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2018: What to Expect from Technology

Posted November 22, 2017 by

A processor chip with a code lock and the number 2018.Twenty Seventeen (2017) saw the rise of many great technology solutions for small business, including an explosion of popularity in business intelligence, artificial intelligence applications, and machine learning. Meanwhile, other established technologies have continued their domination of the industry. What can your organization look forward to seeing on the forefront of the small business technology race in 2018?

We’ll take a look at some of the upcoming and emerging technologies that your business may want to consider for future investment.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence in terms of business use consists of analyzing data to create better outcomes, remake the customer experience, and completely change the way that organizations conduct themselves through the use of automation. Artificially intelligent technology can help to streamline operations and the customer experience through the implementation of chat bots and other machine-learning capabilities. However, researchers have recommended that AI be limited to specific roles rather than broad concepts, as too much of a lack of focus could lead to poor performance as a whole, deterring organizations from implementation in the future.

Even if businesses aren’t implementing artificial intelligence as soon as possible, 59% of businesses are still collecting information so that they can benefit as much as possible from such an integration. By taking this proactive stance on artificial intelligence, they are ensuring that they can hit the ground running when it comes time to do so.

Intelligent Analytics
Analytics have become an increasingly important part of doing business. This is because the availability of data, and software that allows for the analysis of said data, creates an environment where better decisions can be made using this analysis. By taking a carefully crafted deep dive into the numbers behind goods or services, organizations can make greater profits and eliminate inefficiencies in never before seen ways. Think of it like “trimming the fat,” so to speak.

Of course, these intelligent analytics can also be used to find new and more lucrative business ventures. Without proper analysis, though, these statistics and analytics are just empty numbers. Business intelligence apps aim to provide perspective and create insight for operational efficiency and effectiveness. Businesses that want to reap the most benefit from their data will invest in business intelligence strategies to glean important insights.

Cloud Technology
The cloud retains its importance as one of the best ways to take full advantage of modern technology. This is because no matter what type of business applications are released in the future, the cloud will remain one of the best ways to access them. The cloud offers dynamic access to business-critical computing constructs and applications that business owners will want to utilize because they offer cost-reduction and other benefits.

How does your business plan on using the cloud and these other technologies in 2018? To learn more about your options, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.


These Smartphones Make an Excellent Gift (Even To Yourself!)

Posted November 20, 2017 by

The holiday season is the ideal time to pick up your next best smartphone–especially since you might get something great as a gift from your loved ones! We’ll help you decide which type of smartphone is best for your specific needs by taking a close look at some of the great new devices on today’s market.

Since there are so many devices out there, we’ll be taking a deep dive into some of the most popular ones, while providing the specs and features of others so that you can make an educated decision for your big purchase.

The New iPhones: 8, 8 Plus, and X
With three iPhones on the market, it can be challenging to know what the big differences are between them. Compared to previous iterations of the iPhone, the 8 and 8 Plus models now have been constructed with a glass and aluminum casing. You might think that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are similar to the iPhone 6 in terms of how it feels in the hand.

The main differences between the iPhone 8/8 Plus and the iPhone X is the display. The iPhone X also features improvements to the camera and overall build quality. Due to the iPhone X being significantly more expensive, iPhone lovers may want to choose the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus to achieve a comparable experience.

Model: iPhone 8
Construction: Front/back glass & aluminum frame
Screen Size: 4.7-inch
Display: LED-backlit IPS LCD, 16M Colors, 1,334 x 759 (~326 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Apple A11 Bionic
CPU-GPU: Hexa-core (2x Monsoon + 4x Mistral) – Apple GPU
Operating System: iOS 11

Memory

Internal: 64GB or 246 GB models; 2GB of RAM
Expandable: None

Cameras

Primary: 12 MP, f/1.8, 28mm, phase detection autofocus, OIS, quad-LED flash
Front-Facing: 7 MP, f/2.2, face detection

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, No 3.5mm headphone jack
Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Features: Fast charging, Qi Wireless charging, Siri commands and dictation, iCloud integration
Battery size-life: 1,821 mAh battery – 66 hours
Available Colors: Silver, Space Grey, Gold
Price: $699.99-to-$899.99

Model: iPhone 8 Plus
Construction: Front/back glass & aluminum frame
Screen Size: 5.5-inch
Display: LED-backlit IPS LCD, 16M Colors, 1920×1080 (~401 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: A11 Bionic
CPU-GPU: Hexa-core (2x Monsoon + 4x Mistral) – Apple GPU
Operating System: iOS 11

