Weekly Biz Bits with the newest technology to help your business, news on the iPhone 5 release and more.
Tip of the Week
Network connection speed is always increasing, and small business owners should think about how they can stay abreast of improvements and use new technology to their advantage.
Since a growing number of commercial exchanges are gravitating from in-person transactions to online transactions, faster network connections translate into more revenue, better customer service and increased efficiency. To unlock these benefits, however, business owners need to be equipped with the right technology and knowledge.
Staples has the following tips for small business owners who need help navigating these changes as they look to set up or update their network.
* Consider the number of people who will connect to the network and how it might change with time. Since a small business traditionally anticipates its workforce to expand, the best networking option will be flexible to account for change.
* A wired local area network, when possible, is often the best option for operations that demand high bandwidth Internet connections. Keep in mind that if a small business operates inside an office building with multiple levels and obstructions, the wireless signal may be disrupted. If this is the case, a wired connection or several business-grade wireless routers may be necessary. A small, standard-grade router will sufficiently supply Internet access inside a small building, but a stronger router, is necessary to cover an expansive commercial space.
* Decide whether employees will need to connect to the network while away from the office. The most efficient and popular solution for setting up a remote office space is to establish a VPN, or a virtual private network, which allows employees to access files, applications and even office hardware remotely through secure software.
* The practice of cloud computing is a networking option that is becoming popular at an ever-increasing rate. The idea behind cloud computing is to make all facets of a business’s daily operations available online. Unless a business is originally established using a cloud infrastructure, switching to this option can be a large undertaking. However, cloud computing can drastically reduce or eliminate the amount of money spent on office space, manpower, equipment costs and more.
* According to the 2012 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 98 percent of small business security breaches occur at the hands of outside agents. Utilizing encryption software, taking advantage of penetration tests, and setting up a secure firewall are all viable steps a small business owner should take to keep important files, including finance information, safe from intruders.
The Better Business Bureau warns consumers that the dangers of mobile banking can outweigh the convenience and ease if proper usage is not employed.
The Federal Reserve estimates that within the next year, one-third of cellphone users will utilize mobile banking. Safeguarding personal account information will be more important than ever.
Most financial institutions now offer various mobile banking services:
Dedicated smartphone apps allow users to perform a range of banking transactions, from depositing a check by taking a picture of it to using built-in GPS hardware to locate nearby ATMs.
Mobile versions of regular banking websites load quickly, offer much of the same functionality and are easier to view on smartphone screens.
Short Message Service or SMS banking allows users to send text messages, which a computer reads and responds to automatically. For example, sending the message “BALANCE” will return a text with current account balances.
Dial in on tips from BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Don’t follow links. Never click on links in unsolicited emails or on unfamiliar websites; phishers attempt to collect personal information, putting users at risk for identity theft.
Avoid public networks. Only connect to secure wireless networks when conducting important transactions to avoid unprotected hot-spots.
Only use officially authorized applications. With the recent increase in mobile malware and viruses, ensure that application publishers are authorized by official financial organizations.
Keep devices secure. Always lock mobile phones and change passcodes frequently.
For more information, visit www.BBB.org.
According to Yahoo! Business, here are the 10 craziest items you are not allowed to sell on eBay:
1. Partially-used cosmetics
2. Prison uniforms
4. Cave artifacts from federal land
5. Magic potions
8. Replica coins
9. "If I Did It" by O.J. Simpson
10. Psychics readings
Number to Know
290.5: According to The Hill, a political website, the richest person in Congress is Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, with $290.5 million.
According to Yahoo! News, German wireless carrier Mobilecom Debitel sent email blasts today to its subscribers, preparing them for the launch of "a new generation of smartphone." The emails said to expect the release of the iPhone 5 in September.