JP Morgan Chase and FreshBooks: 10 tech stories you may have missed

A big bank investing in accounting software, small businesses don’t take cybersecurity seriously enough, and eight other developments in technology this past month and how they’ll impact your clients and your firm.

Note: Some of these stories also appeared on

1. JPMorgan Chase makes strategic investment in FreshBooks

Mike McDerment Freshbooks
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has invested in small-business accounting software developer FreshBooks in an effort to grow its small-business base, which includes those who are self-employed. According to the head of SMB product at Chase Merchant Services, Bill Clerico, over 4 million customers have used FreshBooks to sign up for Chase for Businesses, increasing its demand. The CEO and co-founder of FreshBooks, Mike McDerment (pictured), envisions the investment and partnership positively impacting and serving the needs of self-employed individuals and their businesses. (Source: Mobile Payments Today)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: As I wrote here, I believe this investment will be one of many we’ll see where banks start gobbling up accounting software companies in order to offer their own accounting applications to their small business clients.

2. The majority of small businesses aren’t taking cyberattacks seriously

Hand of businessman on dark background with security glowing sign
A report recently released by Verizon shared that approximately 43 percent of all cyberattacks target small to midsized businesses, edging closer to 50 percent for the last several years. However, another study — published by Keeper Security — detailed that 66 percent of individuals holding senior positions at SMBs do not feel threatened by the possibility of cyberattacks, and 60 percent do not have a plan in place to prevent cyberattacks from happening. Despite a 2018 study reporting that 60 percent of SMBs that have been cyberattacked go out of business within half a year of the attack, SMBs do not seriously consider cybersecurity a threat until it is too late.

(Source: CPO Magazine)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: I’m not sure what it will take for business owners, CEOs and leaders to take cybersecurity more seriously. But let’s hope attitudes will change. At the very least, please get cyber insurance!

3. Hackers mess with Texas in widespread ransomware attack

According to the Texas Department of Information Resources, 23 targets in the state were recently affected in a ransomware attack. Agencies in Texas are collaborating with the affected towns in an effort to get their systems back online and work to find out who was responsible for the attack. Local government agencies commonly fall victim to such attacks due to the fact that they do not have the means to purchase the most up-to-date cybersecurity technology. It is believed that all 23 incidents came from a single source. (Source: Fast Company)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Ransomware is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business and growing. Situations like the one in Texas get a lot of media attention because … well … it’s Texas. But what doesn’t get attention are the thousands of small businesses who are also falling victim to ransomware attacks. Don’t think for a minute that this only affects large companies. It affects you too.

4. The first Lightning security key for iPhones is here

A customer displays an Apple Inc. iPhone XS Max box during a sales launch at a store in Chicago.
Yubico has released the YubiKey 5Ci — the first security key of its kind that plugs into the Lightning port or USB-C port of your iPhone — negating the need for you to remember passwords. The key is compatible with well-known password programs such as 1Password, LastPass, and a few others. The 5Ci isn’t at all compatible — however — with the newest iPad Pros. While the release of the YubiKey 5Ci does not yet result in the disappearance of the need for passwords, the potential is there for access to better, more advanced security on our devices. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Security keys have proven to be more successful in guarding data than just about any other method. So much so that companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and others are already requiring their use for some employees. So should you.

5. The FCC’s rural broadband expansion will benefit small companies

Route 66 sign somewhere in Arizona, USA
The Federal Communications Commission has approved $121 million in funding to bring broadband internet to 16 states over the next several years, a project that will benefit rural businesses. Combined with several other funding moves, more than $924 million have been approved to bring the broadband expansion to over 342,000 businesses and homes in a great effort to bridge a major gap in digital accessibility. (Source: Business News Daily)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: This is good news for companies located in rural areas that have been stuck with slow internet service. If that describes your company, then better times are ahead.

