Heartbleed and KineticD Cloud Backup

Posted by admin on Apr 25, 2014

This notice is for our customers that either use (or are planning to use) our Cloud-based data backup solution provided by KineticD.  Here is a notice that we received from KineticD:

As you may be aware, a major vulnerability code named Heartbleed recently been discovered for OpenSSL, the popular encryption software that powers two thirds (2/3) of the Internet.  Since KineticD only relied on OpenSSL for our marketing portals, none of your data was ever at risk.

We take the security of our customer data very seriously and at this time have no evidence of any compromise, but like many web companies, our security team took immediate action to proactively address the issue.  Further to our stringent Vulnerability and Threat policies, all data backed up with KineticD is protected by the following safeguards:

-Military Grade Encryption: Your data is encrypted using military grade 448 bit blowfish encryption before it leaves your machine, in flight (over the internet) and at rest (when its stored in our servers).

-Industry Leading Data Centers: Our state-of-the-art data centers are guarded 24x7x365 with uniformed security guards, CCTV cameras throughout, door entry-card access and fully redundant power supplies.

-ITL-Based Compliance Audit Procedures: Our data center recently passed an external audit which awarded us with the SSAE16 certification of compliance.   

If any of your other online vendors have been impacted by Heartbleed and you use the same password for both KineticD and them, we recommend changing both passwords.  As a best practice, your password for KineticD should be unique and contain at least 6 characters, with capital letters, numbers and symbols.  

Thanks for trusting KineticD with your data, The KineticD Team

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Blackberry Messenger for Everyone!

Posted by admin on Sep 20, 2013

Amid rumors of layoffs and a possible sale of the company, BlackBerry announced some good news Wednesday: its growing BBM instant messaging service will be available for Android and iPhone devices in the next several days. BBM is one of the high points of the failing BlackBerry legacy business, with recent growth in BBM users mainly in Europe and Asia. Until now, BBM has only been available for BlackBerry devices. BBM has 60 million monthly active customers who send and receive more than 10 billion messages a day, BlackBerry said. Messages are quickly read in seconds, which BlackBerry said is an indication of how engaged BBM users are.

BBM will be a free download in the Google Play store for Android on Saturday and in the Apple App Store for iPhone on Sunday, BlackBerry said. “With more than a billion Android, iOS and BlackBerry smartphones in the market, and no dominant mobile messaging platform, this is absolutely the right time to bring BBM to Android and iPhone customers,” Andrew Bocking, executive vice president for BBM at BlackBerry, said in a statement.

In addition to BBM text chat, users can share files such as photos and voice notes. BBM lets a user know that a message has been delivered and read and shows when a friend is responding. Up to 30 friends can join in group chats and share photos and schedules. A function called Broadcast Message allows users to send out a message to all their BBM contacts at the same time. BBM relies on a unique PIN to authorize a user, which BlackBerry maintains is more secure than giving out a phone number or email address to a new contact.

The Android download will be available at 7 a.m. ET on Sept. 21 for Android 4 and later. For iPhones running iOS 6 and iOS 7, BBM will be available in the App Store at 12:01 a.m. local time on Sept. 22. Later in 2013, BlackBerry is expected to unveil BBM Channels to allow for conversations between users and communities. The conversations can be organized around common interests, brands, celebrities and more. BBM video and BBM voice calling are also planned for Android and iPhone in a future version, but BlackBerry didn’t disclose when.

BBM isn’t yet available for Windows Phone smartphones, and BlackBerry didn’t indicate when, or whether, that would occur. Windows Phone recently overtook BlackBerry as the third-largest smartphone brand shipping globally.

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Microsoft lures nonprofits with Office 365 freebie

Posted by admin on Sep 14, 2013

Nonprofit organizations will be able to sign up for Office 365 for free or at a reduced price as part of a new program Microsoft launched Tuesday. Properly certified nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 41 countries can apply to the Office 365 for Nonprofits program. Microsoft expects to offer the program in 90 countries by July. “Nonprofits are seeing more and more the advantages of cloud computing, but they often can’t access it because of costs and other reasons,” said Lori Harnick, general manager of Microsoft’s Citizenship & Public Affairs group. While Microsoft has had a software donation program for years, this is the first time it will offer Office 365 in this manner, she said.

Customers can subscribe to the Office 365 Enterprise E1 plan for free for an unlimited number of seats. This plan, which normally costs $8 per user, per month, includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and the browser-based Office Web Apps. For an additional per user, per month charge of $2, customers can get the full Office ProPlus productivity application suite streamed down and installed on users’ desktops. Exchange Online Archiving costs $1 per user, per month extra. Customers also have the option of signing up for Office 365 Enterprise E3 at $4.50 per user, per month, a reduction from the regular price of $20 per user, per month.

Following Google’s lead

While it’s a good move to cater to nonprofits with Office 365, Microsoft is following rival Google, which has had a free nonprofit edition of its Apps email and collaboration suite since 2007. ”My take is that Google Apps for Nonprofits was doing very well in the market, and Microsoft needed to combat Google’s inroads with a more attractive Office 365 no fee offer,” Gartner analyst Matt Cain said via email. However, a difference is that Apps for Nonprofits is only available in the U.S., England and Wales. In addition to giving Office 365 a competing offer among nonprofits against Google Apps, the product earns Microsoft points for corporate citizenship, according to TJ Keitt, a Forrester Research analyst. ”It provides organizations performing public services an affordable tool for communication and collaboration,” he said via email. Moreover, this nonprofit offering expands the pool of people exposed to Office 365, potentially creating future customers for the paid editions, Keitt said.

Obituary: Doug Engelbart, Inventor of the computer mouse

Posted by admin on Aug 18, 2013

Doug Engelbart, best known for having invented the computer mouse in 1968, but whom was also one of the pioneers of the computing industry, sadly passed away on July 2 at the age of 88 from kidney failure.

While working at a government aerospace laboratory in California in the 1950s, Engelbart had ideas swirling in his mind about collaborative and interactive computer work where scientists could easily share information among them. He eventually demonstrated his many inventions once he established an experimental research group at Stanford Research Institute, which eventually came to be known simply as SRI International. Among them was the rodent-like device called a mouse (though back then, it hardly resembled a mouse as it does today) that was used to navigate a computer’s screen, and control tasks. Reportedly, the idea for the mouse came to Engelbart during a computer graphics conference in 1964. The device, however, didn’t make its way to become a mainstream computer accessory until some time in the 1980s.

Why it was given the moniker “mouse” is up for debate. Hardware designer Roger Bates has been quoted as saying it was coined by Dr. William English, as collaborator and mechanical engineer who received Engelbart’s sketch of the device. Supposedly, the mouse was a natural extension to the name used at the time to describe the cursor: CAT.

Engelbart’s influence on the computing industry extended far further than the invention of the mouse. In 1969, his Augment NLS system application helped lead to the internet as we know it today. Oregon State University, from which Engelbart graduated, credited him in 1997 with 20 lifetime patents at the time, and helping to “pave the way for electronic mail, computer ‘windows’, computer networking and the internet.”

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Accept Credit Cards on the Road

Posted by admin on Jul 18, 2013

Are you a mobile professional?  Would you like to accept credit card payments wherever you are?  Would you like to do it for free?

Well, that last one I can’t really do, but there is a great deal from a company called Square.  For a $10 investment (and you get that back after your first transaction) you can get a small card reader from Square that attaches to your smart phone or tablet.  No start up fees, no monthly fees, just 2.75% per swipe for Visa and Mastercard.

Install a simple app on your iOS or Android device, plug in the small square card reader into the headphone jack, link your bank account, and you will be accepting payments in minutes.  The money is directly deposited into your bank account within 1-2 business days.

For more information check out www.squareup.com or come in and talk to us about it.

3 Technologies That Should Disappear

Posted by admin on Jul 16, 2013

Legacy hardware often overstays its welcome.  For example, these 12 components, ports, and devices have lingered far beyond their freshness date.

1) PATA (or Parallel Ports), also known as IDE ports is so old that you might never have heard of it.  It was originally designed as an interface for mechanical hard drives back in 1986, it was replaced by SATA over ten years ago.  Some motherboard manufacturers are still including it on their boards.  Why?

2) eSATA (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is fast, but does not carry power to the external drive. So you need an additional power adapter for your external device. Since we now have USB 3.0, which are plenty fast and deliver power to the attached devices, there is no need for eSATA ports.

3) IBM introduced the PS/2 port in 1987 with its line of PS/2 personal computers.  Since the ports were not designed to be hot-swappable, changing your keyboard and mouse meant you had to turn off the computer first. All keyboards and mice that have shipped in the past 5 years use USB, so why are board manufacturers still including these ports on their motherboards?

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Why am I not getting the internet speed I paid for?

