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Will These End Of Life Events Affect Your Company’s IT?

End of Life Windows ProductsOne of the best ways your organization’s network can remain secure is to always use the most recent version of any critical software solutions on your network. Unfortunately, making the jump to a more recent operating system is easier said than done, particularly for small businesses that have limited budgets. The problem of security becomes even more pressing for businesses that need to upgrade multiple servers and workstations, as failing to do so could prove to be fatal for your organization.

Windows software products eventually reach an End of Life event, which is when they stop receiving patches and security updates that keep the software functioning smoothly. These updates generally fix vulnerabilities which could be exploited against your business, as well as operational problems which can keep your organization from running at 100 percent. Using software that’s out of date could result in your organization being put into a dangerous situation. In fact, if you are using out-of-date software, you are putting your network, and all the data on it, at risk.

Just a few months ago, Windows Vista reached its End of Life event. Microsoft no longer supports either Vista or Windows XP, though the two couldn’t be further from each other in terms of popularity and usage. The lack of support for XP just goes to show that even the most popular operating systems eventually have to come to an end of support. The next Windows OS to reach an End of Life event is Windows 7, on January 14th, 2020. Another common server OS that is also reaching its end of life on the same day is Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise.

The time is now to evaluate your systems and know which operating systems your organization relies on. Businesses will have to take a considerable jump to the next stage, upgrading their workstations and servers so as not to fall off the support bandwagon. Not all businesses have the time and resources to ensure this happens, though, so it’s best to keep this issue at the top of your mind, as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 RN will be rendered obsolete in the near future.

We recommend that you don’t wait until the last minute to implement a solution to your end of life event situation. The reason for this is that the upgrading process could come with hidden troubles that only make themselves known when the process has started. If your legacy applications stop working properly, any processes that rely on them in order to stay functional will cease. This downtime can have considerable effects on your business, so it’s best to keep your implementation as seamless as possible.

You need to think about upgrading your soon-obsolete technology before its end of life event hits. This goes for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 RN. We are purposely informing you of these dates now, so that you have plenty of time to think about how you want to approach this elephant in the room. To learn more about how to upgrade away from your business’s obsolete technology, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

3 Ways Managed IT Creates Benefits For Your Business

Does your business technology help you improve operations, or does it hinder your staff to the point where it’s nothing but a frustration? Chances are that your business requires considerable IT maintenance just to keep things moving forward, but if yourself and your employees are responsible for such a duty, you could be wasting valuable time and effort for other business ventures. To solve this dilemma, you should consider managed IT services for your network maintenance.

Here are three ways that managed IT beats out the competition in terms of providing your organization the best service possible at the best rate.

Managed IT is Less Expensive
If you have an internal IT department that keeps issues to a minimum, you’re one of the lucky small businesses with budgets flexible enough to handle the investment. The truth is that it’s not easy to hire an entire internal team dedicated to keeping your organization up and running; and, most SMBs struggle with such an expense. Managed IT is an outsourced solution that allows you to prevent issues from popping up in the first place, and resolving them before they are impossible to contain. Since you’re only paying for a monthly fee rather than multiple annual salaries, you’ll wind up saving money in the long run.

Managed IT Doesn’t Require Your Attention
Managed IT doesn’t interrupt your operations when an issue becomes apparent. Instead, the issue could possibly be resolved without you even knowing that it had existed. Remote monitoring and maintenance allows a managed IT provider to keep watch for these issues, and if it’s covered under your service level agreement, we’ll fix it before it interrupts the way your business functions. We’ll always notify you if something requires your attention, but most problems can be resolved without an on-site visit. This cuts down on travel time and downtime, since you won’t have to wait for a technician to arrive on-site to fix the issue.

Managed IT is More Flexible
Managed IT services offer so many solutions that you can achieve just about all of your needs through a specific service plan from Excalibur Technology. If you only need basic solutions like implementation of an email application, or you need your entire infrastructure managed and maintained, we can help your organization ensure optimal operations. It’s all about your business’s IT, and we’ll do what we can to keep your technology working as intended, if not even better than before.

