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January 23rd, 2017

img-cloud-printing-170px-op3Not too long ago, the thought of being able to access printers from your computer, tablets or smartphones was almost unheard of. But today, it’s a completely different story -- enter Google’s Cloud service. Now you can access both regular and Internet-enabled printers through the web. Read on for more information.

First things first, the printer needs to be connected to your primary computer (the one you’ll use to access the printer in the future). Once connected, the computer can be added to Cloud Print. If it isn’t already installed, you need to install Chrome for Windows or Mac. From there, type chrome://devices into the address bar to bring up devices Chrome can work with. Click “Add printer” and make sure the printer you want to link is ticked.

From the same screen, you’ll be able to configure printer settings. Click Manage next to any of the listed printers to upload new print jobs, rename or remove printers, or share a printer with someone else. This allows you to give certain people access to your printer.

If you need to print something off your mobile device, you can do so with the Cloud Print app on Android, where a print option should appear in the Sharing menu. It’s slightly trickier on iOS, but you can still cloud print from Google’s iOS apps using the Google-recommended file management, transfer and printing application PrintCentral Pro to bridge the gap. And as expected, Cloud Print works seamlessly with Chromebooks as well. Just choose Print from the main menu and voila!

If you’re interested in hearing more news on Google’s Cloud Print function or staying up-to-date on the IT world, feel free to let us know.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 20th, 2017

2017January20_Virtualization_CBefore some of our clients have even had a chance to wrap their heads around what virtualization is and how it works, hackers have already started attacking the new and exciting technology. By updating a virus from several years ago for virtualized environments, hackers hope to totally wipe the data off your hard drives. If you utilize any sort of virtualization services, it’s imperative that you know how to steer clear of this threat.

What is it?

Back in 2012, a brand new virus called “Shamoon” was unleashed onto computers attached to the networks of oil and gas companies. Like something out of a Hollywood film, Shamoon locked down computers and displayed a burning American flag on the display while totally erasing anything stored on the local hard disk. The cybersecurity industry quickly got the virus under control, but not before it destroyed data on nearly 30,000 machines.

For years, Shamoon remained completely inactive -- until a few months ago. During a period of rising popularity, virtualization vendors coded doorways into their software specifically designed to thwart Shamoon and similar viruses. But a recent announcement from Palo Alto Networks revealed that someone refurbished Shamoon to include a set of keys that allow it to bypass these doorways. With those safeguards overcome, the virus is free to cause the same damage it was designed to do four years ago.

Who is at risk?

As of the Palo Alto Networks announcement, only networks using Huawei’s virtual desktop infrastructure management software are exposed. If your business uses one of those services, get in touch with your IT provider as soon as possible to address how you will protect yourself from Shamoon.

On a broader scale, this attack shows how virtualization's popularity makes it vulnerable. Cyber attackers rarely write malware programs that go after unpopular or underutilized technology. The amount of effort just isn’t worth the pay off.

Headlines decrying the danger of Shamoon will be a siren call to hackers all over the globe to get in on the ground floor of this profitable trend. It happened for ransomware last year, and virtual machine viruses could very well turn out to be the top security threat of 2017.

How can I protect my data?

There are several things you need to do to ensure the safety of your virtual desktops. Firstly, update your passwords frequently and make sure they’re sufficiently complex. Shamoon’s most recent attempt to infect workstations was made possible by default login credentials that had not been updated.

Secondly, install monitoring software to scan and analyze network activity for unusual behavior. Even if legitimate credentials are used across the board, accessing uncommon parts of the network at odd hours will sound an alarm and give administrators precious time to take a closer look at exactly what is happening.

Ultimately, businesses need virtualization experts on hand to protect and preserve desktop infrastructures. Thankfully, you have already found all the help you need. With our vast experience in all forms of virtualized computing, a quick phone call is the only thing between you and getting started. Call today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 19th, 2017

img-calendar-170px-op3When you’re planning a reunion, going back and forth with your friends is frustrating, to say the least. Imagine a similar scenario in your office. The benefits of sharing your calendar with colleagues include knowing when to hold meetings, set project deadlines as well as knowing the best time to talk with clients. Knowing this, Microsoft has made changes to its calendar sharing function on Office 365, and here some of them:

Simplicity Users’ first impression of the new model is that it’s much simpler. To share your calendar, simply click the Share option in the calendar menu bar and then enter the names of people with whom you wish to share. With a few clicks, you can decide who gets to see your schedule and how much of it they can view. On top of that, you’ll be able to nominate users who create appointments or accept meeting requests on your behalf - when the update rolls out in early 2017.

