Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category:

What is VoIP?

Posting Date: 12/28/2015  |   Filed Under: Internet, Technology  |   No Comments
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voice over internet protocol VoIP imageVoice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, refers to technology that enables you to make voice calls using an internet connection rather than a traditional analog phone line. Often pronounced “voyp”, VoIP requires the same protocols that the Internet uses, or a set of rules used to allow sufficient communication. Therefore, it takes traditional voice signals and converts them into a form that is easily transmitted using the same protocols as the Internet. Even if you have analog telephone stations, the industry’s best VoIP providers can implement IP telephony so that your existing telephone equipment doesn’t become obsolete.

IP telephony (IPT) is similar to VoIP because it also utilizes Internet protocols to enhance voice communications. The basis of IP networking is solely built around Internet protocols, which directly support corporate, private, public, and wireless networks. Many organizations prefer using VoIP because it consolidates many locations – including mobile workers – into a concentrated network. VoIP also comes equipped with a plethora of telephony features such as door phone buzzer integration, music on hold, call routing, coaching tools, and support services that traditional analog phone lines lack.

VoIP not only enhances voice communications, but its services are interoperable, meaning that they work over any network. Along with being interoperable, they’re also portable, so VoIP can also enhance communication through any IP device like a computer or a personal digital assistant.

For any IP phone to communicate over a network, it requires a built-in network interface card (NIC). To allow any network device to properly function, it requires the NIC because it provides devices with a standardized physical, or media access control, so they can essentially communicate to one another. Along with having the NIC, a server is also necessary to run the software that’s used to regulate calls.

Servers are a key component to VoIP because it provides more speed, memory, and capacity than a traditional PC. Servers house the database that include the MAC addresses which correspond to all the IP telephone extensions that are assigned to each user. The number of servers necessary is all dependent on the size of the local area network (LAN), and the number of users.

If the size of the LAN increases, the number of switches grows. Switches provide a series of ports where all LAN-addressable devices connect, like computers, printers, and IP phones. For all network devices to properly function at peak performance, they must be physically connected to the LAN through a port on a switch.

Geeks On Call can help you increase the efficiency of your business’ communications. Now is an ideal time to reevaluate your business’ unified communications. Contact your local Geeks On Call office for help with VoIP and other technology solutions.

Are You Protecting Your Data from Cybercriminals?

Posting Date: 12/16/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Tips  |   No Comments
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cybercrime

Do you remember when JP Morgan Chase was hacked earlier this year? Maybe you remember it vividly because you were one of the 76 million customers affected by this enormous data breach? The theft of digital information has actually exceeded physical theft.

Big retailers and financial institutions are continuously fortifying their networks against cyber attackers. As a result, smaller businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of cybercriminals and hackers. Why? Because smaller businesses are typically less prepared in the fight against cybercrime.

If you are the owner of a small business or are self-employed, Geeks On Call recommends that you safeguard your data with following tips:

 

  • Cybersecurity Awareness: When it comes to protecting yourself or your business, education and training is your first line of defense. Get informed and establish a plan. Follow appropriate internet safety guidelines while on the job or at home.

 

  • Clean Machines: Upgrade to the newest operating system, web browser and security software to guard against malware and viruses. Use a firewall software that prevents outsiders from accessing your network

 

  • Passwords and Authentication: Use unique passwords and change your passwords every three months. For greater security, use multi-factor authentication because it requires additional information to gain entry. If you work with vendors that are handling your business data, ask if they use multi-factor authentication. If not, you might want to find a vendor that does.

 

  • Secure Your Wi-Fi Network: A major misconception is that by simply having a router on your network this will provide the protection you need.  Without a password on the router, it is like putting a door on your office but not locking it.

 

  • Financial Transactions: Use encryption software to protect your business’ financial accounts, personnel files, product information and other highly sensitive data. Also, don’t surf the internet from the computer you use to process payments.

 

  • Mobile Devices: Require employees or other users to password protect their mobile devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent cyber criminals from stealing information while the device is on a public network.

 

Geeks On Call can help you defend your business and home computers against cybercrime by strengthening your network and using security solutions. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to help you.

