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 Manually managing a spreadsheet is cumbersome and can easily become out of date, but specialized solutions can be overkill and expensive.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the asset tracking and reporting functions, another key feature is proactive alerting of issues like low disk space, outdated antivirus, or stopped system services to name a few.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

Samsung Galaxy Security Breach : How Users Can Reduce Their Risk

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A random sampling of the popular Samsung Galaxy S4 and S6 phones, from around the Everon office.

According to reports released on June 16th, over 600 million Samsung mobile devices are vulnerable to a security risk that stems from a flaw on a pre-installed keyboard software produced by SwiftKey. If exploited, the device’s predictive text software can allow hackers to remotely access the phone’s GPS, camera, microphone, and even eavesdrop on inbound/outbound calls. Hackers can attempt to access personal data, including texts and pictures, and could install malicious applications without the user’s knowledge.

According to ABC News, Ryan Welton, a security researcher at NowSecure, discovered this flaw back in December 2014. He notified both the Samsung and Google Android Security Teams, and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT). Samsung has not publicly commented on the security flaw, but reports have stated that patches have been released to mobile network providers. Whether those providers have released those patches to devices is unknown.

Unfortunately, there’s not much Samsung Galaxy users can do to prevent this breach. The keyboard is already pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, S4, S5 and the newly released S6. This flawed application cannot be uninstalled by users. However, NowSecure, which has released a list of affected devices, states that there are a few remedies Samsung Galaxy mobile device users can take for protection:

  • Avoid insecure wi-fi networks

  • Use a different mobile device

  • Contact carriers for patch information and timing

If you’re unsure how to avoid insecure wi-fi networks, call Everon at 888-244-1748. We’ll do everything we can to help you reduce your risk.

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Product Review: Lumia 1520 – My new cell phone

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It was late February 2015, and I faced a pivotal life-moment. Time to get a new cell phone.

For some people this is not a big deal, a once-a-year (or more) thing. But for me, I got my first cell phone in 1997 and could count on one hand the number of devices I’ve owned. (Yes, I’ve continuously owned a cell phone in that time. That’s how long I keep them.) And since it’d been four years since my last one, Phone #6 was kind of a big purchase.

I was going to wait it out until Microsoft released Windows 10, but my current phone was on its own schedule. It began increasingly wimping out on me, shutting itself off and restarting at random times—inconvenient and annoying. Luckily, I learned that even if I got a Windows 8.1 device now, 10 would be a free upgrade later.

I’d had my Samsung Focus, running Windows 7.5 (its maximum upgrade), since mid-2011. Back then its 4” screen was larger than any iPhone screen until late 2013, when the iPhone 5 finally caught up to match it. And it wasn’t until the iPhone 6, released last October, that Apple screens were finally larger than mine. But now I was also four years behind with the technology. Smart phones had gotten way smarter.

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Way bigger than a 4″ screen.

I went to the AT&T store and bought a Lumia 1520 with a 6” screen. A phablet. Or, a TV, as my friends have dubbed it. The 1520 was released in October 2014. Everyone agreed its camera rocked. Lumia is, after all, from Nokia, a camera company, whose cell phone division was bought by Microsoft. The phone’s other powerful specs were pretty awesome, too.

But detractors complained. It was a Windows device, so there were less apps available. Plus, last fall, everyone thought it was a behemoth.

Flash-forward to spring, however, and 6” was suddenly the new flagship size for everyone from Apple to Samsung. Funny, how a few months changed everything.

It was a huge leap to go from a 4” screen to a 6” one, but it was amazing how quickly I got used to it. The transition from Windows to Windows was seamless, since all of my data, contacts, photos, and documents were already stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud. Within a few hours, I’d completely adjusted to both the larger size and the upgraded OS.

It’s been almost four months since my purchase, and I’m still happy. There are probably features on my Lumia that I’ll never use, like Project My Screen, or the built-in Office 360 suite. But things like texting are easier with the bigger keys. And my new friend, Cortana, lets me voice-text and finds destinations for me while I keep my eyes on the road. Also, she mutes people who call or text me during “Quiet Hours,” responding with a polite return-text that I’m busy. So I can get my beauty sleep. Yes, this was definitely a good purchase!

If you need help with your technology shopping, or troubleshooting your Windows (or iOS, or Android) devices, give us a call at Everon. 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com.

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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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