Expand your VoIP mobile capabilities

By EDITOR 

Remote work policies require companies to expand their communication capabilities. Many businesses aim to increase productivity and improve customer service by turning to a VoIP solution. There are several factors which will make your VoIP more mobile, while ensuring both your customers and employees remain satisfied and can communicate hassle-free.

To cater to your out-of-office workers, there are a variety of ways you can expand the mobility of your VoIP services.

1. Look into Unified Communications (UC)

If your employees are able to bring their own personal devices to work, your IT administrators will insist that all of them comply with your company’s policies. You will need to establish good security and compliance measures in order to meet the needs of both your customers and employees.

A solid solution is to look into UC, which integrates real-time communication services such as instant messaging, telephony, data sharing, and video conferencing. UC bridges the gap between VoIP and other computer-related communication technologies. It makes communication more convenient and manageable by providing a single number to reach as well as a status indicator that conveys whether employees are available or if they don’t want to be disturbed.

2. Employ easy to use apps

Most top-rated business apps began as user-focused tools to help people find data more independently. Some of these apps have transformed into more customized tools focusing on specific business needs. The problem with this is that satisfying these needs often sacrifices overall usability. If your employees are struggling to use the mobile version of your VoIP solution, then they likely will dump it.

This can lead to employees using unauthorized apps, which also increases security risks. To avoid this, try implementing an app or tool that is easy to use, easy to navigate, and easy to manage. Ask VoIP providers for a free demo to evaluate the intuitiveness of the software yourself.

3. Work with an experienced solution manager

It can be tough to manage your VoIP solutions as you’re expanding them. That’s why it’s best to work with an IT partner like us; we have the expertise and experience to pull it off. When you outsource the management of your solution to us, we can get your apps and solution up and running, then administer them for you.

4. Cloud support

Having on-premise equipment and support for your VoIP solution is a good idea. However, your existing IT team may not be ready for the challenges of providing a cloud-based mobile app or voice support. We recommend you go for a hosted VoIP solution, which delivers the same cost-effective, network-based service, but the equipment is based at a provider’s site rather than in your data center. This eliminates the cost of on-premise gear, maintenance costs, and overall management, while increasing the overall effectiveness of your mobile solution.

If you need to expand your VoIP mobile capabilities to enhance your efficiency and productivity, or if you’re interested to learn more about VoIP solutions, don’t hesitate to contact Lanlogic today, 925-273-2333.

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5 Most common security breaches

By EDITOR 

These days, the security of various IT systems is constantly being called into question. From attacks on mobile devices to ever-increasing types of malware, many businesses are struggling to stay on top of their security. One of the best ways to stay protected is to be aware of common cybersecurity issues. To that end, here are five common ways your security can be breached.

#1. You are tricked into installing malicious software

One of the most common ways a system’s security is breached is through downloaded malware. In almost every case where malware is installed, the user was tricked into downloading it.

A common trick used by hackers is planting malware in software hosted on warez and torrent websites. When users visit the site, they are informed that they need to download the software in order for the site to load properly. Once downloaded, the malware infects the system. In other cases, hackers send emails with a malware-infected attachment.

There is a nearly limitless number of ways you can be tricked into downloading and installing malware. Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid this:

  • Never download files from an untrusted location. If you are looking at a website that is asking you to download something, make sure it’s from a company you know and trust. If you are unsure, it’s best to avoid downloading and installing the software.
  • Always look at the name of the file before downloading. A lot of malware is often disguised with names that are similar to legitimate files, with only a slight spelling mistake or some weird wording. If you are unsure about the file, then don’t download it. Instead, contact us so we can verify its authenticity.
  • Stay away from torrents, sites with adult content, and video streaming sites. These sites often contain malware, so avoid them altogether.
  • Always scan a file before installing it. Use your antivirus scanner to check downloaded apps before opening them. Most scanners are equipped to do this by right-clicking the file and selecting Scan.

#2. Hackers are able to modify the operating system (OS) settings

Many users are logged into their computers as admins. Being an administrator allows you to change all settings, install programs, and manage other accounts.

If a hacker manages to access your computer with you as the admin, they will have full access to your computer. This means they could install other malicious software, change settings, or even completely hijack the machine. The biggest worry about this, however, is if a hacker gets access to a computer used to manage the overall network. Should this happen, they could gain control of the entire network and do as they please.

To avoid this, limit the administrator role only to users who need to install applications or change settings on the computer. Beyond this, installing security software like antivirus scanners and keeping them up to date, as well as conducting regular scans, will help reduce the chances of being infected, or seeing infections spread.

#3. Someone physically accesses your computer

These days, it seems like almost every security threat is trying to infect your IT infrastructure from the outside. However, there are many times when malware is introduced into systems, or data is stolen, because someone has physically accessed your systems.

Let’s say you leave your computer unlocked when you go for lunch and someone walks up to it, plugs in a malware-infected USB drive, and physically infects your system. They could also access your system and manually reset the password, thereby locking you out and giving them access.

Secure yourself by setting up a password to control access to your computer. You should also lock, turn off, or log off from your computer whenever you step away from it.

Beyond that, disable drives like CD/DVD and connections like USB if you don’t use them. This will limit the chances of anyone using these removable media to infect your computer.

#4. Someone from within the company infects the system

We’ve seen a number of infections and security breaches that were carried out by a disgruntled employee. They could delete essential data, or remove it from the system completely. Some have even gone so far as to introduce highly destructive malware. The most effective way to prevent this, aside from ensuring your employees are happy, is to limit access to systems.

Your employees don’t need access to everything, so reexamine what your employees have access to and make the necessary adjustments. For example, you may find that people in marketing have access to finance files or even admin panels. Revoke unnecessary access rights and ensure that employees only have access to the files they need.

#5. Your password is compromised

Your password is the main way you can verify and access your accounts and systems. The issue is, many people have weak passwords. And with the steady increase in the number of stolen user account data, it could only be a matter of time before they can crack your password and compromise your account.

To add insult to injury, many people use the same password for multiple accounts, which could lead to a massive breach. Therefore, you should use strong and different passwords for your accounts.

To further enhance your password security, utilize multifactor authentication (MFA), which uses more than one method of verifying a user’s identity, such as a fingerprint or a one-time code.

If you are looking to learn more about securing your systems, contact Lanlogic today to learn how our services can help, 925-273-2333.

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A brief guide to keeping computers clean

By EDITOR 

A clean work PC not only encourages employees to work harder, but it also prevents glitches and downtime linked to poorly maintained hardware. Clean PCs contribute to immaculate workspaces, which can positively affect employee morale and company reputation. Here’s how to clean your computers.

Cleaning desktop monitors

Employees spend many hours looking at their computer monitors, and a clean monitor makes it easier for them to do their tasks. The best way to clean your monitor is to turn it off first and gently wipe the screen with a microfiber cloth.

If there are still spots, try dipping the cloth in a tiny bit of water — make sure you don’t spray water onto the screen. Don’t press too hard on the screen, as this could damage your monitor’s pixels. Also, it is not a good idea to use paper products like paper towels or tissues, as they will not only leave a residue, but may also slightly scratch the monitor.

Cleaning mobile screens

Mobile and other touch screen devices will usually get your fingerprints all over them. The best way to clean these screens is also with a microfiber cloth. For tougher spots, dip the cloth in a small amount of water and then gently wipe the screen. Don’t splash water onto the device itself, as water could get inside, ruin internal components, and void the warranty.

Some people suggest rubbing alcohol to remove fingerprints and disinfect the device. While this will be okay for some screens, many manufacturers recommend against it because the alcohol can eat away at the protective film on some devices.

If you notice that there is a lot of dust or gunk on the edges of your screen, or even in cracks, you may need to take the device to a mobile shop for more thorough cleaning. Do not open the device yourself, as this could void the warranty.

Cleaning your keyboard

Because we use keyboards almost every day, they may get a bit grungy, with debris and dirt accumulating between the keys. Before you start cleaning, be sure to unplug the keyboard, or turn it off if it is wireless. To clean the upper parts of the keys — where your fingers strike the keys — try dipping cotton swabs into rubbing alcohol and then cleaning the keys with a gentle rub.

To clean between keys, you will need compressed air, which can be purchased at most office supply and computer stores. Spraying in between keys should be enough to get rid of most of the dust and grit.

Cleaning your mouse

Like the keyboard, the mouse can get quite dirty with grime from your fingers and dust. To clean a mouse, unplug it first then use cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol to gently clean it. There’s no need to open your mouse, as most models are designed to not be opened by users.

Cleaning your laptop’s body

To clean your laptop’s body, turn it off, unplug it, and clean it with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol, or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or a similar cleaning agent. Be careful not to scratch the sensitive components of the body.

Cleaning your computer tower

You may also clean the desktop computer’s tower by taking a slightly damp microfiber cloth and wiping down the front and sides of the tower. However, we strongly recommend avoiding the back and certain areas of the front, as there are ports and components that could be easily damaged.

As always, be sure to disconnect the power source and all wires before cleaning, as any water damage could ruin your computer.

Cleaning the inside of your computer

Dust will eventually get inside your computer and clog up cooling fans, causing them to stop working properly. This can potentially lead to other components overheating. The internal components of your computer are extremely fragile and need to be handled with great care. Do not take the case off of your computer, as this usually voids your warranty.

For all of your computer needs, our Lanlogic technicians are here to help, 925-273-2333.

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5 Things to avoid when investing in IT

By EDITOR 

Running a business can be time-consuming, especially if you’re managing staff, looking for growth opportunities, and looking after clients. This leaves you little time to search for an IT system that can benefit your business. Because of this, you may be forced to make an impulsive technology purchase that does more harm than good. To avoid this, here are five IT investment mistakes you should be aware of.

Spending without finding the perfect fit

Advertisers like to make you believe that the newest technology will solve all your problems. While the latest cloud or virtualization offering is likely to make things better for many companies, they won’t work for everyone.

Don’t let the flash and hype of new products deceive you. Take time to think about the results you want to achieve with technology. Make a list of your goals and check if they can be fulfilled with your new IT investment. A good IT provider should guide, not confuse you. That provider should see to it that you make the best choice.

Believing everything will magically work together

As technology evolves, it becomes easier to use. User-friendly products help people work better and faster. However, not all products follow that route, and many business owners wrongly assume that the new technologies they invest in will work well with the other IT systems they already have. This mistaken belief can get them in trouble.

While many technologies are compatible with one another, those that don’t work together can result in massive and costly downtimes that can cripple your business. So, don’t push your luck. Be smart, do some research, or consult an IT professional before making a purchase.

Not training your team 

Now that you’ve found the perfect fit technology that will integrate with your current IT, go ahead and purchase it. After that, you think you can relax and let your sparkly new IT solution power your company to new levels of success and profits, right? Wrong!

Don’t forget that not all employees will be comfortable with your new investment. Nor will everyone know how to use it. That’s the time to consult an IT provider for support and training. If this is not possible, look elsewhere or think twice before buying anything.

Forgetting your budget

More and more IT solutions are packaged with pay-as-you-go monthly pricing. While this is a great way to help you avoid a large upfront capital investment, implementing too many different technologies quickly without thinking about recurring costs can eat up your money.

Think carefully before opening your wallet. Do a little research, draft a budget, or get help from a consultant. This will spare you a lot of frustrations.

Not getting feedback

It’s wise to consult employees who will be using the new technology on a daily basis. Do this even before you make a purchase.

Remember that not everyone may feel at home with the new product. They might even discover some downsides you aren’t aware of. Talk to people to get important feedback, or you may find it difficult to convince them to use it.

Need an IT professional to create a complete technology solution for your business? Lanlogic is happy to serve you, 925-273-2333.

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What you need to know about juice jacking

By EDITOR 

We’ve come to rely on our smartphones to help complete daily tasks, and this has resulted in the need to recharge our phones multiple times a day. But when you’re far from your charger, public charging kiosks can seem like a good substitute. However, this can lead to an incident of “juice jacking.” If this is news to you, find out what juice jacking is and how you can avoid it.

What’s juice jacking?

While newer phones have ditched the cable charger and moved on to wireless charging, older models still rely on power cords to transmit power to the mobile device. The problem with this setup is that the cable used for charging can also be used for transferring data. This setup is easily exploitable, and trust opportunists to do just that. When you use a public cable, they gain user access by leveraging the USB data/power cable to illegitimately access your phone’s data and/or inject malicious code into your device.

Attacks can be an invasion of privacy: your phone pairs with a computer concealed within the charging kiosk, and information such as private photos and contact information are transferred to a malicious computer. The computer can then access a host of personal information on the device, including your address book, notes, photos, music, SMS database, and keyboard cache. It can even initiate a full backup of your phone, all of which can be accessed wirelessly anytime.

But attacks can also be in the form of malicious code directly injected into your phone. A public USB hub can be used to transmit malware-ridden programs or tracking applications to the user’s mobile phone. All it takes is one minute of being plugged into a harmful charger.

How to avoid juice jacking

The most effective precaution is simply not charging your phone using a third-party system. Here are some tips to help you avoid using a public kiosk charger:

  • Keep your battery full. Make it a habit to charge your phone at your home and office when you are not actively using it or are just sitting at your desk working. When unexpected circumstances happen and you get stuck outside, your phone has juice.
  • Carry a personal charger. Chargers have become very small and portable, from USB cables to power banks. Always have one in your bag so you can charge your phone securely from a power outlet or on the go using a power bank.
  • If possible, carry a backup battery. If you’re not keen on bringing a spare charger or power bank, you can opt to carry a spare battery if your device has a removable battery, or a battery case (a phone case that doubles as a battery).
  • Lock your phone. Without the proper PIN code, fingerprint scan, or face ID, your phone cannot be paired with the device it’s connected to.
  • Use power-only USB cables. These cables are missing the two wires necessary for data transmission and have only the two wires for power transmission. They will charge your device, but data transfer is impossible.

Technology threats are all around us. Even the tiniest detail like charging your phone at a kiosk charger could affect the security of your device.

Looking to learn more about today’s security and threats? Contact Lanlogic today and see how we can help, 925-273-2333.

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Presenting Microsoft 365

By EDITOR 

Microsoft has sold Office 365 and Windows 10 to businesses in various ways. While some business owners don’t mind purchasing the two solutions separately, others prefer one bundle that offers both. That’s possible with Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 caters to the workplace by combining Office 365 and Windows 10 into one solution, which is available in two plans: Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise.

Microsoft 365 Business

Designed for small- to medium-sized companies, this bundle includes some of the best productivity tools, security, and device management capabilities that Microsoft has to offer.

Productivity apps:

  • Access, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, and Word
  • SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, OneDrive, and Exchange
  • Business tools from the Office suite (Microsoft Invoicing, MileIQ, Outlook Customer Manager, and Bookings)

Enterprise-grade security and device management capabilities:

  • Intune App Protection for Office and other mobile apps
  • Exchange Online Archiving to back up, preserve, and protect your data
  • Windows Defender Exploit Guard and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection to keep your system safe from sophisticated malware and external threats like phishing

Additional services:

  • Regular updates for Windows 10 and the Office 365 apps
  • Automatic installation of Office apps on all Windows 10 devices
  • An admin console for managing and setting up devices and users

Microsoft 365 Business is available in three pricing plans: Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 Business Premium, and Microsoft 365 Business.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is designed for larger companies.

Productivity cloud-based and local apps:

  • Office 365 ProPlus, including apps like Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, and Word for your Mac or PC
  • Online services for meetings, collaboration, file storage, email, and more
  • Windows 10 Enterprise, which includes app and device management features, providing users with the most secure version of the operating system yet

You can subscribe to Microsoft 365 Enterprise through three plans: E3, E5, and F1.

By choosing the right subscription model, you’ll be able to make the most out of Microsoft’s growing number of service offerings. If you’re looking to upgrade to Windows 10 and have any questions about the operating system, or are wondering which of the two plans to choose, give Lanlogic a call today, 925-273-2333.

