Wednesday, March 30, 2016

NJ Devils Game 3/29/16

Seats on the glass next to the Devil's bench. Great to see NJ beat Boston.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Alert: Apple OS X Now at Risk of Ransomware

Ransomware is a major problem in both the personal and private sectors of computing, but up until very recently, Apple users had little to fear from potential ransomware hacks. Security researchers at Palo Alto Networks have discovered what’s known to be the first completed ransomware on an Apple device. The threat, called KeRanger, is officially “in the wild,” and is a danger to any Mac user.
KeRanger is the first-ever completed ransomware that specifically targets the OS X operating system. In 2014, Kaspersky Labs found an incomplete form of ransomware for Mac, but it wasn’t a viable threat at the time. Now, however, KeRanger is free to usher in a host of more dangerous threats that could target Apple’s coveted operating systems.
This ransomware is spread through a torrenting software called Transmission. Torrenting is a type of software designed to share large files. It’s most widely used to distribute pirated content, like copyrighted films, tv shows, music, and more.
The KeRanger threat as explained by CNet:
If a user installed one of the infected versions of Transmission, an executable file embedded within the software would run on the system. At first, there'd be no sign of a problem. But after three days, KeRanger would connect with servers over the anonymous Tor network and begin encrypting certain files on the Mac's system.
Researchers claim that KeRanger is still under development, but it’s also trying to find a way to encrypt the victim’s backup data. If this happens, users will have virtually no chance of getting their data back without paying the dreaded ransom. Consider how important of a precedent this sets for ransomware; if a ransomware is capable of encrypting not just the files on your local PC, but also the files on your network and your backup files, it could become the most dangerous threat on the Internet.
To counteract this threat, Apple has revoked the security certificate that KeRanger exploits, and has updated its XProtect antivirus software. Transmission has also removed the infected version of its installer, so those who download the client won’t get the ransomware. However, those who have installed Transmission sometime between March 4th and 5th may be affected by KeRanger. If you want detailed instructions on how to identify if you’ve been targeted by KeRanger, and to learn how to best protect yourself from it, you can visit Palo Alto Networks’ site.
Most ransomware makes it borderline impossible to decrypt your files on your own. This is how hackers extort money from users. They play off of the irrational actions caused by fear. This is why it’s so important to protect your business’s assets from ransomware, before you fall prey to it. Implementing a solid security solution is a great way to do so, and you should generally avoid torrenting files in the office anyway. Also, it’s especially important that your employees understand security best practices when browsing the Internet.
The most obvious and important course of action to remember is that your business needs to protect its assets from ransomware, before you get infected. To make sure that your network is protected from ransomware, give Net It On a call at (732) 360-2999.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A visit back to Bayside Queens. 3/26/16

I loved taking Sophia and Nick around to some of my favorite places in my hometown.
The walkway over the Cross Island Parkway.

PS41, the first school I attended.

Sacred Heart Church, my old parish.

Sacred Heart School, my grammar school.

The old house.

Javits Center Car Show 3/26/16

Nick in the Durango.

Some of our Faves.

Some oldies but goodies

Meg's next SUV? A Lincoln Navigator Concept Vehicle.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Here’s What Cloud Computing for Business is All About

