Blog

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_CBusiness continuity planning (BCP) is critical to all companies regardless of size. If disaster were to strike, an effective BCP would protect your valuable data and prevent your company from falling on its knees. Yet the implementation of a BCP presents challenges in itself. You need to address the following issues to ensure that your organization is on the right track to build and maintain a successful business continuity plan.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 6th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Aug04_CAlmost behind us are the days when you had to adapt your language to suit the limited capabilities of your computer - like searching online for “current time Dubai” and not simply “what time is it now in Dubai?” But developments in this area haven’t come to a stop yet; if anything, the pace is picking up. The use of Natural Language Processing (NLP), just one element of artificial intelligence, is becoming ever more widespread. Here are the facts.

There’s more to Natural Language Processing than voice recognition

Voice recognition might be among the most well-known practical uses of NLP in the technology we encounter in everyday life - but that likely has more to do with the popularity of the services that employ it, like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, than the merits of voice recognition in comparison to other NLP functions that tend to stay out of the limelight.

Truth be told, there’s a whole lot more to artificial intelligence than NLP. In fact, NLP is more effective in analyzing text data than it is sounds, which is precisely why digital assistant apps first use voice recognition to turn your commands into text data, and then use other NLP capabilities to search online for related information.

Natural Language Processing has already moved beyond its infancy

It’s tempting to believe that elements of artificial intelligence like NLP are still in the realm of the sci-fi movies, and that they are a long way from being useful to the technology we use in our everyday personal and business lives. It’s tempting, but further from reality than you might realize. That said, it’s true that to date there has been no commercial use of NLP that has truly exploited its full capabilities; even its deployment in a recently launched project to automate customer service only really scratches the surface.

What is clear is the shape that future uses of NLP will need to take. We already know that NLP alone doesn’t always judge context well, since it needs to learn about its environment first - without turning to other sources, for example, one app employing NLP would struggle to differentiate between providing traffic information and diagnosing a health complaint. The key, at least for now, is to restrict the scope in which NLP operates - by limiting its use to a travel app, for instance, NLP could learn about the various travel arrangements you make and then devise itineraries for you.

It works with more than just large-scale data

While it’s undeniable that NLP can be put to great use in analyzing vast swathes of aggregated information, for example taking masses of social media data and being able to assess the feelings of users towards the subject in question, that’s not the limit of its capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, NLP can also be used to interpret much smaller-scale data in real time. This is where its true value comes into play in terms of being able to take natural-language user input, in an app setting for example, and make decisions that add value to our mobile experience.

Whether for automated customer service or comprehensive sales applications, it’s clear that Natural Language Processing - and other aspects of artificial intelligence - hold the potential to be of value-adding benefit to the business world in the near future. It’s an area that’s very much still in development - and so even more exciting, and important to watch - but now is the time to discover how best to implement NLP technologies into your company. By getting ahead now, you can offer a customer experience that truly sets you apart from the competition. To find out how we can help you achieve just that, and at the same time maximize the value you drive from mobile technologies more generally, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 5th, 2015

164_HW_CProtecting your information online is becoming increasingly difficult, and having a single password to secure it all is becoming less effective. That’s the big reason behind the invention of two-factor authentication. Yet anyone who’s used two-factor authentication knows how much of a hassle it can be. Well, it doesn’t have to be any longer. A new hardware device called Yubikey plans to change that.

What is two-factor authentication?

Even if you have no idea what two-factor authentication is, you’ve likely been using it already for well over a decade. Two-factor authentication is a security measure that is essentially what it sounds like: you use two different types of identification to verify who you are.

Two common accounts where you’ve likely already used two-factor authentication are email and online banking. Ordinarily when you normally logon to either of these services, you only use a single password - your first method of authentication. However, if you are logging on from a different computer than your usual one, you’re likely asked to go through an additional step to check that you are who you say you are. This happens when you’re prompted for a one-time password - sent to you via text message, email or via some other method. That is your second method of verification, which adds up to two-factor authentication.

Oh, and how have you been using this process for over a decade? Well, another common means of two-factor authentication that’s been in widespread use for over a half century is the ATM. Your physical ATM card is the first form of authentication and your PIN is the second.

Introducing Yubikey - the easy solution for two-factor authentication

Yubikey is a small hardware device that looks similar to a USB drive and is designed to make two-factor authentication on the web easy. In addition to your normal username and password for a given website, it acts as your second form of authentication. Once you’ve registered it, you can use this device with a variety of websites or services that support two-factor authentication. Additionally, you can use Yubikey as a second method of authentication for your computer login, disk encryption for a hard drive, or password manager.

How does it work?

Once you’ve registered your Yubikey with a website or service that supports two-factor authentication, you simply insert the key into the computer, and then tap or touch it to provide your second method of authentication. Bear in mind that the Yubikey is not a biometric device. Similar to an ATM card, its identity protection power lies in the fact that is a physical hardware token. This prevents phishing, malware and other attacks that would need your physical key (in addition to your password) to breach your account.

However, since the Yubikey is a physical piece of hardware, some may wonder, “won’t it be easy to lose?” Well, when was the last time you permanently lost your keys? if the answer is never, then you’re in luck. Yubikey simply attaches to your keychain.

Curious to learn more about the latest hardware developments? Need a new hardware solution for your business? Call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 3rd, 2015

Young Asian woman  using smartphone in garden, looking on screen.While there have been rumours circling online about Microsoft’s plan to kill the Windows Phone altogether, the tech giant’s latest release for the Windows Insider Program - where users can sign up for an early build of the Windows OS - proves otherwise. Here we’ll take a look at the new build 10149 OS, a preview to Windows 10, and see if it’s worth installing or if you’re better off waiting.

Microsoft Edge

The first thing you’ll notice in this build is a brand new browser, Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge is set to replace Internet Explorer as the default web browser on Windows 10 PCs, smartphones and tablets. It is integrated with Cortana and OneDrive, and also includes annotation tools, reading mode, and the option to browse websites in either mobile or desktop view. Do note that Microsoft Edge has a new app ID, meaning favorites, cookies, history and reading-list items that you saved in the Project Spartan app will be lost after upgrading.

General UX improvements

Among the many refinements in this build is the clear and crisp Start screen. Visuals and icons such as volume controls are updated and are more responsive to use, and the navigation bar can now be hidden. Microsoft has also fixed issues like text notifications not appearing for incoming messages, as well as apps that couldn’t be installed or updated.

Cortana refinements

The build 10149 sees Cortana’s Notebook in its final stage, with combined Profile and Settings experience. You can now send an email by saying everything at once - such as who you want to email (you can give the names of multiple recipients), the subject of the email, and what you want your message to say. And with an Internet connection, you can also make corrections with your voice - though this only works for US English right now.

Flash to flashlight

One of the most popular requests of Microsoft from its users was to add a Flashlight “quick action” to allow you to turn your phone’s camera flash into a flashlight, and that’s exactly what they’ve added. To enable this feature, simply open Action Center and expand Quick Actions.

Improved Photos app

The update to the Photos app includes new capabilities such as support for animated GIFs (which works with phones with at least 16GB of RAM). Links to your saved photos, screenshots, and camera roll are also available on the Albums page.

Overall, the build 10149 looks to be an important turning point for Windows 10 Mobile. It is faster and more stable, and comes with plenty of improvements that enhance practicality for everyday use. To try it out, make sure you’re part of the Windows Insider Program by signing up here. Looking to learn more about the benefits of Windows Phone? Contact us today; we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 31st, 2015

HealthcareIT_Jul31_ACloud computing and cloud-based applications are steadily becoming more widely accepted and adopted by healthcare organizations across the globe. They are continually evolving to meet the growing requirements in the healthcare industry. And in recent years, many healthcare providers have shifted their resources to cloud platforms - for good reason. Here’s why you should implement cloud computing into your medical practice.

Easy information access

The increasing demand for doctors’ time often means that they are only able to view patient records in the evening. In the past, this meant being stuck in an office for hours. But with cloud computing solutions, doctors are able to quickly and easily access medical records from anywhere, at any time. By recording medical data in a word-processing application and storing the files in the cloud, doctors are able to provide high-quality care to patients.

HIPAA Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal regulation created to protect sensitive health information with a list of requirements by which medical practitioners need to abide. Failure to meet HIPAA requirements can result in heavy fines and penalties. Cloud computing is one of the best ways for healthcare organizations to stay HIPAA compliant, since it offers advanced security as well as encryption and backup, to protect healthcare information.

Cost reduction

Cloud computing has vast potential to help healthcare organizations cut expenditure. By adopting cloud-based solutions, you don’t have to pay for expensive on-site hardware and infrastructure installation and maintenance fees, nor the costs of new software updates. Cloud computing also helps boost efficiency and productivity, and allows your IT department do more with fewer staff.

Scalability

Unlike hardware infrastructure, you can easily scale your cloud storage solutions to fit your needs, allowing you to manage and maintain your ever-growing patient data with ease. Just consider how much office space you need to store five years’ worth of healthcare records. With the help of cloud computing, however, you can virtualize and store the medical records in secure cloud storage, and retrieve them within seconds.

Better data backup and recovery

If your healthcare practice were to face an unexpected disaster, what would become of your paper medical records? Most of your precious data would likely be either damaged or destroyed, and so too would your years of hard-earned reputation. Things are different when you opt for cloud computing. Most service providers will make a backup of your backups for maximum protection and redundancy, allowing you to get back to serving patients within hours, not days.

Want to learn more about how cloud computing can assist in your healthcare practice? Get in touch with one of our tech experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 30th, 2015

164_Prod_ CFor many small and medium sized business owners like yourself, Managed Services may be a confusing topic. You’ve likely heard that they can lead to greater productivity and profits, but are unsure as to just how they do this. If you’ve been confused for long enough, today you’ll finally understand the process by which Managed Services can lead your business to increased productivity and a higher bottom line.

Managed Services essentially amounts to preventative IT maintenance. What this means for your business is that little IT problems are nipped in the bud as soon as they bubble up, and before they have a chance to compound into much bigger, more costly ones. But before we delve deeper into how this increases your business’s productivity levels, it makes sense to look at the history of this service and the role of “preventative maintenance” in our culture.

Why preventative maintenance matters

Managed Services have been around for decades. But despite this, many businesses have been slow to catch on. And really, is it all that surprising? Preventative maintenance is not exactly a priority in mass culture. Whether you hire a mechanic to replace a catalytic converter, a plumber to repair a leaky pipe or doctor to correct your coronary heart disease, many of these oftentimes preventable problems have been culturally accepted as commonplace. Yet people are so used to the mindset of thinking “everything is okay until it’s not”, which is really where the true problem lies.

Additionally, when preventable problems are ignored long enough to the point they explode into emergency repairs, your wallet almost always suffers. This is just as true for a network crash to your business’s IT infrastructure as it is for a trip to the emergency room for a neglected health problem.

Because Managed Services prevent catastrophic IT repairs that surprise you out of nowhere, your bottom line will enjoy long-term savings. Along with this, you’ll also get a significant bump in your productivity levels.

How does Managed Services boost productivity?

To answer this question, it makes sense to look at a fundamental principle of productivity - focus. Imagine if you’re trying to complete a new marketing strategy for the next quarter. You’re doing some research, compiling a list upcoming networking events and trade shows to attend, when suddenly you’re disrupted by an urgent phone call. After you’re off the phone, you return to your research, and then your secretary bursts in with an handful of vendor invoices you need to sign off on. As these disruptions continue to pile up, what happens if your IT breaks down and you’re unable to use your computer? Basically, you don’t get anything done during the day. You become stuck.

When it comes to IT, Managed Services take preventative measures to ensure your IT is always running at its optimal level, so that you don’t suffer technology breakdowns or distractions that blow your focus - preventing you and your staff from getting any work done. Smooth running IT won’t resolve all your productivity problems, such as your staff focusing more on Facebook or their phone rather than their work, but it will resolve all of those that relate directly to technology. No longer will your business be held down by daily computer disruptions and associated repairs, and instead you and your staff can move forward and focus on growing your business. That is the beauty of Managed Services. More productivity, focus and growth for your entire organization.

Have more questions about Managed Services? Give us a call today. We’re happy to provide you the information you need.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
July 28th, 2015

BusinessValue_July28_CBusinesses that are winning in today’s marketplace are the ones that make technology work for them, not the other way round. When used correctly, technology can make every task much faster to execute, from communicating with customers to sending messages, gathering information, and more. So if you’re looking to increase staff efficiency, consider the following methods to implement technology into your day-to-day business operations.

Change office communication

In order to increase efficiency, set up instant messaging software such as Skype on your employees’ workstations. This allows them to send instant messages to correspondents instead of having to get up from their desks to see whether the person is available. Of course, if you need to discuss big projects or issues, face-to-face communication is likely the best choice. But you can simply send a quick message for more trivial conversations, saving precious minutes and allowing you to get more work done.

Install video conferencing

Traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions takes time and, all too often, time spent on the road is time lost. Rather than commuting for hours outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters from the comfort and convenience of your office. You can also take things up a notch and equip the conference room with tools to pull up documents and have them displayed on a big screen, so that everyone in the meeting can follow the conversation with ease.

Upgrade workstations

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging phone systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and bring productivity to a standstill. So it’s important to take the time to assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a set of entirely new workstations. But you should replace obsolete equipment with more up-to-date machines. In addition, make sure all software and applications are up-to-date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Implement ERP software

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows organizations to automate processes and centralize data in order for employees to collaborate more efficiently. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and make use of. What’s more, ERP also eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data, by storing information in a centralized database.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our tech experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 24th, 2015

164_iPhone_CIf you’re like most iPhone users, you’ve likely found yourself in the sticky situation where you need to charge your phone quickly, but only have access to a power supply for a short duration. While this can be a high anxiety producing situation for many, there is actually a way to speed up the rate at which your iPhone powers up. Curious to know more? Follow these four steps below to get an extra jolt to your next iPhone charging session.

Put your iPhone in Airplane mode

The key ingredient to supercharging your iPhone in the shortest amount of time is to switch it to Airplane mode. By doing this, you essentially shut your phone off from the outside world so it’s unable to receive calls, texts, push notifications or other information. Additionally, your iPhone will be unable to search for a wireless network or better signal while in this mode. And because it’s not wasting power with any of these processes, that electricity is instead directed to your iPhone’s battery which in turn allows it to charge faster.

Take off your iPhone case

Funny as it may sound, your iPhone case may actually be slowing down the speed of your battery charge. Apple’s consumer website notes that their products don’t do well in the heat. And when it comes to iPhone, certain cases can create excess heat - which can have an effect on your battery capacity. What does this mean for you? If you have a case on your iPhone, take it off when you’re charging it.

Use an iPad adaptor

An iPad adaptor, which is about twice the size of the small adaptor that’s included with your iPhone, reportedly charges an iPhone 40% faster than its native counterpart. Therefore, if you have an iPad charger, use it.

Turn off your display, and don’t use your iPhone

As already mentioned with Airplane mode, the more your iPhone is in use the less power it will have leftover to store in your battery. While Airplane mode prevents outside forces from sucking up power, you too can also not use your phone during this time to maximize the rate at which the battery charges. To do this, make sure you turn off your display, and then simply set your iPhone aside and leave it alone.

Want more tips to get the most out of your iPhone? Curious to learn about the latest iPhone news and updates? Get in touch now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
July 24th, 2015

164_C_MacIf you have yet to hear, Apple will be releasing their new Mac OS later this year known simply as El Capitan. For some, the best news is that you don’t have to wait till the fall to try it out. Apple has released a beta version that is available to test now by signing up on their website for the Apple Beta Software Program. But if you’d rather learn a bit about it first, we’ve compiled a list of four of El Capitan’s coolest features that people are talking about.

Find your cursor more easily

While not the most difficult of problems computer users face, many of us have all probably ran into the situation where we lose the cursor and have to carefully scan the screen and wiggle the mouse to find it. El Capitan resolves this minor annoyance in a fun way. Now if you lose your cursor, you can wiggle your finger on the trackpad and the cursor will blow up to a larger size which makes it easier to spot instantly.

Better Spotlight feature

El Capitan’s new version of Spotlight now allows you to search news and information from the Internet. For example, you can use it to find the weather forecast, sports scores, stock market information and even videos from Vimeo and YouTube.

Another useful feature of the updated Spotlight is the ability to use natural language to find files on your Mac. That means you can search for locally stored files with phrases such as “video I edited last week”, which will then bring up results for any videos you edited in that time period.

Run apps side by side in a split screen

Deciding how to best handle multiple windows on your display can be a daily annoyance. If you have too many open, your screen can become a disorganized mess that leaves you less productive and perhaps even with a headache. Split view aims to bring order to your display by allowing you to go full screen with a pair of apps running side by side. Similar to the Windows 8 split-screen app, you can also resize each window to your liking.

More functional Notes app

With El Capitan, the Notes application has also gotten a makeover and now allows you to add a variety of types of content. For instance, you can drop in videos, pictures, PDFs and other file types directly into the application. Even better, you can sync Safari with Notes. This means that with a simple click of your trackpad, you can send content from a web page directly to the app.

Last but not least, Notes now gives users the ability to create checklists easily. With a single click, you can turn a bulleted list into an interactive checklist. So whether you’re looking to create a to-do list, grocery list or wish list, Notes has you covered.

While it’s worth noting that none of these new features are revolutionary, these small improvements will come as a welcome upgrade of Yosemite for many Mac users.

Want more of the latest Mac news? Need to service your Apple IT? Feel free to give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
July 22nd, 2015

164_Sec_CEver been infected by malware or a virus? For most internet users, the answer is probably yes. But what is the difference between all the cyber threats out there? What makes a virus different from a trojan or worm? And how can you protect your critical data and your business from these threats? If you’ve never been able to answer these questions, here’s the explanation you’ve been waiting for.

Malware

Malware is the short version of the word malicious software. And this is a general term that encompasses many types of online threats including spyware, viruses, worms, trojans, adware, ransomware and more. Though you likely already know this, the purpose of malware is to specifically infect and harm your computer and potentially steal your information.

But how do the different types of malware differ from one another? How can you protect your business from them? Let’s take a look at four of the most common forms of malware below.

Virus - like a virus that can infect a person, a computer virus is a contagious piece of code that infects software and then spreads from file to file on a system. When infected software or files are shared between computers, the virus then spreads to the new host.

The best way to protect yourself from viruses is with a reliable antivirus program that is kept updated. Additionally, you should be wary of any executable files you receive because viruses often come packaged in this form. For example, if you’re sent a video file, be aware that if the name includes an “exe” extension like .mov.exe, you’re almost certainly dealing with a virus.

Spyware - just like a spy, a hacker uses spyware to track your internet activities and steal your information without you being aware of it. What kind of information is likely to be stolen by Spyware? Credit card numbers and passwords are two common targets.

And if stealing your information isn’t bad enough, Spyware is also known to cause PC slowdown, especially when there is more than one program running on your system - which is usually the case with a system that’s infected.

A common mistake many people make is they assume their antivirus software automatically protects them from Spyware. This is not always true as some antivirus isn’t designed to catch spyware. If you’re unsure if your antivirus prevents Spyware, get verification from your vendor. And for those that are already suffering from Spyware infestation, two programs that work wonders to clean it out are Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware.

Worms - similar to viruses, worms also replicate themselves and spread when they infect a computer. The difference, however, between a worm and a virus is that a worm doesn’t require the help of a human or host program to spread. Instead, they self-replicate and spread across networks without the guidance of a hacker or a file/program to latch onto.

In addition to a reliable antivirus software, to prevent worms from infecting your system you should ensure your firewall is activated and working properly.

Trojan - like the trojan horse from ancient greek mythology, this type of malware is disguised as a safe program designed to fool users, so that they unwittingly install it on their own system, and later are sabotaged by it. Generally, the hacker uses a trojan to steal both financial and personal information. It can do this by creating a “backdoor” to your computer that allows the hacker to remotely control it.

Similar to the other malware mentioned above, antivirus software is a dependable way to protect yourself against trojans. For further safety, it’s wise to not open up suspicious attachments, and also ensure that your staff members aren't downloading any programs or applications illegally at the office - as this is a favorite place hackers like to hide trojans.

Curious to learn about other common malware that can cause trouble for business owners? Want to upgrade your existing network security system? Give us a call today, we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security