Reasons to back up your mobile devices

By EDITOR 

Companies such as Apple, Samsung, and others have turned mobile phones into mini-computers that can serve as a substitute for your laptop, or as a storage device. If you’re using a smartphone as a communications and storage device, backing up now would be a wise move.

Malware on mobile

More than two-thirds of the world’s population use a mobile phone with internet connection, so dangers in these handy devices are to be expected. Scarier than the thought of being offline is being online and exposed to malware.

If you use your mobile devices as extensions of your work computers, backing them up is a must. Mobile phones have become as vulnerable to malware as laptops and desktops are, especially if you consider the fact that many professionals and business owners use them for emailing confidential documents and storing business-critical files.

Device disasters

Malware isn’t the only disaster that can hurt your smartphone. Because you carry it wherever you go, your device can easily be stolen, misplaced, or damaged. They may be easily replaceable, but the data they contain is not. Here are some security threats to look out for:

  • Data leakage
    Something as simple as transferring files onto a public cloud storage service, or pasting confidential information in the wrong place could compromise your business. In fact, according to specialist insurance provider Beazley, “unintended disclosure” accounted for 41% of data breaches reported by healthcare organizations during the first three quarters of 2017.
  • Social engineering
    Tricking people online into handing over their personal and financial data is no longer confined to desktops, as this trend is already happening on mobile devices. In a report by IBM, it was found out that users are three times more vulnerable to fall for phishing attacks on mobile devices compared to desktops. This is because phones are where people will most likely see a message first, making them a popular attack vector by cybercriminals.
  • Wi-Fi interference
    When we connect our devices to public Wi-Fi networks, we are putting critical information at risk. According to Wandera, nearly a quarter of devices in 2017 connected to potentially insecure networks, and some even encountered a man-in-the-middle attack, where someone anonymously intercepts communication between two parties.
  • Out-of-date devices
    A vast majority of manufacturers, most particularly on the Android front, are ineffective at providing updates for their devices. This can inconvenience end users, as this exposes them to the many threats lurking online. Some smartphones and tablets may receive a security patch from time to time, but manufacturers eventually stop doing so after a while.
  • Physical device breaches
    While this may seem unlikely for some, lost or unattended devices can still become a major security risk, especially if they are not employing proper security measures such as PIN codes and encryption.

Backup options

Performing backups on iOS and Android devices is a quick and painless process. For example, companies that use Office 365 or Google’s G Suite enable company-wide backup settings from a single dashboard. Apple’s backup settings usually need to be configured on each device, but it’s a pretty simple process.

There are also robust third-party options to back up all your organization’s mobile devices. The best of these are cloud backup services that sync devices and back up contacts, photos, videos, and other critical files in one neat system. These mobile backup tools are offered on monthly or lifetime subscription schemes, which provides small businesses with enough flexibility to ensure long-term protection.

Our experts at Lanlogic can provide practical advice on security for your business’s computers and mobile devices. Call Lanlogic to ask about mobile backup and other security solutions today.

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Preparing for Windows end of support

By EDITOR 

According to NetMarketShare’s September 2018 data, 40.88% of users are still using Windows 7. The popular operating system (OS) is currently on extended support, but only until January 14, 2020. For Windows 10, the support clock runs out sooner than you might expect. Learn how the end of support for your Windows version can affect you, and why making an upgrade will be an absolutely important task to keep your PC safe.

No more security updates

End of support for Windows means Microsoft stops issuing security updates for that operating system (OS). For example, Windows Vista and Windows XP can no longer receive security updates despite the substantial security holes found in them.

On January 14, 2020, the same will be true for Windows 7. From there, you’ll be on your own. You can still use antivirus tools and other security software for protection, but they won’t be enough to defend against bigger threats. Security software will also gradually drop support for older versions of Windows. Large organizations can sign “custom support” contracts to keep getting security updates while they transition to a new OS. But Microsoft will ratchet up the price going forward to encourage those organizations to move to a new version of Windows.

Software companies will halt support too

When Microsoft ends support for an OS, that’s also the signal for third-party companies to stop supporting that particular version of Windows with their own software and hardware. This doesn’t happen immediately but it does eventually.

For example, Windows XP support ended on April 8, 2014, but Chrome didn’t stop supporting Windows XP until April 2016, two years later. Mozilla Firefox stopped supporting Windows XP in June 2018. Steam will officially drop support for Windows XP and Windows Vista on January 1, 2019. On the other hand, software companies dropped support for Windows Vista more quickly, as it was much less popular than Windows XP.

New hardware may not work

New hardware components and peripherals will stop working on your system too. These need hardware drivers, and manufacturers might not create those hardware drivers for your old, out-of-date OS.

Presently, the latest Intel CPU platforms don’t even support Windows 7 and 8.1. However, the operating systems are technically still in “extended support.” You can keep using your old OS with your current software and hardware, but you have no guarantees of future updates or compatibility.

When will Microsoft end support?

Microsoft has a well-defined support lifecycle for its software products. They come ahead of time so they’re never a surprise. The agreement includes the assurance that Microsoft is committed to providing products with improved security. While they may be unable to provide security updates for older products, they do advise customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, as well as service packs to remain as secure as possible.

Upgrading is better than using unsupported Windows

The support lifecycle is rapidly fading away as Microsoft shifts to its Windows as a service and Office 365 subscription models. If you want to prevent security frustrations, it’s best to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Should you need help in upgrading, or have further concerns about your current Windows, give Lanlogic a call.

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Not all hackers are cybercriminals

By EDITOR 

Newspaper headlines and Hollywood movies have shaped our understanding of computer hackers, but in the real world it’s not so simple. Some hackers are making massive contributions to the field of cybersecurity, it just depends on which hat they’re wearing that day. Take a few minutes to learn about white, black, and gray hat hackers.

A complicated history
In the 1950s, the term ‘hacker’ was vaguely defined. As computers and the people who worked with them became more accessible, the word was used to describe someone who explored the details and limits of technology by testing them from a variety of angles.

But by the 1980s, hackers became associated with teenagers who were being caught breaking into government computer systems — partially because that is what they called themselves, and partially because the word hacker has an inherently aggressive ring to it.

Today, several of those pioneering hackers run multimillion-dollar cybersecurity consulting businesses. So what should you call someone who uses their knowledge for good?

“White hat” hackers
Sometimes referred to as ethical hackers, or plain old network security specialists, these are the good guys. Whether it’s selling what they find to hardware and software vendors in “bug bounty” programs or working as full-time technicians, white hat hackers are just interested in making an honest buck.

Linus Torvalds is a great example of a white hat hacker. After years of experimenting with the operating system on his computer, he finally released Linux, a secure open-source operating system.

“Black hat” hackers
Closer to the definition that most people outside the IT world know and use, black hat hackers create programs and campaigns solely for causing damage. This may be anything from stealing information using malware to forcefully shutting down networks using denial-of-service attacks.

Kevin Mitnick was the most infamous black hat hacker in the world. During the 1990s, Mitnick went on a two and half year hacking spree where he committed wire fraud and stole millions of dollars of data from telecom companies and the National Defense warning system.

“Gray hat” hackers
Whether someone is a security specialist or a cybercriminal, the majority of their work is usually conducted over the internet. This anonymity affords them opportunities to try their hand at both white hat and black hat hacking.

For example, Marcus Hutchins is a known gray hat hacker. He’s most famous for testing the WannaCry ransomware until he found a way to stop it.

During the day, Hutchins works for the Kryptos Logic cybersecurity firm, but the US government believes he spent his free time creating the Kronos banking malware. He has been arrested and branded a “gray hat” hacker.

The world of cybersecurity is far more complicated than the stylized hacking in Hollywood movies. Internet-based warfare is not as simple as good guys vs. bad guys, and it certainly doesn’t give small businesses a pass. If you need a team of experienced professionals to help you tackle the complexities of modern cybersecurity, call Lanlogic today.

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Ways to safeguard your IoT devices

By EDITOR 

Your Internet of Things (IoT) devices — smart TVs, security cameras, smart locks — add a level of convenience to your workplace, but they also make your systems more vulnerable to cyberattacks. That’s because they’re essentially potential entry points for hackers. Here are some ways to secure your IoT devices from a possible cyberattack.

Set passwords

Not many people know they can set passwords for IoT devices, making their gadgets easy to hack. You have to make sure to set new and strong passwords — preferably with a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Then, use a password manager to keep track of all your passwords.

Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)

UPnP helps IoT gadgets discover and connect to other network devices. But this feature also serves as a gateway for hackers to infiltrate your devices and network. To prevent this, disable this feature.

Create a separate network

It’s a good idea to keep your IoT devices connected to their own network that’s separate from your main office network. This way, gadgets can connect to the internet but won’t have access to mission-critical files.

You can also invest in device access management tools. These allow you to control which devices can access what data, and prevent unauthorized access.

Update your firmware

You need to keep your software up to date if you want to secure your devices against cyberattacks. Manufacturers are always releasing new patches for the latest vulnerabilities, so make it a habit to check and install IoT firmware updates regularly.

If you have several devices, use patch management software to automate patch distribution and schedule regular updates.

Unplug it

Simply disconnecting your devices or turning them off when not in use can significantly reduce your vulnerability to cyberattacks. It removes potential entry points into your network and minimizes the chances of unauthorized access to your network.

With the advent of IoT devices in homes and offices, hackers also developed more cunning ways to exploit them. Adopting the above mentioned security habits can prevent a variety of IoT attacks, but if you need to beef up your security, contact Lanlogic today. We have robust security solutions to keep your hardware and systems safe.

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Apple’s 2nd 2018 product launch

By EDITOR 

Don’t be surprised that Apple has a second product launch for 2018. For starters, the first one covered only two products: the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Were there no new iterations for the iPad and MacBook? Apple’s announcement on October 18 gave us a teaser of an answer: “There’s more in the making.” Read on to learn about Apple’s latest offerings.

The redesigned and reengineered MacBook Air

The new model for 2018 is a breath of fresh air. It has 17% less volume, a quarter of a pound lighter, and 10% thinner than its predecessor, but it is by no means a lightweight when it comes to features and capabilities:

  • Faster performance – features the 1.6GHz/3.6GHz Core i5 processor, has up to 16GB of memory, and SSDs with up to 1.5TB of storage
  • 13.3” Retina display – has over 4 million pixels, making text and images are sharper and more detailed
  • Apple T2 Security Chip – enables Touch ID, permits only trusted operating system software to boot at startup, and encrypts stored data
  • Touch ID – allows user to unlock the device, buy items using Apple Pay, or open other apps in conjunction with a 3rd party password manager with a touch of a finger
  • Butterfly keyboard – each key is more stable and responsive, and is backlit for easier typing
  • Force touch trackpad – now larger, allowing better conveyance of finger gestures
  • Superb sound system – with louder speakers with more bass, and three mics enable clear group facetime call audio and voice recognition
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports – has versatile ports that enables fast data and graphics delivery and charging via a single cable

The new Mac mini

This small-yet-powerful PC packs six processors for five times faster performance than the previous model. Other features include:

  • Up to 64GB of memory
  • All-flash SSDs – four times faster, with up to 2TB of storage
  • Apple T2 Security Chip – just like what the new MacBook Air has
  • Connectivity options – has ports for Ethernet (configurable to 10GB), Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, USB-A, and audio
  • Stackability – use hundreds of Minis together for mission-critical IT processes that run 24/7

The new iPad Pro

The October 2018 launch focused solely on the Pro variant, perhaps signaling the discontinuation of the economical non-Pro iPads, considering Apple’s push for PC-level tablets.

iPad Pro users can now use resource-intensive programs such as AutoCAD, which is software that lets you tackle millions of objects within one file. Moreover, Photoshop users on the iPad Pro can create huge graphic design masterpieces with hundreds of layers without suffering lag.

