October 26th, 2016

2016october26_virtualization_cThe evolution of software containers has changed the way virtual computing is realized. It has diminished the risks of malware and the trouble of portability by allowing software vendors to package their products into virtual containers that can run from any desktop machine, regardless of hardware of operating system. Read on for our review of this popular trend and its feasibility at your organization.

Why are containers so popular?

Before the introduction of containers, virtual workstations and servers allowed users to access computing power and software delivered across a local network or the internet. This technology took cloud computing and web hosting a step further than did just software on a website, and it created entire desktop experiences over the internet. However, it is a tad inefficient since running one small application still requires an entire hosted desktop.

Containers guarantee developers that their software will run smoothly, regardless of what type of computer their end user is running.

How containers improve on virtual desktops

Containers operate quite differently because they only package applications and their minimal requirements into a deliverable package. This makes it possible to deliver several containers to several different users with a significantly smaller fo otprint on the machine hosting the service.

There are a handful of pieces of software that create and deliver containers, and the most popular is Docker. Before the release of Docker, containers had existed for some time, but they were complicated and difficult to manage. With the rise of popularity in virtualization services, software vendors gained significant resources to make friendlier and simpler container solutions.

Although containers have made big improvements in enterprise computing, virtual machines still have a role to play in select circumstances. In both solutions, older equipment can be reappropriated to utilize much bulkier software hosted in the cloud. All you need is an internet connection, and an experienced IT professional to help you set it up. If you’re interested in either virtualization or accessing your applications in a container environment, please contact us today.

Published with permission from Source.

October 25th, 2016

2016october25_security_cWith all the recent hacking scares all over the world, you know and understand that your cyber security and your business’s cyber security are extremely important. However, when it comes to authentication processes, you may not be sure what the real deal is. There are two seemingly similar types of authentication that are often confused. Those are, of course, two-step and two-factor authentication. Find out more about the differences between the two here to ensure your cyber security will always be top of the line.

If you are seeking out a way to improve your business's cyber security, both for your business itself as well as for your customers, you are likely looking at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cyber security. And in current cyber security, many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably.

There are, however, subtle differences between the two. A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a memorized password or biometric reading) as well as another of the same type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a memorized password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication does function to add an extra step in the authentication process, making it more secure than a single-step authentication (i.e. just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it will do only a little to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication), which is significantly more secure. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because the types of information are different, it would require a hacker a great deal more effort to obtain both forms of authentication.

In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but the opposite is not true. With this information in mind, you can be certain that you are using the right type of authentication in your business to keep your business and customer information as secure as possible.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer. What type of authentication that results in is just one of hundreds of choices that must be made to achieve that end. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today for all the help you could ever ask for.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Security
October 21st, 2016

2016october21_hardware_cHaving access to high-speed internet is important for people who work, chat, or stream online. Sadly, most WiFi systems are unreliable and unresponsive, and depending on the layout of your office, they can create internet dead zones. For businesses that manage most of their tasks online, this simply won’t do. Ideally, internet connections should be fast and available in every nook and cranny of your office. And with the development of Google WiFi, your business may be able to achieve that.

WiFi everywhere Google WiFi is able to offer fast WiFi across your home or business. Today, people install WiFi expecting it to simultaneously support multiple devices that might even be engaged in high-bandwidth activities such as VoIP and live streaming. The problem, however, is that the WiFi signal is often affected by the thickness of internal walls and the distance from the router. Google alleviates this problem by developing a WiFi system that’s expandable.

You can add Google WiFi points in different areas of your office to spread a strong network signal throughout your entire company. Google uses WiFi mesh technology, where every Google WiFi point builds a high-powered signal where all points combined offer the ideal path for data. As a result, high-speed WiFi is built across the house as all points connect to each other to broadcast a strong, high-speed connection. This means your company can say goodbye to slow downloads, poor call quality, and service interruptions.