You Can Transform Your Business with Office 365

Posting Date: 08/08/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Most computer users are well acquainted with Microsoft Office. Office includes popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access. By 2012, Office had become such an enormously successful product that it had reached over one billion users.

Microsoft has presented Office 365 as the successor to the highly popular Office product. Office 365 is built around the Office product platform and is capable of running on Windows, Macs and portable devices such as iPhones and Android phones. The biggest innovation with Office 365 is that it is structured around a cloud delivered subscription service plan. Generally referred to as “software as subscription,” Office 365 represents the shift away from buying software. With cloud access, Office 365’s subscription plan eliminates the perpetual licensing structure associated with software purchases.

Office 365 provides users with some additional features. Microsoft has created Office 365 editions designed for various types of clients. For the business market, there is Small Business, Small Business Premium, Pro Plus, Midsize Business and Enterprise. For the consumer market segment, Office 365 is available in Home and the new Personal edition for the individual client.

 

The Advantages of Office 365

In you are working from a home office or own a business and are managing a team of employees; Office 365 offers the following advantages:

 

  • Work Wherever and When Ever: Your Office tools can be accessed from virtually anywhere. Use PowerPoint, Word, OneNote and Excel via cloud access. You can easily share files with team members, plus there is great data storage capacity.

 

  • Mobile Apps: You can use PowerPoint, Excel and Word files on your mobile device when you are working on the go. When you return to your office, you can quickly reconnect to these files from your office computer. Save time by picking up where you left off. Even the formatting stays intact.

 

  • Easily Manage Your Website: With easy-to-use DIY tools, you can quickly make changes to your website. Take charge of your marketing efforts with an up-to-date website. Without any web-hosting fees, you can add your existing website to Office 365.

 

  • Email and Calendar: With Office 365 you can sync your email and calendar. Private and secure communications via a hosted business class e-mail system. Anti-spam and anti-virus protection is provided in addition to instant messaging. Never forget another appointment again.

 

  • Online Conferencing: Take advantage of HD conferencing features. Save time and money by replacing business travel with online meetings that also include real-time note taking and desktop sharing.

 

  • Subscription Benefits:  Save on upfront expenses through Office 365’s subscription plan that enables users to pay on a monthly basis. With a monthly payment plan, you can easily cancel the subscription at any time. You can also upgrade your subscription to another edition within the same customer segment.

 

Is it Time to Reshape Your Business?

Office 365 offers you the ability to reshape the way your business operates. As a business owner, you can reshape your workforce into a more efficient team that is capable of being productive anywhere and at any time. Geeks On Call can help.  Contact your local Geeks On Call office and a technology professional will be happy to show you how Office 365 can benefit you and your business.

Conquer Your Customers’ Online Security Concerns With These Measures

Posting Date: 07/15/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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We live in an era where online privacy is dwindling. But it’s also an era of consumer empowerment, where average people are taking control of their online behaviors and protecting themselves against unnecessary outside intrusion. Consumers are concerned in light of the recent news of the National Security Agency’s snooping, the Heartbleed bug and other cyber security issues.

The 2014 Internet Security Threat Report suggested targeted attacks increased 91 percent in 2013 and 552 million identities were exposed to breaches. E-commerce businesses have started feeling the pressure to provide more secure sites to protect customers’ data. Companies that have access to their customer’s credit card numbers and other personal information online should take extra care, given the recent data breaches, to make sure customers are safe.

Block Hackers

E-commerce sites are easy targets for hackers. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable, as oftentimes, the budget for a highly sophisticated data security system simply isn’t there.

CIO.com says that an e-commerce platform should use a “sophisticated object-orientated programming language” Open-source platforms can be made inaccessible to hackers based on the strength of that language. CIO.com has two other key suggestions: 1. Use a secure connection at checkout, and 2. Avoid storing sensitive data. Online purchases should be protected by Secure Sockets Layer, more commonly known as SSL, which authenticates transactions and encrypts the data; this is most commonly where hackers breach the system, so storing credit card numbers and similar information could be catastrophic in the event of a breach.

Server Message Block technology, or SMB, is also a popular tool for e-commerce businesses that applies “more modern and nimble applications that allow them to move quickly” when securing data, according to Heather Clancy of Small Business Matters.

Even WordPress has similar solutions for small businesses. The Krux SMB plugin, for example, is designed to authenticate and secure data sent through your site via social media channels.

Promote Online Safety

Any of these security measures could easily be explained via your company’s website to increase consumer confidence; it’s actually pretty common for wary shoppers to verify your platform’s security before entering any personal information. By providing resources to your customers on staying safe and secure online, you’re also advocating that they take control of their personal data and prepare for the unexpected. For example, Aol has partnered with identity theft company Lifelock to offer a complimentary protection advantage plan benefit for Aol members. Lifelock also caters to businesses of all sizes to protect internal data.

Like the security features noted above, some companies are listing their protection measures for customers to learn how they can fully secure their online information. As an online merchant or e-commerce business, it’s important to engage conversation with customers about how your company is protecting their data. Be transparent about the security measures you’ve taken and encourage customers to seek additional assistance from outside companies. In the end, concerned customers will see your company as open, honest and allied in the fight against online thieves.

3 Ways to Extend Your Smartphone’s Battery Life

Posting Date: 06/25/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Social Media, Technology  |   No Comments
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You’re in the middle of an important phone call, getting a high score in Flappy Birds, or trying to use the parking finder app to find your car in the music festival parking lot when your battery decides to die. Battery life, or lack thereof, can cause real anxiety among smartphone users. Veloxity discovered smartphone owners experienced anxiety over running out of a charge, resulting in 2.6 charges per day. Battery technology is lagging behind other smartphone advancements, such as a large screens on devices like the Galaxy Note and improved graphical rendering chips on higher end phones. While you wait for an all-day battery to come standard issue on smartphones, consider a few ways to keep consumption down.

System Settings

Turn your screen brightness down, as displays consume the lion’s share of your battery. However, your phone has other system settings that greatly improve battery life. One of the primary settings to target are those that keep your phone constantly active. Wi-fi and Bluetooth features scan for appropriate networks and devices to connect to, resulting in a major battery drain. Additionally, using 4G instead of 3G also contributes to battery drain. Keep your GPS feature turned off unless you’re actively using geolocation and keep your phone plugged in when you use it as a navigation unit if you can. Vibrate and haptic response on a touch screen are also battery drains. Turn them off manually or use an eco mode feature or app to handle that for you.

App Avoidance

Check for offending apps. The primary culprit here are those that push notifications to your phone on a constant basis, or are sending and receiving large amounts of data. Facebook is one app in particular you want to disable to conserve battery life, as it uses GPS and sends notifications to your phone. Tethering apps like FoxFi are another major drain on your battery, even if you use USB tethering instead of Wi-Fi. Consider buying a dedicated hotspot device if you find your battery is draining too quickly when using its data. Most apps allow you to control notifications and GPS settings on an app by app basis, so look through the options available.

Portable Chargers

You don’t want your phone give out in the middle of the day, but you also don’t want to invest in a second smartphone battery. A portable mobile charger is a great alternative, as these units typically give you at least 2,000 mAh, with particularly hefty units going up to 11,000 mAh to charge your compatible devices. You have a wide selection. For example, Mimoco’sBatteryBot is a portable charger that has a cute appearance instead of the black, clean line standard style that many chargers come in.

Smartphone Battery Life

Smartphone Battery Life

Understanding the Heartbleed Bug

Posting Date: 04/10/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   2 Comments
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Yesterday an enormous exploit was announced impacting OpenSSL, the open-source software package extensively used to encrypt Web communications. They named this exploit the Heartbleed Bug. Many have questions about what this bug is, how it will impact them, and what they should do to protect themselves online. Hopefully this post will help you answer these questions and more about the Heartbleed Bug.

 
What is the Heartbleed Bug?
The Heartbleed Bug uncovers a vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic library that permits attackers to access to highly sensitive data that is regularly protected by the SSL/TLS encryption methods. This sensitive data includes username, passwords, credit card numbers and information on virtual private networks (VPN’s).