You don’t have time to manage its own IT, and you shouldn’t need to. Your primary goal should be to keep your focus on managing your business, not your technology. That’s why Excalibur Technology is here, after all. We want you to devote your attention to running your business and creating more lucrative opportunities. You can count on us to be there to keep your mission-critical technology running as intended. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

What Should You Know About Regulatory Compliance?

Org Chart with Cloud BackgroundWhen you sit down with new prospects, you rarely talk about data security. The client is usually focused on the problem they have that has made them come to you in the first place, while you are likely focused on closing in on bringing critical revenue into your business. That doesn’t mean that data security isn’t an extremely big issue, it just that without business, it is a non-issue.

With electronic record keeping at an all-time high, and the number of miscreants out there looking to gain access to those files, certain industries have outlined a series of regulations that businesses that work with potentially sensitive data have to adhere to. Industries like health and finance have the most strident regulations, as governments begin to set legal ground rules for the reporting and security of critical data.

To ensure that your company meets any compliance standards to which it is mandated, Excalibur Technology is versed in the technical aspects of data protection and can help you remain compliant with your industry’s regulations.

Government Mandates: In certain industries, normally ones where the data is the most lucrative, state and federal governments create regulations that organizations need to meet. Typically, these compliance standards are issued with attention on network and data security, and the protection of the dissemination of the data. The cost of keeping networks and data secure, reporting for transparency, and any noncompliance costs are absorbed by the organization, making it extremely important to adhere to and maintain regulatory compliance.

  • HIPAA is required by the Office of Health and Human Services (U.S. Government).
  • SOX is required by all publicly held companies.
  • New York State requires all financial organization to meet Cyber Security Requirements for Financial Services Companies.

Internal Mandates: Since many businesses that have had to deal with the fallout of significant data breaches come out significantly less prosperous, many organizations have begun to be more diligent about the way they share and store potentially sensitive data. Some internal regulations include:

  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies do a thorough job of controlling what devices have access to your organization’s network.
  • Remote Access is helping all types of organizations be more productive. Companies that allow for remote access often lean on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to ensure that when a member of your team needs access, that they have it through secure means.

Continuity Policies: Most of the regulations set forth by the government require some degree of continuity planning. This includes a reliable backup and recovery solution as well as a more detailed and robust disaster recovery strategy. Since managed service providers are in a position to help secure data, manage and maintain hardware, and thoroughly inventory all hardware and software assets an organization holds, they are the ideal partner to help outline your continuity policy.

Vulnerability Assessment: The more secure your organization’s network is, the better. To help ascertain just how secure a network is, a penetration test is mandated by regulatory bodies. Basically, the penetration test is a deliberate attack on an organization’s network by a friendly party. Vulnerability assessments are often required, as well. A vulnerability assessment is a report that indicates where there are weak spots in a network. Along with performing these tasks, an MSP can also provide the necessary paperwork required to prove security measures are being taken.

Remote Monitoring and Maintenance: Keeping an artful watch over your network can be one way to keep nefarious and unwanted entities out of your network. Typically, any compliance mandate requires an organization to have some semblance of monitoring in place as a protection. MSPs have certified technicians on staff whose job is to monitor and manage client networks, improving the network coverage.

No matter what you are required to report, or your organizational technology needs, Excalibur Technology has the experience and knowledge to help you protect your business. For more information about network security, call us today at (877) NET – KING.

CCleaner Software Might Contain Malware Inside!

Creeping Virus Infecting a PCThe popular Windows “junk” cleanup tool and PC optimizer CCleaner has been found to have malware implanted inside it.  The exploit could allow remote control of a PC that is running the infected version of the software.  Users are advised to upgrade to the latest version of the software.  Ensure that you download the software directly from Piriform’s website.  The infected versions of the software are CCleaner v5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud v1.07.3191.

Yes, even security companies and security tools are vulnerable to hackers and infections it seems.  This is why it is so important to have multiple layers of security, strong employee PC security training and multiple locations/copies of backups of all of your data and systems.  If this seems like a never ending or daunting task, call the experts at Excalibur Technology.  We make security and all types of IT support easy!

For more information, read about it on CNET by CLICKING HERE.

5 Security Threats That Spell Doom For Any Organization

Security Threats In Your OrganizationFact: your business will always be susceptible to various security threats in at least some capacity. It’s up to you to counter these threats before falling victim to them. To help you with this, we’ll go over the top five threats that you need to be prepared for.

