Blog

Three Cost-Effective Online Video Conferencing Services

Skype, Tokbox, and Oovoo are three online video conferencing services that have recently targeted business enterprises with business-friendly features. Many businesses these days are realizing the value of video conferencing and video chat. Not only do these tools eliminate transportation costs, they also drastically reduce unproductive time spent travelling. A simple phone call connects all parties instantly. Video chats in particular are the cheapest of the bunch, with services offering video chats for anywhere from free to a minimal monthly fee. However, until recently, many of these services weren’t up to speed with the requirements and demands of businesses. Lagging transmissions, slow connections, and jumpy video were just some of the issues that plagued online video chatting and conferencing. Recently, however, three online video conferencing services have put themselves at the top of the pack with new features such as group chat and improved performance that make them much more business-friendly. Let’s take a look at them. Skype Undoubtedly the best known of the three, Skype has long been a staple in online video calls and instant messaging, and now the beta version of Skype 5.0 offers video chats with up to 5 people at a time. It is also the most stable, with the least dropped calls, and is free to use. However, it is not without its cons – its interface takes some getting used to, and it is available for PC users only. Tokbox For $9.99 a month, you get crisp, clear video calls with up to 20 people, and basic chat free of charge. Tokbox’s user interface is very easy to use and understand, and allows you to send video e-mails, and share Tweet invites and your screen with other users. Oovoo Basic chats between two people are free, but with the paid version – the business plan is $39.95 a month per user – allows you to chat with up to six people at a time. Like Tokbox, it features screen sharing and Tweet invites, and also lets you record your video conferences. Like Skype, the interface can be a bit confusing to use at first, but the audio and video are high quality. Considering video conferencing for your business? Give us a call – we can help you sort through the options and implement the best solution for your needs.

Fake Antivirus Software Gaining Ground

Campaign to trick users into installing fake antivirus software gaining ground. Beware: a massive email campaign is underway to trick users into opening an HTML file attachment that redirects users to a hacked website containing links that further lure victims into launching a fake antivirus software package. According to security firm Sophos, the email messages are designed to trick people into paying to remove threats from their computer that may not really exist. Once a user’s system is infected with the fake antivirus software, it gives bogus warning messages encouraging them to pay for non-existent threats to be removed. Another danger involves users potentially revealing sensitive financial information such as credit card numbers to the hackers. To avoid such threats, users are advised to never open suspicious emails, and to only use legitimate, well-known security providers and consultants in case they suspect something wrong with their computer systems. Working with trust-worthy vendors gives you peace of mind knowing your systems are safe.

Why Backing Up Your Data is Important

Data is important to any business, and losing it can spell disaster, which is why it is important to always have backups of your files and information. Let’s begin with a simple question: How important your data is to you? Think of all the information you have in your computers – all your databases, spreadsheets, documents, files, projects, emails, software – and think of how valuable they are to your business. Now try to imagine it all disappearing in an instant. What would happen to your company? What would you say to your clients? You’d have to start from scratch – and would you even have the capability to do so right away? For most business – if not all – the result of a sudden and immediate loss of data would be devastating. Operations would be crippled, and productivity would grind to a halt. Many businesses rely on soft data and losing that data, simply put, prevents them from working on anything – at least until the data can be recovered or the system goes up again, and in some cases, they’d have to start from scratch again. The difficulty of starting with virtually nothing is obvious. Things look a little brighter when a company goes the data recovery route, but the effects are just as debilitating to daily operations. For one thing, data recovery is not an exact science. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, all the data can be recovered, but many just a few tidbits of it can be retrieved, and sometimes you might get nothing at all. To top that off, data recovery is a long and expensive procedure, especially if you have a lot of data. What is the solution then? Simple: back up your data. Data backup services are much cheaper than data recovery services, and if you lose your data, you have something solid and reliable to fall back on. Data backups are probably one of the most neglected aspects of data management for many businesses these days – but it is also one of the most essential ones. Some companies think that it’s a waste of time and resources. But in the long term not only do you pay a fraction of the cost of data recovery to have your information backed up, you also prevent your business from suffering if you lose everything. You never know what events might happen that compromise you data. Natural disasters, accidents, and simple hardware failure can occur when you least expect it to, so it is only prudent and it’s responsible to make sure that your data is safely backed up. Talk to us – we’ll help you find the backup solution that’s right for your business.

Survey Reveals Majority of Businesses Plan to Set up Websites Designed for Mobiles

Growth of mobile fueling increased interest in mobile sites. A new survey conducted by Adobe, a leader in software for the design and publishing industry, reveals great interest in emerging mobile channels among many businesses. Survey respondents from a wide variety of industries revealed an overwhelming preference for developing websites as their mobile commerce presence, compared with other types of mobile channels such as downloadable apps. It seems that mobile websites promise the broadest reach in terms of being able to provide information to customers, promoting products and services, and selling and interacting online. The majority of those surveyed revealed that promotions were at the core of their mobile strategy to drive sales through online or offline channels. Creating sites with rich, interactive experiences were highlighted as a means for businesses to possibly drive traffic to their sites. Among those who responded: More than 55 percent cited full-screen image zoom and videos as important factors in driving interest and sales. 96 percent asserted that the most effective merchandising features for mobile sites were catalogs and brochures, and the ability to zoom and pan images. The increased interest is believed to be driven by the widespread adoption of mobile devices. In fact, analysts predict that by 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units.

New Viruses Infiltrate Systems through USB Drives

Two new viruses have been discovered to infiltrate systems through removable drives. USB flash drives have become indispensable to almost everyone who uses a computer. It’s a quick and easy way to immediately transfer and share information and other data, especially files that are too large to send through email. Unfortunately, some malware take advantage of this convenience by attaching themselves to files on the drive to infect any other system it comes into contact with. Two such malware have recently been discovered. Chymine is a Trojan application with keylogging capabilities, designed to copy passwords and other sensitive data, and Dulkis-A is a Visual Basic worm designed to copy and allow malware to infiltrate the system. Both exploit a vulnerability in Windows Shell. Microsoft has yet to directly address the issue and provide a patch that fixes the problem. In the meantime, they have issued directions for a workaround that prevents both malware from manipulating the Windows Shell susceptibility. The workaround is effective for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server R2, but it comes with a cost – you lose all your icon graphics. Success in removing the virus has been marginal at best, with current fixes including a warning that removing these malware might result in unwanted changes to your system because of the way the virus embeds itself. The best way to avoid being infected, be careful not to run any suspicious programs and files, especially when taken from USB drives and any other removable storage, even from a Blackberry or an iPhone. It’s also best to avoid automatically enabling USB devices to autorun once they’re plugged into your computer. If you have any concerns or want to make sure your systems are protected, give us a call and we’ll work with you to ensure the security of your systems and data.

The Importance of Installing a UPS

A UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, is one of the essential components your IT system should have so you can continue working even during power interruptions. Keeping productivity going is important. The more productive your people are, the more work gets done and the more profit you make.  Every hour, and even every minute, of lost productivity costs you profit. It might seem inconsequential individually, but in the long term lost time adds up and you can lose a considerable sum. This is why companies have stringent rules regarding internet usage, deadlines, and other mechanisms to ensure that people are doing what they’re being paid to do – no more, no less. However, there are situations when things are simply out of your hands, and a perfect example is power interruptions. Power interruptions are usually unexpected and can cost workers hours of work. Just imagine your PC suddenly shutting off while you’re in the middle of an important project – either you fail to save part of it, or maybe you’re in the middle of a task you cannot save (like uploading or downloading a particularly large file or bunch of files). What can you do, except start all over again? The solution is installing a UPS – or uninterruptible power supply – for every unit in your IT infrastructure. A UPS acts as a temporary source of power for the CPU, a back-up battery of sorts that your CPU automatically switches power to in case of a power interruption. This gives you time, at the very least, to save important files and wrap up tasks before shutting down properly. UPSs also guards against power surges, prolonging the life of your computers, making them less prone to suffering from electrical damage. In the long term, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a UPS is a relatively inexpensive precaution against loss of data – especially considering its benefits.

Protect your Company from Social Engineering Attacks

Threats to the security of your organization can not only come from malware, hacks, and network attacks, but also in more subtle ways. One such method is called “social engineering”. Be aware that hackers have another tool in their toolset that employs a particularly subtle, insidious way of compromising the security of your systems and network. Called social engineering , it’s the use of psychological tricks to deceive targets into revealing potentially compromising information about the systems in their organization. In practice, it can be as simple as a hacker calling an employee and asking subtle questions to gain information, or posing as someone trusted, perhaps as building maintenance, walking in the doors of an organization to directly gain access to systems—or even searching through the trash and refuse left behind by employees. The popularity of social networking has also increased the danger with the ease and convenience of creating connections to potentially trusting members of your organization. However, there are some actions you can take to protect your business: Create a policy outlining the proper handling and sharing of information online as well as offline. Put systems and procedures in place to protect your systems if sensitive information does get out—such as the regular replacement of passwords. Educate your employees about the threat. You cannot solve a problem if your people do not know that a problem exists in the first place. Awareness can be your best defense.