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Your Android Phone is Not Safe!

Your Android Phone is Not Safe!

So, this title is not intended to be scary for you, but at the same time it is designed to highlight a very important point that needs to be made. For too long, individuals have believed that their mobile phones are safe from so many of the issues that affect our laptops, but that is not the case. From the security point of view for a business, this can be a disaster because, if truth be told, your Android phone is not necessarily as safe as you think.

Take the news from the end of 2017 as an example. It was shown that there were several malware issues that were floating around the world that were almost specifically targeting Android phones. This included malware that was designed to effectively steal your banking details as it is understood that we now do more banking while on the move so it is an area that those behind the malware now wish to exploit.

At first, this banking threat was rather mysteriously confined to Austria, but we need to look at the bigger picture and then multiply this threat upwards and outwards to truly understand its potential scale.

The malware in question, known as Marcher, was designed to implement a specific trojan on Android phones that could then be used to steal credit card information as well as those banking details. Of course, it also played on the way in which we are very lazy when it comes to the security of our phones due to this misconception that they are somehow immune to being hacked.

Well, that is simply not true. 

Using Old Methods with New Technology. 

The way in which the people behind the Marcher malware were able to get the trojan onto those phones involved old methods that did appear to work on relatively new technology. This involved a phising email or message that then led the individual to a fake bank or credit card page, and ultimately it meant that they would enter their information without thinking about it. By the end of it all, they had given over their details simply because they had the belief that they were safe while on their phone.

The same malware was also able to attract people into opening their Google Play accounts and would the use that to get them to enter their credit card details in order to verify their identity. Of course, those details were then held by the hackers so they could then access them whenever they wanted to do so, but even then people would discover that they had been conned in this way and would look to their laptop or desktop for the culprit.

The reason why we are mentioning this method is because it shows that you cannot afford to let your guard down when it comes to your security for even one second. Every single form of communication, and technology, has to be viewed with a certain degree of suspicion. You cannot think that you are safe just because security breaches with certain pieces of technology appears to be less prevalent than others. It is those very thoughts that are played on by hackers or anybody that has malicious thoughts.

From a business perspective, you must educate your employees as to what they are doing and the potential pitfalls that are awaiting them should they let their guard down. Whenever they are doing business of any kind via their Android phone, it is important that they do not follow links that they are even slightly unsure of, and certainly do not go ahead and open emails they were not expecting. These are just basic security measures to take, but you then have to ask yourself why they are generally overlooked by so many people.

The answer to that is simple. The hackers and creators of malware have kept up with the technological advances, but the rest of us have not. That puts us at a disadvantage, but it is not something that we will then fail to overcome if we are willing to correct our behavior and accept that we are more prone to these kind of security issues than we would perhaps care to admit.

Be careful with what you do via your phone. The potential damage it can do to your business and entire framework means that it is worth your while just taking your time to check everything you do compared to the money it could cost you to rectify everything should you fail to be as careful as you need to be.

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Hardware for Business – Where Do You Begin?

There is an adage within the computing world that as soon as you purchase a new computer or piece of hardware that it is already out of date. This is linked entirely to the pace at which this technology is being developed as it has reached the point where you wonder where on earth the technology is heading next.

From a business perspective, this does cause a number of potential problems that do have to be addressed because anything that could potentially hamper the development of your company cannot be ignored. In addition, you would be forgiven for believing that there is a very real risk of it costing you a fortune, but that also does not have to be entirely true.

Understanding Your Needs. 

Before you go ahead and splash out cash on improving your hardware, think carefully as to what your needs are generally going to be. There is often no need for you to upgrade when close inspection will show that the resources that you currently have are not even at breaking point. Often, it can be the case that some simple adjustments to what you are doing and some basic maintenance will make a huge difference to how things are operating.

This point regarding the need to understand your requirements is more important than you are perhaps aware. It is all too easy to be drawn into the sales and marketing from the manufacturer, but that is why there should be a point where you seek professional advice to ascertain as to whether or not the marketing actually does apply.

By doing this, it will also provide you with the ability to identify how close to the full capacity you are and perhaps even allow you to plan for the future and that point where you will indeed be required to upgrade your hardware.

How Far Do You Go?

There is also a question as to how far you will go with upgrading as there may very well be a temptation to push things as far as possible. Once again, this is where getting the correct advice is going to prove to be beneficial or you could make a rather costly mistake. 

Clearly, the greater the upgrade, then the greater the cost. This unfortunately means that you need to perform a rather delicate balancing act between getting a sufficient upgrade and not breaking the bank. Let’s be honest, would there be any point in upgrading your sound card if that is not something that tends to play a critical role in what you are doing on your computer?

Deciding as to what you will do is also not the kind of decision you should be taking without the appropriate knowledge. You can easily fall into traps that have been prepared by clever marketing individuals, but then there is also the idea that you could just hold fire before making a purchase.

This is all where you need to seek advice before any decision is taken. Talking to a company that understands your individual requirements will mean that the correct equipment is purchased without blowing your budget. Often, small intricacies within the hardware can make a huge difference, and having someone on your side that understands these differences and what it means from a performance point of view does make life so much easier.

We all need to have the correct hardware for things to function, but the potential for the wrong hardware to be used for the wrong purpose is very real, and the impact can certainly be detrimental to your business. The choice that is out there just complicates matters especially when you perhaps do not have the full understanding in the first place. However, there is just no need for you to go it alone in trying to resolve this issue since you will just fall into a trap of constantly wondering as to whether or not you have made the correct decision.

Hardware is there to help, but it can also hinder you which has to be avoided. Make life easier for yourself by getting the correct advice as early as possible or you could ultimately cost yourself a lot of money that could have easily been spent elsewhere.

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Are These the Key IT Trends for 2018?

In what has become a bit of a series of blog posts looking at the trends in different areas of the industry for the forthcoming year, it is perhaps best to just look at the IT industry in general to see what we could expect. Just keep in mind that there is no guarantee that this is going to all evolve in the way that we perhaps predict as some may fly while others could sink.

1. The Real Emergence of Big Data.

Data is King, but throughout 2018 there is going to be a significant emergence of the idea of big data. Technology that is related to data management will also improve as this part of IT has been on the increase for a number of years and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Furthermore, digital marketing companies are going to have an increased need for this data as they already know that this form of marketing has now surpassed the traditional forms. In order to get the best ROI, companies have to be able to pinpoint their market and that can only really be done by being able to access a significant amount of data.

2. The Concept of Containerization.

This may very well be a term that you have never heard of before, but that is absolutely fine. Containerization is, by all intents and purposes, a form of virtualization whereby applications are able to be run on the cloud without the need for the more traditional form of virtual machine.

This approach is going to lead to a more lightweight form of IT automation as it seeks to take container elements of the applications, isolate them while still allowing them to share services, facilities, and operating systems. The intention is that this is going to speed up a number of processes which is never going to be a bad thing.

3. An Improvement in Mobile Web Performance.

As mobile usage has surpassed any other device when it comes to accessing the Internet, it does then mean that there needs to be an improvement in mobile web performance. Remember that if your website is not optimized for mobiles, then Google is going to hit you with a penalty and there is a very real risk of you missing out on a huge part of your market.

In 2018, it is anticipated that there will be wide spread usage of trigger animations, mobile only development, secure pages, and an increase in apps. If you fail to become involved in any of these areas, then you do run the very real risk of being left behind.

