27 Nov

Reasons to back up your mobile devices

Companies such as Apple, Samsung, and others have turned mobile phones into mini-computers that can serve as a substitute for your laptop, or as a storage device. If you’re using a smartphone as a communications and storage device, backing up now would be a wise move.

 

Malware on mobile

 
More than two-thirds of the world’s population use a mobile phone with internet connection, so dangers in these handy devices are to be expected. Scarier than the thought of being offline is being online and exposed to malware.

If you use your mobile devices as extensions of your work computers, backing them up is a must. Mobile phones have become as vulnerable to malware as laptops and desktops are, especially if you consider the fact that many professionals and business owners use them for emailing confidential documents and storing business-critical files.

 

Device disasters

 

Malware isn’t the only disaster that can hurt your smartphone. Because you carry it wherever you go, your device can easily be stolen, misplaced, or damaged. They may be easily replaceable, but the data they contain is not. Here are some security threats to look out for:

 

Data leakage

 

Something as simple as transferring files onto a public cloud storage service, or pasting confidential information in the wrong place could compromise your business. In fact, according to specialist insurance provider Beazley, “unintended disclosure” accounted for 41% of data breaches reported by healthcare organizations during the first three quarters of 2017.

 

Social engineering

 

Tricking people online into handing over their personal and financial data is no longer confined to desktops, as this trend is already happening on mobile devices. In a report by IBM, it was found out that users are three times more vulnerable to fall for phishing attacks on mobile devices compared to desktops. This is because phones are where people will most likely see a message first, making them a popular attack vector by cybercriminals.

 

Wi-Fi interference

 

When we connect our devices to public Wi-Fi networks, we are putting critical information at risk. According to Wandera, nearly a quarter of devices in 2017 connected to potentially insecure networks, and some even encountered a man-in-the-middle attack, where someone anonymously intercepts communication between two parties.

 

Out-of-date devices

 
A vast majority of manufacturers, most particularly on the Android front, are ineffective at providing updates for their devices. This can inconvenience end users, as this exposes them to the many threats lurking online. Some smartphones and tablets may receive a security patch from time to time, but manufacturers eventually stop doing so after a while.

 

Physical device breaches

 

While this may seem unlikely for some, lost or unattended devices can still become a major security risk, especially if they are not employing proper security measures such as PIN codes and encryption.

 

Backup options

 

Performing backups on iOS and Android devices is a quick and painless process. For example, companies that use Office 365 or Google’s G Suite enable company-wide backup settings from a single dashboard. Apple’s backup settings usually need to be configured on each device, but it’s a pretty simple process.
 
There are also robust third-party options to back up all your organization’s mobile devices. The best of these are cloud backup services that sync devices and back up contacts, photos, videos, and other critical files in one neat system. These mobile backup tools are offered on monthly or lifetime subscription schemes, which provides small businesses with enough flexibility to ensure long-term protection.

 

Our experts can provide practical advice on security for your business’s computers and mobile devices. Call 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net to ask about mobile backup and other security solutions today.

Share this
06 Aug

Get More Life From Your iPhone Battery

You’re on the go today – out of the office, out of the house, and attending a business event. Everything is going fine and dandy until you look down at your phone to see your worst nightmare come true. Your iPhone is at 25 percent battery life. Before you panic, know that the answer to your dilemma may just be in the palm of your hand: in the Settings of your phone. So when a battery emergency strikes, try these five tips first before screaming into a pillow.

 

Activate Low Power Mode

 

Perhaps the easiest way to save iPhone battery life, Low Power Mode can be activated with a single tap. When switched on, it automatically adjusts several settings to extend the life of your battery: it reduces the brightness of your screen and the amount of battery power your apps are using, disables the automatic fetching of new email, and it powers off the display more quickly.

To activate Low Power Mode, press Settings > Battery and then tap Low Power Mode so that the green light is on.

