04 Apr

How to Guard Against Scareware

You are surfing the web, minding your own business, when suddenly a browser window pops up saying you have a virus on your computer. A phone number is provided, and you are urged to call it for support. It looks scary. It looks official. It’s a scam. You have discovered a scareware popup.

 

What is Scareware?

 

Also called fraudware, deception software, or rogue scanner software, scareware appears as a legitimate alert from an antivirus company claiming your computer’s security has been compromised. Sometimes an audible voice will play through your computer’s speakers, issuing a warning that your immediate attention is required. A phone number or website link is provided in the body of the alert. In the case of browser popups, you may not be able to close the browser by normal methods, as it will appear frozen. All of this is a scam to scare users into purchasing bogus or malicious software, or allowing remote access to fraudsters who can steal personal information.

 

How to Manage Scareware

 

Do not panic! It is only a fraudulent popup. Legitimate companies do not use this type of tactic to sell their products. As long as you do not click on a link or call the number provided, your computer will not be compromised. The best thing to do is simply restart your computer and reopen the browser, making sure not to restore pages (if prompted to do so). If you receive another such popup immediately upon opening your browser, contact your IT company for support. Clients of EIT Networks can email helpdesk@eitnetworks.net to generate a ticket automatically, and one of our technicians will reach out to you as quickly as possible.

 

Scareware has been around for a long time, but in recent times the number of occurrences has increased. Knowing what to do if you receive such a popup can keep your computer from being compromised. If you want to discuss scareware or other types of cyber threats, you can reach us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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09 Mar

The Importance of HTTPS

Very few internet users understand the meaning of the padlock icon in their web browser’s address bar. It represents HTTPS, a security feature that authenticates websites and protects the information users submit to them. Let’s go over some user-friendly HTTPS best practices to help you surf the web safely.

 

HTTPS Encryption

 

Older web protocols lack data encryption. When you visit a website that doesn’t use HTTPS, everything you type or click on that website is sent across the network in plain text. So, if your bank’s website doesn’t use the latest protocols, your login information can be intercepted by anyone with the right tools.

 

HTTPS Certificates

 

The second thing outdated web browsing lacks is publisher certificates. When you enter a web address into your browser, your computer uses an online directory to translate that text into numerical addresses (e.g., www.google.com = 8.8.8.8) then saves that information on your computer so it doesn’t need to check the online directory every time you visit a known website.

The problem is, if your computer is hacked it could be tricked into directing www.google.com to 8.8.8.255, even if that’s a malicious website. Oftentimes, this strategy is implemented to send users to sites that look exactly like what they expected, but are actually false-front sites designed to trick you into providing your credentials.

HTTPS created a new ecosystem of certificates that are issued by the online directories mentioned earlier. These certificates make it impossible for you to be redirected to a false-front website.

 

What this means for daily browsing

 

Most people hop from site to site too quickly to check each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, HTTPS is way too important to ignore. Here are a few things to consider when browsing:

If your browser marks a website as “unsafe” do not click “proceed anyway” unless you are absolutely certain nothing private will be transmitted.
There are web browser extensions that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites (HTTPS Everywhere is great for Chrome and Firefox).
HTTPS certificates don’t mean anything if you don’t recognize the company’s name. For example, goog1e.com (with the ‘l’ replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trustworthy site.

 

Avoiding sites that don’t use the HTTPS protocol is just one of many things you need to do to stay safe when browsing the internet. When you’re ready for IT support that handles the finer points of cybersecurity like safe web browsing, give our office a call. You can reach us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net

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02 Mar

VoIP: Hardphone vs. Softphone

You have just decided to use VoIP as your telephony solution, but now your technician is asking how you want to use it. Do you want traditional desk phones (hardphone) or software-based devices (softphone)? Read on to discover the benefits of each and which ones are most suitable for your needs.

 

What’s a hardphone?

 

A hardphone is a desk phone that is connected to your business’s IP network, just like a normal phone. There’s no learning curve associated with VoIP hardphones, and they allow your staff to call anyone worldwide at a more affordable price. The more advanced hardphones have built-in video displays and touch screens to accommodate video calls, eliminating the need of having separate equipment for video conferencing.

 

What’s a softphone?

 
A softphone is any electronic device that uses a software program that allows users to turn their PCs, laptops, and tablets into high-tech phones to make and receive local and international calls. Softphones let you dial a number on your computer or mobile device and speak through its embedded speakers and microphone, or through a headset with microphone, so you can make and take calls wherever you are.

 

Which type is ideal for you?

 
There are some things to consider when you’re choosing between hardphones and softphones:

Are your employees always moving around?
Do they require 24/7 connectivity?
Does your company rely on having top-notch customer service?
What’s your IT budget?
Your answers to these questions will determine the type of equipment you need. If your employees are mostly in the office, hardphones may be better, especially since you probably already have them and they will be available for use with VoIP.