4. IoT Will Be Bigger.

The Internet of Things has already made waves throughout 2017, but it is something that is only going to increase in popularity over the next 12 months. It is also believed that its growth is going to coincide with a similar increase in popularity of augmented technology, and it will infiltrate our lives in every possible area.

You can rightfully expect to see this affecting parts of our vehicles, our leisure time, where we work, and then don’t forget in your home. There is a very real potential for businesses to be able to take advantage of this technology, although that is clearly going to be on a very individualistic basis.

5. Enterprise Software.

Finally, there will possibly be an increase in what is known as enterprise software. In short, it is software that has been created for an individual company to fit in perfectly with their needs. Having bespoke software creation will no longer be something that is restricted to the larger brands with money to burn as improvements in software engineering is bringing the price down as well as decreasing the length of time it takes for the software itself to be developed to a point where it is able to be used.

The one thing that you have to say about the world of IT is that it is never boring. There is always something changing or evolving no matter the direction you are looking in, but then clearly not every change is going to apply to you or your business. However, that is not to say that you should overlook this as that in itself could prove to be problematic all by itself.
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Where is Computer Networking Heading in 2018?

The computer networking industry is always evolving. After all, it has to be capable of keeping pace with the different technological advancements that seem to occur every single week. Ultimately, being aware of the direction in which the industry is moving will always be essential simply because you need to get ahead of the competition rather than lagging behind.

So, it does make sense to spend some time looking at the potential direction of computer networking over the next 12 months. By doing so, it may provide you with a sense of what you need to prepare yourself for so you are not left in the starting blocks.

  1. The Idea of Edge Computing.

Edge computing is something that has been spoken about for some time, but it is anticipated that it will really start to make some waves in the industry throughout 2018. This refers to the need for faster processing times and the concept of real-time computing. There are some individuals that feel it may even get to a point where the cloud is seen as being too slow by the time it sends and retrieves information and apparently we are just not going to have the spare time to deal with that.

The speed of reaction will be key with this and as other components get faster and more powerful, it does mean that any slight delay in the gathering of information may prove to be very problematic.

  1. SD-WAN

SD-WAN refers to Software Defined Wide Area Networking, so you can see why it is shortened in that way. For this, you can look towards the way in which the amount of web traffic has increased due to the desire and need for cloud applications. What SD-WAN aims to offer is a premium business service of a cloud-enabled WAN connection that is both secure and simple.

According to studies that have been carried out, it is estimated that around 25% of people will be using this technology by the time we move into 2019. Major names such as Cisco and even Nokia are involved in its creation and with a desire for faster connection to the cloud, it is certainly something that is going to really take off.

  1. Intent Based Networking.

No, that is not a spelling error because one potential trend for 2018 is the use of Intent Based Networking, although some companies such as Cisco prefer to refer to it as an Intuitive Network. The concept here is that it aims to offer an improved networking ability, agility, and availability by planning, designing, and also implementing networks.

In short, you could be moving away from the command based network to something that you are more in control of with it being a self-operating network. This network can monitor its own self and then make alterations as required, and it is certainly something that has real potential.

  1. Next-Generation Firewall.

The Firewall has been around for some time, but clearly there are companies in the industry that feel it needs a bit of a revamp. The next-generation has evolved as a direct result of the major hacks and data breaches that occurred at the likes of Equifax and Yahoo, so the industry has been pushed into major changes.

Due to these hacks, companies need to spend some time looking more closely at the security aspect of their data and then being prepared to take the correct steps to make sure that there is a reduced chance of their being any issues. With this new type of firewall, it is going to focus on three areas including application control, a special Intrusion Prevention System, and enterprise firewall capabilities.

But it goes further as it looks deeper into applications including deep-packet inspection and also assessing malware detection via a reputation system.

Obviously with trends there is no way of knowing just how big an influence it is going to have over the next year, but it is still interesting to try to gaze into a crystal ball. Perhaps the most important point to remember is that the trends that end up being applied to you will be unique to your situation. If you are in any doubt, then getting some professional advice on what may apply to you would certainly prove to be beneficial.

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Steps to Avoid Being Hacked in 2018

Being hacked will always prove to be a problem no matter who you are or what information is at risk. That being said, it makes so much sense to be able to spend time working out how best to avoid being hacked just to lower the chances of it happening.

If we keep that point firmly implanted in our mind, then we can look at the key steps you may wish to follow to improve your security over the next 12 months.

  1. Watch Out for the Messenger App.
If you plan on using a messenger app within your business in order to communicate between individuals, then make sure that it is on a secure network. People have been hacked as a direct result of these messages being intercepted and then information being taken from the messages and used directly against the company.

Loose talk on these apps is never going to be a good thing on your part, and there are certainly some out there that are less secure than you would care to imagine. Check them out in advance before you adopt something as your app source or else you could be left counting the costs later on.

  1. Change Passwords on a Regular Basis.
This may sound very basic, but you would be surprised at how many individuals never change their passwords. The problem with this is that if your password has been hacked, then individuals could be gaining access to information via that door and you may not even be aware of it. There have been problems in the past where companies have been hacked several years earlier and they then have no idea how much information was lost as a result.

As well as changing your passwords, you need to make sure that they are as difficult as possible. If you go for something simple, then you may as well provide hackers with a sign to come and attack you.

  1. Only Use a Trusted Device.
Once again this is something that is pretty much common sense, but it is also overlooked by people who are rather reckless in their approach to security. It seems obvious that you should never just go ahead and access information from a public computer as who knows what is sitting on there that could ultimately gain access to whatever it is that you are doing.

Furthermore, there are far too many examples of individuals forgetting to log back out of various accounts, and that could lead to a massive problem. You can also add in borrowing a mobile device or a laptop from someone you know just to send a message or check on something because even though you may feel that you can trust them, there is no way of knowing if their device is as secure as it needs to be.

  1. Keep Antivirus Up to Date.
Some people feel that if they have any kind of antivirus on their system that it is going to produce this amazing protective blanket over everything that they do. Well, even though it will help you must remember that the different threats to your system are evolving pretty much on a daily basis. Those individuals, or groups, behind these threats are constantly adapting their approach and if you fail to keep things up to date, then there is an increased chance of you being hacked as the protection is just not there.

  1. Being Aware of Access to Accounts.
Finally, you must always be aware of who has access to which accounts, and make absolutely certain that they are the only people that are actually able to gain access. Just as borrowing a device from somebody else is not a good thing, nor is allowing others to use your accounts. Tracking the access, as well as the location, can help you to potentially discover an issue in your system, and the quicker you identify the issue then the faster it can all be repaired.

Perhaps the main thing to keep in mind regarding avoiding being hacked is that you just need to use common sense on your part. Being reckless is undoubtedly the most common way by which individuals and companies find that their security has been exposed, and when all you need to do is to be more careful, then that in itself is a small price to pay for better security.
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What Happened to Those Old Malware Threats?

What Happened to Those Old Malware Threats?

Lately there have been various news stories regarding malware with the main focus being on the WannaCry threat that caused chaos around the world. However, even though it may sound as if we lurch from one threat to another, it is perhaps wise to just pause for a moment and think about the older malware threats. Are they actually over and consigned to history, or are they still as dangerous today?

When you look at the number of infections around the world and see what has caused it, then you will still come across old names that you may have thought had been and gone. The truth of the matter is that old malware never dies, it still sits there in the online world just waiting for someone to walk on by that it can then attach itself to.

To better understand the problem, we can look at a report that was compiled recently by CheckPoint. In their study, they looked at the main causes of disruption to businesses by malware over a set period, and what they found was that several of the top 10 causes were around 5 years old. Two of them were older than five years, and yet there they were still causing chaos and costing businesses money.

The two that were flagged up as being important were the Zeus trojan and the Conficker Worm. You might need to go and Google them to see the chaos that they caused when they were originally introduced to the world, but the fact that you have to search does perhaps show how they faded from our mind.

But then, it does beg the question as to why they still prevail when software producers are always saying how they have brought out patches to help combat these threats.

The reason as to why they still get access to computers is because of several deciding factors. First, even though the patches may be produced, a surprising number of people will not then download and install them, so they are basically leaving the door wide open for them to be attacked. Also, others may not even update their anti-virus software to the latest version, so when you combine that with not dealing with the patch, then you are asking for trouble.

Also, there is a sense of people just adopting the principle that they are careful and will never be caught out. This is the wrong way to look at things because so many people are caught out because somebody that they know and trust took their eye off the ball. So many of these trojans will replicate themselves and send themselves off to all of the friends that the person has, so you then think that you have an email from someone you know even though they are not aware it has been sent.

There is one other point to make, and it is a point that takes us into the dark web. There, you will find old malware that has been repackaged and put up for sale with the code all included. What can then happen is that people will purchase the code, use it as the main part of some slightly different malware, and then put it out. The name may be different, but what it does and how it does it remains the same.

We have to accept that we are always going to have problems with malware. It is a battle that will never be won as those that are behind it will always make changes to try to stay ahead of those that set out to protect us. However, the main point that we are making is the very real need for us all to not forget about the things that were left behind, the malware that we mistakenly believe that is no longer a threat.

That malware is a threat. They can still cause absolute chaos if you just ignore the possibility that something may very well happen. You need to do all you can to stop this, and if you are unsure about how to protect your business, then seek professional advice as soon as possible. The cost of doing so will be insignificant in comparison to what it could cost you to rectify what may be a very poor situation.

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How You Can Improve the Performance of Chrome

google-chromeIf you prefer to use Chrome as your browser, then how about being able to make just a few changes behind the scenes to improve its overall performance? This is something that can be easily achieved even by those individuals that are not that technically minded, which means there’s no reason why you should not give it a shot on your own.

At this point, you may have very well upgraded to the version known as Chrome 57, and that is the first step to improving the performance. With this update, Google have made a few changes to cut back on the CPU power that is required to keep a number of tabs open at the same time. This was an issue with previous versions as it would crush the battery on a laptop no matter how powerful your hardware.

So, how do you improve the performance? There are three steps for you to consider checking out.

  1. Look at Your Tabs and Extensions.

It stands to reason that if you have a number of extensions running and tabs open that Chrome is going to require more power in order to operate. The first thing to do is to open the Task Manager that comes with Chrome. This will allow you to see how much power is being used by the browser and you can also then determine which tabs are using the most power. By doing this, you can then decide which ones need to be closed.

The problem is that some tabs will have aspects on the page that kill your resources by hogging as much power as possible. This will then slow down the other tabs and have a negative impact on the way in which Chrome in general can operate.

  1. Consider Using Hardware Acceleration.

This is another option even though it is something that most people are unaware of, rather than just ignoring it. Hardware acceleration is not even that complicated, and yet it can make a difference to the way in which Chrome then performs.

The aim here is that you are effectively telling Chrome and your CPU to pass some of the workload off to your GPU.

For this, you need to go to the settings aspect of Chrome which can be found via the three dots menu option in the top right corner. Once you do this, you need to go to the advanced settings part. When you click on this option, you will then come across a system option which is where you will be able to locate the hardware acceleration option. Click to enable this and then go ahead and restart Chrome so that the changes can occur.

Now, we aren’t saying that you will be able to notice a huge difference, but if it can even help just on a small scale, then it is always going to be better than nothing.

Consider Resetting Chrome.

When you use Chrome over an extended period of time, there is often a chance that you have personalized it to a certain extent as well as adding in additional programs that can ultimately slow things down. The other option that is available to you is to go ahead and send Chrome back to the original default settings, otherwise known as the factory settings.

This is going to effectively strip out everything you have done with Chrome up to this point, but as long as you understand that this is the case, then it should not be a problem to you. 

The theory behind this approach is that there can often be times where adaptations that we have been responsible for are making life difficult for Chrome. Of course, we want to add our own personal touches to things, but there is no doubt that this can slow it down quite considerably. 

The only other thing to mention regarding this is that it may not even be Chrome that is the problem and it could very well be your hardware that is the issue. If you are running a number of programs at the same time as Chrome then there is only so much that your CPU can cope with, so you may need to assess that as well. If you have any doubts or concerns, then it will always be beneficial for you to discuss things with someone that is a specialist in dealing with hardware who can advise you on the best thing for you to do next.

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Docs and Phishing Attacks Can Cause Chaos

Docs and Phishing Attacks Can Cause Chaos

You may or may not have been aware of a certain clamour regarding Google Docs in the news recently. Basically, there was a Google Docs phishing scheme that was doing the rounds that would ultimately lead to individuals having their computers infected with a virus. It literally did go viral, but aside from the obvious problem of trying to resolve this issue, it does open up something else that is worth discussing.

We are all familiar with the idea that viruses and malware can be attached to files that are added to emails, but it is amazing to think that so many people are still capable of falling for an attachment. People are still far too quick on the draw when it comes to opening emails without even thinking about where they come from, or even why they are there in the first place.

But here is the crazy thing.

This Google Docs issue would often come from a clearly bogus and crazy email address. However, people were still clicking on the link even though they could see that it did not come from someone that they knew, or somebody they could trust.

Some may even say that those individuals that fell for this kind of thing ended up getting what they deserved, but that would certainly be a bit harsh as we can all make various kinds of mistakes.

This attack does work in the tried and tested way of copying itself in an email and then blasting out to everybody that is on your address book. That way, you might see something from an individual that you know, but then this is still not a good enough reason for you to just open any link without giving it due care and attention.

How to Avoid it.

So, how do you avoid it? This is easy. The answer is to just take a moment and stop jumping in with both feet and opening links without thinking about it first.

Even if you do know the person that the email seems to come from, then does the attachment details itself make sense to you? It’s always best to check with the individual first to make sure that they did mean to send it to you. After all, it could very well come as a surprise to them.

You can still open the email, just the attachment is the part to avoid. Instead, you might want to see who else it has appeared to be sent to because that is where you can get all kinds of emails that just do not make sense at all. This is yet another clue that all is not quite right with this doc and you should not open the link under any circumstances.

But there is something slightly different about this phishing email, and that is the fact it takes you to an actual genuine Google sign-in page. The problem here is that when you add your details, it then triggers another app that is secretly gaining access to your account allowing it to then replicate itself and start that entire cycle again.

Clearly, Google are none best pleased about this, and they are certainly trying to tackle it. Furthermore, these kinds of scams can often be quite short-lived as word gets around that it’s all fake and people then step up their security.

However, if we only step up the way in which we protect ourselves when faced with this kind of issue, then why don’t we do it on a constant basis?