Automatically optimize your connection Google WiFi can also keep operating at high speeds. It employs Network Assist Technology, a feature that automatically optimizes your wireless connection, keeping it fast without any fussing or manual adjustments on your end. Just imagine taking your office laptop or your iPad from your desk to the meeting room, without experiencing internet connection problems. Google’s Network Assist feature allows your devices to seamlessly transition between Google WiFi points in real time, meaning no delays or dead spots.

Manage your network with an app Google WiFi also comes with a companion app for when you want to manage your network. Available on iOS or Android, the WiFi manager app allows you to reduce bandwidth usage for a particular website, or pause the WiFi connection on certain devices when they’re not in use. You can also prioritize bandwidth for specific devices connected to your network so that you can conduct important VoIP conference calls without any interruptions.

Of course, when it comes to WiFi, security and privacy are top priority. With that in mind, the Google WiFi manager app comes with enhanced security and privacy settings that enable easy management of cloud content, user access control, wireless encryption systems, and automatic updates to keep your business safe at all times.

There’s no telling how well Google WiFi will perform in the market, but if your company values advanced security systems, fast internet speeds, and an easy-to-manage network, then Google WiFi is definitely hardware you should have.

Want to stay on top of the latest hardware trends and developments? Simply give us a call today to find out more.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Hardware
October 19th, 2016

2016october19_businessproductivity_cThe internet is constantly tempting us. There’s an endless collection of funny cat videos, memes, and social media statuses to consume. Sure, the occasional three-minute YouTube video never hurt anyone, but if employees waste hours of their working day on these websites, that’s a problem. So how can you, as a business owner, discourage employees from procrastinating on the internet? When it comes to increasing employee productivity, keeping a close eye on your personnel’s internet behavior reaps various benefits.

Time-saving measures At times, the internet can be very addictive. Internet monitoring software saves employees from the temptation of online videos and games by restricting access to time-wasting sites that you deem unnecessary for business. But internet monitoring software doesn’t even have to be as extreme as denying permission to harmless social media websites. Just letting your employees know that you’ll be randomly monitoring their internet activity discourages them from taking prolonged visits to their Instagram page.

Avoiding harmful websites The internet hosts plenty of unsavory links and websites. Employees who haphazardly click phishing links or access malware-ridden pornography sites can put your business at risk. Working with infected machines can slow down the entire system and, in some cases, completely halt operations. But by using internet monitoring tools you can restrict access to dangerous websites, and identify reckless employees to remove their internet privileges, if necessary.

Controlling bandwidth usage Even while using the internet for the right purposes, bandwidth can be used up quickly. Internet monitoring gives you up-to-the-minute reports on your bandwidth usage. Once you have a clear understanding of your company’s overall bandwidth usage, you can then control its expenditure. This feature allows you to prioritize bandwidth for critical business applications and reduce bandwidth for less necessary websites.

Increasing productivity on the internet Internet monitoring software may be a powerful tool, but it should be used responsibly. As a business owner, you need to walk a fine line between over-surveillance and under-surveillance. What you should do is establish a clear internet policy. Then, explicitly define the disciplinary measures to be dispensed on anybody who goes against the requirements of the internet policy. And deal with time-wasting employees on a case-by-case basis. It’s unreasonable to remove everyone’s Facebook privileges because one or two abused theirs.

Employee productivity can be difficult to achieve, especially with the proliferation of what we would like to call, “procrastination software.” But with web monitoring software, you can truly get your business -- and your employees -- back on track. Looking for more ways to increase business productivity with technology? Give us a call. We’ll be happy to make suggestions.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic business
October 11th, 2016

2016october11_virtualization_cThanks to Microsoft’s latest announcement, cyber-criminals will have a harder time breaking into Windows systems. By dropping the Edge browser into a separate virtual container, workstations put distance between themselves and those who would do them harm under cover of the internet. For business owners interested in getting a taste of virtualization before fully investing in new solutions, testing out this new browser is the way to go.

Browsers are one of the most popular avenues for cyber-criminals to deliver their wares, and new security measures by Microsoft set out to reduce that risk significantly. In a first for internet browsers, Microsoft has burnt any potential bridges between malware and PC hard-drives. The new and virtualized Edge is only available for Windows 10, and administrators will be required to choose what runs inside, and outside of the container.

