Friday, March 18

Welcome to the Future of IT Support... INFERNO

No technology plan? Does your organization lack a strategy for how technology can best serve it into the future?

Stuck in a break-fix nightmare? Many service providers just address the symptoms of downtime, and not the root cause!

Lack of urgency? Are incidents that occur off-hours often left until the next business day regardless of the business impact?

Total network peace of mind. Your time is precious. You have more important issues to deal with than your computer network. It is, however, a critical enabler to your business and in need of attention to ensure it’s running predictably, optimally and securely. Our fully managed solution is the ideal program for an organization like yours, an organization that demands the utmost in network reliability and quality service.

Total IT support and management for a fixed monthly price – it's that simple. We provide all of the benefits of an internal MIS department for a fraction of the price of staffing one yourself. We reduce the business impact of IT failures by minimizing their occurrence, and any unforseen issues are dealt with as a top priority. All aspects of your network are covered: security, data protection applications and hardware.

When you outsource the management of your important IT resources to us, we look upon this as a partnership. Our comprehensive and professional approach means we are your IT department. By optimizing your network's performance, it will work at the peak efficiency and reliability levels that your business demands, allowing you to focus on running your business, not your network. Security, networking, data protection and user support - we handle it all for a single, predictable price.

Program Advantages:
Lower support costs through our preferred customer rates: Through participation in our managed services program, for any service work performed, you receive access to our preferred service support rates.

A single monthly price for superior network care: No more guessing what IT support will cost. Receive guaranteed predictability of your IT support costs and avoid high emergency fees. One monthly fee covers all support.

Unparalled transparency and accountability: Regularly scheduled IT consulting sessions provide a level of guidance, transparency and accountabilty that you cannot get from other IT service providers.

Monday, January 31

Strategies for Conserving Battery Power

Have you ever run out of battery power on your mobile PC during a meeting or a class? Have you worried about running out of power while waiting to meet with a client? Have you asked yourself how much longer your battery will last? Sufficient battery life is a persistent challenge for mobile PC users. But Windows offers several ways to help maximize the battery life of your mobile computer.

Optimize your power settings
The display and hard disk on your mobile PC are the two biggest consumers of battery power. By choosing a power plan (called a power scheme in Windows XP) you can extend your battery life. A power plan is a collection of hardware and system settings that control how your mobile PC manages power.

Sleep (Standby)
In a sleep state (standby), your display and hard disk turn off, and all open programs and files are saved in random access memory (RAM)—your computer's temporary memory—rather than to the hard disk. Information stored in RAM is cleared when the computer turns off, so it's a good idea to save your work before placing your system in standby mode. Otherwise, you may lose data if you lose power, you swap batteries, or your system crashes.

Sleep (standby) is particularly useful when you're using your mobile PC intermittently during the day. For example, when driving between clients' offices during the day, put your computer to sleep or on standby to maximize the life of your battery and maintain quick access to open programs, files, and documents. When you want to use your computer again, it wakes up quickly, and your desktop is restored exactly as you left it.

In hibernation, your computer saves everything to your hard disk and then shuts down. When you restart the computer, your desktop is restored exactly as you left it. Hibernation uses less power than the sleep state (standby), but it takes a bit longer to resume.

Hybrid Sleep
Hybrid sleep is a power-saving feature designed primarily for desktop computers. Hybrid sleep saves any open documents and programs to memory and to your hard disk drive, and then puts your computer into a low-power state.

Adjust screen brightness
You can also conserve battery by reducing the screen brightness. To adjust your screen brightness, refer to the instructions from your mobile PC manufacturer. Every computer is slightly different, but you can usually use a combination of keys, a function key, or a software tool to dim the screen.

Even better than dimming the screen is blanking it completely when you're not using your computer. You can further minimize power consumption by reducing the amount of time the computer is idle before the screen goes blank.

Turn off wireless
Another significant drain on your battery power is your wireless card. You should turn off your wireless device when you're using your mobile PC but are not connected to a wireless network. You can either remove your Wi-Fi card or press the manual hardware button on your computer if you're using a Centrino-based mobile PC. Refer to the instructions from your mobile PC manufacturer to learn where the manual hardware button is.

These are just some tips to keep you operational any time any place. We all know the chaos that a dead battery or cell phone can create. Make sure to check out additional power saving techniques by clicking on the title link.

Tuesday, January 11

10 Cyber "Threat" Trends

1. Attacks via USB drives: as these types of drives become cheaper and more ubiquitous, malware and Trojans will spread on them. Many companies hand out USB drives at trade shows.

2. Large-scale, targeted botnet attacks.

3. Denial of service attacks, like those that affected San Francisco-based Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) in the Wikileaks fiasco.

4.More attacks via social networks like Facebook Inc. Future viruses will likely be designed to steal or delete users’ personal information, which can be sold in numerous black markets.

5. Click jacking and cross-site scripting. This is similar to social network attacks. Criminals use fake web pages to trick users into giving away passwords, account numbers, etc.

6. Phishing attacks from “trusted” third parties. Emails will come, ostensibly from banks or other well known companies, asking users to click on a link.

7. Online fraud and money mules. These are active attempts to enlist people to transfer illegal funds from credit card thieves.

8. Cloud computing concerns. As more data is distributed around the Internet in the so-called “cloud,” opportunities for data infection or theft will grow.

9. Data exfiltration and insider threats. People will always find ways to anonymously leak private information.

10. Attacks on mobile devices and wireless networks. This fast growing area of technology provides unprecedented opportunities for cyber criminals. Phones and mobile devices can be specifically targeted in denial of service attacks, and criminals will also try to exploit mobile banking apps and similar programs.

Read more.

Friday, December 31

Future-proof your data archive

It's easier than ever to make sure copies of your most important records, documents, photos, videos, and other personal data will be readable/viewable/playable long after the hardware and software used to create the files have bitten the dust.

The four keys to safe data archiving are to choose file formats that won't become obsolete, use storage media that won't deteriorate or become inaccessible, make multiple copies stored apart, and check your archived data regularly to ensure it's still readable.

Don't get stuck with outdated data formats
Most of the files you want to archive are likely in proprietary formats, such as Microsoft Office's .doc, .xls, and .ppt for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively. Despite the ubiquity of software and services that let you read and edit Office files without the Office app used to create them, these formats will become obsolete one day--perhaps sooner than you may think.

Find a storage medium with legs
If you're wondering how long the data on your CDs and DVDs will last, you're not alone. Even the experts can't agree on the expected longevity of optical media--and the same is true for magnetic tapes and disks. (The X Lab offers a detailed discussion of optical media longevity, including a brief description of the ISO standards for testing optical media.)

More than one archive, more than one place
Storing your data archive online violates two rules of safe storage: you don't have physical access to the hardware the files are stored on, and you're susceptible to the financial health of the service you're using. If the service goes under, there's no guarantee you'll be able to retrieve your data, and you have to trust in the service's ability to maintain and back up its storage servers.

Schedule regular archive checkups
For the last couple of years I've been spending a good chunk of my spare time using the free Audacity audio software to convert several thousand songs on several hundred audio cassettes to MP3s. Some of the tapes were made as far back as the mid-1970s, but most date from the 1980s and early 1990s

Generally, it is very hard to keep up with each one of these tasks. QeH2 partners with many small-to-medium businesses to eliminate these pain points and helps to make you feel safe and secure. QeH2 has the proven track record and data recovery team in place to partner with your organization, protect your data from disaster and take your business to the next level this coming year.

To read the full article, click here.

Monday, December 13

Are Hackers Putting Your Business in Danger?

IT Hacker Support Services and Prevention QeH2 IT Support Services

by Eric Pratt

With the Wiki Leaks drama of the past week it seems there is a lot of speculation circulating as regard to who's at risk, what can be done, and who to turn to for support. That's where QeH2 Business Solutions and IT Support comes in! With a host of Disaster Recovery, Internet Security, Network Security and protection for the small business.

With fear comes rash decisions however (exactly what hackers want). Look to avoid some of the many scares that are crippling businesses and causing them to over spend. For example, see this recent email I received from our tenant regarding just this issue, and QeH2 Partner Ian Holt's thoughts following...

WARNING: Internet usage and DoS attacks

With the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange the largest hacker group in the world right now (Known as "Anonymous") is doing major attacks on many financial institutions like Paypal and Mastercard and internet providers like Amazon. These attacks also known as DoS (Denial of Service) attacks are usually performed by sending out massive amounts of malware which hijacks people's machines and disseminates the attack from unknowing victims machines. Occasionally these malware include Trojans and worms which will damage your machine.

As an added precaution beyond normal virus and malware protection we want all of our customers to know about this and would ask that you limit internet usage over the next three days to curtail any hijacking of your equipment. By all means, do not stop using the internet altogether but please limit your usage as much as possible for the next three days. The government is fighting back against these hackers and the major companies are working on patches to block the malware dissemination but it will take time.

I sent this to my Partner and friend Ian, he replied with the following....

"This sounds like a hoax. It's not like there is a limited amount of internet to go around. If you try to access one of the websites they attack it will be slower, but your internet usage will not affect nor increase your ability to be attacked or hijacked.

