Who has What? Keeping a Tab on Your IT Assets

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Keeping track of IT assets is important for any business. It helps you know what you have and who is using it. It can also be an overwhelming and a time intensive task which causes it to be put on the back burner for many. Honestly, just finding and selecting a solution that fits your business needs can take a lot of effort.

There are several ways to go about keeping track of your assets: from a simple spreadsheet to a specialized software that tracks via bar codes. Usually the more features there are the more money you pay, which doesn’t always make sense for a small business. Manually managing a spreadsheet is cumbersome and can easily become out of date, but specialized solutions can be overkill and expensive.

Another option is a software agent that is installed on your workstations and servers. It only takes a moment to do and ties back into a management portal. One of the biggest advantages of this solution is the technical data and reporting that can be generated quickly; something bar code or spreadsheet systems can’t do. Want to know what computers have expired warranties? Which ones have an old version of Windows? This is invaluable when budgeting for IT expenditures and coming up with a proactive replacement plan.  Or from a performance standpoint, review trends to better optimize your equipment.

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Beyond the asset tracking and reporting functions, another key feature is proactive alerting of issues like low disk space, outdated antivirus, or stopped system services to name a few.

The examples above is just a taste of the what the tool can do and is one of the many things Everon can offer when supporting your IT needs. Give us a call today at 888-244-1748. We can help implement this tool for your business!

Staying Modern with Technology

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Technology is everywhere today: in your car, pocket, on your wrist, running your business, etc.  It is always advancing to become faster, more efficient, and cheaper.  Inevitability, these things  become obsolete and raises the question of  when or if you should upgrade.  When it comes to IT infrastructure for your business, Everon recommends a 3-5 year life-cycle.  This is especially important for the core components that drive your business such as servers, network equipment (like firewalls), and workstations.

From time to time, we run across a business that is using a 5-10 year old servers, workstations, or network equipment.  The mentality of, “if it’s not broke, why fix it?” sometimes comes into play.  When equipment that is 5+ years old does break, it is out of support/warranty meaning that you will be shelling out more money then you normally would for an emergency solution while losing money paying idle employees or affecting services that customers pay you for.  It’s a huge gamble that shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is why proactive budgeting and replacement should be done.  While most people don’t replace equipment at the 3 year mark, it’s a good trigger to plan ahead for action in year 4 or 5 which is why I like the 3-5 year lifecycle rule of thumb.

If you’re a small business owner or decision maker for one,  do you have any IT infrastructure older than 5 years?  If you don’t have a replacement plan in place, why not?  Now with that, think about how often you replace your cell phone?  Most people seem to do this every 2-3 years at most.  It’s rare you see a flip phone nowadays so why would you want the technology that is critical to your business take the back seat?

Everon recommends periodic reviews on your equipment to ensure a warranty is in place or to catch any aging equipment that slipped through.  If you need any assistance, Everon can help put together a technology assessment to see where you infrastructure stands and where it should be going.  Give us a call today!  888-244-1748 www.everonit.com

New “Tech Support” Scam for Mac Users

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Recently we have been hearing news stories about how Mac computers are being compromised. But there is another, more subtle compromise that has also been going on. The common element to these other issues happens when users visit a site in Safari, and they get a warning page pop-up:

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The message will continue to pop up about the infection – even if you hit okay, it will reappear about a second later – and you can not get it off your screen until you call, according to the information in the image. From this, most users are concerned because they believe that their computer is infected. But what is really going on is the work of scammers. (If you call the number, they will ask you to pay a few hundred dollars to have their “technicians” remove your “virus.”) Here are some steps to get rid of these messages, as your computer has not been infected, it is your browser that has been compromised and is getting re-directed, and a web program that runs once you get to this site, that has caused the problem.

Steps to get rid of the message:

  1. Force Quit from Safari. In order to do this you can Force Quit a couple of ways. Go the the Apple icon with Safari as the program highlighted.forcequit
  2. Another option is to open the Force Quit Applications menu. (Combination of keys: Alt/Option + Command + ESC will bring up the Force Quit Menu.)
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The reason the popups keep happening even after you close multiple times is because Safari re-opens the last session by default. In order to remove the message, we need to open Safari in a new session. To do that, hold down the Shift key, then click on the Safari icon. This will bring Safari up with no more error message. To clean this from your system, you need to clear out your browsing history.

  • Choose History > Show History, select history entries and daily sets of entries, then press Delete.

For the most part Macs do not get viruses or malware easily because of the security features that Apple has implemented. There are still some that are getting around that, but most of the time the application has to get your permission to install on your system.

If you are concerned about viruses, malware, or other potential dangers on your work Mac or PC, give us a call at Everon. Our techs are available for our clients 24/7, 365. Call us at 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com. We’re here for you.

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New iPhone/Mac Vulnerabilities That Can Impact Your Business

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Recently Apple was hit with two big issues in the same month. These gave rise to concerns that Apple products might not be as secure as most think. The first of the two came in the form of a text message that can be sent to Apple iPhones.

The text, which is entirely in Arabic, can be sent to anyone with an iPhone, and it will immediately shut down the phone. While this is more of an annoying bug than a security concern (although it definitely can be viewed as a security concern, depending on the owner of the phone and his/her need for uptime), it doesn’t seem to be harmful to the devices. Users in the  Reddit.com forums found the bug, and it appears they did so by accident.

Credit: parts of this image are reproduced with permission from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unibody_Macbook.JPG.

Credit: parts of this image are reproduced with permission from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unibody_Macbook.JPG.

If your phone receives the dreaded text message, you will need to turn on your phone and delete that message. One workaround to the text issue is to go into the settings,and turn off text message previews that appear on the home screen. Apple is aware of the bug and will resolve the issue in its latest update, which should be coming very soon.

The second security concern, and one that is very critical to businesses is the latest exploit which allows someone to put a permanent backdoor onto your Mac by rewriting the firmware for the BIOS to allow remote connection to the device. This affects all Macs older than mid-2014.

The reason this security concern is so troubling is, unlike other types of exploits, where if you were to be hacked you could wipe your hard drive and start clean with the appropriate updates, this targets the BIOS, meaning no matter how often you wipe your hard drive, hackers can exploit the vulnerability over and over again.

The vulnerability can be enacted as soon as a machine is woken from Sleep Mode. The security researcher who found the exploit, Pedro Vilaca, stated you can stop your machine from going into Sleep Mode to bypass the exploit. However, Apple is aware of the exploit and should patch it soon. Vilaca also stated that this is very similar to last year’s “Thunderstrike Proof-of-Concept” exploit.

While nothing will protect against this current exploit (i.e. antivirus, anti-malware), it does show that as Macs become more popular, holes are being found in the OS and, in this case, in the hardware itself. Business owners must be aware of both where their employees go on the Internet and how to protect their assets from hacking attempts.

Everon offers antivirus for Macs, as well as PCs, with a product called Webroot Secure Anywhere. We can assist in setting up hardware proxies that will prevent unauthorized access to the Internet. If you have any questions about what we can do for your Apple environment, feel free to call our techs at 1-888-244-1748 (or email at info@everonit.com). We’re here for you. Twenty-four/seven, 365.

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Everon & Datto: The Future of Backups

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I used to be scared of backups and their processes. I never trusted them. When clients called and needed a restore, I was nervous that somehow I wouldn’t be able to get the backup. These fears weren’t due to my lack of knowledge about backups — they’re relatively straightforward. Rather, they were due to the software that was commonly used to back up the client’s data. Restores weren’t easy, and I wasn’t comfortable doing them. Until I met Datto.

Datto is a product line provided by Everon. It is considered the go-to for total data protection. The basic overview is this:

We put a device in your network. That device is based off the Linux OS and connects to network devices utilizing proprietary software called Shadowsnap. When your server begins a backup, Shadowsnap  makes a “snapshot” of the various partitions on your machine. You can set the frequency of the snapshots, based on how often you want this done. For example, you could set it up to run every 15 minutes, 24/7, 365 days per year.

Those snapshots can all be mounted within minutes, and we have the ability to browse the partition structure, grab any files/folders off of the mount point, and put them onto your server. The whole process is so quick and easy it eliminates the stress of losing or corrupting a file or folder, and it gets a client up-and-running quickly.

But here is where the Datto product excels:

VIRTUALIZATION!

As little time as it takes to mount a restore point for file/folder access, it is just as quick to mount any of those restore points and create a virtual server on the Datto! Many years ago this process took me two weeks. If a client had a disaster recovery event happen, I would have to keep them offline for a while so I could try to create the virtual drives, rebuild the array, etc.

Now with Datto, a virtual server can be up and running in minutes. The virtual will boot with all properties/settings that the physical server had; users are able to connect to it as if nothing had happened to their main server. The virtualization technology runs off of Virtual Box, which is another component of the software installed on the server. Not only can you virtualize any mounted restore point, you can also export the following formats:

  • VHD -virtualization technology for Microsoft’s Hyper-V
  • VMDK -virtualization technology for VMWare

You can also complete a bare metal restore, if needed.

The backup engines operate with one of two flavors: VSS application-aware, or STC. This is VERY handy for any database applications, such as Exchange, Active Directory, or SQL, as it will truncate the logs for you, keeping the databases healthy and happy.

The virtualization is tested frequently, with test virtuals and screenshots taken automatically, per a schedule — set by you — which you can opt to do alongside every restore point.

All Dattos are managed in a nice, compact portal with Everon. We receive tickets upon any failures, so we can look at them and resolve quickly. Most failures we receive are usually just one-off issues that resolve themselves quickly. The device is rarely ever offline.

With a product like Datto in our arsenal, I now feel comfortable supporting and completing restores, even to the point to that I can give a guarantee on client’s data. For more information on this amazing product, contact Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

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