it out. Click for review... 

How Can I Protect My Business From Cyber Attacks?


I am an avid viewer of Scorpion and waiting on CSI Cybercrime to begin in March. Not a surprise I know. It is not uncommon for my wife to lean over and ask me "Is that real? Can a hacker really do that?" More often than not, the answer is "yes, they can." As TV show writers become more tech savvy, and the news reports the "how" of current cyber crime events, hacking (meaning the bad use of this term) has become a much more accepted occurrence. You can purchase expensive anti-virus and anti-malware software, but I hope you understand that these tools alone will not protect you 100%. They are simply necessary evils that you must avail yourself of, because the courts might hold you liable for negligence if you choose to not install these applications, and thereby put individuals financial information at risk.  Just as Target and others have found out, having great security software installed - will not protect you. 


There is nothing I can suggest to keep you 100% protected. I do suggest that if you are a person with political connections - use them to get your representatives more active and stopping cyber crime by enforcing terrible punishments for committing the crimes to begin with. By the way, these are not high school geeks, hacker geeks, or even the cyber mafia. White collar cyber criminals are the most vicious and financially dangerous criminals out there. Just saying. Until law enforcement realizes that locking up cyber criminals is more important to society that petty drug arrests, we will get close to solving the real problems.


Now that the rant is over, what are some simple things you as a business owner can do to mitigate risk?  First, start with removing email services to anyone in the company who does not need it to represent your company and do their job. Anyone and everyone else can check mail on their phones, tablets, or wait until they get home. Heaven forbid! Those who do need to access email for business purposes should be held under very tight restraints. Start with an Internal Control Policy that office email and associated servers WILL NOT be used for any other purpose than business. If you do not take this first step - well you deserve what you get. What can I say. More that 90% of all mail attacks come from personal email. No one loves you, you have not inherited an fortune from that distant recently deceased relative, and no good deed goes unpunished, so you cannot help, for a small share, the Nigerian Prince who wants to smuggle millions out of his country.


Studies have shown that the millions (yes millions) of people who have been defrauded or generally ripped off via email were first of all victims of their own greed.  Anyone who expects something for nothing, will become a victim. The Internet just lets it happen faster and more often. You cannot stop what they do at home, but you can stop them from opening malicious mail at work and causing your systems to become infected.


Once you curb email, do the same for social networking at work.  Want to make more money? Get more work done during the day. People are as addicted to the likes of Facebook and Instant Messaging as Tobacco users of a generation ago. The problem is you are loosing more productivity to unwarranted Internet use during a work shift that you were to those frequent cigarette breaks.  In stopping the personal use of social media coming into your office servers and systems you also reduce potential attacks and malicious threats.


Finally, if it is not yours - don't connect it to your property. Businesses that are allowing employees and other users to connect their personal devices to company owned networks are wasting perfectly good money on security software, because you have opened the backdoor and every window you have in the office and hung out a sign that said "Come on in and steal our stuff!"


The times have changed! Employees have computers at home, they have personal devices that access the Internet, they do not need to connect via your network. They do however, because they know that the Internet is a dangerous place and it is safer for them to connect via your network, than use their own computer at home.

Yes, you need security applications and firewalls. That's a given. But your real threat is how you police how your people use your resources, and you can fix most of that yourself, for nearly free, and sleep a lot better. You need to create, and enforce viable Internal Control Policies and Procedures for doing so. The key word here is enforce.

At the end of the day, it is your business, your assets, your recourses, your future, your decision...


January 2015


Microsoft Gets Windows Right!!!

I know, I use too many exclamation points! But, I am flat out excited about Windows 10. I have been on the Preview for Windows 10 pilot program, with most of our K2 presentation team, since they rolled it out, and I have been working exclusively with Windows 10 since December when the beta release seemed to be pretty stable. I can tell you, I had to sit behind one of my older Windows 8.1 systems today, and it felt absolutely archaic. Microsoft hosted a review webinar of the next release of Windows 10, due in a couple of weeks, which should be the last update before it is rolled out to a much larger audience and for final distribution.


Besides talking about the new Cortana desktop interface, Microsoft's PDA Assistant that competes very well against Siri, they also rolled out lots of other new offerings. Least of all the news that Windows 10 may be last OS update you will ever need. They announced that Windows 10 will be free to nearly all legit owners of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. Sorry Windows XP users - I told you to upgrade, didn't I? 


The new Microsoft Surface Hub, a dynamic tool for creating and sharing information of many types, was a great release as well, and I have to tell you, watching all those potential business applications running on Windows Surface Pro devices was also amazing. Actually running Xbox and gaming apps from the Steam Community, on a Windows 10 PC, was pretty outstanding as well. I am not a gamer - but I could be. Then, I considered a firm full of young CPAs playing Xbox all day and night and realized that IT had a whole new set of headaches. Assuming the IT folks aren't huddled in back playing themselves.


Besides being free, future updates of Windows 10 may be free as well. What seems to be Microsoft taking a move from Apple's playbook, this could radically change the way the OS is updated. Of course the other option is that Microsoft charges annually to use the OS, and if you don't pay, you don't play,  This could be a pretty radical move as well of being an example of a vendor taking subscription based software a little too far.


Microsoft's HoloLens - The Future Has Arrived.

Only a few days after Google quietly announced it was dropping its ill received Google Glass, Microsoft Announces HoloLens. A headset and API tool that allows you to create and place 3D images right into your world. This I predict will first revolutionize Xbox and other game enthusiast. But the potential for business and industry are mind numbing. From Holo-Malls, to Holo-Designs (wow, all these new words I can trademark!) This should be revolutionary.


O.K., I have been in love with the idea of programming a 3D world since Star Trek's Holo Deck. Any when Microsoft announced HoloLens this week, I was so happy. While I liked the Holo Deck better, I can see wearing these goofy lens for a few years until the Holo Emitters are rolled out.


Lots of new stuff coming from Microsoft, it was obvious that the presenters were focused and that management finally had a direction. So far it looks like the right direction. Please, please - don't screw this up!



16 Things You Didn't Know Your New iPhone Could Do
Many of you now have iPhone 6 or 6Plus with iOS 8. Even if you have an iPhone 5s with iOS 8, you may be able to take advantage of a few of the new tricks.
BuzzFeed has a great list of some of the new features at your fingertips. Enjoy.



Laptop with Dual Monitors

One of my favorite attendee questions at my conferences (www.k2e.com), here is how one CPA solved the problem, check it out.

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