What sharers get to see Once a user accepts a sharing invitation, the calendar is then added to the set they open. The invitation needs to be accepted using an updated client in order for the embedded instructions to be properly processed. Depending on how much you're willing to share, the calendar allows you to either show full details of your schedule or just certain parts of it.

Mobile devices included Besides the new sharing interface, this model extends into mobile devices where Outlook for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 Mobile will be able to view and edit shared calendars for the first time. And because calendar events are time-sensitive, changes will be executed and synced immediately, ensuring that your calendar is always accurate.

Immediate synchronization is available for OWA and mobile clients. For Mac users, Outlook continues to use periodic synchronization. This is used to share calendar information with users outside of your Office 365 tenant.

Updates: Outlook for Mac Known as the black sheep of the Outlook family, implementation features of Outlook for Mac generally differs from the way things are done in other clients. Fortunately, Outlook for Mac’s calendar sharing function is being upgraded, with changes that include:

  • Intuitive UI to match other Outlook clients, including the addition of an Accept button to simplify calendar sharing invitations.
  • Shifting away from the Mac-specific local linked calendars, roaming shared calendars reads data from Exchange Online to ensure the same set of shared calendars are visible across all devices.
  • Immediate synchronization will replace periodic synchronization.
Even the tiniest details -- calendar sharing included -- have the potential to greatly impact the outcome of your business. If you have questions or concerns about managing various aspects of Office 365, feel free to get in touch today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
January 18th, 2017

2017January18_Android_CGoogle is synonymous with some of the best internet search technology on the market. But for some reason, one of the most effective ways to utilize Google search has flown mostly under the radar. If you’re jealous of Apple’s Siri, you may not even realize that you have your own AI assistant sitting in your pocket. Pull out your Android phone because you’ll want to try a few of these powerful Google Now commands.

Before you can start playing with Google’s AI, you need to turn on the service. On your Android device, press and hold the home key at the bottom of the screen, then swipe upwards. This will open the Google Now interface. Tap the search bar at the top of the screen, then the Google icon on the left-hand side of the search bar.

From there, tap the three stacked lines in the upper left corner of the screen, followed by Settings, and then Voice. Once you’ve toggled the “From any screen option,” saying the phrase “Ok Google” any time your phone is unlocked will prompt it to start listening for a command. Turn it on and try some of the examples below!

Tip #1: Reminders

Google Now can certainly help with information discovery, but what about when you just need a little help managing your calendar? The phrase “Remind me to [action] + [time]” is all you need to set a quick reminder before you have a chance to manually add it to your calendar.

And if you’re not sure when you need to be reminded, ask Google to set the notification based on location. “Remind me to buy eggs next time I’m at Safeway.” If you have location services turned on, your phone will prompt you next time you're near the store.

Tip #2: Anything involving your clock app

Whether you want to “Set an alarm/time for [time]” to achieve productivity goals, or you need to know “What time is it in [location]” before calling a client in another time zone, Google Now can essentially perform any task from your native clock app with a simple request.

Tip #3: Convert/calculate anything

As the business landscape becomes more and more globalized, we’re constantly calculating currencies, units of measurement, and simple sums. For example, “What is X dollars in euros?” could help you easily convert the price of an invoice, or “How many kilometers are in X miles?” could shorten the time required to calculate how much material you need to order for a new product.

Tip #4: Retrieve documents from Gmail

Searching Google from your desktop, you may have noticed that important documents from your email account occasionally show up at the top of a search page. That’s because Google can recognize official documents such as flight itineraries, hotel receipts, and utility bills. Just say “Show me my flight to Phoenix” and Google Now will pull it up immediately.

Tip #5: Basic phone commands

The majority of the applications that came with your phone can receive voice commands. “Take a photo,” “Open acme.com,” “Turn on Wi-Fi,” and “Open Salesforce1,” are just some of the ways you can minimize the time you spend tapping your phone.

