Category

Web & Cloud

Ad blocker is coming to Chrome

By | Google, Managed Service, Managed Technology, Office, Web & Cloud

Pop-up ads and videos can easily turn people away from a website. Google knows this and has come up with a solution set to launch early next year. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about Chrome’s ad blocker.

What is it?

Ad blocker from Chrome actually works like an ad filter, meaning it won’t block all ads from the website, only ones that are determined to be too intrusive, like video autoplay with sound as well as interstitials that take up the entire screen.

A group called the Coalition for Better Ads, which consists of Google, Facebook, News Corp, The Washington Post, and other members will decide whether or not the ads are to be blocked. According to Sridhar Ramaswamy, the executive in charge of Google’s ads, even ads owned or served by Google will be blocked if they don’t meet the new guidelines.

How will it work?

From a consumer’s end, you won’t have to do anything except for updating your Chrome browser. For publishers, Google will provide a tool that you can run to find out if your site’s ads are violating the guidelines. The blocker will apply to both desktop and mobile experiences.

What are the benefits of Chrome ad blocker?

Bad ads slow down the web, make it annoying to browse, and drive consumers to install ad blockers that remove all advertisements. If that continues, publishers will face major obstacles since nearly all websites rely on ads to stay alive.

With Chrome’s ad blocker, wholesale ad blocking can be controlled to please both consumers and publishers. Users get a better web browsing experience and publishers can continue to make profits through online ad sales.

But isn’t Google already using third-party ad-blocking extensions?

Yes, but this means they have to pay third-party ad blockers — like Adblock Plus — a certain amount of fee to whitelist ads for the privilege of working around their filters. With their own ad blocker, this can be eliminated once and for all.

Are there potential drawbacks?

It’s undeniable that Chrome’s ad blocker gives Google lots of power to determine ad standards for everyone. It comes to no surprise that there are skeptics who don’t trust one company to act in everyone’s interest.

And while Google assures that even its own ads will be removed if they violate the rules, the fact that Google itself is an ad company with nearly 89 percent of its revenues coming from online ads doesn’t boost its credibility to industry peers.

Publishers will have fewer options to monetize their sites once Chrome’s ad blocker is implemented. To help, Google will include an option for visitors to pay websites that they’re blocking ads on called Funding Choices. However, a similar feature called Google Contributor has been tested a couple years ago with no signs of catching on so we doubt that Funding Choices will differ.

Despite expected criticism, Chrome’s ad blocker will likely result in a better web browsing experience. And as always, if you have any questions about the web, or IT in general, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Bandwidth – What is it, what does it do and why do I need more of it!

By | Business, Google, Managed Service, Managed Technology, MSP, Security, Uncategorized, Web & Cloud
Post by:  Fabienne McGeever

Bandwidth refers to the amount of information that something, like a connection to the internet, can handle in a given time.  Bandwidth calculations consider both theoretical ratings and actual throughput.  It also measures speed for what is being sent out (upstream) and what is being brought in (downstream), explained today as up and down, from each workstation.  Both up and down have a separate and unique speed measurement.  Typical scenarios that are especially sensitive and are noticed around a networked company and is felt throughout include issues like:

  • time to establish a new connection
  • time to load a Web page, and basic browsing
  • time to download an app, patch, or other files
  • ability to stream video content for long periods uninterrupted
  • Processing day to day functions in your specific software package including systems software and application software. Systems software includes the programs that are dedicated to managing the computer itself.  Application software includes personal and business that keep employees and your company running).

Let’s use an analogy to help make bandwidth clearer. In this example, the bandwidth is the number of tables in a restaurant, and web traffic is diners. The math is simple: The more tables in the restaurant, the more patrons can dine there at any one time.  The service however will be affected when there is an overabundance of patrons and not enough service, or a particular patron is over demanding; insistent that he deserves more attention.

Network connections each possess a bandwidth rating according to the maximum data rate it is physically capable of supporting.  Examples are:  wired, WiFi, DSL, (VPN) Virtual Personal Network, (RDP) Remote Desktop Protocol and Ethernet connections are examples.  Fast Ethernet or Higher level network protocols like (IP) Internet Protocol use links at 100 Mbps (megabits per second).  Each of these connections have a distinctive speed rating.  All networks can easily be extended to link entire businesses or office buildings using network bridge devices.  Being cognizant of what ports, switches, routers, tunnels and adapters are also important, but that’s another article!  These devices do play a part in a networks performance.  In the IT world, this can explain why things are not working the way or as fast as you are expecting.  Whether proactive, reactive or both, maintenance is king!  Equipment makes a huge difference and letting your hardware become obsolete is never a good idea.

So how much bandwidth does one need?  Internet usage doubles every 12 months. If you need 10Mbps of bandwidth service right now, next year you’ll probably need 20Mbps.  Businesses need 100Mbps per 1,000 users or 100Kbps (kilobits per second) per user.  Mbps is over 1000 times faster than 1.0 Kbps. Reports project users will require 1Gbps per 1,000 seats or 1Mbps per user.  There are only a few things to consider in purchasing bandwidth through your (ISP) Internet Service Provider.  Who is using the Internet, what are they using the Internet for and when are users actually using it.  Unfortunately, traffic is not a steady trickle of bytes it comes in bursts.  Cost and availability from your provider both limit the bandwidth provisioned to you.  Your ISP will let you know what is available in your area.  Even more important is how your internal network bandwidth is allocated throughout the building.  Throttling is recommended to help prioritize who needs what and how much.  If a few are utilizing all the bandwidth, you can evaluate the necessity and make a business decision to control or purchase more bandwidth and/or put parameters in place for bandwidth distribution.  Setting up this regulator lets you know who is monopolizing your bandwidth.  This doesn’t preclude your ISP throttling you. They may be allowing full speed traffic to benchmarking sites while artificially squeezing anything else to slower speeds.  “Unmetered bandwidth” is also an option; however, unmetered means a hosting plan with unmetered traffic… But unmetered does not mean unlimited.   Unmetered hosting plans are often very limited in the amount of data you can send and receive.  Data is often transferred between your servers and the public web at a lower speed.  Some easy, low cost fixes to increase your speed might include just changing up your web browser, updating your operating system, changing out hardware like your network card, RAM and of course making sure your network is secure!

Fiber optic cable is now replacing copper cable, raising the standard in broadband speeds  from the world of megabit into gigabit speeds .  Your network condition is directly related to production and plays a critical role in the success and growth of your business.

Simpatico Systems, LLC is able to perform a network assessment and advise you on how to get your network in the best condition, in addition to being compliant for best practices and performance.  Call us today – 855.476.6347 opt 1.

About the Author: Fabienne McGeever is a middle child/twin in a family of ten children.  She gained the unique perspective to see both sides and get along with most. She loves snow skiing, the beach “in any form,” and glamping. Fabienne lives in Santa Clarita, CA and serves as a Corporate Admin/Client Relations Liaison for Simpatico Systems.  Contact her directly:  fabienne.mcgeever@simpat.co

The cloud is more secure than you think

By | Business, Managed Technology, MSP, Web & Cloud

Even to this day, the perception of cloud technology suffers from a reputation for bad security. But as time goes on we’re beginning to see that cloud security is almost always better than that of local area networks. So whether you’re considering a cloud web server or internet-based productivity software, take a minute to learn why the cloud your best option.

Hands-on management

Unless you have an overinflated budget, relying on local copies of data and software means IT staff are forced to spread themselves across a bevy of different technologies. For example, one or two in-house tech support employees can’t become experts in one service or solution without sacrificing others. If they focus on just cybersecurity, the quality of hardware maintenance and helpdesk service are going to take a nosedive.

However, Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) benefit from economies of scale. CSPs maintain tens, sometimes thousands, of servers and can hire technicians who specialize in every subset of cloud technology.

Fewer vulnerabilities

Cloud security isn’t superior just because more technicians are watching over servers. When all the facets of your business’s IT are in one place, the vulnerabilities associated with each technology get mixed together to drastically increase your risk exposure.

For example, a server sitting on the same network as workstations could be compromised by an employee downloading malware. And this exposure extends to physical security as well. The more employees you have who aren’t trained in cyber security, the more likely it is that one of them will leave a server room unlocked or unsecured.

CSPs exist solely to provide their clients with cloud services. There are no untrained employees and there are significantly fewer access points to the network.

Business continuity

The same technology that allows you to access data from anywhere in the world also allows you to erect a wall between your local network and your data backups. Most modern iterations of malware are programmed to aggressively replicate themselves, and the best way to combat this is by quarantining your backups in the cloud. This is commonly referred to as data redundancy in the cybersecurity world, and nowhere is it as easy to achieve as in the cloud.

The cloud doesn’t only keep your data safe from the spread of malware, it also keeps data safe from natural and manmade disasters. When data is stored in the cloud, employees will still have access to it in the event that your local workstations or servers go down.

The cloud has come a long way over the years. It’s not just the security that has gotten better; customized software, platforms and half a dozen other services can be delivered via the cloud. Whatever it is you need, we can secure and manage it for you. We know the cloud.  Call us today … 855.476.6347

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Why you need to back up your mobile devices

By | Business, Managed Technology, Web & Cloud

There was a time when mobile phones were used exclusively for calling and texting. Now, they can do so much more. Regardless of your level of tolerance or skill for managing documents in such a small gadget, mobile devices allow you to send and receive email, download and upload media files, store data, and even close business deals. As mobile devices became indispensable in everyone’s personal and professional life, the security risks have also increased — and backing up became more critical than ever.

Malware on mobile

More than 50% of the world’s adult population use a mobile phone with internet connection, so dangers in these handy devices are to be expected. Scarier than the thought of being offline is being online and exposed to malware.

If you use your mobile devices as an extension of your work computers, backing up is a must. Mobile phones have become as vulnerable to malware as laptops and desktops have, especially if you consider the fact that many professionals and business owners use them for emailing confidential documents and storing business-critical files.

Device disasters

Other than malware, other types of disasters can happen on your device. Because you carry it wherever your go, your device can easily be stolen, misplaced, or damaged. They may be easily replaceable, but the data contained in them may not. Having completely backed up data on your devices helps prevent a minor inconvenience from turning into a disastrous situation.

Backup options

Performing backups in iPhone and Android devices is a seamless process. Their operating systems require only minimal effort from users, and backing up entails nothing more than logging into their Apple or Google account. However, other users have different devices with different operating systems, slightly complicating the process.

Mobile devices’ safety is essential to business continuity plans. So whether your office users are tied to a single operating system or prefer different devices, there are options to back up all your organization’s mobile devices. There are cloud backup services that enable syncing of all devices and that back up files, contacts, photos, videos, and other critical files in one neat backup system. These mobile backup tools are offered on monthly or lifetime subscription schemes, which provides small businesses with enough flexibility to ensure protection.

Mobile phones have become so ubiquitous to how people function that many feel the need to have two or more phones, mostly to have one for personal use and another for business. With all these options on hand, there’s no excuse for not backing up data on your mobile devices.

Our experts can provide practical advice on security for your business’s computers and mobile devices. Call Simpatico Systems for mobile backup and other security solutions today at 855.476.6347.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Vulnerabilities on WordPress websites

By | Web & Cloud

“Easy-to-use,” “SEO-friendly,” “open-source,” and “customizable.” These are some of the words that best describe WordPress, currently the most popular Content Management Solutions (CMS) platform. With thousands of websites affected in a recently launched series of attacks, “easy to target,” “hackers’ favorite,” and “prone to attacks” could soon be used to define the experience of running a WordPress website.

WordPress attacks by the numbers

In 4 separate attacks, an estimated 40,000 websites were compromised, defacing 67,000 web pages, which has quickly gone up to 1.5 million. A security release update, WordPress 4.7.2, was immediately launched to mitigate the flaw, but not everyone was able to deploy it on time, thus inflating the number of corrupted web pages.

Although WordPress took measures to ensure that the vulnerability would go unnoticed, hackers found a way to get around the initial fixes and exploited the sites that remained unpatched. Those who haven’t applied WordPress’s latest security release were the ones most harmed by the defacement campaigns, and it soon became highly publicized.

Steps taken

Fixes have been deployed and stronger patches are in the works, but hackers do not just sit around and wait to be taken down. In fact, more attacks are being launched concurrently with security developers’ attempts to strengthen blocking rules.

In preparation for further exploits, WordPress liaised with cybersecurity firms to implement protective measures. Google did their part by announcing via Google Search Console the critical security updates that webmasters must install to protect against the WordPress-specific attacks. Meanwhile, web application vendors and web hosting companies are poised to protect their customers from attacks by installing web filters on their customers’ web servers.

Despite these measures, the attacks are expected to continue and the masterminds behind them will come up with strategies more insidious than merely modifying several web pages. Updating security patches that can effectively alleviate the vulnerabilities’ impact will also take time to develop and launch.

The importance of patches

Some attacks may cause a blip on your business’s networks, while others might cause its demise. From all these attacks, one lesson is worth emphasizing: Applying the most up-to-date patches is critical to your systems’ security and business’s survival.

Unpatched systems are the easiest targets for hackers who are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities to exploit. If your organization lacks the capacity to manually update security patches, consider deploying patch management software. Keeping all your software updated with the latest patches may seem like an insurmountable task, but the price of neglecting it can cost you dearly.

WordPress remains the most widely used CMS and its popularity is not going to wane anytime soon. If your website runs on WordPress and you’re considering security options that will ensure your company is poised to handle breaches, we can help you.  Call Simpatico Systems today at 855.476.6347.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

What you need to know about Cloudbleed

By | Web & Cloud

Internet security company Cloudflare revealed a major flaw in their system. The so-called ‘Cloudbleed’ vulnerability leaked customer information from thousands of websites, according to Cloudflare researchers. Fortunately, there have been no signs of exploitation, but that doesn’t mean you should be complacent. Here’s everything you need to know about Cloudbleed.

What is Cloudbleed?
Although it’s technically similar to Heartbleed, a bug that compromised millions of websites and accounts, Cloudbleed is less severe. Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy discovered that several Cloudflare-hosted websites, including Fitbit, Uber, and OkCupid, were inadvertently leaking customer information and saving them within the source code.

For example, when a person visits a bugged Uber page, the website code could contain data and login credentials from another user who recently visited the page. The data may be hidden between several lines of code, but a skilled hacker can easily find it.

Exploiting it, however, is more difficult. The Cloudbleed bug collects random bits of data, which may or may not contain any sensitive information, making it a less attractive point of attack for cybercriminals. Over time, a cybercriminal may be able to compile enough information to exploit, but it doesn’t seem to be a viable option for targeted attacks.

The response
According to Cloudflare, Cloudbleed was triggered 1,240,00 times and found in 6,400 websites between September 22 and February 18. After the bug was discovered, the internet security company quickly alerted affected websites, fixed the code, removed cached pages from search engines, and monitored client websites for any strange website activity.

Cloudflare-hosted websites also checked what data was leaked and reassured customers that there was minimal impact to their private information.

What can you do?
While Cloudflare and other companies are telling everyone that the possibility of Cloudbleed attacks and password leaks is low, you should still ensure your account is safe.

Start by setting stronger passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Make sure to set unique passwords for every online service, especially for any of your accounts that use Cloudflare. Whenever possible, use two-factor verification to keep your account secure even if someone gets a hold of your password.

And, last but not least, call us at 855-476-6347 for any cybersecurity, cloud, and website issues. Keep your business data safe, and sleep better tonight!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Internet Technology – The Misunderstood Managed Service

By | Hardware, Managed Service, Managed Technology, MSP, Security, Virtualization, VoIP, Web & Cloud

Written By:  Fabienne McGeever

Where clients pay a fixed monthly rate to manage their entire IT infrastructure/Network. NOT!

That is the first of many misunderstood statements the IT Managed Services Provider, known by the acronym “MSP,” industry faces today.  I remember the days when anything computer related, I would call up my sister and ask her for help.  We would spend hours trying to figure something out and she would ask me a barrage of questions that I didn’t know the answers to.  I would say, but you work with computers!  Enough said.  There is hardware, software, networks, VPN’s, domains, servers, data centers, storage, versions and levels and then there are third party vendors and partners with all kinds of areas that are a specialization unto themselves.

There are other times when an MSP misrepresents or avoids speaking directly to what they will actually be doing for you.  For example, they may offer a back-up solution but fail to explain what is indeed being backed up and where. You are thinking “I’m covered”.  Not always the case as there are different levels of backup solutions from local to external to off site.  Different devices and storage capacity.  You need to know what data is being backed up, where and how often. All businesses should have a disaster recovery solution in place so that should something catastrophic happen, the business can easily recover and get “back to business” with minimal data loss.

Typically the client and the MSP are bound by a contractual, service-level agreement(s) that states the performance and quality metrics of their relationship.  The agreement should address a range of issues related to cost, quality and timeliness of service, remote and/or on-site support and the recovery risks.  An in-touch business person will understand completely what is being accomplished and how much they are paying for the level of service being provided.  A good estimate for this is 4% of the business revenue costs yearly, so make sure this is in the budget.

A well-intended MSP offers many services including communication i.e.: email, VoIP phones, workstation support, backup solutions, security solutions, and facilitation with third party applications.  An MSP assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of activities and tasks for its clients either proactively or, as the MSP, for a certain product.  The services configure in many variations based on the client’s needs and budget.

Hiring an MSP facilitates streamlining of processes, outsourcing services and redesigning systems so a business owner worries less about IT and focuses on running/growing their business.  The decision to hire a MSP that can remotely monitor and manage your computer network is a no-brainier. The managed service provider improves efficiency, reliability, security, and maintenance — all while lowering costs.  The slogan “pay now or pay later” comes to mind.  What will you do?  Give Simpatico Systems a call.  We are here to help!  855.476.6347 Read more about us at Why Simpatico Systems. 

About the Author: Fabienne McGeever is a middle child/twin in a family of ten children.  She gained the unique perspective to see both sides and get along with most. She loves snow skiing, the beach “in any form,” and glamping. Fabienne lives in Santa Clarita, CA and serves as a Corporate Admin/Client Relations Liaison for Simpatico Systems.  Contact her directly:  fabienne.mcgeever@simpat.co