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October 26th, 2016

2016october26_virtualization_bIn the past, when small- and medium-sized business owners needed to connect computers located in separate workspaces, virtualization was one of the best options. However, the field of virtualization has evolved to accommodate the increasing popularity of virtual containers. These safer, more portable, solutions are equally accessible to both businesses that already utilize virtualization technology and those looking to start fresh in the field of virtual computers. Regardless of which of those you are, let’s take a closer look at how containers work.

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 footprint 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 TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 25th, 2016

2016october25_security_bWhen it comes to protecting yourself and your business online, the type of authentication you use for logins, whether for business or for personal use, is vitally important. While many people understand that secure logins are crucial, the differences between the various security measures may be lost on many people. Before you give up on understanding the variances between two-factor and two-step authentication, read this article to learn more so you have a fuller understanding of your cyber security.

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 TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
October 20th, 2016

2016october20_webandcloud_bApple is making a change to its cloud services that intends to cut down on bugs and better compete with its rivals, Amazon and Google. By combining all its cloud teams into one location, Apple will undoubtedly help to facilitate major improvements. According to sources, Apple is in the process of transferring the infrastructure behind its services to a proprietary platform with the code name ‘Pie.’ The code powering Pie is meant to consolidate and improve Apple services, as this article highlights.

The rundown The teams working on Apple's services are currently spread out across various rented spaces in California. The company intends to strengthen its grip on these services by bringing its entire staff together onto one campus, in hopes of releasing more state-of-the-art products and ultimately creating a revenue stream that could surpass the Mac and the iPhone.

The merged teams will be moved to the Infinite Loop campus as space is freed up by other employees who will leave for the new premises currently under construction. The initial approximation was that the Infinite Loop campus would house 13,000 personnel under Apple, but recently that number has risen, prompting changes.

Apple's biggest concern has always been hardware technology. However, the company's effort to merge its various devices together has done a great deal to extend the reach of its services. For these reasons, proper attention is needed on Apple's Siri, Maps, Pay, News, Music, iTunes and iCloud services, which can be utilized by users across iOS, MacOS and WatchOS.

To improve the reliability of its cloud services, Apple intends to develop a cloud infrastructure that will reportedly give the company more control over its backed services. Hopefully, this will speed up its service load times. Siri, News, and the iTunes sections are already on Apple's new backing store, awaiting other services to merge in a few years’ time. According to VentureBeat, Apple’s plans to develop its own cloud infrastructure and reduce its reliance on Microsoft and Amazon surfaced earlier this year.

Apple Inc. hasn't been happy with the fact that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has not been able to quickly load photos and videos onto users' iOS devices. To deal with the problem, Apple has purchased land in Hong Kong and China to build its own data centers. Nearly all of Apple's iTunes is currently outsourced to other cloud vendors, especially Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google public cloud. Apple's executives believe that Apple building an infrastructure to cover its own cloud computing and storage needs will pay for itself within a few short years.

Apple's new infrastructure and the introduction of Pie is meant to improve the customer's experience with its products and services over time. As soon as Apple settles down and Pie is online, it could be even more efficient and reliable than its rivals, Google and Amazon. For more information on the latest Apple iCloud plans and improvements, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
October 19th, 2016

2016october19_businessproductivity_bWith YouTube, Reddit, and Instagram just a few clicks away, it’s a miracle you can get anything done during an eight-hour workday. As you’re probably well aware by now, there is a huge possibility for employees to waste precious time on sites not related to your business. This problem arises when a company does nothing to monitor or regulate internet usage. To fix this, consider using internet monitoring software.

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 TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Business
October 18th, 2016

2016october18_apple_bWhether or not to buy an iPhone 7 is a personal decision, and an especially difficult one if you’ve owned a previous version of the device. There are several pros and cons to consider when deciding whether an upgrade is worth the investment. Other than being influenced by reviews, tech lovers may make their decision based solely on bragging rights. So to avoid making an ill-informed decision, check out the arguments for and against the iPhone 7 here.

Water resistance This is one of the features new to the iPhone. The iPhone is 7 is IP67, meaning that it is designed to withstand liquids and dust. Even though Apple doesn’t define liquid protection, this is similar to the original Apple Watch and is therefore able to survive splashes and accidental drops into a pool of water, a welcome addition for iPhone users who value water resistance in their gadgetry.

Future proof Future compatibility is another feature of iPhone 7. Apple's current mobile operating system is iOS 10 and runs a range of applications and features not available to outdated iPhone models. But iPhone 7 can virtually run any app ever created for the platform. Therefore, an iPhone 7 will carry its users well into the future by running on the latest technology. Users of iPhone 4 or 4S are out of compatibility and may consider upgrading. Users of iPhone 5 or 5C are on edge and should also probably consider an update.

Better graphics The iPhone 7 boasts a 4.7-inch screen and 1336 x 750 pixels at 326ppi, which allows users to run iPad-style apps in a landscape display. iPhone 7 also has DCI-P3 broad-range color, which means brighter photos, games, videos and more. People who demand rich graphics or have a high acute color sense certainly won’t be disappointed.

