Staying Modern with Technology

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Technology is everywhere today: in your car, pocket, on your wrist, running your business, etc.  It is always advancing to become faster, more efficient, and cheaper.  Inevitability, these things  become obsolete and raises the question of  when or if you should upgrade.  When it comes to IT infrastructure for your business, Everon recommends a 3-5 year life-cycle.  This is especially important for the core components that drive your business such as servers, network equipment (like firewalls), and workstations.

From time to time, we run across a business that is using a 5-10 year old servers, workstations, or network equipment.  The mentality of, “if it’s not broke, why fix it?” sometimes comes into play.  When equipment that is 5+ years old does break, it is out of support/warranty meaning that you will be shelling out more money then you normally would for an emergency solution while losing money paying idle employees or affecting services that customers pay you for.  It’s a huge gamble that shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is why proactive budgeting and replacement should be done.  While most people don’t replace equipment at the 3 year mark, it’s a good trigger to plan ahead for action in year 4 or 5 which is why I like the 3-5 year lifecycle rule of thumb.

If you’re a small business owner or decision maker for one,  do you have any IT infrastructure older than 5 years?  If you don’t have a replacement plan in place, why not?  Now with that, think about how often you replace your cell phone?  Most people seem to do this every 2-3 years at most.  It’s rare you see a flip phone nowadays so why would you want the technology that is critical to your business take the back seat?

Everon recommends periodic reviews on your equipment to ensure a warranty is in place or to catch any aging equipment that slipped through.  If you need any assistance, Everon can help put together a technology assessment to see where you infrastructure stands and where it should be going.  Give us a call today!  888-244-1748 www.everonit.com

Samsung Galaxy Security Breach : How Users Can Reduce Their Risk

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A random sampling of the popular Samsung Galaxy S4 and S6 phones, from around the Everon office.

According to reports released on June 16th, over 600 million Samsung mobile devices are vulnerable to a security risk that stems from a flaw on a pre-installed keyboard software produced by SwiftKey. If exploited, the device’s predictive text software can allow hackers to remotely access the phone’s GPS, camera, microphone, and even eavesdrop on inbound/outbound calls. Hackers can attempt to access personal data, including texts and pictures, and could install malicious applications without the user’s knowledge.

According to ABC News, Ryan Welton, a security researcher at NowSecure, discovered this flaw back in December 2014. He notified both the Samsung and Google Android Security Teams, and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT). Samsung has not publicly commented on the security flaw, but reports have stated that patches have been released to mobile network providers. Whether those providers have released those patches to devices is unknown.

Unfortunately, there’s not much Samsung Galaxy users can do to prevent this breach. The keyboard is already pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, S4, S5 and the newly released S6. This flawed application cannot be uninstalled by users. However, NowSecure, which has released a list of affected devices, states that there are a few remedies Samsung Galaxy mobile device users can take for protection:

  • Avoid insecure wi-fi networks

  • Use a different mobile device

  • Contact carriers for patch information and timing

If you’re unsure how to avoid insecure wi-fi networks, call Everon at 888-244-1748. We’ll do everything we can to help you reduce your risk.

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How to Get iOS Devices to Work with Windows Servers

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 Jeff's iOS devices and Windows servers blog-3

A while ago a client asked, “How can I use my Apple iPad with my documents at work?” 

Initially, it seemed like an easy question. Windows computers and iPads are both very popular products; of course there would be an easy solution. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be.

These two large competitors are not very interested in working together. My client, who had his shares on a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server and wanted his Apple iPad to access those shares, had presented a challenge.

There were obvious solutions. You could use any number of remote desktop apps, such as Teamviewer, to get into your company’s terminal server, to work on the server’s desktop. But my client did not want to remote-in to anything. He wanted to access the documents without needing any device. He wanted to be able to use his domain credentials to authenticate and access shares.

I realized my solution needed to be broken out into a few parts. The first was to get an iOS device onto a Windows domain network. That’s actually the easiest part out of this entire process; every iOS device has a VPN tool built-in. As long as your network has RRAS (PPTP on port 1723), you can join the device to the network. If you are inside the network and have WiFi, even easier. To find the VPN tool on your iOS device, go to Settings –> VPN. It will request your information for connecting, simple as that. WiFi is in the exact same location (Settings –> WiFi).

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FileBrowser

Once connected to the network, you need to browse SMB shares. Unfortunately, Apple decided not to build this portion into their devices. You need a separate app. I tried out many, but the one I liked most was FileBrowser ($5.99). For any business looking to complete this task, it’s worth the price. FileBrowser allows you to set up locations in your iOS device, called Remote Servers, and connect to see all shares to which your domain credentials have access. For my example we joined a VPN, then mapped a “Remote Server” to an internal IP address where his file server existed, and then reviewed the various shares related to that file server.

If you have your shares locked down in the appropriate security groups, you will only see the shares to which you have access. (FileBrowser doesn’t get around any security flaws that could be present. It’s all based on your domain credentials.

Jeff's iOS devices and Windows servers blog-2

Google Docs

My client loved this, but he added one last piece to the puzzle. His company didn’t want to just view the files, they wanted to edit them, too. After much searching, I found the best tool for this job in another app (a free one) called QuickOffice, by Google (later replaced by a more powerful version of Office editing, Google Docs.) With Google Docs you can pull up any of the FileBrowser-searched documents, edit them with tools very similar to Microsoft’s Office suite, and then place them back on the server.

Although it sounds complicated, all the apps worked together seamlessly to allow my client’s company to review and edit files in their Windows environment, thus allowing them to integrate Apple devices into their Windows domain. And in the end, my client was happy.

For more information on how you can integrate your Apple products into a Windows domain, call Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

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Microsoft to Stop Making Windows OS: How this will impact your business

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windows 10 - last osIn a recent conference speech, Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft exec, announced that Windows 10 will be the software giant’s last operating system. Instead of creating an entirely new OS after Windows 10 is released (widely rumored to happen in July), Microsoft will continue to make improvements to Windows 10 through regular updates.

This type of OS-updating is already seen to some extent with the Apple OSX architecture. Nixon stated that a big reason behind the move was due to how the development team would lock themselves away for three years to create the next operating system… but their end-result would be a product the world wanted three years ago. Given how quickly technology changes, this new process will be a welcome departure.

Microsoft has not yet determined what it will call its iterations, post-Windows 10. However, we will not see the continued numerical names to its OS. Microsoft also mentioned that this will help sales, as the idea of selling end users on entirely new operating systems has become increasingly difficult. This way of thinking can be somewhat attributed to the failures of Vista and Windows 8.

Windows 10 will have some version of the Start Menu, which is what seemed to be a stopping point for many businesses. You can download a free preview of the operating system here. (For information on how to create a virtual Windows 10 preview, see my previous blog post, found here.)

Of special note, if you are a small-medium business: you can rejoice in the fact that you will no longer have to have a test machine in your network, to test all of your applications and specialized network setup, every time Microsoft releases a brand new OS. Once your company moves to Windows 10, you should not need to worry about having a new operating system, preventing your company from moving to the latest version. (Although you will want to ensure you are getting the appropriate updates, as they will be critical for keeping your computers protected, and allowing Microsoft to patch security flaws.)

Microsoft’s updates to Windows 10 will likely be free, similar to the way Apple handles its updates to OSX. In fact, if you own Windows 7 or later, and you update within the first year of Windows 10′s release, you will get Windows 10 for free. (Details for that can be found here.) The Windows 10 free upgrade is also free for users who have pirated software as well. (Details for that can be found here.) Microsoft is allowing this to happen to help combat piracy and ensure their OS is patched and in the hands of as many end users as possible.

Microsoft’s idea of giving away their OS for free is a departure from their old way of thinking. It is a strategic move, as Microsoft continues to battle Apple for the OS user base.

Microsoft has made some other bold changes lately, including a decision to discontinue its popular web browser Internet Explorer for its new product, Spartan. Spartan will reportedly be lightweight and very similar to other popular lightweight browsers on the market, such as Chrome and Firefox. The new browser will appear on Windows 10.

Our engineers at Everon are constantly staying on top of the tech-trends that affect small to medium businesses. If you have any questions about Microsoft or Windows 10, feel free to call 1-888-244-1748.

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How to Open Multiple Windows in Excel, on Multiple Monitors

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Recently, a colleague taught me a neat trick in Excel. We’re both huge fans of the program, and we get strangely excited when we acquire new tips and tricks. Normally, the tricks we seek have something to do with complicated formulas or pivot tables. But this time it was something as simple as “How to open multiple windows in Excel, on multiple monitors.”

I’m sure anyone who has used Excel before knows that you can’t open two separate spreadsheets in two separate windows. I find that extremely frustrating because my job often requires me to compare data between different spreadsheets.  As a user with two monitors, I want to be able to compare those files side by side on each of my screens. Are you in the same boat?

Well, I have the answer to our problem. Behold! How to open multiple windows in Excel…

Step 1: Open up your first Excel spreadsheet (in the way that you normally would).

Step 2: Open your start menu and locate the Excel icon.

Step 3: Press and hold the “Alt” key and select the Excel icon with your mouse.

Step 4: BOOM! You now have two separate files open in two separate windows.

Excel

(Note: This process also works with more than two windows.)

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