Major Ransomware Cyber Attack - did we mention you need to update your passwords?

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Another large cyber attack has struck several large firms across the globe. If you're interested in the specifics and proper journalism, read the bbc article. They're fantastic. If your interested in opinions and some tips about internet security, hang in there a bit and you'll walk away feeling a little more secure. 

  1. Change your passwords. You've probably heard this before. No, not just one password, all of your passwords. Yes it can happen to you. Don't use one password for more than one account. Okay, no more patronizing. Genuinely, regularly updating your passwords can protect you against a vast majority of digital threats. Most breaches happen not due to any coding or effort on a hacker's, part, but a loose password that can then unlock several accounts. Your email is the most high risk account you have - everything goes through that. 
  2. Experts are guessing at the current time that the current ransomware attack is using the same exploits as WannaCry. This means, if you have Windows 7 or older, you're at risk. Regularly update your software, and be diligent about your software updates. They can feel intrusive and sometimes slow down your computer, but they are there to improve security.
  3. Make sure your systems are up-to-date and patched. An extension of #2, these versions of ransomware will find loopholes in old windows code and will exploit them. Only two anti-virus software have been able to detect this ransomware, so assuming that having an anti-virus software on your computer guarantees safety is a bad idea. 

That's it, This information is quite pithy and no one wants to be told what to do. If you take anything away from this, change your passwords, update your phone/pc/tablet/toaster. There is so much more that can be done, but getting started is better than inaction. Stay Safe!

4 Startups that will make you raise an eyebrow

This is a very tame project management board. 

For something new, we are going to start featuring new startups weekly to show the weird and wonderful side of the tech community, entrepreneurship, and the future of business. There are startups for basically any product or service you can imagine. There is an IoT plant watering device, there are IoT latrines and toilets. There are so many plays for IoT toasters that if they weaponize we will soon be ruled by robot overlords with toasters for heads. Obviously, this list is nonexhaustive, there are certainly amazing, and wacky, startups that fly under our radar. So without further ado, here are the startups for this week.

 

Blockchain, but not that blockchain

A bitcoin startup [blockchain] raised $40 million in series b. For those of you not familiar with startups, that's a pretty big deal. Richard Branson got down on it. Google ventures was involved. It was a good time. To further rub salt on the wound of other bitcoin startups, not only have they named their company after a term associated with furious google searches - here is a link to the definition of blockchains - but now thought leaders everywhere who have written about blockchain are frantically altering their content marketing strategy so they don't accidently promote Blockchain. Nefarious indeed. This is a novel, but slightly bullish take on disruptive growth hacking. Oh, what Blockchain does, oops. Blockchain will be a cryptocurrency wallet provider, similar to coinbase, but different. We will see how this plays out. 


Everyone knows vegetarians, and vegans, but everyone knows that *one* vegan who makes it a point of contention. That's not about being vegan, that's about being difficult and the center of attention. Sgaia foods out of Scotland aims to take all the difficulty out of eating vegan. They're doing well, opening up shop in New Zealand, and hopefully we'll be seeing them stateside soon, too. For people who love great tasting food, remaining true to their principles, and healthy options to meat, you can't get much better. We salute you plant meat creators. 


Implantable Cell Therapies

A slightly less palatable startup is working on creating a new alternative to current medical practices. No we're not able to regrow limbs, yet. We've all heard about 3D printing organs (also not quite there, even livers), but what about biocompatible capsules (say that ten times fast) that can treat "a variety of serious hematologic, enzyme deficiency, and endocrine disorders"? Sigilon Therapeutics aims to create effective, implantable cells that secrete live saving proteins into a patient's body. Sounds kinda creepy. Secretion is always a great word to drop at a fancy dinner party. Another point to Sigilon, these implants are marketed to not scar the patient. These implants deliver these proteins in controlled releases, over extended periods of time. This could result in dramatically cheaper healthcare options, prevention symptoms from life altering illness, as well as tissue that will avoid the effects of a body's rejection to foreign tissue.  


