Blog

August 8th, 2011

With the mobile phone trend evolving into an all-around multimedia device, many people have seen the need to have a smartphone for different reasons. That is why there are so many different smartphones that cater to different kinds of people with different needs and uses. It’s important to know what you need, and think things through before buying so you can get the smartphone that works best for your purposes.

For many people these days, smartphones have become more of a necessity than a luxury. Being able to stay in touch through constant access to the internet and the thousands of mobile smartphone applications available has made smartphones an indispensable tool.

But with the boom in smartphone use, there also comes a conundrum for many: Which smartphone should I get? With so many choices out there, it’s becoming difficult and confusing to pick the right one. Here are a few quick and simple tips that you might find useful when canvassing the market:

1. Know what you want.
What do you need a smartphone for? Each handset has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are smartphones that integrate email and web browsing and put more focus on multimedia such as audio and video while there are other no-frills, no-nonsense models that trim features down to those that are the most basic and essential.

2. Consider your carrier.
Carriers are important because there are some smartphones that are only available with certain carriers, or carriers that limit certain features of a particular smartphone. You do have the option of getting an unlocked phone (meaning the device does not come with carrier requirements), but this has its own set of pros and cons that you have to weigh as well.

3. Get a feel for your choices.
Nothing beats actual experience, so visit local stores to get the physical feel of each phone. Is the keypad big (or small) enough for you? Is the device too thick or too thin? Do you like the user interface or is it too complicated for you? These are just some of the questions that you can answer once you get an idea of how it actually feels to use them yourself.

4. User feedback is important.
Talk not only to sales people but also to other people you know. Your friends and acquaintances have actual experience with various smartphones, so ask them what concerns and issues they have with their particular models.

If you have additional inquiries about how you can better use your smartphone for your business, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
July 11th, 2011

Users of Internet Explorer beware: security researchers have found a new flaw in the popular Microsoft browser that allow hackers to commit something called “cookiejacking”, which enables them to steal information and data from IE cookies from any website.

Despite a few flaws, Internet Explorer remains one of the most commonly used browsers in businesses today, making it a ripe target for hackers looking for security flaws to exploit.

One such flaw has been discovered recently by a security researcher in Italy. Dubbed “cookiejacking”, the flaw allows hackers to hijack a cookie of any website, thereby allowing them to gain access to passwords, credit card information, and various other data stored in the cookie. The flaw is found in any version of Internet Explorer in any version of Windows.

However, users must first drag and drop an item before the exploit can be activated. It might sound like a bit of a stretch, but hackers are known for their creativity, so expect that a seemingly appropriate situation will be presented in which you will find it perfectly normal to do a drag-and-drop action.

Microsoft responded to the threat by labeling it as “low risk”, citing the level of user interaction required for cookiejacking to occur. It did, however, encourage users to be more vigilant and alert, as well as to refrain from clicking suspicious links and visiting dubious websites.

Regardless of what platform or OS you use, there is always the constant threat from cyberattacks all it takes is one attack to break through and put important business data at risk. It is essential to always educate users on how to avoid being victimized by scams and hacks, and to have the right security software to ensure that your company’s information is safe and secure.

If you are interested in user training for security and / or better security protocols, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to draw up a custom security blueprint that’s tailor-made to meet your needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
July 4th, 2011

With the security software of many businesses becoming more and more advanced these days, cyber-thieves are resorting to socially engineered cyber-attacks to bait unsuspecting employees with scams like phishing to infiltrate IT systems. This is why it is important to train your employees against becoming victims of such underhanded strategies.

One of the things many people fail to realize is that securing business data from malware and other sorts of cyber-attacks doesn’t stop with implementing the right security software. These days, cyber-criminals also use all sorts of tricks to bait unsuspecting employees into being catalysts for malware entering your system.

Reports cite that as much as 60 percent of cyber and malware attacks on businesses are done through social engineering meaning that instead of a direct attack on your system, hackers are using ploys found on email and social networks to get people in your organization to unwittingly introduce malware into your IT infrastructure.

This is why it’s equally important to put emphasis on training your employees to recognize common cyber-attack strategies such as phishing, or how to use proper virus scanning software so any external or thumb drives they plug into their computers are malware-free. Remember, it only takes one mistake from a gullible employee to open the gates of your system to keyloggers and other sorts of malware and viruses.

Keeping your company’s IT system safe is an investment. Getting the right security protocols and then training your employees to not only use and respect these protocols but also be more aware about security risks goes a long way in keeping your data safe and your operations stable.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 30th, 2011

Security experts have recently discovered a new threat to Mac OS X systems. Called the ‘MacDefender’, this malware is designed to fool users into downloading a fake anti-virus program, which informs users that the system is ‘infected’, and then tries to dupe or bully them into buying another fake anti-virus program.

It is a widely held belief that one of the reasons Macs are superior to other systems is because of their ‘invulnerability’ to viruses, malware, and similar threats. All well and good, except for the fact that a recent rogue anti-virus malware that specifically attack Mac OS X systems has been discovered.

So much for the ‘Mac = no virus’ myth.

Called the ‘MacDefender’ and also known as Mac Security and Mac Protector, this malware tricks users by having them think that their system is under attack. It begins when users visit a malicious website where the program automatically downloads itself to the computer. If you have the “Open safe files after downloading” option selected, it automatically installs itself onto the system. The original installation package is then also automatically deleted.

Next, a new menu item appears on the Mac OS X menubar. You’ll see a small orange shield that becomes red, which supposedly means that there are viruses in your system. You’ll then be prompted to “register” which involves giving out your credit card information – to a website to clean the virus. If you don’t, the malware will then direct your browser to porn sites to ‘encourage’ you to register and pay up.

To know more about how MacDefender works, check out this video.

While Macs are certainly targeted less than Windows systems, the threat of getting infected by viruses and malware is very real, especially if myths like Macs being impervious to viruses persist. To know more about protecting yourself from threats like these, please contact us so we can draw up a plan to keep your system safe and secure.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 27th, 2011

Google may soon find itself going head to head with services like PayPal as it debuts a new service called Google Wallet, which enables users to transform their smartphones into virtual credit cards. Simply swipe over a participating outlet’s cashier to pay for your bills and earn loyalty points and coupons at the same time.

Smartphone technology has grown by leaps and bounds these past few years, and having a smartphone these days is almost synonymous to being online all the time. Software giant Google has decided to tap into this phenomenon with a new service called “Google Wallet”, which enables users to make purchases and payments from their smartphones.

Partnering with Mastercard, Macy’s, Subway, American Eagle, Citibank, and Sprint, Google assures users that their e-wallet service is safe. The service requires that smartphones have a special chip that allows the user to simply “tap” or “swipe” the phone at participating stores to pay for merchandise or services. When you swipe your smartphone’s e-wallet, you also earn coupons and points for rewards.

The technology is also designed so that the user can turn the chip off when Google Wallet is not being used, making it safe from hackers. If the smartphone is lost, the data can also be wiped remotely.

A similar system to Google Wallet has been operational in some countries including Japan for some time now, but its use is limited to only certain areas and stores there.

While the concept of Google Wallet has great potential, there are still several limitations to the system as Google continues to look for more partners for the enterprise before its official launch, which is slated for within a month or two.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 20th, 2011

It’s important these days to protect your data and personal information as more and more people become victims of identity theft. Don’t let yourself become the next victim. All it takes is following some simple steps to ensure a safer and more secure online experience.

Security experts are seeing a rise in the incidence of cyber-crime these days as more and more people use the web for their day-to-day needs. No one is spared both businesses and private individuals have become victims of opportunistic cyber-criminals who take advantage of loopholes in security systems and a lack of foresight and alertness on the part of users.

One common cyber-crime is identity theft, in which hackers steal and assume the identity and personal information of someone else. Under the guise of the usually unknowing victim, these unscrupulous individuals commit fraud or other crimes.

While there is no 100% guaranteed way to be safe from identity theft when online, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your identity and your data.

  1. Have the right security software. One of the keys to keeping your identity and data secure is having the proper security software in place to protect your system. Also make sure to update the software regularly.
  2. Know the modus operandi. It’s also important to be aware of the different scams and techniques hackers use, such as phishing, which involves duping the user into clicking a legitimate-looking (but fake) link that has the victim enter personal information or download a file that introduces malware into the system. The rule of thumb is that if an email is unsolicited, there is a high probability of it being a scam or phishing email.
  3. Be stingy with your personal information. Be sure to only fill out personal information on sites that are legitimate and that you trust, and even then, only if you absolutely need to. Check and double check things like the URL or the company’s tag line to know if a site is what it says it is and whether it is secure. Phishing sites also look legit but a careful look should be enough to tip you off that something’s amiss.
  4. Create unique passwords. The more complicated your passwords are, the harder they are to guess or hack. So don’t pick generic passwords like “password” or “12345″ or things like your birthday or wedding anniversary. The best passwords are alphanumeric – a combination of both letters and numbers.
  5. Secure wireless networks. It’s important to allow only the right people to have access to your wireless networks. Besides saving bandwidth, this also prevents leechers and hackers from using your connection to tap into your system or use it for unscrupulous activities.

