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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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.

Software as a Service Helps Small Businesses in So Many Ways

Posted October 25, 2017 by

Software icons concept and technology icons design, vector illustration 10 eps graphic.Over the past few years, more and more small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) have adopted software as a service (SaaS), in favor of the traditional use of software that was stored locally on hardware. Whether you are already using SaaS for a few of your operations or you’re considering implementing it for the first time, there a few fundamental items you should understand: What is Software as a Service? What are the benefits of adopting SaaS applications? In what departments can SaaS be utilized?

From line of business applications to cloud-based email, most businesses rely on several different types of software to perform day-to-day operations. Rather than purchasing software and installing it directly to in-house hardware, software as a service is a cloud-based way to access the app and programs your business needs, via the internet. Since most SaaS applications can be accessed through a web browser or thin-client terminals, it reduces the costs associated with hardware and maintenance, as well as allowing for easy scalability as the company dynamics change. With SaaS, the user no longer needs to manually implement patches and security updates, as they are performed by the distributor.

Here’s a look at how your peers have responded to SaaS adoption:

  • Companies that use SaaS applications as part of their business model use an average of 16 SaaS applications.
  • 86% of end users say SaaS applications help them succeed more than desktop alternatives.
  • 94% of survey respondents reported significant benefits from adopting SaaS.

Although there are many areas within an organization that SaaS can benefit, these are four departments that can be enhanced by implementing SaaS:

With the popularity of unified communication and collaboration (UCC), SMBs have designated internal and external communications as a high priority. Generally comprised of virtual meeting rooms, email integrations, VoIP phone solutions, and instant messaging, cloud-based applications can be used to build a custom UCC solution that match your company’s needs – with a lot more flexibility than on premise software.

Cloud-Based Email
For those businesses who aren’t interested in UCC, cloud-based email can be extremely beneficial for SMBs in its own right. Since emails are the primary records of correspondence for the majority of business communications, cloud-based applications allow emails to be stored and archived without taking up any internal memory, as well as, offering different options based on business needs. Gmail and Microsoft Outlook are two of the most popular cloud-based email platforms.

Productivity Suites
When it comes to SaaS, productivity suites are arguably the most popular application used by businesses together. As more businesses are allowing employees to work from home, the ability to use productivity applications and collaborate remotely is a very desirable feature. Microsoft Office 365, Google’s G-Suite, and Adobe Creative Cloud give users all the capabilities of locally installed software but are able to be accessed securely from anywhere that has the Internet, on nearly every device. Additionally, each suite can be bought in a group or as individual programs.

Another good aspect of SaaS is that adopting virtualization doesn’t have to be all or nothing in terms of which programs you’re shifting to the cloud. You have the ability to gradually replace your locally installed programs with cloud-based software at your own pace. Studies suggest, however, that once they begin adopting cloud-based software for one process, SMBs are likely to seek out additional SaaS programs that might be a fit.

At Excalibur Technology, we specialize in helping businesses develop an IT strategy that maximizes productivity and efficiency – including identification of potential SaaS applications that will improve your business, security, efficiency, or productivity. Would you like to learn more about SaaS? Contact Excalibur Technology today at (877) NET – KING.

Small Businesses Find Managed IT Useful To Their Growth

Posted October 25, 2017 by

Number Domain series. Abstract design made of Math symbols, fractal textures and design elements on the subject of virtual reality, science, education and modern technologyMany small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) find that they need to have the right technology before they can grow. In fact, studies have shown that businesses that cap out at 250 employees and primarily have plans to grow in 2018 are focusing their strategies on using IT solutions and applications to achieve growth.

Hopefully for these businesses, they will select the technology that is right to help their business grow at a satisfactory rate according to their unique needs. An MSP, or managed service provider, could provide them with an expert team for much less than an internal IT department would cost to hire, and that could deploy the right technology for these businesses to reach their goals.

With the new year fast approaching, working with an MSP could help your business grow and gain revenue through leveraging the business technology the MSP would provide. Here’s how:

Managed IT
The average SMB is heavily reliant on their technology as they complete the day-to-day tasks the business requires. Whether they’re trying to reach out to customers or access a key record for one of their job responsibilities, each employee needs reliable technology in order to be productive and thereby generate revenue for the company. If the device an employee relies on to work suddenly malfunctions and loses data, the ramifications will be felt throughout the company and ultimately influence its ability to remain productive. Working with the proactive methods of managed IT will better enable your technology to remain efficient. Some of these proactive methods are as follows:

  • Remote Monitoring: Which would you prefer: having a downtime incident impact your revenue streams and cost your business huge sums, or have your network watched so that incoming issues can be anticipated and mitigated with minimal impact? Managed IT takes the latter approach, keeping an eye out for signs of impending problems and fixing them proactively so that your company experiences minimal ramifications.
  • Proactive Maintenance: Maintenance is a key consideration to any business that relies on technology, especially since known issues are resolved through patches that software manufacturers release as they are developed. This maintenance must also be proactive, as without it, there may not be a business to maintain for very long. Potential customers and clients don’t look kindly upon businesses that suffer a security breach, so these events have to be avoided and resisted. Think about it this way: IT maintenance is like locking your car at night–it helps things from being stolen from you when you aren’t looking.
  • Help Desk Support: Maintaining a business takes a lot more than the 9-to-5 hours each workday. As a matter of fact, half of adults in the United States work an additional hour over the weekend. As a result, IT support will be needed outside of “typical” business hours. Excalibur Technology offers a 24/7 helpdesk that is there to provide support at, quite literally, any time.

The Continued Domination of Cloud Services
The cloud is well on its way to being the solution for SMBs. A survey in Q2 of 2017 found that at least one cloud solution was used in 92% of SMBs, and projections place that number as rising. Businesses find the cloud’s flexibility to be an advantage, along with its scalability and security. The cloud can even uphold the compliance requirements and regulatory standards that many companies are beholden to.

Using Managed IT for UCC
UCC, or Unified Communication and Collaboration, is a strong requirement for any business that leans on a customer-centric model. Not only is this useful for maintaining communication with a soon-to-be customer throughout the buyer’s journey, it is also of use within the business itself. Vendors are also important to maintain communication with, with phones being made obsolete with more collaboration taking place online.

UCC is the perfect solution for the small businesses looking to improve their communications for 2018. While many early unified collaboration solutions were problematic and glitchy, despite their high costs, the solutions of today offer high performance for an appropriate cost through applications and software. In addition to collaborative software allowing shared work on documents and other projects, UCC solutions also bundle in messaging apps for internal resources to communicate, virtual meeting rooms, VoIP telephony, as well as other features. UCC can even integrate with line-of-business applications, including customer management systems.

If you want to embrace the swiftly-changing technology solutions of today and tomorrow, partner up with Excalibur Technology. As your MSP, we’ll make sure that your technology serves you and your business’ needs. For more information on what managed IT can achieve, call us at (877) NET – KING.

3 Phishing Scams You Might Have Missed in 2017

Posted October 24, 2017 by

A fishing hook on top of a credit card.Cybercrime continues to be a major threat to your organization’s security, and there’s no way to really escape it. Hackers are so prevalent on the Internet that you could actually be dealing with attacks from all sides. Phishing in particular has seen a dramatic rise over recent years, and you need to be wary of email scams designed to steal sensitive credentials.

In fact, according to the Webroot Quarterly Threat Trend Reports, at least 1.4 million phishing websites are set up every month. These reports estimate that this past May, there was an all-time high for phishing website increase, topping off at over 2.3 million websites being set up during that month. Phishing has become the single most prominent method of fraud in the modern business world, and is responsible for most data breaches worldwide.

2017 saw an uncanny number of phishing attacks. Here are three of them that you may have missed.

Amazon Shipping Phishing Scam
Earlier this year, a phishing scam made it appear that Amazon was sending emails about canceled orders or updates to user accounts. They appeared to be legitimate, but users were receiving these messages even if they hadn’t recently canceled an order. If users clicked on links located in the email, they would be directed to a domain that was either close to Amazon, or an entirely different domain. These emails convince users to hand over important credentials, like login information or financial details (credit card number, expiration date, etc.). If you receive an email claiming to be from Amazon, but you never made an order, be wary of it.

Google Docs Hack
Google Docs works by sending you an email containing a link to the document being shared with you. While it’s a best practice to never click on a link in an unsolicited email, you might think that a message from a company as big as Google could be trustworthy. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. This phishing scam works by convincing users to grant permissions to a third-party app rather than actually stealing your credentials. It’s part of a growing trend where phishing attacks are growing more sophisticated, which should raise some concerns for business owners.

IRS W-2 Tax Season Phishing Scams
Your organization has sensitive documents on-file that contain employee financial information, among other important personal data. Tax season is the opportune time for hackers to try and steal this information via phony tax return messages, as users are going to be on the lookout for information on how and when they can process their tax returns. Businesses in particular should be wary of recent phishing attacks asking for specific W-2s or personal information about users.

Is your business prepared to stand against phishing attacks? If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.

Security Concerns Have Led To New Voting Machines In Virginia

Posted October 24, 2017 by

Closeup of a man feeding his ballot into one of Florida's new optical scan voting machines.Regardless of your feelings on the matter, the 2016 United States presidential election was an extremely divisive one–in no small part, due to the suspicion that the outcome of the election may have been significantly influenced by hacked voting machines. This uncertainty has led to some states making strides to ensure that their technology will no longer be responsible for such doubts.

Virginia is one of those states, deciding to remove direct-recording electronic voting machines in favor of those that produce paper documentation. In addition to that, there is now legislation in Virginia that will remove all touch-screen voting devices from circulation by November 7, 2017. This is when the next governor is to be elected, along with various other positions.

According to Politico, Governor McAuliffe has pushed for legislation to provide the necessary budget to replace new voting machines, but this legislation was denied two years ago. Things have changed since then, and now the state has little choice to obtain new machines, as the old ones will no longer be certified for use.

Other states have been recommended to emulate this decision by the Board of Elections, but again–it’s only a recommendation. While paper ballots do seem to be more reliable and authentic as the tangible option, counting them can be a drag. Therefore, it only makes sense that the states would want to expedite the process with technological assistance. Even so, there is the risk that this key democratic data can be manipulated and altered.

You can find a similar scenario much closer to home, in your very own business. If your systems aren’t painstakingly maintained–as many states’ voting machines are not–they can be vulnerable to numerous hacks and other attacks. Do you really want to risk your sensitive data when a solution is so easy to find?

Excalibur Technology’s technicians can help give you the ability to better prepare for a successful future for your business. One way is by equipping you with a Unified Threat Management tool that helps protect your business from threats before they have a chance to strike. Call (877) NET – KING for more information.

Do You Have a Data Backup In Place?

Posted October 24, 2017 by

File folders on top of a laptopTake a moment to imagine the absolute worst disaster scenario for your business. Does it involve a catastrophic event destroying your office building? Does it include key staff being absent from the office for extended periods of time? Does it include your business suffering from data loss or security breaches?

Most businesses that fail to recover their data following a data loss scenario go out of business within a year of the incident. Furthermore, there are a lot of small businesses out there that don’t necessarily see the value in a proper data backup system. Most just assume that they will be able to survive a loss incident, or they feel that a data loss incident won’t happen to them. This is not the right mindset to have for a business owner–especially not one that has the future of their business at heart.

Instead, you need to imagine the worst-case scenario and ask if your business continuity plan includes a data backup solution to minimize damage and downtime. Here are three ways that a cloud-based Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution can help your business survive even the worst data loss incidents.

Multiple Backups Daily
Traditionally, businesses have relied on tape backup for most of their backup needs. Due to the increased strain on your network, tape backups need to be performed during off-hours, and only once a day. The problem with this is that you could potentially lose up to an entire day’s worth of data and progress. Cloud-based BDR takes multiple backups as often as every fifteen minutes, which allows for higher redundancy.

Cloud-Based Storage
There’s something to be said about the cloud and its ability to make data backup storage far easier. Thanks to the cloud, a BDR device can take and store multiple backups in secure, off-site locations for later access. After all, you can’t store your backups in the same location as the rest of your data. What if you were to experience a major disaster, like a flood or ransomware infection, which leads to the destruction of your in-house data infrastructure? When this time comes, you’ll be glad you’re storing data in the cloud and away from the site of the incident.

Reduced Downtime
When your business can quickly restore data in a moment’s notice, the amount of downtime suffered drastically falls. This helps your business stay active even under the worst circumstances. BDR can instantaneously restore your data to the network-attached device, allowing your organization to quickly get back in action following a downtime incident. The BDR device can even act as a temporary server while you make more permanent arrangements.

How does your business protect itself from data loss? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to reach out to us at (877) NET – KING if your business needs help with its technology.

It’s Time To Update Your Windows 10 PC

Posted October 11, 2017 by

Upgrade to Windows 10There are a number of different Windows 10 versions out there right now, ranging from 1511 to 1709.  These numbers represent various patch levels and security updates to the Windows 10 platform.  It is important to keep your version of Windows up to date to remain secure, but Microsoft is now also giving you a much more compelling reason to update.  Version 1511 no longer will receive security updates after today.  Without these updates, you Windows 10 PC could be put at additional security risks.  It is highly suggests that you backup your PC and then apply all available updates and patches to keep your system running optimally and securely.

If you would like to read more information on this matter, check out the article by ZDnet by CLICKING HERE.

For help keeping your systems updated and your network secure, call the experts at Excalibur Technology today!

Google Chrome Will Soon No Longer Trust Symantec SSL Certificates

Posted October 03, 2017 by

Symantec LogoGoogle continues to use the sizeable market share of its Chrome browser to effect change in the realm of website security. Recently, we wrote about Google’s plans to have Chrome begin to display the message “Not secure” in more areas of a website when the site is not loaded over HTTPS (see our previous post, Will Your Website’s Forms Soon Display A “Not Secure” Message?). These planned changes have left website owners scrambling to secure their websites with SSL certificates in order to avoid their customers seeing this message.

As if this hasn’t shaken things up enough, Google now has a three-phase plan to completely distrust all Symantec SSL certificates permanently in Google Chrome. Once the three phases have been implemented, anyone who tries to load a website that uses a Symantec SSL certificate will be presented with an error message warning them that the site is not safe (the exact error message will vary depending on the browser being used). This means that the person trying to view the website will not even see the website, but just the error message instead. Although it is possible in such a scenario to continue to the site anyway, most people will not continue to the site because the error message is enough to scare them off. This spells disaster for any business website that suffers from this issue.

What are the Three Phases and What is the Timeline?

The first phase will begin in December 2017. Symantec will continue to act as a CA (certificate authority), but it will begin to “outsource” the issuance of certificates to another trusted CA. In essence, the part of the business in which they issue the certificates will be taken over by another company.

The second phase will begin with Chrome version 66, which is estimated to be released in April 2018. With this version, Chrome will no longer trust Symantec certificates that were issued before June 1, 2016.

The third and final phase will begin with Chrome 70, which is estimated to be released in October 2018. With this version, Chrome will no longer trust Symantec certificates that were issued before Symantec handed off the part of its business that handles issuing the certificates (i.e. all certificates that were issued before phase one began).

Why is Google Doing This?

In March 2017, Google and Mozilla engineers discovered that Symantec had incorrectly issued over 100 SSL certificates, meaning they had issued these certificates to websites when they shouldn’t have. The investigation was subsequently deepened, and the number of incorrectly issued certificates turned out to be closer to over 30,000 certificates! This news is very disturbing, especially given the fact that Symantec is one of the largest CAs on the market. Symantec is what is referred to as a “trusted CA,” meaning all of the major web browsers – Chrome, Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc. – trust that any website that uses a Symantec SSL certificate is in fact the website that it claims to be. This trust is important because it prevents, for example, a website such as “apple1[dot]com” from posing as the legitimate “apple[dot]com” site, which could trick visitors into thinking they are on a legitimate site that actually is malicious. Because Symantec incorrectly issued so many certificates, however, the aforementioned scenario could quite possibly be a reality for many sites.

There is a popular phrase regarding trust. Although there are several variants, it goes something like this: “Trust is hard to earn, easy to lose, and, once lost, nearly impossible to regain.” Although surely not intentional, Symantec’s accidental issuance of over 30,000 SSL certificates is simply unacceptable. Trust has been broken, and in the eyes of Google at least, it cannot be regained. This is why Chrome will ultimately revoke trust of all Symantec certificates. You can view the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

How Wide Ranging Will This Impact Be? Will My Website Be Impacted?

Not only will Chrome distrust certificates that were issued by Symantec itself, but it also will distrust certificates that were issued by other CAs that Symantec owns, including Thawte, GeoTrust, and RapidSSL. At Excalibur Technology, we have often used GeoTrust and RapidSSL certificates for our clients’ sites and our own because they offer some of the most competitive prices on the market. However, with such certificates set to ultimately no longer be trusted, we will have no choice but to use other CAs for our websites and our clients’ websites going forward. Unfortunately, with this change will come increased prices for most SSL certificates.

Do you have questions or want help determining if your website will be impacted by this upcoming change to Google Chrome? Call the experts at Excalibur Technology today at (877) NET – KING.

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