When enabled, malware cannot gain access to anything outside of the Edge browser. Think of it like reheating your leftover lasagna inside a covered container; when that gooey mozzarella tries to muck up the walls of your microwave, your tupperware ensures it stays clean. So in our case, the cheese is malware, and even if you download malware from an untrusted site, it cannot reach beyond the container that Edge uses to protect your files.

According to tests run by Microsoft, the Edge browser has the lowest chances of malware infection when compared to other browsers running on Windows. And that means a lot when you consider that when it comes to cyber-attacks, the default Windows browser is always the first target.

In addition to creating containers for limiting the exposure of workstations, any malicious data is deleted by resetting the virtual space after users are done with it -- not unlike tossing your dirty tupperware into the dishwasher after reheating last night’s saucy noodle goodness. Permanent cookies aren’t kept after the reset, and it’s impossible for malware to continue running without a space to do so. Every new session starts with a clear, clean browser.

For those new to the virtualization game, it may seem like running Edge in this environment could slow down the machine. But Microsoft has guaranteed a cutting-edge, extremely light burden when enabling the service. When your organization is looking for virtualization services, from creating all your desktops in a virtual, internet-based space, to simply making your browsing more secure with virtual Edge browsers -- there’s only one team to call. Pick up the phone and dial us today. You’re a short consultation away from a cheaper, safer IT infrastructure.

Published with permission from Source.

October 10th, 2016

2016october10_socialmedia_cFacebook has been looking for new ways to diversify the services it offers. One such example is Facebook at Work -- launching today. The new product is a way for enterprise firms to stay connected and share information just like the Facebook of yesteryears. There has been a need for the use of social tools in enterprise activities, and so far, Facebook is the only company making a bold step toward filling that void. If you’re curious about how the service works, we have a complete review here.

Facebook releases generally take place in the company’s home country, the US. However, this time around the social media giant will launch its take on enterprise communication tools in London, where Facebook at Work was first dreamed up.

Facebook at Work has set its sights on improving productivity in the workplace. In addition to aesthetic updates like changing from the iconic blue color to a business-friendly grey, users will have a totally separate platform from the original Facebook. Work accounts are strictly for work interactions and will not mix with users’ personal profiles. So how is it different from just creating a work-friendly account on the original platform?

Facebook at Work creates a microcosm of the social media site, just for your company. Employees can communicate with coworkers, post pictures, plan for upcoming events, and make office announcements at ease. As an added bonus, Facebook at Work will employ auto-translate functionality to make communication between foreign nationals easy.

Aside from the fact that transitions will be easy with so many people already using the site for personal accounts, Facebook at Work is hoping Work Chat and Video Call options will be able to rival the likes of Skype for Business, Google Hangouts, and Slack. And with the addition of new avenues of privacy come new security guarantees. In an attempt to assuage the concerns of HR departments and paranoid employees alike, the improved security measures in Facebook at Work are separate from the personal platform and unique to the enterprise.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the original, Facebook at Work is a product keen on helping enterprises improve communications and increase work productivity. If you’re interested in getting in on the ground floor of this new workplace application, we’re your ticket. From product updates to completely new social media sites, we’re your one-stop-shop for getting the word out about your business and your product. Message us for more information today.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Social Media
October 7th, 2016

2016october7_security_cFor as long as there have been cybercriminals, there have been social engineers, or people who use tricks and scams to force other people to volunteer sensitive information. There are several ways to use social engineering to acquire valuable information like account passwords and bank accounts, but avoiding these scams comes down to one thing: training. Let’s take a look at some of the easiest ways for your employees to avoid one of these scams.

As more and more of our information moves into the digital realm, criminals are turning to social engineering to trick people into trusting them with their delicate information. People often trust others too easily and make themselves the targets of easy attacks from criminals. These attacks may come in the form of messages, baiting scenarios, fake company responses, and many others.