To know more about keeping your identity and data secure, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss a custom security solution that meets your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 1st, 2011

Cafe WiFiThese days, be it for personal or business reasons, people must be online as much as possible. Unfortunately, hackers also realize this, and an emerging trend is to exploit public networks to gain access to the personal and sensitive information of the people connected to it. But as long as you have the proper protocols in place, you can connect without fear of hacking or intrusion into your system.

These days, Wi-Fi is everywhere. Airports, coffee shops, train and bus stations, malls almost every public place you can think offers Wi-Fi connectivity. Being connected to the internet has evolved from luxury to necessity, and whether it’s for personal or business reasons people are online as much as possible.

This is all well and good, except when you consider that hackers have started to extend their playing field to public Wi-Fi networks. With the volume of sensitive information such as passwords and financial transactions, it’s inevitable that crooks and fraudsters move to public networks where there is more potential to illegally farm large chunks of information.

Two things are important about this emerging trend. First, it’s the very nature of public networks that makes them vulnerable to attack. Second, hacking has become much easier these days, with very simple hacking programs such as Firesheep easily downloadable from the web.

However, the solution is simple as well: have the proper security protocols on your smartphone or laptop. It’s unfortunate that many people neglect to recognize the importance of such policies, and only have minimal security (if any at all) to guard against attacks. But as long as you have the proper protocols in place, you can stay connected even through public Wi-Fi without fear of hacking or any sort of intrusion into your system.

If you want to know more about keeping your portable devices safe from attacks, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to explain the issue in more detail and draw up a solution customized to fit your needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 30th, 2011

So your data is stored in the cloud. That’s a good thing, right? Absolutely if you’ve done your due diligence and fully understand the service of your provider. Asking the right questions and taking a few precautions will go a long way in ensuring that you can recover your critical data quickly should data loss occur.

A few weeks ago, Amazon suffered several days of outage in its EC2 and RDS service, bringing down dozens if not hundreds of services along with itincluding such high-profile sites as Reddit, Heroku, Foursquare, Quora, and many others. Although the cause of that outage has been analyzed extensively in many forums, the discussion is interesting and relevant because it brings attention to the lesson that wherever or whomever you entrust your data to—be it in the “cloud” or to a big company like Amazonit pays to be smart about how you manage your data, especially if it’s critical to your business.

Understand your options. When someone else is managing your data, it’s easy to leave the details to them. However, making sure that you at least have some understanding of what your options are in what different service providers can offer you will pay dividends later if something goes wrong, since you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision on the spot. Things you should look at include:

  • Who is the service provider? What is their history? Who is behind them? What is their track record?
  • Where do they store your data? Do they own the servers where your data is stored or do they rely on someone else?
  • Is your data stored within the local area (i.e., a drive away) or is it distributed all over the map?
  • Do they provide a mirror of your data within your own server, or is everything in their data centers?
  • What measures do they employ to make sure your data is safe?
  • What methods do they employ to ensure you can get to your data when you need it?
  • Do they provide service level assurances or guarantees to back up their claims?

These are just some of the basic questions you should be asking of your service provider.

Do a test drive. Often you will not know exactly how a service works until the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Ask your service provider for a demo or a trial period. Test how fast it is to back up your data, but more importantly how fast you can bring it back when you need it. This is especially important if you’re talking about gigabytes of data. Understand that doing backups in the cloud can be hampered by your bandwidth and many other components of your system and theirs.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Some service providers give users the option of storing data in multiple sites, to ensure that your data is safe if one site goes down. But why rely on just one service provider when you can get the services of multiple providers instead? Or perhaps better yet, why not manage some of your data on your own? While it may be complex and costly to reproduce what many service providers can provide today, it is relatively easy to set up a simple system to keep at least some of your really, really important data locally by using an unused computer or a relatively cheap, network-attached storage device or secondary/removable drive that you can buy at your local store.

Create a plan and write it down. Unforeseen occurrences can and will happennot only from your side but from your service provider’s as well. When they do happen, you will need to have a contingency plan ready, often referred to as a Business Continuity Plan. Make sure to document your plan in writing, and communicate it to everyone in your organization so they will know what to do in case disaster strikes.

