The Key Differences Of Data Centers And Cloud Computing

August 27th, 2013

Apples to oranges, like cloud computing to data centers

A data center stores data. That seems pretty straightforward.

A cloud computing system also stores data. It has many other capabilities as well.

Many have used “data center” and “cloud” as interchangeable terms for the same thing, but that shouldn’t be the case. Sara Angeles, of Business News Daily, touched on the differences between the two in her recent article.

  • The cloud stores data on the internet and is hosted an maintained by an outside provider. A data center uses hardware to store data and is often located on-site, which requires the in-house IT department to maintain it. 
  • Data centers consist of servers and other equipment. A cloud system must be housed in a data center.
  • A data center offers a dedicated system with finite capabilities and is utilized by only one organization. A cloud system could serve multiple organizations, unless it’s a private cloud. It’s scalable to your needs and has practically unlimited capabilities and is easily upgradeable.
  • The cloud is potentially less secure, or harder to secure, because it’s connected to the internet and available from anywhere. A third party provider is responsible for security. A data center operates on a local network with limited access, which makes security much easier, but you are responsible for that security.
  • A data center requires an organization to build an entire infrastructure from the ground up and can cost millions of dollars per year to maintain. Cloud computing is more cost effective because no infrastructure is needed. Most cloud providers offer a flat monthly rate and your system is ready within hours of registration.

That should give you a basic understanding of the difference between a data center and a cloud computing system. If you’re interested in implementing a cloud for your business or have data storage needs, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer a variety of solutions to help your business run more efficiently. 

How Cloud Computing Helps Your Business

August 27th, 2013

Cloud computing for business

Over the past few months, cloud computing has become one of the hottest buzzwords of 2013. Many are still unsure of exactly what cloud computing is, however. Many more are unsure how to implement a cloud system into their business.

Cloud Business Review posted six advantages afforded to businesses who implement cloud computing to help those who are still wary of the technology.

  • Speed of Deployment

A cloud system is implemented usually within 24-hours. A network this powerful would require an IT-team and weeks to finish, but the cloud accelerates and simplifies the whole process. As a cloud provider, Geek Rescue customizes your cloud system based on your needs and gets you up and running almost immediately. There’s no need to add hardware or personnel. 

  • Minimal Downtime

The nature of the cloud allows it to be uploaded to a server quickly. This means that when a server hosting the cloud goes down, your system is moved to a working server with hardly any downtime. This means costly outages when employees stop working are a thing of the past. 

  • Mobility and Sharing

Even for small businesses, ensuring that the right employees have access to vital files is difficult. The cloud makes sharing much easier and allows for employees to access files for virtually anywhere. With mobile access, your employees work from anywhere and always have access to the files or applications they need. 

  • Easy Upgrades

Over time, your needs will likely change. A cloud network is highly scalable and allows you to increase memory or data storage quickly. While a physical network would require days of work and probable downtime to finish upgrades, the cloud effectively increases your capabilities in no time. 

The uses for cloud computing are practically limitless. Regardless of your industry, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335 to discover how the cloud could help you do business more efficiently.

Testing Reveals Many Effective Mobile Security Apps

August 27th, 2013

Mobile security

Adding security software to your smartphone or tablet is a necessity. Just as you need protection from malware on your home computer, you mobile device needs protection too. In fact, since you’ll be traveling around and possibly using unsecured networks, security on your mobile device may be even more important.

One major concern for many users, however, is how much battery will be drained by effective mobile security apps. As Paul Lilly writes for Maximum PC, AV-Comparitives, an independent testing lab, put 16 of the top security apps to the test to find out which one you should consider for your mobile device.

Surprisingly, for the leading apps battery usage isn’t much of a concern. Even the security apps that drain your battery the most won’t take more than about 3-percent.

Most of the apps were also incredibly effective detecting malware. In fact, all but one detected at least 98-percent of almost 3-thousand malicious applications collected for the test.

The lesson here is that there are a number of effective mobile security apps available to keep your device safe without hurting performance. There are even free options that perform as well as some of their paid counterparts.

Without these apps, your mobile device could be infected by malware, which results in a loss in performance and the monitoring or harvesting of your data. Some malware is even capable of taking over functions of your device, like sending texts or taking pictures.

For help keeping your devices secure or to clean or fix a device, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. Like we always say, if it boots up or turns on, we fix it.

Think You Don’t Need Security? Think Again

August 26th, 2013

Security cameras

Data security for all types of businesses is a hot topic. Strangely, there are still many that subscribe to the theory that data theft won’t happen to them because they either have nothing of value or because they are too small to be targeted.

Thor Olavsrud reports for CIO that about two-thirds of industrial executives at midmarket firms said they were “at little or no risk”. Even though that’s down from about 77-percent a year ago, the large number of decision makers who don’t make security a priority is exactly why their firms become a target.

While larger companies tend to embrace the security risks they face, small to medium sized companies often feel they can get away with less security because larger companies will be targeted instead. If you’re a hacker, however, would you go after the company with robust security, or the company with next to none?

The belief that a company’s data is not valuable is also a false assumption. Even without a desire for access to the data you use to run your business, a cyber criminal will want personnel files, which contain social security numbers, personal identifiable information and financial information. This is data kept by any company, no matter how big.

Without the proper security measures in place, a business will have a difficult time knowing what’s been compromised, or even if they’ve been hacked at all. That makes recovery more difficult. It also makes it next to impossible to take necessary precautions to prevent stolen data from costing you more.

Data security is extremely important for any business. Those that feel they don’t need security are actually advertising themselves as ideal targets. To build an effective security infrastructure for your business, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Smartphone’s Anti-Theft Tool Renders Phone Useless

August 26th, 2013

Smartphone bricked

When your phone is stolen, there are a number of things to worry about beyond just getting a new phone. All of our smartphones carry personal information that is used to access our online accounts when it falls into the wrong hands. Before getting a new phone, our first concern should be to lock down access to our old phone.

As Jaeyeon Woo reports for the Wall Street Journal, Samsung and LG are taking measures to not only prevent smartphone theft, but also to keep your data safe after theft. Their new anti-theft tool, or “kill switch”, would completely disable a phone that’s been reported stolen. This means the device becomes inoperable, even with a new SIM card or hacking procedures.

A growing business overseas is to ship and sell stolen smartphones to the U.S. This “kill switch” feature would take a tremendous bite out of that industry. However, users will have to register their devices before they are stolen in order to use the kill switch function.

Samsung and LG’s efforts build on the recently publisized developments for Android phones to help find and lock lost and stolen phones. Those using iOS devices also have similar functions to protect their lost and stolen devices.

The kill switch, however, is seemingly the first tool that bricks a device in any circumstance. Since the phone is rendered useless, the hope is that thefts will drop dramatically. In any event, users won’t have to worry that the theft of their smartphone will also lead to the theft of their identity.

To keep your smartphone or other device more secure, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We offer a variety of security options and also fix broken devices and devices with infected with malware.

How Many People Knowingly Open Spam?

August 23rd, 2013

Spam email frustration

When spam email arrives in your inbox, it’s easy to ignore it, delete it and forget about it, right? Well, maybe not so easy for many of us.

As Chris Matyszczyk, of CNet, reports, a recent study found that about 30-percent of people knowingly, willingly opened an email that they knew, or at least strongly suspected, was spam. Why? Sometimes, the promise of something too good to be true is too good to pass up.

To make matters worse, about 9-percent of people willingly downloaded attachments included in the spam email. So, they thought it was spam, opened it anyway and downloaded the attachment. Sometimes, we make it too easy for the hackers.

Those hackers, however, don’t make it easy for users. It’s because of the social engineering they employ that it’s so enticing to open messages we know we shouldn’t. The most popular tactics are the promise of money, sex or a new friend.

This behavior is why having antivirus software installed on your computer isn’t enough to keep you fully secure. It is this human error that often causes viruses and malware to infect your PC and steal your data.

These tempting spam attacks extend beyond your email inbox, as well. You’ll see similar tactics used on social media and in text messages. You’ve likely already received a text from an unknown number informing you that you’ve won some money or are entitled to a free gift card. When those arrive on our smartphones, it’s easy to identify them as spam, but sometimes it’s much more difficult to delete them and move on.

If you’d like to improve the security on your email, or need to clean and fix a device that’s infected with malware, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We understand spam is tricky, but we will fix whatever harm has been done.

Use Chrome Extensions For A Better Browsing Experience

August 23rd, 2013

Web browser

There are three main choices for an internet browser. Internet explorer from Microsoft was the top choice for quite some time, but competitors Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have taken a bite out of the market share. Chrome is now the most used browser, but many people aren’t taking advantage of extensions to use it at full capacity.

Extensions are tools you add on to your existing Chrome browser. They enhance your productivity by making tasks you already do easier. There are ad-blockers, screenshot tools, password auto-fills and social media help. Best of all, many of the top extensions are free to install.

Paul Mah, of CIO, has a list of some of the best Chrome apps currently available, but not all of his choices are free.

  • Awesome Screenshot

We’ve all had moments when a screenshot of our browser would be helpful for one reason or another. With this extension, you get to choose what area of the screen you want a shot of, and include annotations for reference. 

  • Buffer

This extension allows you to post updates to all of your social media profiles without having to navigate to each page. When you find something you want to share, just use Buffer to schedule your posts across all of your profiles. It even tracks metrics so you can see how you’re doing. 

  • Dualless

Your operating system may not have the capability to snap browser windows to each side of the screen so each is viewable. With the Dualless extension, you’ll always be able to arrange Chrome’s windows the way you need them. 

  • FlashBlock

Sites that still use Flash slow down your performance, but with this extension, Flash on any site is automatically blocked to keep your browsing experience fast. 

  • Google Dictionary

When you come across a word you are unfamiliar with, just double click and this extension provides a small pop-up definition. You will have to specifically allow Chrome to open pop-ups when you double click, however. 

  • Sexy Undo Close Tab

The name is a little odd, but this extension proves to be incredibly useful. If you accidentally close a tab, you’ll have the ability to search through a list of every closed tab you’ve been through to find it again. The list is organized by when the tab was closed, but is searchable by keywords to help. 

The Chrome Web Store offers thousands of options for you to customize your browser and optimize your experience. It’s available by going to the Settings page and clicking Extensions.

Should you be having trouble with your internet, or the device you use to access it, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. Our knowledgeable techs are available to fix whatever problem you may be experiencing.

Scam Text Claims Your Email’s Been Hacked

August 23rd, 2013

Scam text message

Imagine your text alert on your smartphone goes off. You eagerly check your new message and find that it’s from an unknown number telling you that your email account has been hacked. The message informs you that you’ll need to text back a word or phrase that they give you, likely to verify your identity or something. What do you do next?

The Federal Trade Commission is warning the public not to text back. These text messages are part of a new scam and the target is your personal information.

When you reply to these texts, the scammers gain information about you and your smartphone. This gives them the tools they need to access your data and compromise your accounts.

Even though plenty of people around they world learn the unfortunate news that their email has been hacked, there probably aren’t many, if any at all, that are warned via text message from their email provider. If you are contacted about a compromised account, be it your email, bank account or credit card, the company will likely do it on a more secure channel.

These text messages may also include a link for you to follow for more information or continue the process of fixing your email. These links are tempting as you want to find out more information, but don’t click them. Just by following the link, you’ll likely be installing malware onto your device, which hackers use to monitor your activity and steal your data.

What you can do is alert your phone’s provider about the message. Most of the large providers have a spam number you can call, or forward these text messages to.

If you feel that malware, or any other type of malicious software, has been installed on your phone or your smartphone is just not performing like it should, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We fix smartphones.

FBI Warns About Spear Phishing Attacks

August 22nd, 2013

Spear Phishing attack

A new spear phishing attack has prompted a public service announcement from from the FBI’s Cyber Division. The attack uses an email made to look like it’s from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Spear phishing is a targeted attack that attempts to gain access to accounts or data. Their targeted nature usually suggests those responsible are trying to steal something specific from those receiving the email. Put another way, if you receive the email, you have something the hackers want.

This particular attack contains the subject “Search For Missing Children” and has a .zip file attached. This file contains three malicious files included, which are harmful to your computer and could steal or log your information.

Implementing better security is a great step in avoiding these types of attacks, but practicing better internet habits is key. Regardless of who it’s from, you should be wary of any unsolicited email with attachments that arrives in your inbox. Some of these attack emails also contain links that should also be avoided.

If you’ve seen this specific email spear phishing attack, or one similar, you’re urged to report it to the FBI.

To safeguard yourself or your company against these attacks and other malicious attempts to infiltrate your network, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We have a variety of security solutions to help you and will educate you on how to stay secure.

Retina Display: What Does It Mean?

August 22nd, 2013

Retina display

You’ve no doubt heard the term “retina display” but do you really understand what that means and why it’s desirable?

Retina is an Apple trademark and used for displays on the iPhone and iPad. Apple uses it to convey to consumers that anything that’s not Retina isn’t good enough.

Whitson Gordon explored this for Lifehacker. Retina is really a term that just sounds better than saying your display is good enough.

When Apple tells you your display is Retina, they’re telling you that the resolution is high enough for your screen size that you won’t be able to see individual pixels. The pixel density, or PPI, which stands for pixels per inch, doesn’t need to be as high on a small iPhone screen as it would be for an iPad or television. So, all Retina displays are not created equal.

When you’re buying an Apple device that has Retina display, however, you can be sure that you’re getting the best display needed for that device. Anything higher would be hardly noticeable and be a drain on performance.

Regardless of whether you have an Apple device or not, you can test your display to find out if it’s up to the Retina, or good enough not to see pixels, standard. Use this handy calculator to find out what the PPI is and measure it against the size of your device.

If you encounter problems with your display or any other aspect of your smartphone, tablet, mp3 player or computer, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. If it boots up or turns on, we’ve got you covered.