But if your company requires a mobile workforce, adopting a softphone solution may be better. Softphones feature call routing which allows calls to be diverted to one or several specified internet-enabled devices, ensuring your clients have 24/7 access to your employees. Other features like transcribed voicemail messages also enable you to receive messages promptly, no matter whether you’re in a meeting or on the road.

 

Costs

 
Hardphones and softphones each have their advantages, so which one you choose may come down to your IT budget.

For SMBs that have a limited IT budget, purchasing new hardphones for all their employees can be expensive, especially if you require hundreds of them. Softphones may be better if you’re on a tight budget. You just need to download an application and buy some headsets.

If your budget permits you to spend more on telephony infrastructure, then a VoIP solution would be a great way to improve your users’ productivity and save money on your monthly phone bills.

 

We at EIT are here to advise you on any questions you may have pertaining to VoIP, and especially about whether hardphones or softphones are best for you. If you’re interested in upgrading your telephony infrastructure, give us a call today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net

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15 Dec

Facebook Messenger Get’s Down to Business

With over 1.3 billion monthly active users, Facebook’s Messenger app is an unprecedented success. Facebook is now looking to fully utilize the potential of this monster user base and has therefore added a feature for improving connectivity between local businesses and consumers. Read on to learn how this feature could benefit you!

 

The How

 

By installing a plug-in called Customer Chat, retailers can integrate Facebook Messenger with their website, letting their customer support representatives carry on conversations with clients just like they would on Facebook.

Customer Chat also saves conversation histories, meaning a user can be talking to a customer representative on their website and then continue the conversation once they shift to Facebook — without having to start a new conversation. Customer Chat is now open to any business in the form of an ‘expanded public beta.’

 

Facebook’s Grand Plan

 

Like all new services, the success depends on the users. Customer Chat’s primary user base seems to be those who lack the time or confidence involved in sending a formal e-mail for a casual business inquiry.

Regardless, Facebook has long been developing its platform with an eye on chat’s broader benefits to tighten its grip on businesses. A recent stat indicates Facebook Messenger has surpassed 1.3 billion monthly active users.

 

So, What Next?

 

As Facebook seems to be monopolizing and clamping down on the communication realm — both private and business — with Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, the plan is clear: They want to absorb even more of the communications that usually take place over phone calls and e-mail.

It is still an uncertainty if the new Messenger feature will have a large impact on Facebook’s grand plan, but it certainly could be an great way of communication for many businesses across the planet. Customer Chat opens up new avenues of integration, such as sending money, making video calls or even convincing customer service reps to give you a refund, thus making Facebook the go-to app for anything and everything, especially in this social media age in which we live.

 

Got any questions about Facebook? Let us help you understand the technicalities. Do you need a trusted company to manage all of your IT needs? Call us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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08 Dec

Cybersecurity Essentials: VPN

Installing powerful antivirus software and setting strong passwords are no longer considered the bare minimum in cybersecurity. With hackers, government agencies, and ISPs constantly monitoring networks and your online habits, hopping onto a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is crucial for keeping your surfing habits private. Here’s why.

 

What is VPN?

 

Simply put, a VPN is a group of servers you connect to via the internet. Once you’ve established a connection, your computer acts as if it’s on the same local connection as the VPN, making it seem like you moved to a different location.

When you surf the web through a VPN, all the data transmitted and received is also encrypted, preventing anyone — from hackers to government agencies — from monitoring your online activities.

 

Why should you have one?

 

Of course, security and privacy are major reasons why you would want a VPN. For example, if you’re connected to a public WiFi network — like the ones you typically see in local cafes and airports — using a VPN encrypts the information you’re sending or accessing online. This means things like credit card details, login credentials, private conversations, or other sensitive documents can’t be intercepted by a third party.

VPNs are also useful for accessing geo-restricted websites. If you’re traveling abroad and certain US websites are blocked in that region, you can simply connect to a VPN located in the US to access the sites you need.

 

Which VPN should you choose?

 

Given the increasing demand for secure online privacy, VPNs are surging in popularity. The following considerations can help you find the right one.

1. Cost
While free VPNs are available, we strongly suggest you avoid them. These keep logs of your internet activity, and in some cases sell them to the highest bidder. Maintaining a VPN service is also expensive, which means the free ones will likely plaster ads on your browser to make a quick buck.

Paid VPNs like SurfEasy and StrongVPN often come with more robust features and configurations that keep you secure. What’s more, they don’t keep a record of the sites you visit and hound you with pop-ups that lead to dangerous websites.

2. Location
The physical location of VPN servers is important if you want to access region-blocked websites. So if you’re planning on accessing a UK-based service, your VPN provider must at least have servers installed in London.

3. Capacity
Read through a VPN provider’s terms of service to determine how much data you’re allowed to use. If possible, find out how many servers a VPN provider has. If they have plenty of servers online, you can rest assured that they have the capacity to support your internet browsing.

4. Device compatibility
Another important factor to consider is whether the VPN can be used across multiple devices. Nowadays, employees work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll want a VPN that’s compatible with all these.

5. IP leaking
Finally, a great way to evaluate a VPN service is to sign up for their free trial service and visit https://ipleak.net/, which will allow you to check whether your real IP address is actually being leaked. If it manages to track your physical location, you need to opt for a more reliable VPN service.

 

VPNs are now a vital component of cybersecurity, and if you need help selecting the right one for your business, consult with our security experts today. We also offer comprehensive cybersecurity services so no hacker or third party can get their hands on your data. You can reach us at sales@eitnetworks.net or 1-866-BIT-WISE.

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31 Oct

Cisco Introduces AI Services

Modern IT systems are generating more data than ever before, and humans can’t keep up. Thankfully, certain tasks have already been offloaded to machines. Even better, Cisco may have a long-term solution to IT management complexities.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are extremely useful in helping us sift through massive amounts of information, and networking behemoth Cisco recently announced that they will be incorporating these technologies with two of their services.

 

Business Critical Services

 

This suite of services uses AI-powered automation, compliance, security, and machine learning analytics tools to reduce the complexity of IT systems management. It helps monitor the health of your business services and mitigate risks via automated compliance and remediation audits.

You can also replicate your network to improve reliability between your hardware and software components, and deploy features with automation capabilities.

 

Cisco High Value Services

 

This product support model provides network, software, and solution support using advanced analytics and best practices to access infrastructure performance and remediate issues. Cisco aims to improve business continuity and reduce resource constraints with remote monitoring, automated incident detection, and high SLAs.

Some of the services you can expect include software analysis, workflow integration, customer benchmarking, and predictive network analysis.

Using cutting-edge technologies as well as networking and hardware expertise, Cisco is gearing up its attempt to predict IT failures before they happen. That said, we assume it’s only a matter of time before other major developers follow suit, and when they do, you’ll be the first to know.

 

If you’d like to learn more about how to predict IT failures before they happen, or stay protected and operational when they do, just give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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27 Jul

Amazon releases high-end virtual desktops

It’s nearly impossible to discuss virtualization without bringing up Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was one of the first big names in user-friendly virtualization services and it’s only gotten better over the years. With its latest release, AWS is providing customers with some serious computing power.

 

What are AWS virtual desktops?

 

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

 

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

 

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

 

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

 

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

 

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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01 Jun

Amazon Phones on the Horizon

Amazon is setting its sights on the VoIP market again and will use its Alexa technology to launch a new phone system. Based on a new patent, users of Amazon’s artificial intelligence (AI) devices might soon be able to enjoy a smart speaker and phone in one. This won’t be the eCommerce giant’s first attempt at launching a wireless phone system, but this time it seems that they’re taking the time to develop the technology. Read on to find out more.

 

How it works

 

Amazon’s 3D-enabled Fire Phone was its first attempt at launching a smartphone, but it failed to set the mobile phone market ablaze. Based on the company’s recent voice-controlled phone patent, they are developing a smarter and more practical wireless phone technology, which will be integrated into their successful smart speaker devices, Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show.

The system will work by linking a mobile number to the Alexa devices, which would have a mechanism for notifying the user of incoming calls, answering calls via the smart speaker itself, as well as placing calls by giving commands to Alexa. What makes the Alexa-powered devices a compelling phone system is its ability to identify users based on a voice recognition system already built into the devices.

Note, however, that the mobile carrier would still be providing the communication service, with the Alexa device serving only as a medium, which is how most VoIP communications works.

 

What it means for your business

 

Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices are attractive for their voice-control technology. Although they did not pioneer it, they integrated it with devices that allowed them to go beyond what other AI devices can do. The Echo Dot, for instance, is especially useful to those who use a variety of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices, such as lights, switches, and TVs, to name just a few.

Its voice recognition capabilities are also a cut above the rest, being able to recognize voice and adopt your speech patterns the more you use it. It can also serve as an all-around assistant in a room or in any office setting, helping you check the weather, send a message, or provide calendar event updates.

As Amazon develops its voice recognition technology for its Alexa-powered phones, it can be expected that this same technology would make it a formidable home or office phone system that can easily find contacts, screen callers, or conveniently set up conference calls — all by voice command. But as of now, Amazon’s patent is in the early stages of development.

 

There are plenty of communication options for your business, and although there’s nothing quite like the Alexa phones yet, there are plenty of viable substitutes that can suit your business’s communication needs. Call us today for VoIP option recommendations. 866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net

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