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Is Cloud Waste Eating Away At Your Company’s Bottom Line?

Cloud WasteHave you ever heard the phrase, “Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing?” Well, there’s a hint of truth to this, especially in the business world. Just because your cloud solution allows your business to store a huge amount of data in the cloud, doesn’t mean that you are getting the best return-on-investment. In fact, you might just be unknowingly wasting resources that would be better used elsewhere.

This “cloud waste” is more common than you might suspect. This happens when your organization consumes more cloud resources than it actually needs to. Business 2 Community outlines several of the most common ways that cloud waste can become apparent.

  • Instances or VMs which are left running, chewing up $/CPU-Hr costs and network charges
  • Orphaned volumes (volumes not attached to any servers), which are not being used and incurring monthly $/GB charges
  • Old snapshots of those or other volumes
  • Old, out-of-date machine images

Keep in mind that the major thing to remember about waste is that it’s almost always preventable. In this particular case, cloud waste can damage the bottom line of your organization. More than just your return on investment, it also diminishes return on equity and net revenue.

Cloud waste even hurts the bottom lines of the cloud providers, specifically because they are most profitable when they oversubscribe their data centers. If cloud providers can’t oversubscribe, they then build more data centers, which is too expensive to yield any significant return-on-investment. While this may not immediately be a problem for consumers, it can potentially become one. Most notably, a profit-minded business may choose to supplement this decrease in income by increasing the overall price of their product or service, which means that consumers will wind up paying more in the long run than they would if basic cloud waste best practices were adhered to.

Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interest if cloud waste is mitigated. Furthermore, you should be planning to avoid it during the implementation process. This often involves a second opinion from a trusted technician or IT provider, but the average SMB might not have in-house professionals who are trained to look for this type of issue. Often times, a fresh pair of eyes and a new outlook might be just enough to resolve your cloud waste issue. To this end, Excalibur Technology would be happy to help. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


6 Data Backup Best Practices Your Business Continuity Plan Needs

Business Continuity PlanThe future of any organization is only as good as its business continuity plan. This is a well thought out plan that instructs a company of what to do in the face of a disaster, so they can return to normal operations as quickly as possible. One key part of every business continuity plan that should never be overlooked: the backing up and recovery of your data.

After all, there are many aspects of your business that can be replaced should it be destroyed or lost in a disaster, such as office furniture, computer equipment, and even the office building itself. Although, your company’s data is unique, which makes it irreplaceable. Therefore, we want to share with you six best practices when it comes to backing up your data so that your business will be fully prepared to overcome any potential disaster.

How many of these best practices are you already doing? Which ones can you incorporate into your current IT setup? Read on to find out!

Backup to the Cloud
There are a variety of ways to back up your company’s data, but the best way is to utilize a cloud-based BDR system. In addition to giving you anytime/anywhere access to your data, storing your backed-up data in the cloud assures that it will survive AND be accessible, should something devastating happen to your physical office building–a case that can’t be made with traditional tape backup.

Take Multiple Backups
Another disadvantage of tape backup is that it’s generally used to only take one backup per day, which means you could potentially lose an entire day’s worth of work in the event of a disaster. Alternatively, a solution like BDR takes backup copies of your data every fifteen minutes, and it’s a process that’s done automatically, meaning that you or your staff don’t have to waste time swapping out tapes.

Store Backups in Different Locations
Another advantage of a cloud-based backup system like BDR is that multiple copies of your data are stored across several physical locations. After all, what’s the point of backing up your data to protect your business if one or even two locations where your data was housed ends up becoming devastated by a disaster? This is a serious shortcoming of tape backup that should give every business owner pause.

Have a Quick Recovery Time Objective
After a disaster, it’s ideal for your business continuity plan to include ways to get operations up and running again as quickly as possible. This is especially the case when it comes to accessing your company’s data, seeing as the average modern business can accomplish very little without it. Therefore, you’re going to want to take advantage of BDR’s data recovery feature, which allows the BDR device itself to act as a temporary server, should something happen to your IT infrastructure. Essentially, this feature allows the quickest recovery time objective possible for your business.

Have a Maximum Recovery Point Objective
Another important factor of data recover is the recovery point objective. This is where you set a goal for how much data you wish to be recovered post-disaster. Of course, you’ll want to recover as much data as possible, and working with an IT professional to incorporate this into your business continuity plan is how this is achieved, and it’s another backup best practice that BDR is designed for.