We talk about the cloud and how it changes the way that businesses approach their technology solutions a lot, and for a good reason. It’s become so commonplace in the business environment that you’d be hard-pressed to find any organization that doesn’t take advantage of cloud computing in some form or another. In a competitive industry, the small business needs all of the help it can get, and the cloud delivers.
The Benefits
When we talk about the cloud, we like to describe it as someone else’s computer system that stores and deploys data or applications across an online infrastructure. You can think of it as a computer that’s hosted, maintained, and managed by professional IT technicians, all so you don’t have to deal with the complications of using cloud technology. The cloud can be used for many purposes, including the following:
  • Enhanced data mobility: Access your data from any Internet-connected device, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
  • Anywhere, anytime application access: Fully leverage your mission-critical applications without installing them on every used device.
  • Data storage: The cloud can store your business’s data in a secure online environment, for later access or deployment.
What Your Business Needs
Depending on your business’s specific requirements, your cloud will probably be different from any typical “one size fits all” cloud solution. There are several different kinds of cloud offerings, but only one of them will suit your business model. The type of cloud you’ll use will depend on how much control you want over your data, and how much responsibility you’ll want for the upkeep and maintenance of your cloud.
To help you understand what type of cloud computing solution your business needs, consider asking yourself the following questions:
  • Do you want to augment your cloud with additional security features? The public cloud is usually hosted by a service provider, and as such, doesn’t allow for secondary security features. However, if you host a private cloud in-house, or have a managed service provider like Net It On host it for you, you can augment your security as much as you need.
  • Do you have a limited budget? Small businesses are often limited by the scope of their budget. If this is the case, a public cloud might be best suited to your organization’s needs. The great part of the public cloud is that it’s easy to use by any kind of business, and it relieves some of the many problems associated with cloud management and security.
  • How much control do you need? If you want to have a lot of control over your data, a private cloud allows for role-based user access. This helps to keep your data in an environment in which you have maximum control.
  • How much responsibility for maintenance do you want? Most enterprise-level technology requires a certain amount of maintenance and management. This can easily be outsourced to a cloud provider or a managed IT service provider, effectively allowing your business to leverage both a public cloud or a private cloud easily enough.
Investing in a hybrid cloud allows your business to effectively leverage both the minimal management of a public cloud, and take advantage of security practices like those seen by the private cloud. The hybrid cloud is a great solution that’s specifically designed to suit the needs of your business.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tip of the Week: You Can Now Use Google Docs to Type With Your Voice

Google is no stranger to voice-related technology. Android smartphones have long had voice-to-text capabilities. Google Now allows users to search the Internet, set alarms, add calendar entries, activate entertainment, and so much more, all with your voice. Now, you can add editing and writing documents in Google Docs to that list.
A new feature in Google Docs allows you to use your voice to issue a variety of commands that help you create documents and edit them online. Using these specific voice commands, users can write, edit, and format their Google Docs files simply by speaking into a microphone. Now you can give your hands the rest they deserve, and speak what’s on your mind rather than type it out. All you need to get started is a microphone.
If you want to use your voice for Google Docs, you need to go to the Tools menu item. You’ll see the option forVoice Typing near the middle of the column. Select it, and a box will open in the left sidebar of your Google Doc. It has a picture of a microphone in it, and all you need to do is click the mic and your device will start listening for your voice. Once you’ve started to record, the microphone will turn red, signaling that it’s time to speak up. When you speak into the microphone, you’ll see the document write itself, all by listening to your voice. Just be sure that you speak clearly, otherwise there will be more errors than you’d care to correct.
Even if you speak clearly, you can’t expect Google Docs’ understanding of your voice to be without error. You need to make a conscious effort to edit your work and eliminate errors. ZDNet suggests that those who want to use Google Docs’ voice features keep the following in mind:
  • Voice commands are only available in English. The account and document language must be English.
  • To select text, there are a variety of commands such as "select next character," "select next line," "deselect" and "unselect."
  • Alignment terms are straightforward with left, right, center and justified.
  • Text formatting has the basic commands such as bold, strikethrough and underline. Highlighting has multiple colors, but the default is yellow.
  • Table additions also look simple.
  • But moving around documents may be better suited for the mouse.
If you’re willing to give Google Docs voice control a try, let us know how it goes and what you think of it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

After the Apocalypse, Data Stored On this Crystal Will Be the Legacy of Human Civilization

