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!

Spam

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!

http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us

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.

hololens2

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!

05 Jan 2015

January 2015 – Mobile Device Management .. What are you doing about it?

Happy New Year everybody!

We hope you all had a great break away from work this holiday period. But now it’s back to the grind. 🙁

EtherTech have been busy working on plenty of projects, so we are kicking the New Year off with an introduction to our new Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution for 2015.

If you have mobile phones, tablets, laptops that have access to your company network / filesystems / email etc. have you thought about how those devices have access to your company data and more importantly how it can expose your company to scammers / or competitors?

An MDM solution can help /use/protect

  • Sensitive information accessed by multiple devices
  • Multiple Operating Systems (OS) from company or BYO devices
  • Track and report on devices
  • Enforce security policies
  • Disable and remotely wipe lost or stolen devices.

Our MDM solution can easily integrate with your existing IT structure and provides a comprehensive management console to aid with the management of every mobile/portable device that has access to your network. A simple installation process onto your mobile devices adds them automatically to the console. Once installed this can improve business processing, increase productivity, enhance customer experience and drive value for your business, as you can control and limit applications / internet access / what is used by whom and when. So the devices can become a real business tool.

Everyone really needs to secure, configure and manage their mobile devices to prevent company data being lost, and to secure private information and photos.

Another plus of having Mobile Device Management is that it allows users to bring their own devices (BYOD) and still have secured / managed access to intellectual property.

Corporate security settings can be enforced and the console can push out custom messages or updates remotely.

Identifying and tracking devices that are lost or stolen is simple; In the event of this happening you can even lock / wipe devices remotely that hold your corporate data.

Another great feature of the MDM is to run reports and analyse data for all mobile devices.

Whether it is to assess compromised/offline devices, comply with standards or simply identify how many devices have successfully rolled out updates / specific business applications.

As mobile devices are becoming more and more prolific in the business space, we need to ensure we don’t leave it until its too late to ensure they are secured correctly.

Please give us a call at EtherTech to discuss your requirements for MDM, and how it can benefit you!

Until next month..

02 Dec 2014

December 2014 – Hot gifts for Christmas, New tech, plus much much more..

Another month down, and we’re on the rapid downhill slope to Christmas!

Just a quick note that EtherTech will be open on all days except the main public holidays (Dec 25th and 26th & Jan 1st), so if you need us over this period, please call our office hotline (1300-ETHERTECH), to speak with one of the guys.

With the Festive season upon us, our thoughts turn to gifts and what to buy is always a daunting task. This year we have compiled a quick list of the most popular gadgets in the IT world that might help you with your decision making, PLUS we’re giving away a free HP Slate tablet which could even save you some money too!

So, here is our Top10 Gadget list

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets (iPad air/mini –Kindle – Samsung galaxy note/nexus)
  • Smartwatches (Samsung Gear2Neo – Asus ZenWatch)
  • Wearable Fitness Devices (Fitbit / smart scale)
  • Pebble Portable Smartstick Phone Charger
  • Helicopter Drone
  • GPS Vehicle Trackers
  • The Selfie Stick for smartphones
  • Smart TVs
  • Portable GPS Navigation (TomTom – Garmin)

 

As well as all these cool things you can buy, there’s also plans for an Australian release of Netflix due in March 2015, bringing on-demand streaming movies and content to the home much like it is in the USA. This means a LOT of specials coming out from Foxtel and Optus in the months to come to try to retain their subscriber base.

 

Other ‘new-tech’ to be released in the New Year includes “Facebook at work” designed to compete directly against LinkedIn and Yammer, it seems Facebook will do anything to get more information to harvest and sell.

 

Microsoft of course purchased Skype quite some time ago now, and plans to utilise and extend its technology and user base to replace its own Lync messaging system. This is a great marketing idea from Microsoft as everyone knows and uses Skype now for messaging, so it will be a much easier sell to use a trusted brand name rather than something called ‘Google Hangouts” (which is the competing product).

 

Another Malware / Virus Update: PLEASE BE VIGILANT when opening ANY zip file attachments in your email. In fact, JUST DON’T DO IT.

 

With more and more virus payloads being distributed via zip, and antivirus software only being as good as your “up-to-date database and continuous threat monitoring settings”, we are seeing people opening these emails and wiping out valuable company data as well as their own data, ultimately costing their companies a lot of money to recover valuable information. If in doubt call us! We’re only too happy to advise whether something you’re not sure about is good or bad.

 

With the holidays approaching, please make sure you all have a very safe break from work (if you’re having one), a very merry and safe festive season, and we’ll be back again in 2015!
Ohh if you want to win a Free HP Slate 7 tablet, please go to and like our Facebook page and check the most recent post! J Good luck!

 

facebook.com/ethertech.au

 

05 Nov 2014

November 2014 – New Android SMS Virus doing the rounds..

As you know, we only write twelve newsletters a year, but it seems as soon as we finish one the next one is due! How time flies!

This last month has been somewhat ‘quieter’ than previous months, although with all the celebrity data breaches, security of information has risen to the top of the IT ‘hit list’.

Last month we saw a new ‘ransomware’ virus hitting users of Android operating system known as the ‘Koler worm’, this worm spreads itself via text messages and holds the victim’s infected device hostage until a ransom is paid.

It becomes a worm by attempting to trick users into opening a shortened bit.ly URL, once installed, it then sends SMSs to everyone in your contact list saying “”Someone made a profile named -[the contact’s name]- and he uploaded some of your photos! is that you?” followed by a Bitly link, so they can become infected as well.

Once installed this worm then locks the victim’s mobile screen and then demands money from users with fake notifications from law enforcement agencies accusing users of viewing and storing child pornography.

The victim is forced to buy a voucher as instructed on the blocking page, and send the voucher code to a malware author.”

Due to the Worm.Koler’s SMS distribution mechanism, we are seeing a rapid spread of infected devices since the 19th of October, which we believe to be the original outbreak date,” “During this short period, we have detected several hundred phones that exhibit signs of infection, across multiple US carriers. In addition to this, other mobile operators worldwide—predominantly in the Middle East, have been affected by this malware.

If users suspect they are infected by the malware, they should never authorize any payment as it won’t guarantee the unlocking of your device, as well as it will further encourage cyber criminals to carry out such ransomware practices again and again.

Koler does not encrypt files, according to security firms, therefore it becomes easy for users to eliminate the threat from their infected devices by following two simple steps:

  • Reboot your phone in the “Safe Mode
  • Remove the ‘PhotoViewer‘ app using standard Android app uninstallation tool

This particular worm should be treated as a ‘wake up call’ for all android users. The payload could have been MUCH worse.

In order to protect yourself from such threats in future, the best practice is to have the “Unknown Sources” option turned off in your Android device’ security settings menu. Turning off of this option won’t let users to install applications from unknown sources, but only from the official Google Play store.

The other thing you should do is to talk to us here at EtherTech about our Trend Micro Mobile Security and Anti Virus solution for Android which will prevent these malicious sites from getting into your devices. At $5.50 per month per device its pretty cheap insurance.

Until next month!.. Happy internetting..

02 Oct 2014

October 2014 – iPhone 6 launch, Shellshock bug, Mobile Device Security and more….

This month has seen some more industry heavyweights releasing new products to the market with the biggest release being Apples new iPhone 6, and even with less fanfare than the past, they still managed to achieve people camping out to ensure they were among the first to own one.

There were a couple of honourable mentions though. The first purchaser in WA who, when interviewed on TV dropped it onto the concrete before he’d even turned it on, and to Apple themselves, who seem to have produced a bendy iPhone 6+ edition, with owners already reporting issues with the phones flexing and bending.

Another emerging security breach this month has been the discovery of the “Shellshock Bug”, which has been lying dormant and unnoticed for decades, but now it has been found it is estimated that as many as 500million servers and devices worldwide are  vulnerable to this bug which could give hackers a backdoor into your systems.

The biggest concern are websites. This month we passed the billion website mark online, and ½ of those will be affected by this bug.

‘Shellshock’ is named after the vulnerable application through which hackers can gain access, the ‘Bash Shell’. The ‘Shell’ is a command line driven application found in all Linux/Unix/Mac/even NAS unit operating systems. ‘Bash’ is the actual ‘version’ of the shell that is susceptible to this bug.

You can be assured however that EtherTech is not vulnerable to this ‘Shellshock’ bug, as our clustered webservers are all windows based, which has no issues, and all other systems have already been patched.

