October 7th, 2015

Security_Oct2_AVulnerabilities in the web-based version of popular instant messaging app WhatsApp recently left up to 200 million users exposed to hackers and malware. The bug was picked up by an Israeli IT security firm, and WhatsApp put a fix in place before news of the potential threat spread. Nevertheless, it highlights the need to remain vigilant when using apps like WhatsApp, whether for business reasons or in a personal setting. Here’s what you need to know about the security incident and how to protect yourself going forward.

The web-based version of the WhatsApp app was only launched a few months back, initially for WhatsApp accounts on Android and Windows Phone devices and later for those on iPhones, but has already grown in popularity. The recent security vulnerability related to vCards, electronic business cards shared by WhatsApp users, and effectively amounted to a kind of phishing.

An error in the WhatsApp web client meant that less-than-innocuous vCard business cards created by hackers were not properly filtered out by the app. As a result, these phishing-style cards made it through to users who, if they clicked them, were at risk of the cards converting themselves to more harmful executable scripts once downloaded - and potentially accessing and playing foul with users’ personal data. There are even reports of a ransomware approach being taken by hackers in this case, with attempts being made to extort cash from WhatsApp users in exchange for restored access to their infected devices and hijacked data.

WhatsApp put a fix in place, by releasing an updated version of the app, prior to making public news of the security vulnerability. It’s worth making sure you have the latest version of WhatsApp installed on your phone, if you haven’t checked recently - WhatsApp’s phone and web versions are linked to one another, so ensuring you are up-to-date on your phone is the way to ensure you’re safe when using the web client too. The patch is also available directly through the web client, though this won’t update your phone’s version of the app at the same time.

The whole affair also serves as a timely reminder that it pays to be vigilant when it comes to using WhatsApp and other instant messaging platforms - including email. Avoid opening links or downloading files that you’re not expecting to receive, and proceed with caution even if you were anticipating them. It’s better to double check with the sender that they’re consciously passing a file to you, and that they’re fully aware of its contents, than to wait until your device has been infected and damage has potentially been inflicted on your vital data.

Want to learn how to keep your devices safe from phishing attempts and other potential security vulnerabilities? Give us a call and let us equip you with tamperproof solutions.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Security
October 6th, 2015

164_A_Int RepOn Facebook, the number of likes your business page gets is currency. It shows authority and that your business is popular with customers. So, what would happen if suddenly a dislike button were released? How would that impact your business? You may have recently heard that a Facebook dislike button is in the making. Here’s what you need to know about this polarizing new feature.

For many years people have been clamoring for a dislike button on Facebook. But up until now, perhaps the world was not ready. According to research from Piper Jaffray and the Pew Research Center, the demographics of Facebook users have changed dramatically over the past decade. While 10 years ago the world’s most popular social media platform was frequented mostly by teenagers and early 20-somethings, today over 60% of Facebook users are over the age of 25. And you may have noticed that this change of user is reflected in the posts you likely see in your news feed. While users once posted more pictures of parties, now you’re more likely to see pictures of babies, news articles, or political stories.

So, why does this age difference matter? According to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, he didn’t want the social media network to turn into a forum where “people are voting up or down on people’s posts.” This could quite possibly have been the outcome had Facebook introduced a dislike button while it had a younger fan base.

Will users be able to dislike your business?

It is highly unlikely this will happen. Remember, Facebook is a publicly traded company that aims to turn a profit. Advertisers and brands would not be too happy if their ads or businesses were suddenly disliked, and Zuckerberg is undoubtedly aware of this.

What’s the point of the dislike button then?

To clarify, Zuckerberg never directly came out and said Facebook is getting a dislike button. Instead, he said they are working on a new button that will express sympathy or empathy. And with a now-older user base that’s more likely to share emotive news stories or sad news about family matters, it makes sense for a button like this to be introduced now. Here’s what the Facebook CEO had to say about the new button: “Not every moment is a good moment, right? And if you are sharing something that is sad…like the refugee crisis that touches you…it might not feel comfortable to Like that post.”

Be wary of third party offers to download a dislike button now

Be aware that a dislike button is not available now. While you or your employees may see ads from third parties offering early access to the “dislike button”, do not be fooled by them. If you are tricked into installing or signing up for them, you could risk your computer being infected with malware.

Want more social media news and advice on how to manage your reputation online? Call us today to talk with one of our experts.

Published with permission from Source.

October 5th, 2015

Office_Sep29_AOffice 2016 has arrived, and it brings with it an array of new features and touched-up existing elements, all designed to make your business more productive. At the heart of those efforts is a renewed focus on collaboration, with features to enable your teams to communicate, share documents and work together more smoothly. Here’s what you need to know about the latest release and all that it could add to your operation.

Real-time collaborative editing

Office 2016 adds the collaborative feature that arguably makes its rivals as good as they are - it is now possible to co-author Office documents with colleagues in real time. Known as real-time presence, the feature works for documentations and presentations across both Word and PowerPoint. It also functions across multiple devices; an internet connection and access to Office 2016 are all that you need. In Word, you can also see others’ changes as they make them; to work in either application, though, the document must be stored on either OneDrive or SharePoint, rather than locally.

Simplified sharing

You can finally wave goodbye to the back-and-forth email tag that has been the mainstay of document sharing and collaboration for too long. You send your colleague a document by way of an email attachment, they download it and make their changes, save the file with a new name and then send it back - and so on and so forth. It’s enough to give even the most organized and tech-savvy among us a major headache. Office 2016 relieves this pain, and makes it simple to save files online with SharePoint or OneDrive, right from Office’s in-built ribbon pane.

More efficient email

Of course, for all the file-sharing features in the world, you’ll still need to email your business contacts on a regular basis. Office 2016’s Outlook makes it easy to filter out unwanted messages so that you can quickly see the emails that matter to you. Its Clutter feature learns from the way you use your email, and the way you deal with specific messages, to move to a special folder those messages that you are unlikely to need to deal with immediately. You can then navigate to the Clutter folder at your convenience in order to check through your emails to see which ones you need to take action on - daily and weekly notifications let you know what’s been decluttered on your behalf. Though Clutter won’t begin to do anything until it has a thorough understanding of your email behaviors (in order to avoid it incorrectly classifying useful messages as being of low importance), it’s of course possible to use it as another junk filter, keeping distracting messages out of view and you focused on your job.

While collaboration is at the center of the new developments built into Office 2016, the release includes plenty more besides that you’ll find useful. To discover more about Office 2016 and how to put it to use as a force for increased productivity in your business, just give us a call.

Published with permission from Source.

September 28th, 2015

164_A_SMDo you ever feel like your social media efforts are going nowhere? Does it feel like you spend more and more time marketing your small business on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, but with little return? Well, a recent survey reveals just how much ROI small business owners are actually gaining from their social media efforts, and the results are eye-opening.

Survey details

The survey was conducted by a small business directory and support network known as Manta. They surveyed 540 of their small business members with the aim of learning how much ROI these companies are gaining from social media marketing.

The results

Based on data on the 540 participants, 41% of businesses are receiving a return from social media marketing, which leaves nearly 60% with nothing to show for their investment of time and money. And as for the businesses that are gaining a return, over 80% earn less than $1,000 a month from their social media efforts. More surprisingly, close to half bring in less than $100 a month.

As a small business owner, should these numbers be cause for alarm? According to the CEO of Manta, John Swanciger, part of the reason the return is so low for most businesses is that their social media priorities are misguided. He notes that social media is less about bringing in new customers, and more about community building. "For a long time, the mantra was that social media could bring in new customers,” he says. “In reality, social media is a community builder, and your biggest fans are your already-loyal customers. When small businesses treat social media as the new word-of-mouth community, the real return will follow."

One of the oldest marketing tactics around is word-of-mouth marketing. Every day, people recommend products, restaurants and businesses they love to friends and family members. And social media is the perfect platform to cultivate your fans’ love of your brand. But according to the Manta survey, less than 8% of business owners cited building community as their primary social media goal.

So how do you build a community on social media?

Besides the obvious investments of time and money, here are a few quick tips to get you started:
  • Regularly post content that is valuable to your social media following - the keyword here being valuable.
  • Ask your followers questions to start conversations, and then engage with them. This builds a connection between your brand and customers.
  • Show your followers that you genuinely care about them, and they’ll likely do the same for you with glowing recommendations to friends and family.
Of course there is much more to it than this, but these quick tips can help you get started. If you’re struggling with your own social media efforts and would like to learn more, we’re happy to point your business in the right direction. Call us today to speak with one of our experts.
Published with permission from Source.

