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August 27th, 2014

office365_Aug26_CChances are high that you spend a good amount of time editing or compiling Microsoft Word documents. Regardless of what you are editing, there will come a time when you are working on a file and the words are replaced as you type new ones. This could cause some problems, especially if you are unsure how to turn this feature off.

Word's two editing styles

Every version of Word used in businesses these days has the same two editing styles or modes:
  1. Insert mode: This is the default editing mode where words are inserted where the blinking cursor is placed. All text that comes to the right of the cursor will be moved to the right with newly typed text coming before it.
  2. Overtype mode: This mode replaces text to the right of the blinking cursor. So when you type new text any existing text to the immediate right will be replaced with the new letters.
While the vast majority of users prefer to use insert mode, overtype mode can be useful when editing documents and replacing words, or rewording paragraphs and keeping track of what needs to be rewritten.

Turning overtype on and off

On some older versions of Word, and on some computers, overtype mode is already enabled, and simply hitting Insert on the numberpad of your keyboard will turn it on. You will know overtype is active by looking at the status bar at the bottom of your document. The words OVR should be visible in bold letters.

If you don't see a status bar, try clicking on File > Preferences > View. Once in the View window, scroll down to the Windows section and tick Status Bar. Finally, press Ok and the bar should pop up at the bottom of the window.

Managing overtype

If you find that overtype cannot be activated, or have received a document where it is already activated and can't figure out how to turn it off, you can manage overtype by:
  1. Right clicking on the status bar at the bottom of the document.
  2. Clicking on Overtype to add it to the status bar.
  3. Clicking on OVR in the status bar to turn it on or off.
You can also activate or deactivate overtype by:
  1. Clicking on File followed by Options.
  2. Selecting Advanced.
  3. Scrolling down to Editing options.
  4. Ticking or unticking Use overtype mode.
If you untick Use overtype mode you will disable the feature, meaning you won't be able to hit Insert to switch between the two editing modes.

Looking to learn more about using Word in your office? Contact us today as we specialize in this area and have great tips, advice and solutions for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 26th, 2014

googleapps_Aug25_ADid you know that when signing up for a new Gmail account, users could only use a specific set of characters and numbers? In early August, Google announced that they would be expanding the characters supported by Gmail. While this may not be the biggest deal to many, there is a potential security issue related to this that users should be aware of.

Google's recent character announcement

Until early August, any user who emails from a Gmail account had to use latin characters and numbers e.g., A-Z, and 1-9. While this fits for some users, there are a great number who have names and email addresses that use characters not in the standard English alphabet like 'É' or 'à'. In an effort to make things easier for a greater number of Google users, the company recently expanded support for different characters.

This means that Gmail will now understand addresses that use different scripts from the standard basic Latin alphabet (letters A to Z and numbers 0 to 9). According to Google, "This means Gmail users can send emails to, and receive emails from, people who have these characters in their email addresses."

Some of the scripts now supported include Katakana, Hong Kong (traditional Chinese), accented Latin characters, etc. While users with email addresses can send Gmail users emails, and vice versa, they are currently not supported by Google's account names. In other words, users who want to sign up for a Gmail account still need to use the basic Latin alphabet.

Why is this a potential security risk?

At first glance, this may not seem like the biggest security risk. Especially because many businesses have email addresses that use the basic Latin alphabet. But there is a security threat here, especially when you start to look at the characters used in other languages. Take for example the greek letter for lowercase omicron (ο) which looks a lot like our o.

When we write these letters on paper, they look the same to us, and there is no real harm. But when they are online, computers will read them as different. This is because of what is called Unicode. Unicode is a universal standard that dictates the difference between characters.

To us, the lowercase omicron and our letter 'o' look the same. But to computers, lowercase omicron is represented by the unicode: U+03BF, while the letter 'o' is represented by the unicode: U+006F.

Smart hackers will likely quickly figure out that they can replace basic Latin characters with others, and generate email addresses that take advantage of this. For example, you could see an email come into your Inbox from facebook.com, where one of the characters is actually an omicron. To us, there is no visual difference, but to the computer, the addresses are completely different. The email could have links to malware or tracking software that could lead to a breach in security.

Is anything being done to stop these characters from being exploited?

According to a post on the Google blog, the tech giant realizes this could be a potential security issue. "The Unicode community has identified suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading, and Gmail will now begin rejecting emails with such combinations. We're using an open standard—the Unicode Consortium's “Highly Restricted” designation—which we believe strikes a healthy balance between legitimate uses of these new domains and those likely to be abused."

According to the Consortium, when applied to Gmail addresses, Highly Restrictive requires that characters must be from a single script, or from the combinations:

  • Latin + Han + Hiragana + Katakana,
  • Latin + Han + Bopomofo,
  • Latin + Han + Hangul
In other words, the overall security and legitimacy of addresses and sites that use other characters should be ensured..

What can we do?

To take it one step further, we also recommend that if you use Gmail, you look carefully at all email addresses. We can often spot the difference between letters and similar symbols used by other languages. If an address looks suspicious, it is a good idea to simply ignore or delete the email.

As with most other security measures, if you receive an email from large companies or institutions, such as banks, with what looks like a legitimate email address, always read the content closely. Almost every business and institution will never ask for you to provide passwords or login information in an email.

Essentially, ensure to be vigilant with email addresses, and if you have any further questions or concerns, contact us today to for our support solutions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 25th, 2014

Security_Aug18_CSince the advent of the Internet, hackers have been actively trying to exploit it. Over the past few years, many have targeted different websites to obtain user account details like usernames and passwords. There seems to be a trend where the number of accounts compromised with each new security announcement is rising. In early August, news broke that possibly the largest breach to date has been uncovered.

The latest big-scale breach

In early August, it emerged that a Russian hacker ring had amassed what is believed to be the biggest known collection of stolen account credentials. The numbers include around 1.2 billion username and password combinations, and over 500 million email addresses.

According to Hold Security, the company that uncovered these records, the information comes from around 420,000 sites. What is particularly interesting about this particular attack is that such a wide variety of sites were targeted when compared this with other attacks which tend to either attack large brand names or smaller related sites.

How did this happen?

Despite what many believe, this was not a one-time mass attack; all sites that were compromised were not attacked at the same time. Instead, the hacker ring - called the Cyber Vor - was likely working on amassing this data over months or longer. How they were able to amass this much information is through what's called a botnet.

Botnets are a group of computers infected by hackers. When the hackers establish a botnet, they attack computers with weak network security and try to infect them with malware that allows the hacker to control the computer. If successful, users won't even know their computer has been hacked and is being used by hackers.

Once this botnet is established, the hackers essentially tell the computers to try to contact websites to test the security. In this recent case, the computers were looking to see if the websites were vulnerable to a SQL injection. This is where hackers tell the computers in the botnet to look for fillable sections on sites like comment boxes, search boxes, etc. and input a certain code asking the website's database to list the stored information related to that box.

If the Web developer has restricted the characters allowed in the fillable text boxes, then the code likely would not have worked. The botnet would notice this, and then move onto the next site. However, if the code works, the botnet notes this and essentially alerts the hacker who can then go to work collecting the data.

So, is this serious and what can I do?

In short, this could be a fairly serious problem. While 420,000 sites may seem like a large number, keep in mind that the Internet is made up of billions of websites. This means that the chances of your website's data being breached by this ring are small. That being said, there is probably a good chance that one of the sites related to your website may have been breached.

So, it is a cause for concern. However, you can limit the chance of hackers gaining access to your information and a website's information.

1. Change all of your passwords

It seems like we say this about once a month, but this time you really should heed this warning. With 1.2 billion username and password combinations out there, there is a chance your user name for at least one account or site has been breached.

To be safe, change all of your passwords. This also includes passwords on your computer, mobile devices, and any online accounts - don't forget your website's back end, or hosting service. It is a pain to do, but this is essential if you want to ensure your data and your website is secure from this attack.

2. Make each password different

We can't stress this enough, so, while you are resetting your password you should aim to ensure that you use a different one for each account, site, and device. It will be tough to remember all of these passwords, so a manager like LastPass could help. Or, you could develop your own algorithm or saying that can be easily changed for each site. For example, the first letter of each word of a favorite saying, plus the first and last letter of the site/account, plus a number sequence could work.