Data systems are always looking to improve the way that data is stored. The efficiency of your data storage systems is a crucial part of managing your data infrastructure, and there’s a constant search for ways to improve the way that it’s done. Scientists are now turning to the field of optoelectronics to develop new ways to store incredible amounts of data, for enormous amounts of time.
Defining Optoelectronics
The easiest way to describe optoelectronics is as a sub-field of photonics, which is the study of electronic devices that can detect and control light. One practical use of this technology is the use of fiber optics that are used to make data transmission more efficient. This medium of data transfer has been studied for the past century, and this devotion has introduced new technology that’s changing the way that data is stored in the digital age.
Cables that utilize fiber-optic technology are used every day to transfer a petabit of data per second. In other words, a cable that’s made up of thousands of fiber-optic wires can potentially transfer up to several terabytes every second. You don’t need us to tell you that this is a ton of data and that fiber-optic technology is a valuable asset. Still, scientists are using this modern-day technology to push toward greater ways to utilize optoelectronics, like storing data. In theory, this technology can be used to store data for an immense amount of time, as long as it’s done in a planned and structured interface.
“Superman Memory Crystal”
Scientists are attempting to use what’s called the Superman Memory Crystal as the aforementioned interface. Forget 3D printing and movie theater experiences; this memory crystal is as impressive as data-storage technology gets:
  • It’s a five-dimensional storage device of nanostructured glass that can store up to 360 terabytes of data.
  • Data can be retained for an extraordinarily long time and withstand temperatures of up to 1,000ยบ C.
  • It’s projected that the memory crystal is capable of storing data at room temperature for as long as 14 billion years.
  • Data is recorded on synthetic material by using lasers that use short, intense pulses of light, and is written on three layers of nanostructured dots that are separated by fine micrometers, or rather, a millionth of a meter.
The technology is incredibly precise, but extremely redundant. As such, it’s expected that some of the most valuable works throughout history are now stored on these glass discs, including the Magna Carta, the King James Bible, Isaac Newton’s Opticks, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR was actually written and presented to UNESCO by the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the closing ceremonies of their International Year of Light event in Mexico.
Data storage and retrieval has grown so advanced that we can now fit the breadth of human knowledge on small, long-lasting devices, which is great for both recording history and the tech industry as a whole. However, consumers also benefit from these advances, as every improvement to data storage and retention can present interesting new options for your organization.
To learn more about data storage and how these changes will reflect on your business model, give us a call at (732) 360-2999. One of our IT professionals can help to ensure that your data’s future is as bright as possible.

NYSCATE Conference 3/12/16

Promethean was showcased at the 15th Annual Hudson Valley Regional New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education Conference. in Wappingers Falls NY. Net It On, LLC. is proud to be a partner of this great company.

70 inch Promethean ActivPanel Installed!

Here is another ActivPanel installation in an NYC conference room. The ActivPanel perfectly compliments the ActivWall that is installed in the same customer's larger conference room.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Causes of Network Bottlenecking and How You Can Overcome It

As a small or medium-sized business, your network is one of your most valuable assets. It allows your team to access information and applications in a quick and convenient way. However, your network is a very sensitive thing, and even the slightest change in its speed or nature can be a sign of negative things to come; namely, expensive downtime that can potentially harm your operations and break your budget.
A troubled network often presents significant problems for businesses. It can hinder operations, but it’s not entirely unbeatable. Here’s how you can identify network congestion, what some common causes are, and what you can do about it.
What is Network Congestion and Bottlenecking?
Network congestion is when your network deals with so much traffic that your operations grind to a halt. This can easily happen, especially if your business is dealing with unprecedented growth, or simply more network access than anticipated. Bottlenecking, on the other hand, is when data flow is restricted somehow. This could be from a restriction of resources, or if your network doesn’t have enough bandwidth to support the amount of data that’s being transferred with it.
What Can Cause It
Network congestion is a serious problem that might not have a simple cause. If your organization has experienced growth, and your network hasn’t evolved to accommodate this change, it could be getting hit with much more traffic than it was originally designed to. This unexpected traffic can be holding your growing business back from maximizing its bottom line.
If your network congestion isn’t caused by too much traffic, it could either be the result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, in which a network or server is bombarded with enough traffic to take it down, or it could be the result of faulty network equipment. Even something like a failing network card could hamper your network significantly.
What You Can Do About It
One of the easiest ways to keep your network from experiencing crippling downtime is to plan for and accommodate growth of all kinds. This means that you need to take into account how many devices will be accessing your network at any given time, and how much data will need to be transferred during peaks. Once you’ve determined the maximum amount of bandwidth you’ll need, you should then go above and beyond that. Doing so will help to ensure that even under the worst circumstances, you’ll have a chance of beating downtime caused by network congestion.
Net It On has the skills necessary to help your business get its network back into tip-top shape. Our trusted technicians can help you optimize your network for minimal downtime. We can perform what’s called a network audit, in which we analyze your network for any congestion or bottlenecks that can be remedied. To schedule your network consultation, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tip of the Week: Tweak Your Workday in These 4 Ways and See Major Results