Most often, messages are sent to users in the form of an email that might contain a link or something to download. Although they may look legitimate, these emails often contain viruses; once the link is opened or you attempt to download it, a virus latches onto your computer, giving its creator free access to your email account and personal information.

Emails such as these can also come with a compelling story about needing help, winning the lottery, or even paying taxes to the government. Under the veil of legitimacy, criminals will ask you to trust them with your account details so they can either reward you or help you avoid fines and punishments. What you actually get is a bad case of identity theft.

In another scenario, criminals will bait their targets with “confidential information regarding their account.” This may come in the form of fake company messages that appear to be responses to your claims, which are followed up by a request for login details. While victims believe they are slamming the door on a crime by providing their information, they’ve actually provided their attackers with the keys.

There are several ways people can avoid becoming victims of social engineering. First, always ensure that you delete all spam from your email, and thoroughly research sources before responding to claims from a company -- even if it seems like the one you normally use.

The same applies for links. Confirm the destination of any link before clicking on it. Sites like are often used to shorten long and cumbersome links, but because users have grown accusomted to them they are often used to hide malacious misdirections.

Never give out sensitive information that includes your password, bank information, social security, or any other private details. No respectable financial institution will request this type of information through email or a site other than their own. If you’re unsure, navigate away from the page you’ve been sent to and visit the page you believe to be making the request. If the address doesn’t have the letter ‘s’ after ‘http,’ it’s likely a scam.

Last but not least, check that all your devices are protected by the most recent antivirus software. While the strength of social engineering lies in the fact that it’s people-driven rather than technology-driven, antivirus software can help detect and prevent requests from known cybercriminals.

Cyber security is essential to the success of any modern business. Don’t let yourself become victim to criminals who have mastered the art of social engineering. While we’re proud of our extensive experience as technology professionals, we also have more than enough expertise to keep your business safe from those who are using people-based exploits. Get in touch with us today for all your security concerns.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Security
October 6th, 2016

2016october6_hardware_cHaving the proper equipment is important to a business. It improves the efficiency of the business and helps it to flourish. However, for the business to prosper, office equipment must be in line with current trends. Purchasing the equipment is expensive, and most companies are opting to get their IT from Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) solutions as an affordable alternative. There are several benefits associated with HaaS -- let’s take a look.

Upfront Capital

The main benefit of HaaS is that it enables businesses to conserve on upfront capital expenditures. By replacing these high costs with a lease structure and low monthly payments, resources can be redirected toward other budget items. As a result, the business will have more resources that it could have otherwise used to purchase the computers.

More modern hardware

For businesses with outdated equipment, HaaS is an easy workaround for them to upgrade their IT hardware. A service provider can supply the latest equipment at a lower monthly cost, and when their client’s machines age, upgrades can be provided without fear of incurring additional costs. By choosing this route, SMBs won't have to deal with disposing their old equipment. The service provider will take full responsibility for that.

Taxes and accounting

When it comes to tax payments, businesses that opt for HaaS are also at an advantage. Equipment will be listed as a service from a vendor rather than a capital expense -- thereby decreasing their tax liability. SMBs will enjoy all the benefits of cutting-edge equipment, without the taxes that usually accompany it. HaaS allows companies to get the equipment they need without running the risk of incurring more debt. Having a balance sheet with less debt is beneficial to the business, as it provides the business with secure financial services to expand.

However, when it comes to HaaS, it is important to consider what sort of technology the business needs. For example, if there is a substantial need for equipment, the best option is to choose HaaS rather than incur debt from purchases. For more information on managed IT solutions and outsourcing your technology difficulties to the experts, contact us today.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Hardware
September 30th, 2016

2016september30_businessvalue_cIt’s been reported that Facebook is about to ship out its Oculus virtual reality headsets, and Google has its own version in the works. By taking all of this into consideration, it’s safe to say that the VR landscape is about to experience growth -- and small- and medium-sized businesses should take advantage of this three-dimensional shift. Besides gaining a competitive edge, here are some other reasons to compel you toward embracing virtual reality:

Create your own virtual product prototypes

With the help of virtual reality, you’ll no longer have to rely on manufacturing when you want to see what your product physically looks like and how it might work. These virtual products allow you to make any changes before going through with production. According to Abi Mandelbaum, CEO and co-founder of YouVisit, “Model creation in VR, for example, can save companies time and money, as these types of models or prototypes allow viewers to examine a product and make changes without the time or expense of building a physical model.”