That is a difficult question to answer. Too often, we become lazy with our security leading to us allowing things to slip through the net. We become tired with the very idea of checking each email attachment in advance, or being absolutely certain that the website we are visiting is completely safe to check out.

The people that are behind these kinds of attacks are only too aware of this and that is why they continue to produce malware and viruses on an almost constant basis. They know that they are going to get a percentage of people that will access their files and infect their machines, and that knowledge is good enough for them.

Do yourself a favor while also making life easy for yourself and don’t become lazy with your security. It is all too easy for your computer to end up being corrupted and it literally does just take seconds for it to all go wrong. 

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IoT Hacking is a Major Issue

IoT Hacking is a Major Issue

The Internet of Things is impressive. It is something that is only going to gain momentum in the coming years as we bring this technology more and more into our daily life.

However, whenever technology becomes popular, it often leads to the development of individuals that wish to cause chaos and mayhem. If you thought that the Internet of Things would be immune, then think again.

Instead, it has been shown by various studies and reports that hacking of these devices has turned into a major issue. Not only that, hackers are using these devices to then attack websites and computer infrastructure resulting in even more chaos than before.

The problem we have here is that as we become more used to having this technology, we seem to be failing to grasp that often these devices are not secure. To be honest, so many of us are still guilty of not protecting our Wi-Fi signal allowing others to access it simply because we have not put the correct security into place.

It is important to look at the potential scale of this problem. Forbes have been quoted as saying that it is anticipated there will be close to 100 billion IoT devices in just 6 or 7 years and if things do not change from a security perspective, then that is a huge number of devices that are vulnerable to attacks.

The Problems and Issues.

Let’s look at how hackers can use IoT devices. First, they can use them as a launch pad for a large-scale DDoS attack with the potential for thousands upon thousands of devices being used in this way. They can harness small levels of power from the different devices to bring down a server or website, and the individuals that own the devices are completely oblivious to it all.

But that is something that is just annoying rather than being more worrying to the owners. There is a method out there that should make you worry about the potential for things going wrong and it is all to do with the way in which we ourselves connect to these devices.

Basically, hackers will use these devices as a springboard for getting access to your network and then work their way down to gain access to your private information. In other words, you should see it as a method by which they will use a device as a door opener, but that is not the end of their hacking attempt.

Often, people use default passwords and names for these devices as they perhaps believe that they are just not going to be attacked. What can then happen is that malware is produced that infects computers and then searches out IoT devices and basically tries to gain access by using known default passwords. To hackers, this is easy prey and it shows how a simple oversight can then potentially cause you a whole lot of trouble.

So, what kind of things are vulnerable?

This is where it gets scary, but it’s worth pointing out that some of these things have not actually been hacked and it’s just that vulnerabilities have been discovered. We are talking about digital cameras, DVR players, sound systems, even cardiac devices have been shown to potentially be at risk along with Wi-Fi baby heart monitors.

That is not an extensive list and we have only mentioned the items to allow you to see that anything is at risk of being exploited if the correct security approaches are not taken.

Obviously, there are a number of things that you can do to stop this happening. Never leave the devices with their default password; it’s just not worth it. Also, update firmware and patches from the manufacturer whenever prompted to do so as it can often be the case that a patch is dealing with a vulnerability.

We better become used to the IoT as it is here to stay and will only begin to take more of a key role in the way that we run our lives. The fact that someone sitting at a computer on a different continent can then, in effect, take control of it all is a scary thought. Make sure that it doesn’t happen to you by taking the appropriate security steps, and do so before it’s too late.

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Getting to Grips with Troubleshooting a Network

Getting to Grips with Troubleshooting a Network

Every once in a while, a computer network will encounter some kind of issue that needs to be rectified as quickly as possible. Of course, before you are able to go ahead and fix things, you need to understand what the actual real issue is, and that is where troubleshooting comes into play.

The entire concept of troubleshooting is not new, but it is something that is absolutely essential just as long as it is done correctly. Clearly, not everybody is suited to do this, as it does depend on the level of technical knowledge that you have at your disposal, which is why it can be useful to offer some kind of an explanation as to how things proceed.

First, there has to be the realization that there is an issue. There is no need for anybody to be aware of the steps that should be taken as this is something that may have to be carried out at any point.

So, if we can jump ahead and just accept that you realize that there is a problem. You may not be sure as to what the problem is, but there is some kind of understanding that the network itself is compromised and something has to be rectified.

To begin with, you need expert help. There is a very real need for you to get networking engineers who can come and diagnose the issue, sometimes even remotely, and to point you in the correct direction for the solution that is going to deal with all of your problems. This identification can take some time depending on the size of the network and the complexity of the issue at hand, but then it is also best for it to not be rushed to make sure that the issue is correctly identified.

It is also worth pointing out that there are times where troubleshooting a networking issue can be done either manually or automatically. This depends on the problem at hand, and also the way in which the problem is going to be approached. There are different versions of automated software that can handle a number of issues, but clearly this is something that can only be identified once the actual problem itself has been uncovered.

But what kind of issues could you be facing?

Well, there are several, and they do tend to be graded according to severity. A network issue could be something as simple as software for a router needing to be upgraded which has led to connections being lost or dropped causing all kinds of problems. At the same time, you could be talking of a virus hitting the network which then has to be dealt with due to the way in which it has spread so easily and in such a short period of time.

It may also involve a new piece of hardware having to be correctly installed after a failed attempt. The drivers associated with the hardware may not be configured correctly, so this will then lead to there being a number of issues that affect the entire network. You may even be looking at the installation of new cables or a new Wi-Fi device that is just not working as it should for the entire network.

As you can see, we are not even talking about major issues, and yet the impact that they can have on how the entire network works can be huge. It can disrupt the flow of work. It can restrict the way in which everybody on the network can just get on with things. It can be annoying and frustrating leading to lost business or pressure being added to individuals when it really is something that can be fixed in next to no time.

However, as we said earlier, there is a very real need for you to only ever use an actual engineer rather than making any kind of an attempt to rectify things on your own. This can often lead to matters being made worse, even though you don’t intend to do that, and if this is not your area of expertise, then why take that risk?

Having a network that is running smoothly should be easy. You will run into problems, but there is no need to panic as it is often nothing major and can be solved in next to no time. It is better to down tools for a short period of time and get things rectified rather than getting into a panic and making matters worse. Get help as quickly as possible, so your network can ultimately be back up and running as it should be.

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Computer Viruses are Nothing New

Computer Viruses are Nothing New

In a break from what is often the norm with these posts, it’s interesting to change tact slightly and look at something that has been revealed quite recently. The fact that computer viruses are not exactly something new.

Now, that in itself is not going to be news to you; there’s a pretty good chance you have come across a virus in the last 10 to 15 years, but we are talking about something more than that.

What has been revealed is that the first computer virus actually appeared 35 years ago, and if you were of the impression that the Mac was pretty much immune, then you might also like to know that this first virus hit an Apple computer. The Apple II to be precise.

However, it was slightly different to how we view a virus or malware today. The only potential similarity was that it was designed by a 15 year old kid, they started them young back then as well, who was merely curious about how things worked with code and programming.