Keeping on the topic of mobile devices, the incidence of theft of smart phones, tablets, notebooks is forever on the rise, with the black market for these devices and especially new release models on rise, what can we do to secure our devices better?

Over the last couple of months we’ve been trialling and using a couple of new smart device management technologies. The first is a free service called ‘Prey’ (preyproject.com) which is a smart device app which if your device is stolen or even misplaced you can login via the web and send an audible alert to your device to find it, or even lock the device, take photos listen to audio get GPS fix or even remotely wipe the device of all your information if its stolen. They even have a new beta version they are trialling that allows you to use a ‘googlemap’ style map to locate your device as well.

The preyproject.com app is a free service for individuals and allows you to link up to 3 devices per free account. You can also subscribe if you have more than 3 devices.

A final reminder for the month: Windows Server 2003 will reach End of Support on 14th July 2015. Now is the time to give us a call and start talking to us to plan your migration to Windows Server 2012 R2.

Finally, the MIGHTY HAWKS are have won our second AFL grand final in a row! So thank you to everyone who’s been reading our newsletter and by default is now a bonafide Hawks supporter!  I’m sure everyone will continue to join us in wishing Hawthorn all the best for our hat-trick of premierships in 2015!

Until next month….

01 Aug 2014

August 2014 – We discuss in detail Windows Server 2003 EOL announcement

And we’re off and racing into a new financial year! It’s hard to believe we’ve only got 5 months to go until Christmas! (sorry about that!)

All this recent IT talk of Windows XP going End of Life must’ve prompted Microsoft to ‘End of Life’ some more products. The one of most interest is the announcement that Windows Server 2003 which was released on April 24th 2003, is going to be officially End of Life on 14th July 2015. 12 years…not a bad run.

With an estimated 11.7million servers worldwide still running Windows Server 2003, this will be a huge job to transition these machines to a new ‘safer’ Operating System. It will mean replacement hardware as most of the old servers running Windows Server 2003 will not be able to run the latest Server 2012 editions, or migration of services into the cloud.

The point in case of cloud vs on premise hardware solutions is still forefront in conversations, and still confuses people to this day as to the direction to take.

Here at EtherTech, we obviously support our clients’ needs whether they decide to remain on premise or ‘cloudify’ their business.  There are many pros and cons with both solutions; for example a recent client has been going through this exact scenario, where they needed to replace their existing file servers due to age. They required: 5 users to access local storage, remote access, printing, and the normal applications like MYOB and MS Office. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The issue now becomes cost benefit vs hosted system. For two new File Servers (you need a server for remote access and another for File/Print) you are looking at 10k+ unless you decide to use virtual machines and have all your servers ‘hosted’ on a single server (but it’d still require the ‘horsepower’ to run these machines) so similar sort of price; this also means a single point of failure. Plus you have all the setup and configuration costs, insurance, backup responsibility, cooling and power consumption, patch management and firewall security and ongoing updates.

This all adds up rapidly in terms of support costs, but is definitely a solution a lot of businesses still do, as it means all data is kept in-house and is not reliant on any 3rd parties for day to day operation. The total cost for this style of setup would be around 20k mark depending on your requirements.

The Cloud option means that you remove the local aspect of having to have servers, cooling, power, backups, insurance, maintenance etc to EtherTech, and we then provide the services you require to you via the internet. Remote access, file print, firewall, security, MYOB can all be hosted in the cloud for a monthly expansible fee, rather than a massive capital (depreciative) cost, spread over many years.

How much you ask?

Well here again it depends on the services required, but for example with this client for remote access, MYOB, Email and file/print storage you are looking around the $70 per month per user mark. So for 5 users you’d be up for $350 a month, even then, your cost breakeven for the 20k outlay would still be 57months! (4.75 years!), and includes all updates to latest versions of Microsoft software as they are made available, backups updates the whole lot.

For many businesses this makes better economic sense and gives them greater ‘portability’ and access to their data remotely.

The biggest issue with the ‘cloud’ in any form is the internet. With your total reliance now on a reliable internet connection to access your data, any failures by ISPs instantly cripples you. EtherTech eliminate this by ensuring our clients run ‘failover to 3G/4G’ in their network to ensure maximum ‘uptime’ at all times.

If you want to discuss any of the things discussed in this article, or need more information, please give us a call anytime to discuss your requirements!

Until next month!

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