6. LinkedIn blocked 21.6M fake accounts in the first half of the year

During the first six months of the year, LinkedIn has removed or blocked 21.6 million fake accounts. A Microsoft-owned social network that works to create opportunities to make connections, find jobs, and advance the careers of its users, LinkedIn is finding itself battling similar obstacles that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have been recently faced with. According to LinkedIn, 98 percent of the fraudulent accounts were removed or blocked using the automated defenses put in place by the network, while the remaining accounts were spotted by people. (Source: GeekWire)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Two takeaways here. The first is that LinkedIn is a very important tool for online networking that’s used by the great majority of my clients, so it’s good to see that the company — unlike Facebook and Twitter — is taking the appropriate steps early on to ensure that these same issues are not affecting their credibility. The second is to strongly urge anyone using the service to report any suspect accounts — I get invitations and messages frequently from sketchy people and try my best to alert LinkedIn. You should too.

7. The FAA has banned recalled MacBook Pros from all flights

Apple sign outside the company's Williamsburg store in Brooklyn
Apple Inc. signage hangs outside of the company's Williamsburg store in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg
The FAA has taken additional precautions when it comes to recalled MacBook pros — banning them from all flights — echoing what was done when the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones were found to be a fire risk aboard aircrafts. An FAA representative pointed out that they are simply reinforcing an already existing ban on batteries that have been recalled, reminding airlines that — no matter the device — if they contain the recalled lithium-based batteries, they are not allowed on board. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Better check which employees are using these devices and make sure they’re aware of this ban. Are they going to have to check bags in? Who’s going to reimburse they for those fees?

8. Small business faces challenges selling online, Amazon viewed as the bad guy

Sign at fulfillment center in Hemel Hempstead, U.K.
A sign hangs in the reception at the Inc. fulfillment center in Hemel Hempstead, U.K., on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015. Wal-Mart and Amazon's toy pricing was almost equal on a three-week average leading into the holiday season, as both companies continue to provide the most competitive prices in the marketplace. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
A report released by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance revealed challenges for small businesses that sell online, many of which are caused by the dominance of Amazon. According to the study, three-quarters of participants shared that competition from Amazon is the most challenging issue. Ninety-three percent of the small businesses that participated in the study said that their revenue has been negatively impacted by the online marketplace giant, while 70 percent of study participants believe that regulators need to keep a close eye on Amazon’s behavior and the power it holds over the market. (Source: Telecompetitor)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: The solution here is for Amazon to provide more tools and a more level playing field for their small-business merchants. The company is already taking steps with sites like this and this.

9. Want the phone with fastest internet? Don’t buy an iPhone

Applications icons are displayed on an Apple iPhone
Applications icons are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in an arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. Photographer: Gaia Squarci/Bloomberg
A study conducted by OpenSignal found that Samsung devices download at 28Mbps, and iPhones at 20Mbps, making Samsung 8.2Mbps faster. The results are unexpected due to the fact that Apple only sells premium-priced phones, while Samsung’s models vary from premium to cheap. Priorities other than fast internet, such as facial recognition, camera innovation, long battery life, and application processors and graphics, appear to be what Apple is focusing on, according to OpenSignal. (Source: ZDNet)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Faster technology means more productive people. More productive people means more profits. Therefore, Samsung equals more profits?

10. Google unveils advanced G Suite protection for high-risk employees

A sign featuring Google Inc.'s logo stands at the company's Asia-Pacific headquarters during its opening day in Singapore, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Google officially opened its new hub in Singapore today. Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg
At the New Tokyo summit last month, Google announced their new protections for G Suite, Google Cloud Platform, and Cloud Identity customers. Admins in G Suite are now able to enroll high-risk employees in an advanced protection program, which will allow them to receive anomalous activity alerts automatically. “High-risk” people are those who are more likely to be targeted for an online attack, such as IT administrators, CEOs and those who work in security-sensitive roles in finance and government. The program will require the use of two-factor authentication hardware keys as well as the ability to automatically block access to third-party apps. (Source: Engadget)

Why this is important for your firm and clients: Don’t get too excited yet, friends. The features are only available in Japan, Canada, France and the U.K. But we should be seeing them sometime soon here in the U.S. and I’m sure these features will be popular among G Suite clients.