The main features of iPad Pro include:

  • Liquid Retina display – gives the best color accuracy of any screen to date and shows things as true to life as possible
  • Face ID – use your face to open your device, log onto apps, and use Apple Pay
  • A12X Bionic Chip – contains the Neural Engine, which enables advanced machine learning for smart image and video editing, among others
  • 8-core CPU – run multiple programs simultaneously apart and dynamically together, such as doing multiple-item drag-and-drops across different apps
  • 7-core GPU – offers 1000x faster graphics performance
  • USB-C port – connect directly to your other devices so you can work on your creations immediately
  • Apple Pencil (sold separately) – features tip and slant sensitivity, making it the most intuitive electronic drawing tool in the market today
  • Smart Keyboard Folio (sold separately) – serves as a protective covering and a dual-mode keyboard: one mode lets you type comfortably on a desk, while the other lets you use the Pro on your lap

With so many top-of-the-line features that compliment their intuitive designs, it is no wonder that Apple devices command above-average prices. Indeed, Apple truly knows how to stir up demand for its products. To learn how you can take advantage of Apple’s powerful tech to make your staff more productive, efficient, and creative, drop us a line. Lanlogic’s IT experts can help you source the best hardware and software for your business.

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Make your life easier with these Office 365 tips

By EDITOR 

Your company may be done migrating to Office 365, but there’s still a lot you must do. Now that your productivity tools are online via the cloud, there are a few optimizations that will provide your users with a better experience.

Declutter your inbox

If you’re having trouble managing the overwhelming amount of emails in your inbox, then using Office 365’s “Clutter” feature can clear up some space. To enable this feature, go to Settings > Options > Mail > Automatic processing > Clutter then select Separate items identified as Clutter. Once activated, mark any unwanted messages as “clutter.” After learning your email preferences, Office 365 will automatically move low-priority messages into your “Clutter” folder, helping you focus on more important emails.

Ignore group emails

Want to keep messages from an email thread you don’t want to be part of out of your inbox? If so, simply go to the message and find the Ignore setting. Doing this will automatically move future reply-alls to the trash so they never bother you again. Of course, if you ever change your mind, you could un-ignore the message; just find the email in your trash folder and click Stop ignoring.

Unsend emails

In case you sent a message to the wrong recipient or attached the wrong file, use Office 365’s  message recall function. Simply open your sent message, click Actions, and select Recall this message. From here, you can either “Delete unread copies of this message” or “Delete unread copies and replace with a new message.” Bear in mind that this applies only to unread messages and for Outlook users within the same company domain.

Work offline

Whenever you’re working outside the office or in an area with unstable internet, it’s a good idea to enable Offline Access. Found under the Settings menu, this feature allows you to continue working on documents offline and syncs any changes made when you have an internet connection. Offline access is also available in your SharePoint Online document libraries.

Use Outlook plugins

Aside from sending and receiving emails, Outlook also has some awesome third-party plugins. Some of our favorite integrations include PayPal, which allows you to send money securely via email; and Uber, which lets you set up an Uber ride reminder for any calendar event. Find more productivity-boosting plugins in theOffice Store.

Tell Office applications what to do

If you’re not a fan of sifting through menus and options, you can always take advantage of the Tell Me function in your Office apps. When you press Alt + Q, you bring up a search bar that allows you to look for the functions you need. Suppose you need to put a wall of text into columns on Word but can’t find where it is specifically, just type “column” in the search bar and Microsoft will help you with the rest.

These tricks and features will definitely increase productivity. And fortunately, there’s more coming. Microsoft is continuously  expanding Office 365’s capabilities, and if you truly want to make the most out of the software, don’t be afraid to explore its newly released features.

For more Office 365 tips and updates, get in touch with Lanlogic today.

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Irate customers? VoIP features can calm them

By EDITOR 

When customers call your help desk, one of the the first things they hear is your automated on-hold message. This message can either uplift or worsen their moods, so you should choose wisely. Follow these simple steps to ensure you don’t frustrate your customers more than they already were.

Hire professionals to record your on-hold message

On-hold messages are your customers’ first point of contact with your business when they need help, so your messages should be professionally recorded. You may be tempted to have an in-house production because it will initially cost less than hiring a professional voice talent and renting a studio, but in the long run, professionally recorded messages in your company’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems will be more beneficial.

Voice talents have the skills and equipment to give your phone system that professional, friendly, and pleasant feel. If you want to sound sincere about helping your customers with their issues, invest in professionally recorded on-hold messages.

Use calming on-hold music to keep callers engaged

Another strategy to keep customers from hanging up while they’re on hold is putting on music while they’re waiting. The trick for keeping callers calm is picking the right music. You might think that your choice of music is a minute detail, but it can make or break whether customers decide to leave or stay. You need to find a balance between engaging and relaxing, which is much easier when you have the power to pick or change tunes in just a few minutes. Cloud-based phone systems allow you to do exactly this by letting you test out different tunes.

Provide clear and useful information

Not everyone who calls your customer service hotline has a problem. Sometimes, people just need a piece of information. Use your IVRs to help callers find non-critical, frequently asked information such as business operating hours, special offers, and minor account updates. You can also deploy a more complicated system that redirects customers to specific concerns, like account management and payment instructions. This frees customer service representatives to take care of issues that need actual human interactions, like walkthroughs and policy misunderstandings.

Connect the call to a real person

According to a study, 83% of customers prefer human interaction over automated channels when solving customer service issues. Your automated recordings may lessen customers’ agitation or frustration, but nothing beats talking to a real person. Always provide an immediate option to talk to a customer service representative in your IVR. Most companies dedicate a particular number during calls to be connected to a real person who can help them with their concerns.This shows that you are serious in addressing your customers’ problems.

There are so many ways a VoIP system can help your business reach new heights. Our team of trained technicians can install affordable, cutting-edge phone solutions that are easy to use. Give Lanlogic a call today to learn more.

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Why you need Hardware-as-a-Service

By EDITOR 

The new flashy set of PCs your company just bought last year are becoming outdated, and you don’t have enough IT staff to maintain them. If this is your current situation, it might be time to consider Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS), a pay-as-you-go model where you pay your managed services provider (MSP) a monthly fee to take care of all your hardware needs. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider HaaS.

Big savings
For SMBs, cash flow is a crucial matter. HaaS is essentially like leasing hardware equipment so you don’t have to pay for all of it upfront. What’s more, you pay a fixed monthly cost for all the maintenance and upkeep you need. This allows you to turn a big capital investment into a small, manageable operational expense that leaves you money for more important projects.

Advanced tech
It’s not easy for small businesses to catch up with the latest technology since they have limited funds. By using HaaS, your MSP gives you cutting-edge hardware and ensures they get the most recent upgrades so you can run resource-intensive applications and work efficiently.

Expert maintenance
Hardware must be managed and maintained, but small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) often lack the proper expertise, labor, and time to do so. Fortunately, HaaS providers have a team of hardware specialists on staff, ready to fix and proactively manage your equipment for you around the clock.

Flexible service
As time progresses, your organization grows and changes, which means your IT needs will also evolve. HaaS makes it easy for you to add or decommission hardware when your operation grows or scales down.

Robust security
Software isn’t the only thing that needs to be up to date to defend against the latest cyberattacks — your hardware does, too. HaaS providers update hardware that may be susceptible to cyberthreats. For instance, they may upgrade outdated WiFi routers to make sure hackers can’t infiltrate your network and steal information.

Thinking about switching to Haas but not sure where to start? Why not contact us today? We provide a variety of HaaS solutions tailored to suit any business’s needs. Tell Lanlogic your IT requirements and let’s see what we can do.

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5 virtualization options for every SMB

By EDITOR 

Understanding office virtualization is difficult enough; picking from the long list of software providers that help you achieve it can feel impossible. Since virtualization is a relatively new practice for small- and medium-sized businesses, there is no standardized way of virtualizing your company. So why not start with this simple list of the five most popular virtualization options and what their strengths are?

VMware

Any conversation about virtualization for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) usually starts around VMware. VMware is the company that really put office virtualization on everyone’s action item list. The company offers a number of different solutions for different-sized businesses with a wide variety of needs. Its ease of use and robust security features have secured its reputation as one of the best options for virtualization for SMBs.

Citrix

The average user may not recognize the company name but probably knows their popular remote access tools, GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting. Citrix has specifically geared their virtualization software XenApp, XenDesktop, and VDI-in-a-box toward SMBs and even claims that non-IT staff can easily manage and administer the services. They even provide a free trial to prove it.

Microsoft

Although it may be a little more difficult to manage without an in-house or outsourced IT staff, Microsoft’s Hyper-V option is hard to ignore, considering its integration with the popular cloud platform Azure. Whether you’re a Microsoft loyalist or you just want to minimize the number of vendors in your network, Hyper-V offers everything you need from a virtualization service.

Oracle

Specializing in marketing software, Oracle also offers database management, cloud storage, and customer relationship management software. If you’re using any of their services already, there could be benefits to enlisting their virtualization services as well. Oracle does everything — server, desktop, and app virtualization — and they believe that consolidating all of these into one solution is what sets them apart.

Amazon

Since we’re on the topic of household names, let’s talk about Amazon’s EC2 platform, which hosts scalable virtual private servers. The ability to scale and configure capacity is definitely EC2’s biggest draw for SMBs preparing for the possibility of rapid growth. Although almost any virtualization service is rooted in scalability, Amazon is leading the pack in how quickly and finely you can adjust your solution to your individual needs.

Virtualization is a really hard topic for most SMBs to tackle. This list only covers the most popular vendors, and there are plenty more out there. Choosing one based on its application possibilities and management requirements is not a subject for the lighthearted. Get in touch with Lanlogic today so we can break down all of the technobabble into easy-to-understand advice.

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Don’t let hackers fool you with these tricks

By EDITOR 

The volume of malicious cyber attacks is increasing every year. Although many companies use the latest network security systems, they aren’t immune to the hackers’ favorite strategy — social engineering. Unlike malware, social engineering tricks people into volunteering sensitive data. Here’s what you should know to protect your business.

Phishing

This is the most frequently used social engineering attack, especially against small businesses. Check out these frightening statistics:

How is phishing carried out? Criminals make use of emails, phone calls, or text messages to steal money. Victims are directed to phony websites or hotlines and are tricked into giving away sensitive information like names, addresses, login information, social security, and credit card numbers.

To protect yourself, be wary of emails from people you don’t know that offer you a prize, come with attachments you didn’t request, direct you to suspicious sites, or urge you to act quickly. Phishing emails usually appear to come from reliable sources, but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

One of the most infamous and widespread examples of phishing was during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where victims received fraudulent emails for fake ticketing services that stole their personal and financial information.

Tailgating

What’s the fastest and easiest way for criminals to enter a secure office? Through the front door, of course! Tailgating happens when an employee holds the door open for strangers and unauthorized visitors, allowing them to infiltrate an organization. This simple act of kindness enables fraudsters to enter restricted areas, access computers when no one is looking, or leave behind devices for snooping.

Quid pro quo

Here, scam artists offer a free service or a prize in exchange for information. They may lure their victims with a gift, concert tickets, a T-shirt, or early access to a popular game in exchange for login credentials, account details, passwords, and other important information. Or hackers may volunteer to fix their victims’ IT problems to get what they want. In most cases, the gift is a cheap trinket or the tickets are fake, but damages from stolen information are all too real.

Pretexting

Fraudsters pretend to be someone else to steal information. They may pose as a telemarketer, tech support representative, co-worker, or police officer to fish out credit card information, bank account details, usernames, and passwords. The con artist may even convince the unsuspecting victim to apply for a loan over the phone to get more details from the victim. By gaining the person’s trust, the scammer can fool anyone into divulging company secrets.

In spite of the many security measures available today, fraudsters and their social engineering schemes continue to haunt and harm many businesses. Thus, it’s best to prepare for the worst. To protect sensitive information, educate yourself and be careful. Remember: If anything is too good to be true, it probably is!

To shield your business from social engineering attacks, don’t take chances! Get in touch with our Lanlogic experts today.

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