11 Nov

Laptop vs Desktop: Which to Choose for Your Business

Running a small business takes an intelligent, resourceful person. From day one you must make important decisions in all areas of business, from the marketing strategy chosen for a product to the brand of printer you will use to print out flyers. One of the biggest decisions you will make in the early stages of a business involves your SMB’s computer hardware, particularly whether to invest in a desktop computer or a laptop. Read on to find out how to make this decision for your company.

 

Portability

 

Modern desktop computers aren’t nearly as immobile as they used to be. In many cases the screen is thin and light, and all-in-one desktops are easy to unplug, move and plug in on the road. But there are still places the desktop cannot go. Laptops allow you to go anywhere, even places without electricity. But this ability to take your work anywhere can be counterproductive by creating more stress on employees who think they must work all the time.

 

Memory/Speed

 

Desktop computers often have more memory than laptops, and they’re faster due to better processors. This is now changing as a result of advancing technology, but until the cost of high-powered laptops becomes affordable to the general public, the desktop computer is going to provide businesses with more speed. If your employees’ work is limited to word processing and emailing, laptops should be enough. However, anything more will probably require a desktop machine.

 

Security

 

An SMB’s computer hardware needs to be secure to ensure that private company information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. On a desktop computer, the hardware is easier to defend against malware and adware. It’s also more physically secure because the desktop is often kept in one location and not easy to snatch. If you do choose the laptop route, make sure to have strict policies on how to protect machines that leave the office.

 

Price

 

Traditionally, the laptop has been cheaper and available to more people. This is true particularly for smaller notebook-style laptops. But desktop computers are becoming more affordable as more people have access to them through local channels. With a capable IT service provider, cost probably won’t be a deciding factor between the two options.

 

Quality

 

Although laptop computers provide the convenience of portability, over time they’re prone to problems with the battery and charging cord. They are also easily damaged. By contrast, desktops are generally more sturdy. But when they do experience a problem, it often leads to expensive repairs.

 

Final Recommendation

 

The desktop versus laptop debate is an old one, with supporters on both sides touting the advantages of their choice to all who will listen. A growing company really needs a combination of both types of computers. However, a desktop computer will be generally more reliable for the fledgling company owner to start with. Laptops should be added as budget permits to provide that extra portability and convenience.

 

If you have questions regarding the best choice for your company, give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE, or email sales@eitnetworks.net. We’ll be happy to provide you the assistance you need to improve your business.

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07 Nov

Download iOS 10.1 ASAP

If you want to make sure that your iPhone reliably works the way it should and that all the information in it is secure, you should always pay special attention to updates as soon as they become available. Although you may be hesitant to immediately download the latest iOS 10.1 update, you should get to know more about why you should download this update right away.

 

The latest update for iPhone and iOS users, referred to as the iOS 10.1 update, was launched on October 24, 2016. Its primary purpose is to address a serious security issue with the previous version of iOS. This security vulnerability should be of major concern to any iOS or iPhone user.

 

The security vulnerability addressed by the iOS 10.1 update was originally discovered by Tencent’s Keen Lab, specifically by a researcher named Marco Grassi. This vulnerability left a hole in the iOS programming that would allow a hacker or attacker to seize control of the phone, changing the code and performing commands after the iOS user opens a JPEG file (image file) that has been “maliciously crafted.”

 

Essentially, what this boils down to is that without the iOS 10.1 update, a corrupted image file could allow another person to control your device (iPad or iPhone). Even without downloading the file, this security hole could be taken advantage of by a hacker. If this is not enough reason to download the iOS 10.1 update, it also addresses other security issues and concerns that involve specific apps, the ability to see login password lengths through workaround hacks, and the like. Because of these specific issues and more, the iOS 10.1 update is a must-have for users of iPhones or iPads.

 

If keeping your phone and personal information secure are two of your biggest concerns, the iOS 10.1 update is a no-brainer. The sooner you update your device, the sooner you can feel safer using your iOS devices.

 

Installing security updates may be inconvenient, but they’re a necessity. If you need help managing software updates and keeping your business safe, contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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18 Oct

What Makes Google’s Pixel so Special?

This year, Google announced its grand entry into a market largely dominated by major companies like Samsung and Apple with the production of its first smartphone — the Google Pixel. Although it sports a design similar to the iPhone, Google is planning to offer distinct features that will enhance the user experience. What are they, and will they make Google Pixel stand out from other smartphones?

 

A fantastic smartphone camera

 

When purchasing a smartphone, a good camera is one of the must-haves. And in this area, Google Pixel does not disappoint, as it has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market. With a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, the Google Pixel can capture high-quality photos in both bright and poorly-lit environments. For selfie enthusiasts, Google’s smartphone also sports an 8-megapixel front camera, which is much more powerful than the iPhone 7’s.

 

Long battery life

 

Due to the complex programs that run on them, many smartphones are unable to offer long battery life. But this isn’t a problem with the Google smartphone. The Google Pixel can last for as long as 13 hours with extended internet use. What’s more, just a short time charging yields hours of potential use. Experts say that with only 15 minutes of plug-in time, the phone will operate for up to 7 hours.

 

Robust specs

 

One of the weaknesses of Microsoft’s smartphone was its mediocre specifications compared to other handheld devices at the time. Pixel users will find no problems here. To compete with the iPhone, Google Pixel is starting strong with a 1080p screen, 1.6GHz quad processor, 4GB of RAM, and a minimum of 32GB of storage space. Additionally, because it runs with the Android operating system, Pixel can comfortably outperform many other smartphone models.

As for its design, the device looks a lot like the iPhone, but comes in three distinct colors amusingly named “really blue,” “very silver,” and “quite black.” Learning from the missteps of previous companies’ smartphone efforts, Google Pixel has focused on borrowing only the successful elements of prominent smartphone developers to ensure a bit of market share from the beginning.

 

One of the best contenders in the market

 

Apple and Samsung phones may still be the cream of the crop, but Google’s entry is quickly catching up. With pricing in line with the iPhone 7 (USD$649), Google is certainly confident in its hardware. We suppose only time will tell whether Google has reached a smartphone breakthrough or if it will flop like so many companies before them.

 

We at EIT love all things technological. While we are not in the business of selling or maintaining smartphones, we can definitely offer advice on which phone will work best for your needs. If you are looking for technological advice or are interested in a professional managed services provider, contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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23 Sep

Cybersecurity Terms YOU Should Know

Everyone, from doctors to lawyers, needs to continue learning to stay ahead of the times. Business owners might have it worst of all, oftentimes needing to stay on top of several industries to keep their company running. Keep reading for a refresher on all the latest trends and buzzwords used in the cybersecurity sector.

 

Malware

 

For a long time, the phrase ‘computer virus’ was misappropriated as a term to define every type of attack that intended to harm or hurt your computers and networks. A virus is actually a specific type of attack or malware. Whereas a virus is designed to replicate itself, any software created for the purpose of destroying or unfairly accessing networks and data should be referred to as a type of malware.

 

Ransomware

 

Don’t let all the other words ending in ‘ware’ confuse you; they are all just subcategories of malware. Currently, one of the most popular of these is ‘ransomware,’ which encrypts valuable data until a ransom is paid for its return.

 

Intrusion Protection System

 

There are several ways to safeguard your network from malware, but intrusion protection systems (IPSs) are quickly becoming one of the non-negotiables. IPSs sit inside of your company’s firewall and look for suspicious and malicious activity that can be halted before it can deploy an exploit or take advantage of a known vulnerability.

 

Social Engineering

 

Not all types of malware rely solely on fancy computer programming. While the exact statistics are quite difficult to pin down, experts agree that the majority of attacks require some form of what is called ‘social engineering’ to be successful. Social engineering is the act of tricking people, rather than computers, into revealing sensitive or guarded information. Complicated software is totally unnecessary if you can just convince potential victims that you’re a security professional who needs their password to secure their account.