With its promise of unprecedented efficiency, reliability, scalability, and cost savings, cloud computing and storing your data in the cloud is the topic du jour these days. However, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the basic due diligence that’s necessary regardless of how or where your data is stored. Ultimately, it is your business on the line—and being prudent and proactive about how your data is stored, managed, and (most importantly) recovered in times of need will save you much grief when you actually need it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 18th, 2011

Technology has progressed to a point where now it’s easy to have both Macs and PCs together on the same network. Read on to find out how easy it is to share files between the two systems, share printers, have them communicate to each other on the same network, even run the same applications on both systems!

Unlike a few years ago when Microsoft’s Windows operating system virtually dominated office desktops everywhere, today we are increasingly seeing the use of other operating systems in the office. Typically these other systems are some model of Apple’s Macintosh running its own operating system called the OS X. The OS X, known for its sleek graphics, great multimedia handling capabilities, and easy-to-learn user interface, has gained favor among many users and businesses.

Sometimes, however, problems arise when having to use different systems in the same office or network environment. Here are some tips to eliminate common issues your users might face when working with others on a different system:

  • File Sharing. There was a time when transferring files between a Mac and a PC was a painful process requiring understanding different file system structures, resource forks, file name limits, and other such nonsense. Thankfully those days are over. Many Mac applications today can open files created on a PC and vice versasuch as office documents, images, video, and more. Getting files from one system to another is also easy as you can transfer via a removable drive. Both systems should recognize the file system on the driveespecially if it was formatted using Window’s file system (doing it the other way around might be a bit more difficult). OS X “Leopard” Macs can also read or write to drives that have been formatted using a special format from Microsoft called NTFS, and other freely downloadable utilities can also help. If this sounds like too much work to understand, you can also simply burn a CD or email files from one system to anotheror better yet, set up a network for file sharing.
  • Making Macs and PCs talk on the same network. If you’re a little more tech savvy, you can connect your Macs to your PCs directly or via a network. Typically this requires a network cable connected to both devices and having network sharing turned on. Enabling network sharing is outside the scope of this tip, but many online resources are available to help you connect a PC to a Mac or a Mac to a PC.
  • Running the same desktop applications on both a Mac and a PC. For really advanced users, did you know that you can run Windows on a Mac or OS X on a PC? The former is bit easier and more common, thanks to techniques such as dual booting or virtualization. In dual booting (what Apple calls “Boot Camp”), you essentially install both operating systems on a Mac and on power up, you can choose which operating system to boot. Virtualization on the other hand is way slicker as you can run both operating systems at the same time. In virtualization, you boot Windows in a window within OS X, allowing you to effectively run Windows applications on a Mac. There are also many commercial applications that can help with this.
  • The future: Cloud Applications. As we all start to access more cloud-based applications, the operating system you use is no longer as critical. As long as your systems have an Internet connection and a browser, then you can use different systems and it doesn’t matter what operating system or hardware is being used.

So running both Macs and PCs in the same office is not necessarily a bad thing, as it has been in the past. Dozens of options exist today to make the situation manageable, if not downright easy. If you need help, don’t worry we’re here to assist. Call us today to find out how you can get Macs and PCs to work together for your business today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 13th, 2011

google plus 1Google once again introduces a very exciting innovation in the way we look at Google search results. Through an experimental initiative called Google +1, users are able to recommend websites from search results simply by clicking on a +1 icon beside every Google search result.

While still in the experimental stage, there is a lot to be excited about with Google’s new thingamajig, Google +1 from Google Labs.

Google +1 is essentially a button next to each search engine result that you can click when you want to recommend a particular link or website. Google describes it as something you use “to give something your public stamp of approval, so friends, contacts, and others can find the best stuff when they search.”

The program is not available for everyone just yet, but participating and testing it out is easy. You’ll need a Google profile to participate, then just go to google.com/experimental and click the “Join this experiment”. After a few minutes, you’ll begin seeing a +1 icon / button beside results on any Google search results page. Click the button for sites you want to recommend, and Google will ask you to confirm. On your Google profile, you’ll have a tab where you can see the sites you’ve recommended through +1. You’ll also have the option to uncheck the box that will allow Google to use your +1 information to send you targeted advertisements.

Especially for businesses, a +1 for your website can maximize your SEO capabilities as well as lend credibility to your website. Anyone can +1 your website colleagues, clients, and even friends so the more +1s for your site, the more visible it becomes. Try Google +1 and see how it works for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles