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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Gmail’s proactive anti-phishing enhancements

By EDITOR 

To this day, cybercriminals still have an old reliable weapon in their arsenal — email. With it, criminals can fool recipients into revealing personal information or clicking on a malware-ridden attachment. This kind of scam is called phishing, and it continues to persist because many people still fall for it. To protect email users from phishing attacks, Google has enhanced Gmail’s anti-phishing features.

Machine learning
Google uses machine learning technology to further enhance their email security. Phishing scams usually follow a predictable pattern, so Google experts developed an algorithm that analyzes such patterns and updates Gmail’s security database in real time. When the same phishing attempt is made, Gmail flags and quarantines potentially dangerous messages.

According to Google, around 50% of emails sent to Gmail accounts are spam and phishing emails, but with the new detection algorithm, Gmail has achieved 99% accuracy in detecting them.

Click-time warnings
Google has also added precautions for suspicious links. When Gmail detects an incoming email from untrusted senders containing either encrypted attachments or attachments with scripts, Gmail automatically flashes a warning message.

Gmail also identifies and scans links to external images, and prompts a warning if the links come from untrusted domains. Although Gmail does not completely block access to the link (in case of false positives), it advises you to be extremely careful if you do decide to proceed. Or you can choose to quarantine the message or send it to your spam folder.

External reply warnings
Another enhancement focuses on securing reply messages to prevent employees from falling prey to email spoofing. Spoofing is when a cybercriminal impersonates someone’s email address.

Gmail warns users when they are about to send a reply to an address that is not in their contact list or company domain, from an unauthenticated domain, or one that’s similar to an authenticated domain. This improvement prevents users from being fooled into giving away sensitive information to third parties.

Every Gmail user can take advantage of these new security controls today, but keep in mind that these can’t replace security awareness. Even Google has emphasized that these Gmail features are complements to existing security systems and best practices. Being able to identify what is or isn’t a scam goes a long way in protecting your business. To find out more about the latest from Google, get in touch with our Lanlogic experts or watch out for more Google-related posts.

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3 Easy ways to protect your business data

By EDITOR 

Most business owners are too busy running their respective offices to be concerned about optimized security settings and other technical matters. To spare them the agony of deciphering IT jargon, here are three easy ways to prevent data theft.

Cover your webcam

If Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, former FBI Director James Comey, and National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden all believe their webcams could be compromised, there’s no reason you should feel safe. They’re not overreacting because of some ruthless paparazzi that’s hounding them. It’s a fact that cybercriminals can use your webcam to spy on you.

Though it might sound like a scene from an action movie or crime thriller, this has actually happened on several occasions. Hackers do this either to satisfy their voyeuristic tendencies or, more commonly, to steal personal information. This is a very real threat with disturbing repercussions.

With your webcam, cybercriminals can examine your surroundings, determine your location, as well as spy on the people you’re with. They can use this information to hold you ransom and threaten to broadcast your most intimate and vulnerable moments if you don’t pay up.

Fortunately, guarding yourself against this danger is easy. Covering your webcam should do the trick. You can use regular tape or you can purchase a cheap webcam cover online.

Use a privacy shield

Think of privacy guards as those iPhone screen protectors but with an anti-snooping feature. These are thin covers you put on your computer, laptop, or smartphone screen to limit viewing angles. Once installed, anyone trying to look at your screen from anywhere — except straight-on — sees nothing.

Privacy filters are commonly used to protect work devices that display or contain critical files with sensitive data or confidential information. However, less sensitive, personal devices are still vulnerable to “shoulder surfing” — the act of peeking at someone else’s screen, with or without ill intent. This is the reason we recommend using these protectors on all devices.

Get a physical authentication key

Requiring more than one set of credentials to access sensitive resources has become the standard practice for established online services. With two-factor authentication in place, you can gain access to your account only after you’ve entered an authentication code. This is something that the website sends to your smartphone once you’ve entered your account credentials.

Until recently, two-factor authentication relied mostly on text messages sent to mobile phones. But professionals now realize that phones can be hijacked to redirect text messages. Moreover, authentication codes can be stolen, or users can be tricked into entering these codes via a convincing phishing website.

If you’re looking for authentication services that can’t be hijacked, stolen, or lost, your best bet is a USB or Bluetooth key that you can carry always. This means nobody — not even you — will be able to access your account without the physical key. Talk about ultimate security at your fingertips.

If you need help setting up two-factor authentication or IT security services, contact our Lanlogic experts and have peace of mind.

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How hosted Exchange helps businesses

By EDITOR 

Servers can host nearly every type of software solution, including email and office support, of which Microsoft Exchange is widely considered to be the best. If you’re looking into a new email server solution, you’ve likely come across hosted Exchange. But what is it and how can it help?

What is Microsoft Exchange?

Microsoft Exchange is a messaging system that offers businesses a number of services, including email, calendar, task management, address lists, and more. By integrating Exchange into your business, you can access all of these servers from any location, on almost every device.

Many companies that purchase Exchange install it on servers that are usually on premises. This setup can be a bit expensive, especially for small businesses. Moreover, the server needed to host it can take up space that a business may not have. This is why many companies prefer to operate on cloud-based systems.

What is hosted Exchange?

To meet the demands of businesses of all sizes, many IT companies like Microsoft started to offer hosted Exchange. In this setup, your IT provider makes space available on one of their servers. They then install Microsoft Exchange in a space accessible only to your company, over an internet connection. They are in charge of ensuring the data stored within is secure and accessible to you at all times. Many hosted Exchange providers will also offer extra features like improved security, full-time management, and data backup.

In other words, hosted Exchange is the cloud-based version of Microsoft Exchange managed by the host company. You and your employees will still be able to access it as if it were hosted in your office.

Benefits of hosted Exchange

Companies looking to integrate hosted Exchange into their business can enjoy the following benefits:

1. Predictable and lower costs

Like many other hosted services, the majority of hosted Exchange services are offered on a monthly, per-user basis, inclusive of maintenance and hosting. This makes costs predictable as you’ll be paying a fixed fee.

Hosted Exchange also lowers overall costs. If a business were to calculate the cost of purchasing a new server, Microsoft Exchange, and the infrastructure required to use it, plus maintenance fees, the total and per-user cost will likely add up quickly. For many small businesses, paying a monthly fee will be far less expensive than hosting a Microsoft Exchange solution in-house. What’s more, you save money on maintenance overhead and future expenses.

2. Easier implementation

Implementing Microsoft Exchange in your office would require you to find space for the server, install the server and Microsoft Exchange. Once installed, you’ll have to manage Exchange and add new accounts and users. In case the service goes offline, you’ll have to fix it yourself. With a hosted Exchange solution, your IT partner will take care of hosting, management, and installation, so you can focus on running your business.

3. Flexible solutions

Growing businesses may find it tough to scale up or down on an in-house Microsoft Exchange solution because it’s limited by the capacity of the server. With hosted Exchange, you can just contact your provider, who can ensure that space and resources are available. The hosted Exchange provider can also help scale your solutions in case you move offices.

Looking to learn more about hosted Exchange and how your business can benefit from it? Chat with one of our Lanlogic experts today!

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Selecting the right VoIP system for your business

By EDITOR 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are taking over communications in the digital age, making your office landline a thing of the past. More companies are starting to deploy VoIP because it is popular and cost-effective. What factors do you have to consider before getting your own VoIP system? Here are some tips you can use.

Flexibility or ease-of-use?

Choosing between a hosted or managed VoIP setup depends on the type of service your company is willing to pay for. Would you prefer flexibility or accessibility?

Managed VoIP means that your company is in charge of managing and maintaining the on-site system. While initial costs are generally greater due to hardware and maintenance fees, when it comes to managing your own telecommunications network, a managed VoIP system provides your business with more versatility and control.

On the other hand, with hosted VoIP systems, you leave the cost of new hardware and the maintenance of the telecommunications network entirely to a third party. This also frees your company from the burden of having to monitor and update your own telecommunications technologies. For many small businesses, a hosted VoIP option is the more attractive choice, as you only pay for the services you use from your hosted service provider, and these initial fees tend to be lower than the alternative.

Do you want to be more technically involved?

Deciding between a managed and a hosted VoIP system depends on how much you are willing to be involved in the management and maintenance of your VoIP setup. Generally, many companies with limited IT knowledge tend to take the hosted VoIP option while those who have more resources to customize their own telecommunications networks are more willing to go with a managed on-site VoIP setup.

Have you considered mobile VoIP systems?

With VoIP systems, telephony is no longer bound to a specific phone network. Modern employees now have a multitude of communication tools to choose from, all while accessing them anytime and anywhere. Choosing VoIP systems that offer mobile integration can allow your workers to join video conference calls and answer direct calls even when they are not in the office.

Does your business intend to expand?

When choosing the right VoIP system, you have to make sure that the service provider can complement your company’s plans for growth. With so many mobile devices being developed, selecting a VoIP service that is compatible with the latest technologies can keep you ahead of the game.

Cloud-based solutions can help ease your expansion plans because these services will constantly update your telecommunications network for you. This means you never have to worry about your technology falling behind in functionality.

Check your internet connection

Regardless of which VoIP provider you choose, it is important to note that a strong and stable internet connection is necessary to support your communications network. Before purchasing from a specific VoIP provider, you should find out if your company requires a dedicated broadband or leased lines. While leased lines offer improved voice quality, opting for dedicated broadband services offer higher internet speeds.

How much does it cost?

How much you are willing to pay for a VoIP system? First, check how much the hardware and installation of the service costs. Then look at how much a provider charges for managing, updating, and maintaining your telecommunications system.

Finally, make sure that a VoIP provider’s services meet your company’s communication needs. If the VoIP provider is offering a bundle of services that your company might not even require, then it might be in your best interest to choose a different provider.

While picking and deploying a VoIP system can seem like daunting tasks, there’s no denying that any good business needs VoIP to function. If you are planning to install a new VoIP system, consider some or all of these factors to ensure you’ve made the right decision. And of course, if you’re looking for a provider, our Lanlogic experts are happy to help you in any way possible.