There are dozens more, and while such small tasks may seem silly, they represent a fundamental shift in the way we interact with our technology. Smartphones should help you do more, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s just a waste of time. Spend a few moments tinkering with your Google Now and give us a call today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
January 13th, 2017

img-windows10-170px-op3 Over the past year, Microsoft received major backlash for 'forcing' the Windows 10 update as well as future updates on PC users. Fortunately, the tech leader is taking steps to address customer complaints. This article takes a look at what changes we can expect from Microsoft this coming year.

A patch and a glitch away Users couldn’t escape the glitches in the frequent Windows 10 updates, which caused an array of problems such as frozen systems, broken webcams, and even PCs being unable to secure an Internet connection. In light of the patching dilemma, Microsoft is offering more options to defer updates. In fact, a leaked preview shows a new option to pause updates for up to 35 days via a switch in the Settings menu.

OneDrive placeholders Since the launch of Windows 10, many users have eagerly awaited Microsoft to re-introduce this beloved feature to the operating system’s built-in OneDrive cloud storage service. In Windows 8.1, placeholders (aka Smart files) allowed users to see all their OneDrive files, whether or not they were stored on the device. Making its return in Windows 10 File Explorer when using OneDrive, the feature shows user files stored locally as well as on the cloud.

Owning up to the update fiasco Not only is Microsoft addressing the various complaints it received, but it’s also owning up to some of them. Just before Christmas, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, Chris Capossela, admitted that the company had gone too far when it tried to get Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10. This referred to Microsoft’s decision in early 2016 to change the design for the user prompt for its Get Windows 10 app, the software responsible for scheduling upgrades. The user prompt was altered so that clicking X to close the window causes the user to unknowingly agree to a Windows 10 upgrade. This change puts Microsoft in direct violation of its own user experience guidelines for developers on dialog box design.

“Within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, we knew we had gone too far,” recalled Capossela. “Those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us.” It was then that Microsoft reversed its decision on tweaking the pop-up, so clicking on X would dismiss the upgrade.

It seems that 2017 is the year that Microsoft will start listening more to its users and addressing their complaints. Maybe: Hopefully this renewed strategy will benefit users sooner rather than frustrate them later. Contact us and we’ll keep you up-to-date with the latest Microsoft updates.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
January 12th, 2017

2017january12_security_cAs cyber attacks continue to rise, businesses large and small need to stay one step ahead with IT services that keep them protected no matter what. What once were minor nuisances have now become advanced threats that can actually put you out of business. In fact, these cyber attack statistics will prove to you that you need managed services from a technology provider to remain safe and competitive.

The numbers

Small businesses are not at risk of being attacked, but worse, they’ve already fallen victim to cyber threats. According to Small Business Trends, 55 percent of survey respondents say their companies have experienced cyber attack sometime between 2015 and 2016. Not only that, 50 percent reported they have experienced data breaches with customer and employee information during that time, too. The aftermath of these incidents? These companies spent an average of $879,582 to fix the damages done to their IT assets and recover their data. To make matters worse, disruption to their daily operations cost an average of $955,429.

The attacks

So what types of attack did these businesses experience? The order from most to least common are as follows: Web-based attacks, phishing, general malware, SQL injection, stolen devices, denial of services, advanced malware, malicious insider, cross-site scripting, ransomware and others.

Why managed services?

Managed services is the most effective prevention and protection from these malicious threats. They include a full range of proactive IT support that focuses on advanced security such as around the clock monitoring, data encryption and backup, real-time threat prevention and elimination, network and firewall protection and more.

Not only that, but because managed services are designed to identify weak spots in your IT infrastructure and fix them, you’ll enjoy other benefits including faster network performance, business continuity and disaster recovery as well as minimal downtime. One of the best things about managed services is the fact that you get a dedicated team of IT professionals ready to assist with any technology problems you might have. This is much more effective and budget-friendly than having an in-house personnel handling all your IT issues.

Being proactive when it comes to cyber security is the only way to protect what you’ve worked hard to built. If you’d like to know more about how managed services can benefit your business, just give us a call, we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 11th, 2017

2017january11_business_cWhen disaster strikes, organizations need to put their business continuity plans into action and recover their IT systems as quickly as possible. Failing to do so can mean serious financial and reputational repercussions. Despite this, investments in disaster recovery are set aside each year for high-tech IT investments, and every year companies and employees continue to suffer for it. Here are some reasons why disaster recovery is well worth your time, effort, and resources in 2017.

