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September 11th, 2014

BI_Sep08_AIn business, as in life, we constantly try to make predictions about the future. How will sales be next year if we implement a new procedure? What will the weather be like for the annual staff event next week? It's no surprise then that businesses of all sizes have started to embrace the idea of predictive analytics. However, many business managers are unsure as to exactly how to work with this form of analytics effectively. To help, here is an overview of the three main components of predictive analysis all business owners and managers should be aware of.

Together, these three elements of predictive analytics enables data scientists and even managers to conduct and analyze forecasts and predictions.

Component 1: data

As with most business processes, data is one of the most important and vital components. Without data you won't be able to make predictions and the decisions necessary to reach desired outcomes. In other words, data is the foundation of predictive analytics.

If you want predictive analytics to be successful, you need not only the right kind of data but information that is useful in helping answer the main question you are trying to predict or forecast. You need to to collect as much relevant data as possible in relation to what you are trying to predict. This means tracking past data, customers, demographics, and more.

Merely tracking data isn't going to guarantee more accurate predictions however. You will also need a way to store and quickly access this data. Most businesses use a data warehouse which allows for easier tracking, combining, and analyzing of data.

As a business manager you likely don't have the time to look after data and implement a full-on warehousing and storage solution. What you will most likely need to do is work with a provider, like us, who can help establish an effective warehouse solution, and an analytics expert who can help ensure that you are tracking the right, and most useful, data.

Component 2: statistics

Love it, or hate it, statistics, and more specifically regression analysis, is an integral part of predictive analytics. Most predictive analytics starts with usually a manager or data scientist wondering if different sets of data are correlated. For example, is the age, income, and sex of a customer (independent variables) related to when they purchase product X (dependent variable)?

Using data that has been collected from various customer touch points - say a customer loyalty card, past purchases made by the customer, data found on social media, and visits to a website - you can run a regression analysis to see if there is in fact a correlation between independent and dependent variables, and just how related individual independent variables are.

From here, usually after some trial and error, you hopefully can come up with a regression equation and assign what's called regression coefficients - how much each variable affects the outcome - to each of the independent variables.

This equation can then be applied to predict outcomes. To carry on the example above, you can figure out exactly how influential each independent variable is to the sale of product X. If you find that income and age of different customers heavily influences sales, you can usually also predict when customers of a certain age and income level will buy (by comparing the analysis with past sales data). From here, you can schedule promotions, stock extra products, or even begin marketing to other non-customers who fall into the same categories.

Component 3: assumptions

Because predictive analytics focuses on the future, which is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy, you need to rely on assumptions for this type of analytics to actually work. While there are likely many assumptions you will need to acknowledge, the biggest is: the future will be the same as the past.

As a business owner or manager you are going to need to be aware of the assumptions made for each model or question you are trying to predict the answer to. This also means that you will need to be revisiting these on a regular basis to ensure they are still true or valid. If something changes, say buying habits, then the predictions in place will be invalid and potentially useless.

Remember the 2008-09 sub-prime mortgage crisis? Well, one of the main reasons this was so huge was because brokers and analysts assumed that people would always be able to pay their mortgages, and built their prediction models off of this assumption. We all know what happened there. While this is a large scale example, it is a powerful lesson to learn: Not checking that the assumptions you have based your predictions on could lead to massive trouble for your company.

By understanding the basic ideas behind these three components, you will be better able to communicate and leverage the results provided by this form of analytics.

If you are looking to implement a solution that can support your analytics, or to learn more about predictive analytics, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 11th, 2014

MobileGeneral_Sep08_AWhen you go to upgrade your phone you may consider selling your old one. However, one issue you may face is having a number of apps on your device that contain personal information. You need to take care that you deauthenticate apps when you're considering getting rid of, or selling your upgraded devices. The next question is which apps should you be looking out for?

What exactly is deauthentication?

Some apps, although not all, require that you authenticate your device in order for them to work. Many developers who ask users to authenticate their device do so in order to either prevent copies of the software from being created and utilized, or to ensure that the device and app can communicate securely.

Some examples of apps that ask for authentication include those that use multi-factor authentication, password managers, and apps that require a subscription or credit card information, etc. On some devices you even need to enter a code or key, much like installing software on a new computer, in order to activate all the features of the app.

The main reason many developers require authentication is connected to security. As security is becoming an ever more pressing issue, there is a good chance that we will see more apps asking users to authenticate their devices in the future.

The issue with this is that when you go to sell your device you will likely need to purchase the app again or the buyer of the device won't be able to set up their own account.

Common apps you should deauthenticate

Apps with subscription services: This includes apps like Google Play Music, Spotify, Office for iPad, cloud storage apps that you have linked your device to, etc. These apps are usually either linked with your device or your phone number so it is a good idea to deauthenticate them.
  1. Kindle app: The Kindle app is actually linked to your device and users who want to use the app will likely not be able to if the device is linked to your account. You can unlink devices by going to the Amazon site, logging in and selecting Manage your Content and Devices when you hover over your account name.
  2. Password management apps: These apps usually require that you authenticate your device to use a particular service. If you try to log in on a new device, these apps may not work properly.
  3. Chat apps: Some chat apps like WhatsApp or Line require that you register for the service using your phone number. If you are keeping your number, you shouldn't have to deauthenticate, but if you are getting a new number, you should go into the account settings of each app and unlink your number. WhatsApp for example has a feature that allows you to move your number to a new device.
  4. Any app or service that you have linked credit card information to: While you ordinarily don't have to physically deauthenticate these apps, as the information is usually linked to an account and password, it is a good idea to unlink your credit card with any app on your phone before you hand it over. This will help ensure that credit card information is not stored or accessible.
When it comes to the major app stores, e.g., Windows Phone Store, Google Play, and iTunes, you will often see that your device has been linked to your account. If you are going to sell your device, the best course of action is to reset using the factory reset option. This will delete all data and installed apps on the device. This will often be enough to deauthenticate all apps.

If you are looking to learn more about getting rid of your older devices, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 4th, 2014

Security_Sep02_AWith smartphones playing a larger role in today’s daily business, the need to recharge them while you are on the go increases. And when you’re nowhere near your charger, that public charging kiosk can look pretty promising. But what you might not know is that common traits in smartphone hardware and software design makes recharging phones through public chargers prone to juice jacking. If you're not sure what that is then let’s find out and also discover how you can avoid juice jacking too.

What’s juice jacking?

Regardless of the kind of smartphone you have, whether it’s an Android, iPhone or BlackBerry, there is one common feature across all phones: the power supply and the data stream pass over the same cable. This setup allows for juice jacking during the charging process whereby user access is gained on your phone by leveraging the USB data/power cable to illegitimately access your phone’s data and/or inject malicious code onto the device.

The attack can be as simple as an invasion of privacy, wherein your phone pairs with a computer concealed within the charging kiosk and information such as private photos and contact information are transferred to a malicious device. However, on the other hand, it can also be as invasive as an injection of malicious code directly into your phone. According to security researchers at this year’s Black Hat security conference, your iPhone can be compromised within one minute of being plugged into a harmful charger.

Exposure to a malicious kiosk can also create a lingering security problem even without the immediate injection of malicious code. Once a device is paired to a computer, it can access a host of personal information on the device, including your address book, notes, photos, music, sms database, typing cache, and even initiate a full backup of your phone, all of which can be accessed wirelessly at anytime.

How do I avoid it?

The most effective precautions center around simply not charging your phone using a third-party system. Here are some tips to help you avoid using public kiosk charger:
  • Keep your devices topped off: Make it a habit to charge your phone at your home and office when you’re not actively using it or are just sitting at your desk working.
  • Carry a personal charger: Chargers have become very small and portable, from USB cables to power banks. Get one and throw it in your bag so you can charge your phone anytime you’re at the office or while on-the-go if you use a power bank.
  • Carry a backup battery: If you’re not keen on bringing a spare charger or power bank, you can opt to carry a full spare battery if your device has a removable battery.
  • Lock your phone: When your phone is truly locked as in inaccessible without the input of a pin or equivalent passcode, your phone should not be able to be paired with the device it’s connected to.
  • Power the phone down: This technique only works on phones on a model-by-model basis as some phones will, despite being powered down, still power on the entire USB circuit and allow access to the flash storage in the device.
  • Use power only USB cables: These cables are missing the two wires necessary for data transmission and have only the two wires for power transmission remaining. They will charge your device, but data transfer is made impossible.
Even the tiniest detail like charging your phone from a kiosk charger could affect the security of your device. While there are many substitutes to using a third-party system, ultimately the best defense against a compromised mobile device is awareness. Looking to learn more about today’s security and threats? Contact us today and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
September 4th, 2014

Hardware_Sep02_AYou undoubtedly use computer monitors daily, whether at work, at home or both. So, you know that they are available in a variety of shapes, designs, and colors. What a lot of people might not know is, based on the technology used to make them, they can be broadly categorized into three types commonly used today.

CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors

These monitors employ CRT technology, which was used most commonly in the manufacturing of television screens. With these monitors, a stream of intense high energy electrons is used to form images on a fluorescent screen. A cathode ray tube is basically a vacuum tube containing an electron gun at one end and a fluorescent screen at another end.

While CRT monitors can still be found in some organizations, many offices have stopped using them largely because they are heavy, bulky, and costly to replace should they break. While they are still in use, it would be a good idea to phase these monitors out for cheaper, lighter, and more reliable monitors.

LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors

The LCD monitor incorporates one of the most advanced technologies available today. Typically, it consists of a layer of color or monochrome pixels arranged schematically between a couple of transparent electrodes and two polarizing filters. Optical effect is made possible by polarizing the light in varied amounts and making it pass through the liquid crystal layer. The two types of LCD technology available are the active matrix of TFT and a passive matrix technology. TFT generates better picture quality and is more secure and reliable. Passive matrix, on the other hand, has a slow response time and is slowly becoming outdated.

The advantages of LCD monitors include their compact size which makes them lightweight. They also don't consume much electricity as CRT monitors, and can be run off of batteries which makes them ideal for laptops.

Images transmitted by these monitors don’t get geometrically distorted and have little flicker. However, this type of monitor does have disadvantages, such as its relatively high price, an image quality which is not constant when viewed from different angles, and a monitor resolution that is not always constant, meaning any alterations can result in reduced performance.

LED (light-emitting diodes) monitors

LED monitors are the latest types of monitors on the market today. These are flat panel, or slightly curved displays which make use of light-emitting diodes for back-lighting, instead of cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) back-lighting used in LCDs. LED monitors are said to use much lesser power than CRT and LCD and are considered far more environmentally friendly.

The advantages of LED monitors are that they produce images with higher contrast, have less negative environmental impact when disposed, are more durable than CRT or LCD monitors, and features a very thin design. They also don’t produce much heat while running. The only downside is that they can be more expensive, especially for the high-end monitors like the new curved displays that are being released.

Being aware of the different types of computer monitors available should help you choose one that’s most suited to your needs. Looking to learn more about hardware in today’s world? Contact us and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
September 3rd, 2014

BCP_Sep02_AMany people wonder why it’s necessary to perform business impact analysis (BIA) when they’ve already invested a large amount of time on a risk assessment. The answer is simple: because the purpose of a BIA is different, and wrong results could incur unnecessary expenses or create inadequate business continuity strategies. To that end, let’s take a look at five tips for successful business impact analysis.

Five tips for successful business impact analysis:

  1. Treat it as a (mini) project: Define the person responsible for BIA implementation and their authority. You should also define the scope, objective, and time frame in which it should be implemented.
  2. Prepare a good questionnaire: A well structured questionnaire will save you a lot of time and will lead to more accurate results. For example: BS (British standard) 25999-1 and BS 2599902 standards will provide you with a fairly good idea about what your questionnaire should contain. Identifying impacts resulting from disruptions, determining how these vary over time, and identifying resources needed for recovery are often covered in this. It’s also good practice to use both qualitative and quantitative questions to identify impacts.
  3. Define clear criteria: If you’re planning for interviewees to answer questions by assigning values, for instance from one to five, be sure to explain exactly what each of the five marks mean. It’s not uncommon that the same event is evaluated as catastrophic by lower-level employees while top management personnel assess the same event as having a more moderate impact.
  4. Collect data through human interaction: The best way to collect data is when someone skilled in business continuity performs an interview with those responsible for critical activity. This way lots of unresolved questions are cleared up and well-balanced answers are achieved. If interviews are not feasible, do at least one workshop where all participants can ask everything that is concerning them. Avoid the shortcut of simply sending out questionnaires.
  5. Determine the recovery time objectives only after you have identified all the interdependencies: For example, through the questionnaire you might conclude that for critical activity A the maximum tolerable period of disruption is two days; however, the maximum tolerable period of disruption for critical activity B is one day and it cannot recover without the help of critical activity A. This means that the recovery time objective for A will be one day instead of two days.
More often than not, the results of BIA are unexpected and the recovery time objective is longer than it was initially thought. Still, it’s the most effective way to get you thinking and preparing for the issues that could strike your business. When you are carrying out BIA make sure you put in the effort and hours to do it right. Looking to learn more about business continuity? Contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 3rd, 2014

OSX_Sep02_AToday's operating systems offer a vast array of different features, some of which users find essential, and some that are deemed non-essential but are still handy. One such feature is the ability to take a screenshot. There is a good chance that you probably have taken screenshots before, but have you ever wished that there was a better way to take them? Here are four tips for better screenshots on OS X.

1. Know the shortcuts

As a Mac user, you likely know that the system is shortcut heavy. From navigating, to switching screens, to even opening programs, there is a shortcut for almost everything, including screenshots. With OS X there are a number of shortcuts associated with screenshots, and it is worthwhile knowing them:
  • Command + Shift + 3: Takes a screenshot of the entire screen.
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 3: Captures the entire screen and copies it to the clipboard. If you select Paste in a program like a word processor, it should paste the image.
  • Command + Shift + 4: Allows you to select the screenshot area and save it.
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4: Allows you to select the screenshot area and copy it to the clipboard.
  • Command + Shift + 4 followed by spacebar: Captures an open window, folder, menu bar or desktop icon and saves it.
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4 followed by spacebar: Captures an open window, folder, menu bar or desktop icon and copies it to the clipboard.
With Command + Shift + 4, you can also press and hold the spacebar once you have drawn a shape to move it around and select a different area. Also, pressing esc will cancel the screenshot selection if you have say selected too big of an area.

2. Including the cursor

Sometimes you may want to capture the mouse cursor pointing at something within a screenshot. You can do this by:
  1. Opening the Utilities folder on your computer. The quickest way to do this is to hit Command + Spacebar and typing Utilities.
  2. Scrolling down to the Grab app and opening it.
  3. Selecting Grab from the top right of your screen, followed by Preferences.
  4. Clicking on the cursor you would like to show up in your screenshots.
When you take the screenshot, the pointer will appear where you left it when the screenshot was taken.

3. Using Preview to take screenshots

If you have documents or files that contain images or text stored on your hard drive that you would like to take a screenshot of, the shortcuts will work fine, but did you know that you can use the Preview app to take screenshots as well?

If you right-click on the file that contains the information that you would like to take a screenshot of and select Open with followed by Preview, you will see the file open in preview mode. Clicking on File from the menu bar along the top followed by Take screenshot will allow you to capture the image.

When using this feature, you can select either:

  • From Selection… - Will allow you to draw a box to capture the screenshot.
  • From Window… - Will save the whole open window.
  • From Entire Screen… - Will capture the open window plus anything else on your screen.

4. Using the Grab app

Did you know that there is actually an app already installed on your computer that allows you to take screenshots? Most users rely on the shortcuts listed above, but these are actually related to the Grab app which is located in the Utilities folder.

If you open Grab (press Command + spacebar and type in 'Grab', select Grab under Applications), you can manually take screenshots using the app by:

  1. Clicking Capture.
  2. Selecting the type of screenshot from the drop-down menu.
The types of screenshot you can take with Grab include:
  1. Selection - Draw a box around the area of your screen you would like to capture.
  2. Window - Allows you to select a window to capture. Simply open the window and select Choose Window from the pop-up box.
  3. Screen - Will snap a screenshot of your entire screen.
  4. Timed Screen - Will start a timer then take an image of the screen in 10 seconds.
Looking to learn more about using OS X? Contact us today!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
September 2nd, 2014

Web_Sep02_AAt any given time there are a nearly countless number of technology related trends popping up. Many come and go, but one of the most important that many business owners are focusing on is the cloud. Owners and managers know they ought to be using "the cloud" but it can be confusing as to what exactly it is and the different types of services available. To help, here is an overview of three of the most common cloud service models used in small to medium businesses.

1. SaaS

SaaS, or software as a service, is a cloud service that revolves around, you guessed it, software. Easily the largest and most well known cloud-based service, SaaS uses the cloud to deliver software to users, which is then usually accessed via your Web browser. Unlike physical software that you install on your computer, SaaS solutions are hosted on a provider's servers.

This means that the provider is responsible for software maintenance and updates, which translates to the fact that users will all be using the same version of software and get updates at the same time. As a business owner this means that actually managing the software on all of your computers is made not only easier, but more affordable. Combine this with the fact that companies like us can manage these solutions for you and you can see why SaaS is highly popular with many companies.

If you are looking for a new software solution, many major types of software now also have SaaS options including: Office document creation suites, accounting software, email, HR solutions, content management, customer relationship management, and more.

2. PaaS

PaaS, or platform as a service, is a cloud-based service that provides users with computing platforms. Most companies who utilize PaaS do so to either host or develop their own software solutions, or to provide support for software used by employees.

The main reason many companies integrate PaaS is because it drastically reduces the costs and complexity often associated with buying, developing, configuring, installing, and managing the hardware and software solutions that are necessary for the custom-built applications that many businesses rely on.

While PaaS is gaining in popularity with many small businesses, most won't have a lot of first-hand interaction with this type of cloud, especially those who work with IT providers like us. Essentially, most providers will utilize PaaS in order to deliver custom applications and solutions to the end-user.

3. IaaS

IaaS, or infrastructure as a service, is essentially cloud-based computers and resources. The most popular and well known type of IaaS is the virtual machine which is a digital version of a computer or server that is accessed over an Internet connection. The infrastructure is physically kept off site, and usually managed by a provider, but you access and interact with it as if it is located on your computer or in your office.

In other words, if you are looking to virtualize your systems via the cloud, IaaS could be a good place to start as it allows you to move existing support systems into the cloud. Other solutions can then be migrated or introduced as needed.

While the cloud can offer a wide variety of benefits and solutions to companies, it can be a chore to choose the service which is best for your company's needs. We highly recommend that if you are considering a cloud solution, you get in contact with us. We can help find the best solution for the needs of your business and to also manage it, thereby ensuring proper migration and implementation, leaving you to focus on running your business.

Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web
August 27th, 2014

socialmedia_Aug26_AHave you ever looked at images and visuals posted by businesses and users on Instagram? While many users take photos using their mobile devices, there are many images that simply look way too good to be taken with a phone camera, especially the ones without filters. Many business owners want to know how they too can take quality images like these too.

The truth behind some of Instagram's best images

Those awesome Instagram photos we see aren't always taken using mobile phones. Instead, many users use digital cameras which offer much better image quality. You can capture some amazing shots with a higher end DSLR cameras with multiple lenses.

If you have one of these cameras and are looking to create high-quality images for Instagram, or any other social media site, you may be slightly confused as to how to get the images onto the platform - especially since many of us use this via the mobile app. To make uploading a little easier, here is a brief guide detailing how to get images from your digital camera onto Instagram.

1. Transfer and process images

Once you have taken photos with your camera, you will need to get them off of your camera's memory and onto your computer's hard drive. Most camera's have apps that allow you to do this, so be sure to follow the instructions in the app that came with it.

When your images have been transferred to your computer, you are likely going to want to process them a little bit. This is especially true if you have a DSLR or other high-end point-and-shoot which takes RAW images. These can be quite large and are not compatible with Instagram.

Most images taken with a camera are quite large in size, so you are going to need to use an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop, or free tools like Pixlr to process them. What you are looking to do is to crop your images so that they are square.

If you are used to the advanced photo editing features, then do your edits before cropping. When you crop your images you should crop or resize them so that they are 640X640 pixels. This is the size of all images taken using Instagram's camera app.

Also, be sure to save the images as JPEGs, as this is the image format used by most smartphone cameras.

2. Save processed images in their own folder

It helps to create a folder somewhere on your hard drive (we recommend in the same folder where you save all of your other folders) that is specifically for images you want to post on Instagram.

When you have processed and edited the images to your liking, save the images here. Try using an easy to use file name like the date and a letter or note so you can easily tell which images are which, so you know which to use.

3. Move the images to your device

You can move images using the cloud or by manually transferring the images to your phone. If you decide to manually transfer your files, you will need to plug your device into your computer.

For users with iPhones, you can open iTunes and click on your device followed by Photos. Then select the box beside Sync photos from. Select the file you created in the step above and then Sync to transfer the images over.

For users with Android devices, plug your phone into the computer and drag the folder you created in the step above into the Photos folder of your Android device.

For Windows Phone users, plug your device into your computer and open My Computer on your desktop. You should see your device listed in the window that opens. Open the file system for your device and drag the image files you created above into the Photos folder of your phone.

If you choose to use the cloud to transfer your files, use the operating system's cloud (e.g., iCloud, Google Drive, or OneDrive) to upload the files. Just be sure to use the same account as the one on your phone.

4. Add images to Instagram

Once the photos are either on your device, or in the cloud, you can now upload them to Instagram. This can be done by:
  1. Opening the app and tapping on the camera icon.
  2. Tapping on the button in the bottom left of the screen.
  3. Selecting where the image is located on your device. E.g., the Gallery app if you placed the photos in your phone's hard drive, or the cloud service you used.
  4. Editing them as you see fit.
Once this is complete, you should be able to post your images as you usually do with any other Instagram image on your phone. Take the time to add filters, and hashtags as well as a good description before you post.

If you would like to learn more about using Instagram to share your images then get in touch and we will show you the advantages of the bigger picture.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 26th, 2014

VoIP_Aug18_AVoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, has become one of the main forms of voice communication used in businesses of all sizes. Because the system uses an Internet connection, many companies often experience decreased costs while being able to do more with than they could with their traditional phone line. While almost every business can benefit from VoIP, there are a few important issues businesses who are considering switching over should be aware of.

1. Faxing can be tough with VoIP

Fax machines were designed on an analog system and therefore may have trouble working with a digital system like VoIP. This is especially true for businesses who are using older fax machines. We aren't saying faxing is impossible, but you likely will not be able to simply plug your fax machine into a VoIP line and start sending/receiving faxes.

What you will most likely need is to install a few extra components such as an adapter that supports T38 protocols. The T38 protocol was developed specifically to change analog fax signals into a digital that can then be sent via VoIP.

Therefore, if you use fax machines in your office, you should be sure to ask potential providers if their systems support faxing, and if your machines will be supported, or if there are any extra components needed.

2. Credit and debit terminals may not be compatible

Many business owners who look to move to VoIP systems often forget to also look at how their payment systems work. If you are using older credit or debit terminals on a landline they may actually be dial-up based, which means they will not work with VoIP. While most businesses already use newer models that support ethernet connections, and therefore VoIP, some are still using older systems. If this is the case, then you will need to contact your terminal provider for an upgrade, or new IP-terminals.

3. Older alarm systems may not work

Businesses with physical storefronts likely have alarm systems in place. The problem with this is that many older systems rely on traditional phone lines in order to signal emergency services should the alarm go off. If you are planning to upgrade to VoIP, you should make sure that the alarm system you have is compatible, or can be connected to VoIP.

If this is not the case, you may need to upgrade to a more modern alarm system. We strongly recommend checking with both the alarm provider and your VoIP provider if your alarm systems will still work.

4. VoIP requires broadband connections

We have seen cases before where businesses have invested in a VoIP system only to find out they don't have a broadband connection that is strong enough to support VoIP effectively. In order for VoIP systems to function, you need to have a broadband connection with a fairly strong amount of bandwidth. This is especially important for businesses in rural areas where broadband speeds can be limited based on distance.

It can be tough to figure out if your broadband connection will support VoIP, but you can test the connection before you agree to purchase it. Asking a potential provider for help testing your line would be a good idea. Should your connection prove to be too slow, then you will need to contact your Internet Service Provider in order to upgrade your speed.

5. VoIP needs to be managed

Like every other tech system, you will need to manage your VoIP solution. This includes adding new lines, upgrading equipment, ensuring systems are compatible, etc. For many business owners this will require extra time they don't necessarily have. One of the best solutions we can recommend is a managed VoIP solution.

We offer VoIP solutions, so if you are looking to learn more about VoIP in your business, and would like to avoid the common mistakes made by others, contact us today to learn more about how our expertise can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
August 25th, 2014

Security_Aug18_AIt seems like nearly every week, and in some cases nearly every day, there is some security breach announced. The vast majority of these assaults tend to revolve around online user accounts, where password, account information, and even usernames are stolen. Over the years, there has been a general trend where the number of accounts breached or compromised is growing, and in early August news broke about possibly the biggest breach to date.

The latest big-scale breach

In early August, it emerged that a Russian hacker ring had amassed what is believed to be the biggest known collection of stolen account credentials. The numbers include around 1.2 billion username and password combinations, and over 500 million email addresses.

According to Hold Security, the company that uncovered these records, the information comes from around 420,000 sites. What is particularly interesting about this particular attack is that such a wide variety of sites were targeted when compared this with other attacks which tend to either attack large brand names or smaller related sites.

How did this happen?

Despite what many believe, this was not a one-time mass attack; all sites that were compromised were not attacked at the same time. Instead, the hacker ring - called the Cyber Vor - was likely working on amassing this data over months or longer. How they were able to amass this much information is through what's called a botnet.

Botnets are a group of computers infected by hackers. When the hackers establish a botnet, they attack computers with weak network security and try to infect them with malware that allows the hacker to control the computer. If successful, users won't even know their computer has been hacked and is being used by hackers.

Once this botnet is established, the hackers essentially tell the computers to try to contact websites to test the security. In this recent case, the computers were looking to see if the websites were vulnerable to a SQL injection. This is where hackers tell the computers in the botnet to look for fillable sections on sites like comment boxes, search boxes, etc. and input a certain code asking the website's database to list the stored information related to that box.

If the Web developer has restricted the characters allowed in the fillable text boxes, then the code likely would not have worked. The botnet would notice this, and then move onto the next site. However, if the code works, the botnet notes this and essentially alerts the hacker who can then go to work collecting the data.

So, is this serious and what can I do?

In short, this could be a fairly serious problem. While 420,000 sites may seem like a large number, keep in mind that the Internet is made up of billions of websites. This means that the chances of your website's data being breached by this ring are small. That being said, there is probably a good chance that one of the sites related to your website may have been breached.

So, it is a cause for concern. However, you can limit the chance of hackers gaining access to your information and a website's information.

1. Change all of your passwords

It seems like we say this about once a month, but this time you really should heed this warning. With 1.2 billion username and password combinations out there, there is a chance your user name for at least one account or site has been breached.

To be safe, change all of your passwords. This also includes passwords on your computer, mobile devices, and any online accounts - don't forget your website's back end, or hosting service. It is a pain to do, but this is essential if you want to ensure your data and your website is secure from this attack.

2. Make each password different

We can't stress this enough, so, while you are resetting your password you should aim to ensure that you use a different one for each account, site, and device. It will be tough to remember all of these passwords, so a manager like LastPass could help. Or, you could develop your own algorithm or saying that can be easily changed for each site. For example, the first letter of each word of a favorite saying, plus the first and last letter of the site/account, plus a number sequence could work.

3. Test your website for SQL injection

If you have a website, you are going to want to test all text boxes to see if they are secure against SQL injection. This can be tough to do by yourself, so it's best to contact a security expert like us who can help you execute these tests and then plug any holes should they be found.

4. Audit all of your online information

Finally, look at the information you have stored with your accounts. This includes names, addresses, postal/zip codes, credit card information, etc. You should only have the essential information stored and nothing else. Take for example websites like Amazon. While they are secure, many people have their credit card and billing information stored for easy shopping. If your account is hacked, there is a good chance hackers will be able to get hold of your card number.

5. Contact us for help

Finally, if you are unsure about the security of your accounts, business systems, and website, contact us today to see how our security experts can help ensure your vital data is safe and sound.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security