What's an EIN

Once in a while, there's information about business that obvious to many of us, but can be completely new to someone just starting out in business. An EIN is an unique identiier fo businesses much like Social Security numbers are unique to individuals.

One of the key responsibilities for many new businesses or businesses that are restructuring is obtaining an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, from the IRS.

An EIN is a unique nine-digit number that identifies your business for tax purposes. It’s similar to a Social Security number but is meant for business related items only.

As a business owner, you’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account, apply for business licenses and file your tax returns. It’s helpful to apply for one as soon as you start planning your business. This will ensure there are no delays in getting the appropriate licenses or financing that you may need to operate.

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Dealing with Power Outages

We lost electrical power early this morning.  At about 7:15am, the power at The Computing Center and a number of the surrounding buildings in the Cornell Business and Technology Park dropped for less than a minute.

For us, it wasn't a big deal.  All our servers and the ones that we host along with all our network infrastructure kept humming along running on their uninterruptable power supplies (UPS's). Desktops that were left on last night and weren't on UPSs systems dropped off as well as most of our phones.  But all it took was a  few reboots and we were back running.

However, if the outage had lasted 10 more minutes, our servers would have started to shut down well before their backup battery power was depleted. That controlled shutdown system required planning and gets tested regularly. Without it, getting ourselves back up and running after an outage would be a lot of work.

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Keeping eCommerce Info Safe

Like it or not, virtually all businesses are using eCommerce in some way. We continually help clients with SSL certificates, deciding what data should be saved and where it should be stored. However, not every client contact need be virtual. There's nothing like a phone call or a meeting to help cement a long-term relationship.  

Ecommerce has become commonplace as businesses and online tools have made it easier and easier to exchange goods and services with customers around the globe.

While some consumers may have advanced knowledge of online security practices and feel confident shopping on various ecommerce sites, other consumers may not feel as comfortable. It's up to you as a business owner not only to convince potential customers to shop with you, but also to protect their information online. Follow best practices to protect your customers' sensitive online data.

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Biometrics - How do they work and are they safe?

We are starting to see some clients using Biometrics, mostly fingerprint readers at this point.   It's our expectation that more sophisticated biometric sensors such as face recognition and whole hand readers will become more common in the next several years. 

Biometrics are part of the cutting edge of technology. Put simply, biometrics are any metrics related to human features. Fingerprinting is a very early and simple version of biometrics, like when you login to your phone using your fingerprint. As with any emerging technology, the first question you should ask is if they are safe.

How Do Biometrics Work?

If you've ever put your fingerprint into an device, you have a vague idea of how biometrics work. Basically, you record your biometric information, in this case a fingerprint. The information is then stored, to be accessed later for comparison with "live" information. Anyone else in the world can put their finger on you device's touch circle and it's not going to open your phone.

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New Phishing Scam Involving Company W-2s

Your company bookkeeper or outside accountant receives a seemingly innocuous email from the CEO, owner, or other "high up" person in the organization asking for a copy of all the 2015 W-2s in pdf form.  Simple enough - just one of the many things that need to be responded to every day.  Except this one isn't innocuous.  It's a trap to capture your employee's social security numbers.  And unfortunately, because of its deceptive simplicity, it's been successful in a few places.

"Can't happen here." or "We are way to small."  No such thing. No organization is immune and even the best anti-malware products may not be able to keep up with every single instance of this Scam.  In the last couple of weeks, we have seen instances with some of our clients where this exact Phishing Scam has been identified  Fortunately, most people are vigilant and aware.  They asked their superiors to confirm the request and stopped the issue then and there.

Below is a release from the IRS outlining this issue in more detail.  Bottom line is simple:  You can't be too careful with important company information. Always ask questions and independently doublecheck those kinds of requests.

IR-2016-34, March 1, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued an alert to payroll and human resources professionals to beware of an emerging phishing email scheme that purports to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees.

The IRS has learned this scheme — part of the surge in phishing emails seen this year — already has claimed several victims as payroll and human resources offices mistakenly email payroll data including Forms W-2 that contain Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information to cybercriminals posing as company executives.

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