Viruses are bits of code that plant themselves in your system and cause a myriad of problems. Viruses can cause system slowdown, problems with performance, and can even open the way for data theft or downtime. Security software like antivirus is usually enough to keep simple viruses out of your network, but more dangerous variants may be sneaky enough to dodge discovery and cause damage.

Also known as “malicious software,” malware infects a system and performs whatever its programmed function is. There are all sorts of variants out there, including spyware to watch the infected PC and capture keystrokes, and ransomware that can lock down files until a fee is paid. Malware complicates operations and can potentially put your business at risk of further data breaches.

Spam messages are both annoying and dangerous. Spam is the hacker’s preferred way of spreading viruses, malware, ransomware, and phishing scams, among other threats. They can effectively use spam to send out countless instances of the same attack to recipients all over the world. Thankfully, you can prevent the majority of spam simply by implementing a spam blocking solution. This can keep spam out of your inbox in the first place, eliminating the opportunity for user error or otherwise.

Phishing Scams
Hackers and identity thieves will use whatever tools they can to steal information from whole organizations, or specific individuals via targeted attacks. They may take advantage of the people or organizations with whom individuals associate themselves with, masquerading as vendors or close personal friends in order to gain their trust. The end result could be someone you think you know stealing sensitive information, like financial credentials or personally identifiable information. Take the time to understand some of the symptoms of these attacks, like poor spelling in messages or out-of-the-blue outreaches from the sender. Other common giveaway signs are unexpected urgent final notices or calls requiring immediate action. Excalibur Technology can help your business successfully identify these scams.

CEO Fraud
Whaling is a trend in which CEO fraud occurs by hackers stealing the identity of a C-level employee. For example, a hacker using the identity of a CEO could send legitimate-looking emails to the finance department asking for an immediate wire transfer. In these cases, the one on the receiving end of the message might not think anything of it and go ahead with the transfer. If you receive such a message, take a moment to question the legitimacy of the request by consulting official records regarding email addresses and telephone numbers associated with the message, or simply contact the CEO yourself.

Does your business want to take network security to the next level? If so, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.

Make Chrome Run Faster With These 3 Adjustments

Google ChromeIf Google Chrome is your preferred web browser, then you might notice that, just like any other application, its performance may fluctuate. When you experience issues with Chrome, it’s important to keep in mind that you can take steps to remedy the problem.

Here are three ways that you can make Google Chrome work better.

Make Use of Chrome’s Task Manager
Much like your computer’s task manager, Chrome has a feature that allows you to view your computing resources and programs at a glance. With Chrome’s built-in task manager, you can see information on browser tabs and extensions, and how much processing power they are using up. This information can help you diagnose which tabs are slowing down your browser. To open it, click the three-dot menu in the top right corner of the browser and click More Tools. Next, select Task Manager. Or, if you want a more straightforward path, just use the shortcut Shift + Escape.

Once the window opens, you’ll see all of the tabs and extensions that are currently in use, along with statistics concerning just how much resources they are consuming. If you find the offending tab, you can select it and click End Process. If you use this method to end an extension or an open tab, it will stop functioning until you reload Chrome.

Take Advantage of Hardware Acceleration
Before digging too deep into this, we want to make sure that you’re aware that it’s not always recommended that you implement hardware acceleration for your browser, as it depends on how powerful your computer is. If you’re unfamiliar with hardware acceleration and want to know how it can improve your browsing experience, reach out to your IT department or contact Excalibur Technology.

Hardware acceleration works by moving some of the burden off of your PC’s CPU onto the GPU, which can potentially resolve some processing problems by placing the page-rendering burden on the CPU. For this setting, click on the three-dot menu and open Settings. Then go down to the bottom of the window and find Show Advanced Settings. Go down from here and find the System section. Select Use hardware acceleration when available and restart Chrome to activate it.

Reset Google Chrome
If you’re not sure if your efforts have actually led to a better performance from Google Chrome, you can try resetting the browser’s settings. To do so, go past hardware acceleration and you’ll see the option to Reset Settings. Confirm your choice. Keep in mind that Chrome might not reset things like bookmarks, browsing history, or saved passwords, but it will get rid of settings like your default start page, your new tab page, your pinned tabs, and your default search engine.

