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June 26th, 2014

Security_June23_CThe increasing number of businesses turning to a virtual environment is parallel with cyber criminals looking to breach that security. While many businesses think their virtual servers are safe and secure, some are unaware of major security myths that can leave your business vulnerable to attack. With that in mind, isn’t it time you familiarized yourself with five common virtualization security misconceptions to keep your virtual environment secure?

Myth No.1: Existing endpoint security will protect our virtual environment

Most traditional endpoint security solutions are virtual-aware and provide low levels of protection. This simply isn’t enough. Depending on the virtualization platform used (VMware, Microsoft, etc.), your traditional endpoint security suite can probably recognize virtual endpoints. However, this physical software often can’t bring its full tool set of anti-malware to the virtual world, meaning it can only perform basic tasks such as on-access scanning.

Therefore what you need is a solution that has been designed to keep both virtual and physical computing environments secure. There are a wide-number of solutions out there, and the best one for your business will depend largely on the virtual environments you employ. We strongly recommend talking to IT experts like us, as we can help determine, or even offer, the strongest security based.

Myth No.2: My existing anti-malware doesn’t interfere with my virtual operations

Performance issues can create security gaps that don't exist in your physical environment. Traditional endpoint security uses an agent-based model where each physical and virtual machine has a copy of the security program’s agent on it. This agent communicates with the server while performing security tasks. This is fine for physical machines, but if you have 100 virtual machines running off of one main environment that has been infected with malware, you’ll also have 100 instances of malware running on the machines.

This high level of duplication can cause massive performance degradation and waste tons of storage capacity. Therefore, you should make an effort to ensure that all of your systems including the main ones are without malware. This not only makes every system secure, but can also speed up overall operations.

Myth No.3: Virtual environments are inherently more secure than physical environments

Sadly, this just isn’t always true. Virtualization is designed to allow software, including malware, to behave as it normally would, and malware writers will target any and all weak points in a business’s network to accomplish their goals. An attacker who compromises one virtual machine and finds a way to jump to the hypervisor - the system that enables the virtualization - then has access to every virtual machine on that host.

Therefore, malware scanners on both the user and main systems would be a good idea. If it does happen to get on a system, the chances of it spreading are drastically reduced.

Myth No.4: Using non-persistent virtual machines effectively secures a network

In theory, any machine that encounters malware is wiped away and recreated cleanly. However, we are now seeing malware that is designed to survive teardown of individual machines by spreading across the virtual network. This allows it to return when new virtual machines are created.

Additionally, being too eager to create new machines on demand can result in virtual machine sprawl, which happens when virtual machines are created but then forgotten. This leads to an unmaintained virtual endpoint operating without your knowledge. Even if the rest of your virtual machines are secure, it’s possible for one machine to eavesdrop on the traffic of another virtual machine, leading to privacy and security risks.

The best solution to this is to employ an IT manager who can track and maintain systems. Many IT partners offer a solution like this, so experts like us may be able to help ensure your systems are secure.

Myth No.5: Specialized virtual security programs are more or less the same

There are various approaches to virtualization security and your network will probably need a blend of available options. This all depends on what you’re trying to protect.

A non-Web-connected server is going to have entirely different security needs than a virtual desktop of a server that manages customer information. Implementing one without the other simply just won’t do in today’s world, where attackers are set on getting their hands on your data.

Proper security is vital in making virtualization a critical component of your business IT infrastructure. Looking to learn more about virtualization and its components? Contact us today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 25th, 2014

Productivity_June23_CFor most businesses, Internet connections have gotten a whole lot faster over the past decade. Still, some businesses today are faced with the continuous problem of a slow Internet connection, which often leads to a decrease in productivity and efficiency. If this tech problem resonates with you then don’t give up just yet as there are several things you can do to boost your Internet connection speed and as a result your business performance too.

5 ways to combat a slow Internet connection:

1. Control devices that interfere with the connection:

Wireless devices can be one of the reasons for a slow Internet connection. It’s wise to talk to us about a wireless network analyzer so that you know the sources of interference. Believe it or not, most of these sources might be coming from the company kitchen!

Good examples include the microwave, cordless phone, security alarm, and other wireless devices which use the 2.4GHz band. These can interfere with 802.11g or single-band 802.11n routers. The best solution is to reposition these household electronics to either help solve the problem completely or at least minimize the chances of interference.

2. Control applications that hog bandwidth:

Without your knowledge it’s most likely that employees are using applications that are hogging the bandwidth. It’s vital that you are aware of these applications, especially ones that have video conferencing and streaming abilities which tend to be responsible for weak bandwidth in corporate environments. Other applications such as torrent and gaming apps can also be responsible. It is best to make sure that these apps are not installed on your company computers, of if they are, make sure their use is regulated.

Believe it or not, one of the biggest bandwidth hogs is YouTube. Some companies, when they audit their network usage, have noticed that streaming services like YouTube can take up more than half of their total bandwidth. While in some positions, video streaming may be necessary, it's likely not for the majority of roles. Therefore, it would be a good idea to implement a rule about the use of YouTube during business hours e.g., it should only be used for necessary tasks.

Some would recommend blocking services like this, but if your business uses Google's other services, blocking YouTube could actually end up blocking access to other Google services. It would be a good idea to consult with us as to the best way to limit use.

3. Reposition your router:

As simple as this might sound, your router might also have to be repositioned to help increase your Internet speed. You might want to try raising your router so that broadcast range can be more effective. If this doesn’t work, which sometimes it doesn’t, try placing your router in the center of your office for a more equal signal distribution. The best solution however, is to place your router as near to computers and other receivers as possible.

4. Consider an upgrade:

If your wireless networking equipment is old then it probably needs an upgrade. Keep in mind that technology moves at an extremely fast pace and your wireless network might be outdated in just a few years.

We strongly recommend talking to us, as we can help recommend the best upgrade solution. For example, the two most common upgrades include installation of a new repeater or wireless amplifier and replacement of your current antenna. Because antenna's are so varied, we can help make sure that the antenna being installed is compatible with your router.

5. Use the latest network technologies:

As mentioned earlier, technology moves fast which is why it is essential that you become familiar with its recent advancements, particularly in the area of wireless networking. There are countless apps, software, and hardware out there that can help boost the speed and performance of your router, some of which can even be downloaded for free. Our networking experts can help ensure your business has the latest and greatest, so be sure to consult with us first.

Dealing with a slow Internet connection can be a huge pain. If not taken care of right away, it can have immense impact on your overall work output. Looking to learn more about ways to improve your Internet connection for maximized productivity? Connect with us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
June 25th, 2014

iPhone_June23_CThe iPhone has become one of the most popular mobile devices among business users. It is widely regarded for its usability which stems from the excellent iOS operating system supporting it. In early June, Apple announced that a new version of iOS - iOS 8 - was on its way in the fall, and with it will come a number of developments and features. One interesting update of note is a drastically improved Notification Center.

About the iPhone's Notification Center

The Notification Center feature was introduced with the release of iOS 5 and is available on every Apple mobile device. The idea behind it is that it can show you an overview of alerts and updates from specific applications. On iPhones and iPads this is an area where all of the most important information can be accessed quickly.

You can access your Notifications Center by swiping down from the top of your screen. When it is open you will see three views:

  • Today - Important information about the day, including upcoming calendar events, the weather, and other relevant information.
  • All - All alerts, including emails, messages, and updates from apps like Twitter.
  • Missed - Notifications that you have missed in the past 24 hours.
If you tap on any notification or alert, the app associated with it will be opened and allow you to view the content or update in full. For example, when you get a new email, Notification Center will alert you and show who it's from and even some of the content. Tapping on the message will open the Mail app, allowing you to interact with it directly from the main app.

For many users, this is among the most useful iOS features, but many have commented that it feels unfinished. Sure it provides a way to quickly access important information but it is largely static and limited in use. Apple aims to change this with the release of iOS 8.

Notification Center's iOS 8 update

When Apple introduced iOS 8 in early June, they announced that the Notifications Center will be getting widgets that will help make the Center even more functional - providing you with greater information all in one place. Those who have used an Android device before are likely well aware of widgets. These tiny versions of apps display useful information without having to open the app itself.

