Virtualization containers 101

October 26th, 2016

2016october26_virtualization_aThere is a trend toward the use of ‘containers’ as a virtualization strategy within the IT world. And it's one that seems to be gaining popularity. Virtual containers work in similar fashion to shipping containers, which have made transport of bulky goods uncomplicated and uniform. Every small- and medium-sized business owner needs to learn how containers work before choosing a virtualization solution, and we’ve collected all the necessary details right here.

Why are containers so popular?

Before the introduction of containers, virtual workstations and servers allowed users to access computing power and software delivered across a local network or the internet. This technology took cloud computing and web hosting a step further than did just software on a website, and it created entire desktop experiences over the internet. However, it is a tad inefficient since running one small application still requires an entire hosted desktop.

Containers guarantee developers that their software will run smoothly, regardless of what type of computer their end user is running.

How containers improve on virtual desktops

Containers operate quite differently because they only package applications and their minimal requirements into a deliverable package. This makes it possible to deliver several containers to several different users with a significantly smaller footprint on the machine hosting the service.

There are a handful of pieces of software that create and deliver containers, and the most popular is Docker. Before the release of Docker, containers had existed for some time, but they were complicated and difficult to manage. With the rise of popularity in virtualization services, software vendors gained significant resources to make friendlier and simpler container solutions.

Although containers have made big improvements in enterprise computing, virtual machines still have a role to play in select circumstances. In both solutions, older equipment can be reappropriated to utilize much bulkier software hosted in the cloud. All you need is an internet connection, and an experienced IT professional to help you set it up. If you’re interested in either virtualization or accessing your applications in a container environment, please contact us today.

Published with permission from Source.

October 25th, 2016

2016october25_security_aCyber security is becoming more and more important in an increasingly digital age. While many people and businesses know how important their online security is, they may not know what types of online security are best, nor the differences between the most commonly available options. There are two security authentication measures that are quite similar in name and that are often used. These are known as two-factor authentication and two-step authentication. Read on to get to know some of the key differences so you can be sure you understand your cyber security better.

If you are seeking out a way to improve your business's cyber security, both for your business itself as well as for your customers, you are likely looking at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cyber security. And in current cyber security, many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably.

There are, however, subtle differences between the two. A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a memorized password or biometric reading) as well as another of the same type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a memorized password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication does function to add an extra step in the authentication process, making it more secure than a single-step authentication (i.e. just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it will do only a little to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication), which is significantly more secure. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because the types of information are different, it would require a hacker a great deal more effort to obtain both forms of authentication.

In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but the opposite is not true. With this information in mind, you can be certain that you are using the right type of authentication in your business to keep your business and customer information as secure as possible.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer. What type of authentication that results in is just one of hundreds of choices that must be made to achieve that end. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today for all the help you could ever ask for.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Security
October 24th, 2016

2016october24_voip_aWhen most of us think of cyberattacks, we think of viruses, trojans, and ransomware. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only types of attacks you need to be on the lookout for. Companies that utilize Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems are also vulnerable to another type of attack. One of the biggest threats to these systems is denial of service (DoS) attacks, and if you have a VoIP system it’s imperative you learn more about it here.

Denial of service attacks

The end goal of any DoS attack is to overwhelm a system with so many requests that the system is eventually forced to shut down. Telephony DoS (TDoS) attacks are a subcategory wherein these types of attacks are leveled at VoIP systems. Sadly, this security bulletin has jumped to the front of security concerns as a result of its use against hospitals and 9-1-1 phone lines.

In another depressing development, some TDoS attackers demand a ransom to halt the attack. Much like ransomware, with the help of cryptocurrencies and caller-ID spoofing, it’s incredibly difficult to identify attackers.

TDoS attacks generally employ fewer resources than the DoS attacks that are designed to cripple IT systems such as networks, servers, and software. At its most basic, all that a TDoS attack requires is an automated phone dialer that calls a target phone number and hangs up -- over and over. That very simple concept can stop anyone else from getting through the line.

What organizations need to do

Counterintuitive as it might sound, locking down your VoIP system with complicated and unnecessary security measures will ultimately do more harm than good. Most businesses can’t operate if they can’t communicate with their customers.

Although VoIP may be a digital resource similar to your other IT systems, the very nature of phone lines makes it impossible to hide them behind firewalls and other protections. However, there are new solutions that offer protection to VoIP systems. The new security protocols can protect your communication infrastructure against those who try to use force to gain access to your directory information. These protocols can also identify, reroute, and filter calls coming from known attackers.

If you’re experiencing any abnormalities with your VoIP system, or if you want to deploy the most up to date solution that the market has to offer, we have just the company in mind. With years of experience in the field, our expert staff is ready to help you at the drop of a hat -- just call today.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic voip
October 19th, 2016

2016october19_businessproductivity_aThe internet is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools for improving business productivity. But it’s also a magnet for procrastination. With unfettered access to the internet, it’s easy to stray away from your important work responsibilities. If done in moderation, five-to-ten minute breaks on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are harmless, but if employees spend several hours a day there, the internet is impeding office productivity. Fortunately, web monitoring can ensure your employees don’t overuse these sites.

Time-saving measures At times, the internet can be very addictive. Internet monitoring software saves employees from the temptation of online videos and games by restricting access to time-wasting sites that you deem unnecessary for business. But internet monitoring software doesn’t even have to be as extreme as denying permission to harmless social media websites. Just letting your employees know that you’ll be randomly monitoring their internet activity discourages them from taking prolonged visits to their Instagram page.

Avoiding harmful websites The internet hosts plenty of unsavory links and websites. Employees who haphazardly click phishing links or access malware-ridden pornography sites can put your business at risk. Working with infected machines can slow down the entire system and, in some cases, completely halt operations. But by using internet monitoring tools you can restrict access to dangerous websites, and identify reckless employees to remove their internet privileges, if necessary.

Controlling bandwidth usage Even while using the internet for the right purposes, bandwidth can be used up quickly. Internet monitoring gives you up-to-the-minute reports on your bandwidth usage. Once you have a clear understanding of your company’s overall bandwidth usage, you can then control its expenditure. This feature allows you to prioritize bandwidth for critical business applications and reduce bandwidth for less necessary websites.

Increasing productivity on the internet Internet monitoring software may be a powerful tool, but it should be used responsibly. As a business owner, you need to walk a fine line between over-surveillance and under-surveillance. What you should do is establish a clear internet policy. Then, explicitly define the disciplinary measures to be dispensed on anybody who goes against the requirements of the internet policy. And deal with time-wasting employees on a case-by-case basis. It’s unreasonable to remove everyone’s Facebook privileges because one or two abused theirs.

Employee productivity can be difficult to achieve, especially with the proliferation of what we would like to call, “procrastination software.” But with web monitoring software, you can truly get your business -- and your employees -- back on track. Looking for more ways to increase business productivity with technology? Give us a call. We’ll be happy to make suggestions.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic business
October 17th, 2016

2016october17_google_aThis year, Google announced its grand entry into a market largely dominated by major companies like Samsung and Apple with the production of its first smartphone -- the Google Pixel. Although it sports a design similar to the iPhone, Google is planning to offer distinct features that will enhance the user experience. What are they, and will they make Google Pixel stand out from other smartphones?

A fantastic smartphone camera When purchasing a smartphone, a good camera is one of the must-haves. And in this area, Google Pixel does not disappoint, as it has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. With a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, the Google Pixel can capture high-quality photos in both bright and poorly-lit environments. For selfie enthusiasts, Google’s smartphone also sports an 8-megapixel front camera, which is much more powerful than the iPhone 7’s.

Long battery life Due to the complex programs that run on them, many smartphones are unable to offer long battery life. But this isn’t a problem with the Google smartphone. The Google Pixel can last for as long as 13 hours with extended internet use. What’s more, just a short time charging yields hours of potential use. Experts say that with only 15 minutes of plug-in time, the phone will operate for up to 7 hours.

Robust specs One of the weaknesses of Microsoft’s smartphone was its mediocre specifications compared to other handheld devices at the time. Pixel users will find no problems here. To compete with the iPhone, Google Pixel is starting strong with a 1080p screen, 1.6GHz quad processor, 4GB of RAM, and a minimum of 32GB of storage space. Additionally, because it runs with the Android operating system, Pixel can comfortably outperform many other smartphone models.

As for its design, the device looks a lot like the iPhone, but comes in three distinct colors amusingly named “really blue,” “very silver,” and “quite black.” Learning from the missteps of previous companies’ smartphone efforts, Google Pixel has focused on borrowing only the successful elements of prominent smartphone developers to ensure a bit of market share from the beginning.

One of the best contenders in the market Apple and Samsung phones may still be the cream of the crop, but Google’s entry is quickly catching up. With pricing in line with the iPhone 7 (USD$649), Google is certainly confident in its hardware. We suppose only time will tell whether Google has reached a smartphone breakthrough or if it will flop like so many companies before them.

Want to stay up to date with the the latest Google developments? Contact us today and we’ll bring you up to speed.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Google
October 14th, 2016

2016october14_office_aEvery day we see more and more machine learning making its way into our lives. From phones and watches to computers and laptops, it's hard to do anything in the world today without interacting with ‘intelligent’ computers. Well, Office 365 has taken things to a new level, and will be getting more than a few of these features in the near future. Read on to prepare your business for all the changes coming to Office 365.


How many times have you been working in a Word document or an Outlook email and needed to quote a report or copy in a graph from another file? With 365’s new ‘Tap’ service, you have the option to do that without even leaving the application you're working in. Microsoft’s intelligent assistant will even suggest information and data for you to insert based on what you’re writing. You may not even have to make the search -- it will predict what you need in advance!


A blank canvas is always intimidating when creating a presentation. Quickstarter for PowerPoint and Sway gives you the boost you need by suggesting outlines, layouts, and even information based on the subject you’re presenting on. For example, if you’re holding a meeting to discuss a business retreat, Quickstarter will suggest page layouts and important text for lodging, transportation, itinerary, etc. Half of your presentation could be finished within minutes of starting it.


Sometimes it seems like everyone else has stunningly beautiful PowerPoint presentations while ours just look like stock templates. And that’s why we’re so excited about the announcement of Designer. All you have to do is insert your text and your photos or graphics, and Microsoft’s machine learning will automatically position, resize, and fade each component so it looks like a professionally designed slide.


Everyone has made a graph based on Excel data before. It’s probably the swiftest software solution for transforming numbers into charts on the market, and it’s getting a pretty cool upgrade. Now you can convert geographic data like country names into colored and categorized maps. Go ahead and select a second column of data and watch the countries light up based on the differences between the data points in the second column. Do you have sales data that’s organized by location? Maps will let you create a chart that displays that information with little to no manipulation necessary.


The last announcement comes in the form of a standalone dashboard for aggregating your work habits. MyAnalytics pulls data from various 365 tasks to help you recognize meetings trends, most productive times of day, and project progression. And if you’re not ready to do anything with this data yourself, the dashboard will make suggestions to you such as ‘focus time,’ best collaborators, and productivity goals.

With these exciting and intelligent additions, entirely new levels of business productivity are possible. Even before Microsoft announced these features, Office 365 reigned supreme as one of only a few truly wonderful pieces of productivity software. If you haven’t made the transition yet, there’s no better time -- call us today.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic office
October 11th, 2016

2016october11_virtualization_aMicrosoft’s Edge browser has enhanced its security features with new virtualization protocols. By running the browser inside a virtual container, it keeps web content totally separate from the Edge browser and your hard drive. Although it's a much smaller scale than what we are used to seeing out of Microsoft’s virtualization strategies, this is a gigantic boost to Windows’s native internet browser.

Browsers are one of the most popular avenues for cyber-criminals to deliver their wares, and new security measures by Microsoft set out to reduce that risk significantly. In a first for internet browsers, Microsoft has burnt any potential bridges between malware and PC hard-drives. The new and virtualized Edge is only available for Windows 10, and administrators will be required to choose what runs inside, and outside of the container.

When enabled, malware cannot gain access to anything outside of the Edge browser. Think of it like reheating your leftover lasagna inside a covered container; when that gooey mozzarella tries to muck up the walls of your microwave, your tupperware ensures it stays clean. So in our case, the cheese is malware, and even if you download malware from an untrusted site, it cannot reach beyond the container that Edge uses to protect your files.

According to tests run by Microsoft, the Edge browser has the lowest chances of malware infection when compared to other browsers running on Windows. And that means a lot when you consider that when it comes to cyber-attacks, the default Windows browser is always the first target.

In addition to creating containers for limiting the exposure of workstations, any malicious data is deleted by resetting the virtual space after users are done with it -- not unlike tossing your dirty tupperware into the dishwasher after reheating last night’s saucy noodle goodness. Permanent cookies aren’t kept after the reset, and it’s impossible for malware to continue running without a space to do so. Every new session starts with a clear, clean browser.

For those new to the virtualization game, it may seem like running Edge in this environment could slow down the machine. But Microsoft has guaranteed a cutting-edge, extremely light burden when enabling the service. When your organization is looking for virtualization services, from creating all your desktops in a virtual, internet-based space, to simply making your browsing more secure with virtual Edge browsers -- there’s only one team to call. Pick up the phone and dial us today. You’re a short consultation away from a cheaper, safer IT infrastructure.

Published with permission from Source.

October 10th, 2016

2016october10_socialmedia_aFacebook is constantly working to improve communication between different parties. What started as a means to communicate socially is now used to improve communication at work, too, through Facebook at Work. After spending several years trying to find a way to turn FB into an enterprise solution, Facebook at Work will finally be launched today. The new service is meant to help workers communicate with their colleagues and share information. Let’s take a look at how.

Facebook releases generally take place in the company’s home country, the US. However, this time around the social media giant will launch its take on enterprise communication tools in London, where Facebook at Work was first dreamed up.

Facebook at Work has set its sights on improving productivity in the workplace. In addition to aesthetic updates like changing from the iconic blue color to a business-friendly grey, users will have a totally separate platform from the original Facebook. Work accounts are strictly for work interactions and will not mix with users’ personal profiles. So how is it different from just creating a work-friendly account on the original platform?

Facebook at Work creates a microcosm of the social media site, just for your company. Employees can communicate with coworkers, post pictures, plan for upcoming events, and make office announcements at ease. As an added bonus, Facebook at Work will employ auto-translate functionality to make communication between foreign nationals easy.

Aside from the fact that transitions will be easy with so many people already using the site for personal accounts, Facebook at Work is hoping Work Chat and Video Call options will be able to rival the likes of Skype for Business, Google Hangouts, and Slack. And with the addition of new avenues of privacy come new security guarantees. In an attempt to assuage the concerns of HR departments and paranoid employees alike, the improved security measures in Facebook at Work are separate from the personal platform and unique to the enterprise.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the original, Facebook at Work is a product keen on helping enterprises improve communications and increase work productivity. If you’re interested in getting in on the ground floor of this new workplace application, we’re your ticket. From product updates to completely new social media sites, we’re your one-stop-shop for getting the word out about your business and your product. Message us for more information today.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Social Media
October 7th, 2016

2016october7_security_aSocial engineering is the ability to manipulate people into willfully giving up their confidential information. The data varies, but in terms of cyber security this usually means passwords and bank information. Criminals are using social engineering to gain access to your business and its network by exploiting employees who often don’t have a clue about what is happening. Avoiding it is a matter of training, and we’re here to educate you on the subject.

As more and more of our information moves into the digital realm, criminals are turning to social engineering to trick people into trusting them with their delicate information. People often trust others too easily and make themselves the targets of easy attacks from criminals. These attacks may come in the form of messages, baiting scenarios, fake company responses, and many others.

Most often, messages are sent to users in the form of an email that might contain a link or something to download. Although they may look legitimate, these emails often contain viruses; once the link is opened or you attempt to download it, a virus latches onto your computer, giving its creator free access to your email account and personal information.

Emails such as these can also come with a compelling story about needing help, winning the lottery, or even paying taxes to the government. Under the veil of legitimacy, criminals will ask you to trust them with your account details so they can either reward you or help you avoid fines and punishments. What you actually get is a bad case of identity theft.

In another scenario, criminals will bait their targets with “confidential information regarding their account.” This may come in the form of fake company messages that appear to be responses to your claims, which are followed up by a request for login details. While victims believe they are slamming the door on a crime by providing their information, they’ve actually provided their attackers with the keys.

There are several ways people can avoid becoming victims of social engineering. First, always ensure that you delete all spam from your email, and thoroughly research sources before responding to claims from a company -- even if it seems like the one you normally use.

The same applies for links. Confirm the destination of any link before clicking on it. Sites like are often used to shorten long and cumbersome links, but because users have grown accusomted to them they are often used to hide malacious misdirections.

Never give out sensitive information that includes your password, bank information, social security, or any other private details. No respectable financial institution will request this type of information through email or a site other than their own. If you’re unsure, navigate away from the page you’ve been sent to and visit the page you believe to be making the request. If the address doesn’t have the letter ‘s’ after ‘http,’ it’s likely a scam.

Last but not least, check that all your devices are protected by the most recent antivirus software. While the strength of social engineering lies in the fact that it’s people-driven rather than technology-driven, antivirus software can help detect and prevent requests from known cybercriminals.

Cyber security is essential to the success of any modern business. Don’t let yourself become victim to criminals who have mastered the art of social engineering. While we’re proud of our extensive experience as technology professionals, we also have more than enough expertise to keep your business safe from those who are using people-based exploits. Get in touch with us today for all your security concerns.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Security
October 5th, 2016

2016october5_voip_aDo you want to cut long-distance costs and streamline your business? There is a remedy. With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), you can improve your business operations, cut costs and add flexibility to your business telephony. This technology is always evolving, and we think it's time for an update on all the most recent features.


Modern VoIP does more than just make calls, it also receives faxes. Why would a business be interested in this seemingly outdated service? A significant portion of businesses, government bodies, and medical facilities still use some form of fax service to send and receive physical documents. If a customer or vendor prefers to send you a fax, most VoIP solutions are equipped to receive and convert fax documents into a PDF file.

Interactive Voice Response

The new VoIP feature allows businesses to route their calls to the correct client’s or staff’s number. This feature helps to reduce the use of mass cold calling and unwanted calls, saving the businesses' time and money, and enhances proper service delivery to your clients. VoIP systems promote minimal routing calls, increasing your employees' ability to work well.

Spam Call Filter

It’s election season and that means robo-calls. If you hate them as much as we do, VoIP is one of the best services to eliminate them. Spam filters combine several different pieces of caller data to help you differentiate between potential customers and annoying telemarketers. About as effective as the spam filter protecting your email inbox, this feature is not something we could live without.

Telemarketer Block

Automatic filters are never perfect, and some telemarketers may be able to slip through the fence your filters have erected. Depending on the scope of your VoIP system, you may want to input blocked numbers manually. If you have specific times that your spam filter and blocked call list would become prohibitive, they can be turned off with the flip of a switch.

Network Down Forward

One of the biggest concerns for VoIP solutions is their bandwidth requirements. Users in areas without a robust or reliable internet connection may think they can’t reap the rewards of a internet-based communications service. Modern VoIP systems have a feature called ‘network down forward’ to overcome these hurdles. When turned on, network down forward allows you to send calls to your signal-based mobile devices when your internet is down -- thereby guaranteeing customers can always get a hold of you.

VoIP technology has opened up entirely new avenues of what businesses can achieve with their communication systems. Beyond just making and receiving calls over the internet, users can block unwanted callers, receive faxes, and design pleasant hold menus. For any VoIP inquiries, call us today -- we’re always available.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic voip