Tip of the Week: Three Pro Business Tips

Posted November 14, 2018 by

While running a business can be quite rewarding on a professional level, it can be extremely challenging, with countless obstacles to overcome–particularly in regard to technology and its management. Thankfully, there are ways your business can minimize the pain of managing technology. Here are just a few of them.

Be Prepared to Lose Power

Electricity is perhaps the most important part of using technology in the workplace, as without it, the devices that empower your business’ operations just won’t function. In some cases, you might suddenly lose power, leading to data loss and other disaster scenarios that could strike your business down if you’re not prepared for them. With progress grinding to a halt, downtime will ensue, creating a considerable loss for your business.

Even if you’re not losing power, an excessive amount of it can create a surge, damaging the infrastructure itself and harming the individual components that make it up. It’s ultimately in your best interest to take measures against these events, as you made an investment that needs a substantial return. Surge protectors can be helpful to prevent excessive power from crippling these important machines, but in some cases, you’ll want a more powerful solution. An uninterruptible power supply, or UPS device, can help your servers, workstations, and other important technology shut down properly in the event of a power outage or surge, giving you the ability to minimize damage done.

Maintain a Steady Internet Connection

The Internet is an invaluable tool that can help your business succeed, and the Internet plays a larger role in its functionality than it ever has before. A lack of Internet ultimately becomes downtime for many organizations, as they depend on the Internet for various services and communications. More often than not, there’s nothing you can do about a lack of Internet if it comes from your service provider. To keep this kind of downtime from sinking operations, many businesses have implemented backup Internet connections, just in case they ever have to use it. This comes with a downside–you’ll have to maintain that connection–but it will likely be worth the investment if you ever need it.

Place Boundaries on Your Staff

Even the best employees are known to make mistakes from time-to-time. While you can trust them for the most part, nobody is perfect, nor should you expect them to be. Some might even try to implement their own solutions with the intention of making their jobs easier and more efficient. This is called shadow IT, and it can be dangerous. You have no way of knowing whether it’s putting your business at risk. You can implement measures to ensure that your employees aren’t downloading unauthorized applications through the use of administrator and user privileges. If you limit what your users can do with their machines, then you have less to worry about.

Excalibur Technology can help your business ensure managing IT doesn’t become a hassle. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


What Do You Know About the Microchips That Power Your Technology?

Posted November 05, 2018 by

Computers are made up of many complex pieces of technology, and any business that uses them must have at least a working knowledge of them (or know someone who does, like a managed IT provider). Among these pieces of technology are “chips,” or microchips, that are responsible for making sure the technology, whatever it may be, works as intended. We’ll discuss some of the different kinds of chips the everyday user or business owner may be involved with when thinking about their computer.

 

Generally speaking, microchips in computers are made out of a variety of materials, but the most common is silicon. These microchips are responsible for acting as semiconductors and give your devices the ability to perform various tasks. We’ll get into the details about a couple of them here.

Memory

One of the more notable uses of microchips in devices includes temporarily storing data. These kinds of chips have a familiar name that you’ve probably heard before–Random Access Memory, or RAM. As long as the chip is receiving power, it can store data on the device. Once the device is turned off and the chips are no longer receiving power, this temporary data is wiped. Depending on what the device is used for, the computer might have many RAM chips installed on it; otherwise, the device will be slowed down considerably by resource-intensive tasks.

Microprocessors

Microprocessors have a lot to do with your device’s CPU, or central processing unit. You’ll often hear the comparison of a CPU to the brain of the human body. The CPU is responsible for processing all of the programmable commands on the device. Microprocessors generally rely on logic to function as intended. Of course, depending on the kind of device, various strength microprocessors will need to be used, as the same kind of microprocessor won’t work for every single kind of device out there.

Other Kinds of Chips

Depending on the device used, you might find various device-specific chips in use. For example, some devices that have cameras might have chips specifically designed for use with video recording or picture taking. Others that have networking abilities might have chips designed for use with those. Basically, chips are responsible for both the everyday functionality of your devices, as well as some of the specific, more advanced features that not everyone will be using.

For more information about technology or devices, stay subscribed to our blog.


The New Version of Chrome has Interesting Changes

Posted October 30, 2018 by

Chrome 70 has proven to be quite a divisive browser. While a lot of users are excited for the new changes to security, some are also worried about whether Chrome can maintain this security and its user-friendly interface. Here are some of the changes being made to Chrome 70 so you can choose whether this browser update is for you.

Extension Restrictions

One of Chrome’s largest advantages over its competition has to be its library of add-on extensions. Unfortunately, any kind of functionality with these additional “programs” can lead to security concerns. Google has had to slow down the production of extensions to create new requirements for developers to adhere to. One example is how cryptocurrency continues to be a major talking point, prompting extensions to include cryptocurrency mining and cryptojacking in their features. Google is shutting down these supplemental programs, as well as generally holding developers to higher standards than they previously were. It now demands that developer accounts be protected by two-factor authentication, as well as paying closer attention to apps that require lots of permissions or host their code remotely.

Security Measures

Chrome 70 is also packing in all kinds of new security features to keep phishing attacks away from end users. In particular, Chrome is trying to push education of its native password management tools, as well as warn users when the links they are about to access aren’t secure. In essence, this simply states that websites need to be secured if they want visitors, reinforcing the fact that websites need to prioritize security these days.

Login Concerns

While some changes have been accepted with open arms, others… not so much. While Chrome has allowed users to use the browser without logging into the browser, some have noticed that Chrome appears to log a user in, even if they are only using one service out of the many provided. This is primarily an issue because Google could potentially share the user’s data (think browsing history), which is not something that users traditionally take lightly. In the time since then, Google has announced that Chrome isn’t necessarily logging users into Chrome–it’s more of an in-between measure to show a user which of their accounts is currently logged in.

As with any new solution, there will be roadblocks and concerns that users might be faced with during the experimentation phase. What kind of experiences have you had with Chrome 70 so far? Let us know in the comments.


Why Your Business Needs to Define Its Ethical Code

Posted October 30, 2018 by

As the technology that businesses have available to them develops, so does the propensity for this technology to be used unethically. This has become especially apparent where data collection is concerned, and what that data is used for after it has been collected. How can you keep operations moving both productively, and ethically?

Collection Concerns

Data collection is one of the current big concerns in technology. With another newsworthy data breach practically every other day, companies that accumulate data for seemingly little reason effectively put their clients and customers at a greater risk of having this data stolen. Reflecting upon this, it is no wonder that 75 percent of consumers are concerned about brands keeping track of their browsing habits.

Facebook has been the focus of some negative attention in past months thanks to these concerns. In addition to the Cambridge Analytica situation, Facebook has adopted artificial intelligence technologies to analyze their users. This analysis is used to predict future behaviors, these insights being sold to advertisers. While this brings up many legitimate concerns about data privacy, it also introduces a different topic: the need for a code of ethics surrounding the use of collected data, as well as how much data is collected.

Why This Is a Real Issue

It should come as no surprise that businesses and individuals have different priorities, and that these different priorities shape their ethics in different ways. Likewise, the primary purpose of any business is to generate revenue through profit. Therefore, it only makes sense that a business as a unit would have the motivation to collect as much data as they can – after all, the more data available, the more insights that could be presumably be gleaned, and the more successful the business would be… in theory.

However, as mentioned above, many businesses seem to collect as much data as they can just so they can have it. This is not a great approach for them to take for a few reasons. Most obviously, because it just enables more data to be compromised if a breach was to occur.

Without the guidance of a code of ethics leading your business decisions, the likelihood of risking your clients’ data for the sake of advancement – be it more insight, improved automation and artificial intelligence, or another business goal – becomes much higher.

Enforcing Ethics

In order to create a workplace that is in alignment with your determined ethics, you need to make sure of two things. One, that you clearly establish and share them within your business so that your employees are on the same page as you are, and two, that you stand by these ethics.

To accomplish this, learning your company’s ethics should be a part of an employee’s onboarding process, with a written document leaving no questions as to what will and won’t be tolerated. Then, you need to make sure that you not only listen when ethical violations are reported, but also allow those reporting them to remain anonymous.

What would be the most important aspect of your policy for employees to follow? Share it in the comments!


A Virtual Private Network Builds Organizational Flexibility

Posted October 28, 2018 by

For businesses that get a lot of work done while out of the safety and privacy of their offices, the importance of having a secure way to connect employees to important assets and data cannot be understated. To achieve these ends, many organizations implement what’s called a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. But what is a VPN, and how does it work to protect your business while out of the office?

Why Use a VPN?

The best way to understand what a virtual private network does, is to have a little background knowledge of why it’s necessary to have one. The easiest way to understand it is to think about accessing your business’ data as a two-lane road. On one side of the road is the traffic moving from your business’ infrastructure toward your device, and on the other side is data moving from your device to your business’ infrastructure. Anyone with the right tools can see the data as it’s being transported from one location to the next, and if the data isn’t protected by the right solutions, it can be stolen while it’s in transit. A VPN makes it much more difficult for hackers to accomplish this feat.

Understanding a VPN

Your average connection should be encrypted to protect the integrity of any data stored on it, and a virtual private network helps by augmenting this practice while out of the office. To aid in protecting your organization’s network connectivity, a virtual private network can encrypt your connection to sensitive data while on a different connection, such as if you’re working from a remote location, or just simply not in the office at the moment. When the data is encrypted, hackers have a harder time stealing the information that’s being sent to and by your devices while out of the office.

To be fair, it’s not that hackers can’t steal the data being sent to or by your devices while using a virtual private network; it’s that the data that hackers do steal is much less useful to them overall. The reason for this is the encryption. If the hacker can’t crack the encryption of the files, the can’t read the data, and, then the data they have just stolen is completely useless to them. Modern encryption methods are virtually impossible to decrypt (at least, the average hacker will spend more time than it’s worth to decrypt the data, making the process far less appealing than it normally would be).

Excalibur Technology can help your business set up the perfect virtual private network for all of its specific needs. Whether you’re out of the office momentarily or for a lengthy amount of time, or if you have remote workers in all corners of the globe, the right virtual private network can keep your data as secure as can be while it’s moving from one location to the next. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Value-Based Managed IT Helps Project Completion

Posted October 27, 2018 by

Project management can be an exceptionally tricky part of implementing any new solution or service for your business. While technology can help with this process, you’ll want to understand how its implementation helps in the grand scheme of things. We’ll help explain how value-based managed IT services can help you ensure projects are completed with minimal downtime and technology hiccups.

First, we’ll talk about how managed IT can provide value for your organization’s project management efforts, and then we’ll tackle how project management software specifically can aid in this.

Managed IT for Project Management

You can’t make progress on a project if your technology solutions are constantly experiencing problems. For example, if an employee is trying to work with Microsoft Office, but the license runs out for the solution, you’ll be unable to get work done with that solution. The same thing could happen for just about any software your business relies on to get the job done, as well as just about any other asset that your project management team needs.

Excalibur Technology can help your business manage its IT so that your assets are always available when you need them most (like in the middle of a project implementation). This means that you won’t have to worry about your technology experiencing any inefficiencies while you’re focused on the project’s implementation. In essence, by effectively doing our job, we can help you get your job done as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This means that instead of focusing on keeping your technology solutions working as intended, you’re focused on getting the job done as quickly as possible, meaning you experience less downtime and save more money for other endeavors.

Project Management Software

Project managers have the responsibility of managing all of this information and connecting the implementation team with all the resources they need to get the job done. This is often easier said than done, but thanks to project management software, your organization can take advantage of a central hub-like interface to connect all resources to users in a centralized fashion.

In essence, project management software helps your team communicate and access resources in the most convenient way possible. Project managers can take a look at progress, assign tasks to specific individuals, check the current state of the project’s budget, and so much more, all through a single software solution. This helps to make sure that projects are completed in a timely manner, keeping your business from having to redo the implementation process multiple times (because we all know that doing something twice wastes time and money better spent elsewhere).

Excalibur Technology can help your business get started with managed IT and project management. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Tip of the Week: Use Admin Accounts to Control Your Network

Posted October 24, 2018 by

Concept Art: Network Administration There are various types of user accounts that your employees and administrators can use to access their workstations, but one of the biggest points of contention to consider when planning out data access is the use of administrator accounts. Specifically, you want to avoid handing out administrator account access to users like it’s Halloween candy.

What’s the Big Deal?

You would think that assigning administrator accounts would prevent users from making poor choices with your data. The main difference between the two is that administrator accounts have many more privileges compared to the traditional account used by the average user. In fact, a traditional account is much safer to use unless you actually need administrator access to perform a certain task. Ordinarily, a normal user account can’t install software or mess around with important files in the system, but this isn’t necessarily the case for an administrator account.

Admin accounts are essentially the most powerful account on your computer. They have the permissions to perform just about any role on your PC. It’s the same role that your IT department uses to make any significant changes to your devices during updates and general maintenance. Every computer needs to have at least one admin account found on it, but if access from untrained users is allowed, they could make changes to important files needed for the computer to run properly.

Why You Should Limit Admin Account Use

While it might make sense to have admin permissions if you’re the only one who uses your computer, this is simply not the case on a managed network. There are security problems associated with using an admin account as your primary device account. What happens if your account gets compromised by some sort of malware? It’s simple; the malware will install on your admin account and be able to make any changes it wants to any of the important files only accessible by your admin account. While more permissions as the device owner might sound ideal, it only makes it easier for threats to leave a lasting effect on a device.

Standard accounts have more limited permissions, meaning that if they are compromised in any fashion, they will be more limited in the amount of damage they can cause. It’s for this reason that it’s best to limit administrator accounts as often as possible, as there is no guarantee you will never fall victim to such attacks.

To minimize the chance of your business’ endpoints falling prey to attacks, you should implement proactive measures against the countless possibilities out there–including a compromised admin account. To learn more about how your business can protect itself, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Ransomware Can Floor Your Business

Posted October 23, 2018 by

Ransomware has been a major problem for several years now, and 2018 continues to see this threat develop in unforeseen ways. Ransomware is malicious software that can encrypt data located on your device or network, with the encryption key only being available to those who pay a ransom. Ransomware is known today as one of the most pervasive threats out there. We’ll take a look at how ransomware has changed, what the future looks like, and how you can keep yourself safe.

Variants of Ransomware

Unlike other malware threats, ransomware isn’t designed to gain access to a system to steal data outright. Rather, it’s just to convince the user to hand over some cash for the safe return of their data. Businesses struck by ransomware are in danger of losing their data and money completely, as there is no guarantee that the hacker will ever return the data, even if the ransom is paid in full. There are two different types of ransomware–“locker” type ransomware targets the CPU, while “crypto” variants go for the encryption of file systems.

It doesn’t matter which strand you contract. The basic premise is still the same. After the threat is unpackaged and executed on the user’s device or network, it encrypts access to data, processing, or both, and it gives the system its demands in the form of instructions on how to make payment. The user then has to make the decision of whether they actually pay the ransom. If they don’t, there is always the option to restore from a data backup platform, if you have one.

Ransomware is a drastically different kind of malware compared to the more traditional methods of hacking. Unlike malware that wants to keep itself hidden so it can siphon information from a computer or install backdoors, ransomware wants you to know what misfortune has befallen you. Ransomware has grown more common in recent years, and so many strains are now seen in the wild that it’s tough to keep up with. These attacks have targeted municipalities, enterprises, and other organizations, all with the goal of leeching as much money from them as possible.

How Ransomware is Delivered

Ransomware might seem like something created by only the most nefarious hackers, but in reality, it’s spread in much the same way that any other threat would be. Spam messages and targeted email campaigns can initiate a ransomware attack, either through clicking on infected links or downloading suspicious attachments. In these cases, ransomware is typically most effective against businesses that have poor network security practices.

Take spam, for example. There’s no reason your business should be dealing with messages like this on a daily basis. With enterprise-level solutions, they can be outright prevented from even entering your inbox. The same can be said about your employees. With proper training, they shouldn’t be downloading unsolicited attachments or clicking on suspicious links in emails. If you invest some time and resources into proper network security, you can minimize the odds of being infected by ransomware.

The Consequences of Ransomware

The most dangerous aspect of ransomware is the downtime that ensues because of it. If you can’t get your work done due to your files being locked down by ransomware, you’re simply wasting time. The same can be said for any employee on your network. Assuming that the entire network is now encrypted by the ransomware, your whole organization could be left with nothing to do until either a backup is restored or someone hands over the ransom. It’s generally a best practice to not pay the ransom, as there is no guarantee that the hackers on the other end will stay true to their end of the bargain.

Instead, it’s best to take preventative and proactive measures to ensure that ransomware doesn’t become a problem in the first place. A Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution is a great way to keep your network secure from external threats, and employee training can keep influences beyond your direct control (like your employees) from placing your entire business in jeopardy. It’s also imperative that your business have a continuity and redundancy strategy in place, as in a worst-case incident like a ransomware attack, you’ll want to restore affected files and systems from a time before the attack struck.

To learn more about how your organization can stay safe from malware–including ransomware–reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Planning for Failing Technology Keeps You in Business

Posted October 23, 2018 by

It is interesting to see how different businesses deal with legacy computing systems. On one hand, these systems have been critical in getting your company to where they are today. On the other, they are getting old, and newer technology will almost assuredly improve aspects of your business, including security, software functionality, and computing efficiency. For this reason, companies that have a dedicated strategy in place to routinely upgrade their core technologies tend to run into fewer technology-related problems.

What Exactly Is a Legacy System?

A legacy computing system is a euphemism for an outdated computing system. Many organizations that have been in business for a while run into times when the technology they use is either multiple versions behind the current systems available or is simply not available for purchase any longer. Most legacy computing systems, while still having an immense amount of function for a singular company, create problems for migration to new hardware and new cloud environments, and most concerning, for data security.

It Isn’t Always So Simple to Upgrade

Upgrading from a legacy computing system is always going to be costly, but it doesn’t have to be as costly has you may think. Even though it is in the best interest of the business to upgrade to systems that better fit its current needs, moving forward on these upgrades creates a lot of anxiety, given the large costs involved. Beyond these costs, you have a myriad of variables to concern yourself with. These include:

  • User productivity: Will the people tasked with using this system take to it quickly, or will there be some very obvious transitional problems? Additionally, will they accept the change? For example, if you’ve had employees using the same hardware and software systems for close to a decade, altering the entire construct, while in the best interests of the business, can sometimes have devastating effects on employee morale.
  • Time investment: Typically, a major hardware refresh, or platform migration will come with substantial upfront (and often recurring) costs. That is expected; but, beyond the expected expenses, depending on the project, you may run into some downtime, a major problem for any company trying to migrate from an older IT system to something new.
  • Employee dread: When making big investments into infrastructure or networking, some employees may begin to surmise that, once the new technology is implemented that the built-in automation possible with new technology will spell curtains for their jobs. Having an upfront and open dialogue with your staff can set the situation straight before any company-wide panic sets in.
  • Committing to the new solution: As stated above, if you’ve gotten this far with the system you have, changing part of the way upstream may leave you only utilizing features that you are comfortable with, when new solutions present organizations with many, many more options to boost productivity and efficiency. If you are going to commit to spending the time and money in upgrading, be sure that you are ready to commit to the new solution.

How Creating a Dedicated Upgrade Strategy Helps

With what seems to be a never-ending list of issues popping up, you decide that abandoning legacy systems for more innovative solutions is in order. You can’t accomplish this by impulsively adding technology.

You need a plan.

In this case, the plan is called an upgrade strategy. It allows you to plan out the steps that you need to take to successfully move on from your old technology. Here is a short list of steps you will need to consider:

  • Include your people: Anyone inside (or outside) of your organization that may have a stake in a major system refresh (whether it be hardware, cloud migration, or software) should be in the know. By understanding how the upgrade will affect them, they can prepare their workflow more effectively for the shift.
  • Change control planning: What is going to change when the new system is in? If very little, managing the changeover will be simple, but if there are several aspects of your business are going to be altered by the upgrade, having someone in charge of facilitating and readying your staff for that change is a good idea.
  • Manage the upgrade: Who is going to be doing the upgrading? Will there be downtime involved? How long will the project take? If it doesn’t take, is there a contingency plan in place? All these questions should be answered well in advance of any work commencing on your business’ computing infrastructure.
  • Make sure your backup works: Your best bet is to back up your files, then back them up again. Losing data when trying to help your business isn’t good for anyone.
  • Document everything: Not only should you document the upgrade process, you should document all workflow differences for every position touched by the new systems. This strategy provides transparency throughout your organization and assures a degree of continuity you’ll be glad to have if some element of the project goes wrong.

If you follow these six steps you should be in a pretty solid position to upgrade away from your legacy systems. The IT professionals at Excalibur Technology can make this process much simpler as we have the technology and the proficiency to properly get your systems upgraded, your data migrated, and your IT working the way you need it to be a benefit for your business. Call us today at (877) NET – KING to learn more.


VoIP Can Bring A Lot of Value

Posted October 22, 2018 by

Concept Art: VOIPBusiness technology can often augment communications and make collaboration easier, but administrators sometimes believe that these added perks come with a considerably higher price tag. When a solution comes around that can save money, like VoIP, business owners should consider it with serious intent to invest, as it can usher in an age of improved operations and efficiency for your employees, as well as a higher bottom line overall.

VoIP Improves Inter-Department Communication

Landline telephones in the office have been dated for quite some time. Even if they were once necessary to get in touch with coworkers and other departments, they are now quite antiquated compared to modern solutions. After all, there’s no guarantee that an employee will be available to take your call, as the workplace is filled with countless tasks that often require their full attention. Sure, you could leave a voicemail, but there’s no guarantee that the employee will see the message until it’s too late to respond. Since Voice over Internet Protocol doesn’t rely on your employees having a traditional handset, and instead has them using more mobile devices, they’re more likely to be available when you need them most.

VoIP Is More Flexible

Some organizations have employees who aren’t always able to work in the office for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are simply on the move for conferences so often that they are just never in the office, or perhaps you have employees who work remotely from time to time (or even permanently). VoIP lets you stay in touch with these employees in the same way you can with your in-house team. Since VoIP can be used on mobile devices, laptops, and even desktops, it doesn’t matter where your employees work, as long as they have the VoIP application and a headset. In this way, VoIP is much more flexible than any traditional landline.

VoIP Allows for Additional Features

Landline phone services tend to have features built into them, but many of them are decided by the cable company that provides your telephone service. These features are often not what your business wants or even needs. VoIP services give your business all the features needed from traditional landline telephone services, including conference calling and voicemail, but with lots of additional features that add a quality to your business’ ability to communicate. You can take advantage of video conferencing and instant messaging built right into your VoIP solution. By going through a VoIP provider in this way, you save money by only paying for services you will use rather than those your cable provider assumes you want.

To get started with a VoIP solution today, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.



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