The government does fight back against hackers, the FBI has 1 (that's ONE) cybercrime expert in the state of Colorado and he's woefully behind the times. Private companies being attacked will update their security policies and block offending traffic and may experience a few hours of downtime until they control their own sites.

Erroneous parts of this email include - The Paypal BLOG site was down, not paypal. Amazon is NOT an internet provider, they are an online retailer.

This whole thing reeks of cyberhoax."

Hopefully this proves as an example that you never know what to believe, especially given the various sources. Someone played a simple hoax here but the results can and will be lost productivity, etc. When a question comes up just contact your QeH2 IT Support Technician, that's what we're here for!

Monday, November 22

Are you Ready for Cyber Monday?

by Ian Holt

With nearly every retailer from Costco to Amazon advertising Cyber Monday, when do you suppose busy employees will get their online shopping done? In 2002 a survey of 2000 US companies nationwide found that half of all employees with online access planned to do holiday shopping from their company computer. We suspect that number has grown over the years as one third of those employees volunteered that they would knowingly violate their company’s Internet use policy prohibiting shopping at work. Another 20 percent of online employees had no idea if their company had a policy or not. And this was before the term "Cyber Monday" was even advertised!

Since the enterprise reaches into the employees personal time, the employee may feel justified in extending his or her personal life into the enterprise. Activities like online shopping, vacation planning, gaming, personal e-mail and social media are considered quid pro quo by the employee.

Your company's Internet Use Policy must be flexible enough to coincide with actual behavior and the flexibility needed to manage your workforce. Something with configurable time controls would allow you to easily restrict the days and hours during which users can access the Internet. You can also allow free access with or without monitoring during specified time periods so shoppers can shop away on Cyber Monday at lunch or after work.

QeH2 can help your company create a company Internet Usage Policy that fits your actual internet usage.

Monday, November 8

Ways IT Can Waste Money

We will look at 6 ways your IT may be letting precious dollars slip away. Some of these may just be common sense but there are a lot of organizations out there that are wasting money in these ways.

1. Wasted energy
The electric bill is still a large cost for companies and the IT department is a big user of energy. By adopting some energy-saving policies, you may be able to save some money. Members of your office stay may leave their computers on when they leave for the day or substituting the use of a screen saver as opposed to turning off the monitor (you should do both). With the advanced technology we have, using power settings available may pay off. Turing off lights in the server room and around the office when you leave for the day as well as using Energy Star rated equipment will help to save over the long run.

2. Spending too much on mobile technology
Mobile phones and devices are great toys, but company-provided equipment may be costing more than necessary. Using policies regarding mobile device use may help to determine what the right levels of minutes are appropriate for your organization.

3. Not allowing employees to telecommute
Management sometimes fails to recognize the cost savings for both the employee and employer associated with telecommuting on a regular base or part-time. One of the biggest issues companies have with telecommuting employees is the security threat it presents. With the advancement of technology, software allows IT departments to ensure remote systems connecting to the company are properly configured and protected and that connections are secure. Allowing employees to work from home can save on areas like office/parking space, heating/air conditioning, etc. It even saves employees on clothes, lunches, and transportation. They even tend to enjoy work more, putting in extra hours and raising the level of productivity.

4. Hiring full-time employees when an outside company could be more cost effective
Bringing on full-time employees to handle a workload that's meant to be temporary leaves employers with idle workers, costing more money due to no economy of scales. When you don't have the expertise for a specific project, it is more cost effective hire the expert. This keeps you from having to pay benefits such as insurance, vacation time, and sick time. Another plus is not dealing with all the paperwork and overhead that's associated with regular employees.

5. Make unnecessary upgrades
It's great to have the latest and greatest technology but can really take a hit to your bank account. Focusing on hardware and/or software upgrades that allow users to do their jobs more efficiently makes sense. Purchasing new hardware/software every couple of years or upgrading to the newest software so many months after it comes out may not be the best use of resources. Evaluating your current infrastructure and how users interact with their equipment allows the company to only replace or upgrade in areas that absolutely need it.

6. Failure to upgrade old, inefficient hardware
On the flip side, some companies are trying to squeeze every last drop out of their current systems. If you continuously repairing old, outdated equipment, putting 'Band-Aids' on your network every time it crashes because of energy inefficiencies, or putting your data at risk with ancient software, it's time to stop. It makes sense to invest some capital to lower operating costs and save money over the long run.

These are only some of the ways to conserve your IT budget. With the economy still trying to bounce back, conserving in areas and investing in other areas will allow you to move your business forward.