3. Test your website for SQL injections

If you have a website, you are going to want to test all text boxes to see if they are secure against SQL injections. This can be tough to do by yourself, so it's best to contact a security expert like us who can help you execute these tests and then plug any holes should they be found.

4. Audit all of your online information

Finally, look at the information you have stored with your accounts. This includes names, addresses, postal/zip codes, credit card information, etc. You should only have the essential information stored and nothing else. Take for example websites like Amazon. While they are secure, many people have their credit card and billing information stored for easy shopping. If your account is hacked, there is a good chance hackers will be able to get hold of your card number.

5. Contact us for help

Finally, if you are unsure about the security of your accounts, business systems, and website, contact us today to see how our security experts can help ensure your vital data is safe and sound.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 21st, 2014

BValue_Aug18_CThe vast majority of countries in the West have some requirement or law that states that businesses need to meet the needs of their employees. For many businesses this means implementing systems that afford a duty of care and allow employees to do their job adequately. As such, it is a good idea for companies to have an accessible technology plan.

What is accessible technology?

Accessible technology, also commonly referred to as assistive technology, is the idea of creating or implementing technology and systems that cater to employees with disabilities. While not every company will have or require accessible technology, it is required by many countries that businesses meet the needs of disabled employees.

To that end, it is a good idea to develop a plan on how to implement accessible technology. To help, here are five steps you could take:

1. Defining your strategy

The accessible technology strategy should be the first thing you develop as it will be the foundation of the overall plan. When looking at your strategy you should define how accessible technology fits into your overall organization plan and how it will fit with your existing strategies.

What you are looking to do is to figure out how this form of technology will fit with existing systems and increase overall operating effectiveness. From here, you can define the overall objectives, budget, and vision for the plan.

2. Identifying requirements

In this step, you should look closely at existing technology in the organization and the needs of your employees. Because each company is different and the needs of employees are different you should be careful to also identify the technology needs of your employees.

When looking at both the needs and existing systems you can work to come up with an overall set of requirements, along with a general priority. For example, will you need to modify existing computers or purchase new ones?

The key idea here is that you need to figure out exactly what you need.

3. Picking the new technology

Once you have identified what changes you need to implement, what new technology you will need, and your budget, you can then begin looking for the best solutions. The most effective way to do this is to work with it experts like us who can help you find and integrate the best technology and changes that will meet your adaptive technology needs.

4. Implementing and training

Once you have defined the changes, and new technology to integrate, you need to implement it. This may include altering physical devices and machines where necessary, and then testing the systems to make sure they are working properly.

It is also be a good idea to train your employees who will be using the systems, and the team who will be managing the systems.

5. Maintaining

As with all tech systems, it is important to realize that the solution you implement will not work forever, and will eventually require maintenance, updating, or even replacing. You should take steps to audit systems on a regular basis to ensure they are still meet the needs of your company and employees.

This can be a time consuming and potentially costly step, especially if you neglect it. We strongly recommend working with a company like ours, who can help manage your solution and ensure that updates and any necessary changes are implemented when they are needed, and that should needs change, systems are subsequently updated to meet the new requirements.

If you are looking to implement accessible technology in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 19th, 2014

Google_Aug18_CBecause much of our personal and work lives are online these days, it can be challenging for some users to actually differentiate between a work and personal profile, especially when many use the same email address. For Gmail users, there is a solution that could help separate work from personal lives, and important from unimportant messages. That option is to use an alias.

About the Gmail alias

When you first sign up for a Gmail or Google account you are asked to pick an email address or username. Your username becomes the first part of your email address, and is what you will likely give to most people. There are times however where you may not want to give out your email address, but are still required to e.g., signing up for a newsletter.

What many email providers have done is implement an alias feature that allows you to set up a separate email address that can be managed by your main account. When an email is sent to your alias address, it shows up in your main account's Inbox. Google doesn't offer this feature in the traditional sense, instead the company has opted for a slightly different take on aliases.

With Google, you can add a suffix to the main part of your email address to essentially create an alias. The way this works is you add '+alias' to the main part of your email address. Any emails sent to this address will show up in your Inbox, but to the sender they are being sent to a different address.

Setting up an alias in Gmail

With Gmail you don't have to create a completely different account, you can create an alias email address instead. Let's say you are starting to sign up for an increasing number of email newsletters, what you can do is add a suffix like +newsletter to your email address, so it will look like: user.name+newsletter@gmail.com.

You can then use this email for when you are signing up for newsletters, and they will be sent to that address. The key here is that you can create as many +alias addresses as you want, and the emails sent to that address will show up in your Inbox.

Why use an alias?

At first thought this may seem like a bit of a non-feature, after all who really wants to create an alias like this? Well, the main reason this is a useful feature is because of Gmail's Filters and Labels. You can use these two features to sort and automatically action emails sent to a specific email alias. When you combine the +alias feature with these, you have a pretty powerful way to manage your Inbox.

Here are a few examples of how people are using this feature:

1. For newsletters and other non-essential emails

We all get these emails and while they aren't overly important they might contain useful information we want. The problem is that these emails can be annoying and always seem to be multiplying.

One solution is to use a +alias, like +news or +newsletters, when signing up for emails like this. Then, go into Gmail and create a filter that automatically labels all emails sent to the address with something like Updates, or even archive them. To be most effective, try setting the filter so that these emails automatically skip the Inbox, meaning you won't get a notification when you have a new email.

2. For VIPs

If you have a number of clients who you work closely with, or you want to make sure you don't miss anything from them, they why not set an alias like user.name+vip@gmail.com that you can then give to them.

From there, set up a filter in Gmail that automatically marks emails sent to this address as important and top priority. If you set it to automatically add a bright label as well, you increase the chances of seeing the email more quickly and will know it's important right away.

3. For impromptu reminders

We have all been in a situation where we want to send ourselves a reminder to do something later. One thing we can do is to email an alias like user.name+reminder@gmail.com with the reminder.

In Gmail, set up a filter to automatically label every email sent to the above email address with a label like Reminder. These emails can also go right to the archives and skip the Inbox, but when you click the Reminder label, they will still show up. If you are diligent in deleting these emails, this could work as a great way to send yourself important reminders - especially because we already look at our email so much; it will be practically in front of us.

If you are looking to learn more about Gmail and how it can be used in your business, get in touch with us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 19th, 2014

Facebook_Aug18_CFor many users, Facebook is one of the best places to get to read great articles and content, largely because it is where our friends share interesting content. The problem with this is that not all of us have time to read articles or content immediately and finding these links when we do have time can be tough. To help, Facebook has introduced the Save feature.

About the Save feature

The idea behind the Save feature is that it allows users to save longer-form content like articles posted on a News Feed. So, if someone has posted a link to an article on your favorite blog and you would like to read it later, you can now save it.

While this feature is similar to various apps like Pocket and Readability, which allow users to save content on the Web to read later, Facebook's version goes a little deeper. In a blog article announcing the feature, the company noted that the Save feature allows users to, "Save items like links, places, movies, TV and music."

Let's say you are at work, and during your break you quickly check Facebook. You come across a post where your friends have shared a link to a restaurant's Facebook Page. If you don't have time to visit the page right at that moment you can save it to view later.

While this feature will prove useful for many users, it is worth noting that when you save content, e.g., an article, you will need to have an Internet connection to access it in the future. Knowing Facebook however, they may integrate a feature like this in the future.

How to save content for later

Facebook has integrated this feature into all versions of Facebook, including the mobile app and browser-based versions. You can save content and links by:
  1. Scrolling through your News Feed until you find an article, link, Place, etc. that you would like to save for later.
  2. Clicking on the downward facing grey arrow at the top-right of the post.
  3. Selecting Save 'content name'. Note: The name will be based on the name of the link in the post.

Accessing your saved content

If you are looking at Facebook in your browser, then you should see a tab called Saved show up in the upper part (the area just below your profile image) of the left-hand vertical bar of the page. For users who access Facebook via the mobile app, press the three horizontal bars at the top-right of the app (located just below the magnifying glass) and you should see a section called Saved under Favorites.

When you click on Saved you should see a new screen open with the content you have saved. It will be divided into different types including:

  • All
  • Links
  • Places
  • Music
  • Books
You can interact with each item by either:
  • Tapping on it - This will open the page, link, or content.
  • Sliding it to the left - This will allow you to archive the content or press More to review, share or Like the content.
If you are looking to learn more about the Save feature, or Facebook in general and how it can be used effectively in your business, contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 14th, 2014

The data your business generates and captures is among the one of the most important assets available to yourself and your and employees. Unfortunately, the amount of data available is growing exponentially and it can quickly overwhelm many positions. One solution that allows businesses to better manage data is the data warehouse. The only question, is how can you tell when you need one for your business?

What is a data warehouse?

A data warehouse is a system used by companies for data analysis and reporting. The main purpose of the data warehouse is to integrate, or bring together, data from a number of different sources into one centralized location. The vast majority of the data they store is current or historical data that is used to create reports or reveal trends.

Possibly the biggest benefit of a data warehouse is that it can pull data from different sources e.g., marketing, sales, finance, etc. and use this different data to formulate detailed reports on demand. Essentially, a data warehouse cuts down the time required to find and analyze important data.

While not every business will need one right this minute, a solid data warehouse could help make operations easier and more efficient, especially when compared with other data storage solutions. That being said, it can be tough to figure out if you actually need one. In order to help, we have come up with five signs that show your business is ready to implement a data warehouse.

1. Heavy reliance on spreadsheets

Regardless of business size, the spreadsheet is among the most important business tools out there. Used by pretty much every department in a company, they can be a great way of tracking data. The problem many business owners run across however is that spreadsheets can grow to immense sizes and can become unwieldy.

Combine this with the fact that each department has spreadsheets that you will likely need to pull data from in order to generate a report. If this is the case, you are creating manual reports, which can take a lot of your time.

If you are struggling to find the data you need because it is spread out across different sheets, in different departments, then it may be time to implement a data warehouse.

2. Data is overwhelming your spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are designed to operate with a set amount of data (rows and columns). Reach, or exceed this limit, and you will find that the file becomes sluggish or will downright prevent you adding more data.

While it can take a while to get to this point, companies will reach it if they keep adding to their data. At this point you will see a drop in productivity and overall effectiveness in how you use your data. Therefore, a data warehouse that can combine data from different sheets may be a great solution.

3. You spend too much time waiting

If you set out to develop a report, only to find out that you need to wait for colleagues to provide the information on their spreadsheets, or to analyze their data, you could find yourself waiting for a longer than expected time.

This makes you highly ineffective and can be downright frustrating, especially if employees are too busy or just can't provide the information needed. Implementing a data warehouse can help centralize data and make it available to all team members more effectively. This cuts down the time spent actually having to track it down and communicating with colleagues.

4. Discrepancies in data and reports

Have you noticed that when team leaders or members in different departments create reports that the data or findings are different from yours, or other reports? Not only is this frustrating, it is also time consuming to sort out and could lead to costly mistakes.

This can be amplified if some departments have data sources that they don't share with other teams, as this can throw doubt into the solidity of your data and other reports. If you have reached this point, and realize that there are discrepancies in your data, it may be time to look into a data warehouse which can help sort out problems while ensuring mistakes like duplicate data are eliminated.

5. Too much time spent generating reports

Ideally, we should be able to generate a report using existing data almost instantly, or with as few clicks as possible. If you find that when generating a report you have to keep going to different sources to check if the data is updated, or to keep manually updating other sources, you could quickly see the amount of time needed to develop a report grow.

Because data warehouses consolidate data, you only have to turn to one source for data. Combine with the fact that many data warehouses can be set up to automatically update if source data is updated or changed, and you can guarantee that the data you are using is always correct.

Looking to learn more about data warehouses, or about the different data solutions we offer? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 12th, 2014

Office365_Aug11_CThe iPad has become one of the most popular business tools, and earlier this year it became even more useful when Microsoft released iPad optimized versions of their popular Office apps. Office 365 subscribers can now access, edit, create, and share PowerPoint, Excel, and Word docs from their device. In an effort to improve the apps even further, Microsoft has updated them.