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Virtualization myths and why you shouldn’t believe them

By EDITOR 

The intricacies of business technology are not the easiest to understand. Complicated explanations usually lead to misunderstandings, and this is especially true for virtualization. Here are four myths you may have heard about virtualization that you shouldn’t take as facts.

Myth #1 – Virtualization is too expensive for SMBs

Many people assume that the more advanced an IT solution is, the more expensive it is to install and maintain. That’s not the case at all for virtualization, which is a strategy to boost hardware efficiency and cut costs.

Sure, a virtual server requires more support than a traditional one, but the capacity boost means you won’t need to purchase a second server for a long time, resulting in a net reduction of hardware and IT support expenses. Furthermore, managed virtualization services usually follow a pay-as-you-go model that costs just a few bucks per hour.

Myth #2 – Virtualization adds workplace complexity

Most people feel comfortable with the traditional computing model, wherein one set of hardware equals one computer. Contrary to what many may think, adding a new model isn’t necessarily more complicated than a traditional setup. With virtualization, one “traditional” computer can run as two or more virtual computers.

The technical aspects of how that’s accomplished may be confusing, but virtualization actually reduces complexity because it allows business owners to expand their IT systems whenever necessary without having to worry about hardware limitations.

Myth #3 – Support is hard to come by or inconvenient

You may be more familiar with the cloud than with virtualization, but that doesn’t mean the latter is a niche technology. In fact, it was one of the most in-demand technologies in 2016. Virtualization also works well with remote support, which means technicians can install upgrades or resolve issues without having to travel to your office.

Myth #4 – Software licensing is more difficult

There’s a misconception that if your server is running three virtual Windows 10 computers, you’ll have to jump through extra licensing hoops. In reality, virtualization follows the same licensing rules as traditional computing: one desktop, one license. This means you won’t need to rethink your software budget.

It’s natural for new technologies to cause confusion, and virtualization does require a new way of thinking about IT hardware. But as long as you have certified technicians like ours on hand, everything will run smoothly.

Give Lanlogic a call today to find out how we can lower your hardware costs and simplify your IT support.

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Tips to address Office 365 security issues

By EDITOR 

Microsoft’s Office 365 is highly popular among businesses not just because of its robust features and cost-saving benefits but also because it’s widely perceived as secure. Unfortunately, using it comes with security challenges, but don’t fret — there are ways to solve them.

Vulnerabilities in SharePoint

Businesses typically use SharePoint Online and on-premises SharePoint sites to store sensitive data like personally identifiable data. Failing to secure SharePoint content against unauthorized users is one way to expose data and your business to malicious actors. And for companies that have to comply with regulatory authorities, there are serious consequences to data privacy non-compliance. To prevent this, limit administrator-level privileges and enable encryption. Set the necessary security restrictions per user for every application.

Unprotected communication channels

Launching phishing attacks and installing malware are two of the most common ways to hack into a system, but there are other paths of attack. Office 365 features like Skype for Business and Yammer, both of which connect to external networks, may serve as a medium for ransomware and other types of attacks.

Train your staff to identify potentially malicious files and URLs. Offer guidelines on how to handle and route sensitive files and communication to safe locations.

Security risks in dormant applications

Organizations using Office 365 won’t use all applications in it. You may use one or several programs like Word, Excel, and SharePoint but rarely use One Drive. Businesses and users that have not been utilizing specific programs should note that some dormant applications may be prone to attacks. This is why it’s crucial to identify the apps that aren’t being used, and have an administrator tweak user settings to restrict availability on such apps.

File synchronization

Like Google and other cloud services providers, Office 365 allows users to sync on-premises files to the cloud such as in One Drive. This useful feature is not without security risks, however. If a file stored in an on-premises One Drive is encrypted with malware, One Drive will view the file as “changed” and trigger a sync to the OneDrive cloud, with the infection going undetected.

Office 365 Cloud App Security, a subset of Microsoft Cloud App Security, is designed to enhance protections for Office 365 apps and provide great visibility into user activity to improve incident response efforts. Make sure your organization’s security administrators set it up on your systems so you can detect and mitigate dangers as soon as possible.

Cybercriminals will continue to sharpen their hacking techniques, and your organization must keep up to protect your systems, apps, and devices. Call our Lanlogic team of IT experts now if you want to strengthen your business IT security.

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What does the lifespan of a business phone system look like?

By EDITOR 

Although digital communication tools let businesses connect with customers and other stakeholders in an efficient manner, telephones are still used to communicate with important business stakeholders. And for many organizations, determining whether to use internet phones or legacy systems remains a concern. To help you decide, here’s a short guide on business phones and their life span.

Different phone systems

Telephones have come a long way from when they first came about in 1876; modern phone systems have virtually unlimited reach, are automated, and are cheaper than ever to acquire. Today’s businesses still use telephones to connect with various stakeholders such as customers, investors, and suppliers, to service their numerous needs, and in most cases, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones are the answer.

VoIP is a system of hardware and software that uses the internet instead of wired circuits to transmit data. VoIP does more than just transmit audio; it can also send a variety of data (video, multimedia, SMS, etc.) and perform other tasks as well.

A VoIP system’s hardware (phone units, cables, CPUs, etc.) and software (one or more applications that run the system) can be either on-premises or hosted:

On-premises – Hardware and software are physically housed within the premises of the company.
Hosted – Some of the hardware, like phone units and other equipment, can be found within the premises. But most, if not all, of the software are hosted online. Service providers look after hosted systems for their clients.

Life cycles: On-premises vs. hosted

With hardware, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hardware is affected by the wear and tear stemming from daily use. Barring any accidents or physical damage, VoIP hardware should last several years.

On the other hand, software requires regular updates. It’s worth noting that it’s faster and cheaper to update software that’s hosted in the cloud versus one that’s on-premises. That said, the differences in longevity between the two are negligible; both can last upwards of 10 years, depending on how dependable your IT support is.

Technology today vs. before

In the past, hardware and software were built to last. Today, they’re built to adapt and change, thanks to cloud technology.

The effect of this shift on hardware and software is dramatic:

Most hardware components are very similar, with replacements and upgrades coming every 5–8 years on average.
Cloud software is faster, easier, and cheaper to upgrade. Critical updates can be released almost constantly, with complete overhauls taking no longer than 2–3 years.

As your business moves forward, your phone system should be agile and fast, and should integrate smoothly with the other systems in your business, such as email or management software.

Be a step ahead

Downtime results in loss of potential sales and, essentially, wasted money. If your phone service is spotty and is constantly unreliable, perhaps it’s time to switch to VoIP phones.

Nowadays, it’s not longevity that’s important; it’s staying ahead of the curve. Call us at Lanlogic today so you can always be a step ahead.

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Biometrics authentication on smartphones

By EDITOR 

The World Wide Web Consortium recently launched the FIDO2 project, allowing users to log in to online accounts with fingerprints, facial scans, and voice recognition. This technology is now also available in popular mobile browsers like Chrome and Firefox Lite, which not only boosts security, but also makes account management much simpler.

Authenticate your profile on your mobile device

Chrome OS, Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Android are all adding features to help users safely log in using biometric identification via USB, Bluetooth, and NFC devices connected to smartphones and tablets. With such convenience, users can verify their accounts on the go.

Preventing cyberattacks with browser-based biometrics

Passwords are notoriously bad at protecting users’ accounts and the information they store. Facial scans, fingerprints, and voice recognition would make it exponentially harder for hackers to commit identity theft. That means you’re also less likely to be duped by an email from a hacker pretending to be your boss asking for the company credit card’s details.

Enjoy more secure online transactions

Biometric verification will also retire the need for logging in your information when shopping online, streaming video, using cloud applications, and other internet-based transactions. Windows 10 has already adopted features that offer limited account management with fingerprints and facial scans. Samsung phones now have Samsung Pay, which turns them into digital wallets that are protected by fingerprint or iris scans.

Browser-based biometrics is starting to revolutionize and streamline the steps in verifying online accounts. It promises to add more security and ease in logging in and transacting on the internet. To keep up with the latest and greatest in browser-related innovations at your company, give Lanlogic a call now.

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