The virus was known as the ‘Elk Cloner’ and it was spread on floppy disk. The basics of it were simple enough to understand. The infected disk would be inserted into the computer, and the virus would copy itself onto the memory of the computer. It could then transfer itself onto another floppy disk that was not infected making it possible for it to be spread from computer to computer.

But it went a bit further.

It seems that when you booted up your infected computer for the 50th time, you were then hit with a poem that basically told you that your computer had been infected with this virus. At this point, it was largely harmless and it is also rather interesting and fun to note that the entire reason for its creation was effectively a prank by a teenager.

Compare it to viruses and malware today. It is very rare that it would be seen as being nothing more than a teenage prank. Indeed, the entire reason for the existence of most of these viruses and malware is to steal data or money and cause as much mayhem and chaos as possible. There is no sense of it just being done for fun any longer.

The Elk Cloner could not even be seen as being the door opener for the entire field of virus creation, but it did perhaps show the potential vulnerability of computers for the first time. This vulnerability has become even more apparent with the way in which these viruses use the Internet and cloaking their real meaning in other files just to get into your computer. It is not exactly done by floppy disk any longer.

There is malice behind the creation of viruses and malware. Often, it is run by huge cybergangs that are looking to make huge sums of money from the spread of the virus and gaining access to computers for whatever reason they have in mind. The innocence, or apparent innocence that should be, has been lost to the world, and it is something that will never return.

Of course, those behind these viruses have to constantly change their approach as we get better at understanding the way in which we have to protect our computers in order to avoid getting that virus in the first place. We have become more switched on at the main ways in which they try to gain access, which is why there is a need for them to think of new methods and new viruses that we just are not expecting.

Think of the list of viruses or malware approaches that have caused chaos. Ransomeware, trojans, worms. They have names, codes, warnings are put out as to what could happen to your machine. They hide in files with names such as ‘I Love You’ and copy themselves to your address book and send them out to your friends. The hope there is that they are fooled into opening it as they trust that it is from you, and then their computer is caught and the virus does its job once again.

Is it any wonder that the anti-virus and anti-malware industry is so big? You can also guarantee that when that first virus was produced all of those years ago that nobody ever dared to dream that it would end up being as bad as this. Nobody was concerned about a virus. Now, everybody is worried and stressed about it even down to our cell phones that can also be hacked and infected through apps and other downloads.

If only we could return to the time of the Elk Cloner. It was certainly a lot easier to handle computers and there’s no doubt that we would have had less to worry about.

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Malware Via Social Media is a Very Real Risk

social media malwareEven though social media is full of fun and huge business, there can be a dark undertone that its users can easily be caught up in if they are not careful. What we are talking about is malware and it is actually more widespread on social media websites than you are perhaps aware.

The problem does not lie in the likes of Facebook or Twitter itself, but rather the links and profiles that appear on there. Often, there can be rather elaborate scams that can lure people in and then take advantage of them before they are even aware of what is going on.

In addition, apps are another source of malware that is overlooked and when you combine the two, then you can begin to see how social media can be a breeding ground for these kinds of problems.

But how can this happen?

It’s all to do with people letting their guard down on social media. We have been taught how to fine tune our safety in other parts of the Internet, but for some reason we think that as we are around friends on social media, then everything is fine.

That is where those individuals behind these scams are going to then be able to take advantage.

Also, we are not just talking about one virus or one scam, the list is pretty impressive and far too long for us to sit and discuss it here.

So, what do you do? How bad can it be?

Let us deal with the second question. The answer is that it can be just as bad as it would be if you downloaded a file from an email or download site as everything else stays the same. It’s just the way in which they try to gain access to your computer that is different. If you think of the destruction caused by a virus, then it is the exact same even if it comes from social media.

Now the first question and how you deal with it.

Of course, you can make sure that your security software is all up to date and is aware of the latest threats. That really should be your first port of call in any eventuality.

However, there’s more and it’s all down to educating people on how to move forward. Remember how you were once told to be aware of those emails from people that you didn’t know and it had an attachment? Well, the same goes for messages from individuals that you have never spoken to before on these websites. Also, be careful of links in posts that appear on groups or pages you may belong to because the individuals behind the malware will play the long waiting game to actually build a reputation before getting that link or download in there. They really can be that patient.

You need to forget that you are surrounded by friends and think of it in this manner. You are sharing a website with 1 billion people. A reasonable percentage of them are going to be there for reasons other than having a great time and connecting with friends. Even if you are looking at less than 1%, it still adds up to something huge and you can understand how you may be caught up in things that you would rather avoid.

Social media is clearly going to be here to stay and even though the companies behind the websites do take the appropriate action wherever possible, it is impossible for them to completely stop the attacks from happening when their sites are so huge. In addition, the people that join and leave is moving constantly and even though they may try their best to monitor this, it is an impossible task that they have to deal with.

The main thing is that it has to come from you and anybody else that uses your accounts or gains access to social media via your connections. You are often going to be careful in other areas, so why would you let things slip in this instance? It just doesn’t make any sense and when you consider what is at risk and what you could lose just by dropping your guard, is it worth it in the end? Of course not.

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The Missing Font Could Be Malware

The Missing Font Could Be Malware

The way in which hackers attempt to gain access to your computer is becoming more elaborate by the day. It seems that they have realized that a large percentage of people are aware of not downloading attachments from people you don’t know and only downloading software or updates from trusted sites.

This means they have had to change tact and, if you are serious about your security, then it’s best for you to be aware of the latest tactics to know what to look out for.

In this instance, it appears that the hackers have come up with what is a rather ingenious way of trying to get you to download their malware. It’s called the ‘missing font’ approach and it comes via a specific Chrome based hack.

The problem here is that we are all aware that we could go to a website and some font that has been used in it is just not recognized. Alternatively, we download a PDF from somewhere we trust and it says the font isn’t there so we can download it or it can be swapped for something else. Also, would you have ever thought that something that appears to come from Google could contain malware?

Of course not, but then that’s why this approach by the hackers could be very successful.

What to Look Out For.

In this instance, it seems that the hackers will target Wordpress websites and play around with the text after they have compromised the entire site. You go to the site, and what looks like a perfectly credible box from Google pops up stating that a certain font is missing.

In this box, there is an update button and, of course, people will feel inclines to click on it especially as it does resemble the button you would click if it was a genuine thing from Google. That is where it catches people out as there is a tendency to just go ahead and do this without even thinking about it.

But here’s where you can pay close attention and avoid getting caught out.

First, you need to question the actual fact that a font is missing. Before you download anything, do yourself a favor and check with Google themselves if it is missing on your browser or computer. If so, then only download it from an official website rather than via a secondary source. It’s just not worth the potential problems that come with it.

Next, if you do click on the update button and download something, then you will see that the file you download doesn’t match the font that you are apparently missing out on. That on its own should set the alarm bells ringing because why wouldn’t they match?

Also, if you look at the popup box, it will state the version of Chrome that you are running. It’s very easy for you to check on Chrome itself which version you are genuinely on because it appears that the hackers have stuck to version 53. However, this in itself is a clever ploy as most people will just completely gloss over these kinds of snippets of information, and that is what they are banking on.

But here’s where it gets tricky. At this point, most of the malware detectors, including Windows Defender and even Chrome itself, is missing out on identifying it as a problem even though it has been shown that it clearly is an issue. This will, of course, change in the near future, but don’t be fooled into thinking that your anti-malware will just pick it up and deal with it. That really may not happen.

Clearly, the best approach is to use the same level of common sense with this as you do with downloading files from anywhere else on the Internet. Don’t believe everything you see and never take something at face value especially when you are visiting websites. Obviously, you can trust things that are clearly via the Microsoft or Google website, but third-party sources should be avoided. The potential cost to you just by thinking that you can download anything from anywhere can be massive and who wants to be caught up in all of that hassle?

The only thing left for us to say is to wonder where the hackers will go next. They are always fighting to stay one step ahead and using missing fonts as an option is certainly a clever way to go about their business. However, if we all just up our own game and pay attention to what we are doing online, then hopefully they will not get far at all.

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So Where is Technology Heading?

dura tech networkThe one thing that you can be sure of when it comes to technology is that it is always going to be racing ahead to the next thing. This can especially be noticed in the world of computers where it always seems as if something new and improved comes out on a weekly basis.

So, where is technology heading within this industry? How far is it going to move on this year?

Well, clearly nobody has a crystal ball that can look into the future and give you an accurate idea, but there are a few hints as to what could be possible thanks to advances that have already been made. Also, it’s important that you as a consumer are aware of what is going to likely be happening next as it has a major impact on your decision as to whether or not you will be spending money to upgrade now, or if you should hold on.

  1. Functionality and Usability with Computers. 

A few years ago it was believed that the iPad and other tablets would effectively spell the end of the  humble PC. People predicted that consumers would love the ease with which you could use the iPad and so much was crammed into something so light and so small.

However, that’s something that hasn’t happened. Instead, we have seen a rise in ultrabooks where you still have the various functions of the PC, but in a smaller version which is really putting this in the middle ground between traditional laptop and the tablet computer.

This is something that is going to be improved upon thanks to changes in technology. Ultrabooks will be lighter, faster, and more powerful in order to really compete with tablets. Using them is going to largely be hassle free, which is something that the public are always seeking.

  1. Improvements in Battery Power.

Another key area is battery power as people now expect to get much longer from their battery than ever before. At the same time, they also do not want the battery to weigh too much as everything has to be lightweight as much as possible.

Once again, we can look at tablets as being the source of this inspiration as consumers do look towards the tablet and now expect so many of the features to appear on their laptop. People are fed up of being able to watch their battery die before them as they open some other window or try to complete that bit of work. Computer hardware manufacturers will have to take that into consideration or the run the very real risk of losing more customers to tablets as they too are continually improving their technology.

  1. Wireless Charging.

This ties in with the battery point mentioned above, but the big companies, such as Intel and Apple, are working hard at producing devices that are capable of wireless charging. In short, you put the item down and it starts to charge.

This in itself is an amazing development when you consider the frustration that is felt by everyone as they frantically search for their charger due to their battery draining. How many chargers are lost in a single year is anyone’s guess so this change in technology is certainly going to be used by a huge number of people.

  1. Using Biometric Sensors.

Finally, we have advances in technology related to security as you are going to find that more computers will introduce biometric sensors as a way to access information. This means your fingerprints or even scanning your eyeball as a means to unlock your screen.

This is superior to passwords as it’s not as if your body parts can be hacked and even though this is something that is still relatively new, it is being developed and there is the belief that it will become more mainstream in next to no time.

This does sound like science fiction, but the big companies are all interested in it as they are aware that security is one of the key areas where people tend to feel nervous about things. The fact that they are investing heavily in its development shows that they are taking it serious and we just have to wait and see what they bring out.

Technology is an interesting subject especially when you tie it in with computers thanks to the role they play in our world. It is something that is constantly changing and keeping up to date with it all is not that easy. It may be best to just accept that you will never always be able to have the most technologically advanced items simply because something better is already out there.

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Improved Cloud Conditions Are On The Way

imp cloudConsidering that the cloud industry is expected to be worth in the region of $122 billion by the end of 2017, it’s perhaps no surprise that the major players are looking at how they can improve the cloud for their users. However, some of their improvements have come as the result of various studies that have been conducted into the way that they do business and the technology itself.

At this point, we are talking about Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, although clearly others are going to have to follow their lead and make some key changes to what they offer as well. The main thing is that the end user is going to benefit from it all, so that in itself is not exactly going to be a bad thing.

In addition, their services have been reviewed by competition authorities who have come to the conclusion that their contracts have not exactly been fair to the end user. They have since declared that they will take steps to remedy things, so the customer is then going to be in a better position.

One major problem, which is worrying in itself, was their almost reluctance to inform their users of changes to their services in advance and basically hit them with it without any warning. This included the cancellation of their accounts, the size of their accounts, and also if it was suspended. The fact that the industry in general is being forced into doing this does come as a surprise, but it also shows how it is an industry that is still trying to find its feet and it has been struggling to actually keep up to speed with the rate of expansion. It really is a perfect example of how demand has been capable of outstripping supply, so they need to up their game wherever possible.

The problem was extended to the fact that they muddied the waters when it came to the consumer and their rights to cancel their contract if they were not happy with these alterations. The three companies, as well as others based in different locations, appeared to make life as difficult as possible along with adding charges if they did wish to cancel. This was something else that was seen as being unfair with customers effectively being held to ransom.

All of this regarding the cancellation of services, and for this we are talking about all cloud computing providers, was that it’s not uncommon for small companies to just vanish without a trace. Indeed, there have been several companies already in 2017 that have been guilty of this while at the end of 2016 various providers gave their customers less than 14 days to find another provider and move all of their data elsewhere.

Now, what’s the lesson that you can learn from all of this?

Well, first of all, the chances of the likes of Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Apple vanishing without a trace is non-existent so, from that perspective, you are in safe hands. However, even though they are the major players, the industry is so big that there are literally thousands of companies offering their services and that is where the problem lies.

It’s not exactly a bad thing that they are being forced into more regulations and making changes to improve the customer experience either. It should lead to smoother operations, ease of access, faster  uploading, faster downloading, so it really is a winning situation.

It makes so much sense for the industry to be forced into tightening its rules and regulations to provide the consumer with more protection as there is so much money at stake. Also, we are not just talking about the cost of gaining access, but when you think about the information that businesses have on the cloud, the cost to the company overall could far outstrip the cost of the storage.

Another lesson is to seriously consider avoiding going for the cheap option. There is just too big a risk of something going wrong and often, if it sounds too good to be true, then it will be. Are you willing to take that chance? Is your business and the items you store on the cloud important enough for you to be willing to invest some additional money and go with one of the larger companies or somebody with a better track record?

Think about it all before you take any action.


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Is Cloud Computing Spinning Out of Control?

cloud computingRecent studies have indicated that there are a number of individuals within the industry that believe the cloud computing industry is indeed spinning out of control. Now, should this be a concern to you? Well, that can depend on how reliant you are on the technology, but the fact that some are raising doubts as to the potential future of cloud computing is certainly something that is worth investigating.

The problem according to those in the industry is that cloud computing has grown faster than anybody had predicted. Now, we are not talking about it just being slightly ahead of target, but rather things have gone crazy.

But there are problems associated with this if you are more involved in IT rather than running the company overall. The problem is that more and more information and connections are appearing on these networks that it has been reported less than one in three IT managers feel that they are adequately supported to run things.

For them, they are unable to have the correct technology and support on their side of things to make sure that it all runs smoothly. They do not have the level of control that they require to keep things in check and when that happens then there is a very real risk of everything in that network just falling down and how much of a disaster would that be?

Here is something else to consider from the point of view of an IT manager, the more chaos there is and the less control they have then the greater the risk of there being security issues.

You need to remember that those individuals that deal with finding security lapses in order to take advantage of them will love that this industry is in some kind of chaos. They can then use the fact that people are scrambling around to try to take advantage of it wherever possible. This is another nightmare scenario for those already stressed IT managers and they hardly need something else put on their shoulders.

It’s Not All Bad.

This might sound like some kind of cloud doomsday scenario, but that’s not all true. Instead, there is a feeling that even though the industry may very well be struggling at this point that it’s not going to be like this for too long.

The reason why many say that is simply because of the money that is involved. The industry is expected to grow by 17% in the next 12 months and that is huge. It is believed that the industry is now more than $200 billion and that figure is only going to increase.

With money like that, then it makes sense that the companies such as Amazon and Microsoft are going to focus on providing the best service possible. At the same time, those involved in producing hardware and software are in the process of upping their game thanks largely to the shouting and screaming that is coming from those IT managers.

There is so much investment in the infrastructure that companies are really showing their hand and where they want this industry to go. If you look at the private cloud sector, then once again it is estimated that investments will be close to $20 billion this year.

So, what does this mean for you? Why is this important?

Well, it’s quite easy to understand when you stop and think about it. No matter if you are busy freaking out about that lack of control and feeling that the door has been left wide open for people to get in and abuse the system, it’s going to get better.

The companies that provide everything that is required from a technology point of view are aware that businesses have taken to the cloud in a crazy fashion. They know that there are huge sums of money sitting there waiting for them to claim if they can just resolve the issues that IT departments are having. Also, they know that those companies that tend to get in the door first are the ones that are most likely to be successful.

The key thing is that this is just a particular storm that you just have to ride through. Help is indeed at hand and if you are at all concerned about your current cloud solutions, then it is best to not just cancel it and avoid it until later. Instead, we strongly advise that you stick with it because it will be worth it when the providers catch up with an industry that has largely left them behind.

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Are You Still Reluctant to Use Windows 10?

windowsConsidering all of the fanfare that surrounded its launch, not to mention the free upgrades to those individuals with Windows 7 or 8, it’s perhaps slightly surprising to discover that a number of people are still reluctant to use Windows 10. Now, it is generally accepted that this version of Windows is better than those that came before it, but could it be that the relatively poor Windows 8 version has done some damage?

To many, there are still aspects of Windows 10 that they are not happy about. There are a few disgruntled individuals that are fed up of the forced updates that just seem to occur at random times with computers then restarting at what they seem to determine to be the best hours of the day to do so.

But here’s the thing.

Microsoft have claimed that this is the last completely different form of Windows that they are going to produce. From now on it is something that will just be adapted and altered as technology changes, but there will never be another complete overhaul unlike what we have seen before.

This in itself should be a reason as to why you need to upgrade to Windows 10. It will undoubtedly get to a point where you would be left so far behind on the likes of Windows 7 that you will, at some point, be living in the proverbial Dark Ages.

However, Microsoft may have very well created a problem for themselves.

The free update is now over in most areas and that does mean that the majority of people that were going to upgrade have already done so. They need to adopt a different strategy to convince those that were left behind to go ahead and take that plunge, and how are they doing it?

Well, their approach is to produce hardware that is specifically designed to really show off the best parts of Windows 10. The aim is to show you what it is really capable of doing in various formats to then encourage you to go ahead and take that plunge.

Microsoft are actually working in tandem with a number of PC manufacturers to make sure that they produce machines that are capable of showing off Windows 10 to its full glory. This has led to a closer collaboration between the two whereas in the past it was more a case of them working individually and then creating this rather awkward marriage further down the line.

Their intention is to produce hardware that is capable of doing some pretty amazing and cool things so that anybody checking it out feels compelled to go ahead and buy it. This in itself is a bit of a gamble because things such as their Surface machine does tend to be rather pricey and people can be put off giving it a go when they see the price tag that is attached to it.

So, Should You Upgrade?

The question now is whether or not you really should upgrade and, to be honest, the answer has to be yes although when you have to do it is another matter. It all depends on what you want to get out of your system and what you need it to do. Remember, Windows 7 is still the most popular version out there and it is still slightly ahead of Windows 10 when it comes to the number of computers that use it, so there are a number of people in this boat.

There is no doubt that as technology improves you will be forced to upgrade and just have to get used to the various features and how Windows 10 operates. Of course, there is a cost involved for companies that have things built around earlier versions, but it is still best to do this when you are in control of the situation rather than Microsoft forcing you into it leading to a computer nightmare that sends your IT team into a frenzy.

The fact that they have stopped the free upgrade is a bit of a pain. It has always been known that the majority of people that use Windows are rather slow at doing the upgrade and this has been going on since the earliest days. Now, with there feeling like there is some added pressure to do so, it may very well be that more people are reluctant to effectively do as they are being instructed to do by Microsoft.

At the end of the day, your only option will be to eventually upgrade or switch over to either Linux or a Mac. There’s no doubt that Windows 10 is good. It is effective at what it does, but whether or not that is enough to convince you to change is something that only you can decide.

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What is Best for a Server? Linux or Windows

What is Best for a Server? Linux or Windows

If you are looking around for a new server for your network then there is one question that you may want to ask yourself, Linux or Windows?

Now, both have their own advantages although for most people there is no real understanding of what each one brings to the table. In other words, there will be a tendency to go for what appears to be the cheapest option, at least initially, but that is not always going to be the correct way of going about things.

So, what is actually best? Should you opt for Linux or Windows?

The Differences Between the Two.

While both options share some similarities, there are certain conditions where one is substantially superior to the other. For example, the Windows server is clearly going to use their software whereas Linux is open-sourced and this can have its own advantages.

Furthermore, Windows web hosting is seen as being better when languages such as Vbscript and ASP.NET are being used whereas Linux is better with the likes of PHP, Perl and Ruby. You will also see a difference in the control panel aspect with Linux preferring to use the Cpanel option, which is the one you may be most familiar with, whereas Windows goes for the Plesk version.

However, aside from these differences there is also no doubt that each one can be superior than the other in a multitude of ways.

The Advantages of Windows.

If we can start by looking at the advantages of using Windows and the first thing is that people will have a tendency to feel more confident in using this version since they are clearly aware of the name and feel safe in it. There is also the advantage of the way in which things are being updated more regularly and, once again, you know the source.

Another huge advantage is that ASP.NET is often superior to any other language that is being used as its performance is impressive to say the least. The fact that the latest version of it can also be used in Linux is often regarded as being an attempt by Microsoft to slowly move across and take some of the market away from those that have, up until this point, only preferred to use Linux.

Finally, there are certain software packages that are still exclusive to Windows and they are seen as being the best in their field. The main two are called Exchange and SharePoint and they deal in communication and also make working on any project so much easier than it would otherwise be. The fact that you cannot use them on Linux, which does have its own versions even though they are not as popular, is certainly something for certain businesses to keep in mind when making their decision.

The Advantages of Linux.

When it comes to Linux, perhaps the main advantage is that it is more secure than Windows. Thanks to its open-source programming, it is also regarded as being more reliable and efficient at what it does and because of its superior stability it is often seen by many as being the best option when you are looking at choosing a server.

It is also the best one to choose if you plan on using PHP based scripts or the other languages mentioned earlier. These scripts work better on the framework that comes with Linux and when you then match that with the stability and efficiency that we just mentioned, then it begins to make sense as to why you would choose this.

Making Your Decision.

So, how do you make your decision? Well, this is the great debate and it is important that you are not just swayed by the price.

Instead, it depends on what you plan on using your server for. If it is to run some kind of content management system then Linux is going to be the best option. However, for more complex issues based on projects and communication in business then most would end up going for Windows. If the price is actually an issue then, once again, we would opt for Linux as the cost is more stable unless you specifically request certain additional applications.

Overall, this is something that you need to get some expert advice on rather than just guessing at which option is going to be the best for you. Talk to an expert regarding what it is that you plan on using the server for and listen to their advice as to which option will serve you best. There is no clear-cut answer as to which option is superior as there are just so many deciding factors that need to be taken into consideration. Remember, having the correct server just makes everything else work better and flow more easily, so it really is worth taking your time to get this decision correct.

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Why Your Computer Really is Getting Slower

slowsnailWhy Your Computer Really is Getting Slower

If you cast your mind back to when you first got your laptop or desktop. The chances are you switched it on and were pretty amazed at how fast everything seemed to be. However, now it is a different story. Your computer appears to be sluggish and you try deleting things off it as you feel that it is carrying too much data and surely that will be causing it all?

Well, even though that can contribute to the overall slowness of your computer, it does not have to be the main issue by any means. Also, you are not even imagining that your computer is slower than it used to be as it has been shown that, over time, things do slow down from those dreamy early days where everything appeared to be working at warp speed.

But why is this the case? The answer could be a lot easier than you were perhaps expecting.


1. The Issue of Start-up Applications.

The first point is to do with the number of start-up applications that you tend to pick up from the moment that you fire up your new computer. When it comes to you, it is bare aside from the factory settings and information, so there really are limited things on your hardware.

This changes the more that you use your computer and start to download all kinds of things. In actual fact, it is estimated that the average computer a home is going to try to fire up approximately 80 different programs, but here’s the thing. You don’t actually need all of them.

Look at it from this perspective. Do you actually need iTunes to load automatically every single time you fire up your computer? Do you need Skype to do the same? If you actually look at the list of things that load up then you will see that a number of them can be changed so that they only load when you want them to. As a result, they use up less of the processor power meaning your computer is faster.


2. A Build-up of Temporary Files.

Over time, your computer is going to start to save a number of different temporary files and all that they do is take up space and slow things down. It will save files, save your progress on games, things you worked on where you can hit the undo button thanks to a small temporary file having been saved. And then, you have cookies and they too are going to be taking up space and power.

You do not need this. Sure, your computer put all of these snippets of information there for a reason, but at the end of the day they do not directly influence the running of your computer in a positive manner. Instead, they will hinder you, so delete them.


 3. Viruses or Malware.

This is the one that everybody opts for immediately and it is easy to understand why this is the case. People will automatically presume that the reason why their computer is going so slow is simply because they are so common. Also, people tend to be aware of the fact that viruses and malware can often be spotted simply because of the speed of your computer.

The reason why this happens is because the virus is using up power, so it slows down everything else in the process. You may then discover that your computer is working at a snails pace and at this point you do not even know what the virus is doing or what it could be corrupting.

It is certainly a good idea to run an updated malware or virus checker simply because of how this can often be the answer to all of your problems.


 4. Your Computer Needs a Tune-up.

You may have noticed that software you run is always seeming to have to be updated, but there is a problem that you may not even be aware of. Here’s an example. Windows 10 just appears to be constantly updated and with each update, the program itself is becoming larger and more complex. As a result, this puts pressure on the processor and other hardware because they end up being left behind since you will very rarely think about upgrading them.

What this means is that your computer needs some maintenance, but just running a check is not going to be good enough. Instead, there is a very real need for you to get some expert advice so they can work through the updates and just fine tune what you need and what is actually just wasting space and resources.

The main point that we are making here is that you cannot be surprised that your computer appears to be unable to work as effectively as it once did when it was new. Just as a car gets older and things start to fall apart, so does your computer. The key is to be aware of this and to take steps to rectify things as early as possible, it really will make a huge difference.

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Is Remote Access Secure?

work homeYou may have previous experience of dealing with remote access to your network or server, but have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about just how secure it is? Probably not as a number of companies and individuals just assume that things are going to work out well and do not put the required level of thought into it and this can often be a bit of a problem.

Indeed, a number of companies have actually invested a considerable sum of money into the creation of a remote access system and yet they have not even looked at the security issues that surround it. That is a problem and one that has to be addressed.

If you actually look at a number of the large hacks that have occurred in recent years where data has been stolen, then you will see that remote access servers have been at the root of it. In actual fact, if you cast your mind back to 2012 and the Verizon data breach, then it was discovered that their remote access options were involved 88% of the time, which is a staggering fact all on its own.

One major issue is that a number of companies will allow their employees to access the network from their home computer. This in itself is difficult because there is no guarantee that they will have the correct security software installed and their computer may already be compromised. This then leads to hackers or malware being able to gain access to your network remotely without them even having to do too much work on their part.

To get around this particular issue, some larger organizations will only allow their employees to access their networks using company laptops. This allows them to provide better control over the security aspect and it certainly makes a lot of sense for this approach to be taken when you consider what could be compromised.

But what is you cannot afford to give everybody their own laptop?

Well, there are other solutions and you simply cannot afford to leave everything open to chance since remote access is certainly not as secure as you were perhaps expecting. As an absolute minimum, you should be looking at having the best firewall and security software in place for your network and to make sure that all of the bases are covered. You should also be looking at having intrusion detection software installed and that this is constantly monitored for any unauthorized access.

Another approach is to have various levels of access depending on the staff member. Those at the lower end of the organization may simply not require the same access to every single piece of information that the company has, so their ability to get into those areas should be restricted. This is just an additional security measure, but it is one that is very important and could really safeguard your entire company.

This does mean that you need to have the correct setup within your organization in order to do this, but that is where some specialist help is certainly going to prove to be rather useful.

In addition, there is the option of going ahead and forcing an installation of security monitoring on the computer that belongs to the individual in order to provide an extra level of protection. You may decide to create a Managed Service Plan as a direct result and it is certainly something that is worth considering as it means you can have a better understanding of the potential risks coming from any workstation. This is not to be seen as prying by any means but rather a way to protect the entire network.

The difficult with this is that there is no doubt remote access to a network is fraught with difficulties. Furthermore, it is also going to be a fine line between protecting your network and not interfering with whatever it is that your employees are doing on their home computers if this is indeed what they are using to access the network.

Overall, the main problem is that people fail to really grasp what it means to provide remote access to a server or network. They put too much faith in the software or protection that tends to come with it rather than thinking even just one step further away and wondering what happens if an individual that works for the company ends up compromising everything.

You have to realize that those individuals that seek to gain access will do so in any way possible. Any singular weak link can be exploited. Our advice is to make sure that any precautionary step is taken when it comes to security and, if at all possible, look at trying to provide your own laptops that will drastically reduce the chances of things being exploited. Just remember that when companies such as Sony or Verizon are being exploited that it may not even be possible to completely eliminate the chance of something happening.

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