DR isn’t a huge investment A common misconception about disaster recovery is that it’s a large, bank-breaking investment. Expensive secondary data centers, networks, and server maintenance usually come into mind when a business owner is confronted with the idea of business continuity. And while that may have been true in the past, establishing a strong disaster recovery plan today is as simple -- and as cheap -- as going to a cloud-based disaster recovery provider and paying for the data and services that your business needs. Subscription pricing models are actually incredibly low, meaning you can have minimal downtime while still having enough to invest in new tech.

Onsite backups just won’t cut it Although you might feel secure with a manual backup server down the hall, it is still susceptible to local disasters and, ultimately, does very little in minimizing company downtime. When disaster recovery solutions are hosted in the cloud or in a virtualized server, restoring critical data and applications only take a few minutes.

Business disasters can be man-made, too Even if your workplace is nowhere near frequent disaster zones, cyber attacks and negligent employees can leave the same impact on your business as any natural disaster can. Setting a weak password, clicking on a suspicious link, or connecting to unsecured channels is enough to shut down a 5-, 10-, or even 50-year-old business in mere minutes.

Sure, installing adequate network security is a critical strategy against malicious actors, but last year’s barrage of data breaches suggests that having a Plan B is a must. A suitable disaster recovery plan ensures that your data’s integrity is intact and your business can keep going, no matter the malware, worm, or denial-of-service attack.

Downtime will cost you A business without a DR plan might come out unscathed after a brief power outage, but why risk the potential damages? Either way, downtime will cost your business. First, there’s the general loss of productivity. Every time your employees aren’t connected to the network, money goes down the drain. Then there’s the cost of corrupted company data, damaged hardware, and the inevitable customer backlash. Add all those variables together, and you end up with a business-crippling fee.

So, if you want 2017 to be the best year for your business, make the smart choice and proactively take part in creating your company’s business continuity plan. Your business will be in a better position financially with it than without it.

Keep your business safe, recover from any disaster, and contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
January 10th, 2017

2017january10_socialmedia_cSkype used to dominate an area of VoIP communications that serves a special function: group video calling. With apps like Snapchat, WhatsApp and, most recently, Slack nipping at its heels, it comes as no surprise that social network behemoth Facebook takes a slice of the cake with its recently rolled out desktop group voice calling. With this functionality, anyone who has ever participated in a Facebook-enabled conversation should embrace this new development.

No one gets left behind

In group chats, there’s always that one person who gets the joke last, or reads it last, and so feels left out. With Facebook’s group video chat, this never has to happen as every participant in the group can be connected at the same time. The functionality is still in the “small test” phase, which means certain details are still being ironed out. When it fully launches, though, expect a considerable portion of Facebook Messenger users to consider moving their Skype group video conversations to Facebook.

Potentially compelling benefits

Since introducing its audio calling capability in 2013, Facebook has worked hard to keep up with the competition. Facebook’s introduction – and potential domination – of desktop group video calling might signal the end of times for Skype and other players. For one, Facebook and social media user growth hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. Moreover, most users of internet telephony might inevitably see the advantages of using a single platform for their social media activity and online communications.

Possible user reservations

Users who prefer a communication tool that creates zero distractions in their chats might not opt for Facebook when conducting group video conferences. Facebook is, first and foremost, a social media platform, which serves as a springboard for important news updates, personal anecdotes, and funny cat videos. Not everyone will prefer all those distractions while in a business meeting.

Those looking for a clean communications tool might find the wealth of content a bit overwhelming. In addition, employees of small companies in need of a free communications tool might not immediately warm up to the idea of surrendering their Facebook profile as an official point of contact.

If there’s anything Facebook has proven, however, it is the ability to improve upon previous versions by adding or removing details to enhance user experience. Users may not always be pleased with the updates, but that hasn’t slowed down the billion-user company’s popularity. If the newly introduced desktop group video calling function proves efficient, Facebook might persuade even more users to lean towards its messaging tool.

With many options to choose from, the only thing left for people to do is discern which platform best serves their communications needs. For advice on which VoIP platform is best for your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 9th, 2017

img-ipad-170px-op3Nobody wants to spend the day stressing about dangerous scenarios and “what-ifs,” but in some cases we really must insist. In a recent development, it was discovered that one of the iPad’s anti-theft measures can be easily bypassed with little to no special training. And although no one wants to assume his or her tablet will be stolen, preparing for the worst is the foundation of good IT security. Read on to get all the facts on this piece of worrying news.

iPad owners who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having their device stolen have the option to activate Apple’s Find My iPhone feature from icloud.com. If an iPad has this setting turned on, its GPS can be activated from any web browser to inform the owner where it is located.

Furthermore, if a user is concerned that the tablet may have been stolen, he or she can remotely lock the device. From the moment it is locked, the device can only be accessed by logging into the corresponding icloud.com account.

It’s a wonderfully intuitive feature, and tens of thousands of iPad owners have prevented data theft since it was first introduced by Apple in 2010. Unfortunately, security researchers recently announced a critical flaw that allows common thieves to totally bypass the remote lock feature simply by flooding login data fields with too many characters.

Apple is aware of the issue and has taken steps to address it with an operating system update. The latest version of iOS has fixed the issue for iPhones, but not for iPads.

Although we anticipate a patch to fix this flaw in the near future, the best way to avoid this predicament is to keep valuable data backed up separately from your iPad. One of the Find My iPhone options is to remotely wipe the device, which means as long as you aren’t permanently losing valuable data, the worst case scenario is losing nothing more than the tablet itself.

The more mobile our technology becomes, the more susceptible it is to physical security threats. It’s important to secure your devices not only from networked threats, but also from everyday ones, like someone nabbing your iPad while you step away from the table to order a coffee. For across-the-board security solutions and consulting, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
January 6th, 2017

2016january6_webandcloud_cInvesting in technology requires a lot of forethought and research. Successful business owners know that it isn’t just seeing an ad on your sidebar and signing up for untested services or solutions, it’s about making an educated decision. What better time is there to sit down, review the current state of technology, and decide where to place your bets for 2017? When you’re ready for that, take a look at our insider projections on where web services will be heading for the coming year.

#1 On-premises servers will survive another year

Cloud adoption will most likely continue its stellar rise, but that doesn’t mean it will be hard to find affordable service for your in-house server or data center. Based on a recent survey of companies that utilize cloud services, nearly half will continue operating some sort of on-site data management in response to perceptions of security or compliance concerns. We may not believe those worries are well-founded, but that does mean hybrid clouds will continue to be a popular option.

#2 Fewer headlines about machine learning, but more services

Because machine learning requires so much data and processing power to solve everyday problems, an increase in cloud services and vendors in 2017 will also mean an increase in machine learning. But “AI” is so 2016, and consumers will soon tire of it. If you’re selling a service that utilizes this technology, you might want to rebrand it. And if you’re looking to use it internally, definitely don’t pay 2016 prices.

#3 Voice commands will get better

With the proliferation of cloud computing and high-speed internet connections, analyzing voice commands is much easier than when it took place in localized environments after hours of training software to recognize your speech patterns.

Although better voice command technology may not mean much for running a business, big vendors like Amazon releasing development kits and application program interfaces does mean you have the opportunity to make your products and services more accessible via popular consumer technology such as Alexa.

#4 The Internet of Things (IoT) hasn’t peaked yet

Marketing experts are just as certain that consumers are feeling oversaturated with references to machine learning as they are that IoT hasn’t yet reached its full buzzword potential. If prices of connected devices come down, and their functionality improves, you can bet “IoT” will be one of the most profitable keywords of the year. If this technology doesn’t integrate with your products or services, there’s significant potential for its rise to stardom to make in-house business automation a whole lot better.

#5 Containers won’t just be a fad

As a subset of virtualized computing, containers unshackle applications from the constraints of single operating system compatibility. And with several vendors jumping into the market in late 2016 (such as Amazon Web Services), it’s a trend that we’re fairly confident will grow next year.

The market for web services may seem too fickle to gamble on, but as a small business owner, you don’t have much of a choice. Technology is essential to reaching new customers, operating efficiently, and remaining competitive with your business rivals. If you’re ready to start the new year with a new outlook on these technologies, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud