Information Technology

Technology is constantly changing, so how can you be sure your systems are up-to-date?  We can help you learn how to manage and use the technological tools you need to operate efficiently.  You'll also find easy and affordable ways to outsource your information technology needs, ensuring the security and optimal effectiveness of your systems.  Because let's face it ... unless you are in the IT business, you probably need some help.

Cyber Security Resources

cyber threatsThe threat of a cyber attack on your small business is very real.

SBAM has put together a variety of resources to help you become informed. Click here for details.


Managed IT Services

NUWAVEAre your IT systems operating efficiently?

With the proper technology and implementation team, your company can realize dramatic productivity and profitability gains. NuWave Technology Partners' unique approach provides clients with a single point-of-contact for all their telephone and data needs, and covers the spectrum from servicing existing phone systems to complete new installations.

Related News

An innovative small manufacturer bets on Michigan talent and creativity -- on today's Business Next free audio seminar

Profile of an innovative Upper Peninsula small business owner who is proving he can make money manufacturing in Michigan rather than China. SBAM's Vice President Communications Michael Rogers talks with David Ollila of Marquette Backcountry Ski. Listen at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. today on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.

New survey report: small business confidence hits highest level in three years

SBAM’s national affiliate, the National Small Business Association (NSBA), today released its 2011 Year-End Economic Report, which shows a decidedly more positive outlook for America’s small businesses, with important gains in several key indicators. Most notably, more small-business owners report being confident about the future of their businesses than at any time in the last three years, up from 64 percent just six months ago to 75 percent today. 

“Although this report is by far the most positive we’ve seen in quite some time, it is imperative policymakers not mistake these gains for a task completed,” stated NSBA Chair Chris Holman, CEO of Michigan Business Network.com and President of The Greater Lansing Business Monthly. “There are countless issues that continue to hinder small businesses.”

While the majority of small-business owners (66 percent) continue to anticipate a flat economy in the coming year, the number expecting a recession was more than cut in half at 14 percent, down from 30 percent six months ago. Additionally, the number of small businesses expecting economic expansion in the coming year nearly doubled from 12 percent to 20 percent in six months.
Revenue growth was at its highest point in more than three years with 46 percent of small businesses reporting increases—up from 39 percent six months ago. There was a commensurate drop in those reporting decreases in revenue from 37 percent to 31 percent. And while job growth didn’t experience the same kind of growth—it remained unchanged at just 22 percent reporting increases—the number of small businesses (23 percent) reporting employment decreases was the lowest it’s been in three years.
When asked which issues are most important for policymakers to address, small businesses overwhelmingly ranked reducing the national deficit number one—up to 44 percent from 34 percent six months ago—followed by reducing tax and regulatory burdens and reigning in the costs of health care. Along those lines, there was a marked increase among small-business owners who cited regulatory burdens as a major challenge for their business—up from 31 percent six months ago to 40 percent today.
Please click here to access the 2011 Year-End Economic Report.


The Mobile Security Risk

By John Westra, Director of NuWave Government Solutions. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

DANGER!!! Unsecured mobile devices can result in identity theft, data loss and personal embarrassment! Although we may never see a warning label like this on the packaging of our next smart phone or tablet computer, the risk is still very real!

These mobile computing and communication devices are in reality very powerful small computers. Most of these devices have more processing and storage capacity than the first personal computers many of us owned. The response by software vendors has been equally amazing and there are now tens of thousands of mobile applications to choose from; everything from games like Angry Birds to social media, personal development, health management and even mobile banking. In addition to their advanced computing capabilities, these devices come equipped with mobile broadband and/or WiFi communications and GPS functionality that turns them into always-connected, geo-locatable data conduits.

It’s the combination of lots of data, much of it personal in nature, a built-in communications channel to the outside world and the high value of the hardware itself that is turning mobile devices into a prime target for thieves. The worst part is you don’t even have to have your physical device stolen to be robbed!

There is a growing threat from malicious applications or simply poorly written software. These apps can intentionally or by accident, reveal personal and business information such as phone numbers, banking information, health information or whatever other information is stored on the device.

How Risky are Mobile Devices?
To judge the risk you face from this type of data loss, imagine all of the data on your mobile device being printed on sheets of paper and distributed to A) known criminals intent on stealing your identity and any money they can get their hands on or B) the members of your church, business or social club? If the thought of having all of your information distributed like this doesn’t bother you, you probably don’t need to read any further. However, if reading this paragraph made your mouth drop open and created a sudden feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach, read on to find out what you can do to minimize your risks.

Physical Security
This is the easiest and yet most challenging problem for many people to solve. After all, who hasn’t left their cell phone somewhere? Making a point to always put your cell phone back in its case, your pocket or purse is a good habit to keep it from getting lost. Conversely, never set your device down on a public table or counter, where it can be easily forgotten.

Keeping the Snoops Out
All modern mobile devices come with some type of time-out and password “lock” system. Like any other computing platform, you will want to use a password that is random and difficult to guess. If you are using a key-swipe style of password, don’t use an “L” or simple “/” swipe code. The good news is this will deter casual data snoopers. The bad news is it will take a dedicated cyber criminal all of about two minutes to bypass this minor annoyance and access your data.

Password Protection
It’s not just the data that’s on your mobile device that’s at risk if it gets stolen. Most people are now using their mobile devices to access a variety of business and personal online web content. If a criminal gains access to your mobile device and you’ve set up your mobile browser to remember passwords to those sites, it becomes a Pandora’s Box of badness.
To combat this particular risk, we encourage our clients to install a password security management app like LastPass (www.lastpass.com). This was one of the apps we reviewed in a previous article,

Making The Web Work For You -- 7 Applications To Maximize Your Web ROI

Never fear, we’ve found some terrific applications for you to “Maximize Your Web Surfing ROI!” The list of applications contains a mix of browser “plug-ins,” cloudbased applications and local applications.

Before we get started though, allow me to make a quick plug for security. No matter what applications you use while on the Internet, securing your system is the best way to increase your overall web ROI. Make sure your operating system is kept up to date and you have current antivirus / malware / spam defenses in place. Never download software from Warez or Torrent sites or in response to pop-up offers of any kind.

Since we started by talking about security, the first application I’ll tell you about is one that will help you organize all of the passwords and site log-ins you use every day.

Application Name: LastPass
Website: www.lastpass.com
Type: Browser Plug-in

LastPass is designed to work with all of the major browsers, including those found on the most popular smart phones. Last-Pass is designed to create and manage all of your passwords and common web data in a secure online vault. The only thing you have to remember is one ultra-secure password for your LastPass account itself.

Each time you visit a site that requests you to create a password, LastPass will offer to generate and store a random password, containing a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters, designed to offer maximum security. It then stores this password, along with the site ID in your “vault.” The next time you visit the site, LastPass will automatically fill in your login information.

For sites that you have already set up passwords for, LastPass will offer to remember your existing login information for future visits. Once you install LastPass, I highly recommend you use the LastPass password generator and change all of your existing passwords.
LastPass can also store commonly requested information, such as your name, address, etc. to make it easy to fill out web forms with a single click. You can have multiple profiles for home, work, etc. Best of all, you can securely access your LastPass Vault and password data from work, home and your Smart Phone. Want even more security? LastPass now offers fingerprint access control and encryption! There is also a multi-user commercial version of LastPass available for organizations that want to centralize web password management.

Application Name: nitro pdf
Website: www.nitropdf.com
Type: Desktop Application

Ironically, despite the information on the web being electronic, one of the most frequent tasks people perform on the web is, you guessed it, printing! Tens of millions of pages of content are printed from the web every day. This printed information is either for temporary use, for reference or to share with others. Often it is thrown away within hours of being printed.

Nitro pdf is a tool that allows you to “print” any web page you visit to a pdf file that can be viewed, stored, shared and indexed, without needing any paper or a connection to the Internet. Pdf files, made popular by Adobe Acrobat, can be viewed on PCs, Macs, Linux systems and most current smart phones.

This particular application is useful both on and off the web, allowing you to create pdf documents from any application you would normally print from. One of the most frequently used web applications for nitro pdf is printing copies of forms and receipts that are created online.

Application Name: Evernote
Website: www.evernote.com
Type: Plug-in/Desktop Application

If you’ve read my previous reviews on mobile applications or heard me on SBAM’s new radio show, Business Next, you already know I love Evernote! Evernote is a “Cloudbased” service, with corresponding browser and desktop applic
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