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You Can Now Generate Power By Literally Folding Laundry

FENG Technology Energy GenerationWouldn’t it be convenient if you could charge your smartphone just by walking down the street? How about turning your tie into a voice-recognizing security system? Michigan State University has been working toward creating some great new tech that makes these suggestions seem like real possibilities, in the form of a small device.

Nelson Sepulveda, an MSU Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, along with his team, developed a device that can create power as it is bent or folded–which means it can be used as fabric for clothing. These devices are called biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerators, or FENG.

Power is created by the device’s layers as energy is received through other sources; for example, the user’s physical motion. This allows for countless possibilities, including the ability to charge a device through only using FENG technology.

There are other ways that this technology can be used, including security applications. FENG material is very sensitive, so it could make it almost impossible to trick a voice recognition system. FENG could also be used as a speaker, adding to its versatility. In other words, it can work from both sides of the spectrum.

It’s also likely that FENG technology can be used to aid in discovering new ways to make technology more efficient for longer periods of time. This can help businesses achieve much more overall than they were previously able to, all without losing the ever-important battery charge. Read more about FENG here.

What are your thoughts on FENG? Do you think that this will become a new standard for building new devices? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for even more great business technology information.

How The Convenience Of The Internet Of Things Can Come Back To Bite Us

Internet of Things and Security IssuesWhile the Internet of Things has made many common tasks much easier through automation, it has also increased the potency of particular cybersecurity threats. For an excellent example, one only has to turn to the increasing prevalence of botnets that are powered by IoT technology.

An Overview of the IoT, and Why It’s Great For Botnets
If you wear a fitness tracker that automatically syncs to your phone, or have an Internet-connected security camera watching your house, you are utilizing the Internet of Things. Usually labelled as ‘connected’ or ‘smart,’ these devices collect data and process that data via a connection to the Internet.

While these devices have proven to be very useful, there is a major problem with them that seems to be present throughout the IoT: a noticeable lack of security measures. Combining this lack of security precautions with their need to connect to the Internet creates the ideal conditions for a botnet to gather.

A botnet pools the resources of a large network of infected devices to overcome the target’s security through a brute force attack. The attack on Dyn that made dozens of the web’s most popular sites go dark was a botnet, proving that this method of attack is no joke.

A New-ish Face on the Scene
While there is no shortage of botnets already, a new derivative of the infamous Mirai is using the same IP cameras to infect thousands of devices in China. This particular botnet has been named Persirai, and is just one of many that warrant concern.

For example, there is another botnet that Kaspersky Lab has concluded to have infected about 300,000 IoT devices. While this botnet, codenamed Hajime, is still dormant, it could potentially rival Mirai if it were to meet the expectations of security experts and become active.

Keeping Your Business Safe
Luckily, there are a few ways you can help to reduce the impact that a botnet can have on your business. A good rule of thumb is to follow business continuity best practices. As an example, your business data shouldn’t only be kept in one place. An offsite backup solution will allow you data to be preserved if you ever are assaulted by a botnet. It always helps to have a firewall solution in place as well, as they can mitigate some botnet attacks.

If you need help protecting your business against the vulnerabilities that the IoT creates, give us a call at Excalibur Technology. Call us at (877) NET – KING to get started.

Ransomware Continues To Attack Businesses

Malware infected PCRansomware continues to be an expensive problem for large and small businesses alike.  The number of ransomware attacks continues to grown and the number of successful infections continues to rise.  Many victims have paid out hundreds to a million dollars to get their data back.  Yet the biggest cost to businesses is not the ransom paid, it is the cost of downtime, lost revenue and lost data.  Malwarebytes Labs published the following information:

“While ransomware payments will likely cost businesses several billion dollars in 2017, the cost of downtime will be much higher.

To understand the full impact of downtime from an attack, Osterman Research has developed a cost calculator that aims to quantify the cost of downtime resulting from a ransomware attack. Using data from the June 2017 survey mentioned above, as well as secondary data, we made the following assumptions for an organization of 500 users that suffer just two downtime incidents per year:

  • Mean employee hourly wage: $28.00
  • Employee productivity loss during downtime: 50 percent
  • Corporate revenue generation per hour: $24,000
  • 21 hours of downtime until full recovery
  • Impacts of ransomware:
    • 50 percent chance of employees suffering productivity loss
    • 30 percent chance that the business will shut down temporarily
    • 20 percent chance of corporate revenue loss

Based on these assumptions, we found that for a 500-employee business, the total annual impact of downtime resulting from just two ransomware infections will be $219,634, or $220 per employee. That means that just two ransomware attacks per year are costing organizations the equivalent of nearly one day’s productivity per employee, not to mention the hard-to-quantify impacts of lost future revenue, damage to corporate reputation, missed deadlines, etc.

What this also means is that if a company could deploy a technology that would prevent just one of these ransomware infections each year, and if the total cost of that solution was $50 per user per year, the organization would save $170 per user per year in downtime costs or nearly $110,000 per year.”

You can view the entire article by CLICKING HERE.  Don’t be the next victim!  Our services and programs are designed to help keep your business safe and to reduce the risk of ransomware infections by protecting your organization through a multi-layered approach.  For information about our approach to managed services and keeping your business safe, call one of our knowledgable Technology Consultants at 877-NET-KING.

Ransomware Now Targets WordPress Websites

Encrypted Website

We are sure that you have seen the recent stories about hackers attacking computers and servers, encrypting the files and then demanding a ransom be paid to (maybe) unencrypt the files.  Those scams have affected hundreds of thousands of systems across the world and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.  Unfortunately this trend is increasing and is now joined by a new attack.  Websites that use the popular WordPress platform are being attacked.  Once the hackers get in, the entire set of website files are encrypted and replaced with a horrible ransom screen.  Now, instead of your website visitors seeing your corporate page or offerings, they are greeted with an ominous looking ransom page.  Your original files are destroyed and due to the hackers being lazy, there is no way to get your files back, even if the ransom is paid.  They never bothered to finish that part of the scam!  Unfortunately website owners do not know that until they have handed over their money to the hackers.  If this happens to you and your site is hacked, you should immediately call your hosting provider and let them know.  Do not pay the ransom as it will do no good.  Hopefully your hosting company has backups of your files and can restore them for you.  Once that is done, you will need to patch your website files, WordPress files and any plug-ins you use to ensure that this does not happen to you again.   As a side note, all website owners should have a backup copy of their website files on their personal system and not solely rely on their hosting company for backups.  More information on this latest attack can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Would you like to prevent these types of issues from happening in the first place?  Call us today to find out about our Website Simple Service Agreement.  This program ensures that we have a professional website developer examine your website once per month and apply all of the available security updates to your website, your WordPress/Joomla/Drupal CMS system and to any plug-ins that you are using as well.  Since most websites are now built on a CMS (content management system), this service is urgently needed.  Do not assume that your hosting company will keep your site up to date or protect your data – they don’t!  This program also helps post new content to your site and helps implement some of the ever changing metrics that sites like Google use when ranking your position during searches.  Starting at only $125.00 per month, this service should definitely be added to the security protections of every organization.  For additional information call us at 877-NET-KING.

Options For Quieting A Noisy Computer

PC Computer FanHow much noise does your work desktop make? Chances are that the majority of it comes from the fans. These fans are designed to cool down the systems while also maintaining an acceptable noise level. However, the longer your technology lasts, you might realize that these fans seem a bit louder than usual due to your machine needing more work from them to keep the innards cool.

It’s also worth noting that your PC might be caked in dust from years of use. With the dust blockading the fans, they’ll have to work a bit harder than before to get enough airflow, which means that they will create more noise. It’s certainly worth checking out if your computer has suddenly grown louder than you’re used to.

Unlike other fans that you might have in the office, computer fans don’t have settings that you can easily adjust. Furthermore, it’s unwise to mess with your PC fan speed in general, since it’s designed to keep your PC components at an optimal temperature. It might be a better move to just replace the noisy fans and upgrade to better, more quiet fans. Since fans are one of the few mechanical parts in most modern computers, they are the components that will show significant wear and tear, even if you take proper care of your computer.

Disclaimer: If you’re looking to replace your computer’s fans or do any work requiring you to open the case and swap out parts, then it’s highly recommended that you either know what you’re doing or have the assistance of an IT professional.

If you’re seriously contemplating changing out your fans, keep the following in mind:

  • A bigger fan will move more air at lower speeds, which makes for a quieter experience. Just make sure that your computer’s tower can accommodate it.
  • Look for fans that change their speeds to the amount of heat created by the PC. This keeps the fan’s noise levels to a minimum, even when it’s not being used as much.,
  • More powerful, high-end desktops require a lot of airflow. By these, we mean PCs dedicated to intensive tasks, such as gaming or video editing. These often have to use multiple fans, so there’s no way around that. However, a technician can probably install some sound-muffling foam to keep the noise to a minimum.