Some days, productivity comes naturally and you can destroy tasks like it’s no one’s business. Other times, distractions seem to pop up everywhere and you need all the help you can get, just to get anything done. Here are four productivity tips, proven to help you regain focus at the office.
Organize Your Digital Desktop
It goes without saying that a messy desk is a sure way to derail productivity, but what about your PC’s desktop? If it’s cluttered with useless icons and files from projects that are scattered in random places, then it will take you longer to accomplish anything, and you’re more likely to get distracted. For starters, try clearing enough desktop icons that you can actually see your desktop image. You may be surprised how peaceful it is to boot up your PC and see a desktop that’s perfectly organized. You will also want to select a desktop image that is calm and colorful, seeing as this has been shown to boost memory retention and employee engagement.
Make Bad Habits Difficult to Do
It’s easy to tear into an entire sleeve of Pringles if you’ve got the snack sitting on your desk. However, you’d think twice if you have to walk across the office building to get it. This principle of “making bad habits harder to do” applies to virtually anything that distracts you from being as productive as you’d like to be. For example, you can charge your distracting smartphone’s battery in the next room while you work at your desk, and consider a content filtering solution for your company’s network in order to block the most distracting websites on the Internet.
Delayed Gratification Can Be a Powerful Ally
Think for a moment about the things that have the power to pull you away from what you’re working on, just so you can have a “quick fix.” Checking social media is one good example, taking a brief break to chat with your coworkers is another. The problem with the lure of these distractions is that, once you’re pulled away from a project, it can take anywhere from five-to-fifteen minutes just to regain focus. Instead, promise yourself that you will fully indulge in the distraction you crave if you can pull off 30 minutes or even an hour’s worth of uninterrupted work. Using delayed gratification is a great way to become more disciplined, and in the end, giving your work the full attention it deserves and then really allowing yourself to kick back and fully engage in what you crave (like writing a lengthy social media post or having a snack) will be much more satisfying.
“Do What Takes Two” 
You get random small tasks piled on your schedule all day long. If it’s something quick that will take less than two minutes to do, it’s recommended that you knock it out as soon as you’re made aware of it, instead of letting it fester on your schedule and become a source of stress throughout the workday. InformationWeek explains this logic:
The problem is that later never comes at the perfect time. There will always be more pressing responsibilities at hand, and those smaller tasks will continue to accumulate throughout the day. Once-minor errands become a source of stress as they sit on your to-do list... [“Do what takes two” is] an easy way to eliminate unnecessary stress, especially because these simple tasks will take up so little time.
Being productive doesn’t have to be difficult. Tweaking your work routine in these four simple ways should yield major dividends. There’s plenty more productivity tips out there. What are some of your favorite ways to stay on task and minimize the distractions in your workplace? Share them with us in the comments!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Apple Stands Up to the FBI: Legal Battle Ensues

There’s no questioning Apple’s dedication to the advancement of technology, especially over the past few decades. With the iPhone being the first of many commercially available smartphones, Apple has always been at the forefront of exciting consumer technology developments. Now, however, their most important decision yet may come in the form of a face-off with the FBI.
This incident involves the encryption protocol used by Apple’s iPhones, and one high-profile device that has been controversial since December of 2015: the iPhone used by the shooter of the San Bernardino, California terrorist attacks. The FBI has issued a court order to Apple, demanding that they provide or build a backdoor for iOS that will allow them to garner information from the device. Apple has refused, and has since been duking it out with the FBI in a series of court cases. This could set a precedent that’s much larger than this individual case.
On February 16th 2016, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook issued a statement calling for a public discussion of the issue at hand, and a declaration that Apple will not comply with this demand due to the larger implications of the decision. In the past, Apple has provided data that was already in their possession for help with certain FBI investigations, but this time, Apple claims that they cannot, and will not, build a vulnerability that could potentially compromise the security of their customers. As stated in the customer letter:
Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.
Apple’s letter continues to explain the importance of data security not only to Apple’s customers, but to any user of modern smartphones. Plus, as developers, building a backdoor or flaw directly into their software would be straight-up unethical, not to mention the dangers that could come from such an exploit falling into the wrong hands, like hackers or other criminals.
Apple isn’t alone in this endeavor, either; technology companies are lining up behind Apple in support of their fight against the FBI. With the support of Google, Microsoft, and many other Silicon Valley giants, Apple wants its message to be heard loud and clear; by purposely building backdoors into their technology, they would be betraying the trust of their consumers, and undermining the trust that we as a society have for technology in general.
This decision by Apple could have far-reaching consequences in the form of government entities being able to infringe on the privacy of consumers… that is, if the court rules in favor of the FBI. Such a ruling would put smartphone users at the mercy of legislation that forces tech developers to comply with backdoor requests on demand, which could put the entire concept of consumer privacy in jeopardy. Plus, what would happen if these backdoors fell into the hands of hackers? Nobody can guarantee that this won’t happen, and the possibility is frightening, to say the least.
Where do you stand on smartphone encryption? Do you think that Apple has made the right choice concerning this request? Let us know in the comments.

66% of Businesses Wait Until the Last Minute to Upgrade Their Operating Systems

Upgrading to a new operating system is a challenge that many businesses face, especially in light of several prominent older systems reaching their end-of-support date in recent times. For example, Windows XP reached its end of support date just a few years ago, and this past January, Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows 8. While unsupported software is certainly a problem, why does a business ultimately choose to upgrade away from their current OS?
According to a study by Spiceworks, there are several reasons a business wants to start using a new operating system on their workstations:
  • Most businesses will only start to use more recent operating systems as needed (69 percent).
  • Others will upgrade because they want to take full advantage of new apps that are supported by the new OS (42 percent).
  • Some will even try to use a new OS due to their hardware coming with the software pre-installed (38 percent).
However, there are other reasons that a business might decide to adopt a new OS, and most of them are issues that are addressed by upgrading to a more recent OS. Here’s a chart from Spiceworks’ report:
ib new os
It’s no surprise that the biggest culprit for convincing businesses to upgrade their systems is end-of-life events, at a solid 66 percent. Without the required security updates and patches, using older operating systems that Microsoft no longer supports can quickly become a liability and security threat. There’s no reason to be using an operating system that places your entire infrastructure at risk, and the resulting data breaches could put the future of your business in jeopardy.
Similarly, your business can’t jump the gun and upgrade away from an OS that supports your business’s mission-critical applications and software solutions. Doing so could result in an inability to continue operations as normal, and the resulting downtime could have your business moving forward with a crutch. At the same time, however, you might need the latest operating systems to fully leverage new features provided by them. This added functionality might seem like a great reason to upgrade your business’s technology, but only if you take proper precautions before doing so.
Furthermore, one of the best reasons a business will move to a more recent OS is to reap the benefits of a more secure computing environment. In addition to receiving critical security updates from Microsoft, some more recent operating systems have enhanced security features. Windows 10, Microsoft’s most recent addition to the Windows family, is a great example of this.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider before your business can upgrade to a new operating system. Will it affect your team’s ability to perform their daily duties? Will it shore up your business’s data security? These are things that you’ll only know if you perform a quality network assessment. Doing so can prevent any headaches that you might experience during the upgrade process.
Contacting Net It On for a network assessment is a great way to understand your business’s current cybersecurity state, as well as to understand the weaknesses in your network that inevitably need to be shored up. To learn more, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

District 8 Principals Conference

Great event on Tremont Ave, in the Bronx today. NYC famous Mr. G from Channel 11 showed up! Of course Promethean was showcased!