Memory

Internal: 64GB or 246 GB models; 3GB of RAM
Expandable: None

Cameras

Primary: Dual 12 MP, f/1.8, 28mm and f/2.8, 56mm) phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, quad-LED flash
Front-Facing: 7 MP, f/2.2, face detection

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, No 3.5mm headphone jack
Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Features: Fast charging, Qi Wireless charging, Siri commands and dictation, iCloud integration
Battery size-life: 2,691 mAh battery – 81 hours
Available Colors: Silver, Space Grey, Gold
Price: $799.99-to-$999.99

Model: Apple iPhone X
Construction: Front/back glass & stainless steel frame
Screen Size: 5.8-inch
Display: Super AMOLED, 16M Colors, 2,436×1,125 ( ~458 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Apple A11 Bionic
CPU-GPU: Hexa-core 2.39 Ghz (2x Monsoon + 4x Mistral) – Apple GPU
Operating System: iOS 11.1

Memory

Internal: 64 and 256 GB models; 3GB RAM
Expandable: None

Cameras

Primary: Dual 12 MP, f/1.8, 28mm and f/2.4, 52mm) phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, quad-LED flash
Front-Facing: 7 MP, f/2.2, face detection

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, No 3.5mm headphone jack
Sensors: FaceID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Features: Fast charging, Qi Wireless charging, Siri commands and dictation, iCloud integration
Battery size-life: 2,716 mAh battery – 74 hours
Available Colors: Silver, Space Grey
Price: $999.99-to-$1,149.99

Samsung Galaxy s8 and Note 8
There are more differences between the Samsung Galaxy and Note lines than you might think. The Note line has noticeably larger screens with higher quality, but you’ll find that the larger screen makes it a bit bulkier and more unwieldy compared to the smaller and more compact Galaxy line. Still, the extra screen space will make any entertainment lover jump for joy. Users can also appreciate that, just like the iPhones mentioned above, the phone is made out of a mix of aluminum and glass casing, allowing for water resistance.

Just like with the iPhones, however, you’ll see some notable differences that might make all of the difference to power users. In particular, the camera on the Note 8 offers optical image stabilization–a great way to take better videos or images. Furthermore, the Note 8 is considerably more powerful than the Galaxy s8, sporting 50% more RAM.

Model: Samsung Galaxy s8
Construction: Front/back glass (Gorilla Glass 5) & aluminum frame.
Screen Size: 5.8-inch
Display: Super AMOLED, 16M Colors, 2,960 x 1,440 (~570 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core (4 x 2.35 GHz & 4 x 1.9 GHz Kyro) – Adreno 540
Operating System: Android 7.0, Touchwiz

Memory

Internal: 64 GB, 4 GB RAM
Expandable: microSD (up to 256)

Cameras

Primary: 12 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, OIS, LED flash
Front-Facing: 8 MP, f/1.7

Audio: Dual stereo speakers, 3.5 mm headphone jack
Sensors: Iris scanner, fingerprint reader, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
Features: Samsung DeX, Fast battery charging, Qi/PMA wireless charging
Battery size-life: 3,000 mAh – 84 hours
Available Colors: Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, Maple Gold
Price: $725.99-to-$825.99

Model: Samsung Galaxy s8 Plus
Construction: Front/back glass (Gorilla Glass 5) & aluminum frame.
Screen Size: 6.2-inch
Display: Super AMOLED, 16M Colors, 2,960 x 1,440 (~529 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core (4 x 2.35 GHz & 4 x 1.9 GHz Kryo) – Adreno 540
Operating System: Android 7.0

Memory

Internal: 64 GB, 4 GB RAM or 128 GB, 6 GB RAM
Expandable: microSD (up to 256)

Cameras

Primary: 12 MP, f/1.7, 26mm, OIS, LED flash
Front-Facing: 8 MP, f/1.7

Audio: Dual stereo speakers, 3.5 mm headphone jack
Sensors: Iris scanner, fingerprint reader, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
Features: Samsung DeX, Fast battery charging, Qi/PMA wireless charging
Battery size-life: 3,000 mAh – 84 hours
Available Colors: Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, Maple Gold
Price: $799.99-to-$899.99

Model: Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Construction: Front/back glass (Gorilla Glass 5) & aluminum frame
Screen Size: 6.3-inch
Display: Super AMOLED, 16m colors, 2,960 x 1,440 (~521 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core (4 x 2.34 GHz Kryo & 4 x 1.9 GHz Kryo)
Operating System: Android 7.1.1