Does your business have problems making the most of its technology? For more great tips and tricks, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

When Investigating The Root Cause Of An IT Issue, Remember To Check Company Policy

Root Cause of IT IssuesDowntime is something that no business wants to imagine, but it’s something that is practically inevitable if you don’t prepare for it. You’ll be forced to wonder how long it will take to get back in business, but how this problem occurred is also important to discuss. Understanding how IT downtime occurs within your organization is the first step toward making sure that it can’t happen again.

It’s clear that being able to diagnose IT problems is a great asset to your organization since the issue will be identified and resolved in a timely manner. This information can help you keep issues to a minimum moving forward. The act of getting to the bottom of a problem is called a root cause analysis. An analysis of this variety focuses on basic troubleshooting practices, which begin by looking at the functionality and performance of your technology infrastructure. Since networks typically expand and become more complex over time, your root cause analysis will only grow more challenging to pull off.

Let’s consider how much work goes into performing a root cause analysis for a small business with only one server and a few workstations, compared to a larger organization that implements more advanced solutions such as desktop virtualization or cloud computing. Chances are that finding the root of a problem for a larger business will be more of a problem, as there is simply more ground to cover than with a smaller organization. Plus, ensuring the quality and accuracy of your root cause analysis will be more challenging without an IT expert on-hand to oversee the process.

In these situations, it’s also important to involve IT in the decision-making process when upper-level executives are making technology-related choices. Since IT outages often extend much farther than simple equipment malfunctions, the problem area is frequently a poor IT policy–something that a trained IT professional will be able to identify and resolve as the need arises.

Even something as simple as a hardware replacement policy could be a problem if it’s not up to the requisite standards. Any good IT expert knows that hardware cannot and will not last forever and that it will start to show signs of degradation. Therefore, the need to replace technology before it breaks down and hampers progress is of the utmost importance, so as to avoid data loss and the expensive unexpected costs of replacing servers, workstations, and other major components. If these solutions are being monitored properly by trained technicians, chances are that they will see the problem and address it before it becomes a major concern.

A proper IT expert can identify and resolve the issues on your network so that they don’t grow too large and become major problems. Unfortunately, smaller organizations with less flexible budgets often can’t support this proactive maintenance in house. In situations like this, Excalibur Technology is glad to help with our managed IT services. We can monitor your network and minimize the damage that your organization experiences from hardware failures, downtime, and data loss. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Microsoft OneNote May Be The Best Note-Taking Tool On The Market

OneNote Best Note Taking ToolMost modern PCs come pre-installed with a handy tool by Microsoft called OneNote (and it’s also included with Office 365). Today, we’ll run through the features that OneNote offers that make it a useful business tool.

Keep in mind, we’ll be focusing on OneNote 2016. Older versions of OneNote have some of the same features, but if you are running an older version of Office, you may want to consider upgrading.

Benefits of OneNote
OneNote was clearly designed with collaboration in mind, as you can save your Notebooks either to your local network drive, or to Microsoft’s OneDrive. You are able to share your Notebooks with others in your organization and work together, letting you collaborate on projects and share notes in the cloud.

While OneNote on its own isn’t the best word processor, spreadsheet app, or presentation software, it offers what can be described as the highlight reel of the other Office 365 applications. You can write, build simple tables, show charts and graphs, and even draw, but it won’t replace your other Office 365 applications.

Note Taking Capabilities
OneNote offers an impressive number of features that make it an excellent choice for quick note creation and organization. As you create a Notebook, you can divide it into tabs, and then divide those tabs into pages. OneNote also has premade templates for you to utilize, or you can create your own, to best arrange the particular information that note is to contain.

Of course, your notes can include more than just text. OneNote allows you to take clippings from web pages and insert them into your note. Another great thing about OneNote is you to pull text directly from images by right-clicking them, or search for text that appears in included images, with a considerably high level of success.

Plus, with the right equipment, OneNote supports handwritten note-taking, and is able to convert it into font-based text with good accuracy. The same can be said of its math function. By typing out or drawing a simple equation, the formula can be both converted to text and solved, as long as it was properly formatted.