Posted by admin on May 8, 2013

Almost no one gets the internet performance that their ISP advertises. Variables make speeds impossible to predict, and the providers advertise the best possible speed.  The difference between the advertised speed and the real speed should be reasonably close.  If you are regularly getting 70% of what you are promised, you have a serious bottleneck.  Visit www.speedtest.net, and click on “Begin Test” to find out what your internet speeds are.  You will get three numbers… ping… download… and upload.  The important number here is the download.  Compare that number to the promised speeds from your provider.

You should also run that test from several devices on your network (if you have them) and compare the numbers.  Speedtest.net has apps for Blackberry, iPhone and Android as well.  It is possible that it is just the one system that is running slow.  If that is the case, then have that device looked at.  If all your devices are downloading at the same (slow) speed, then it could either be your router/modem or your ISP.  Call your internet provider and have them test the connection to your modem.  You can also bypass your router, and connect your computer directly to the modem and test it again.


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How Companies Get You To Keep Buying New Stuff

Posted by admin on May 8, 2013

When was the last time a broken DVD player led to a trip to the repair shop?  The reality is this: We don’t fix electronics anymore, we just replace them. Experts call this a growing throwaway-electronics culture. While tech companies benefit from shorter product life cycles, the by-product can harm household budgets and the planet.  The end result: Electronics containing toxic substances are appearing in landfills around the world.

With inexpensive gadgets showing up at prices people can’t resist, and manufacturers building items that are too costly to repair (along with shorter warranties), they end up in the trash.  One suggestion is to put the responsibility of recycling the item onto the manufacturer. That might force the manufacturers to design better, longer-lasting, less-toxic, and more-recyclable products in the first place.

So, how can you help?  First, make sure that you take all your dead equipment to a recycling drop-off location.  If your item is still useful… just not to you, then try and donate it to an person or organization that can use it.  Most importantly, however, is to purchase well-built products in the first place.  Don’t always look at the price tag.

We here at ICS will take back any electronic item that we have sold, and will either recycle it, or find someone that can use it.

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Global WordPress Brute Force Attack

Posted by admin on Apr 12, 2013

There is an on-going and highly-distributed, global attack on WordPress installations across virtually every web host in existence.  This attack is well organized and again very, very distributed; we have seen over 90,000 IP addresses involved in this attack.

At this moment, we highly recommend you log into any WordPress installation you have and change the password to something that meets the security requirements.  These requirements are fairly typical of a secure password: upper and lowercase letters, at least eight characters long, and including “special” characters (^%$#&@*).

You have now changed your WordPress password, correct?  Good.

The main force of this attack began last week, then slightly died off, before picking back up again yesterday morning.  No one knows when it will end.  The symptoms of this attack are a very slow backend on your WordPress site, or an inability to log in.  In some instances your site could even intermittently go down for short periods.

We are taking several steps to mitigate this attack throughout our server farm, but in the same breath it is true that in cases like this there is only so much that can actually be done.  If you are hosted with us and you would like for us to take a more severe, heavy-handed approach to mitigate this attack, we can do this via means such as password-protecting (via .htaccess) all wp-login.php files on the server.  If you would like our assistance with this, please contact us.

Again, this is a global issue affecting all web hosts.  Any further information we could provide at this moment would be purely speculation.  Our hope is that this attack ends soon, but it is a reminder that we must all take account security very seriously.

We will update this blog post when we have further information.

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Microsoft Surface Pro

Posted by admin on Jan 22, 2013

Taken from MarketNews

Microsoft announced that it would be releasing the Surface Pro hybrid tablet PC to the U.S. market in January at a starting price of $899 for the 64GB model. The price was expected to be considerably higher than the current Surface RT that came out in October, but is it too much for it to have a chance of success?

Considering that we’re talking about a full-fledged Windows 8 PC that shouldn’t have any major limitations for the user, maybe it’s not such a bad deal. On the other hand, once you go to 128GB and add the touch keyboard cover, you’re looking at a price tag in excess of $1,200. Some will say that a MacBook Air costs about the same and has similar specs, which is indeed true.

The Surface Pro is also a tablet, first and foremost, and adding the Touch Cover essentially turns it into a functioning PC. With access to Microsoft Office and an array of other Windows apps, isn’t this the best of both worlds? You have what appears to be an ideal combination of creation and consumption, particularly since the Surface Pro would ostensibly be able to run apps from both the Windows Marketplace and those downloaded from a Web browser.

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