 

Phishing

 

Despite often relying on face-to-face interactions, social engineering does occasionally employ more technical methods. Phishing is the act of creating an application or website that impersonates a trustworthy, and often well-known, business in an attempt to elicit confidential information. Just because you received an email that says it’s from the IRS doesn’t mean it should be taken at face value — always verify the source of any service requesting your sensitive data.

 

Antivirus

 

Antivirus software is often misunderstood as a way to comprehensively secure your computers and workstations. These applications are just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle and can only scan the drives on which they are installed for signs of well known malware variants.

 

Zero-day attacks

 

Malware is most dangerous when it has been released but not yet discovered by cybersecurity experts. When a vulnerability is found within a piece of software, vendors will release an update to amend the gap in security. However, if cyber attackers release a piece of malware that has never been seen before, and if that malware exploits one of these holes before the vulnerability is addressed, it is called a zero-day attack.

 

Patch

 

When software developers discover a security vulnerability in their programming, they usually release a small file to update and ‘patch’ this gap. Patches are essential to keeping your network secure from the vultures lurking on the internet. By checking for and installing patches as often as possible, you keep your software protected from the latest advances in malware.

 

Redundant data

 

When anti-virus software, patches, and intrusion detection fail to keep your information secure, there’s only one thing that will: quarantined off-site storage. Duplicating your data offline and storing it somewhere other than your business’s office ensures that if there is a malware infection, you’re equipped with backups.

 

We aren’t just creating a glossary of cyber security terms; every day, we’re writing a new chapter to the history of this ever-evolving industry. And no matter what you might think, we are available to impart that knowledge on anyone who comes knocking. Get in touch with us today and find out for yourself. Call 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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16 Sep

The Cool Chrome Function you Aren’t Using

Everything is wirelessly connected nowadays. If you can purchase a refrigerator that sends you a message when your vegetables are going bad, why can’t you stream the audio and video of your phone or desktop to your TV? It turns out you can, and Google just made it a whole lot easier. Let’s take a closer look at how Google Chrome is working to connect all your audio/visual hardware together with Chromecast.

 

In its earliest stages, ‘Casting’ allowed users to stream a device’s screen to a TV with a Chromecast wireless adapter plugged into the HDMI port. Soon after, Google released a second, updated model that added the possibility of connecting to audio-only devices via stereo cable and faster internal hardware to improve streaming to both TVs and stereo systems.

 

Regardless of which model you had previous to last month’s update, individual apps needed to include Casting functionality, and even Google’s own Chrome browser required downloading and installing an extension before users could get the most out of the service. As an industry leader in user experience and design, the engineers at Google knew this had to be fixed. Their solution was a no-brainer, and may even be sitting in your browser this very moment.

 

The Cast feature is now built directly into every updated version of the Chrome. Just click the three stacked lines that act as Chrome’s File menu and select Cast halfway down the menu. Click the arrow to the right of ‘Cast to’ and choose desktop, followed by which Chromecast device you would like to broadcast, and voilà — your computer’s desktop will be duplicated on your Chromecast-enabled TV.

 

Assuming you’re currently connected to a trusted wireless network, we invite you to give it a try right here and now. If you’re confused about why we would suggest such a thing when you haven’t had a chance to go out and buy the necessary hardware adapter, that’s because several big-name TV brands are now installing this functionality directly into their televisions. You may have had this feature all along without even knowing it!

 

Once you’ve mastered casting your screens and audio wirelessly, why not check out all the apps Google has highlighted specifically for this Chrome feature? From NFL streaming to slideshow production, the Play Store has everything you’re looking for to step up your casting game.

 

It’s amazing how something so useful and so accessible could go relatively unnoticed for so long. There are tons of wonderful and exciting features lurking around, even in software as ordinary as your internet browser. For IT solutions big and small, there’s only one number you need to know — and it’s right at the bottom of this page. Give us a call today at 1-866-BIT-WISE, or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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09 Sep

Fantom: A New Security Threat

The heart of a lady is not easily won; a man can’t rely on his looks or wallet to make a girl fall head over heels. He must charm his way into her heart. Let’s say that a computer user is the woman, and that ransomware, the man, is the dreamboat that has worked his way through all the woman’s defenses. How? He looked the part. This is how ransomware weasels its way into IT — because it doesn’t seem to pose a threat. Beware of Fantom, the most recently detected ransomware that is a master at deception.

