It Was Only a Click…Now I Have a Virus

By: Jerry White, Xcentric Project Manager

During the course of a work day, the average computer user clicks 1980 times.

Do you stop and think about each of your clicks? Maybe you should. Any seemingly innocuous click has the potential to invite malware, spyware, viruses other unwanted things into your computing environment. Whether you consider yourself a computer genius or a complete beginner, people with bad intentions are finding more and more ways to get what they want from you online. As users become more aware of the techniques used by hackers, phishers and scammers, the more advanced and elaborate those techniques have become, as they try to stay one step ahead. Below are a few examples of where clicking can easily get you into trouble, and how to avoid said trouble.

Have you found yourself attempting to download a file, perhaps a piece of software, from the internet and been presented with something like this:

It was only a click - body image

In that screen shot alone, there are at least 8 instances of the word “Download”. Knowing

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Vendor Spotlight: iTransact – Find the Best Rates for Processing Credit Card Transactions

We are a big fan of people who focus on the accounting community and know how to speak the language.  That said, I want to make sure you know about iTransact.  I have gotten to know a number of their ambassadors through our relationship with the BDO Alliance and have been very impressed by their work ethic and desire to serve their clients well.  Here is a guest post from them that I think is a great introduction to their services.

You may be wondering if there really is a difference in the rates you will pay or are currently paying to process credit cards and other forms of electronic payments transactions.  Will you be able to find something less expensive that still offers as much or maybe even more in services?  iTransact has been in business since 1994 showing our customers just how successfully we are at doing that.  We offer the best rates in the industry and consistently save our merchants between 10-25%.

You know that your business must be able to process credit transactions

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Sit Down with Dean Krech Video

Prior to Xcentric, Dean’s firm had 1 full-time IT staff member. They hosted their own data and had their professional staff do software updates, taking time away from billable hours. Then, a few years ago, they went through a M&A, causing them to address the issues they were having. They especially wanted more security and efficiencies.

“The thing that’s hard to see is the efficiencies you’re going to gain. It’s hard to put a dollar figure on that…for us it’s been tremendous…We’re now able to do a lot more with fewer people.”

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A Tale of Two Clouds: The Local IT Company Paradigm Shift

Technology firms, like accounting firms, have faced a number of market pressures in recent years. Chief among these is how to handle the cloud paradigm and how to either convert their revenue to the cloud or protect their revenue from the cloud. Many early on felt threatened by the cloud, so they did all they could to hedge against it. However, these days are coming to an end. Local/SMB technology companies are now finding their way to the cloud in droves and doing it in a few ways.

Easy Way

Find a ‘big company’ who offers a white labeled cloud solution that smaller IT firms can put their label on and resell. They make their margin through ancillary items, such as managing workstations, doing break/fix work on the local network, etc. This hedges risk but also offers a relatively low ceiling on the ultimate growth of the company.

Hard Way

Make a capital investment in starting their own cloud and as quickly as possible convert clients from in-house networks to their cloud network. This is a move that comes with TONS of risk

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Audit & Accounting Security Considerations

Over the past decade, many companies have fallen victim to software scams, virus and malware attacks, CryptoLocker blackmail, and, in the worst case, actual thefts of equipment. For example, three clients recently had laptops stolen containing client data stored locally on the hard drives, with one firm in particular having a significant number of employee benefit plan engagements exposed. That last theft occurred in a state with very strict cyber security requirements. The firm was required to notify all individuals listed in the client’s files that they could potentially be impacted by the theft. Two of the three firms estimated their cost of remediation at close to $100,000. While insurance policies covered a portion of the hard costs, the firms spent countless hours dealing with the thefts. The thefts also indirectly impacted the firms’ reputations in ways that couldn’t be quantified in financial terms. Most cyber breaches occur because of weak security systems and policies and are often due to simple lapses in judgment by firm personnel who were either not aware of or not reminded of

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Collaboration: Expanding the Dimension of Knowledge Management

For more than a decade we have promoted the concept of the learning organization as a key differentiator in accounting firms’ long-term viability and growth.  Simply stated, your firm’s ability to identify, standardize, and successfully roll out production best practices and shared knowledge is one of the last remaining sustainable competitive advantages available today, thus firm owners should reevaluate how information sharing is integrated into the firm’s culture.

Digital and cloud technologies continue to evolve at an ever increasing pace, which is driving changes in how firms fundamentally capture and share knowledge.  In addition to the traditional static knowledge management tools, such as intranets and document management programs, firms need to incorporate the real-time technologies that facilitate collaboration within the firm and with outside parties.  In this article, we will discuss the various types of collaboration tools that have evolved to facilitate knowledge capture and sharing, as well as how they are being expanded beyond the boundaries of the firm’s walls – helping firms grow.

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Sit Down with Mickey Payseur Video

Since moving to the Xcentric Cloud, Mickey’s firm has experienced peace of mind, increased security and great cost efficiencies. After seeing our data center, Mickey believes that there’s no other company like ours that comes close to Xcentric’s high level of security.

“Xcentric has carved out a niche to take care of CPA firms. They know the software. They know what tax season is all about. They know what it takes to deal with the seasonality of it. And anybody else that’s trying to do this other than Xcentric, that I know of, they really don’t understand the nature of the beast.”

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New Cloud Updates: V1.75 Released!

By: Aaron Sinnard, Xcentric Hosted Services Team

Finally, it’s here! The new and updated Xcentric Cloud Portal. We’ve had our cloud mechanics working tediously to release this version of the cloud. No need to worry! It’s intuitive, familiar and ready to go. We’ve taken care to ensure that the new portal is helpful to your workflow.

One new feature that will be enabled for firms over the next few weeks is a new application launcher, which has gotten quite the facelift. The new design helps to ensure that a user is kept solid with only one session. You may also notice that the gear icon has been replaced with a cloud icon, which conveniently tells you what server you’re logged into and gives live information about the status of your cloud session. Keep it green for optimal performance!

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Minimizing the Risk & Impact of a Cyber Breach

The continual stream of highly publicized cyber security breaches is enough to make any CPA nervous, especially as accounting firms have become targets in the past year, not only of laptop theft, but of thieves physically stealing file servers and stealing client data virtually through the firm’s WiFi routers.  While there is no way to absolutely protect a firm’s data against an “uber hacker,” according to the latest cyber security breach survey, most breaches are rated as opportunistic attacks rated at  very low difficulty, the majority of which could have been prevented had the company taken some basic precautions.  Below we list ten items that will significantly reduce your firm’s exposure to a breach and may even help lower the cost of your professional liability insurance!

1. Physically Protect Equipment

While this may seem obvious, it’s important to verify that servers are in a locked (and preferably unmarked) room or physically secured along with all backup media which includes tapes, external hard drives, data CDs and flash drives used to transfer data.  Workstations should not contain any client or confidential firm

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