The movie is zoolander

Yet another VR Startup that promises to break the glass ceiling

VR is hot right now, so hot right now. Oculus rift, HTC Vive, PS VR, XBOX VR (Also oculus rift), everyone has some sort of VR play and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Surrounded by a sea of steep, steep competition, how can anyone hope to stand out? By being 17 times better than the competition, obviously. Helsinki-based startup Varjo claims the screen resolution of their product is 17 times better than the existing competition, which is a pretty big different. I wonder what it looks like to the average consumer? Will they be able to notice each magnitude of difference? Or will only a magnitude of say, 3, matter? 20/20, as it is called, is purported to use eye-tracking software. The biggest problem consumers have with  VR is the screen resolution. And sometimes they're a little clunky, and sometimes people get carried away and crash into furniture and expensive vases your mother-in-law gave you. Regardless. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out - a boost to screen resolution could be just what the industry needs to pull up the bottom line. 

 

 

So there you have it. 4 Startups that are diligently working to carve out a chunk of the world for themselves. Whether they make a larger impact or not remains to be seen, but with anything from advanced VR capabilities to solving world hunger with plant parts, the future looks pretty bright. Technology will continue to revolutionize the way we interact with our world. 

Is your data available online?

Over the past few years there have been breaches to secure databases, some of which exposed half a billion users' data. It's easy and understandable to wonder if you are among that list, but how do you tell? The answer is really quite simple. 

https://haveibeenpwned.com/ 

Just type in whatever email address you're worried about. haveibeenpwned is ssl secured (that's the little green lock next to the URL), and was created by Troy Hunt.  Now, chances are modest that one email will be exposed, but often the data leaked isn't enough to steal an identity. Here are steps to take if you realize your data and passwords have been breached, and how to determine the severity of the leak.

Severity : If your physical address, email and email password, social security, credit card information, or banking details are available, that's about as bad as it gets. This enables pretty much whoever can access that data to manipulate it for identity theft. So, what to do in this situation? Not a whole lot, but you can work to inhibit further breaches. 

  • Cancel Credit/debit cards and get new ones. 
  • Change passwords - Many people use the same password for multiple sites and services. This is a bad, bad idea. Changing your passwords once every two weeks and ensuring it is made up of lowercase, uppercase, numerals, and punctuation will drastically limit the ability for people to 'hack' you and your data. 
  • Keep your operating system and programs up to date. Wannacry hit users with outdated updates and old OS's (Windows 7 almost exclusively). The newer the tech, the more relevant their firewalls and other protections are. 
  • Watch your smartphone. A large majority of malware that is circulated focuses on smart phones. Ensure that you password protect your phone, and don't use open wifi networks.
  • Don't save passwords in your browsers, on your phone, anywhere. That's just asking for it.
  • Come up with ridiculous answers to security questions. If the security question is 'what is your mother's maiden name?' A malicious piece of software can figure that out in no time if you actually put in her maiden name. It can be anything. "Green eggs and ham" would be basically impossible to crack, for example. 

To conclude, haveibeenpwned is a public service and an awesome website to determine if you have been the victim of a recent breach. Additionally, using common-sense practices to ensure the safety of your data is key to lessening the blow from those breaches. Those hacks were the result of weaknesses in those company's databases - loose passwords, email phishing, account linking, similar to how you can be exposed. Just remember, Thinking that it will never happen to you is the easiest way to end up frantically canceling your credit cards. 

5 Amazing Things Done with Artificial Intelligence

Are we a missing piece away from the singularity? 2050 is not far away for machines to equal human intelligence

Are we a missing piece away from the singularity? 2050 is not far away for machines to equal human intelligence

First and foremost, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a type of machine learning characterized by intelligent decision making similar to our own cognitive abilities. Key traits of effective AI are learning and problem solving. The key issue yet to be solved is independent thought. No machine, so far, is capable of independent thought and reason at the same ability of a human. Once this is achieved, the line between what makes us different than machines will be a hot issue for a generation. 

But in the meantime here are some pretty cool things that we can do with AI before our machine overlords inevitably conquer the observable universe. 

Finished game of Go

Finished game of Go

AlphaGo Defeats Lee Sedol in 2016.

AlphaGo, created by DeepMind (acquired by Alphabet in 2014) beat the world grandmaster go player 4-1. Go, a more mathematically complex game of wits than chess, was a challenge for AI developers. Deepblue defeated chess champions in the 20th century, but Go continued to elude the level of skill an AI could match. AlphaGo defeated Sedol through learning and problem solving, it is capable of making mistakes. 

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We are getting our own babel fish.

 

For those who don't know what a babel fish is, read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and come back. An Australian startup is working with IBM Watson, a ridiculously intelligent AI, to develop a near real time wearable translation product. This will revolutionize human communication as we know it. As the speed of translation improves, we could see a gadget translate multiple languages in real time, enabling a person to understand anything said to them, regardless of language. Translators of the world, you've got pretty serious competition.

that looks fun

that looks fun

Be a personal trainer.

Vi is a charming AI personality designed to help you accomplish your fitness goals. It fits comfortable in a pair of earbuds connected to a flexible band that drapes around your neck. It scans standard health metrics, contextual metrics, and environmental data to assist you in your training regime. It learns your routine as you exercise and gives you attainable, reasonable goals to strive for and achieve. It also comes with a soothing female voice rather than a gruff personal trainer, so that's nice. 

Its the cloud and it's gonna getcha. Or possibly a nasty thunderstorm. You decide. 

Its the cloud and it's gonna getcha. Or possibly a nasty thunderstorm. You decide. 

(Almost) Predict the weather. 

 

Okay so it's not going to tell you the exact moment one raindrop will fall in your town, or when there will be tornado, perfectly. It will be able to give general, more-precise-than-your-local-weatherman predictions about the upcoming weather. This supercomputer could potentially save lives as it may effectively predict dangerous storms such as hurricanes or tornadoes. 

Hopefully you won't be too mean to your local weatherman, they're human too, they make mistakes. They're really sorry about that picnic that was ruined because of scattered showers. 

 

 

 

Step one, conquer ball, step 2, conquer the world. 

Step one, conquer ball, step 2, conquer the world. 

 

Play soccer with exceptional "skill" 

This might appear silly, but the ability for these robots to walk, detect, and kick a ball is an incredibly difficult process. The first success was in 2011, and the robots have continuously improved since then. They still can't compete with even elementary school players, but eventually, they have the capacity to beat premier league teams. 

5 Ways VoIP Systems Can Save Your Company Money

First, what is VoIP? It’s very simple. VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, which means that you use the Internet for phone calls, rather than a telephone line. This eliminates the need for carrier phone lines. Because of this, you could connect distant and remote offices and workers, no matter where they are located, efficiently and affordably.  So for the real question, how can this system save your company money?

 

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1.      Uses the Internet for phone calls

Using the Internet for phone calls means you don’t need to pay for carrier phone lines. Using the Internet also allows for easy communication with remote offices and workers, which means your business can spread to more places, which in turn creates growth in your company and income. Freelancers are also now easy to contact (well, easier) and now make up 40% of the US workforce.

 

2.      SIP Trunk

A SIP trunk, Session Initiation Protocol, utilizes broadband connection for access during a call. By utilizing VoIP, you could enable large savings by switching over from traditional phone lines. The calls are created through your IP connection, so you don’t have to worry about long distance phone call charges, which quickly add up for national companies.  

3.      Security

Why does implementing a good security system save you money? A good security system not only protects you, but it protects your customers. VoIP can save you money by actively monitoring and responding to fraud, looks for call patterns that are out of the norm, and requires customers to have a PIN during a certain time frame.

VoIP is easier to use than this. If you have this, you should call us.

VoIP is easier to use than this. If you have this, you should call us.

4.      Ease of Service

The ease of use of VoIP systems, and the reasonable learning curve allow staff to effectively own and manage their own specific communication systems. This helps to eliminate the need for frequent and costly service calls.

5.      It’s 2017, outdated phones are costly

Outdated phones are expensive to fix or replace because the parts and the phones themselves are becoming effectively obsolete. Old phone equipment is not being produced anymore and the propriety parts for replacement to old hardware is gradually ceasing production as well. Sooner or later you won’t have the option other than to switch away from traditional phone services. Switching now could save you frustration and money in the future.

 

10 Myths About Cyber Security

He's gonna getcha. Ohhh That's a Nasty lookin Hammer.

He's gonna getcha. Ohhh That's a Nasty lookin Hammer.

Cyber Security is essential to the future of any growing enterprise. Effective tools to prevent data theft or "hacks" will be the cornerstone of an effective digital strategy. The world is very different from what it was even 10 years ago, and realizing the myths about cyber security is key to a long-lived business.

  1. You are a low priority target. No, you are not a low priority target. Invasive programs and identity thieves go for low hanging fruit. If your data is easy to access, you're a mark. 
  2. Cyber Security is only IT's problem. Everyone is online, so everyone can put data out that should  be private. It may fall under an IT departments jurisdiction, but that doesn't mean you should be careless about your data and pass the buck. 
  3. Protecting yourself is enough. If someone entrusts you with private data, they are counting on you to keep that data, well, private. 
  4. I have a virus blocker, everything is fine. Malicious programs are constantly being updated to challenge (and beat) firewalls and other defensive programs. Complacency also contributes to this. Assuming you are totally safe because you have a firewall is a quick way to expose yourself (or your business) to attack.
  5. I don't visit 'unsafe' areas online. This is a particularly nasty habit. Just because your browser history is spotless doesn't mean you're free from risk of attack. Phishing scams, smart phone viruses, and identity theft all can result from simply being loose with your data. No, that Nigerian prince does not have a million dollars that he wants to give you.
  6. I have a strong password. I am totally safe. Nope. If you use that one password across multiple accounts, and it is discovered, all of your accounts are compromised. The safe practice is to have strong passwords (a collection of lower case, upper case, numerical, and punctuation) unique to each account. YES, it is a massive hassle and VERY annoying, but would you rather be hassled, or have your identity stolen?
  7. I don't open spam emails so I'm safe from scams. Well, spam emails usually are harmless, and often helpful promotions or educational stuff (cough cough we have a great newsletter cough cough). The spam filter is not all powerful and lets invasive stuff through and blocks useful stuff just as often. It is very easy for someone to pose as a close friend and send an email from a familiar address. You can't always tell who's a friend. If you get a fishy email from a friend from a new email address - check in with them. It won't hurt.
  8. Social Media are safe. I only interact with my friends. Okay, are you sure that the profile of Betsy Sue Robinson, who was in the class of '82, is really your Betsy Sue? You haven't spoken to her in 25 years. People create duplicate accounts frequently and with high quality. It can be hard to tell the difference. 
  9. Going analog. So you've decided to reduce your digital footprint after religiously using Facebook and Twitter. Great! You just created an opportunity for someone to assume your identity and easily pretend to be you - they maintain the same cadence of posts and interactions, and no one wises up to the scam. You have no idea it's happening because, surprise, you're offline.
  10. "It will never happen to me." Just because the internet is used by billions of people every day does not mean that Murphy's law doesn't apply to you. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Yes, the statistical chance of an attack on an individual (you) is microscopic, but there is still a chance. 

5 Quick Tips About Millennial Customers

Millennials will soon be the major spending power in the US. Born approximately between 1980 and 2000, they make up the largest generation in the US. More than ever before, this generation is imprinting their moral and ethical beliefs upon the decisions they make regarding purchases, employment opportunities, and professional relationships. Millennials choose to support businesses only when those businesses share their common values. Many have seen the benefit (Toms, Warby Parker, Better World Books, etc.), while many have suffered as a result of their differing practices. Now, companies can be pro-environment or pro-people on paper, but the opposite in action. Millennials don't take long to discover the validity of a company's charitable claims.

Millennials are the most diverse generation the U.S. has ever had, and generalizations must be understood as just that, generalizations. Read with the mindset that this is a general trend and not an open and closed case. 

Millennials Care about People & Causes – Not the Bottom Line
During economic collapse in 2008, many millennials watched as their parents' mortgages failed, retirement funds evaporated, and their savings for university dried up. Corporate self-interest stifled the economy and the ripples are still felt today. As a result, Millennials are biased against companies who put the 'bottom line,' or the needs of the shareholders, before the needs of the customer, the environment, and their workers. 

Mountain Dwelling, B.I.G. Denmark. 

           2.   Millennials Want A Healthy Planet.  Bjarke Ingels is a prime example of an early adopter of this mentality. A groundbreaking architect who is designing the new Redskins Stadium, 2 World Trade Center (the new world trade center), and Google North Bayshore. Bjarke focuses on "Hedonistic Sustainability," this is the belief that high-quality, affordable, and sustainable architecture do not exist as mutually exclusive ideals. The bottom Line, Millennials have seen climate change substantiated by science for their entire lives, and know that there are win/win possibilities for both business and the environment. 

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              3. Millennials Look to the Internet for Information. Millennials have experienced their lives surrounded by a sea of information. They have had access to the Internet for longer periods of their lives than any other generation, and their ability to interact with the world around them through the Internet exceeds any other cohort group. Millennials know that if they see a product they do not like, they can find an almost identical product somewhere else. They know that they have a choice, and can adeptly research exactly what they need. Businesses therefore need excellent unique selling points to capture very specific demographics. Old school print advertising and outbound marketing is no longer as effective as it once was. 

           4. Millennials Are Social. No, they are not 'going social.' They integrate their lives into social media and have adopted Internet social channels as far back as dial-up modems. Millennials know that the best referrals for a product or service they are interested in are on social media. Social Media acts in this way as a digital referral - it serves the same purpose as an in-person recommendation for a service or product. Enterprising Millennials create social channels that then promote brands they enjoy, and create ad revenue for themselves as a result. This means that yes, you can make a living on Instagram. 

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            5. Millennials Want Transparent Pricing Millennials will take one look at a price, and expect that price. If there are hidden fees, extra taxes, processing fees, administration fees, or any other pointless fees, they will hit the road and find a better service elsewhere. Millennials research the cost of a product to produce (they Google it), the labor cost of a good or service, and the appropriate profit margins on them. They have college educations and know how basic economics work. They are savvy buyers and are not going to buy-in to obviously predatory pricing strategies. 

In conclusion, this is a list of generalizations on the ways in which many millennials determine which goods and services they choose to purchase and support. If you extend these change drivers further, it becomes obvious: Millennials are better advocates for the products they purchase than any marketing strategy or advertisement created by the business itself. If they like what you offer, they will talk about it. To them, an ethical, well-run business that genuinely cares about their people, the environment, and the customer is a rarity and is something to be proud of. So, if you fit that mold, keep doing what you're doing. 

10 Signs You Should Invest In A VoIP Setup

Maybe a sign to update your internet services. 

Maybe a sign to update your internet services. 

Chances are if you're reading this you have an internet connection. Good. Chances are also high that you're looking to improve how your business communicates with the outside world, or even internally. We want you to know that investing in VoIP for your business is:

·         straightforward,

·         cost effective, and

·         incredibly intuitive.

Rather than using the phone lines, your voice is transmitted over the internet (VoIP), the p stands for protocol and really just exists to complete the acronym. We understand and acknowledge the reasonable doubts about changing to a newer system, or just change in general. Because of this we've outlined the 10 signs that you really should move away from your current telecom system.

  1. Your current phones look like this

old phone.jpg

       2. Or this 

 

If you still have these phones in your office, just keep them, it's too late for you to be saved.  

If your phone system services 10 or more people, you really don't have a reason not to switch to internet phone services.

       3. Your business is expanding and costs are getting tight. Many, many startups fail within their first five years. One of the main causes? They expected larger profit margins. If you're a “proof of concept” startup or in the  funding stages, you may need to maximize your available funds for excellent staff and R&D. VoIP is more than just phone calls over the internet, Unified Communications (UC) - video, text chat, and integrated cloud services can be easily packaged within a VoIP setup.

        4. You have a decent portion of remote workers. We live in an ever expanding world of limitless information. Employees don't need to work from a central office anymore, and mobility is key. Enabling effective communication between you and remote staff is an additional incentive to get VoIP. Over 40% of the current US workforce freelances in some way, and that industry will continue to grow. You want to be able to tap into talent in that work force, and to communicate with them effectively. 

        5. Leadership is changing hands. You could already want to switch to the cloud, VoIP, or improved integration, but you have not been able to. Changing leadership often is an excellent opportunity to introduce new ideas into a business.

        6. Your IT Department is rioting in the streets. Well, if they're rioting, there may be a larger issue, but listening to them will certainly help the rioting stop. Enabling improved internet connectivity (of which VoIP is  part of) will certainly make your IT department less likely to pull their hair out. Managing traditional phone lines in addition to the scores of technical issues is just another hassle. Make it hassle free and make your techies happy.

        7. You're tired of the hassle. Even if your current setup is doing the job just fine, consistent inconveniences can reduce the motivation of your employees (and you). Full disclosure: you're not going to necessarily have 'fun' using a VoIP system. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. What you will have is an effective, efficient communication network that will reduce the time you must spend being hassled and increase the time you can do more important stuff, like getting lost in a Wikipedia black hole and learning about the importance of being idle. 

       8. Your customers are upset about their support. If your phone system is ancient, the chances of getting in touch with your customers is a lesson in futility. Most adults do not have home phones anymore, and if your company provides services for homes, you're going to need a way to always understand what the customer is upset about. You need a reliable system that defines voice quality as the #1 metric of technical success. It will not completely satisfy your customers' complaints, but they certainly will be able to get the message across much more clearly. Miscommunication causes more issues than actual technical issues.

      9. You just switched to a new shiny ISP. So your internet speed is now super, super fast? Awesome. If you have internet that is reliable, fast, and consistent, then you need the newest communication systems. Upload and download speed is essential, but the time that these metrics are available should be known. If your current ISP is giving you the short end of the stick, you should switch. Uptime on the internet is well over 99% as a standard, and speeds for businesses can be over 100mb/s and be easily affordable.

      10. Like number 9, if your internet is still dial-up, you could benefit from some new technology. If your internet is still dial-up, you should probably peek out from under the rock you've been under since 2002. 

 

In conclusion, there are many, many reasons to switch you business communications to VoIP. Not all reasons are created equal, though. If you still have dial-up internet, use a corded phone, or have a rolodex on your desk, you should consider making the switch sooner rather than later. 

If you do decide to explore options, keep us in mind. Reach out to us at info@simplicityvoip.net

 

You Kids Get Off My Lan! 5 Tech Terms You Should Know

The cloud, or nah?

As technology races ever faster into the future, so does the terminology used to describe it. Many, we know implicitly, firewall, virus, open source. Many are often vaguely defined. Many are  hot topics at dinner parties and nobody's really sure what they're talking about. Now you can know what you're talking about with a list of 5 essential terms in information and technology. This list is nonexhaustive. [For convenience, we've abbreviated the definitions for skimming]. 

LAN : Local Area Network. So this isn't rocket science. It's a localized grouping of computers, which are connected via wired or wireless signal. A Lan is typically constrained to a single building or a small grouping of buildings. 

  • Too Long, Didn't Read: A localized group of computers that can talk to each other.

SERVER: A frequently misunderstood word at social gatherings, at its most basic, a server is software. This software (and directly associated hardware) provide services to client software and hardware on a network. This is the client-server architecture which separates processes between the server and the client. It is a major element of modern OS design

  • Too Long, Didn't Read: A software that manages access to a centralized resource. 

OS: Operating System. Another software that manages computer hardware and software for a user. It provides a common service for a variety of programs, and often has a GUI (graphical user interface) to enable a user to quickly and effectively manage many programs simultaneously. Windows, Linux/Unix, iOS, and Android are all examples of operating systems. Each OS has their own unique advantages. 

  • Too Long, Didn't Read: The large software that manages the software and hardware on a PC

GUI: Graphical User Interface. Without A GUI you wouldn't be checking your email, browsing the web, writing papers, or anything, on your computer (or phone, tablet, kindle....). A GUI enables a user to interact indirectly with software within a computer. It uses graphical icons and secondary notation to enable a user to interface with certain formal notations (code).

  • Too long, didn't read : A GUI is what you see on your monitor. It's what allows you to read this blog. 

API: Application Program Interface. API's enable different software to interact with each other by enabling connectivity between unrelated components. APi's enable totally unrelated software to interact in simple, standardized ways to improve functionality. 

  • Too long, didn't read : A bit of code that enables interaction between previously unconnected software. 

Hopefully this humble post has given you the tools to steal the spotlight at your next social gathering, blow away your peers with your unparalleled intellect. or even to learn something!

7 Things About The Cloud You Need To Know

The big spooky cloud

The Cloud is a nebulous phrase that since it's naming in 2006 by Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, has lead to many head scratches and blank stares. "What is the cloud" gives over 3 million search results, and every single one is a different definition. For our followers, we will risk the potential witchhunt and define the 'cloud' in a reasonable, common sense way. So what who cares? Cloud business is expanding so rapidly that market projections show a shift in over $1 trillion in spending. It's a big deal. 

The Cloud is a global network of servers.

That's it. The cloud is a massive network of servers connected through the internet. The cloud is not a physical entity, but the data within the cloud is located in massive data centers across the globe. If you use gmail, drive, dropbox, facebook, twitter, pretty much any online service or web app, your data is in the cloud. 

So, here are 7 Things about the cloud that you need to know

  1. The shift to the cloud is usually financially motivated. The cloud and cloud services are leagues cheaper than conventional methods to manage client-server architecture. rather than having all of your business's data onsite, in an unsafe network, it is stored in an incredibly secure data center. These data centers are often closer than you think. Additionally, the cloud enables smooth scalability as your business expands.
  2. The Cloud is big. It stores about 1 exabyte. That is 1024 petabytes, or 1,048,576 terabytes, or 1,073,741,824 gigabytes, or 1,099,511,627,776 megabytes. To put that in perspective, one song on your phone is anywhere from 2-4 megabytes, a movie can be anywhere from 3-5gb depending on quality, and large programs(and video games) are usually under 100gb.
  3. People are still wary of cloud security: The cloud is perfectly suitable for non-sensitive documents, and this is often free. Cloud security has become a massive business, and many cloud providers key selling point is the security of their services. If you are interested in migrating to the cloud, make sure that the security features of the services you are exploring are clearly defined and easy to understand
  4.  The available market for cloud computing is projected to be $241 Billion by 2020. Projections vary, some project upwards of $300 billion. The number of technologies emerging from cloud computing is going to completely reshape the modern economy. Beacon technology, cloud storage, web applications, and more are all going to become business as usual. 
  5. Many companies are not aware of all of the cloud based services they are using. This may sound odd, and a bit terrifying, but a lot of services have migrated to the cloud. Office 365 is Microsoft's cloud platform for excel, powerpoint, outlook, word, and the rest of their applications. New versions of these tools aren't downloaded onto your computer but instead are used directly through the internet. 
  6. A large portion of security breaches are down by in-house employees who don't know any better. There are many bad cloud services masquerading as legitimate, and often easily fool less tech-savvy employees. It is essential that employees are aware of the uses and extend of the cloud services available. 
  7. 80% of data goes to just over 10 cloud services. Box, Dropbox, and youtube make up over 40% of 'the cloud' Office 365 is 7%. It is important to know where the data in your business is stored, or where it has been used. Chances are there are bits of business documents throughout various accounts in your building (not much different than before), but it is now more accessible. 

There are 7 key things about the cloud to walk away with. You may have noticed a trend. Security in the cloud is going to be a crucial driver in the growth and success of cloud computing and its role in the economy. We have passed critical mass, and if you haven't adopted cloud computing in your business in some way, it's time to start. 

5 Quick Tips About VoIP

20th Century Artifact

VoIP (Voice over internet protocol) is the capacity to use the Internet to make phone calls, video calls, and more. It is reliable, affordable, and higher quality than traditional phone networks and services. Now, enough with the grandstanding. VoIP is useful, but there are some things that you should have in order before moving forward with a VoIP service. 

  1. Check your network/LAN. Your network needs to be buttoned up tight. Security is immensely important in an exponentially connected world. A large portion of your company’s data is either on the cloud or will be soon.  Ensuring that you have a firm grasp on the security of your data, and the outlets and channels through which it travels, will enable you to adopt further cloud-based services much, much more quickly and safely. 

  2. Bandwidth isn't the only metric for quality. The consistency of the connection is equally important to the download and upload speeds needed. Depending on your needs, appropriate bandwidth is available, and reputable providers are transparent about the reliability of their services. Ensuring maximum uptime for your business is just as crucial as the bandwidth provided. Make sure to regularly test the quality of your ISP with speedtest.net or others

  3. Test the distance between you and your provider's switch. It's important to know the number of 'jumps' between you and your provider's switch. This is how many routers are needed to complete a connection. Less is more here, but there are always exceptions. As usual, a potential VoIP provider will be transparent about their services. 

  4. Don't always go for the lowest hanging fruit. A low quote isn’t always the best quote. When NASA builds spaceships, we hope they do not go for the lowest quoted contractor. The same is true for VoIP services. A reputable provider will be transparent about the services and pricing options available, and work to fit your needs. There have been recent adjustments to E911 and Federal regulatory fees that are often ‘hidden,’ be sure to ask about them

  5. Pick a service based on the features you need. Not all providers are created equal and will offer differing features. Some will be jack-of-all-trade providers, while others will be specific in their available functionalities. There is market density so you have options. You want and need to pick the right tool for the job, and a provider who understand and work with you to accomplish your goals

In conclusion whatever your needs are for a new phone system, if you determine VoIP to be an option, the above 5 tips are a very good place to start refining your goals and search. If you'd like to discuss options with us, we are available at info@simplicityvoip.net.