 

AVG security researcher Jakub Kroustek recently spotted Fantom coded atop an EDA2, a ransomware-building kit that was open-sourced but eventually taken down. EDA2 contained certain flaws that allowed researchers to obtain decryption keys from its C&C server, yet these flaws have since disappeared, indicating that Fantom coders might have found and fixed them before anyone else had a chance to.

 

Very little is known as to how Fantom is distributed. As for the method of deployment, cybercriminals plant the file onto the target’s computer via spam email or exploit kits. Fantom-infected files are named criticalupdate01.exe; they utilize a “Windows Security Update” to prompt targets into running the file.

 

After activation, the ransomware starts by locking the user’s screen while displaying fake Windows Update graphics, complete with a fully-functioning percentage-based loading timer that mirrors the original Windows Update screen. However, beneath this pleasant facade, Fantom is encrypting your files right before your eyes. Luckily, the temporary lock screen is removable before it reaches 100% — simply press CTRL+F4. Unfortunately, the encryption process remains intact.

 

The MalwareHunterTeam states, “The ransomware uses classic ransomware encryption by locking files using an AES-128 key and then encrypting this key with a dual RSA key, with the private key stored on the crook’s server, and a public key left on the user’s PC.”

 

In order to retrieve the private key to unlock your files, you must contact the perpetrators by email. The email address is listed in the ransom note that appears after the process of encryption is complete. Fantom displays ransom notes in the form of HTML and TXT files, while changing the user’s desktop with a custom screenshot that lists the contact details. Lastly, after completing all its operations, Fantom cleans after itself by running two batch scripts wiping all the installation files clean.

 

Ransomware isn’t new, but the ways that cybercriminals utilize them are. Who would’ve thought that the ever so familiar Windows Update window has fallen prey to malicious intent? Pretend that you’re the Little Red Riding Hood and that the wolf is the ransomware that cybercriminals have disguised as your grandmother. They no longer wait to trap you, instead, they wait for you to walk straight into one instead.

 

The issue of ransomware is as extensive as it is meticulous. If you have any questions about Fantom or would like to request more information, feel free to get in touch with us! Give us a call or send us an email. Reach us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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02 Sep

Business Projector Buyer’s Guide

Love them or hate them, projectors are the modern day soapbox. They give you the platform to present your case to a wider audience without compromising your content. Like most hardware purchases, however, they’re accompanied by a list of measurements and specifications you likely have little experience with. If you’re in the market for some new projection hardware at your business, take a minute to brush up on the essentials here.

 

Brightness

 

If you haven’t had any hands-on experience with projectors yet, brightness will undoubtedly be the first thing you notice. Although no projector will ever match the brightness of an LED or LCD television, with some informed shopping you can easily mitigate this unfortunate drawback. A ‘lumen’ is a measure of brightness listed under the specifications of any new projector. Anything over 2,000 lumens should be appropriate for small-group presentations in a low-light room. For larger meetings with more ambient light, 3,000 lumens should be able to negate any added burdens. No need to go any higher than that unless you expect to host more than 100 viewers and let a little light into the room.

 

Resolution

 

While brightness may be the first thing you notice, resolution is probably the first thing you think of. Before deciding on a resolution, give some honest consideration to how essential it is for the projector’s intended use. If the plan is to set it up in the conference room for Excel budget presentations, WXGA (or 1280×800) should be plenty clear. This resolution is the most widely compatible with the dimensions of modern laptop screens and will making swapping the content source a piece of cake. However, if you have an existing projector and/or screen, you may want to stick with your existing XGA (or 1024×768) resolution. Of course, there is always the option for the gold standard. Whether it’s an overinflated budget or true necessity, HD (1920×1080) will provide you with the best possible resolution for your projections.

 

Portability

 

Behind their bolted-in conference room companions, portable projectors are some of the most popular for business professionals. In addition to brightness and resolution comparisons, make sure to examine how valuable portability is to you. Increased portability often brings a significant reduction in image quality and may not ultimately be worth it. If you’re forging ahead with a mobile option, some of which are small enough to comfortably fit inside your pocket, make sure whatever you choose has the ability to read data from a USB or SD storage device. There’s no reason to buy a model compact enough to leave the backpack at home unless you’re utilizing all its added bonuses. This means you might have the option to purchase a mini-projector with a battery integrated into the device; just remember that it’s unlikely you’ll have the picture quality or features to truly enjoy video and multimedia presentations.

 

Extra Features

 

What would any piece of hardware be without a few cool extra features? Top of the line projectors have a myriad of specialized add-ons that might be just what you need to make your final decision. We’ve already talked about USB and SD storage, but what about an iPhone or Android dock incorporated directly into the unit? And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, cut the cords entirely with wireless-enabled projectors. Regardless of whether it’s one of these options, or something like internal storage capacity, always thoroughly test any special features before letting them factor into your final choice. There’s nothing worse than basing a decision on a total misnomer.

 

Our customers often forget to utilize one of our most useful service options: hardware consulting. If you’re ever in the market for new equipment at your organization, or need advice on how to get the most of what you currently have, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re an office full of gadget geeks who love the opportunity to talk about the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. Contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net!

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25 Aug

New Features in Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 platform isn’t one of the most popular productivity suites in the world by luck. The company’s expertise in creating functional, innovative and easy-to-use business applications has won over thousands of users for decades even before the cloud. And today, Microsoft strives to remain ahead of the competition by rolling out new upgrades every quarter. So what does Office 365’s update have in store for you this quarter? Read on and find out.

 

Word

 

This quarter, Office 365’s upgrade will focus on cloud-powered intelligent services, designed to maximize productivity while saving time. And Office 365’s upgrade wouldn’t be an upgrade if there were nothing new in Word, the business application that put Microsoft on the map. To that end, Word is getting two new features called Researcher and Editor. As you may have guessed, Researcher is designed to help you find reliable sources of information by using Bing’s Knowledge Graph to help search and then cite sources in your Word document. In the future, Researcher’s body of reference materials will also include sources such as national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, and more. The feature will be available on mobile devices too.

Now that you have Researcher to help you start your paper, you can count on Editor to help you finish it. This new feature builds on the existing spellchecker and thesaurus, and in addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and wavy blue line under bad grammar, Editor uses a gold line for suggestions on how to improve your writing.

 

PowerPoint

 

Currently, when making a presentation, you’re forced to use the 1-2-3-4 linear method of showing your slides. The problem is that you can’t change your presentation order as needed without having to exit PowerPoint’s slideshow mode, and let’s face it, sometimes you do make mistakes and need to go back or move to a different slide. But thanks to PowerPoint’s new feature, Zoom, you can now present your slides in any order you want at any time without a hiccup.

 

Outlook

 

The time has come for Office 365’s Outlook to get the Focused Inbox which has been available for iOS and Android for some time now. If you’re not familiar with Focused Inbox, the feature separates your inbox into two tabs: Focused tab which includes emails that matter most to you and the “Other” tab for everything else. This makes it easy to identify email that needs your attention so you never miss anything important.

Not only that, but as you move email in or out of the Focused tab, Outlook learns from your behavior and adjusts to your priorities. You can also flag someone by typing the @ symbol in the body of the email and pick whoever you wish to flag. This will automatically highlight that person’s email and their email address will be added to the To: line. If you are mentioned, the @ symbol will show up in Outlook so you can quickly find all email where you are mentioned.

 

For now, Microsoft hasn’t set a release schedule for these new features, but according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President for the Office team, you can expect to use them soon enough! And as always, if you would like to find out how you can make the most out of Office 365 or Microsoft Office, contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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