 

What is does?
This noxious Bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software,” according to Heartbleed.com. The bug compromises the secret keys OpenSSL utilizes to encrypt online communications. With access to these secret keys, attackers are able to eavesdrop on communications, impersonate other users and steal information.

 

Who discovered it?
The Bug was uncovered a late last week by the Finnish security firm Codenomicon and analysts at Google who then revealed it on Monday. By mid-day Tuesday many websites stated they had already addressed the issue, or were in the process of upgrading their websites OpenSSL.

 

Are you at risk?
OpenSSL is the most commonly used open source cryptographic library and TLS implementation source to encrypt data on the Internet, so the answer is yes you are likely at risk. Popular social sites, your organization’s site, hobby and interest website, commerce or shopping websites and even government sites use OpenSSL and therefore may be impacted by this Bug.

 

What should you do to protect yourself?
Experts suggest that refraining from using the Internet for 2-3 days, specifically from accessing social sites, banking sites, and email accounts will give you the ultimate level of protection against the Heartbleed Bug. This is not realistic for most us, so it is suggested that you change all of your passwords once the OpenSSL update has been installed on the impacted website.

For more information visit www.Heartbleed.com.

Take Your Business to the Next Level with an Outsourced IT Support Model

Is an IT professional currently handling the technology needs of your business, or are you contemplating transitioning to an outsourced IT services model like many other small businesses?  According to a survey completed by CompTIA 62% of the organizations surveyed planned to make greater investments in Outsourced IT Services (managed services) over the next two years.

If you are thinking about moving in this direction let us help you understand what your IT Service Professional should be doing to support and improve your business technology:

Trusted IT Expert & Advisor: Any IT Service Provider that you choose to work with must be an expert in consulting and providing IT service to small businesses.  The small business is unique in its needs and growth potential.  Additionally, they often come with a diverse and skilled workforce, which is difficult for small businesses to hire on their own.  And finally, they should have a comprehension about your business in order to make technology suggestions that will improve technology and increase profit potential.

Proactive Management: Proactive management of your technology equipment provides information on how your infrastructure is currently running, and allows for advance planning and knowledge regarding equipment upgrades and replacement to avoid disruptions in employee productivity.

Secure & Backed Up Infrastructure: When you move to an outsourced IT support model you no longer have to worry about the possibility of malicious online attacks to your equipment or network should your employees click on an unsafe link or open an infected email attachment.  They will also provide managed backups of all your company information and data so if something is deleted or a natural disaster occurs and everything is lost, they can quickly recover it and get you back to work.

Increased Efficiency & Productivity: They will work to identify slow running equipment and network issues, and schedule maintenance to fix these issues decreasing the amount of downtime your employee’s experience.  Technology upgrades provided by the IT support provider will result in a streamlined workflow that increases business efficiency and employee productivity.

Controlled Costs: An extreme benefit when moving to an outsourced IT support model for a small business is the ability to control and predict expenses.  When you moved to an outsourced IT support model you are given back control of your technology costs through one monthly bill that covers all of your technology needs.

Scalability: Since your IT service provider understands the long term goals of your business, they are able to take them into consideration as they are implementing new technology now and ensuring future growth potential will not be impacted.

Why you should upgrade from XP today!

Posting Date: 02/17/2014  |   Filed Under: Consoles, Internet, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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Business IT Support: Are you prepared for 2014?

Posting Date: 12/27/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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As 2013 comes to a close, many will spend this time reviewing the what they achieved this past year and begin making plans of the things they hope to achieve in 2014. For the majority of people this will include both personal and professional plans. When developing new business goals, it often includes increased efficiency while saving time and money and learning to work smarter not harder.

As you begin to establish and outline your goals and resolutions for 2014, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to consider establishing an IT support plan for your business.

 

How a Business IT support Plan can Benefit your Business

Moving into a Business IT Support Plan (also known as a Managed Service Contract) provides you the opportunity to find someone who can assess your current technology systems and understand the needs of your business.  After the initial assessment and understanding of future needs, a service plan can be developed that will move the IT responsibility into the hands of an expert IT professional, freeing you up to run the business.

Advantages of Establishing a Business IT Support Plan in 2014: 

•You have the ability to control costs, and have less “surprise” technology costs, when you outsource this to a true IT professional.  With this model you are only paying for services that your business needs, you are not responsible for many of the costs associated with a traditional employee, and you have someone monitoring your equipment that will be able to inform you of issues on the horizon that you can proactively address.

•When you move to this model you gain an immediate increased level of efficiency and expertise.  The IT professional that you have chosen to hire should provide an extremely high level of technology knowledge and have the ability to stay ahead of product trends for you and your business.

•New viruses and technology threats are emerging every day.  Are you convinced that your business is properly protected?  Your IT professional should make your business needs regarding security a number one priority, establish a plan if something were to go awry, and maintain updated knowledge on how to protect you against new threats.

•Save time and money by running and managing your business not your technology.  A Business IT Support Plan will allow you to rely on the suggestions and guidance of highly skilled IT professional so you can make informed decision on how to move and maintain your business technology at a managed cost.

Viruses of 2013

Posting Date: 12/16/2013  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Tips  |   No Comments
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As 2013 comes to a close, everyone produces lists for the year in review. I love these, and look forward to reading them every year.   As we jump into 2014, we wanted to review the computer viruses, scams, and issues that made their appearance in 2013 and will probably continue into 2014, so you can make sure you and your technology continue to be informed and protected.  When you log on remember to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

CryptoLocker – Emerging into the computer world in the fall, hackers were hitting computer systems and holding personal information and files for ransom.  The concept of holding something for ransom has been around for ages, but this is the first time it has taken a 21st century twist holding your computer hostage and demanding money to get it back.

This virus was developed by organized criminals overseas, and is spread through phony attachments in emails.  The best way to protect yourself is to avoid opening email attachments from unfamiliar senders or that you are not expecting to receive.

You should also invest in good anti-virus protection software, and if you are hit they suggest unplugging your computer immediately before the program as had a change to run completely.  The hope is that the virus stalled when you unplugged your equipment and an expert technician will be able to salvage your data.


Microsoft Phone Scam – This was making its rounds during the summer months, and even happened to one of our franchise owners.  Its goal is to catch people off guard, lull them into a false sense of trust by saying they are from Microsoft and there is an issue with your computer, and you give them remote access to your computer.
Once the representative, claiming to be from Microsoft, has access to your computer they install a virus.  Then charging you money to remove and repair your computer.

FBI Virus – This global Internet scam gets into your computer and preys on your fear of being contacted by the FBI and threatened with jail time.  A fake message with the FBI logo will appear on your screen claiming, virtually locking your computer, that you illegally downloaded some type of material.  Then like a ransom notice, the attacker forces a payment for access to the computer.

Computers become infected, most of the time undetected by the user, when a unfamiliar email attachment or an untrustworthy website is accessed.

Facebook Virus – The Facebook Virus is transmitted through Facebook by clicking a link, then find its way to your bank account and drain all of the available money.  This virus, commonly called Zeus, will remain inactive on your computer until someone log into a banking website.  It then swiftly moves into action, stealing username and passwords so the funds can be accessed by thieves.

The best line of defense is to only click on links from people you know that do not look suspicious or contain strange patterns or characters.  Also, because this virus targets bank accounts, making sure your banking establishment’s website is secure and has a 2-step verification process will help protect your money.

Search Conduit – Our final virus is not a traditional virus, it is actually a browser hijack.  It is a menace that exhibits malicious traits. It is most commonly bundled and installed  through something you downloaded, it will add the Conduit Toolbar and change your browser homepage and default search engine to search.conduit.com.

The Conduit search engine will display advertising and sponsored links in your search results and will act very much like Google and Bing.  It will also collect search terms from your queries in an effort to boost their advertising revenue, which is a black hat SEO tactic. It is pretty difficult to remove since it takes hold of some many pieces of your computer including your browser and operating system.