While your PC’s fans could be a major source of noise, there could be other problems associated with a loud computer. If you want to get to the root of the problem, reach out to Excalibur Technology for professional technology consultation and maintenance. To learn more, call us at (877) NET – KING.

Excalibur Technology Newsletter – July 2017

July 2017 Newsletter CoverExcalibur Technology July 2017 Newsletter

We invite you to read the latest edition of our newsletter, by CLICKING HERE.

Be sure to check it out!

Highlights in the July 2017 Edition Include:

– What’s Your Personal Information Worth On The Black Market? It’s All About Supply And Demand

– Here Are Your Options For Managing Mobile Devices In The Workplace

– You Will Soon Be Able To Search The Web With Your Smartphone Camera, Thanks To Google Lens

– How Buying Bargain Technology Will Hurt Your Company In The Long Run

– Advice For Passing Your Next IT Audit With Flying Colors

– And Much More!

When Will Microsoft End Support For Your Version Of Windows Or Office?

Upgrade to Windows 10One of the most often asked questions our engineers receive is, “How long can (or should) I use this version of Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office?”  While software is not as feature rich as the newer version, there are often significant security concerns that come along with using outdated software.  ZDNet put together this article that explains the difference between Microsoft’s two support tiers, Mainstream Support and Extended Support, for all versions of Windows and Office.

View the original article by CLICKING HERE.

Still have questions or want help coming up with an upgrade plan or a technology plan?  Call the experts at Excalibur Technology today at 877-NET-KING.

3 Reasons Why BDR Is The Best Way to Backup Your Company’s Data

BDR Data Backup for your companyIf we asked you how you back up your data, would you be able to respond with enough knowledge to seriously talk about the topic? Many small organizations are under the impression that data backup is only necessary if your business suffers from a data breach or data loss incident. However, the truth is that if you want to ensure the future of your business, data backup is absolutely crucial.

However, tape backup can only do so much. While tape backup is certainly better than no backup at all, it takes much more than tape to properly secure your data infrastructure from harm. If you want a truly dynamic solution, Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) is the ideal choice. All it takes is a stroke of bad luck to cause even a hint of data loss, so you should do all that you can to preserve your organization through any means necessary.

BDR Provides an Ideal Recovery Point Objective
Your recovery point objective should be one that allows for the minimal amount of data loss. In other words, how recent your last backup was, has a lot to do with meeting this objective. The last thing that you want to ask yourself is how much data you’re willing to part with in the event of a data loss incident. The bottom line is that no amount of loss is acceptable, but tape backup doesn’t allow for this. You could potentially lose out on an entire day’s worth of progress due to the fact that tape backup must be performed after hours. Instead of suffering this loss, cloud-based BDR can take backups as often as every fifteen minutes. These snapshots only capture what has changed on your network since the last one was taken, so operations are no longer interrupted just to back up a file.

BDR Offers a Faster Recovery Speed
Tape backups can take anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day to completely deploy, which means that you’ll experience more downtime than you might initially think. If you take this amount of time and multiply it by the number of employees you have, the costs can add up pretty quickly, breaking your budget and making it more difficult to recover. Cloud-based BDR can help your organization get back in business following a data disaster with minimal downtime. You won’t have to worry about finding a device to get back online, as the BDR device itself can be used in place of a server as a temporary replacement while you get your act together.

BDR Uses Off-Site Storage
If you use tape backup, where do you store the tapes? Some organizations like to keep them on-site, but this places them at risk of being destroyed by a natural disaster, like a flood or a fire. Furthermore, if you keep backups stored on your local network, they could be subject to data theft in the event of a data breach. This means that off-site storage is your best bet. BDR stores your backups in an off-site data center and in the cloud for quick recovery, making it the ideal solution to this dilemma.

Does your business need a revamped data backup solution? To learn more about what BDR can do for your business, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.

How Buying Bargain Technology Will Hurt Your Company In The Long Run

Stop Buying Cheap TechnologyA responsible business owner looks at the repercussions of their actions, however, it’s not always easy to determine what the right action is. Something to keep in mind is that, if it benefits the long-term mission of your organization, chances are that it’s the right thing to do–especially with technology solutions.

For an example, let’s take a look at the procurement process for new technology acquisitions. Some laptops will run a price tag of $200, while more advanced models could extend up into the thousand-dollar mark. It’s important to remember that when buying new technology, a higher price tag generally means that you’ll be purchasing something that’s more reliable, more powerful, and more functional. However, those that are too focused on short-term decision making will wind up staring at that price tag and questioning their decisions. They might choose to go for the less expensive model in order to save some cash in the short-term, but this could be a big mistake.

Administrators and managers who go all-in on new hardware don’t just do so for bragging rights–they do so because it’s certainly worth the cost in the long run. Reliable technology is invaluable, especially if workers can’t do their jobs because their technology solutions don’t work properly, you’ll feel it in your budget. Investing in quality hardware can help you avoid this issue entirely.

You can apply this train of thought to how technology can affect employee productivity, along with their morale. If they are using inexpensive hardware in an attempt to save some money in the budget, chances are that they will know–especially when the hardware breaks down frequently and they have to deal with frustrating downtime.

A short-term thinker might not see this as a problem, as they believe their workers can suffer through it and appreciate what has been given to them to do the job they are paid to do. However, a long-term thinker will see this for what it really is: a problem. Only by equipping your organization with quality technology solutions can you expect them to get the most work done. InformationWeek explains: “better devices lead to higher productivity and morale. According to a UK survey, more than two-thirds of workers felt negatively about their workplace, in part due to outdated technology and practices, with the average worker being frustrated with office tech around three times per day.”

Now, think about how much more productive each of your employees will be if they use technology that actually works the way that it should. Their morale might even improve as well, and with it, the quality of their work. This keeps you from suffering due to the cost of employee turnover, which is more than enough reason to purchase quality technology.

These words of wisdom can also be applied to how you take care of your technology after you’ve acquired it. Viewing your organization’s technology as a short-term expense will inevitably lead to you spending more money than necessary on IT maintenance. If you take a proactive, long-term approach to it, however, you’ll wind up saving money in the long run by preventing issues from escalating into major problems in the first place. This saves you both time and money, which is hard to argue with.

If your business wants to take full advantage of its technology solutions and IT infrastructure, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Advice For Passing Your Next IT Audit With Flying Colors

How to Pass an IT Audit

Most people think of audits and immediately cringe, but the fact of the matter is that businesses wanting to maximize output can really benefit from an audit. Audits can be great ways to ensure that a business’ priorities are being given their due attention, and that best practices are being utilized. An audit of your IT infrastructure and network can go a long way toward helping you determine if there are changes you need to make in order to maximize the profitability of your organization.

Here are three of the most common problems that our engineers find when conducting our comprehensive IT audits.

Outdated Software
It doesn’t matter if it’s the operating system on your workstations or the software on the servers, if you fail to applycritical updates and security patches to your operating systems, then your network will be vulnerable. This is a big red flag during any IT audit. Since outdated versions of software can become problematic for your integrated security protocols, by not properly updating your mission-critical software, you could be putting your business at significant risk.

An Absent Business Continuity Plan
As a part of a risk management strategy, any organization that doesn’t have a business continuity plan is ignoring the truth. The facts suggest that a disaster could happen at any moment, whether a company is ready or not. If you fail to prepare for a disaster, you’re staring failure in the face.

Poor or Lackluster Implementation
When it comes to regulatory compliance, Excalibur Technology will audit your internal processes, and analyze how they could be more efficient or secure. If you have outdated IT policies, they can end up costing you a lot more than a passing grade on an IT audit. If you haven’t properly tested your infrastructure, or if you’ve failed to deploy modern security best practices like multi-factor authentication, then your organization will perform poorly on an IT audit. Furthermore, if an auditor sees that your organization’s IT department splits responsibilities on a per-task basis, you’ll be more likely to score lower than if all IT resources understood how to perform every task necessary to their position.

These are only a few ways that your company could fail to perform as intended during an IT audit. If you want to ensure that your organization can pass your next audit, then you’ll want to ensure that your IT understands the importance of adhering to security best practices and industry standards.

Lastly, it is incredibly important that you remember that auditors aren’t the ones who are trying to sink your business. If anything, they are attempting to help you improve the way your organization operates. They are simply doing what your IT department should be doing in the first place by checking to see if you have unpatched or vulnerable systems, or aren’t adhering to best practices.

Excalibur Technology can help your business ensure its security by performing an IT audit. We can comb through your network for any potential issues and suggest ways to resolve them. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

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