Plan to Protect Your Data From All the Risks
Seeing how even a small amount of data loss can negatively affect your bottom line, you’ll want to take extra precautions to ensure that, no matter what happens, your company will retain as much of its data as possible. This means planning for every conceivable scenario. Excalibur Technology can have this conversation with you to help you make sure that your business continuity plan covers every angle possible.

For assistance with any and all of your data backup needs, call us today at (877) NET – KING.


These Police Officers Called For Backup… And It Was Infected With Ransomware

Police Dept Hit With RansomwareThe police exist to serve, protect, and enforce the law, but who can we turn to if even the cops are made victim of a cyberattack? This is the question the residents of Cockrell, Texas have to answer, as their police department fell victim to a ransomware attack known as the Osiris Ransomware.

Before you start to worry too much about this terrible new strain of ransomware, you should know that “Osiris” has been identified as a recent version of the Locky ransomware. The police department likely only referred to it as “Osiris” due to their encrypted files all sporting the extension “.osiris.”

This began as many ransomware attacks do; an on-screen message notified the police that their files had been locked, and would only be unlocked if the department paid up the demanded $4,000. As happens far too often, the ransomware was introduced into their system when a member of the department opened a spoofed email that appeared to be an official department communication. In keeping to best practices, the police’s IT department elected to restore the infected server’s files from a backup.

Unfortunately, the backup they had to restore from was taken after their systems had been infected, meaning that all they had were more locked and infected files.

This caused Cockrell authorities no small amount of trouble, as the encrypted files included years and years of photographic and video evidence to be used to prosecute cases. Time will only tell how much of an impact this will have on legal proceedings.

These events serve as a warning to all who rely on data in order to do their job, including businesses everywhere. It is essential to remember that your security is only as good as the people who are given access to your data. Furthermore, it reinforces the importance of keeping more than just one backup of your system. Backing up incrementally, and storing archived backups off site will usually safeguard a business from having the entire backup corrupted in the event of ransomware like this.
Reach out to us at (877) NET – KING so we can optimize your IT to protect you against ransomware and other critical issues.


What Score Does Your Website Earn For Speed?

How fast does your website load?  The answer might surprise you and you should regularly test the speed of your website.  Not only does a faster loading website mean less waiting for guests visiting you, it could also play a significant factor in your website ranking with certain search engines.  The faster your page loads and the more compatible  your site is with major browsers, the better you are ranked.

Want to test your site?  Try visiting pingdom.com at the following URL:

http://tools.pingdom.com

Just type in your URL and get an instant result!  What helps your page load faster?  Optimized code, small pictures, a fast hosting provider, modern language for site coding, number of requests hitting your site and much more.  How do you rank?  As of writing this article, the Excalibur Technology site received an “A” / 91 for our performance.

Website Speed Test

Need help with your performance?  Call the website masters at Excalibur Technology today at 877-NET-KING!


Moving To The Cloud? Be Wary Of These Hidden Costs

Moving Software Services To The CloudEfficient utility software deployment has been a priority for businesses for much of the past three decades, but today’s software developers are beginning to more frequently offer their titles as a service, giving end users the ability to utilize powerful software solutions from anywhere, for what is often a reasonable monthly payment. The dissemination of useful computing resources from the cloud, whether it’s a private cloud server, or a public cloud platform through a reputable cloud provider, can be of great benefit to your business.

In a recent study, it was predicted that 59 percent of the cloud computing workload will be generated from SaaS offerings by 2018. This figure correlates with the trend of more and more businesses hosting their software in the cloud. To successfully move your company to the cloud, it first has to navigate the process of virtualization, while remaining mindful of several other variables. Here are two major factors you must consider if your business is looking to implement a cloud solution.

Integration Considerations
You cannot assume that your company’s mission-critical applications will automatically integrate with every cloud service that’s on the market. Connecting an existing service that you rely on every day with a new cloud service requires testing and special considerations to be made regarding integration requirements. By not first doing your homework about what your new cloud service requires, you’ll put your company at risk of downtime and lost resources from encountering an issue like incompatibility.

The Need for a Reliable Connection
If your business plans on relying on cloud services, you’re going to need a reliable connection. This includes making sure your in-house network has enough bandwidth to support accessing your cloud services at peak hours, as well as a consistent Internet service from your ISP. Often times, companies that make the move to the cloud will upgrade their Internet package before officially switching over, seeing as cloud services are more data-intensive than typical Internet activity. Another component to look into is the connection and uptime of your potential cloud service provider.

Both of these factors must work together flawlessly in order to provide you with a cloud service that enhances the operations of your business. To ensure that your company gets the most out of the cloud and experiences an issue-free adoption of cloud services, give Excalibur Technology a call at (877) NET – KING for professional IT assistance.


Activate These Solutions Now Before You Misplace Your Mobile Device Later

Find Your Lost SmartphoneCan’t find your mobile device? If you’ve taken precautions and enabled solutions designed to track the whereabouts of your device, then you’ve got no reason to panic. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so you’ll want to make sure you activate a phone-finding solution now (while you’ve got your device in your sights).


For an iPhone or Apple Device
If you’re an Apple enthusiast, you can use the Find My iPhone feature to locate any device connected to your Apple account. Log into your iCloud account or download the Find My iPhone app (before you lose your device, of course), which will help you keep track of your devices should you lose them. You can even track where your device is and where it has been. You can even lock the device and send it a message telling whoever finds it how to contact you!

For an Android Device
Android makes finding your lost device as easy as performing a Google search. If you’re signed into your Google account, and you have your device linked to it, all you have to do is type into the search bar, “Find my Phone.” As long as there’s a device connected to your Google account, you’ll be shown a small map in the search results which shows you where the device is located. You can then proceed to ring the device and find it, if it is turned on and nearby.

For Other Devices
If you lose a more obscure device, you might have a little more trouble locating it. Thanks to a great app called Prey, you can find just about any laptop or smartphone that may be missing. You can install Prey for free on up to three devices, and as long as a thief hasn’t completely wiped your device, you’ll have a decent shot at discovering who has found it. Provided that your device has a Wi-Fi chip, a webcam, and the app installed, Prey can take a picture of whoever has found the device as well as where it is located.

Any devices that have Prey installed on them will automatically issue a report to you every so often, starting at 20 minutes. This can tell you exactly what’s happening with your device. This includes webcam snapshots, desktop captures, program installations, changed files, and so much more. Of course, if you think that maybe someone has just found your device and hasn’t stolen it, you have the option of letting them know how to contact you through various methods. Worst case scenario, you can lock it or remotely wipe it to secure any data located on it.

For more great tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your technology, subscribe to Excalibur Technology’s blog.


These 25 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Help Make Cars Intelligent And Safer

Automated Driverless CarBy now you’ve heard of self-driving cars insofar that you understand that there are engineers from all over the United States and abroad working with AI to develop systems that can create safer traffic conditions and cut down on emissions with efficiency. But what you may not know is that there are many drivers concerned at the development and deployment of these autonomous systems.

The Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan conducted a study that found that over one-third of all drivers are “very concerned” about riding in a self-driving car, while two-thirds of respondents are “very or moderately concerned”. It doesn’t seem as if the public is necessarily ready for this technology to be deployed; even though there are places where it has been shown to reduce traffic incidents substantially.

A car is many consumers’ “biggest” purchase, and with the car a person drives inexorably tied to their social status, people are not in a big rush to give up purchasing and driving cars without paying much mind for a car’s practical and safety information. With an autonomous vehicle, the driver’s role is now taken over by a computer, a completely terrifying prospect for some folks.

The reality is, however, that these cars are far and beyond more reliable than any human-driven car could possibly be. That’s because the human mind isn’t capable of the accuracy of these computing systems. Today what you see in lieu of full-on automated driving, are car manufacturers using some of the technologies developed for that purpose to improve the manual usage of the automobile. Marketed as advanced driver assistance systems (or ADAS), many newer cars offer some or all of the following options:

How many of these systems have you recognized on your family car?

These options have been slowly implemented as driver-assistance options. By using them incrementally rather than as part of a completely automated system it allows today’s drivers to avoid accidents while still getting the function out of their purchase.

One way that the automotive industry is currently taking advantage of ADAS technology is to have it assist drivers when needed. This is a much different approach than using it to fully automate the entire driving experience, and one that produces some confusion by drivers who are used to doing things a certain way behind the wheel.

Toyota’s “Guardian Angel” program is one example of a major car manufacturer working ADAS technology into a car to improve safety without negatively altering the driving experience. This program has the AI learn the driver’s habits as to give feedback while the car is being driven. Some ADAS options do take over the control of the car in times where motorists typically struggle with the goal to leverage the technology that’s available to improve safety and limit the amount of vehicular-related deaths (currently about 30,000 per year in the U.S.).

One caveat to successfully creating software that aids in the driving experience is that developers have to have an understanding of practical situations to interrupt a driver’s control of the vehicle. The CEO of Toyota Research Institute, Gil Pratt, went on to talk about this very subject to CIO magazine. “Your car may someday warn you several times about a particularly dangerous driving habit you have before taking control of the wheel. Autonomous driving capabilities are measured on a government scale of zero to four, with zero being no automation, and four being fully automated. The focus of most of the discussion among car makers today is how far up the scale they should go and how quickly. There’s a lot of discussion in the industry whether we go incrementally up the scale or whether we jump.”

It is important, especially with the public’s overwhelmingly negative perception of automobile automation, that these features are accurately assessing live situations. Up to 20 of the most visible car manufacturers have accepted this step-by-step approach to automobile automation as published by CIO, “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced earlier this year that 20 automakers have pledged to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) standard on their cars by 2022.”

What are your thoughts? Are you willing to ride in a self-driving car? Can you trust your safety and that of your family to assisted-driving technology? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.


20% Of Customers And Revenue Are A Lot To Lose From A Single Data Breach

Data Breach SplashData breaches are common problems for businesses of all shapes and sizes. In fact, they often have huge repercussions that aren’t initially seen in the heat of the moment. How can you make sure that a data breach won’t negatively impact your business, even well after you’ve fixed the initial problem?

Cisco, for example, claims that out of all companies that experienced a major data breach in 2016, over one-third of them lost more than 20 percent of their customers, opportunities, or revenue. This clearly shows that your business has far more than just data on the line when it comes to cybersecurity. Simply put, by not taking measures to keep your organization secure, you stand to put the future of your business itself at risk.

This makes sense, especially when you consider a consumer’s natural reaction to a poor experience with a specific vendor or brand. If you were a customer at a store that experienced a major data breach (one in which your financial information was stolen), would you still want to shop there? Many organizations will reassure their customers that the vulnerability has been resolved, and some might even offer to make amends for their careless handling of customer data. Yet, sometimes even this isn’t enough to retain customers, and often times, you won’t find this out until it’s too late.

As a small business owner, can you imagine what it would feel like to lose as much as 20 percent of your current clientele? Large organizations might have enough resources and offerings to make the loss seem more manageable, but chances are that a 20-percent loss would be a huge hit for any smaller organization.

Furthermore, it’s likely that such a loss of customers, opportunities, or revenue would affect long-term growth. If your organization loses 20 percent of its customers, that’s not just lost business for you–that’s a whole bunch of customers who won’t recommend your organization to new clients. What’s worse, they may even tell others about your business, but not in the way that you want them to. Before you know it, you’ll have former customers telling their contacts all of the ugly details about their experience with your business, data breaches notwithstanding.

In other words, not only does a data breach represent a loss of revenue, but also a loss of potential resources that could be utilized to further advance your business in the future.

Thus, a relatively small issue could transform into a major problem that puts the future of your business in jeopardy. Cisco also found that the following problems were concerning for organizations that experienced a data breach:

  • Cyber threats in 2016 increased in power and sophistication.
  • Cybersecurity efforts by organizations aren’t able to investigate all of the alerts they get in a single day (56 percent is the average).
  • However, despite cyber attacks growing in complexity, hackers still utilized “classic attack methods seen in 2010.”

Cyber threats continue to evolve into bigger, more dangerous threats that are harder to counter and prepare for. Despite this fact, it’s still your responsibility to make sure that any potential data breach doesn’t spell the end for your enterprise. It’s clear that, in order to guarantee the success of your business’s future, you need to implement powerful and focused security solutions designed to prevent breaches in the first place.

Excalibur Technology can help your business implement technology solutions designed to limit breaches and manage risk more effectively. With our protection services that cover multiple security layers and remote monitoring and management service, you will have little to fear. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Browse Incognito Mode Better By Enabling Your Extensions

Google Chrome ExtensionsFans of Google Chrome are familiar with using Incognito mode to cover their tracks and keep their Internet browsing private. Although, one downside of Incognito mode is that it disables your browser’s extensions by default. If this has been an annoyance for you, then you’ll be pleased to learn that switching on your extensions for Incognito Mode is easy to do.

Incognito mode might be a great way to browse the Internet with some semblance of privacy, but if it’s at the cost of your efficient browsing thanks to extensions, it’s somewhat unfortunate. Thankfully, there is a very simple way to make sure that your extensions work at all times, even when in Incognito mode.

Just follow these short directions and you’ll have extensions in your browser during Incognito mode:

  • Click Chrome’s menu button
  • Make your way to the More Tools
  • Click on Extensions
  • Go through the extensions and find the one that you want to enable in Incognito mode
  • Click on the Allow in Incognito Mode button

Well, there you have it. Now you can use your extensions even while in Incognito mode! Just keep in mind that there’s probably a very good reason why Google Chrome blocks extensions by default, so try to limit it to only extensions that you absolutely trust. The last thing you need is a security discrepancy caused by you trying to find a more convenient way to go about your daily business.

For more great tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your technology, subscribe to Excalibur Technology’s blog.


ALERT: Massive Ransomware Attack is the Biggest Ever

Creeping Virus Infecting a PCRun your Windows Updates and be very skeptical about opening unsolicited emails. Failure to do so may result in a very dangerous strain of ransomware that could infect your entire network and spread to your clients, partners, and prospects.


Microsoft has even released patches for some older, unsupported versions of Windows to combat the threat that infected PCs all over the world over the weekend.

What’s Going On?
A ransomware worm variant dubbed ‘WannaCry’ struck critical systems all around the world. While the attack has been addressed by Microsoft and halted for the time being, the threat is far from over, especially for users who don’t keep their computers updated.

Discovered early in the morning hours of Friday, May 12, WannaCry spread at a startling rate, reaching victims in 11 countries within its first few hours, and over 45,000 attacks (spread through 99 countries) after a few more hours. By Monday, over 150 countries had been hit by this global cyberattack.

There’s No Specific Target
The victims included many companies that provide utilities, like telecommunications, electrical, and gas companies. Even more frightening, WannaCry caused serious trouble in England’s healthcare systems, leading to massive numbers of non-critical patients being sent home or turned away at hospital doors. Russia found that thousands of its interior ministry computers had been infected. In the United States, the ransomware managed to infect FedEx’s systems, and these are just the big highlights. Businesses everywhere went dark as a result of this attack.

However, WannaCry did not target businesses of any specific industry. This particular ransomware worm is a threat to essentially any PC, old and new.

WannaCry was first discovered by security company Malwarebytes, whose director of malware intelligence, Adam Kujawa, had a few choice words to describe the malware, “The spread is immense. I’ve never seen anything before like this. This is nuts.” This opinion was repeated by many others in the industry.

How Do I Prevent WannaCry?
WannaCry relies on a security vulnerability in Windows. Microsoft deployed a security patch on March 14, so it is critical that users run the update, especially before putting themselves at risk and opening unsolicited emails. Computers that are patched face a significantly smaller risk of getting the ransomware. Key words here; significantly smaller, as in not totally in the clear.

To run your Windows Updates in Windows 10, open up your Start Menu and type “updates” in the search box and choose Check for Updates – system settings from the results. A window titled Windows Update should appear. From there, click the Check for updates button. If it says your device is up to date, you have the latest update. If not, you’ll need to allow your PC to install them.

Evaluating your computer and network security would be a good step in the right direction, as well as educating employees on some basic best practices like not downloading and opening unsolicited attachments.

It’s also critical that your files are backed up securely. If ransomware infects your network, it makes your files inaccessible unless you pay the ransom which only feeds into the problem. Utilizing an offsite backup solution that can easily be restored is the only way to go.

I’m Updated, am I Still at Risk?
There is also the risk that WannaCry is still waiting on some systems that have not been used since the attack began, so this initial attack is still far from over. Any PC on your network that gets infected could infect the rest. Plus, even with the patch, a user could still accidentally download an infected file. It’s also possible that those behind WannaCry will devise a workaround to the patch. Therefore, you should always be mindful as you review your incoming email and do your best to protect your network with managed IT security solutions and backing up your files.

Events like these are why we always encourage timely updates to your systems. WannaCry depended on a vulnerability in Windows, and will continue to infect outdated, unpatched PCs to be effective, and so your first defense against it is to make sure yours has the most recent security patches from Microsoft.

As Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said, “The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call.”

What If I’ve Been Infected By WannaCry?
Contact us at 877-NET-KING immediately. Under no circumstance should you attempt to pay the ransom.

If you haven’t been targeted, count your blessings. That said, it’s time to start thinking about having your IT managed and maintained to prevent issues like this. Contact Excalibur Technology at 877-NET-KING and ask how we can help prevent business-crippling issues and security threats like WannaCry.

We are happy to report that all clients under our Total Support Solution plan and Simple Service Agreement plan had the proper patches installed and were protected against these threats.



Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology