Monday, March 27, 2017

4 Cutting-Edge Technologies Within Your Grasp

It’s fascinating to look back to what people of the past predicted our technology would look like today, and even more so when we see their truly fantastical ideas become a reality. This also allows us to anticipate what will someday be the norm in business technology. Here’s four technologies that we’re looking forward to seeing more of.
Spread of Virtual Reality
This technology has recently seen great improvements, and so it shouldn’t be long before it becomes a staple in day-to-day activities. The sophisticated software that powers the immersive environments users experience is in the running to be as impactful as the personal desktop computer. Facebook even dropped a cool $2 billion to pick up Oculus in 2014, and today the headset is available for $499 at major technology retailers.
Plus, despite the dismissive attitude many held towards the initially video gaming-oriented technology, a lot of effort has gone into brainstorming new and innovative uses that a workplace could have for VR.
Interaction through Ambient Proximity
The use of beacon technology now allows smartphone users an increased ability to interact with their surroundings, proving that the Internet of Things shows continued promise in the future. These beacons allow two nearby devices to share information via their connection to each other, allowing PayPal and Apple to simplify their mobile payment processes.
Additionally, other retailers are using these beacons to collect data on in-store customer behaviors--Under Armor being a prominent example.
Welcome to the Drone Zone
Many major companies have begun to experiment with the use of drones. Facebook, for one, has plans to try expanding the reach of Internet connectivity with solar-powered drones, and both Amazon and Google are working towards making delivery-drones a reality.
Other companies are adding their innovations to the technology as well: Finnish startup Shaper Shape have made drones capable of independently making decisions through their programming. Drones like these will have the capability to essentially “learn” about their surroundings and identify objects from above.
Improved Social Payments
One of the most irksome parts of lunch meetings are when the time comes to pay the bill. However, that irksomeness will soon be a thing of the past, as socially-focused mobile apps, like the PayPal-powered Venmo and Square’s Cash, are swiftly becoming self-contained social networks. Meanwhile, major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are working to integrate mobile payments into their offerings as well.
Are any of these technologies more exciting to you than the others? What are some other examples of near-future tech that you can’t wait to make use of? Tell us what you think in the comments section!

Tip of the Week: Every PC User Should Know These 4 File-Sharing Practices

How many ways can you think of to share a file between two workstations? The more ways you know how to share a file, the less chance there is that you’ll be stuck without access to critical files due to an Internet outage. This week’s tip will inform you of four different ways to help your business share files.
Sharing via External Solutions
Sharing through external pieces of hardware is an option, either via a portable flash drive or USB hard disk drive. While these are helpful if you don’t have a better way to transport files, doing so comes with several risks, including data loss or theft. If you lose your flash drive, you better hope that it has a pass code or some type of encryption. Otherwise, nothing is stopping someone from taking your device and plugging it into their own computer to find the contents.
Share through Email
Text files and other small documents can be sent through email. It’s as simple as attaching them to the message and sending it. Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, or your preferred email solution will all have the ability to attach files and send them alongside the message, though the size restraint can be a bit of a problem. Before assuming that you’ll be fine sending an attachment via an email, be sure to understand what your solution’s limitations are.
Share through a Network Drive
If you’ve tried to share a file with someone else in the office, it’s recommended that you use a network drive. Connecting your organization’s endpoints through either a physical network or virtual network, rooted in a central location, allows you to drop files into the network drive for other users to access. Just make sure that there’s some sort of protocol for organizing files in your network drive--otherwise you’ll find your drive quickly becoming disorganized, and a messy network is a good way to misplace files.
Share Through the Cloud
The best way to share files is with cloud-based storage. For example, uploading a file to Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive allows anyone who’s allowed to view or edit it to do so. Through shared folders and drives in the cloud, you can collaborate on files remotely. Even better, you can edit permissions to restrict access to important files on a per user level.