Virtual designs for engineers

Especially beneficial for engineers, architects and other professionals that work with building or engineering large structures, virtual reality helps save both time and money. As an alternative to small models or 2D renderings, VR offers a more immersive experience that helps design and replicate structures.

Virtual tours

Let’s say that you’re a real estate agent showing houses to potential buyers. Your buyers might be in a different state or simply don’t want to spend time going from house-to-house. Virtual reality allows customers to see what the home looks likes in a three-dimensional setting without them having to actually be there.

Showing all the angles of a product

In order to entice buyers into making a purchase, they must first get an idea as to what it’s actually like, and they need to see as many angles as possible -- especially for products that customers don’t get to physically touch. With virtual reality, customers are given a better idea of what your product is like. Abi Mandelbaum says that “Virtual reality can allow current and potential customers to explore a product before they commit to making a purchase. Furthermore, VR completely immerses customers, helping place a product directly into their (virtual) hands or empowering viewers to see a product in action.”

Take customers on an adventure

If you are in any tourism or adventure-based business, you can use virtual reality to give customers a taste of what to expect from the attractions. Imagine that you have an amusement park and want to attract customers’ attention. You can opt to offer a short VR replication of one of your rides so people can see whether or not they’d like it. Or if you own a resort or campground, you’ll also be able to create reality versions of whatever activities you offer.

VR has the potential to take your small- and medium-sized business to the next level if done properly of course. If you have any questions about how you can mesh virtual reality with your company, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to assist with your queries.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic business
September 26th, 2016

2016september29_virtualization_cAs virtualization becomes a household name for small- and medium-sized business owners, more and more services are being introduced. Hardware virtualization, storage virtualization, and even network virtualization all aim to capitalize on the trend of creating virtual versions of physical technology. With VMware’s most recent announcement, we may soon be able to add virtualized endpoint security to the list. What exactly does it look like? Let’s find out.

A virtual network is a way to connect two or more devices that aren’t physically linked by wires or cables. From the perspective of machines on a virtual network, they’re essentially sitting in the same room -- even if they’re on opposite sides of the globe. The advantages of this setup range from ease of management to reduced hardware costs. AT&T and Verizon have begun offering these services, and small- and medium-sized businesses have slowly begun to adopt them.

Meanwhile, another sector of the IT world has been making its own advances. Cutting-edge hardware firewalls are beginning to offer internal segmentation as a method of separating pieces of your internal network to keep them safe from threats that spread internally. The more segments you have, the safer your network is from poorly protected neighbors. But there are limits to how much capacity one of these hardware firewalls has for segmentation.

Virtualization giant VMware has taken notice and developed a prototype to combine these two services. In the hopes of unleashing ‘microsegmentation’ from the limits of physical hardware, Project Goldilocks will essentially create a virtual firewall for every virtualized application. When one of these applications is created or installed, it will come with a ‘birth certificate’ outlining every acceptable function it can perform. When making requests to the operating system, network, or hardware the application is installed on, Goldilocks will cross-reference the request with the birth certificate and deny anything that hasn’t been given permission.

Segmenting virtual networks and applying them to individual applications rather than entire networks or operating systems could revolutionize the market for endpoint security. Not only would it be easier to block malware infections, but those that made it through could be quarantined and terminated immediately because of the virtual nature of their location.

While virtualization may be a complicated state-of-the-art technology, all it really takes is a helping hand. With our full team of specialists, we’re ready to pull you into the next stage of your virtualized infrastructure. All you need to do is reach out us -- why not do it today?

Published with permission from Source.