Faster and juicier Apple Fusion 10 and long battery life are the features that make iPhone 7 cutting edge. People who need an iPhone with more power and a battery that fully charges in minutes -- not hours -- will love this upgrade. The new iPhone 7 has a cutting-edge LTE + Wi-Fi, enabling faster transfer of data and connectivity. Users with 802.11ac router who want to open applications, load webpages, and stream videos at a faster rate won’t have anything to complain about once they’ve switched over to the new model.

Stellar camera iPhone 7 features a camera that can perform at the same-level as mid-range SLR cameras. With a 12-megapixel sensor and ƒ/1.8 aperture, as well as 7 megapixels for FaceTime conversations, individuals who want to fill their Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts with high-quality photos will definitely have something to brag about. Finally, the iPhone 7’s 3D and live photos feature can add depth and movement to your photos.

Although the iPhone 7 may not look very different, there’s actually a lot going on under the hood that can probably enhance the user experience. So will you be lining up for this iPhone anytime soon? For more details on iPhone 7 trends and Apple innovation, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
October 12th, 2016

2016october12_windows_bAt one point, Microsoft claimed it could convince 1 billion users to use their Windows 10 operating system. Obviously that’s an unattainable goal for the foreseeable future, but it hasn’t stopped Microsoft from releasing tools to push more people to their software. With its sights set directly on business deployments of the operating system, the tech giant has released a new tool to oil the gears of large-scale migrations. We’ve got all the details on the forthcoming software right here.

Named the Windows Upgrade Analytics Service (WUAS), Microsoft is gifting administrators and service providers with tools very similar to those it uses to do its own bulk installs. By gathering data on multiple devices, applications, and hardware drivers on a network simultaneously, massive disruptions and troubleshooting events can be avoided entirely.

If any of these variables are customized or outdated, they may not work in a Windows 10, derailing a focused migration workflow. Available right now, this service does more than just inventory your workstations, it also uses the data it has gathered to guide administrators step-by-step through the most efficient order of upgrades possible.

If all your IT components are uniform and compatible with the most recent Windows 10 service pack, it will recommend a straightforward migration. However, if you have pockets of older, or more specialized machines, WUAS may suggest splitting the process up by upgrading those machines first to smooth the process.

Microsoft delivers the features of this service through its cloud-based Operations Management Suite. Make sure it's installed on your machines and add ‘Upgrade Analytics’ from the ‘Solutions Gallery.’ From there, a simple wizard will guide you one item at a time through the four-step process.

Windows gets several updates per year, and it's a waste of company resources for your staff to be stuck waiting for their machines to get back up and running while they update. Why not just outsource the entire process to professionals who will finish the task in a fraction of the time? Our managed services come with a flat fee, regardless of whether you want to upgrade all or just some of your workstations. Don’t believe us? Just call today to find out more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
October 11th, 2016

2016october11_virtualization_bMicrosoft has found a way to incorporate virtualization protocols into the security of its Edge browser. With the protection of internet browsing inside a virtual container, hackers have a harder time exploiting unsuspecting web users. Read on to discover whether this development will compel you to switch internet browsers in your office.

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 TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 10th, 2016

2016october10_socialmedia_bFacebook has been used by people to connect and share information for a long time. However, until now Facebook struggled to break into the world of business. The good news is that starting today, the launch of Facebook at Work will make it possible to incorporate social media into your company’s workflow. Take a look at our review of the new service 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 TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
October 7th, 2016

2016october7_security_bThe technology of crime is evolving, and criminals get smarter every day. But when technology proves too difficult to exploit, criminals resort to manipulating information from their targets via social engineering. This burgeoning field allows criminals to trick people into disclosing sensitive information such as passwords and bank information. If you’re worried about the ability of your employees to avoid scams such as these, we have a few quick tips for you.

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 bit.ly 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 TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
October 4th, 2016

2016october4_webandcloud_bWhen it comes to SEO for businesses, most people focus on getting organic results based on keywords centered around those used in their industry. Unfortunately, those keywords don’t focus on your brand identity. That means Google search results are severely limited because users may not know about a specific brand. There are methods a business can work around this, and we’ve listed our favorites here.

One of the ways you can improve your branded search visibility is by ensuring your brand name is mentioned multiple times throughout your site. Make sure to link the brand name to the homepage of your website, include the brand name in descriptions of the company, and add meta descriptions to the site.

Because Google’s site indexing service is completely automated, just about anyone should be listed in the results. The goal isn’t getting listed, it’s getting listed first. Little things like placing your sitemap in an easy-to-find location, including descriptive titles, and always filling out meta descriptions to increase the chances of your brand links appearing on the search pages.

Social media may technically be a different story, but it works hand-in-hand in today’s search engine optimization efforts. These pages are very likely to be listed when customers are making ‘brand’ searches. Make sure you maintain profiles at every “big” social media site, and add as much information as you can concerning your brand identity. Because the ultimate goal is to drive traffic to your site, link to your website in every field that allows it.

Lastly, Google business reviews are more important in getting branded search results than most people realize. Claim your business on Google My Business and frequently encourage your top customers to leave positive reviews concerning your brand. The more positive reviews your website has, the higher your site will appear in the rankings.

SEO is important for business, but so is creating a brand identity. An intersection of these goals may seem difficult, but not impossible. For more information on SEO, branded search results and anything related to your Google search rankings, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud