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The Key to Winning the Age Old Battle for Privacy on LinkedIn is…

The Key to Winning the Age Old Battle for Privacy on LinkedIn is…

LinkedIn, the increasingly popular business and employment-focused social networking site is a crucial tool for professionals who are happily employed or still searching for the job of their dreams. It’s a fantastic place for you to network with others in your field or reconnect with old co-workers from the past. Regardless of what you’re using the social networking site for, you need to make sure you’re staying as safe as possible.

Privacy on Linkedin

Similar to any social networking site, there are privacy concerns you need to consider. First and foremost, keep in mind you typically share a lot more personal information on LinkedIn than you do on Facebook or Twitter. Why? Because your profile is essentially a digital resume – showcasing your entire past from where you’ve attended school to where you’ve worked.

So What’s the Secret to Keeping Yourself Safe on LinkedIn?

While accounts are protected by a series of automatic checks designed to stop unauthorized sign-in attempts, you still have to do your part when it comes to keeping your data safe. Your privacy settings give you tons of options when it comes to sharing and receiving content. For example:

  • Don’t share your activity: You can prevent anyone who isn’t one of your connections from seeing your activity. Go to privacy & settings, select the privacy tab, and click the change option under follows in the blocking and hiding section.
  • Hide your list of connections: If you want to keep your connections private, go to privacy & settings, select the privacy tab, and click the change option under who can see your connections. You’ll get a drop-down menu where you can choose “only you.”
  • Keep your profile photo private: Keep your profile photo private to only your first-degree connections or network if you prefer. Go to privacy & settings, then find the link to change your profile photo and visibility under the privacy controls box.
  • Limit the contact information you share: Make sure you’re not sharing any personal contact information, such as personal phone numbers/emails or home addresses. Go to the edit profile link from the profile menu, scroll down to the personal information option, and click edit.

We are here to help with all things cybersecurity-related – from safeguarding your online privacy to installing a secure wireless networking solution. Call us at (416) 490-9019 or email us at sales@ittoronto.com for more information.

Aside from updating your privacy settings, what else can be done to keep you protected? Here are a few great tips:

  • Set up two-step verification: Members can opt into two-step verification for their accounts. If you choose to do this, you’ll be required to type a password, as well as a numeric code that’s sent to your mobile device when the device you’re signing in from isn’t recognized.
  • Turn on secure browsing (HTTPS): Secure browsing offers extra protection when viewing all pages across the social networking site. This will keep you safe from hackers. Simply go to settings, click the account tab, and click manage security settings to check the box.
  • Keep an eye out for phishing emails: LinkedIn doesn’t ask for sensitive personal or financial information via email, so don’t be fooled if you receive an email from them or any other social networking site. How can you tell if it’s a phishing email? Here are a few hints:
  • The message is filled with bad spelling and grammar.
  • The message contains a suspicious email attachment or software update.
  • The message is threatening in some manner (XYZ will happen unless you act now.)
  • Update your password on a regular basis: The simplest way to stay safe is keeping your password up-to-date. Here are some best practices to follow:
  • Change your password at least once every 3 months
  • Use different passwords for each website or service
  • Throw in some capital letters, symbols, and punctuation
  • Substitute numbers for letters that look similar (3 instead of E)
  • Do not share your password with others
  • Check which apps can access your data: Check which applications have access to your profile and data. This can be done by clicking the groups, companies & applications tab, then click the option to view your applications. Remove access as you see fit.

Last but not least, sign out of your account after using a public device for optimal protection. The tips above should keep your account fairly secure, however, always be on the lookout and use common sense. Be careful what you share online on any social networking site. Remember, even the safest social networking sites get hacked. Don’t say anything privately that you wouldn’t want to be made public.

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Is LinkedIn Premium Really Worth the Splurge?

Is LinkedIn Premium Really Worth the Splurge?

We know LinkedIn is the most popular ‘social network’ for professionals in a wide variety of industries. It’s filled with fantastic features and functions that will propel your career or business in terms of expanding your professional network and enhancing your credibility in the marketplace. So what’s the deal with LinkedIn Premium? Is it really worth the big bucks?

LinkedIn Premium

Here’s the Full Scoop on LinkedIn Premium Plans…

LinkedIn Premium plans aren’t exactly cheap – costing around $29.99 to $47.99 per month for job seekers, $69.99 per month for business development or sales professionals, and $99.95 per month for recruiters looking to fill positions.

The base plan, Premium Career ($29.99 per month), is great for job seekers who want to connect with people within any company, industry or geography. You’re able to enhance your profile for greater visibility while sending three InMail messages per month.

The next plan, Premium Business ($47.99 per month when billed annually), gives you unlimited searches in your extended network. Plus, you get advanced search filters and 15 InMail messages each month.

Premium Sales Navigator Professional ($64.99 per month when billed annually), possibly one of the most useful plans, is phenomenal for business development or sales professionals alike. Why? LinkedIn stores mass amounts of data on people from all sorts of companies and industries.

This data is seriously game-changing when you’re trying to make that next sale or add leads to your ever-growing funnel. You not only receive lead recommendations and invaluable insight into existing accounts, but you also get 20 InMail messages each month.

Premium Sales Navigator is also available in a multi-seat version known as Sales Navigator Team ($99.99 per month when billed annually). This option gives you 30 InMail messages, 10 PointDrive presentations, 25 Out-of-Network profile unlocks, and much more.

Premium Sales Navigator Enterprise takes it to the next level with 50 InMail messages and an unlimited number of seats. All of the Premium Sales Navigator plans give you the following great features, so it’s entirely dependent on what extras you need and what you’re willing to spend:

  • 100-mile maximum search radius from specific postal codes
  • 1000 profiles shown per search
  • 15 saved search alerts each week
  • Unlimited number of saved searches, accounts, and lead recommendations
  • Advanced search filters
  • Access to the mobile app

Last but not least, LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions, starting at $99.95 per month when billed annually for the starter tier: Recruiter Lite. Recruiter Lite gives you 30 InMail messages, advanced search, automatic candidate tracking and integrating hiring, and more.

Recruiter Lite is great for those who need to make a few hires. Recruiter, the next tier, is great for those who are always in search of people to add to their team. Pipeline Builder, the last tier, is great for creating a constant pipeline of talent for your team.

Need more information? Call (416) 490-9019 or email us at sales@ittoronto.com to find out more about Premium Career, Premium Business, Sales Navigator Professional or Recruiter Lite. Our team is always here to help.

What’s the Final Verdict?

LinkedIn Premium is absolutely worth the splurge (and of course, we would recommend choosing to be billed annually to get the discounted price of whichever plan you choose). Upgrading is well worth your time and money if you’re looking to:

  • See more than just the last five individuals who have viewed your profile in the last 90 days.
  • Access expanded search results with features like filtering results by industry or job title.
  • Send messages to members of the site (professionals or employers) who are not currently contacts of yours.
  • Receive lead recommendations and insight into existing accounts easily to keep your funnel constantly up-to-date.
  • Find great talent to join your company, whether you’re hiring a few people or an entire team.
  • Learn more about your industry and increase your chances of securing employment within that field.

As an added bonus, LinkedIn Learning and LinkedIn Salary are included with all four versions of LinkedIn Premium. LinkedIn Learning gives you the most in-demand technology, business or creative skills through industry expert-taught courses.

LinkedIn Salary, on the other hand, gives you a breakdown of salaries by job title and location. You can also view data on specific businesses, such as geographic expansion, employee turnover, and other useful information.

If you’re ready to get started with one of the plans mentioned above, get in touch with us now at (416) 490-9019 or sales@ittoronto.com. We’ll answer any questions you might have about LinkedIn Premium and what the right plan can do for you.

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Meltdown and Spectre – How to Handle the Phishing Scam and Other Problems

Meltdown and Spectre – How to Handle the Phishing Scam and Other Problems

The most talked about hardware issue in the news right now is the “Meltdown” (CVE-2017-5754) and “Spectre” (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) exploits. Nearly all the computers around the world are affected by one or both bugs. All the big-name software and hardware vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google have been hard at work crafting a fix for this potentially damaging issue. Some patches are available while others are on the way.

Intel Meltdown

Meltdown allows malicious programs to gain access to higher-privileged parts of a computer’s memory. Spectre steals data from the memory of other applications running on a machine. Meltdown is said to be limited to Intel, but Spectre has been exploited on ARM and AMD as well.

While programs typically aren’t permitted to read data from other programs, malicious programs could exploit Meltdown and Spectre to get hold of secrets stored in the memory of other running programs, which include your passwords stored in a password manager or your browser, personal photos, emails, instant messages and even business-critical documents.

Meltdown breaks down the most basic of walls between user apps and the operating system. It allows a program to access the memory of other programs and take its secrets. Spectre breaks the isolation between apps, allowing hackers to unexploited apps into leaking information.

What Happens to Your Data

When modern Intel processors execute code, the code reaches a pre-programmed point in the algorithm. Instructions branch out into two different directions, saving time by “speculatively” venturing down these forks. So, in other words, they take a guess and execute instructions to get a head start. If the processor learns that it went down the wrong path, it jumps back to the fork in the road and throws out the speculative work.

A hacker could trick a processor into letting their unprivileged code sneak into the kernel’s memory by using speculative execution. When the processor throws out the temporary data, it jumps back to the fork. Making data retrieval difficult. It does temporarily store this information in the computer’s cache. With some clever code and patience, a hacker could easily find and steal the data in the cache, giving them access to personal information, passwords, and more.

While Meltdown and Spectre require access to your system, hackers have various ways to gain access. Already hackers are using phishing emails to trick users into giving them access. They send out an email claiming to contain a patch for Meltdown or Spectre. Instead, the email installs malware on your system. This malware gives the hacker access to your system, allowing them to exploit the bugs and take the unprotected data.

Now What?

As an MSP or IT Services firm, how do you handle the inevitable influx of customers calling with concerns that their systems may be vulnerable? Techies like us understand how this works and how to avoid falling prey to a scammer looking to exploit this vulnerability. But what about the average business owner? Some things to keep in mind are:

  • First, vendors like Microsoft and Google are already rolling out patches for these exploits. Some antivirus software isn’t compatible with the new patch and could become an issue for some. Also, remember that antivirus doesn’t protect against this vulnerability.
  • Second, customers may notice that some services are running slower than usual. It may not be the sign of a bigger problem. It could be a side effect of the provider is taking steps to fix the problem. There have already been reports that cloud services may experience some slowdown to mitigate the issue. While it’s still too early to know exactly how significant the slowdown will be, some researchers are saying it could be as high as 30%.
  • Third, be wary of social engineering scams like phishing emails. Hackers are all too eager to take advantage of problems like this, and unfortunately, some people are so eager to fix the problem that they might not realize that the “patch” they just clicked on is now allowing a hacker to steal all their data.
  • Fourth, Spectre has been identified to affect ARM, AMD, and Apple chips, found inside the set-it-and-forget-it Internet of Things devices like iPads and smartphones, and where the Spectre issue might linger the longest.
  • Fifth, the information we have points to a human problem. Last summer the bugs came to light, but the news was broken suddenly this month when Google determined that someone may have been leaking the information. Which happened before patches were ready, so now manufacturers are scrambling to get the fix out.

Because the affected system needs malware running to use the exploit, there is still time to retrain customers on proper cybersecurity and training on how to spot phishing scams. This issue of Meltdown and Spectre potentially will be around for a while.

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Apple Products Not Immune to Meltdown or Spectre

Apple Products Not Immune to Meltdown or Spectre

The year 2018 started with a Meltdown that even Mac and iOS users aren’t immune to. Meltdown is a flaw in processors that allows a hacker to gain access to the personal data stored in your computer. Meltdown, and the similar Spectre were discovered January 3rd. They affect processors from Intel, AMD, and ARM, leaving these machines vulnerable.

Apple Computers Meltdown

Meltdown exploits a user-based program to read your kernel memory. This means that important information such as passwords, credit card information, and more are vulnerable. Spectre allows applications to read each other’s memory. So far, these exploits haven’t been used for nefarious means, but they’re still a problem.

Microsoft and Google immediately went to work releasing a patch that would take care of the issue. Apple kept quiet until a document came out confirming that iOS devices and Mac systems were indeed vulnerable. Apple has since released updates for iOS, macOS, and tvOS to handle the exploits. Apple’s watchOS isn’t affected by these exploits, so Apple Watch users have nothing to worry about.

Keep an eye out for the latest patches for your OS, and make sure to download and install them as soon as possible. If you’re diligent about installing updates, you may have already installed the fix.  If not, it will be available soon. It’s also a good idea to run antivirus software on your machine. Since the exploits can only be used locally, the attacker would have to gain access to your machine. If a hacker can’t gain access to your system, it’s potentially safe from Meltdown and Spectre.

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Don’t Wait To Start Training Your Employees To Protect Your Business During W-2 Phishing Season

Don’t Wait To Start Training Your Employees To Protect Your Business During W-2 Phishing Season

W-2 Phishing season is about to begin – without the right IT security services, your business will be left vulnerable.

You and I know that effective communication with co-workers and clients is crucial, but are you sure your employees are practicing safe email and messaging conduct? If you don’t already have the best technical security services, your answer is probably, “I’m not sure”, right?

Cybercriminals are smart – they adapt quickly and continually come up with new ways to take advantage of businesses like yours. A popular tactic among hackers today is “phishing”, a method in which they send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources in order to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers. With only a surprisingly small amount of information, cybercriminals can convincingly pose as business members and superiors in order to persuade employees to give them money, data or crucial information.

At this point, phishing attempts are nothing new, but without the right computer security services, you can still fall victim to a common phishing scam. This is especially a danger in the coming weeks when phishing will be primarily used to target W-2 data being processed for your employees during tax season.

This is nothing new. Over the past few years, cybercriminals have been very successful during tax season, executing social engineering campaigns against thousands of targets in order to access and steal valuable W-2 data. By sending phishing emails to unsuspecting workers in the payroll and HR departments in target businesses, cybercriminals have caused extensive damage, leaving companies like yours liable for fraudulent tax returns, identity theft, and class action lawsuits.

What does a W-2 Phishing Email Look Like?

As dangerous and damaging as these types of social engineering scams can be for you and your employees, the good news is that they are avoidable – if you know what you’re looking for. The key identifiers of a phishing email like this include:

  • Sender: Typically, the email will appear to come from a high-level executive or someone that the target employee wouldn’t want questions or ignore. Often the cybercriminal will go so far as to mimic the executive’s email signature to enhance the authenticity.
  • Request: The email will request W-2 or other tax information to be sent via reply, sent to another email address, or to be uploaded to a server.
  • Timeframe: The cybercriminal will likely try to create a sense of urgency so that the target doesn’t have time to think about the request or confirm it through other means.

Once the user’s email, password, and other information have been entered into the fraudulent website, the damage is done. The hacker can then take the information and do even more damage with it. It’s the new and constantly evolving cybercrime threats like these that make network security services so vital.

The key to phishing methodology is that it doesn’t rely on digital security vulnerabilities or cutting edge hacking technology; phishing targets the user, who, without the right training, will always be a security risk, regardless of the IT measures set in place. The reality is that small and medium-sized businesses like yours are put at great risk if you don’t have cybersecurity services.

What Can You Do About Phishing?

So what’s the answer? What can the average business member do to keep themselves and their company safe when criminals are employing such deceitful methods? In addition to equipping your business with the best technical security services, you should also be sure to educate and test your employees on IT security best practices and knowledge. Make sure they understand the following:

  • Never give out private information: The trusted institutions with which you do business will not ask you for your private information. They already have your account numbers, social security number, and your passwords. They won’t have any good reason to ask for it again, right? If an email from a superior or external contact asks for that info, it is likely a scam, so be sure to confirm the request by phone or in person.
  • Never click on a link before you hover over it with your mouse: If you hover over a link with your mouse, your computer will show you where that link is actually taking you. Many times, criminals will give you what looks like the right link (such as www.YourBank.com) but when you hover over the link with your mouse it actually will show something different (such as
    www.YourBank/2340937fvt5.com). If the link is not as advertised, then don’t click.
  • Always check up on unexpected email attachments. If you get an email from someone you know with an attachment that you weren’t expecting, give them a call or send them an email to confirm that the attachment is from them and is legitimate before you open it.

How Can You Be Sure Your Employees Know About Phishing?

The best way to ensure your employees know how to deal with a phishing threat is to test them. Allow us to help. We’ve prepared an example phishing email template that you can fill out and send to employees in just minutes to test their knowledge of phishing threats.

Check out this screenshot of an effective test email you can send to your employees to prepare them for the W-2 phishing season:

W2 PHISHING

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Ensure Your Cybersecurity For 2018

Ensure Your Cybersecurity For 2018

Cybersecurity, no matter the size of your business or how many employees you have, is a vital part of today’s business. Everyone in your organization must be up to date on how to spot a cyber threat and what to do about it.

Cyber Security 2018

In addition, there are some fundamental things you should do to protect your business from cyber threats. As hackers find new and innovative ways to steal your data, you must be able to stay a few steps ahead of them. Here are some ways that you can “seal the breach” against hackers:

  • Educate your staff about social engineering attacks.

Social engineering attacks trick people into giving up sensitive information, usually by posing as someone within your company or a vendor. Educate your staff on what to look for and how to protect themselves and your company from these malicious attacks. Phishing is a popular social engineering threat that disguises a virus within an email. Once the attachment is opened, the virus goes to work attacking data and sending information back to the hacker. Make sure your employees question anything that seems odd or out of place.

  • Use up-to-date anti-virus software and firewalls.

Check for updates periodically and set them to install automatically. Cybercriminals can easily exploit an unsecured system with a one-time breach or ongoing theft.

  • Establish company policies for handling and storing sensitive data.

Everyone in your organization doesn’t need access to sensitive data. Restrict who has access, and make sure they change their passwords every 90 days at the very least. Also, don’t store more client data than you need, and don’t hold it any longer than you have to. The less data you have on hand, the less you lose during a breach.

  • Establish guidelines for company-wide computer use.

Your employees shouldn’t use company computers or devices for personal use. This prevents them from inadvertently sending out sensitive data. Plus, employees shouldn’t use their personal devices for business purposes. This includes thumb drives, tablets, and phones.

  • Institute a mobile device policy.

Set up a protocol so your employees can access data from a secure location on their phones without downloading data. Enable access codes, encryption and remote-wipe software on all company devices—And keep a log of all issued and approved devices, and who has them

  • Stay up-to-date on software patches.

Install all hardware, software and operating system updates. This keeps hackers from taking advantage of vulnerabilities. Be sure these updates take place across-the-board on all computer devices.

  • Use passwords.

Use the built-in password functions for laptops and other devices. Don’t allow employees to store passwords on their work computers or devices. And make sure they use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to make strong passwords. They should also change them at least every three months.

  • Encrypt sensitive files.

Encrypting your files is essential. This way, even if criminals get your data, they won’t be able to view or alter it. Data in transit that’s sent over the internet should also be encrypted. This way, if they’re intercepted, they’ll be unreadable by unauthorized individuals.

  • Dispose of old files and devices properly.

Simply deleting a file on your hard drive doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever— The data can still be retrieved. The only way to prevent this is to destroy the hard drive. When you upgrade equipment, remember to destroy their drives. And when replacing copiers with hard drives, destroy them as well.  Consider what other equipment might contain drives with stored data, and destroy them when replacing these pieces of equipment.

  • Back up your files.

Keep copies of your data separate from your original files. Whether online in the cloud or offline at a separate site, always back up your data. It’s best to both back up data on the cloud and offline in another location. This way, if you’re hacked or data gets lost, you’ll have a better idea of what’s missing, and be able to retrieve it.

Cybersecurity is a big deal and a big job. But it’s never foolproof. You must remain vigilant and uncompromising in your security measures. Don’t let hackers take what you’ve worked so hard to build. With ransomware and other cyberattacks on the rise, you want to start 2018 on the right foot.

Give Paradigm Network Solutions a call at (416) 490-9019, or send us an email sales@ittoronto.com. Our technicians will help you increase your cybersecurity.

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5 Reasons Why You Need to Make the Switch to Microsoft Office 365

5 Reasons Why You Need to Make the Switch to Microsoft Office 365

If you run a business, chances are that you’ve thought about moving to an online productivity suite. The two most popular in recent years is Google’s G Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365. Touted as “innovative” and “the next big thing,” Microsoft’s productivity suite is a revolutionary concept when it comes to operating systems and computing. But why should you choose Microsoft over the other guys?

Because:

Microsoft Office 365

  • It’s cloud-based. Doing all your computing in the cloud means that you always have access to your files as long as you’re connected to the Internet. All of Office 365’s tools will work on any PC/Mac, tablet, or smartphone. With O365, you can use the online versions of the productivity suite, or install them to your device.
  •  It’s secure. Whether you’re using the version of O365 installed on your machine, or the cloud version, you’ll get the best level of security and encryption. The same set of Rights Management Services applies to both. None of your files can be accessed without the proper user credentials that are set up and monitored by Microsoft Azure. This provides the best security and control over your Office 365 data.
  • Data is backed up. Microsoft’s Office 365 offers its own form of checks and balances, 24/7 support that’s always on-call, and OneDrive to store all your files. But it’s always a good idea to have an extra layer of protection by using a Managed Services Provider (MSP) who can monitor your backups and add an extra layer of security if your data is compromised or lost.

Office 365 offers major advantages over others. As with anything worth doing, there are pros and cons when moving your operations to the cloud. However, there are some major advantages when using the Microsoft Cloud:

  • You can work anywhere. If you have an internet connection, you can use your data from anywhere and on any device. You can check emails, access files, and work on a project all from the same place – even if that place happens to be the other side of the world.
  • Easy collaboration between coworkers. How many times have you had multiple people working together on the same project only to have one version go missing. With Office 365 you can avoid this. Collaborators can work on the same file and get changes in real time. You can also share files as links right from OneDrive, rather than as attachments.
  • Access to the latest versions of programs. Imagine having access to the most current versions of Word, Excel, and Outlook without having to pay extra or reinstall programs. All the most recent versions of everything in the Microsoft Office Suite are available with an Office 365 subscription.
  • Great security features. How secure the Cloud is for you depends on what security measures you have in place. With Office 365, there are quite a few built-in security features to keep your data safe. These include:
  • Encrypted email. Only the intended recipient can read an email.
  • Data loss prevention. O365 checks and ensures that sensitive data (like your social security number) doesn’t get sent out via email.
  • Mobile device management. You can control Office 365 on your employees’ phones, and protect company information.
  • Advanced threat analytics. O365 learns and protects company data, and alerts you of suspicious activity on the network.

Alongside all the advantages of using Office 365, there are also a few cons:

  • Subscription-based model. You must pay a monthly or annual subscription for your Office 365.
  • If the Internet is down, your data is down. Because Office 365 is cloud-based, if the Internet goes out, you could be without access to your data. Plus, if you have a slow connection, working with a cloud-based system isn’t ideal.
  • Most people don’t use all of its features. Most users don’t use everything that Office 365 has to offer. They only use email, file storage, and access to Office programs. This isn’t a terrible thing, but it means you’re paying for features that you aren’t using.
  • Microsoft throws in some great extras. Office 365 comes with 1TB of storage space in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service, free web hosting and the tools to use it, and a full 60 minutes of Skype each month for making landline calls.

Microsoft Office 365 is a very good example of not only what a cloud service can be, but what more businesses are turning to for their cloud needs. Cloud computing is becoming a big part of more companies’ tech strategy, and Office 365 is an excellent way to jump into the cloud.

Our IT experts can walk you through your Office 365 set up. Give Paradigm Network Solutions a call at (416) 490-9019, or email us at sales@ittoronto.com, and we’ll make sure you get the full benefit of this great service.   

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Top 12 Tech Gifts of 2017: Sphero R2-D2 & BB-9E

Top 12 Tech Gifts of 2017: Sphero R2-D2 & BB-9E

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

r2d2

In 2015 Sphero released their app-connected robot, BB-8, to tie-in with Star Wars The Force Awakens. Now, with this year’s release of The Last Jedi, Sphero has done it again with two new droids, R2-D2 and BB-9E. R2, of course, moves on treads and can move sideways if wanted or he can bring out his third leg and use it to lean back and navigate tougher terrain like carpeting.

R2’s head turns, and he has plenty of lights and sounds from built-in speakers, something BB-8 didn’t have. You can draw a path with your finger on the app and R2 will follow it. There’s also a button to have R2 “flip out” so to speak, where he shakes and makes noise before falling over.

Like its droid brothers, the BB-9E droid uses the same app as the other two and can be controlled via app or voice commands. The three droids are in scale with each other and 12-inch action figures.

Sphero is planning to add new ways for the droids to interact with each other and their surroundings. Right now, you can have them watch Rogue One or The Force Awakens, and the droids will react at certain points thanks to scripted points in the movies and the app listens for these cues to cause the droids reactions.

If you’ve got a Star Wars fan on your list this holiday, no doubt they’ve already got these little guys on their list. At just $250 for R2-D2 and $200 for BB-9E, they are just about affordable enough to get both…assuming you can find one. As is the case with most items on our list of Top 12 Tech Gifts, these droids are in short supply but revered by Star Wars fans all over.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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How To Secure Your Passwords in the New Year

How To Secure Your Passwords in the New Year

With the approaching new year, it might be time to start thinking about ways that you can improve your life. Some common resolutions include losing weight, exercising more and spending less.

Secure Passwords

Have you considered bettering your digital life as well? Why not take steps to make it more secure? One of the easiest ways to do this is by using strong and complex passwords and change them often.

Update Passwords Regularly.

When was the last time you updated your passwords? If the answer to this question is more than 30 days ago, it’s time for a change.

Some people use passwords for years or until a system requires they update them. This could have serious consequences to your privacy. For this reason, it’s essential that you update your passwords frequently. It’s much easier to break a password that’s remained unchanged than it is to crack a password that’s changed each month.

It’s also important that you use different passwords for each one of your accounts. Using the same password for everything is like inviting hackers to steal your information. If you do this, and someone hacks into one of your accounts by figuring out your password, they would also have the password for your email, other social media accounts, online shopping sites, and perhaps even your bank account. By changing passwords across platforms, you’re further protecting your confidential information.

Invest in a Password Bank.

I know—I can hear you now: “I’m too busy to constantly change passwords and keep track of them.”  This is no excuse – especially because there are applications you can use called password banks.  A password bank, like LastPass or DashLane can help you keep track of the passwords you use and what accounts they’re associated with. Both free and upgraded versions are available.

You simply access your password bank with a master password that you create, or with a fingerprint on your smartphone. The password bank automatically keeps track of your passwords and ensures they’re stored securely so they can’t be hacked. Even if a criminal cracks one of your passwords, they won’t be able to break them all.

According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, weak passwords are the cause 63% of all data breaches.

Carefully Craft Your Passwords.

If your passwords are simple they’re more likely to be discovered. It’s important that you create long and complex passwords, with a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols when permitted.

Avoid using names or places in your passwords, as people who come to know you may be able to guess them. Don’t use common phrases like “iloveyou” or “1234.”  A good password might be a string of numbers and letters or some other combination of information like a sentence acronym that’s specific to yourself.  For example: My favorite place to eat is La Cucina Italian Restaurant – (MfpteiLCIR)

Use Two-Factor Authentication.

Two-factor authentication also referred to as multi-factor authentication, uses verification in two forms to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing your private information. With two-factor authentication, you use an initial password login and a secondary one. In addition to entering your username and password, you must enter a designated code that’s been sent as a text to your phone.

A token or keycard can also be used for the second authentication. A token might be a device such as a USB drive. The drive generates a one-time password, and after entering the initial password as well as the one-time password, access is granted.

And remember, securing passwords is something you should do year-round, not just for the new year.  Phoenix Technology can help. If you are interested in learning more about password security, contact us today at 1-800-677-7305, or click here to fill out a quick form so we can better assist you.

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Why Is Everything In Tech “As A Service” These Days?

Why Is Everything In Tech “As A Service” These Days?

Leading ‘As-A-Service’ Trends In Technology And What They Can Do For Your Business

As A Service

The advent of cloud computing brought with it more than just a place to store data, the cloud could be used for running, as well as building, applications and other software. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the most commonly used of the cloud services model. This is where a third party distributes software over the internet, making them available to everyone. This could be email, customer relationship management, and healthcare-related applications.

  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) – A software distribution model where a third-party (MSP) hosts applications over the internet, making them available to customers via the internet. SaaS is one of three main components of cloud computing. The other two are Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

There are several important characteristics tied to the SaaS model. These are how they differ from the traditional software model and what makes it ideal for some businesses versus the traditional way of doing things.

  • It’s a uniform platform for delivery. There is no need to pay extra operational overhead for software users to go through different distribution channels. It’s all done in one platform with a single avenue of distribution.
  • It has centralized hosting and delivery. No more different software packages for different operating systems or platforms. With SaaS, it functions on a single platform (the internet) with a uniform interface.
  • It allows for open collaboration and sharing. With SaaS, platform tools like automated user provisioning and self-service account management provide users with the necessary tools to control how and when they share things like tasks, data and information with other users either inside or outside their company.

It’s easy for companies to streamline their support with SaaS because vendors perform all the maintenance and upkeep: updates, runtime, servers, storage, data, etc. SaaS is one of three main components to cloud computing, along with Platform as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

  • HaaS (Hardware-as-a-Service) – A procurement (the series of activities and procedures necessary to acquire IT products and services) model similar to leasing or licensing. The hardware belongs to the managed service provider and is installed at a customer’s site, then a service level agreement is signed that fills out what both parties are responsible for.

The Hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) model can be a cost-effective way for a small or mid-sized business provide employees with state-of-the-art hardware in a cost-effective manner. HaaS can be contrasted to infrastructure-as-a-service where the hardware is housed at the MSP’s site.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is for running applications and providing cloud components to software. Basically, the customer is using the provided platform, such as Microsoft Azure, to use libraries, languages, services and other tools supported by the platform provider.

The same way that you would make macros in Microsoft Excel, PaaS allows you to create applications using software built into the PaaS. Applications that use PaaS will inherit cloud capabilities such as scalability, high-availability, SaaS enablement and more. It reduces the amount of coding needed, it automates business policy and it helps migrate apps to a hybrid model.

Some vendors of PaaS use open source platforms while others use more of a proprietary version. Open source might have the advantage of being portable, but a vendor-specific version will probably have a better support model. Your business should take into account these versions before picking their PaaS. Portability is very important because businesses that want to move between cloud versions as their strategy evolves.

  • What are the benefits of PaaS?

One benefit is cost reduction; the other is that you can deliver web apps quickly without installing any tools or software.

  • What costs are associated with PaaS?

PaaS is usually billed using the same model as your utility bill, you pay for only what you use. It eliminates the need to install hardware or software that you don’t need.

  • What type of businesses can benefit from PaaS?

Development teams who want to speed their application’s time to market can benefit from PaaS; businesses looking to put their applications on a common architecture; and organizations who need critical support would also benefit from using PaaS. It reduces IT costs, complexity of operating systems and increases scalability.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a cloud infrastructure service that is a self-service model for accessing, monitoring and managing remote data centers such as compute, storage, networking and networking services such as firewalls. So instead of buying hardware outright, you pay for what you need as you go. It’s consumption based, much like your electricity is now.

Unlike PaaS and SaaS, IaaS users are responsible for managing data, runtime, apps and operating systems on it. The provider still manages networking, visualization and storage. Many providers now offer databases and other services. But the user is responsible for updating if there any updates.

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