Memory

Internal: 64, 128, 256 GB options, 6GB RAM
Expandable: microSD (up to 256GB)

Cameras

Primary: Dual 12 MP (26mm, f/1.7, PDAF & 52mm, f/2.4, AF) OIS, autofocus, 2x options zoom, LED flash.
Front-Facing: 8 MP, f/1.7, face detection

Audio: Dual stereo speakers, 3.5 mm
Sensors: Iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2
Features: Samsung Desktop Experience, Fast battery charging, Qi/PMA wireless charging, s-Pen integration
Battery size-life: 3,500 mAh battery – 88 hours
Available Colors: Midnight Black, Maple Gold, Orchid Grey, Deep Sea Blue
Price: $ 949.99-to-$1149.99

Google Pixel and Pixel XL 2
Google’s new flagship smartphone device, the Pixel, debuted in 2016, but the latest addition to the smartphone brand can make for a great gift this holiday season. Thanks to its impressive specs and the internal Snapdragon processors, the Pixel line of smartphones are quite powerful–moreso the Pixel 2 than the original Pixel.

Though there are only minor differences between the Pixel and Pixel 2, they are the ones that might matter for some users. The Pixel 2 doesn’t have a headphone jack, which means that you’ll need to purchase the external adapter if you plan on using the device for music (the front-loaded speakers are better for that anyway). Better yet is Google’s promise to support the Pixel 2’s operating system for a full three years, which makes it enticing for normal Pixel users to jump at the opportunity.

Model: Google Pixel 2
Construction: Aluminum unibody with hybrid coating, Gorilla Glass 5
Screen Size: 5.0-inches
Display: AMOLED, 16m, 1,920 x 1.080 (~441 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core (4 x 2.35 GHz Kryo, 4 x 1.9 GHZ Kryo) – Adreno 540
Operating System: Android 8.0

Memory

Internal: 64 and 128 GB options, 4GB RAM
Expandable: None

Cameras

Primary: 12.2 MP, f/1.8, laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front-Facing: 8 MP, f/2.4

Audio: Dual stereo speakers, no 3.5mm headphone jack
Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Features: Fast charging
Battery size-life: 2,700 mAh – 75 hours
Available Colors: Kinda Blue, Just Back, Clearly White
Price: $649.99-to-$749.99

Model: Google Pixel 2 Plus
Construction: Aluminum unibody with hybrid coating, Gorilla Glass 5
Screen Size: 6.0-inch
Display: P-OLED, 16m colors, 2,880 x 1,440 (~538 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core *4 x 2.35 GHz Kryo & 4 x 1.9 GHz Kryo) – Adreno 540
Operating System: Android 8.0

Memory

Internal: 64GB and 128 GB options, 4GB RAM
Expandable: None

Cameras

Primary: 12.2 MP, f/1.8, OIS, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front-Facing: 8 MP, f/2.4

Audio: Dual stereo speakers, no 3.5 mm headphone jack
Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Features: Fast charging
Battery size-life: 3,520 mAh battery – 88 hours
Available Colors: Just Black, Black & White
Price: $849.99-to- $949.99

If these smartphones don’t quite pique your fancy, try taking a look at some of the specific details about these other notable smartphone brands:

Model: Motorola Z2 Force
Construction: front plastic w/ Moto Shattershield, back plastic
Screen Size: 5.5-inch
Display: P-OLED, 16M colors, 2,560 x 1,440 (~534 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM 8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core (4 x 2.35 MHz Kyro & 4 x 1.9 GHz Kryo) – Adreno 540
Operating System: Android 7.1.1

Memory

Internal: 128 GB, 6 GB RAM
Expandable: microSD (up to 256 GB)

Cameras

Primary: Dual 12 MP, f/2.0, laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front-Facing: 5 MP, f/2.2, dual LED flash

Audio: One front-facing speaker, no 3.5mm headphone jack
Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Features: Fast charging, Motorola Mods (insta-share projector, 360 camera, gamepad, JBL SoundBoost 2, turbopower pack, style shell w/ wireless charging, power pack, Hasselblad True Zoom, vehicle dock)
Battery size-life: 2,730 mAh battery – 69 hours
Available Colors: Super Black, Fine Gold, Lunar Grey
Price: $720.00

Model: LG V30
Construction: front/back glass, aluminum frame
Screen Size: 6.0-inch
Display: P-OLED, 16M colors, 2,880 x 1,440 (~537 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core (4 x 2.45 GHz Kyro & 4 1.9 GHz Kyro) – Adreno 540
Operating System: Android 7.1.2

Memory

Internal: 64 or 128 GB options, 4 GB RAM
Expandable: microsSD (Up to 256 GB)

Cameras

Primary: Dual 16 MP (f/1.6, OIS, 3-axis, laser & phase detection autofocus) _ 13 MP (g/1.9) LED flash
Front-Facing: 5 MP, f/2.2

Audio: Dual speaker stereo, 3.5mm headphone jack
Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, color spectrum
Features: Fast charging, wireless charging
Battery size-life: 3,300 mAh – 87 hours
Available Colors: Aurora Black, Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue, Lavender Violet
Price: $819.99-to-$929.99

Model: BlackBerry KEYone
Construction: Aluminum, Gorilla Glass 4, with soft-touch plastic, physical keyboard
Screen Size: 4.5-inch
Display: IPS LCD, 16m colors, 1,620 x 1,080 (~433 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625
CPU-GPU: Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53
Operating System: Android 7.1

Memory

Internal: 32 GB with 3 GB RAM or 64 GB with 4 GB RAM
Expandable: microSD (up to 256 GB)

Cameras

Primary: 12 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front-Facing:8 MP, f/2.2

Audio: Dual speaker stereo
Sensors: Fingerprint, Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Features: Full programmable keyboard, fast charging
Battery size-life: 3,505 mAh – 107 hours
Available Colors: Black & Silver, Black
Price: $499.99-to-$559.99

Model: Nokia 8
Construction: Glass Aluminum
Screen Size: 5.3-inch
Display: IPS LCD, 16m colors, 2,560 x 1,440 (~554 ppi)
SIM: Nano-SIM
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835
CPU-GPU: Octa-core (4 x 2.5 GHz Kyro & 4 x 1.8 GHz Kyro) – Adreno 540
Operating System: Android 7.1.1

Memory

Internal: 64 GB, 4 GB RAM or 128 GB, 6 GB RAM
Expandable: microSD (up to 256 GB)

Cameras

Primary: Dual 13 MP, f/2/0, laser and phase detection autofocus, Carl Zeiss optics, OIS, LED flash
Front-Facing: 13 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus

Audio: Two-speaker stereo, 3.5mm headphone jack
Sensors: Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Features: Fast charging
Battery size-life: 3,090 mAh – 78 hours
Available Colors:Tempered Blue, Polished Blue, Steel, Polished Copper
Price: $479.99-to-$559.99

What do you think? Do you have a pretty solid understanding of what type of smartphone you want for your organization? Let us know what you chose in the comments, and be sure to subscribe for more great technology articles.


Tip of the Week: Using Your Smartphone More Effectively in Five Ways

Posted November 15, 2017 by

Colorful app icons showing on a smartphone.It’s getting to the point where most people have a smartphone, even if they shouldn’t necessarily have one. If you go all-in on a device like this to boost your productivity and efficiency, then you know how difficult it can be at times. We’re here to provide you with some tips to help you better take advantage of your smart device.

Use Your Mobile Wireless Hotspot
Often times you’ll find yourself limited by not having a wireless connection for devices like your laptop or tablet. In instances like this, you can turn your smartphone into a mobile wireless hotspot to “piggyback” off of your cellular data plan, providing Internet access to other devices that may need it.

A Bring Your Own Device strategy can help your organization supply employees with a stipend to cover any costs of using the device as a mobile hotspot. On the other hand, you can simply provide them with company devices that have enough data to fulfill their needs.

Sort Your Home Screen
You don’t have to suffer from a cluttered home screen on your device. In fact, depending on your personal preferences, you can either sort your apps into folders, or distribute them across various screens so that you know where to locate each of them. You don’t want to lose track of your applications when you need them most.

Customize Your Email and Browser Options
If you’re using an iPhone or Android device, chances are that your device will default to a specific web browser or email management application. You don’t necessarily have to use these, though. As long as you can find an app for your preferred email application, or whichever application your organization uses to communicate, you can install it and achieve a comparable level of functionality regardless of your choice.

Of course, you’ll want to work with your IT department to ensure that you’re not downloading any malware-laden versions of applications–particularly email and web browsers, which you will be using often.

Use Your Shortcuts
Your device has a plethora of shortcuts available, so do your best to work with them whenever you can. The more you get used to these shortcuts, you’ll find yourself being more productive. Consider how much time you waste trying to figure out just what you’re doing with your device, and you’ll see the importance of understanding how these shortcuts work.