For example, on Android devices you can add an email widget to your main screen that allows you to read and reply to emails directly from your home screen without having to open the full version of the app.

Apple has decided to take another path with the implementation of widgets, instead baking them into the Notifications Center. With iOS 8, you will still be able to swipe down to access your Notifications Center, only now there will be way more information. In the example Apple demonstrated, there were widgets showing the latest scores of a baseball team and eBay auctions that you could bid on directly from the screen, without having to open the eBay app.

Of course this was just a demo, but you can bet that when iOS 8 is launched, you will start to see useful apps updated with widgets that you can add to Notification Center. If for example you use a note app like Evernote, there is a good chance that you will be able to create or edit a note in the Notification Center, without having to open the app itself.

It is clear that with the impending update, Apple is striving to implement a better and easier way for you to interact with your phone. For many business users this will mean less time having to open apps and search for the information they need. It will be interesting to see what business-oriented apps developers come up with next in terms of making the iPhone an even more effective business device.

Contact us today to learn more about the iPhone and how it can help improve your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
June 19th, 2014

androidtablet_June18_CMost businesses rely on tablets and their apps to help increase productivity and work output. Android tablets are one solid option with countless work apps which many people opt for. Still, without their knowledge, most tend to give permission screens no more than a cursory glance when installing apps. This can be a big mistake as checking app permissions and being aware of common permissions is vital in keeping your Android tablet safe, secure, and efficient.

Checking app permissions

Head into Settings on your Android tablet, go to Apps and then tap on any app and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the permissions that have been granted. Note that you are not able to switch individual options on or off, so it’s all or nothing.

However, there are various third-party apps you can install to give you a better look and more control over app permissions. One of those apps is SnoopWall, which once installed will set itself as an administrator to comprehensively audit and manage the security setup on your tablet.

Common permissions 101

Modify, delete, and read storage: This gives an app permission to access the storage on your device in order to save and edit files. Most apps will require some kind of access, if only to keep temporary logs on your device. Keep in mind that any app with these permissions can also access your public folders like your photo gallery as well as your music folder.

Find and use accounts on devices: Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounts are often integral to the way you use your phone, letting you send a Tweet from anywhere and upload photos onto your Facebook account at any time. This permission simply gives an app the ability to tap straight into these accounts to make life easier for you. Bear in mind that the app can potentially access any information stored in the account in question.

Full network access: Most apps require some kind of Internet access, whether it’s for software updates, syncing, or retrieving data from online sources. Full network access is used when retrieving adverts to display, but as with most permissions, you’re relying on the app in question to use this privilege responsibly.

Phone status and identity: This permission enables apps to recognize when a call comes in and gives you the chance to answer it by pausing the current app in the background.

Prevent tablet from sleeping: When your tablet goes into sleep mode, it can interrupt certain processes such as data being written to the internal storage. This permission enables an app to keep your device awake while important system tasks are being carried out. It can also be used by video players to keep the screen on.

Read and send text messages: There are countless apps that want to replace your tablet’s SMS functionality, and this permission is used to automatically scan your incoming texts for authorization codes (used where two-step authentication is involved). This is another classic example of a permission that can be very useful or very worrying. It is vital that you make sure that the app asking for this permission has a clear use for it.

Read your contacts: While a whole range of apps ask for it, this isn’t something you want to give away without good reason. The ability to share content with your friends in some way is often the underlying purpose for this permission, but also so that the app can quickly auto-complete the names of your contacts whenever required.

Sticky broadcasts: This permission is all about the way apps communicate with each other. Android treats each app as if it were a separate user: broadcasts enable these apps to talk to one another (sometimes without your knowledge), and the stickiness controls how long they hang around in the device’s memory for. If an app wants to communicate something to other apps or to Android a long time after the event, it then uses a sticky broadcast.

There are plenty of other permissions to consider but these are the ones you’ll run into most frequently on your Android tablet. It’s important that you pay attention to app permissions in relation to new apps as well as apps you’re already using to ensure your tablet’s security.

Looking to learn more about app permissions? Get in touch today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 18th, 2014

osx_June17_CIt’s been almost a year since Apple’s tenth major operating system the OS X Maverick was released. Now with the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014 having just taken place this month, it’s the perfect time for Apple to introduce its new operating system, the OS X Yosemite. While features on the OS X Yosemite aren’t yet complete, many changes to Apple’s operating system are very much present.

Design

Right from the start you can tell that OS X Yosemite is all about aesthetics. Apple manages to make the operating system look both vastly different yet not entirely unfamiliar. The button and icon design has been flattened so that there are no false contours, making everything look sharper.

For the first time ever, the operating system’s font has been changed from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue which is a little easier on the eyes. Finder window menus are now translucent, matching up with the image backgrounds on your desktop. The refreshed dock has gotten a slight makeover with newer flatter-looking icons as well as a new trash can. Yosemite also features a “dark mode”, which gives you the option to eschew translucency for dark gray toolbars.

Notifications

Notification Center has been updated with a new look that borrows its black transparent design from iOS’s pull down notification pane. Apple has divided its Notification Center into two different categories. One shows notifications as you were used to them before, the other shows a “Today” view with a combination of upcoming events, current weather, reminders and stocks. To swap between the two, Apple’s added in tabs at the top to let you minimize the information shown at a glance.

Spotlight

The new Spotlight search and file browsing in general have been greatly improved. Previews of animated GIFs now automatically animate in the preview pane. And if Spotlight is your default application and file launcher, you can hit Command + Space to pull up the search bar and pick out your query instead of hunting for the exact location of the file you’re using. When you go through this, the search pops up in a small pane directly at the center of your screen which makes more sense than the old search bar which was in the top right corner of your screen.

The new update isn’t just conveniently situated, but it could turn Spotlight into your default way of searching for information that you’d normally go to a browser for. You can now convert units, bring up full contact info, look something up on Wikipedia or even search for food nearby. Apple’s even worked Spotlight into the address bar of the revamped Safari browser to give users a one-stop shop for search across the web and local files.

Mail

OS X Yosemite’s Mail app gets a cleaner design as well as a slick new feature, Mail Drop. This allows you to bypass attachment size constraints by uploading files that are too big and sending the recipient a link.

Safari

Safari browser has been updated for continuity with the browser’s window carrying over the translucency seen in other areas of the operating system. Favorites are now hidden by default, but you can access these by clicking on the address bar.

Sharing links to social networks has been simplified with a one-click process and RSS feeds will show in the browser's sidebar.

AirDrop

AirDrop in Yosemite now works with iOS so iPhone owners can easily transfer files to the Mac and back. OS X Yosemite features the ability to recognize work being done in iOS that you might want to continue on the desktop. Once an action is detected on iOS, Yosemite will create an icon on the desktop to remind the user to complete the task. This sensing ability also extends to creating a tethered connection, as your iPhone will now appear as a connection option in the WiFi dropdown.

Make and receive calls

Once connected to your iPhone, Yosemite will prompt you with notifications to answer or ignore incoming calls, both audio and video. The OS will even allow users to click on a number within a website to dial it directly.

OS X Yosemite isn’t finished, but overall it demonstrates a more mature and subtle approach in its user interface as well as a more versatile operating system. For now, Apple is making OS X Yosemite available as beta for developers, but you can expect the full version this fall, when you will be able to download it for free. Looking to learn more about Apple and their products? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
June 17th, 2014

businessintelligence_June16_CMost businesses are continuously looking for ways to improve visibility, efficiency, and gain valuable insights into consumer behavior. By utilizing your company’s business intelligence (BI) system, you can achieve all this and more. Many companies spend anywhere between USD $100 thousand and $1 million for their BI system but fail to make proper use of it. Do you think your BI system could use an extra push in the right direction?

5 ways to improve business intelligence value

1. Pump customer data into your analysis Most companies are chasing after a 360 degree view of their customers, and while this seems like an elusive goal, it can be achieved. Take the first steps by integrating data from your CRM, accounting, and customer support systems into your BI dashboards and reports to allow analysis of customer growth, profitability, and lifetime value. Understanding these KPIs can help you spot trends as well as identify opportunities to cross-sell or upsell. 2. Set up alerts and delivery Your business intelligence can instantly improve its standing and value with alerts and report delivery. Notifications, in the form of email alerts, are useful for managers to keep an eye on business operations without having to log into the BI system. The added perk here is that managers can stay on top of KPIs and new updates even when they're on the move as reports and dashboards can be emailed to them according to a set schedule. 3. Reassess your dashboards If it’s been a while since your BI dashboards were first designed, try updating them with modern charts and stylish fonts. While this may seem unnecessary to some companies, attractive dashboards attract more users and you’ll likely see an uptick in adoption after a dashboard refresh. 4. Deploy existing content on mobile devices By increasing your BI content’s availability, you can quickly increase the number of users accessing it. A great way to do this is by deploying your dashboards and reports on mobile devices. This is especially useful for decision makers who travel frequently or need to be able to access KPIs from anywhere; after all it’s easier for them to pull out a phone or tablet rather than drag out a laptop. Your BI system likely includes some way to make your existing BI content mobile. Allowing users to access BI the way they want can be a great way to boost your BI value. 5. Make it predictive While BI has traditionally been used to present historic data for manual analysis, now more than ever it’s incorporating predictive analytics. By leveraging stored data from your BI system and applying predictive analytics, you can project future performance and make better business decisions based on more accurate forecasts.

Modern BI platforms come with many options, from multi-data source connectivity to mobile BI. It is up to you to leverage the full breadth of your BI software’s capabilities to ensure that you’re getting all the value it can deliver. Looking to learn more about business intelligence and its functions? Get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 13th, 2014

security_June13_CThe parallel rise of technological advancement and malicious Internet activity is evident. With advances in technology comes an increase in security threats which, if not taken care of right away, can severely affect your business’ efficiency and overall success. With that in mind, it’s time you familiarized yourself with the top security best practice guidelines which will go a long way to ensuring your business is safe and secure.

10 Security practice guidelines for businesses

  1. Encrypt your data: Encryption of stored data, filesystems, and across-the-wire transfers is essential to protect sensitive data as well as to help prevent data loss due to equipment loss or theft.
  2. Use digital certificates to sign all of your sites: You should obtain your certificates from a trusted Certificate Authority, and instead of saving your certificates on the Web server, save them to hardware devices like routers or load balancers.
  3. Implement a removable media policy: Devices like USB drives, external hard disks, external DVD writers or any writeable media facilitate security breaches coming into or leaving your network. Restricting the use of those devices is an effective way to minimize security threats.
  4. Implement DLP and auditing: Be sure to use data loss prevention and file auditing to monitor, alert, identify, and block the flow of data into and out of your network.
  5. Use a spam filter on your email servers: Using a time-tested spam filter such as SpamAssassin will remove unwanted email from entering your inbox and junk folders. It is important that you identify junk mail even if it’s from a trusted source.
  6. Secure websites against MITM and malware infections: Start using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which creates a secure connection between a user and server, over which any amount of data can be sent securely. Through SSL, you’ll be able to scan your website daily for malware, set the Secure flag for all session cookies, as well as use SSL certificates with Extended Validation.
  7. Use a comprehensive endpoint security solution: Using an antivirus software alone is not enough to provide defense against today’s security threats. Go for a multi-layered product to prevent malware infections on your devices.
  8. Network-based security hardware and software: Start using firewalls, gateway antivirus, intrusion detection devices, and monitoring to screen for DoS attacks, virus signatures, unauthorized intrusion, and other over-the-network attacks.
  9. Maintain security patches: Make sure that your software and hardware defenses stay up-to-date with new anti-malware signatures and the latest patches. If your antivirus program doesn’t update on a daily basis, be sure to set up a regular scan and a remediation plan for your systems.
  10. Educate your employees: As simple as it sounds, this might be the most important non-hardware, non-software solution available. An informed user will more likely behave more responsibly and take fewer risks with valuable company data resulting in fewer threats to your organization.
Businesses cannot afford to take chances with security. Why? Because doing so can trigger a domino effect, causing a cascade of problems that can lead to operational outages, data loss, security breaches, and the subsequent negative impact to your company's bottom line. Looking to learn more about security for your business? Call us today for a chat.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 13th, 2014

osx_June13_CThe security of your mobile device and computer should be top of mind for any business owner or manager. The problem is, many who use Macs and Apple's mobile devices believe their device is secure and that they don't need to take steps in order to prevent any security breach. Recent news however is highlighting that Apple devices are facing increased security threats.

The Apple security myth

It is true that many myths are based on fact. However, the problem is trying to distinguish fact from fiction. Take a look at the most recent security threats, and you'll see that the vast majority are focused on systems running Windows, while there are few that seem to focus on Macs.

It used to be that this was simply because there were an exponentially larger number of Windows users compared to Mac users. This large user base makes it easier for hackers to exploit, therefore hackers usually go after Windows machines leaving Macs to the side.

As a result, this has created the general idea that Macs are more secure than Windows. In truth, Macs are really no less or more secure than other systems and devices and users need to ensure their systems are protected. There are a growing number of Mac users and if you throw into the mix the fact that Apple's mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone are among the most popular devices out there you can bet that it's only a matter of time before hackers start to really try and exploit these systems in increased numbers.

How do I ensure my Mac or Apple device is secure?

Talk to 10 different people and you will likely get 10 different answers as to what you should do in order to ensure the security of your computer and mobile device. To make things a little easier, here is our list of five things you should do.

1. Educate yourself about security threats

The first thing you should do is to keep abreast of current security threats. Many of the top mobile and security oriented companies have blogs that cover the most recent security threats that all users should be aware of. Of course, we try to keep this blog updated with these threats as well so be sure to check here as well.

You can take this even further and educate yourself about the most common ways systems are infected or hacked. For example, here are two of the most recent threats your device and computers face: (i) iPhones - At the end of May, news came out of Australia about how a number of iPhone users had been infected by ransomware. This style of malware hijacks a device and demands payment from a user before they can use their phone again. In this specific case, it appears that the hacker is compromising the user's iCloud accounts, then blocking the device using the Find my iPhone feature and showing a message demanding payment for the code to unlock it.

Keeping your passwords secure and changing them may help prevent your device from being infected.

(ii) Macs - One of the latest ways Macs are being infected with malware is through programs that are installed when people download other apps. These programs can do any number of things, with the most problematic (for the time being) setting your browser's home page to the developer's own search engine. The engine will then show paid ads in results. While Google also features ads, it is up to you whether you use Google or not. This specific program doesn't give you a choice.

These are just two existing threats, there are countless more out there that you should be aware of.

2. Practice safe browsing

One of the best ways to stave off infections and security breaches is to be proactive. This is because the vast majority of security breaches happen when a user installs programs, knowingly or unknowingly, or clicks on links in emails or on the Web that contain malware.

These forms of intrusion can be nearly stopped in their tracks in a five ways: (i) Never open email attachments from unknown senders. This is especially the case if the file extensions are for programs i.e., DMG, This includes attachments in emails from large companies and financial institutions. If you are in doubt, try contacting the sender for verification.

(ii) Always hover over links before you click on them. Doing this should cause a popup to appear displaying the full address of the link's location. If for example you get an email from your bank with a link in it, hover over the link to see where it goes. What you are looking for is spelling mistakes, grammar issues or even straight up wrong links. Should any of these be present, the link location could lead you straight to malware which could then be installed on your system.

(iii) Don't automatically open any downloaded apps. It is a good idea to verify any apps first by looking at an app's name by right-clicking on it and selecting Get Info. Look at the source information for the app. If the site is weird or seems different from where you downloaded it from, you may not want to install it.

(iv) Be wary of installing apps from streaming sites. When you try to watch content many sites will ask you to download a plugin or video player. The links shown can sometimes be malware and you will find your systems infected before you know it. In fact, it's a good idea to avoid these sites altogether, especially since some of them are known to host malware that can install itself without your permission or even without you knowing it has been installed.

(v) When in doubt, don't touch anything. If you are unsure about a link or app you are being asked to download, simply don't click on it or download it.

3. Watch where you connect

Apple's products are almost all highly mobile. From featherlight laptops to tablets and phones that fit in almost any bag and pocket you can connect to the office from nearly anywhere. The way most do this is by connecting to their systems via an Internet connection. In many public spaces, shops, and even airports you are never far from a public connection. While this may seem like an ideal way to connect to the office, public connections are notoriously easy to hack.

Anyone with even a basic understanding of networking and tools can hack a public network, accessing data that goes in and out; data which could be sensitive. Once this is captured and possibly decoded, your systems could be breached and even hijacked.

Therefore, it is a good idea to never connect to public networks on any device. Of course, this may not be possible all of the time. So, if you do have to connect to a public network be sure to never enter any passwords or go to sites where you need to log into systems.

4. Install antivirus scanners

It really is amazing how many Mac users simply don't bother with an antivirus scanner. These tools are indispensable for keeping your systems secure and the data stored within them secure. Sure, the chances of your iPhone being hacked or your Macbook's data being exposed are less than other systems and devices but the threat is there, and very real.

There are a number of excellent scanners out there, just be sure to pick a solution that covers both desktop, and mobile devices to ensure optimal security. We can help you pick the best solution for your business, so be sure to talk to us before installing any scanners.

5. Work with an IT expert

Finally, possibly the best way to ensure the security of your Apple products is to work with an IT expert like us. We take the time to get to know how you use your devices to discover your security needs. From here, we can help integrate an effective solution that you can rely on. On top of this, we can also manage your IT, so should new security threats be found, you stand an increased chance of not only being secure but avoiding the threat altogether.

Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
June 10th, 2014

hardware_June10_CThe battle between Mac and PC users has been raging for decades and for those who are not sure which side to be on then the challenge is deciding between which platform to use. This is always easy, especially with an increasing number of programs that work on both systems or even in the cloud, not to mention the fact that both offer business-friendly operation systems. The real question is what are the differences between a Mac and a PC?

Design

Apple prides itself on its iconic design while PC design depends on which company is making them. Even with the first Macintosh, introduced in 1984, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and monitor were housed in one single unit thus reducing the number of cables necessary and creating a sleeker look. This design forward view has carried throughout the company's history and modern Macs are sleek, light, and designed to look cool.

PCs on the other hand, don’t come from one single manufacturer like Mac so there are countless designs available on the market. If you don’t like the design from one manufacturer you can simply look to others. With Mac, if you’re not keen on their design, you’re out of luck.

Specifications

While both Mac and PC have similar internal parts like RAM, hard drives, and graphics cards, their speed and capacity varies. Macs generally outperform PCs because of better hardware optimization, but tend to skimp slightly when it comes to RAM, hard disk space, and USB ports. PCs offer a wider range of customization, and you can add almost any parts you want.

Connections and optical drives found on Macs and PCs are different too. Mac offers standard selection of features including a Superdrive, audio in and audio out, USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet. PCs on the other hand offer comparable features but with added bonuses like Blu-Ray players, TV tuners, touch screens, and HDMI ports.

The main difference here is that with Macs you have generally limited customization options, while PCs usually allow for a much wider range whilst supporting different kinds of hardware.

Operating System

Most PCs today come preinstalled with Windows 8.1 while Mac runs OS X Mavericks with users having the option to upgrade to the new OS X - Yosemite - this fall. OS X is generally thought to be more user-friendly, while Windows PCs generally see a more comfortable user base and a higher number of programs that work with the OS.

However, with the increasing adoption of virtual desktops and cloud systems, the idea of a separate OS being better is quickly falling to the wayside. This is especially true if you use a virtualized desktop solution where you connect to a server which delivers your desktop.

Software

One of the biggest reasons as to why Mac hasn’t captured a larger share of the market is due to the lack of software for its OS. This is most obvious in business computing where many applications are standardized for Windows but are not available on Mac. That being said, the major programs businesses use on a daily basis are all available for Mac too, so it's more the customized software you will need to look into.

User interface (UI)

While many computer users will proclaim one or the other superior when it comes to user interface, or UI, this is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Highlights of the UI in Mac include Launchpad which is a screen full of app icons for easy access, hot corners that can be customized for various types of views, a dock featuring your favorite apps, full screen mode for apps, and spaces that create as many desktops as you like to help minimize clutter.

With PCs UI, highlights include a touch-friendly interface which contains live tiles or rectangular boxes on the screen that represent an app and which is refreshed with the latest app content. Above all, Windows has the familiar desktop which almost every computer user is comfortable with using, and may even prefer.

There are more components that set Mac and PC apart. Find out more next month where we will dig into security, selections and customer satisfaction between the two.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
June 10th, 2014

ipad_June10_CEach year, Apple holds their annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) at which they usually announce new products and updates to existing products and systems. As such, it has become one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the year for Apple fans. This year, as with the past few, Apple didn't disappoint and introduced the next version of iOS.

The new iOS

At 2013's WWDC, Apple introduced a new and completely overhauled version of iOS - iOS 7. Now, one year on, the platform has proven to be a hit with users. This year the company has announced iOS 8, which is being set up as rhwfsfcssxasaqaan improvement over the previous version.

In fact, Apple has taken the success of last year's version of iOS and added a number of new features and updates that aim to improve on the platform while making mobile devices even easier to integrate into your daily routine.

6 Features business users will benefit from

During Apple's announcement on June 2, there were a number of great new features and updates introduced, all of which will be available when iOS 8 is released. Here are six features business users will enjoy:
  1. Enterprise features - The iPhone and iPad are devices commonly used by businesses and it can be difficult for IT departments to manage these devices or for users to easily share files using company centric clouds. Apple noted that iOS 8 will come with enhanced management tools to make it easier for IT to manage devices and will also make it easier to share information and files through company clouds.
  2. Better Mail app - Many Apple users simply stick with the standard Mail app for all of their email needs - linking various accounts to one platform. Mail will receive new features and updates with iOS 8, with one of the most useful being the introduction of gestures. For example, you will be able to swipe gently to the left on a message to reply, or swipe hard to delete it.
  3. Improved Notifications Center - The biggest update to this feature is that you can now reply to a notification right from the screen, even if the device is locked. So instead of merely seeing that you have an email, you can reply. The bigger update is that the Notifications Center will support widgets from third party apps.
  4. Continuity - One of Apple's main goals is to have a seamless user experience between their devices. With iOS 8, Apple will introduce Continuity which is a feature that will allow you to start doing something on your phone and then, at the click of a button, pick it up on your laptop and carry on without a disruption. For example, if you are on your laptop and your iPhone rings, you will be able to answer it from your computer. You will also be able to call from your Mac using your iPhone.
  5. QuickType - Possibly one of the biggest complaints about the iOS centers around the keyboard. To begin with, you could only use the native keyboard and installing third-party offerings was complicated or just plain impossible. With iOS 8 you will get a new keyboard that is context sensitive, meaning it will suggest the next word based on what is already typed and the person you are texting. You will also be able to install third party keyboards like Swype.
  6. Improved messaging with iMessages - In order to make messaging easier iOS 8's version of iMessages will allow you to edit a group chat's information, name, and participants. You will also be able to share audio messages and set messages to self destruct or delete after a certain amount of time.

Will I be able to get it? If so, when?

iOS 8 was officially announced on June 2, and as of the writing of this article is heading into a beta trial period. This means that it is technically available to some iPhone users who sign up to test the new version. However, we would recommend against this, especially if you use your phone for business, as there are likely bugs that could expose information on your phone.

Apple has noted that iOS 8 will be made available in the fall. If the past few years are any indication, this should be in early to mid September. Once iOS 8 is available not every mobile device will be supported. For example, the iPhone 4 will not receive the update. The same goes for the original iPad.

If you are looking to learn more about Apple's products, or iOS, and how the systems can be used in your business contact us for a chat today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad