03 Dec 2015

December 2015 – Windows 10 and Office 2016 making an impact!

Merry Christmas to all!

We’re on the down-hill slope now to Christmas, and with not many days to go we’re sure there are a lot of you that haven’t even thought about Christmas presents let alone bought anything!..

This month saw Microsoft release the first Windows 10 major update (1511), which has included many ‘visual updates’ and bug fixes.

Microsoft has also released a message for business saying that “If you are following the traditional policy of waiting for the first Service Pack or Major update to Windows before deploying it, then this is it; time to take the plunge.”

The update though is about 3Gb to download, so bear this in mind if you are planning to do a mass upgrade of multiple PC’s!

If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet, and you’re currently running full versions of either Windows 7 or Windows 8, remember you have until 29th July 2016 to take up the ‘free Windows 10 upgrade offer”. (Remember it’s also a 3gb download too). But even if you haven’t decided to do it by then, rest assured you can still purchase Windows 10 (approx. $160 per PC) after this date.

In other Microsoft news, Office 2016 is now being rolled out and the older Office 2013 is being made ‘End of Life’. Office 2016 is bringing with it a myriad of ‘challenges’ as well, including the requirement to create an individual Microsoft .live email address in order to activate the product. As well as this Microsoft are no longer providing any DVD media for installations, so yet another massive download. (Hope your internet plans have big download limits!).

If you want to remain on Office 2013 though, and think you may need more machines or copies of Office 2013 (so that you remain consistent throughout your organisation), you’d better buy them up quickly, as Microsoft has already stopped supplying distributors with Office 2013, and once current stock runs out, there will be no more and you’ll be forced to move to Office 2016.

In more positive tech news, all our Trend Micro subscription clients will be pleased to hear of the major update that was done at the start of November to prevent Cryptolocker infections from occurring.

Last month we had a user who received a fraudulent email from the ATO – Tax refund, and even though they tried to open it 4 x times! Trend successfully prevented their network from being infected and losing their data! . Piece of mind for only $5.50 a month per PC!

In good news for everyone, EtherTech will only be closed on the main public holidays over the Christmas/ New Year period! and we’re always available on our 1300-ETHERTECH number.

From everyone at EtherTech we wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Safe and Happy New Year!  Bring on 2016!!

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06 Oct 2015

October 2015 – Office 2016 released.

Welcome to Boffin!

Well, with Steve back from a 3 week holiday in central Australia, The MIGHTY Hawks winning another AFL grand final!, and no cryptolocker for the whole of last month (touch wood that continues!) things are getting back to normal at EtherTech !

That hasn’t meant though that the IT world has stopped.. Far from it.

Volkswagen is facing fines of over US$18 Billion for cheating emissions tests by reprogramming their on-board computers to detect when the vehicle is being tested by EPA authorities and change all their parameters in order to pass the tests.

This is not new though, Samsung and HTC have been doing this for years with different smartphones detecting when benchmark software is being run and ramping up their CPU to 100% in order to appear faster.

The problem for Volkswagon of course is the 500,000 vehicles in the US that have already been recalled and then there’s the other 11million in the rest of the world that many people have purchased for the stated environmental benefits. Very damaging.

Back to IT though, Winrar has a new problem as well, a new flaw has been found that affects all Winrar SFX versions including v5.21 (with over 500million users installed) allowing hackers to compromise a machine with a specially designed .SFX archive.

The way to avoid this. Simple, Don’t open archives / ZIP files from people you don’t know and trust!

Windows 10 has been grabbing most of the headlines of late, but Microsoft also have released their new Office 2016 on September 22nd this year (end of last month). In terms of upgrades though, they’ve been a bit stingy this time around, with purchasers of Office 2013 between Aug 22 and Dec 31 2015 being eligible for either a free one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal edition ($70), or a $40 discount on purchasing the new Office 2016.

Changes in Office 2016 include the new styling (Giving it the Windows 10 look and feel). The new version isn’t so much based on how much more you can do with it, but more so on how you can become more productive and effective. Collaboration, document sharing, and greater OneDrive integration.

Finally Excel has been given a real update for the first time in years, with better document security, new chart types, forecasting module, better BI integration, Power query improvements plus many other fixes and enhancements to make using Excel easier and more effective. Outlook 2016 gets a refresh with it now being a lot faster to attach recent files to emails which saves a lot of time. One of the best new features though we think is the new ‘Tell Me’ feature across all applications, which allows you to get tutorials on the fly on how to do things.

How much does it cost ?

Office 2016 Home & Student – $183.00 inc GST

Office 2016 Home & Business – $296.00 inc GST

All products are in stock now.

CYA next month ! (GO HAWKS!)

02 Sep 2015

September 2015 – Windows 10 upgrades and viruses.

Welcome to Boffin!

With the release of Windows 10, a few people have been noticing the windows icon in the bottom right corner asking to reserve windows 10, this icon automatically appears in all windows 8/8.1 PCs,


To help with some of the confusion, if you have clicked on the icon and registered for the windows 10 version, you will be eligible for the Windows10 Upgrade, however it will not occur automatically, it will only upgrade if you click the “yes I am ready to upgrade” option once it is released when the rollout begins, there will be another option to select that says something like” do not upgrade at this time” which will delay the upgrade.

Because none of the software has been tested yet, upgrading at this point is not recommended.

Windows 7 users can also upgrade to windows 10 providing the specs of the PC are compliant. Whether you register or not, everyone has 1 year from the 29th of July to upgrade for free. You can see from the graphic below the windows licence version upgrade list which points out which version the free upgrade will give you, e.g windows 7 Pro = Windows 10 Pro, as most licences in Businesses are Professional, Windows 10 Pro is most likely what everyone would upgrade to.

We have used the Windows 10 tech build ourselves and the user interface is much easier to use, the start menu is a windows 7/8 hybrid so anyone that didn’t like the tiles menu, won’t have to worry about it, there is also a multiple desktop feature, so you can have Outlook open in one desktop and web browsing in another for example open in the other with no need to minimise the Web browser to see your emails basically eliminating two monitors if you only have one.

If history is anything to go by, most Microsoft launches don’t have a 100% success rate, and there are always many many patches released almost immediately to fix bugs, so we wouldn’t recommend installing Windows 10 for some time. Remember you have 12 months to decide. Why rush.

If you do decide to upgrade you will stay on a like-for-like version of Windows 10. For example :



A more worrying thing has emerged from this release however, and that’s the proliferation of spam and virus related attacks via email to people claiming to be Microsoft Windows 10 Upgrades.

PLEASE be vigilant when opening EVERY email.

We are about to email out a special edition alert to all our hosted email clients about the dangers and how to identify them that everyone should read and follow. Until next month!

04 Aug 2015

August 2015 – Scammers.. Beware!

As you are probably aware, the flood of scams hitting Australia is on the increase, with most people having experienced either Scam emails or telephone calls every month.

The Australian government have a website called Scamwatch http://www.scamwatch.gov.auThis site details all the different types of scams out there from Fake speeding fines, Australia Post emails to unexpected winnings and everything in between.

This site also details on a month to month basis the number of reports from the public about scams, where they originated and how much money people have lost. The figures are quite staggering.

For example, the most recent is from June 2015, and shows


6.3million dollars scammed from innocent Australians in ONE MONTH!

Of course there would also be a lot of people who don’t report that they’ve been scammed too, so I expect that figure would be much higher.

Interestingly though, and a surprise to me, was the most popular delivery method of these scams :


And every month is the same. Telephone seems to be the method that works the best for scammers to extract money from their victims.

I know we’ve had the ‘Hello Im from Microsoft and you have a virus that I can fix for you’ telephone calls, where the caller tries to get you to purchase non-required software from them using your credit card and drains the account. And it appears no-one is safe with most age groups being targeted.


I know that even today we received hundreds of emails through our spam filters for Woolworths, Bunnings, Hungry Jacks & Jetstar scam giftcard emails destined for hundreds of users as I write this newsletter.

There are also more serious consequences to business with many of these scams (austpost) containing cryptolocker viruses which have crippled many companies with data loss.

The moral to the story, you NEED to visit the scamwatch website and read about the scams that are occurring and how to identify them in the future so you are not the next victim! Stay Safe out there!

01 May 2015

May 2015 – Cisco Meraki Wireless access made easy!

For the past couple of months we’ve been excited and have installed quite a few of Cisco’s innovative new cloud-managed networking products called Meraki.

Consisting of wireless access points, firewalls and switches, a Meraki network can be deployed and secured in a matter of minutes, then managed anywhere, anytime using an intuitive web interface (or smartphone app). Even if you have multiple branches, Meraki allows you to view and control everything from a single pane of glass.

Meraki gives you the kind of control and visibility into your network that would typically require an expensive equipment list with complex licensing requirements, and a highly skilled technician with years of networking experience to build and support it. There’s a lot to it, so this month we’re just focussing on the powerful wireless component, which most of our customers have been interested in.

Say for instance you need a wireless network to provide secure access to your servers and printers for your staff, but don’t want to risk giving guests access? Just log in to your Meraki Dashboard and create one. Choose whether it can be used only after your guest has accepted your terms and conditions on a captive hot spot portal just like a hotel, or after they’ve liked your business’ Facebook page. Your internal company resources remain secure while your guest can check their email – and if they happen to have malware on their PC, your network remains protected.

You can limit the speed wireless users can download data, as well as restrict access to certain categories of websites. Aside from the obvious, you can prevent people from updating their smartphone software, browsing social media or video game sites.

Wireless network suddenly slow down? This can tend to be a bit of a witch hunt to troubleshoot and track down who or what is responsible. With Meraki it’s simply a case of accessing the Dashboard with real-time statistics to find out who is downloading the most data, and from where. And just in case you don’t want people using your wireless network outside of business hours you can even set it to disable the wireless radios on a schedule.

Need to extend your wireless coverage around the building? Simply add more access points to form a mesh which will allow wireless users to move around without ever losing connectivity. You can even upload a floor plan to the Meraki Dashboard then place your access points on the map to see your staff moving around on a heat-map.

It truly is amazing technology, which is why we’re so excited about it. As a Cisco Meraki partner, EtherTech can visit your office and will happily demonstrate Meraki and answer any questions you might have about it. You may even qualify for a free wireless access point – give us a call to find out more!


01 May 2015

April 2015 – April Fools!

Welcome to another instalment of Boffin!

Can you believe it’s already 12 months since Windows XP went End of Life! And with the deadline looming ever larger for Windows Server 2003 on July 14th 2015, it’ll be upon us before we know it, so make sure you’ve upgraded as soon as you can!

April Fools day 2015 was yet another day of ‘release’ for the IT industry, with some of the more notable entries being Google (as normal) with their Pac-Maps. Pac-man mode for Google Maps, where in the bottom left corner there is a Pacman icon and you can play Pacman through the streets in certain areas. Pretty cool, and its kept the guys here at the office entertained for a while today too.

Samsung announced their new Galaxy Blade Phone with a sharp edge for cutting food.

Sydney Aquarium announced a new Kitty Snorkel Experience for cats to be immersed in their Barrier Reef tank, and the NSW Govt announced they would privatise Kids playgrounds (which still maybe true we’re not really sure!).

In more serious IT news though, HP Enterprise Group (who supply all the File Server, storage and networking range of HP Products), have announced an increase in selling price of 10% across the entire range of products due the rapid fall of the Australian dollar. Mirroring what Cisco (14% rise) and Apple (25%) did over the last two months, HP announced their prices will go up on the 14th of April, so if you need more hard discs or have been putting off replacing that File Server, now is the time to do it otherwise you’ll be paying even more than you budgeted on.

An all new ‘aluminium-ion’ battery has been developed in the US. Touting a rapid charge time of about 1 minute! Will never overheat or potentially catch fire like the lithium-ion can, and has a claimed lifespan of 7500 recharges compared to 1000 for the Lithium-ion variety. Battery technology is advancing rapidly these days, and the potential for large storage arrays of these types of batteries for home power/renewable energy storage is getting closer and closer. Bring it on!

Finally this month, we’re giving you a timely reminder on the importance of backups and backing up your data.

There doesn’t seem to be a month that goes by when we don’t have either a crashed Notebook drive, a PC that has been so badly infected by viruses that all the files are not recoverable and even mobile phones and tablets with thousands of photos that haven’t been backed up.

There are so many options these days for backing up your data, it should be seamless and something that ‘just happens’ without you even thinking about it.

With a lot of free storage sites like Dropbox, Google Drive & OneDrive offering instant mobile phone backups for free, it really is something that these days is classed as a critical thing to ensure is done. The same goes for PC’s and especially for Servers. We have a complete line of online backup solutions for PCs and Servers that will seamlessly backup and restore your important data when you need it starting from $33.00 a month. Call us for more information.

02 Mar 2015

March 2015 – Spam spam spam spam…

This month we are pleased to announce some price decreases for some of our cloud services that will help save you money!

From the 1st of April the following changes will occur.

EtherTech’s Hosted SharePoint and Hosted Exchange MAPI Email Services will drop $1.50 per seat per month and you will get an upgrade from 10GB mail allowance to 25GB.

If you have both services, your bundled package will drop an extra $1 and will also include Skype for Business in May.

As part of these enhancements all POP3/IMAP accounts are being upgraded to full Exchange accounts with entry level 1GB storage for only an extra $3 per month per seat. This will deliver a far superior service allowing seamless connectivity across devices.

We are also introducing SharePoint Foundation free for those with Email accounts. The only thing you need to pay for is $2/GB storage you consume. This is not automatic and you will need to give us a buzz to provision the service.

Speaking of Email, February seemed to be the month for Spam. We had to deploy an additional inbound Spam Filter as we were hammered with torrential floods of spam.

The graphic below shows the stats from only 1 of our spam filters, and you can see the massive spikes during November and February. At the moment we are filtering about 25,000 spam emails a day!


Due to our 24×7 monitoring of our equipment, we were able to scale services before it became too much of an issue.

In other IT news, testing of the new 5G mobile network has revealed download speeds of 1 Terabit per second! That’s about 65,000 times faster than the current 4G network. You could potentially download a feature film 100 times within 3 seconds. We’ll have to wait until 2020 before the 5G network is rolled out though.

Finally don’t forget 14th July 2015 – Last date for Windows Server 2003. If you’re running 2003 server you NEED to get it replaced PRIOR to 1st July THIS YEAR!

As always, if you ever need any advice or support, give us a call on 1300-ETHERTECH !

Until next month….

02 Mar 2015

February 2015 – New Malware / Microsoft Hololens plus more!@

This month we’re discussing yet another type of ransomware, this time though it’s a delayed attack and focussed on databases.

It appears that these unscrupulous extortionists have now got a new technique they are using to hold businesses to ransom…. Time…

What they are doing, is gaining access to websites through a known vulnerability (before it gets fixed), and inserting code that encrypts the traffic between the website and its database (which drives the site and stores all your information) using a special encryption key, which they put on the server.

Time passes, and backups overwrite and data gets updated, all unbeknown to anyone except the hackers as the site is still functioning correctly, until one day, maybe 6 months later in some reported instances, the hackers log in and remove the encryption key, the websites crash, and they send a ransom email.

The problem with this type of attack is that the backups are encrypted, and 6 months of data entry is quite often too long for most sites (especially e-commerce based ones) to re-enter. The reported ransoms at the moment range from $1,000USD to $50,000USD but seem to be totally dependent on the business compromised.

So how do we prevent this from happening?

Realistically everyone with a website needs to ensure that their web developer is retained to perform regular security updates and patching of their websites. Your ISP/Webhosting company may offer this, but these updates could break your website depending on how it was developed and customised, so it is better to approach your developer first.

hololens1 In more ‘exciting’ news, Microsoft have unveiled their new competitor to Googles ‘Google Glass’ wearable technology. Microsoft’s Hololens.

Microsoft are planning to release the HoloLens to coincide with their new Windows 10 release, although many people are speculating that this is not going to happen for quite some time.

Check out the promo video from Microsoft below, it’s pretty impressive!


In response to this release though, Google has stopped developing their ‘Google Glass’ product which was aimed at consumers rather than business users like the HoloLens, in favour of going back to the drawing board and starting again.


It will be very interesting times ahead indeed!

As always, if you ever need any information/ advice / help with anything IT / Telephony related, please give us a call!

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