Phishing scam targets Hotmail users

Hotmail, Microsoft’s free online email service, finds itself in hot water when 10,000 email accounts usernames and passwords were recently discovered posted in a code-sharing website. BBC News has reported that these Hotmail account owners, mostly from Europe, were victimized by a phishing attack. Microsoft is currently investigating the incident, and hinted that there may be more users who have inadvertently compromised the privacy of their email accounts. The total scale of the phishing attack has yet to be determined, since the 10,028 Hotmail usernames and passwords are only of users whose names begin with A or B. Microsoft has confirmed the accounts to be genuine. Microsoft has also taken action to remove the passwords and usernames from the website. As of now, there is no news regarding what action the software giant will take against the instigators of the attack, nor what the impact will be to the owners of the compromised accounts. Microsoft has advised users to immediately change their passwords, and warned email account holders to be more careful in responding to emails. Phishing is an online scam in which email accounts are sent fake emails disguised as legitimate correspondence from trusted websites. Once the recipient clicks on a link included in the email, his or her account is then compromised, allowing phishers to gain access to account information as well as other sensitive information, including bank passwords and credit card accounts. The original BBC story can be found here .

Twitter Fast Becoming an Indispensable Tool for Many SMBs

Twitter , the microblogging service used by CNN , Oprah and none other than President Obama seems to have taken the world by storm, and is fast becoming an indispensable tool for many small and midsized businesses as well Twitter allows company owners to share short “tweets” or posts a maximum of 140 characters each to give quick, live updates to “followers” on the Twitter service. A few days ago, the Wallstreet Journal published an interesting article on how Twitter has become a life saver for many business owners in a crisis . One company used the service to update customers when their website went down because of a hacker. Another study from Warrillow , a consulting firm, says that small businesses are also using the service to search for deals and promotions online. In fact, according to the company, they use the service a whopping 7 times more than other social networks. It’s interesting to learn the many ways that businesses are using services such as Twitter to their advantage. How about your business? Are you using it as well? Let us know! Related articles: One in Five Tweets Are Free Brand Advertising (mashable.com) Facebook Adds Twitterlike Tagging Feature (myventurepad.com) 7 Times As Many SMBs Use Twitter To Find Deals (smallbizresource.com)

Keeping a Clean & Healthy Workplace

With many people using the same computers, printers, copiers, and telephones every day, there are a myriad of diseases that can be caught at work if you’re not careful. And with the H1N1 virus in full swing right now, it’s especially important to keep the workplace clean. Here are a few tips to stop the spread of germs in the workplace: Wash your hands frequently, especially before handling food and after using the bathroom. It is recommended that you scrub your hands with soap and warm water for 10-15 seconds, then rinse well before drying with a disposable paper towel. Keep keyboards, phones, and copiers germ free by using disinfectant wipes to regularly clean items you share with others. Have your office dusted regularly. Dust and dirt can accumulate indoors, which pose risks especially to people with allergies and asthma. Make sure that your ventilation system is working properly. To prevent dust and dirt from settling on your keyboard you can buy a plastic cover fitted to your keyboard’s keys – they’re easier to clean, too. Make it a habit to keep a small bottle of disinfectant alcohol or hand sanitizer handy. If your office is carpeted, have it regularly vacuumed. Have the trash cans – preferably with lids – taken out and emptied every day. Simple illnesses such as common colds and the flu can spread very quickly in a workplace, so if you happen to get sick, do every one a favor by staying home – and come back only when you’re well. If you really must go to the office, avoid shaking hands with people and wear a mask or have a handkerchief or face towel handy for sneezing and coughing to help stop the virus from spreading. No one likes to be sick, and following these simple measures will help make your workplace a much healthier and cleaner place to work.

Putting Social Networks to Work for Your Business

These days it seems like everybody is talking about “social networking” and using websites such as MySpace , Facebook , and Twitter . But exactly what is social networking? Is it just a passing fad or is it an idea whose time has come and is here to stay?  More importantly, can it be put to good use in your business? What is Social Networking? Online social networks are services meant to create communities of people on the Internet who share common relationships, interests, and activities. In a typical social networking site, users create profiles of themselves which they use to connect with other users and create a network of “friends.” These networks are typically organized around the user’s social relationships, life circumstances, lifestyles, organizational affiliations, ideological and political beliefs, commercial interests, and many other traits. One benefit of creating these networks is that it allows users to keep track of each other within their network more easily. It also allows them to leverage the connections of others in their social circle – greatly expanding the network of people they would ordinarily have. Beyond creating their own social networks, things become interesting when users are able to share information and pursue activities online together, thereby allowing greater communication, collaboration, and co-creation of ideas, products at a scale and speed which simple was not have been possible before. How Can I Use Social Networks for My Business? If you are a small business owner, opportunities in social networking are readily available. The ability to create a network of employees, customers, prospects, and partners is one benefit, along with the ability to leverage their networks to expand your own. The potential capability to mine the amazing amount of user-generated demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data among a network’s members is also very valuable. Here are some samples of ways you can put social networks to work for your business: 1) Use it for Marketing. Create a community of your current customers where they can more easily hear from you and you from them . Use their networks to attract new leads to your business. Follow their activities to gain insights into who they are, what they want, where they congregate, and how best to reach them. Let them use social networks as an avenue to let others know how good you are . Create exciting new opportunities for them to get to know your business, reach out to you, and create a relationship with you. 2) Use it for Customer Service. Gain valuable feedback into how they feel about your product or service in real time. Create an important new channel to reach out to customers and to get information out to them quickly and efficiently. 3) Use it for HR. Create a community of current and ex-employees. Use it as a cheap Intranet, like what this company is doing with Facebook . Gain insight into the social profiles and behavior of your employees. Use it as a tool to attract new recruits . 4) Create new opportunities for learning and innovation. Tap social networks to learn from like-minded people. Find and discover social networks in your business, industry, or your profession . Learn from fellow entrepreneurs, customers, or partners. You can even tap communities to help you innovate faster and more cheaply . With social networks and an active community of people behind them you can co-create new products or services, link up to gain greater bargaining power, or share information and intelligence more easily. These are just some examples of how you can apply social networking to your business. For more information, contact us to learn how we can help you get started today! Related articles: Marketer addresses social networking for businesses issues … (jonggunlee.tistory.com) To friend, or not to friend: That is the workplace question (seattlepi.com) Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks Webinar Presentation (slideshare.net) Social networking is about people, not technology (jonggunlee.tistory.com)

Social Networking Websites Your Business Should Use

Social Networking websites are usually associated with consumer services such as MySpace and Facebook . But did you know that there are literally dozens of social networking websites out there specifically targeted toward businesses? InsideCRM.com’s editors have compiled a list of the top “50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence on” which is available online at their website . This list is divided into five categories: Social-Media or Social-Bookmarking Sites, which allow users to share their favorite websites or track and vote upon various online articles and resources. Professional networking sites, which allow networking among organizations and individuals for business purposes. Niche sites, which target a specific community of users in a particular industry, profession, or with specific shared interests. General social media sites, which have business applications such as the popular Twitter service. Job sites, which are geared towards recruitment and talent management. Head out to InsideCRM.com to find out more. Related articles: Social Networking And Your Business (smtusa.com) Social Networking and Technical Communicators | On the Write Road (jonggunlee.tistory.com) B2B Social Media: Got Your Toe Wet, Now It’s Time to Swim (socialmediatoday.com)

Mind Your Manners! Etiquette for the Electronic Age

From the heavyset computing devices of Charles Babbage to today’s simple novelty items, electronic devices and gadgets have become smaller, more functional, and more integrated into our daily lives. With mobile phone calls, SMS, and email we are seemingly in constant need to be in touch with other people electronically. And therein lies the problem. Many people seem to put such a high priority on immediately replying to electronic communication that they often unintentionally offend the people they are actually physically with. For example, how does that colleague doing the “Blackberry Prayer” during a meeting – hunched over a handheld device, texting and emailing – make you feel? Here are a few etiquette tips when using our electronic devices: When in meetings, turn your phone off – or at least put it in silent mode. Check your messages and return calls and emails after meetings, not during them. It’s much more polite to explain to a caller or email sender that your response was delayed because you were in a meeting rather than explaining to everyone with you that the person on your phone is more important than them. If you are expecting an urgent call you must take, inform others about it before the meeting begins. When your phone vibrates, excuse yourself quietly and take the call outside. Never wear an earpiece while in a meeting. Don’t use your mobile phone or PDA while you are talking to somebody – it gives the impression that the person you are talking to is unimportant and insignificant. Loud ringtones are inappropriate for certain settings, so make sure they’re off at the right times. If you need to use speaker phone, ask the person on the other line for permission first, and announce who else is in the room with you. Many people are (understandably) uncomfortable not knowing who else may be listening to them. While in video conferences, treat the people on the other end of the line as if they were actually in the room with you. No discreet playing of Plants vs. Zombies on your iPhone while the brand manager from the other end of the line is giving his sales report – regardless of how boring it may be. Remember: electronic correspondence can never replace actual human interaction and conversation. Even though we’re in the electronic age, the old saying still applies: “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”

SMBs Investing More in Security Solutions

A recently released a report entitled “Voice of IT: State of SMB IT”, detailing  purchasing, technology usage, and IT staffing trends among small and medium businesses worldwide. The report surveyed over 1,100 IT professionals working in SMBs, 80 percent of whom were decision makers or influencers within their respective companies. Not surprisingly, a substantial number (39 percent) of the companies surveyed cut their IT budgets in 2009, with an average cut of 22 percent from 2008 levels. Among the areas where companies are saving money is hardware, with the average planned lifespan for machines such as desktops, laptops, servers, and switches increasing by 26 percent. Despite this, a significant number (31 percent) report that budgets remained flat, while as many as 30 percent reported an increase in budget in 2009 from the previous year. Among the areas where companies are investing money is in software, specifically security software. 46 percent of SMBs indicated that they plan to invest in antivirus and antispam software, while 38 percent plan to put their money in data backup and recovery software. A growing trend is virtualization, with 30 percent of participants planning to invest in virtualization solutions. How does your company compare? Do you think your company is investing enough in IT security? Contact us now to see how we can help you invest your IT budget where it brings the most value.