You can format your pages to suit your needs, and OneNote also offers a very handy feature that allows you to link content on one page to content elsewhere in OneNote for quick access. Finally, for added security, notes can be password protected, so if they are shared with someone they shouldn’t be, your data is still safe.

OneNote offers plenty of highly usable features to improve your business’ organization and collaboration. So, tell us, will you try it out in your company? Would you try it out for personal use? What do you use to stay organized? Let us know in the comments!

How To Automatically Open A Windows App In Fullscreen

Open in Full ScreenIf you’re a regular user of Windows applications, you’ll notice that they will, by default, open into smaller windows, allowing users to customize the size of their windows as need be. Usually, when you want to increase the size of the app, you have to click the maximize button in the top-right corner. However, you can save a little bit of time each time you do this by setting Windows to default to full-screen mode for this application.

First, you’ll want to pick the application, and find it’s shortcut on your desktop. When we say “shortcut,” we are referring to the little icons on your desktop that open a program, like Microsoft Word or your preferred Internet browser.

Select the app’s icon and right-click it. Go to the bottom of the dropdown menu and you’ll see Properties. Click it and you’ll open a Properties window, which will open up to the Shortcut tab.

You’re looking for the Run drop-down menu. It will be just a few selections down from the top of the tab. Currently, you’ll notice that it’s set to Normal window. However, if you click on the down arrow, you’ll be shown choices for Normal Window, Minimized, or Maximized. Click on Maximized, and whenever you open the program in the future, it will default to full screen mode. Once you’ve done this, click Apply to save the changes.

ib app full screen 1

While it might not seem like it saves a lot of time, it will certainly be more convenient. Just take a moment to optimize your settings now and you’ll save a lot of time and frustration in the future. To learn more about how to save time and optimize your business technology, subscribe to Excalibur Technology’s blog.

Will Your Website’s Forms Soon Display A “Not Secure” Message?

Posted August 30, 2017 by

In January 2017, Google began to display the words “Not secure” in the address bar of its Chrome browser when you visit a web page that collects sensitive information such as login or payment information and if the page is not loaded over HTTPS. Google’s motivation for doing this was to alert the website’s users that any information they enter will be unencrypted, and to motivate website owners to implement HTTPS on their websites.

Now, Google is proceeding with the next phase of its push to encourage website owners to move their sites to HTTPS. Beginning with Chrome version 62, due for release in late October, Chrome will begin to display the same “Not secure” message on all non-HTTPS web pages that collect any information that users type into the page. This means that for a simple contact form that collects the user’s name, email address, or phone number – and even for a simple website search box – the “Not secure” message will be displayed in Chrome’s address bar if the page is not secured by HTTPS. Furthermore, the “Not secure” message will be displayed next to any typed form field (name, email, search, etc.) when the user clicks on the field. The below image shows what this will look like. You can view the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Chrome will soon display "Not secure" when typing into input fields on HTTP pages.

What is HTTP / HTTPS?

HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, and is the default protocol by which websites transmit information over the Internet. HTTP traffic by nature is unencrypted, meaning that any information that travels from your web browser to a website – and vice versa – is sent in plain text. So if you enter “John Doe” and “johndoe[at]mydomain[dot]com” into a contact form, for example, and someone is able to intercept the data as it is being transmitted, they will be able to read the information you entered.

The S in HTTPS stands for Secure. When a website uses HTTPS, the data that is transmitted between a user’s browser and the website is encrypted. In the example above, if someone manages to intercept the traffic of the information you enter into the form of a website that uses HTTPS, they will not be able to read what you entered because it will be encrypted rather than plain text.

Will My Site Be Impacted by This Change in Google Chrome’s Behavior?

To determine whether your website will be impacted, navigate to a page on your website that has a form that requires users to type in information. Note that if your site has a search box on all pages, any page will do. Once you have navigated to the page you want to test, click on the URL of the page in your browser’s address bar. If the URL does not begin with “https”, your site will be impacted by this change. Note that if you have a WordPress or Joomla! site, or any site that has a login page, you should perform this check on your site’s login page as well.

Do you have questions or want help moving your website from HTTP to HTTPS in order to avoid being labelled as “Not secure” in Chrome? Call the experts at Excalibur Technology today at (877) NET – KING.

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