Internet-Connected Cars Prove Easy Targets for Hackers

Cars aren’t as simple as they used to be, particularly in regard to the technology that’s inside them. Nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to find a new vehicle that isn’t vulnerable in some way to threats like malware or cyber attacks. The researchers at Kaspersky have proven that many apps that are connected to smart cars aren’t as secure as drivers expect them to be.
A pair of researchers have found that nine of the most popular car-connected apps have lackluster security features that keep them from protecting the drivers as best they can. The reason is simply because the apps store the usernames and passwords on the phones connected to the vehicles… without encryption. Considering how it’s a relatively simple feat for a hacker to root a smartphone, the hacker could easily gain access to the victim’s vehicle. In a worst-case scenario, a hacker could use fraudulent versions of these apps to tether the phone to a car and steal the user’s credentials, or use an overlay attack to accomplish virtually the same thing.
These types of attacks are nothing new, but they are concerning--especially since they could eventually turn into the beginnings of an epidemic, one which sweeps across roadways and threatens anyone who dares to set foot in a computerized vehicle.
Hackers that lurk online, hoping to find the latest threats and security troubles to take advantage of, have also shown interest in these exploits. Researchers have found posts that advertise the sale of these car app credentials, including PINs and VINs for various vehicles from all sorts of different manufacturers. When looking at these vulnerabilities, it has become clear that vehicle manufacturers have failed to adapt to the improvements (and failures) of vehicular technology security. While the connectivity is a great way to sell a car, you’d be hard-pressed to find a salesman who will admit that the vehicle you’re interested in could be vulnerable to hackers.
Therefore, the automotive industry will be left with an ultimatum: either step up and make vehicles more secure from online threats, or face the frustration of dealing with angry customers, eventually eroding their will enough to forcefully bring change to the manufacturing process.
What are your thoughts on owning a smart car? Do you think it’s worth the extra worry that comes from owning yet another device that needs protecting, or do you think that it’s worth the risk for the extra convenience? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for more articles about technology and security.

Businesses Relying on the Cloud Need a Reliable Service Provider

A recent survey shows that 43 percent of IT decision makers plan on investing more in the cloud in 2017. When you compare this projection with the steady cloud adoption rate we’ve seen over the past decade, it becomes obvious that the cloud is the next evolution of business computing. As exciting as this is, it’s important to adopt the cloud with a degree of caution.
What we mean by this is that it’s natural for businesses to dive headfirst into market trends without first doing all of the due diligence needed to adequately prepare their business model for the change. The cloud is no different; it’s estimated that by 2018, Software-as-a-Service will make up 59 percent of the workload hosted in the cloud, making it a valuable asset for any growing business. Sometimes they might expect that by jumping right into it, they can more immediately expect to reap the benefits of the cloud. However, this can often have negative side-effects that could harm your business.
One important consideration you have to make when deciding to deploy a cloud solution for your business, is what kind of cloud you’d like to have. There are three different models of cloud computing. They are:
  • Private Cloud - Normally hosted and managed by your company, either on premises or at a colocation center. The point is to have access to a dedicated cloud solution, while not giving up the management responsibilities. Usually deployed by larger organizations that need to focus on security or compliance, as the private cloud is typically more expensive than the other models.
  • Public Cloud - A solution that is sold to users by a third-party provider. These solutions include storage, applications, communications systems, and full-scale computing environments. The public cloud can typically be obtained at a lower price point as hardware deployment and bandwidth and application costs are covered by the solution provider. Since there are little-to-no upfront capital costs associated with adopting a public cloud offering, these interfaces are perfect for the small and medium-sized business.
  • Hybrid Cloud - This solution uses elements of both public and private cloud platforms. More cost efficient than a full-scale private cloud solution, an organization chooses which parts of their IT infrastructure they want to internalize. This allows a company to maintain control over certain aspects of their infrastructure, while utilizing public cloud offerings for aspects of the business where security or compliance isn’t as much of a consideration.
Knowing which cloud strategy your company can afford will dictate whether or not a private or hybrid cloud strategy can be a consideration. If it isn’t, then any dedicated public cloud solution will need to guarantee services aren’t interrupted for extended periods of time, and manage and maintain the solution with the attention-to-detail that you would expect from any member of your own business’ management. This type of service only comes from trained IT professionals who know exactly what they are doing--especially with complicated solutions like cloud computing.
Net It On can offer your business the cloud services that you need at a reasonable monthly expense, without any of the responsibility of maintaining or managing it. Whether you want a cloud-based email system, data storage, or any other type of hosted utility, we’ve got you covered. To learn more, call us at (732) 360-2999.

Tip of the Week: Try These 5 Strategies to Prevent a Toddler From Grabbing Your Laptop

Let’s say that you’re in the comfort of your own home working on a major project that needs to be completed before you turn in for the night. However, the moment you take out a tablet or laptop, your toddler runs up to you, curious about what you’re trying to do. This makes it rather difficult to get anything done, especially since most toddlers suffer from what’s known as the “mine” syndrome.
The Mine Syndrome Explained
The mindset of a toddler is rather simple. Children are self-centered, and as such, everything belongs to them. Children don’t like being told that they can’t have something, so even a logical statement like “I’m using this laptop for work. Go sit down and wait your turn,” will fall on deaf ears. You can try it if you want, but it will, more likely than not, never work. And of course, you can’t just tell them that it’s not theirs, as this will only make them want the device even more.
This type of distraction means that you’ll have to improvise if you want to get any work done. Net It On suggests the following five practices to help get you past the toddler roadblock, so long as you remember who’s really the boss in this situation.
Create a Diversion
Children have short attention spans, so it’s best to take advantage of them when you can. If you’re desperate to get a moment of work in, try turning on the television or start up a movie--preferably something with lots of color, noise, and fast edits.
Switch One Thing Out for Another
You might be able to trick your toddler into thinking that they have the device, even if they don’t. Hide your laptop or tablet in a place that they can’t see and hand them something that looks like the device. If they aren’t old enough to know any better, you can pull a fast one on them by doing this, all while they just run off with “the device” thinking that they have gotten the better of you. This might be only a temporary fix, so keep an eye out for when they realize they’ve been duped.
Hide in the Bathroom
If you’re having trouble getting work done, you can always try hunkering down in one of the most private places in your household: the bathroom. Surely your toddler knows that the porcelain throne is a place for privacy… right? Right? Well, it’s worth a try, at least.
Get a Babysitter
If the work that needs to be done is critical and time-sensitive, it might be worth just hiring a babysitter to handle the responsibility of watching your kid and keeping him or her out of your hair for a few hours. If you deem the work important enough to justify paying a babysitter, you’ll find that it’s worth the extra expense.
Just Wait it Out
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t get your toddler to go away. In cases like this, try waiting until they’re too tired to keep their eyes open any longer and put them to bed. Once they’ve turned in for the night, the real fight begins--trying to stay awake long enough to actually get work done.
Oh well. At least you have coffee.

Many Businesses are Phasing Out Cash for These Reasons

Despite cash having been king for centuries, many businesses today have elected to implement cashless payment options as their customers increasingly rely on the mobile payment technologies that their personal devices allow. These businesses are the ones making the smart choice, as there are many factors that encourage the adoption of alternative payment technologies.
Nowadays, consumers have begun to expect a level of customization in all of their experiences, especially when it comes to making purchases. They now have access to technologies that allow them to pay for goods and services through alternative means, using their phones, wearables, and other devices to confirm financial transfers on the spot. It is estimated that by 2017, there will be $60 billion in mobile payment sales.
As a result, a business has the opportunity to embrace this desire for customization by offering their clients and customers options in how they settle their payments. In addition to this benefit, there are some internal perks to a reduced presence of physical cash. First and foremost, there is a great reduction in lost capital due to both theft and human error.
Additionally, the record-keeping capabilities of digital payment programs can help manage organizational accounting with options to identify discrepancies. Finally, digital payments can be made much more quickly and conveniently than traditional methods of financial transaction. This benefits both the business and its clientele.
Does your business rely more heavily on cash transactions, or have you made the switch to digital? Either way, Net It On can assist you, whether you’re ready to implement a cashless payment solution or need assistance managing the one you have currently. Call us today at (732) 360-2999 to discuss the many ways we can help.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What it Looks Like When Your Network is Managed Remotely

Business owners have a lot to worry about. However, keeping workstations, server units, mobile devices, and various software solutions in good working order doesn’t have to be a concern--that is, if you outsource these responsibilities to the right IT professionals.
By outsourcing your company’s IT, these expensive and time-consuming tasks are taken off of your plate, for good. This is made possible when IT professionals utilize remote monitoring and maintenance (RMM) technology, which allows them to remote into your company’s network to perform tasks. To give you a better understanding of how outsourced IT can help your business, consider these three benefits to managed IT services. 

Your Systems Will Always Be Up to Date and Secure
Businesses that don’t make it a priority to routinely update their machines with the latest patches and security updates are doomed to eventually slip up by forgetting to apply important updates. Without applying updates, your systems will be vulnerable to recent, dangerous threats that previous patches don’t cover. This is why patching is so important. If you’re too lax about it, you’re putting your data in danger.
When you outsource this responsibility to a third-party provider who uses remote monitoring tools, you won’t have to worry about updating your systems any longer and your business will be more secure.
You’ll See Minimal On-Site Visits
The advantage of the remote approach to monitoring and maintenance is that routine IT tasks and even troubleshooting measures can all be performed without requiring an on-site visit. In fact, break-fix IT companies won’t tell you this, but most problems with your technology can be resolved without an on-site visit. Unfortunately, break-fix companies like to charge you onsite fees, and charge by the hour, making preventative measures not their first priority. Managed service providers, however, don’t typically charge onsite fees, which creates a mentality of ensuring your network is always in tip-top condition. They want to prevent onsite visits as much as possible to keep costs down.
Of course, some problems like hardware failure still require a personal touch. However, when your network is remotely managed, the chance of hardware failure is minimized, which means fewer onsite visits are needed.
Detection of Threats and Other Problems
You’re well aware of the many online threats that exist, like viruses, spyware, ransomware, etc. However, knowing is only half the battle. Do you have a security solution in place to detect and eliminate any of these threats that have breached your network? If you don't, then you can have a third-party service provider monitor your network for threats. Net It On can perform these tasks by addressing the workloads of your systems while looking for inconsistencies or security breaches in real-time.
So, who’s monitoring and maintaining your company’s IT infrastructure? If you’re tasked with overseeing it, then know that you can outsource this responsibility to Net It On today and have one less thing to worry about!