Excel updates

There are three major updates that have been introduced to the iPad version of Excel:
  • Increased pivot table interaction - These tables are among the most useful for business users working with data. With the new update you can now filter, sort, collapse, and expand details. You can now also refresh pivot tables whereby data is pulled from the workbook. Beyond this, you can also change the visual style and layout of the tables.
  • Flick to select large amounts of data - Working with large amounts of data, or spreadsheets with a large number of rows and columns can be tough on the touch screen. So, to make things easier, you can now select large amounts of data by flicking. For example, if you want to select all the rows in one column, you can simply tap on the selection handle of the top row and flick down to select the whole column.
  • Easier manipulation of data - While touch screens are great, and useful, there are times when working with spreadsheets using a keyboard is much better. In the latest update, Microsoft has added increased support for keyboards. This includes support of many familiar keyboard shortcuts, like CTRL+2 which allows users to switch between cell entry modes.

PowerPoint updates

As with Excel, there are three updates that have been introduced to the iPad version of PowerPoint:
  • Presenter View - Many people had taken to using their iPad to run presentations while connected to a projector. In the previous version, your iPad would just show what was actually on the screen, but now you can enable Presenter View. This view shows your slide notes on your iPad's screen, as well as the slides that are coming up next while your presentation runs via the projector.
  • Easier inclusion of visuals - With the new update, all embedded videos and sound recordings now play natively over your iPad; meaning they will play directly from a presentation. You can also add media directly to a presentation from your iPad's Camera Roll, which means you can record and add content all from your iPad.
  • Better annotation tools - There are a number of new annotation tools, including an improved pen and eraser which are designed to make annotations on the iPad's touch screen show up on presentations more easily.

Updates across all apps

Microsoft has been listening to the feedback from Pad app users, and has introduced the three most requested features that apply to all three main apps: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Send the file as a PDF - PDFs are one of the most versatile document formats for businesses. Because most systems have software to open these document, it's great for users who don't use Office. Now, you can send the document you are working on as a PDF directly from your iPad. You can find this option under the Share menu.
  • Better image editing - With the update, you can now tap on an image in any Office app to either crop or resize it. If you make any edits, and find they aren't to your liking, there is also the ability to revert to the original image by pressing Reset.
  • Support for third-party fonts - Some businesses prefer to use fonts that aren't included in Office. Up until now, only Office supported fonts could be used on the iPad, but the recent update implements support for third-party fonts (fonts not made by Microsoft) installed on your iPad.
If you are looking to learn more about Office 365 and iPad apps, contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 12th, 2014

GoogleApps_Aug11_CWhile email is one of the most useful communication tools of the modern age, many people find it to be too impersonal for some business circumstances; preferring face-to-face interaction instead. For Google Apps users, there is one app that could be really helpful in increasing personal communication: Hangouts. In an effort to make the app more business-friendly Google has recently introduced a number of updates.

About Hangouts

As you may already know, Google Hangouts is the company's instant messaging and video calling platform. Introduced in 2013 as a way to consolidate the various messaging tools available to Google users, it allows business and personal users to communicate much as they would on other platforms.

For many Google Apps users however, Hangouts is an integral part of the Apps platform. Hangouts for Apps users is similar to the version used by personal account holders. You can message and join video calls on a number of devices, including your mobile phone, tablet, and desktop. The major difference is that Google Apps users have enhanced management tools and calling features, such as the ability to host group calls of up to 15 users, instead of only 10 with personal accounts.

In order to make Hangouts even better for Google Apps users, Google has recently introduced a number of business oriented changes that improve upon the Hangouts platform.

1. Enhanced terms and services

Before the recent update, Hangouts was actually under a different version of terms and services than other apps like Drive and Gmail. This meant that Hangouts wasn't getting the same high level of support and availability. The company has now announced that they have brought Hangouts under the same terms and services as other apps.

What this means is that there is now 24/7 phone support, 99.9% uptime, and increased security compliance. In other words, the Google Apps version of Hangouts has become more secure and reliable for your business.

The company also announced that Hangouts will soon be able to integrate with Google Vault, which will be able to archive conversations and chats. Businesses who have signed up for Vault should be see integration coming by the end of this year.

2. Easier joining of Hangouts video calls

In previous versions of Hangouts, all users needed to have a Google+ profile in order to take full advantage of the video calling and conferencing features. The problem with this is that not all users have, or want, Google+ profiles.

This kind of hamstrung users, or forced them to sign up for a social network they didn't necessarily want. Google has recently removed this restriction for apps users, and now anyone can use Hangouts. This means that you can start or join video conversations of up to 15 users on your computer, or via the company's Chromebox for meetings - a Google Chrome OS device designed specifically for hosting business meetings, and turning rooms into virtual conference rooms.

For users looking to take full advantage of the video conferencing features of Hangouts on their mobile or tablet, these features should be coming within the next few months.

3. Chromebox for more offices

As we mentioned above, Google's Chromebox is a device that allows users to turn a room in the office into a meeting and conference room. The device allows users to connect screens and cameras to conduct video calls with other users and offices and even collaborate on different Google docs and apps.

Recently, the company has introduced enhanced support for this device. One example is that the device can now support two screens - one for video calls while the other is say being used for a presentation.

While not for every business, Chromebox can be a viable solution for Google Apps users who need to conduct online conference meetings.

If you would like to learn more about Hangouts, or Chromebox, please contact us today to learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 7th, 2014

Security_Aug05_CSecurity of your systems and technology is always an on-going battle and one you will likely never completely win. There are definitive steps you can take to ensure that your systems are secure, but we find that one of the most effective tools is knowledge. If you know a bit about how your systems can be breached, you can ensure a higher level of caution and security. To help, here are five common ways businesses see their systems breached.

1. You are tricked into installing malicious software

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

A common trick used by hackers is to plant malware in software and then place this software on a website. When a user visits 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. Other hackers send emails out with a file attached, where only the file contains malware.

There are 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 about 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 - Many pieces of malware are often disguised with file names that are similar to other 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 as we may be able to help verify the authenticity or provide a similar app.
  • Stay away from torrents, sites with adult content, and movie streaming sites - These sites often contain malware, so it is best to avoid them altogether.
  • Always scan a file before installing it - If you do download files, be sure to get your virus scanner to scan these before you open the apps. Most scanners are equipped do this, normally by right-clicking on the file and selecting Scan with….

2. Hackers are able to alter the operating system settings

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

If a hacker manages to access your computer and you are set up 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 that is used to manage the overall network. Should this happen, they could gain control over all the systems on the network and do what they please on it.

In order to avoid this, you should ensure that if a user doesn't need to install files or change settings on the computer, they do not have administrator access. Beyond this, installing security software like anti-virus 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

It really feels like almost every security threat these days is digital or is trying to infect your systems and network from the outside. However, there are many times when malware is introduced into systems, or data is stolen, because someone has physically had access to your systems.

For example, you leave your computer on when you go for lunch and someone walks up to it, plugs in a USB drive with malware on it and physically infects your system. Or, it could be they access your system and manually reset the password, thereby locking you out and giving them access.

What we are trying to say here is that not all infections or breaches arrive via the Internet. What we recommend is to ensure that you password protect your computer - you need to enter a password in order to access it. You should also be sure that when you are away from your computer it is either turned off, or you are logged off.

Beyond that, it is a good idea to disable drives like CD/DVD and connections like USB if you don't use them. This will limit the chances that someone will be able to use a CD or USB drive to infect your computer.

4. It's someone from within the company

We have seen a number of infections and security breaches that were carried out by a disgruntled employee. It could be that they delete essential data, or remove it from the system completely. Some have even gone so far as to introduce highly destructive malware.

While it would be great to say that every business has the best employees, there is always a chance a breach can be carried out by an employee. The most effective way to prevent this, aside from ensuring your employees are happy, is to limit access to systems.

Take a look at what your employees have access to. For example, you may find that people in marketing have access to finance files or even admin panels. The truth is, your employees don't need access to everything, so take steps to limit access to necessary systems. Combine this with the suggestions above - limiting admin access and installing scanners - and you can likely limit or even prevent employee initiated breaches.

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. There has been a steady increase in the number of services that have been breached with user account data being stolen. If a hacker was to get a hold of say your username, and you have a weak password, it could only be a matter of time before they have access to your account.

If this happens, your account is compromised. Combine this with the fact that many people use the same password for multiple accounts, and you could see a massive breach leading to data being stolen, or worse - your identity.

It is therefore a good idea to use a separate password for each account you have. Also, make sure that the passwords used are strong and as different as possible from each other. One tool that could help ensure this is a password manager which generates a different password for each account.

If you are looking to learn more about ensuring your systems are secure, contact us today to learn about how our services can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security