Of course, depending on the model of your phone, you’ll have different shortcuts at your disposal. This is because the software installed on them is likely to be different, so just play around a little bit to find the best shortcuts available for your device.

Research Insurance Options
What would you do if your mobile device fell out of your pocket or bag and smashed into a thousand pieces on the pavement? What about if you lost it while you were out and about? Whatever ill fortune may present itself, you’ll want to look into insurance to make sure that you’re covered in the event of a disastrous scenario.

What are your best smartphone tips? Do you have any that you think should have been on our list? Let us know in the comments.


Are You Prepared for Employees to Bring Their Own Devices?

Posted November 14, 2017 by

Mobile devices. Tablet PC, smartphone on laptop, technology concept.Bring Your Own Device policies have helped many companies save money on technology by allowing employees to use their own devices, rather than taking on the cost of providing devices. However, as much as a BYOD approach can help a business financially, there are some potential drawbacks to adopting one that you should be prepared to deal with.

Managing These Mobile Devices
Whenever there is a Bring Your Own Device strategy enacted, there needs to be Mobile Device Management in action as well. Your MDM software also needs to be monitored, as this will inform you if someone without the proper authorization is accessing data that they shouldn’t be.

However, sufficient monitoring is a time-intensive task. It is even possible that it would require you to add an additional employee to properly make use of your MDM software. Before you commit to these measures, which are a must for successfully implementing BYOD, make sure you have (or can obtain) the resources to run them.

One great solution to mitigate your organization’s overall BYOD costs is the built-in automation that many of today’s Mobile Device Management platforms offer. This automation can be customized and run to allow your technicians to focus on the core aspects of your business’ technology rather than spend all of their time, and your money, monitoring employee smartphones.

Streamlining For Support
A major advantage to providing employees with work devices is the control you have over the devices you provide. By selecting a specific model for your employees to use, you can standardize your systems that much more, and make your IT administrator’s job that much easier. By reducing the variety of devices they need to be familiar with, IT can service them more quickly and effectively.

This can be a drawback to BYOD, as it makes support a more arduous task and–as a result–more costly. With a variety of devices and their specific issues, it becomes a more time-intensive task to identify and resolve any problems. Taking this into account, it may be a more cost-effective option to invest in standardized mobile devices for your company to use, rather than try to manage the variety of devices your workforce likely uses based on personal preference. This is a variable that you will need to consider based on your specific circumstances and abilities. Do you finance devices for your staff? Or, manage the varying devices your staff will bring?

Leaving Yourself Vulnerable
Not all devices are equally suited for use in a BYOD strategy–sometimes, a new feature can lead to a pretty severe vulnerability. Take, for example, any device with iOS 11 installed. Despite having switches in its control center to activate and deactivate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, these switches don’t actually deactivate their connection. This leaves these devices vulnerable, and if they were a part of a BYOD implementation, your business becomes vulnerable, as well.

Wasted Resources
Often, the question isn’t if BYOD makes sense, it’s if BYOD makes sense for a particular employee to have access to. Some companies will reimburse their staff for the personal data that they use. However, if an employee’s responsibilities don’t really require the use of a mobile device, having them involved in a BYOD strategy is akin to paying for their personal use of the device; and, can hinder their overall productivity.

Don’t get us wrong–BYOD can be a great benefit to your business and its bottom line. You just shouldn’t dive in without considering the potential downsides and planning how you will go about solving these problems. The IT professionals at Excalibur Technology can help. To learn more, call us today at (877) NET – KING.


Tip of the Week: Improving Your Wi-Fi May Have Something To Do With Your Router

Posted November 08, 2017 by

Wireless router with three antennaeWhile many may want their Internet to be faster, not many realize that their router may be contributing to the problem. For this week’s tip, we’ll discuss how to configure your router for a faster Internet connection.

Gaining Access to the Administration Console
Of course, before you can make any changes to your router, you need to access the place where those changes can be made. With your router connected to your device (either a wired or wireless connection is fine), access your web browser. In the address bar, enter your router’s IP address, which can be found in the router’s user manual. Alternatively, you can check for your router’s IP address by clicking into the Control Panel and then, under the Network and Internet category, View network status and tasks.

To make this easier, you should use the dropdown menu in the top-right corner of the window to view your options by category.

In the Network and Sharing Center, click into your current network connection. An Ethernet Status window will appear. Once you click on the Details… button, your router’s IP address will display under IPv4 Default Gateway.

Once you have the IP address of your router, enter it into your browser’s address bar. Before you can access your router, you will need to enter your username and password. This could actually be one of the factors causing your problems: if your router’s access credentials have been left to the factory defaults, anyone can access your Internet connection without your knowledge and eat up your bandwidth. This is why it is important to change your access credentials to something more secure.

Once you have secured your access to your router, you should also look for Wireless Settings or Advanced Wireless Settings. This is where the rest of the changes to help speed up your connection will be made.

Checking the Bands
Based on what gigahertz your routers use for their signal, they come in different types–also known as ‘bands.’ Today’s routers will often support multiple bands, identified by the letter at the end of the router’s protocol. Older routers will often have a ‘G’ denoted at the end, while new ones are denoted with an ‘N’ or ‘AC.’ Even newer ones might end their protocol with ‘AD.’

These bands will tell you what devices will play nice with your router, but the multi-band capabilities of many routers will allow a single router to support numerous devices with different protocols.

Selecting a Channel
A connection can also be made slower if the router is set to a channel with higher traffic. If set to the 2.4GHz frequency, for example, your router has to compete with common devices like cordless phones, Bluetooth speakers, and others. Switching to a less busy channel may improve your connection speed and overall quality.

You can check which channels are available to you with some utilities for Windows devices and applications for Android devices. After running your scan and identifying a promising channel, use your Administration Console to switch over and test for any improvements.

Optimizing the Security Settings
As referenced above, it is important that your router is secured for the sake of your network security, but even the way it is secured can influence the speed of your connection. Setting your router to WPA2 with AES should give you a fast, yet secure, connection.

If this all seems like a bit much, don’t worry–the IT professionals at Excalibur Technology are ready and willing to help you with your networking. Reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


Boosting Your Security Only Takes Another Layer of Authentication

Posted November 07, 2017 by

Person checking their mobile phone for a code to enter on a login page.Data breaches are so common nowadays that you’re lucky not to see one in the breaking news section of any news outlet. How is your business preparing for the inevitable data breach of intellectual properly and sensitive information? You need to start considering preventative measures, like two-factor authentication, to keep your data secure.

The main issue that two-factor authentication can solve is the decreasing amount of security provided by passwords. Technology has become so advanced that even complex passwords that maximize security can be cracked under the right conditions. Users tend to use easy-to-remember passwords, which come with their own set of complications, so we’ll talk about ways that your organization can use two-factor authentication to solve common password troubles.

It’s a best practice to change your password every so often, and users might scratch their heads at how to remember some of these more complex passwords. Passwords should be at least 12 characters long, and must use special characters, upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. All of this must be done in a seemingly random string of characters, but users might try to use these characters in a way that makes it easier to remember. In fact, they may just use a password for another account, or one that includes information from a social media account, like the name of their dog or first-born child.

Generally speaking, it’s best to keep information that could easily be found in public records out of your password fields. This includes the names of your children, parents, or other important individuals, as well as any information that you store on your social media accounts, like your favorite TV show or movie. Hackers have more tools than ever before to find out all sorts of information about you, so you have to be very careful about how you use this information in passwords. Plus, there’s always the chance that you’ll use this information for security questions, which doesn’t do you any favors when hackers can just find the information at their own leisure.

Although password managers do make passwords easier to remember, the primary problem with them remains the same. If a hacker can find out what that password is, they can access all of your accounts easily enough. Two-factor authentication makes things much more difficult for a hacker, requiring that they have a secondary credential to access any account associated with it. This acts as a secondary security level, and it’s one that requires the use of a mobile device, email account, or other access method. It’s a great way to take full advantage of next-level security, and since it’s easy to set up, you can do it quickly and efficiently.

Do you want to take full advantage of two-factor authentication? For more information about personal and network security, call us today at (877) NET – KING.


Google Is Increasing Security For High-Risk Users

Posted November 03, 2017 by

Bright light shining through lines of binary codeWouldn’t it be great if you could take advantage of a built-in security feature that could lock down your Google services in the event of a potential data breach? Thanks to attacks on high-profile users, Google is now offering this service to those who are at considerable risk of having their accounts hacked. This type of advanced service, called the Advanced Protection Program, is only available to a select few, but it promises to assist in the challenge of protecting sensitive information.

Specifically, the Advanced Protection Program will be designed to help those who are most likely to experience troublesome hacking attacks, including those who work as election and campaign officials, those who are victims of domestic violence, and others who find themselves to be at risk. The service is marketed as greater security, while trading off some of the convenience that might be found with the base-level Google services.

Among the affected Google services are Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube. Once someone has been onboarded into the Advanced Protection Program, their accounts will automatically be updated with all of the latest and greatest security solutions available for Google’s services. The implementation of this service is in light of the various high-profile hacking attacks associated with various officials during the 2016 United States presidential election. Google was forced to endure plenty of backlash in the aftermath of the John Podesta controversy in which his Gmail account was hacked via a phishing attempt. This new initiative by Google is an attempt to ensure that they don’t have to deal with this backlash again.

The tactic used by Google’s Advanced Protection Program is a security key. While a USB key is generally considered a better two-factor authentication practice, Google is also equipping users with a Bluetooth key verification process that can be used on both a smartphone or a laptop.

At the moment, Google’s Advanced Protection Program blocks access to information on your Google account by any third-party source–that is, any program that’s not developed by Google itself. Furthermore, it implements a slower account recovery process that’s more difficult for a hacker to replicate. While it takes away from some of the ease of recovery that Google users know and love, it makes for a more secure experience overall.

Would you take advantage of this new service from Google if need be? Let us know in the comments section below.


Tip of the Week: Seven Extensions to Add to Chrome

Posted November 01, 2017 by

Hand pointing to a web search bar with the text "Chrome Extensions"Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world, and for good reason. The browser has many useful features, largely due to the user’s ability to install ‘extensions’–applications that add to the browser’s functionality or the user’s experience. Once an extension is added to the browser’s toolbar, it is ready for the user to use whenever they need.

Here are a few examples of Chrome extensions that offer a user a useful function.

Select and Speak (SpeakIt!)
By leveraging the human-quality text-to-speech abilities of iSpeech, Select and Speak (SpeakIt!) can read out any text that has been selected in the browser. The user can select a language from a considerable list and adjust the voice and speed of the program to make the best use of the reader for their needs. However, this extension is clearly annotated as being for personal use, so make sure to contact the developer to obtain a license to use it in any other fashion.

Download Select and Speak (SpeakIt!) here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/select-and-speak-text-to/gfjopfpjmkcfgjpogepmdjmcnihfpokn?hl=en

Readism
It isn’t uncommon for many jobs to require an employee to read articles online. It also isn’t uncommon for a user to suddenly realize that the article they’ve committed to reading is considerably longer than first estimated. Readism takes the guesswork out of the user’s hands by scanning a page for content and delivering an estimated reading time.

Download Readism here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/readism-article-reading-t/bmiolhceebkeljaikojgcoeefblcihje

Honey
How often do you do your shopping online? If you’re like many people, it’s fairly frequently. Honey gives you an added bonus as you shop online by providing you with coupon codes for the site you’re browsing. Honey currently supports retail sites in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and India, plus global websites–and more websites are always being added to their databases. For the avid online shopper, Honey helps keep money in your pocket and the balance on your credit card down.

Download Honey here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/honey/bmnlcjabgnpnenekpadlanbbkooimhnj?hl=en-US

Unshorten.Link
Shortened URLs can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they make it more convenient to browse the Internet, but they can also be used to hide URLs that could put you and your system at risk. This extension, as its name states, will un-shorten shortened URLs and check them for malware, giving you a clearer picture of exactly where the link will send you. This extension even removes known tracking cookies from the URL, keeping you that much safer.

Download Unshorten.Link here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/unshortenlink/gbobdaaeaihkghbokihkofcbndhmbdpd

ColorZilla
ColorZilla is a comprehensive tool for analyzing the color of web content, giving you the code for the precise shade and hue you find. With a color picker, eyedropper and gradient generator included in the same tool, ColorZilla gives you a clearer view of what you’re looking at, without taking up too many of your resources.

Download ColorZilla here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/colorzilla/bhlhnicpbhignbdhedgjhgdocnmhomnp?hl=en

SessionBuddy
As a session and bookmark manager, SessionBuddy helps to avoid browser clutter and frees up your computer’s memory. By saving open tabs, this extension allows you to restore your tabs after a crash or unexpected shutdown.

Download SessionBuddy here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/session-buddy/edacconmaakjimmfgnblocblbcdcpbko?hl=en

MightyText – SMS from PC & Text from Computer
This extension effectively turns your Chrome browser into another means of sending SMS and MMS messages. Any messages and texts you send will still be transmitted using your phone, and therefore, its number. What makes this extension different is the fact that you can still use your smartphone to text as well.