 

Lower the screen brightness

 

The brighter your iPhone screen, the more battery it drains. And really, there isn’t much of a need to have an excessively bright screen because in most instances (being outside in the sunshine excluded) you can easily see everything on the screen at a lower brightness level.

To adjust the brightness of your iPhone, there are two simple ways to go about it. First, flick the Control Center tab upward from the bottom of your screen. There you’ll find a brightness adjuster that looks like a vertical bar with a sun icon on it. Simply slide the adjuster up or down to increase or decrease your display’s brightness level.

Alternatively, you can adjust your iPhone’s brightness in Settings > Display & Brightness (it’s called Brightness & Wallpaper in iOS 7). You can also turn on Auto-Brightness to automatically adjust the brightness of your phone by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations. When you turn this setting on, you’ll save energy because your screen will need to use less power in dark places.

 

Switch off Wi-Fi

 

As much as you love using the Wi-Fi on your phone, it is a proven battery life killer. The funny thing is, the degree it drains battery life varies by location. For instance, if you’re at home (where iPhone battery life is less of a problem to begin with), Wi-Fi will use less battery. But when you’re out and about, your phone is often searching for a Wi-Fi signal to connect to, and this drains battery. So if you can hold off on your mobile browsing and email till you get home, your phone will stay powered on quite a bit longer.

 

Switch off cellular data

 

Like Wi-Fi, cellular data can also eat up battery quickly – especially if you’re in an area where there’s no cellular coverage. When this happens, your phone begins to search non-stop for a signal, which is a huge battery drainer. So if you’re short on juice and don’t need to browse the internet, turn off your cellular data function. Doing this can easily provide an extra hour or two of additional battery life.

 

Activate Airplane mode

 

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and this is exactly when you need Airplane mode. If you’re down to 20ish percent battery life and need your phone to last for a few hours longer, Airplane mode may just be your savior. By switching it on, your phone will shut down all wireless activity, including cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Doing this is obviously not ideal, but if you have little battery life and want your phone available in case of emergencies, this is your best option (next to switching it off). Once in Airplane mode, you can individually turn on certain wireless functions, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, while staying in Airplane mode.

To switch on Airplane mode, you can do so from the Control Center screen or by going to Settings and then clicking on Airplane mode.

 

Any other options?

 

If you must have your cake and eat it too, there’s an alternative choice that provides an extra battery bump with the ability to use Wi-Fi, keep your screen bright, and use your iPhone without adjusting any settings. The answer is to buy a power supply, also known as a power bank, which you’ve likely seen for sale at your local Best Buy or on Amazon. These delightful portable chargers are continually shrinking in size, with some even as small as lipstick, so it’s no longer a hassle to carry them around. You can simply slide it into your pocket and plug it in when needed.

 

If you’re looking for more ways to get the most out of your iPhone or are looking to service your Apple technology, feel free to shoot us a message. We also manage Windows devices as well, and we’re happy to help in any way possible. Contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net

Share this
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

Share this
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.

Share this
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.

Share this
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

Share this
28 Apr

What is Virtual “Sandboxing?”

<Virtualization comes with several benefits for small- and medium-sized businesses. One of the most important is cybersecurity, but even within that subset are several strategies for protecting your organization. One of such strategy is referred to as sandboxing, and it’s worth learning about.

 

What is sandboxing?

 

Sandboxing is one of the rare concepts in virtualization that the average person can usually grasp in just a couple short sentences. Essentially, sandboxing is the practice of tricking an application or program into thinking it is running on a regular computer, and observing how it performs. This is especially useful for testing whether unknown applications are hiding malware.

Obviously, it gets far more complicated once you delve into the details of how you implement a sandboxing technique, but the short answer is that it almost always involves virtualized computers. The program you want to test thinks it’s been opened on a full-fledged workstation of server and can act normally, but it’s actually inside of a tightly controlled virtual space that forbids it from copying itself or deleting files outside of what is included in the sandbox.

 

An effective way to quarantine

 

Virtualization is no simple task, but the benefits of sandboxing definitely make the effort worth it. For example, virtualized workstations can essentially be created and destroyed with the flip of a switch. That means:

  1. You aren’t required to manage permanent resources to utilize a sandbox. Turn it on when you need it, and when you’re done the resources necessary to run it are reset and returned to your server’s available capacity.
  2. When malware is exposed inside a sandbox, removing it is as simple as destroying the virtual machine. Compare that to running a physical workstation dedicated solely to sandboxing. Formatting and reinstalling the machine would take several hours.
  3. Variables such as which operating system the sandbox runs, which permissions quarantined applications are granted, and minimum testing times can be employed and altered in extremely short periods of time.

This strategy has been around for nearly two decades, and some cybersecurity experts have spent their entire careers working toward the perfect virtual sandbox.
 

Containers: the next step in this evolution

 

Recently, the virtualization industry has been almost totally consumed by the topic of “containers.” Instead of creating entire virtual workstations to run suspicious applications in, containers are virtual spaces with exactly enough hardware and software resources to run whatever the container was designed to do.

Think of the metaphor literally: Older sandboxes came in a uniform size, which was almost always significantly larger than whatever you were placing into them. Containers let you design the size and shape of the sandbox based on your exact specifications.

 

Quarantined virtual spaces fit nicely into the sandbox metaphor, but actually implementing them is impossible without trained help. Whether you’re looking for enhanced security protocols or increased efficiency with your hardware resources, our virtualization services can help. Call us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or shoot us an email at sales@eitnetworks.net.

Share this
18 Apr

Firmware: How to Keep it Secure

For decades, one of the most foundational principles of cyber security has remained the same: Always update and patch your software. But for most people, hardware is exempt from this process. They think of hardware as nothing more than a vessel for software to occupy — and that’s totally incorrect. Read on to learn more about this oft-neglected aspect of IT security.

 

What is firmware?

 

Firmware is a very basic type of software that is embedded into every piece of hardware. It cannot be uninstalled or removed, and is only compatible with the make and model of the hardware it is installed on. Think of it like a translator between your stiff and unchanging hardware and your fluid and evolving software.

For example, Windows can be installed on almost any computer, and it helps users surf the internet and watch YouTube videos. But how does Windows know how to communicate and connect with your hardware router to do all that? Firmware on your router allows you to update and modify settings so other, more high-level, pieces of software can interact with it.

 

Why is firmware security so important?

 

Firmware installed on a router is a great example of why addressing this issue is so critical. When you buy a router and plug it in, it should be able to connect devices to your wireless network with almost zero input from you. However, leaving default settings such as the username and password for web browser access will leave you woefully exposed.

And the username and password example is just one of a hundred. More experienced hackers can exploit holes that even experienced users have no way of fixing. The only way to secure these hardware security gaps is with firmware updates from the device’s manufacturer.

 

How do I protect myself?

 

Firmware exploits are not rare occurrences. Not too long ago, a cyber security professional discovered that sending a 33-character text message to a router generated an SMS response that included the administrator username and password.

Unfortunately, every manufacturer has different procedures for checking and updating firmware. The best place to start is Googling “[manufacturer name] router firmware update.” For instance, if you have a DLink of Netgear router, typing “192.168.0.1” into a web browser will allow you to access its firmware and update process, assuming you have the username and password.

Remember that routers are just one example of how firmware affects your cyber security posture. Hard drives, motherboards, even mouses and keyboards need to be checked. Routinely checking all your devices for firmware updates should be combined with the same process you use to check for software updates.

 

It can be a tedious process, and we highly recommend hiring an IT provider to take care of it for you. If you’re curious about what else we can do to help, give us a call today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or shoot an email to sales@eitnetworks.net.

Share this

© 2016 EIT Networks, LLC. All rights reserved.