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January 31st, 2017

img-window7-170px-op1As the saying goes: Out with the old, in with the new. That’s exactly what Microsoft is encouraging Windows 7 users to do as soon as possible. It’s been reported that Windows 7 in 2017 is so outdated that patches are unable to secure it anymore. Maybe it’s the nostalgic qualities that make it hard for users to take the leap. But sentiments aside, Windows 10 is the way to go.

Windows 7 was given extended support in 2015. And with that, Microsoft warned its users that this outdated version would drive up operating costs due to remediating software attacks that Windows 10 systems could otherwise avoid. The three-year countdown toward Windows 7’s twilight officially kicks off with a warning to enterprises that they could face hefty fines for sticking with the platform’s outdated security.

According to Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft Germany: Windows 7 does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments. How would this make current Windows 7 users feel? Why are users choosing to remain faithful to the platform’s outdated security? Users can delay upgrades until January 13, 2020, after which extended support for the 2009 OS will end and it will no longer receive patches -- unless the customer is paying for a pricey Microsoft Custom Support Agreement.

Markus also added that “As early as in Windows XP, we saw that companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs." The message came as Microsoft published studies that showed Windows 10 Anniversary Update’s built-in security managed to neutralize zero-day exploits, even without patches needed to protect earlier versions of Windows.

Failing to upgrade to Windows 10 means that you and your networks will miss out on noteworthy security features such as the Windows Hello biometric login, the AppContainer sandboxing technology, and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which will gain new features after upcoming Creators Update.

On top of missing out on all the security features that Windows 10 has to offer, enterprise organizations on Windows 7 soon won’t have the additional zero-day protection that EMET, or the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit, offered since 2009. Last November, EMET’s expiration date was extended from January 2017 to July 31, 2018.

With the help of newer tools, migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is considerably easier when compared with migrations from XP. Microsoft is still urging corporate users to make the shift before Microsoft permanently terminates support for Windows 7, stating that their business could be looking at real trouble if they fail to comply.

Business owners always do their best to ensure the future of their organization. That includes knowing which tech resources to rely on and which ones to avoid. If you still have questions about Windows 7, feel free to give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
January 30th, 2017

2017January30_HealthcareArticles_AEven if notable punishments and fines for HIPAA non-compliance have only been doled out over the last 6 years, data privacy regulations have been around for 14. And with each passing year, these rules evolve in ways that make it near impossible to keep up without an expert on hand. As we kick off 2017, we want to review just a few of the most important talking points about HIPAA compliance.

Compliance leaves the office with you

When you take your phone, laptop, or tablet with you -- as you return home, or go to a meeting outside your office or a seminar out of state -- your data needs to get the same treatment it does inside the office. If you access data from unsecured devices or connections, you could be looking at stiff penalties when audit time rolls around.

As an extension of this principle, business partners with any involvement in your data storage, transfer, or protection are also required to employ best practices. If you have a legal firm on retainer with access to your network, it’s your responsibility to ensure that firm also adheres to compliance rules. Business Associate Agreements are the best way to shield yourself from mistreatment of data by a business partner, and they should be reviewed at least every year.

Most “optional” measures...aren’t actually optional

Confusingly, HHS’s Summary of the HIPAA Security Rule page has a heading titled Required and Addressable Implementation Specifications. The synopsis can be interpreted as, “Although we listed some safeguards as addressable, we actually mean that they have to be implemented. But how you do so is up to you.”

2016 saw a massive uptick in the number of HHS audits and the fines the government entity doled out. Consequently, whenever safeguards or measures allow for wiggle room or subjective interpretation, we always recommend going above and beyond. Compared to fines that soar into the millions of dollars, hiring a managed IT service provider is more than worth it.

This is about more than being “careful”

Some providers are quick to point out that compliance is about stringent safeguards to prevent even the tiniest of breaches. How do you think those practices would respond if you told them one Ponemon survey found that 90% of healthcare practices experienced a data breach during a two-year period?

Managing cyber security is becoming a problem for organizations in every industry. Business owners need to acknowledge that the threats are real, and that solutions must be exhaustive. In fact, most states have enacted their own variation of patient privacy legislation. So if you’ve found a thorough walkthrough of compliance written by someone located in another state, that’s not going to cut it.

To confidently achieve HIPAA compliance, you need IT technicians with experience adapting to years of changes to this complicated legal framework. Call us today so we can help you secure and manage your electronic medical records and protected health information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
January 27th, 2017

2017January27_Security_AThe Autofill feature fills a void in the web browsing habits of many. It eliminates the need to enter all your details when logging on your social media accounts or when checking out your basket after e-shopping. On Chrome and Safari browsers, however, danger lurks when you rely too much on autofill. Without knowing it, you may be exposing personal information to hackers who have found a way to steal your credit card info and shop at your expense.

How do they do it?

By concealing other fields in a sign-up form, users are tricked into thinking they only have to fill out a few fields. The trickery at work is that upon auto-sign up, other fields, which could include your billing address, phone number, credit card number, cvv (the 3-digit code used to validate credit card transactions), and other sensitive information, are auto-filled with the user none the wiser.

This sinister trick is nothing new, but since there hasn’t been any countermeasure since it was first discovered, the threat it poses is worth emphasizing. Finnish whitehat hacker Viljami Kuosmanen recently brought to light how users of Chrome and Safari are particularly vulnerable, and he even came up with a demonstration of how this phishing technique is perpetrated. The technique is so sneaky, it’s enough to make one give up online shopping forever.

Using plugins and programs such as password managers is also fraught with the security risk, as having access to such a utility empowers cyberthieves to do more than just obtain your credit card info; it opens them up to a great amount of personal details.

Preventing an autofill-related theft

So what can you do to avoid falling prey?

Using Mozilla Firefox is one of the easiest available solutions. As of today, Mozilla hasn’t devised a mechanism that affords its users the same convenience that Chrome and Safari users enjoy with autofill. When filling web forms on Firefox, users still have to manually pre-fill each data field due to a lack of a multi-box autofill functionality – a blessing in disguise, given the potential for victimization in autofill-enabled browsers.

Another quick fix is disabling the autofill feature on your Chrome, Safari and Opera (for Apple mobile devices) browsers. This would mean that when filling out web forms, you'd have to manually type responses for every field again, but at least you'd be more secure.

It’s not exactly the most sophisticated form of online data and identity theft, but complacency can result in being victimized by cyber swindlers. Take the first step in ensuring your systems’ safety by getting in touch with our security experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 26th, 2017

2017January26_Business_AThe right technology investment can lead to business success. With customer relationship management (CRM) software at the helm of your sales and marketing efforts, you can nurture long-lasting business relationships and improve your bottom line. If you need a little bit more convincing, we’ve compiled five more reasons why your business needs CRM.

Grows with your business The ol’ Rolodex may have been useful for managing a few clients, but you’re going to need a better solution if you plan to maintain relationships with hundreds, possibly thousands, more. CRM scales with your business, meaning it can handle larger data sets and more clients as you expand your sales operation.

Organizes your data CRM software acts as a central database for all your sales records and transactions. This means important customer information can be retrieved in just a few clicks rather than rifling through thousands of documents, sticky-notes, and disorganized cabinets. And since CRM is hosted in the cloud, sales data, customer interactions, and other actionable information are available for the entire company.

Improves customer service Your sales team could be the most persuasive individuals in the world, but this means nothing if they can’t recall anything about their clients and their preferences. When your sales staff follows up on leads or existing customers, CRM will automatically retrieve contact history, past purchases, and customer preferences from your client database and display them on a single page during the call.

From here, sales representatives, armed with detailed customer information, will be able to recommend products and services that meet the client’s needs. So instead of struggling through a sales call, marketing employees can focus on delivering a professional sales pitch.

Streamlines your sales funnel CRM comes equipped with workflow management functions, supporting your sales pipeline in a number of ways. For example, you can configure your CRM to send instant follow-up emails when a lead visits a particular product page. You can even use automation to track where certain leads are in the sales pipeline and delegate the task to one of your closers.

Analyzes sales data With real-time sales information, business managers can track marketing campaigns and adjust their strategy accordingly. For instance, you might notice that click-through-rates for promotional emails and company newsletters are higher during Tuesday afternoon rather than Friday night. Having this information can help you focus your marketing efforts and message to generate more leads.

In addition, you can use CRM to analyze customer calling activity, market demographics, lead conversion rates, and key performance indicators to help inform future business decisions.

Understanding your customers can put you several steps ahead of the competition. If you need to manage contacts, eliminate time-consuming procedures, and improve your sales performance, CRM is the perfect business solution.

Contact us today to find out whether CRM is the right fit for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
January 25th, 2017

2017January25_Apple_AFor decades, Apple has enjoyed a reputation of being nearly invulnerable to threats of malware. That may be an exaggeration, but there is a bit of truth to it. However, if you’re using Apple devices in your organization, you can’t afford to take this exaggeration for granted. We’re only just easing into 2017 and we’ve already seen the first Apple malware of the year. Read on to find out more.

Where did it come from?

Dubbed ‘Fruitfly’ by the powers that be at Apple, it looks as though this relatively harmless malware has been hiding inside of OS X for several years. Fruitfly contains code that indicates it was adapted to move from a previous build of OS X to ‘Yosemite,’ which makes it at least three years old.

In fact, there are some lines of code from a library that hasn’t been used since 1998. It’s possible these were included to help hide Fruitfly, but experts have no idea how long it has been holed up inside the infected machines, or who created it.

What does it do?

So far, most of the instances of Fruitfly have been at biomedical research institutions. The administrators who discovered the malware explained that it seems to be written to grab screenshots and gain access to a computer’s webcam.

Considering the specific nature of its victims, and what it can accomplish, Fruitfly seems to be a targeted attack that won’t affect the majority of Mac users. However, Apple has yet to release a patch, and dealing with malware is not something to be put off for another day.

How should I proceed?

We’re always harping on the importance of network monitoring, and now we finally have proof that we are right. Fruitfly was first discovered by an administrator that noticed abnormal outbound network traffic from an individual workstation. Until Apple releases a patch, a better-safe-than-sorry solution is to contact your IT provider about any possible irregularities in your network traffic.

If you don’t have a managed IT services provider, this is the time to start considering one. Despite misconceptions, Apple devices need just as much care and attention as Microsoft and Linux PCs. And it’s not just security; if you want to optimize workstation performance, create a disaster recovery plan, or upgrade your database. Message today to get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
January 24th, 2017

img-google-cloud-170px-op1Tech giant Google has always listened to customer feedback to make continuous improvements to its powerful suite of applications. And in the most recent case, Google Cloud’s G Suite has introduced five new updates. What do they include and are they worth getting excited about?

Basic Mobile Management

G Suite’s Basic Mobile Management offers an agentless way to manage iOS devices by allowing admins to mandate basic security on those devices without requiring users to install mobile device management profiles. Admins no longer need to set up an Apple Push Certificate and renew it regularly.

What’s more, admins can now enforce a screen lock, wipe corporate accounts, and view, search and manage their device inventory easily. Should your organization require additional restrictions, mobile audit or application management on iOS devices, you can ensure those settings are adequately achieved using the Advanced Mobile Management option.

Explore

Available in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, Explore gives you insights, design tools and research recommendations that allow you to easily cite findings by inserting citations as footnotes with the click of a button. You can choose between MLA, APA, and Chicago style formats, too.

Iterative calculation

Iterative calculation is the latest feature in Google Sheets (File >Spreadsheet settings > Calculation > Iterative calculation). This feature allows you to set the maximum number of times a calculation with a circular reference can take place. You can specify a convergence threshold which will stop the calculations when results from successive calculations differ by less than that threshold value, even if the maximum number of calculations has yet to be reached. It sure sounds like a mouthful, but for anyone working with spreadsheets, this is a much needed development.

Sheets Android UI

Ever feel annoyed by the language and menu search of Google Sheets in your Android device? Endure no more, as the app UI has been updated with right-to-left language settings to read and navigate. Searching the menus in Sheets on the web like in Docs and Slides can now be done, too.

Gmail messages

Bounced messages and message headers are now easier to read and understand. When your mail has problems being delivered, the bounce message now features a more user-friendly text as well as translations into your language (if the language has been set on the account). The original message will still be available below the bounce message.

Message headers, on the other hand, will be shown in a table with an easy-to-read format. Message Id, SPF and DKIM status will be right in plain view. Links to download the actual original message and the ability to copy to clipboard are now available, too. The original message header can be found below the table.

Stay tuned for more updates from Google and other cloud solutions that will help enhance productivity for your small business. If you have any questions about G Suite or would like to know about other cloud solutions that can help transform the way you work, just give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
January 23rd, 2017

img-cloud-printing-170px-op1When you picture cloud computing and printing devices, you might think of endless copies of clouds flying out of the printer. But that analogy wouldn’t quite apply for Google’s Cloud Print service, though. This cloud-computing hybrid allows you to access both regular and internet-enabled printers through the Internet. What are the benefits? Are they worth looking into? Read on for additional insight.

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

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

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

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

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 19th, 2017

img-calendar-170px-op1Knowing your friend’s schedules comes in handy when you’re trying to arrange a reunion, and the same can be said for businesses. Through calendar sharing, employees can simultaneously arrange meetings, prioritize projects and set schedules for contacting customers. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Recently, Microsoft made changes to its calendar sharing function that might make things a little simpler. Here are some of them:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Topic Office
January 18th, 2017

2017January18_Android_AGoogle Now has been around for years, but the service still doesn’t have the name recognition of Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. Considering that it is delivered on nearly every new Android device, it’s a crime that it doesn’t get more use. For a crash course in some of Google’s best AI-powered voice-commands, take a look at five of our favorites.

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

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

Tip #1: Reminders

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

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

Tip #2: Anything involving your clock app

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

Tip #3: Convert/calculate anything

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

Tip #4: Retrieve documents from Gmail

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

Tip #5: Basic phone commands

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

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

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
January 13th, 2017

img-windows10-170px-op1In the past year, Microsoft was heavily criticized for forcing the Windows 10 OS update on PC users. After thousands of customer complaints, the tech giant vowed to make changes and appease disgruntled end users. With the new year are signs that the firm is finally tending to these problems. Here are some of them:

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

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

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

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

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

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows