Waypoint News

Top 3 Cyber Security Risks for 2015

02.06.15

2014 saw an explosion of concern about cybersecurity, as more and more of life moves online – especially financial life. When big companies and even government agencies were hacked and millions of people’s details were leaked, we all sat up and took notice. But what form will the dangers of cyberspace take in the year ahead?

Cybersecurity is a major mainstream issue. Hacking experts warn that 2014 was the beginning of a new arms race between legitimate web users, companies and even governments, and ever-more-sophisticated hackers on the other. 2015 will see traditional cybercrime like internet password fraud continue, but there will also be brand new threats to accompany new technology.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things is the name given to the web of communicating smart devices that will increasingly predominate in our homes and workplaces. When the toaster talks to the fridge and the doorbell communicates with the garage door, that’s great – but it’s great for hackers, too. John Nesbitt is the founder of Cyber Senate, a council of the world’s cybersecurity business leaders. His group believes that ‘the IoT presents unique security challenges in terms of the number of connected devices present,’ and that makes it ‘the main cybersecurity risk for 2015.’

In fact, it’s possible that many of the Things in the IoT have already been hacked – or come ‘pre-hacked’ with spychips. In any case, they’re far from secure: ‘we have sacrificed security for efficiency,’ concludes Mr. Nesbitt.

Cyber-espionage

Governments, non-governmental organizations and other groups are already busily engaged in cyber espionage, including data gathering as well as hacking and other activities. Non-governmental political groups are already players in this game – witness the Syrian Electronic Army’s antics in 2014.

McAffee’s ‘2015 Threat Predictions’ document warns that cyber-espionage attacks are likely to increase in frequency in 2015 and that ‘newcomers will look for ways to steal money and disrupt their adversaries,’ while the information-gathering behind the scenes will become more sophisticated.

Cyber theft

It’s almost certain that cyber theft will rise in 2015, for two interconnected reasons. One is that more people will do more business online. The other is that an increasing proportion of those will be relative novices who lack good cyber-security habits and knowledge.

Some of the risk is out of consumers’ hands, too. In many cases, ‘the payment technology used won’t protect against retailers who aren’t storing payment card data securely, and they will still need to be vigilant in protecting stored data,’ says Symantec Security’s Candid Wüest. If your businesses cyber security is important to you, get a free IT review and learn about our IT managed services.

How to Use Cyberduck To Manage Files Stored in the Cloud

02.04.15

Sometimes it’s useful to store public-facing data in the cloud. When that’s necessary, it’s typically done inside the web application by the end user. They’ll upload their pictures, video or other content quite happily using the app. In that case, there’s no real need for an admin to get involved. But when an admin does need to get involved, the best way is often to go forward by taking a step back.

If you’re a systems administrator looking for a way to manipulate content the best choice might just be an FTP client. Remember those? In the bad old days before Adobe Muse and other design software started letting you just upload whole websites in the click of a button, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients were how things got onto the web. And if you have cloud data you need to get right into and manipulate by hand, they deserve a second look. In particular, Cyberduck merits your attention.

Cyberduck is available in over 30 languages. You can get it for Windows or OSX, and it supports a whole range of FTPs. Standard FTP is in there, and so is SSH FTP, as well as WebDAV, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, and Openstack Swift. That means that if you’re a user of Rackspace Cloud, HP Cloud, Internap, or any cloud storage systems that use Openstack, you can use Cyberduck. And Google’s Cloud Storage meshes with S3 protocols, so you can connect there too.

Getting set up

After you install Cyberduck – and Bonjour, if you’re a Windows user; it’s optional, but not necessary – click ‘Open Connection.’ You’ll get a drop-down, and from there you can select the protocol you want to configure. Copy and paste your credentials to be allowed access to the system you’re connecting to and click ‘Connect.’ You’ll get a password prompt, and FTP users will get a warning that their password will be sent in plaintext – unencrypted. You can bookmark servers during a session so they’re easy to return to for future sessions.

Manipulating files

You can upload and download files with a simple drag and drop. There’s a queue manager for batch upload files and you can view the progress of those uploads. Click the ‘Get Info’ button and you’ll be given the option to manage attributes, and you’ll also be able to configure data on traditional web servers so it can be distributed with Amazon CloudFront, Memset Memstone and Akamai. You can edit files through an external editor, and upload revisions from a temporary stored file.

What about security?

Cyberduck stands out from other FTP clients because its FTP functionality is actually the least important part of what it can do. It also stands out because the majority of FTP clients aren’t great for security, but Cyberduck is. You’re constantly being reminded that standard FTP means your passwords and other data are being sent unencrypted. That’s because FTP was introduced in the 1970s, before encryption was seen as a major issue and certainly before SSL. But FTP continues to be offered on many servers anyway. Many traditional FTP clients leave no alternative, and the best you can usually hope for is SSH FTP. Instead of these limited options, Cyberduck gives cloud access, offering better security too.

Consumers Demand More from Mobile Web Surfing

01.30.15

In an interview with O’Reilly Radar writer Mac Slocum, Joshua Bixby, president of Strangeloop, said that the days in which consumers were happy to just be able to connect to the Web with their mobile devices are long gone. Today, the owners of smart phones and tablets demand that Web pages load quickly on their mobile devices and that these pages include all the bells and whistles of a full Web experience.

And, Bixby told Slocum, those companies that can provide this experience are the ones poised to thrive. And those that can’t? They’ll fade away.

Web, mobile Web no longer separate entities

As Bixby says in the interview, the Web and the mobile Web can no longer be considered two separate entities. Today’s consumers expect their Web experience to be just as smooth and complete whether they’re reading a forum on their laptop or reading a newspaper on their smart phone.

Of course, what’s most interesting is that the smart phone market is still so young. As prevalent as these devices appear to be, the truth is that the vast majority of consumers still don’t own smart phones. Bixby cites this stat in the O’Reilly Radar story: 155 million U.S. mobile phone users aren’t using smart phones.

The smart phone revolution

Bixby says that this stat shouldn’t prevent developers from creating a rich mobile Web experience. Change happens quickly when it comes to technology, and new mobile users are picking up smart phones before they experiment with lesser mobile models. Many of these new tech users, then, will do the vast majority of their Web browsing through smart phones or other mobile devices.

Too much focus on apps?

Today, Bixby says, too many developers are focusing on apps rather than their own Web sites. This can lead to problems. Bixby points to this example: Users, while accessing their Twitter feeds through a tablet or smart phone, click on a link to a story that interests them. However, instead of the link taking these users directly to the news story, it takes them to a page that demands that they download the news site’s app. Those users who actually do this, and don’t skip this step, are then taken to the news site’s home page and not the location of the actual story they wanted to read. To get to that story, they’ll then have to go back to their Twitter feed to find the original link.

This, Bixby says, is a good example of developers missing an opportunity to take true advantage of mobile devices.

It’s clear that Web sites that don’t create a good experience for mobile users will miss out on traffic and customers. Consider Bixby’s interview a wake-up call.

Mobile Marketing 101: What Your Business Needs to Know

01.28.15

Your business already boasts its own interactive Web site. You run a busy blog promoting your company and its services. You Tweet your followers whenever your business is holding special sales or launches a new service or product. Your business’s Facebook page is steadily adding followers.

Unfortunately, to reach today’s consumers, all that isn’t enough. You must also master mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing matters

For time-strapped business owners, this might seem like one too many ways in which to reach consumers. However, today’s customers rely extensively on their smart phones and tablets. If you want to reach them, you have to make sure that they are receiving your marketing messages on their mobile devices.

There are several ways to do this. The most important is to develop a Web site that is optimized for mobile devices. Far too many businesses today boast highly interactive Web sites that look great on a computer screen but cluttered and messy on a tablet or smart phone.

Optimize your site for mobile

And that’s unfortunate. What happens when customers on the road seek an Italian restaurant near them? They’ll log onto your Web site, struggle to read the particulars on their smart phone or tablet, and then search for an alternative, a competitor who might have a Web site that fits nicely in the confines of the smaller screens common to mobile devices.

Savvy businesses today operate both standard and mobile-optimized Web sites, giving consumers the option to visit their mobile sites when they’re accessing them through smart phones or tablets.

Offer your customers value

Business owners can also send short text messages advertising their business and services to mobile devices. It’s important, though, to make sure that your customers actually want this service. You can, for instance, ask your customers to sign up for mobile messages through your Web site. Usually, you’ll have to entice your customers to sign up. You might, for instance, offer savings and discount opportunities in the mobile messages you send out. A beauty salon might send a message to clients that all perms will be 15 percent off on a specific date. A fast-food restaurant might send a message that French fries are free to all mobile customers with an order of $15 or more.

In short, customers don’t want their smart phones and tablets flooded with marketing messages. But if these messages actually offer them something worthwhile – first crack at a newly released movie or book, a discount on their next purchase – your customers will come to appreciate the value in them.

Don’t Let Your Competitors Set Your Agenda

01.22.15

Even the biggest tech powerhouses make the occasional business mistake. And one of the most frequent? They let their competitors set their agendas.

Take Google. Google remains the undisputed search engine king. It’s also one of the most powerful companies in the world, but that hasn’t stopped Google from trying unsuccessfully to become the next Facebook.

Facebook takes Google to school

Facebook has already established itself as the leading force in social media. Google thought that it should hold that title, so it launched Google+, its own social networking program.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with Google+. It boasts some nifty features, especially in the tweaks it offers for business owners. But Google+ is not Facebook. Consumers are simply used to Facebook. They prefer to use the service for their social media needs. Google attempted to break into Facebook’s turf by offering a product that’s not really needed.

It hasn’t worked. Google+ remains a distant afterthought in the world of social media.

An Internet search mistake

Microsoft knows the feeling of falling into this same trap. As everyone knows, Google remains the top dog in the world of Internet search. This hasn’t changed since Microsoft launched Bing, its own Internet search engine.

Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Bing. The search program does a good job finding information. And it, too, comes with some nice features. Unfortunately, Google search is still better. It’s easier to use. It’s familiar. And it’s quick. There’s no real reason for consumers to make the switch from Google search to Bing.

Learn from Google, Microsoft mistakes

You can learn from the mistakes made these two tech giants. Focus on improving what you already do. For instance, instead of targeting social media, Google should concentrate on improving its search, e-mail, and online documents servers. These are already successful offerings, and Google can gain even more followers by making them stronger.

Follow this example. Don’t be distracted by what your competitors are doing. Your job is to make the services and products at which you already excel even stronger.

Living With Lync: 2014 In Review, 2015 Ahead

01.21.15

Waypoint can help you utilize this new and effective tool!

This article excerpt, by Kevin Kieller, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1AZQH5S


Microsoft Lync has had a good year in 2014, with a reported 5 million Lync voice seats now deployed and an ecosystem expanding around the tool. This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges ahead, though, especially as Microsoft moves ahead on its Skype for Business rebranding initiative. Let’s take a closer look at this year’s highlights and next year’s intentions.

As noted, Microsoft has reported deployment of some 5 million Lync voice seats in 2014. Other voice-related Lync highlights include:

  • Lync ranks third among IP PBX vendors in North America in organizations with more than 100 extensions, as noted by Peter Hale, an enterprise consultant with UK-based telecom and IT analyst firm MZA, at Enterprise Connect 2014 in March.
  • In October, for the first time ever, Gartner placed Microsoft in the Leaders section of the Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony.
  • As part of its report, Gartner rated Microsoft as the seventh-largest global corporate telephony vendor with significant annual growth––of 106%––in 2013.

Along with these rating and deployment successes, the Lync software, hardware and services ecosystem continued to grow:

  • An increasing number of IP phone set device vendors, including Polycom, Aastra, HP, snom, AudioCodes, Logitech and Spectralink, now support Lync.
  • A growing variety of USB audio and video devices support Lync: 34 wired headsets, 34 wireless headsets, 14 webcams and 11 USB speakerphones.
  • 55 SIP trunking service providers are qualified to connect with Lync 2013 (and 57 qualified with Lync 2010).
  • The number of Lync-compatible choices for gateways, survivable branch appliances and session border controllers is growing.
  • Lync Room Systems are now available from Crestron, Polycom and Smart.
  • Microsoft now has 81 certified Lync support partners, including 16 global support partners.
  • Lync functionality is expanding via a growing catalog of add-in applications for contact center, reporting, attendant console, recording, knowledge reinforcement and more (see the Office TechCenter for the most up-to-date list of qualified Lync infrastructure components).

And yet with all of the success in 2014, many enterprise communications managers still aren’t convinced that Lync alone can act as a PBX replacement. Consider these results from an attendee quick poll taken during my keynote for the recent Enterprise Connect/No Jitter virtual event, “Microsoft Lync: What Is the Impact for Your Enterprise?” (available on demand). When asked, “What do you think about Lync as a PBX replacement?,” respondents said:

  • Lync can be a PBX replacement: 38%
  • I would combine Lync and a traditional PBX: 40%
  • I would never trust Lync as my PBX: 7%
  • I am using Lync as my PBX: 15%

In 2014 the challenges associated with implementing Lync successfully remain much the same as over the past several years. These are:

  • Convincing naysayers that Lync absolutely can serve as a PBX replacement.
  • Realizing that implementing quality of service/class of service to prioritize real-time traffic on the network is a must.
  • Assembling a team with network, telecom, application and change management skills.
  • Recognizing that after you build your Lync environment you need the tools and skills to manage it (ongoing support often requires very different skills than design and implementation).
  • Committing to monitoring and driving quality, usage and adoption.

Looking Ahead


On Nov. 11, Microsoft announced that the next version of Lync will be called Skype for Business and is expected for release during the first half of 2015.

While much of the focus has been on the new name for Lync, the transition to Skype for Business is much more than a simple rebranding.

The next version of Lync brings together the development teams and technologies associated with Lync and Skype and in doing so provides unique business-to-consumer opportunities as Lync plugs into the massive scale that Skype has achieved: more than 60 million concurrent users, more than 550 million registered users, and 2 billion minutes of communications per day.

Specifically, Skype for Business will let corporate users directly connect to external parties using their Skype ID … no more complex and confusing process whereby Skype users need to sign in with a Microsoft ID in order to connect. Already we are seeing improved video interoperability between Lync for Windows desktop and Skype.

Skype for Business will provide an improved and streamlined user interface. Blind and consultative transfers will take fewer clicks, a small item but one that has been a top user requested feature. Interestingly, the new Skype for Business client will include both the classic Lync interface and the new Skype UI. IT shops will be able to flip the UI for specific user groups through a central policy. This is one of the ways that Microsoft is trying to help smooth the transition to Skype for Business. The promised in-place server upgrades is a second feature designed to accelerate adoption.

Moving Forward


Looking to another poll from the Dec. 10 Lync virtual event, we see that organizations are at many different points in their UC journeys:

  • We are piloting/deploying UC from our incumbent PBX vendor: 22%
  • We are trying to decide which vendor’s UC platform to select: 15%
  • We have not begun piloting/deploying, and don’t expect to in 2015: 10%
  • We have not begun piloting/deploying, but plan to in 2015: 16%
  • We are piloting/deploying UC from a vendor other than our incumbent PBX vendor: 37%

I suspect that most of the 37% who responded that they are piloting a solution not from their incumbent PBX vendor may be piloting Lync. If you are in the process of piloting or upgrading to Lync 2013, then I would recommend that you move ahead. Being on the Lync 2013 platform will make transitioning to Skype for Business easier when you decide to do this.

Lync continued its upward trajectory in 2014 and so far 2015 is looking good for the Skype for Business nee Lync team.

Part 2: Outsourcing IT Services: What to Look for in an Outsourcing Provider

01.20.15

One of the greatest things about owning and running a small business is the knowledge that you are in control and that it is your expertise that keeps things going. The bad news in this is that despite our best efforts, some parts of a business are often too big or too unfamiliar to handle on our own. For these types of situations, frequently the best course of action is to outsource the job to an outsider, but which one?

Before you entrust your business’s equipment and data to an outsider, you should make sure that not only is that provider good at what he does, but can also protect your data assets. Here are a few questions that you should ask:

1. Do you have experience serving clients of a small business in my industry? Work with a business that is identical to yours isn’t important, but having a good familiarity with your industry could prove beneficial. You should also make sure that your provider understands the unique challenges that small businesses face, and that he can provide answers to them as well as help you exploit opportunities.

2. How can I count on your business being around for a while? Nobody can tell the future, but the past is a good indicator. Stability is critical. When a provider has some stability you have a greater chance that he can and will serve you with future problems or continue his support with things he has done in the past. You and your service provider should consider yourselves partners. Nothing less will do.

3. What standard services such as 24/7 support, cloud based backup, virus monitoring and elimination do you offer your clients? It’s good know that an outsourcing service knows his entire business, not just parts of it.

4. What measures do you provide to ensure that my business data is protected? This is very important, because if your service provider’s security can’t be assured, find somebody else. Taking a risk isn’t worth the trouble.

5. How difficult would it be to move my data to another service provider or inhouse? Make sure you aren’t locked in to a particular vendor. For a variety of reasons, you might want to be able to move your data from one person to another, and some vendors won’t do that. Make sure that you are doing business with someone who will.

All of these questions may open discussions about similar topics that might be of concern, but these should serve as a good start to choosing the best IT outsourcing partner possible.

Why Outsourcing IT is a Good Idea for Small Businesses

01.19.15

To support communication, data management and other aspects of a business, most small enterprises find that they have to make use of various information technology (IT) services. Managing these services however more often than not proves to be a challenge, requiring plenty of labor, expertise and high management costs.

This is why some small businesses are opting to outsource IT services. Outsourcing IT support has several advantages that make the investment more than worth it.

1. Lower costs

When you handle all IT support in-house, you must allocate a fixed budget towards it. This tends to drain a large part of your operating costs. By outsourcing, the costs of IT services management become variable and are easier to manipulate. In most cases you find yourself with more money to direct towards other areas of the business especially those that directly generate revenue.

In addition, outsourcing removes the need to have permanent and temporary employees handling IT services which tends to be expensive for the business.

2. Experience and expertise

A reputable IT outsourcing company will have highly qualified and experienced technicians under its employment. The experience is especially beneficial since it means that the company can easily and efficiently handle a wide range of IT services.

3. Access to the best resources

When it comes to internal IT management, small businesses are nowhere near the level of big companies. Large companies have the resources and staff to handle all IT services without a problem. When a small business outsources IT support to an IT company, it gets access to the same top level resources. This greatly improves business efficiency.

4. Quick and low cost implementation of new technology

Technology is always changing. In IT, new and better systems keep on replacing older ones. If you handle your own IT, it means that when you want to implement new technology you have to retrain your employees and give them time to gain experience in the new system. This leads to significant delays which can negatively affect the business.

By outsourcing to an IT company, you do not need to worry about how to implement and use a new system. This saves a great amount of time and money while at the same time providing easy and quick access to better technology.

5. Lower risk to the business

IT companies are extremely dedicated at reducing any risks their systems and technology are facing. A small business on the other hand may not even be aware of some of these risks leave alone taking steps towards mitigating them. Of particular concern is the risk of a security breach which can compromise very sensitive data such as customer information. By outsourcing, you are reducing the risk facing your IT systems and business in general.

6. Focus on your main business

The IT aspect of a business, even a small business, is quite demanding. If a problem arises it requires a lot of time and money to solve. In the end, the core business suffers negatively. Outsourcing IT services removes this burden from the business owner’s shoulder’s and places it onto an IT company that is better suited to handle it. Whew! What a relief!

Getting the Most out of Gmail

01.16.15

Gmail, Google’s e-mail system, is steadily growing in popularity. This isn’t a surprise; Google hasn’t developed too many products that prove unpopular with consumers.

But are you using Gmail to its fullest potential?

You aren’t if you’re not using these tips to get the most out of your Gmail account:

Label your messages: Is your e-mail inbox overflowing with messages from friends, co-workers, bosses, and family members? It can prove difficult to keep track of these messages. Fortunately, Gmail allows you to add brightly colored labels to your messages to better keep track of your inbox.

For instance, you can slap a bright red “Urgent” label to all messages that you need to address quickly. You can put a blue “Vacation” label on e-mail messages relating to hotel reservations, car rentals, and other vacation-planning activities. If you’re conducting a job search, e-mails from prospective employees and networking contacts might include a purple “Job search” label.

Free up space with archiving: Is the number of e-mails in your inbox fast approaching the 5,000 mark? Then it might be time to archive your messages. This nifty feature from Google allows you to place messages that you don’t need right now but don’t want to delete to the “All Mail” folder. Unlike messages that you place in “Trash,” e-mails archived in “All Mail” don’t disappear forever after 30 days.

Add a signature: Tired of typing your name, phone number, and e-mail address at the bottom of each of your Gmail messages? Why not create an e-mail signature? Gmail allows you to save signatures that you can then simply drop into the bottom of your messages. This is a great time saver for anyone who writes dozens of e-mail messages during an average day.

Filter your incoming messages: Gmail also allows you to create filters that can automatically label, archive, delete, or forward specific incoming messages. By choosing the “Filter messages like this” option from Gmail’s “More” drop-down menu, you can tell Gmail to automatically apply the “Job Search” label to any messages that include the words resume, apply, career or job. You can tell Gmail to automatically send all messages with the words “hotel,” “car rental,” or “reservation” to your Gmail “Vacation” folder.

Got questions? These Three Sites Have Answers

01.14.15

It’s human nature to question. After all, if we never wondered about the world around us, how would we ever be inspired to create?

Fortunately, if you have questions, the Internet has answers. The Web is filled with sites dedicated to answering any question that might pop into your head.

Here, though, is a look at three of the sites that can best answer your most pressing questions.

Quora: The designers behind Quora boast that the site connects you to everything you want to know about. And that’s not an empty boast.

If you have a question, you can log onto Quora to get answers from people who share your interests. This often means that doctors, lawyers, economists, screenwriters, and police officers are providing your answers.

As an example, a dietitian might answer your question about how to eat healthy without grains. A long-distance runner might answer your query about how to best prepare for a marathon in chilly temperatures.

Ask MetaFilter: Ask MetaFilter operates under the concept that there are plenty of experts out there with the answers to just about any question you might have. It’s an intriguing concept and, surprisingly, Ask MetaFilter usually does provide reliable answers to questions.

The questions on this site are broken into various categories, everything from human relations to technology to health to law and government.

On a recent visit to the site, for instance, people were asking when the fifth season of Mad Men will become available on iTunes Canada. Others asked more philosophical questions. One user, for instance, asked how mature she could possibly be when she considers the best way to make friends is to have the same enemies.

StackExchange: StackExchange is a relative newcomer to the online question-and-answer game. It is made up of a network of 85 question-and-answer sites, though, so it certainly boasts the breadth and depth that you’d want whether you have a question about your dog’s incessant barking or the meaning behind that Nietzsche quote.

The site has certainly become popular. It already has 1.7 million users and has provided 7.1 million answers to 3.4 million questions.

Best of all? StackExchange’s question-and-answer sites, broken into those serving fans of science fiction and fantasy, database users, cartographers, Web designers, chefs, gaming junkies, and everyone else, are free and open to all users.