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Considerations for server replacement

Old vintage computer in the laboratory

By EDITOR 

If you’re thinking about replacing a server for your small business, then that probably means your company is experiencing success and is starting to grow. That’s great news. But is it really time to invest in a new one? Or does waiting too long risk slowing your business down? Either way, it’s important to consider your decision carefully. As a business owner, you should take the time to answer the following questions before deciding on your aging server.

When do my servers need to be replaced?

This is a difficult question, but there are two factors you will want to consider — age and performance. The useful life of a server is around three years. While it’s not unheard of for servers to function properly beyond year three, relying on them beyond this point can be risky as hardware problems occur more often. This means you will have to deal with costly repairs and possible unpredictable downtime.

Performance is another factor to consider. Even if your servers are only a year old, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around until year three if they are slow and too costly to maintain. It’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis in these situations and look at how much money you will lose in repairs and downtime and then compare it to the cost of buying new hardware.

Do I have an alternative to buying new servers?

Believe it or not, the answer to your server problems might not necessarily be purchasing more physical hardware. One way to avoid this is by embracing virtualization. This process allows your servers to be stored and maintained off-site with everything being delivered to your office via the internet.

There are two notable benefits of virtualizing your servers. First, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on new equipment. Second, virtualization is a scalable technology, meaning you only pay for the data capacity you use. For instance, if you only need two and a half servers, you can do that. This is in contrast to having physical equipment which would require your business to either make do with two servers or splurge and buy the third one even if you didn’t need all of that space.

Of course there are a few things you need to consider before making the switch to server virtualization. One of the biggest issues is security. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable keeping all of your data off-site. While this isn’t a concern for some companies, others may not see this as palatable. There are several workarounds to this issue, including the hybrid option where you keep sensitive data on-site and everything else off-site.

Can I do anything to prevent a full-scale server replacement?

Yes. It’s certainly possible for you to buy some time and give your current servers additional life, but these are short-term fixes, not long-term solutions. Server upgrades are a good place to start if your servers are less than three years old but are degrading in performance. Installingadditional CPUs or memory may increase server performance at a fraction of the cost of buying new servers.

You can also utilize old servers for non-critical workloads. It’s possible to extend the life of servers that may have four or five years of wear-and-tear on them via repurposing. Instead of swapping out all of your servers, use the old ones for non-critical processes and purchase new ones to handle critical workloads. This will help you get a better ROI on your technology while avoiding a wholesale hardware purchase which could cripple your budget.

If you have any questions about your servers and how you can increase their performance, get in touch with Lanlogic today. We can help you procure new hardware or show you the benefits of virtualization.

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WWDC 2019’s biggest reveals

By EDITOR 

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s keynote for 2019 proved to be a blockbuster. This year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) featured an even more powerful flagship desktop suite, Apple OS improvements, and several other developments that further prove that the company always listens to its toughest critics.

Privacy commitment

In Mr. Cook’s keynote speech, he hammered home Apple’s commitment to ensuring user privacy. According to him, Apple will be utilizing new privacy tools that will allow users to sign into third-party apps with their AppleID without giving away excessive user information the way conventional sign-in methods do.

iOS 13 launch

Another exciting update is the launch of iOS 13, Apple’s next-generation version of its famed mobile operating system. iOS 13 is projected to be the first iOS version to deploy dark mode, a new and improved sleep mode, app optimizations, Files app improvements, an updated CarPlay interface, a less obtrusive volume HUD, and a new WiFi-less tracking feature that connects using proximity with other devices.

iPadOS

Apple also confirmed that Apple’s tablets won’t be getting the new iOS 13 update. Instead, they’re getting their very own operating system, iPadOS. The first big change over iOS that you’ll notice is the home screen. App icons are more compact, giving you the option to display the Today View next to them. Multitasking is also much easier by enabling you to use split view and pull up and app in a side window. What’s more, iPadOS will come with USB drive and SD card support and a serious performance boost, suggesting that Apple is on its way to replacing bulky laptops.

Mac OS 10.15 launch

The launch of macOS Catalina (the official name for the upcoming macOS 10.15), Mojave’s successor, is also one of the major announcements in the conference. The new macOS will be a launching pad for a fully-unified app network, where developers can design a single app that works with either a touch screen or a mouse and trackpad.

Apple will also be launching new Music, Podcasts, and Books apps as part of its continued Marzipan efforts, it’s soon-to-be-launched cross-apps merger. Also, the new MacOS will no longer support 32-bit apps.

New Mac Pro launch

The dramatically retooled flagship desktop computer Mac Pro was also launched whose entry-level model now features an octa-core Xeon processor, 32GB of RAM, a Radeon Pro 580X GPU, and a 256GB SSD. Higher-end configurations will feature a Radeon Pro Vega II GPU, Apple Afterburner, up to 1.5TB RAM, and a specialized graphics card which has the processing power for more than 6 billion pixels per second.

More changes will likely be announced throughout the year, so if you’re an avid Apple user, it’s important you stay on top of the latest news and updates. Contact Lanlogic today if you want to get the latest Apple updates and tips.

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