Topic Social Media
September 23rd, 2015

AndroidTablet_Sep22_AIf you thought implementing tablet technology into your business setup was beyond your company’s budget, it might be time to reconsider. Online retailing giant Amazon could be about to shake up the tablet industry, with the launch of Amazon Fire. This super-economy Android tablet will retail for just $50, putting it within reach both of home users, and of businesses looking to buy in bulk. Here’s what you need to know.

The seven-inch Amazon Fire tablet is due to launch on September 30, meaning it will be available just in time for the holiday season - great for individuals looking to treat themselves or loved ones, but also good news for businesses looking to use technology to increase efficiency ahead of the busy peak period.

Given the tablet’s budget positioning - with likenesses to Google’s stripped-back Chromebook, which performs basic functions but is of only limited use without an internet connection - it’s not surprising that it isn’t as powerful as more popular options. While its software is based on Android, the device actually runs on Amazon’s Fire OS 5 Bellini operating system. That means it does not support the Google Play apps used on the vast majority of Android tablets - which will be a drawback for some users - but it does work with the Amazon app store. Other key specs include a 1,024x600 pixel display, a 1.3Ghz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage that can be increased further by using a microSD card. According to Amazon, the Fire supports seven hours of battery life during moderate usage.

Perhaps most interesting, though, is the fact that the Fire comes with built-in advertising-based screensavers displaying Amazon promotions; a small additional payment is required to switch these off. Again, it’s hardly a shock to hear that there’s a semi-catch of this kind when the tablet itself only costs $50. It might also represent a shift in the market positioning of tablet devices, with more focus on business models similar to those of no-frills budget airlines and hotels, where extra payments are required for meals, seat selection, windows, towel rental and so on.

Either way, the Amazon Fire could be the way into tablet use for companies that need their employees to have the ability to work remotely and flexibly, but which don’t require the more intensive capabilities of pricier higher-end devices. To learn more about adapting mobile technology in your business in order to boost efficiency and productivity, give us a call.

Published with permission from Source.

September 23rd, 2015

WindowsPhone_Sep23_AWith October 6th’s much-anticipated Microsoft Event approaching, Windows Phone users are looking forward to the release of the tech giant’s new flagship - the Lumia 950. This latest release from the Lumia family is expected to come with powerful hardware and a premium polycarbonate body.

Microsoft has been working hard on developing the Lumia 950, the first smartphone to utilize its Windows 10 Mobile operating system. The rumors about the Microsoft Lumia 950, codenamed “Talkman”, have been around for a good while now. Here’s what you need to know about the tech giant’s latest smartphone product.

Design and display

Rumor has it that the latest Lumia 950 will come with a metal frame, coated with matte white or black polycarbonate, with a thickness of just 8.89mm thickness. The device will sport a 5.2-inch screen display, with a Quad HD resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels.


The Lumia 950 is going to boast a 64-bit Hexa core, most likely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, as well as 3GB of RAM and an internal storage capacity of 32GB. Users have the option of expanding the memory with a microSD card.


Microsoft will integrate a powerful 20-megapixel PureView primary rear camera, capable of shooting high-definition video, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Additional features include optical image stabilization, autofocus, and social media geotagging.


It is said that Microsoft’s new Lumia 950 will incorporate Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology, allowing for faster battery charging (up to 60% within just 30 minutes). The Lumia 950 will be equipped with a detachable 3,000mAh battery, so you can expect it to last for a full day, even with heavy use.

Price and release date

Although Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed the exact price or a release date for the upcoming Lumia 950, the price point is expected to rival that of the iPhone 6s. The release date is most likely to be on October 10, the very same day Microsoft plans to launch its brand new operating system for smartphones, Windows 10 Mobile.

Overall, the Lumia 950 comes with plenty of improvements that Windows Phone fans will love. It is faster, lasts longer, and is more stable. Want to learn more about Windows Phone and how to use it in your office? Get in touch today.

Published with permission from Source.

September 21st, 2015

One of the most neglected aspects of a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is what happens to employees. Much emphasis is put on protecting and recovering data, but your employees are just as valuable to keep your company running. By setting up your company’s BCP with detailed instructions on working from home during a disaster, your employees can help you make it through anything. Here’s how you can do it.

Step 1 - Prepare

What good is a BCP if your employees don’t understand or even know about it? Saving your data and information is important during times of emergency, but so is making sure your employees can execute their day-to-day functions. Guarantee they understand what is expected from them during a disaster by explaining this in a dedicated meeting. This will also provide a forum for your staff to ask questions and better understand how they fit into the BCP as a whole.

Among the most important things to include in the formulation of any planning are clearly defined roles and open lines of communication. Everyone should know who they report to, as well as who his or her backup is. This will help ensure your company has all its bases covered if a disaster should strike.

Step 2 - Give them the right tools

You can’t expect employees to work from home during a disaster if they do not have the proper tools to succeed. Of course, these also have to be cost effective as well; it’s not feasible to simply hand out workstations to everyone to store at home in case of emergency. For starters, investing in cloud-based solutions will help make it possible to keep service interruptions to a minimum. Microsoft Office 365, for instance, lets users access its programs and files from anywhere and on any device. This means that, if your office is no longer accessible, staff can keep working on their existing projects at home from their own device.

Cloud-based VoIP is another tool that can keep employees up and running from home. These systems can make sure all calls to your office are forwarded to your employees’ cell phones. This allows for communication between your clients and employees to continue uninterrupted even if your office is closed.

Step 3 - Practice

Have each employee take a day to work from home so they are able to get hang of how the process will go if a disaster strikes. This will get them comfortable with the workings of everything, as well as seeing if there are any issues that crop up. Rarely, if ever, does anything go perfectly on the first attempt, so practicing before a disaster can help eliminate any problems that might occur during the real thing.

Make sure you take the time to review how it went with each employee. This will give you an opportunity to see how practical this aspect of your BCP is, and which areas can be made stronger. The idea of the exercise is to allow each employee to feel confident in his or her ability to work during a disaster, and to give you the reassurance that they understand their role as it relates to the wider BCP.

Step 4 - Be alert

Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on possible events that could force you to shut down your office, and make sure your staff is also aware of the situation. The more time they have to prepare to work from home, the more ready they will be. Of course, not every event is possible to predict ahead of time, but if the a blizzard is forecast or there have been protests nearby, alert your staff of the possibility that your BCP may go into effect.

A comprehensive Business Continuity Plan can be the difference between your business surviving or failing if a disaster occurs. Let our experts find a BCP that ensures your company can carry on through thick and thin.

Published with permission from Source.

September 17th, 2015

164_Hcare_ALast week, Apple revealed a new app to go along with its Apple Watch that could permanently change the way Healthcare is provided. Through an app known as AirStrip and the new watchOS 2 software, the Apple Watch will allow medical professionals to connect with patients in ways never before thought possible. Here are some of the features the healthcare industry is getting excited about.

Designed specifically for the healthcare industry, the new Apple Watch version of the AirStrip app will allow patients and doctors to easily communicate up-to-the-second, critical health information across long distances. Doctors will be able to monitor patients on the go, with the capability to check their blood pressure, heart rate, pill schedule, lab results, diagnosis and more just by looking at their wrist. Here are a few other ways the AirStrip app and Apple Watch will change the way healthcare is provided.

Mobility and convenience for the healthcare industry

Included in the AirStrip app for Apple Watch are a wealth of new features that can make the lives of nurses and doctors easier. Doctors, who are notorious for their jam-packed schedules, will now be able to view their appointment schedules on their wrists. This will make it easier for them to prioritize meetings and manage their day on the go. And for added convenience, doctors will also be able to view lab results and patient diagnosis information on the Apple Watch.

If you’re not a doctor, you can also benefit from the Apple Watch. For example, as soon as a nurse checks a patient’s vitals, he or she can send them to the doctor immediately via the AirStrip application. This will save time and help any practice operate more efficiently.

Monitoring pregnant women

Currently, the AirStrip app is used to monitor pregnant women - but only while they’re in the hospital. However, the new AirStrip app for Apple Watch changes this. Using sensors that are placed on a woman’s belly and a technology known as Sense4Baby, doctors will be able to remotely monitor the heart rates of a mother and her baby while the two are at home. What’s more, when a pregnant woman goes into labor the doctor will also be able to monitor contractions from the Apple Watch.

What about security?

Since personal health information is being transported over an app, you may very well think that security could be an issue. But believe it or not, AirStrip is compliant with federal law through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This ensures that patients’ private information is well protected.

Want more up-to-the-second healthcare IT news? Curious to learn how IT can transform your practice? Our technology experts specialize in healthcare. Call us today to learn how we can update your practice for the 21st century.

Published with permission from Source.

September 16th, 2015

Hardware_Sep16_AEven in today’s world where electrical outlets are more numerous than ever before, there will still be times you need to push your laptop’s battery to the edge. Ever wish you could buy yourself a few extra minutes by extending your battery life? Here are a few tips to help you get every last drop of energy from your laptop battery.

Dim the screen

The easiest way to conserve your battery is to dim the screen of the laptop. The screen eats up a lot of energy, and chances are you don’t really need it that bright in the first place. The more you dim it, the more energy you will save. If you are desperate for battery life, turning it down to the lowest setting that still renders screen readable to you is the way to go. If you just want to conserve energy, taking it down to halfway will help conserve the battery and give you additional time down the road.

Stop charging your phone

It is almost second nature for people to charge their phones when they have a chance, but doing so while using your laptop can be a serious drain on its battery. If you need to maximize your laptop battery then unplug your phone, tablet or other device from it. You should see a big difference in battery performance almost immediately. In fact, it is best not to have any USB accessories, such as a wireless mouse, plugged in at all. These can also deplete your laptop battery in short order.

Only use what you need

While it’s fine to keep open multiple programs, applications and other features when your laptop is plugged in, these will eat away at your battery life when you’re away from a power socket. You should run a quick inventory on what you are using, and then close out of the rest. Do you really need to be running Skype if you are not talking to anyone? Probably not. Don’t just push them into the background, though. Be sure to close out of them completely. By only running what you need, you can reduce the burden on your battery.

Shutdown Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi can be one of the biggest drags on a laptop battery, because it is constantly using energy to search for new networks or to stay connected to the one it's on. Not only that, but internet browsers, especially ones with multiple tabs open, can increase energy consumption. If you aren’t using the internet, you should shut off the Wi-Fi and close out of any browsers. If you do need to use the internet, avoid opening multiple tabs, watching videos or streaming music.

Plan ahead

If you aren’t sure when you will be able to charge your laptop again, it is best to implement some of these battery-saving techniques before the situation gets critical. Chances are if you aren’t using certain apps now, you probably weren’t using them 30 minutes ago either. The best way to conserve your laptop's battery life is by being vigilant and alert to usage in advance. It is almost always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the battery life left on your laptop.

Let us show you how to get the most out of your laptop. Our trained experts can also answer all your hardware questions. Drop us a line for more information.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Hardware
September 15th, 2015

taking photo with cellphoneStatic biometrics emerged from the theory that a password or a PIN number can be stolen, while something unique to your body like the face, fingers, eyes and ears can’t. But the fact is that static biometrics have their shortcomings - the system uses proprietary technology with limited use, and is only available on high-end smartphones. With that comes behavioral biometrics, a technology that could very well be the next generation of mobile phone security.

What’s it all about?

Behavioral biometrics focus on uniquely identifying characteristics related not necessarily to who you are, but to what you do.The stress is on the recognition and analysis of something all of us do all the time on our smart devices - typing - as a new way of establishing identity.

How does it work?

“The technology profiles how a person interacts with a website on their smartphone by analyzing their typing rhythm, how they hit and release keys, the pressure they put on the screen as they type, the angle they’re holding their phone, and how quick they move across the screen,” says Dr. Neil Costigan, CEO at Swedish IT and security company BehavioSec, which has a patented technology that can be integrated into an app or even a smartphone OS.

Combined with data from a smartphone's built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, it’s possible to come up with a profile of each person. This could allow for monitoring of typing in real time in order to verify a person is who they say they are, just by watching their typing behavior. “The tech works on all models and makes of smartphones and doesn’t require extra hardware,” added Costigan. In fact, Costigan’s continuous process of verification has already been used by banks across Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany as part of efforts to detect and counter fraud. The technology was showcased as possible future-phone tech at Google’s I/O 2015 conference, and has the potential to be installed on every phone rather than just being limited to banking apps.

Looking to learn more about mobile technology and how they can change the way you work? Contact us today; we’re happy to talk.

Published with permission from Source.