Download MightyText – SMS from PC & Text from Computer here:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mightytext-sms-from-pc-te/dkfhfaphfkopdgpbfkebjfcblcafcmpi?hl=en

Google Chrome is constantly improving with each new extension that is added to help its users. Which extensions do you feel are most valuable? Which ones should have made our list? Leave a comment to let us know!


Are You Taking Advantage of These 6 VoIP Benefits?

Posted October 31, 2017 by

Table work in office with telephone and computer pcCan you imagine your business where it is today without a good, quality telephone system? Most small businesses require a dedicated communications infrastructure, but managing such a thing is not the simplest task. The best way to get the most return on your investment is to implement a Voice over Internet Protocol solution, or VoIP for short.

VoIP uses your business’ Internet connection to send and receive calls, which is a step up from the traditional telephone line for multiple reasons. Here are six of the best benefits you can gain from VoIP.

Lower Cost per Call
VoIP uses your Internet connection, as well as your IP address, to send and receive calls. This leads to your organization receiving more value from your calling infrastructure in the long run, as you can dodge long-distance charges thanks to the way that VoIP works. All you need to do is make sure that your bandwidth can handle the extra burden, and you’ll essentially be getting rid of an unnecessary service.

Mobility
Installing a telephone infrastructure is one of those things that you do with a sense of permanency. This can make changing numbers or moving your offices around a hassle, as you’ll need to contact your telephone provider for information on how to transfer your services. VoIP can help you avoid this issue completely, which affords your organization plenty of freedom to move offices around without trouble.

Dynamic Features
While you might have loved the traditional telephone services your provider offered, more advanced features can allow for a refreshing and rich communication experience. VoIP can provide plenty of features that traditional handsets cannot, like voicemail transferring, video chat, instant messaging, and more, all so you can get the most from your phone system.

Back to the Basics
With all of the best new features available, you might think that VoIP forgets some of its most basic features. Well, you’d be wrong – VoIP holds onto all of the basic features you’ve come to know and appreciate, like conference calling and call forwarding. Plus, there’s plenty of room to customize your service depending on your specific needs.

Treat Your Clients
There’s nothing more annoying than a phone that won’t stop ringing – particularly for the caller. With VoIP, you can set up a call queue so that you’ll never miss a call again. You can route the call directly to specific phones or devices. This can help you better treat your clients, as they’ll appreciate not talking to an answering machine.

Reliability Above All
VoIP can be used on whichever device suits you best, be it your smartphone or your work desktop. If you can’t seem to leave the traditional handset behind, VoIP can work with that, too. It’s, quite simply, highly customizable and a fantastic asset to any business’ communication solution.

Excalibur Technology can help your business implement the best solutions for your organization. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


“It Redirected Where?” – A Case Study in Security Precautions

Posted October 27, 2017 by

Laptop with Adult Only Button. 3D render of Adult Only Concept.Imagine what it would be like to discover that your website was suddenly redirecting to content that was decidedly more… adult... than what should be representing your business. For a company in Phoenix, Arizona, this was the unfortunate reality after they had let their IT administrator go.

The administrator, Tavis Tso, created a web in which he attempted to snare a client in an extortion scam. After lying to the client, claiming that he didn’t have their credentials to login to their GoDaddy domain registrar account, Tso changed the credentials to the GoDaddy accounts and created a separate Microsoft account that gave him considerable power over his target. His first steps were to block employees from accessing their email accounts and to redirect the company’s home page to a blank webpage. Tso then demanded $10,000 from the company to fix the problem that he had caused.

The company did not comply with his demands.

Once it was clear that the company wasn’t going to cooperate with Tso, the cybercriminal upped the ante. Rather than just redirecting the company’s home page to a blank site, Tso redirected all of the website’s traffic to a pornographic website. This redirect took several days to resolve.

Tso was ultimately sentenced to four years of probation, in addition to $9,145 as restitution for a count of wire fraud. While it is nice that a cybercriminal has been brought to justice, the damage done will be hard to undo, as he had considerable access to his company’s systems.

Would your business be able to recover from an incident like this? A good first step to ensure your recovery is to reconsider the permissions of the users on your network – and more importantly, the permissions of former users. There is no reason to grant access to your IT where it is not needed, and there is no reason to keep an IT resource on your system once they are no longer part of your organization.

Excalibur Technology can help you to make these changes, as well as many others that will benefit your IT and your network security. Reach out to us at (877) NET – KING to start a discussion.



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Excalibur Technology
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Excalibur Technology