Cloud Managed Antivirus

Antivirus is one of the must-have applications on everyone’s computer, but if I walk into a new customer’s office and ask an employee what antivirus do they have installed on their computer the answer I generally get is, “I don’t know.” And that’s ok, but my next question is always is their antivirus up-to-date and again in general the answer is, “I don’t know.” So my first order of business ends up going around to every computer in an office to see what antivirus each machine is running and update it if needed. Many times I find that the subscription is expired so a trip to see the boss for a credit card is in order. Now for 2-3 computers this isn’t too big of a deal, but for more doing this on a regular basis to keep this customer protected is a waste of their money and a lot of time. There is a better way. In the past that better way required a server with an antivirus manager installed and bundled with a set number of licenses, allowing me to manage all of the customer’s computers from one place. This was awesome if I could convince the person paying the bill the upfront cost was worth it. That didn’t happen too often, so back to stopping by regularly to make sure the antivirus on every computer was updating and running properly.

Today, through the magic of the cloud no longer does a customer have to buy a server and install management software to track if a computer on a client’s network has up-to-date antivirus or if for some reason the antivirus software is not running on the machine. All you need to do is install the software on the pc and from the comfort of a website manage the antivirus clients and licenses. At a glance, it can be determined that Joe Bob has not received an antivirus update for over 2 weeks. Oh no, Joe Bob has a problem and doesn’t know it…but the cloud does. I can spring into action and pay Joe Bob a visit to get his antivirus back on track. On average, the cost for Cloud management of a computer’s antivirus runs $30 per computer per year. That’s about $150/year for 5 computers. That is less than what I charge Joe Bob and his company to come out once to check every computer to make sure the antivirus is working. I can do that from my office in a few minutes versus stopping by and spending 2 hours bugging Joe Bob and the other employees. There is value there. Simplified, centralized management that saves you money– why wouldn’t you invest in getting this set up in your office?

Many of the cloud antivirus providers let you remotely install the antivirus client on the computers without any interaction from the end user so they can go on working while their computer is secured from the cloud. Some of the top providers of cloud managed antivirus for small business are Bitdefender, Symantec, and Panda among others. This cloud based approach allows these companies to make sure your company not only has the latest tools to manage the security of your computers but to also make sure all of your computers are protected with their latest antivirus software and detection definitions to help keep your business safe.

TV in the Cloud

Fall is here and so are all the great new fall season premieres of the television shows you love. I don’t really think that it’s fair to call them television shows anymore considering they aren’t just for your TV anymore. The Internet has brought us content never before dreamed of to devices that a few years ago were just science fiction, and the network broadcasters are joining the media revolution. I am a very busy guy with lots of interests and a young family with 3 active little boys. Needless to say, downtime with my wife in the same room just watching some TV is a rare and precious thing. But I love TV. I love its ability to tell stories and bring millions of people together. And so does my wife, even if our choice of content differs slightly. Several years ago, my wife gave me the gift of a DVR to help us deal with those differences of opinion. Since the boys came along, we haven’t watched a scheduled TV program — it is always recorded. Sometimes we forget to set the week’s programs to record and we miss something. To the web we go. In the past, most TV programs were only available on the Internet through less than questionable sources. Not true in most cases today. Internet programming is here…mostly.

OK, so NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, USA, and Syfy are, in most cases, our channels of choice for primetime programming. Last fall, most of these networks had some of their shows available for viewing online and some shows were available as quickly as one day after it aired through traditional media. Wow, that’s great I thought. I could even go back and re-watch the last few episodes in case I forgot something or just wanted a mini-marathon of my own. Over the summer, virtually all of the summer programming my wife and I enjoyed became available online. Checking out these networks sites it seems that they are going to continue to expand what they make available to stream from their sites over the web, complete with commercials. Some of these networks even have apps for tablets and smartphones that aggregate all the content together for convenient viewing right from any device anywhere in the world. How cool is that! Don’t get me wrong. Traditional TV is not going to be going anywhere for a long time, but the Internet is continuing to grow into our one-stop shop for all media content — both news and entertainment.

I have been thinking for a long time about “cutting the cable” and doing away with the transitional TV video service our local cable provider offers and switching to only internet. If this trend of networks providing streaming digital content continues there will be more people who are willing to drop their video service and watch TV online. What will the cable and satellite providers do then? I even expect to see networks creating streaming content apps for devices like the Roku media hubs as “channels” for providing both live streaming and on demand content. The technology is here, and the future is coming. It’s almost like getting to live in one of my favorite science fiction shows!

Beta Bot Malware

On September 18th, 2013, the FBI posted a warning about a new virus known as Beta Bot on their Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) website. Because the method of attack is so convincing, I feel it important to make sure that you are all aware of what to look out for when browsing the web. Similar to some of the fake antivirus malware, you are presented with an extremely official looking recreation of a Microsoft message window. Typically, you will see a User Account Control window like the one below, asking for permission to allow a program to make changes to your computer.

If you see this type of box open up and you did not open the program the message says wants to make changes to your computer do not click the box. Immediately shut down your computer and reboot in safe mode. Once in Safe Mode, do a full system scan with your antivirus software.

If you have already been infected with Beta Bot it will disable your antivirus software and may prevent you from being able to access any antivirus web sites. Beta Bot logs data from your computer including log-in user names and passwords to financial sites and social media like Facebook. Beta Bot is spread from compromised websites, USB flash drives, and over Skype. If you plug in any flash drives to your system while it is infected, those drives need to be scanned and should be formatted to make sure they are not infected. If you are attacked by this malware and are not comfortable doing things like booting into safe mode and running antivirus scan, then I recommend calling an IT professional like myself to scan the computer and verify the infection has been removed.

Mobile Month

September has been pretty exciting. As I am sure you all know, Apple rolled out 2 new iPhones and released its new version operating system iOS7. The new iPhone 5s is quite the awesome piece of hardware, even though most media outlets are unimpressed. Apple has done something with their phone operating system and development platform that the PC industry has been unable to do for over 5 years — transition fully to 64 bit processing. Without getting too techy, PC’s around the world have had 64 bit processors for years; however, most software developers have made little to no move to support the added power of this processor. This is because the tools for converting their existing software to support the new processors are expensive and requires lots of recoding. According to Apple, their new development platform supports creating and upgrading 64bit apps with very little effort. On top of that, iOS7 fully supports running the older 32 bit apps and 64 bit apps during the transition. The other really cool thing about the new processor is that it is double the brain power of the previous processor. Imagine one billion little brains stuffed into a 2″ square. Now imagine figuring out how to shrink those down so that you can put twice as many brains on the same square. That’s what Apple did. I think that is quite amazing. On top of the processor upgrade, we get a new camera with better picture quality and a finger print scanner. Now I have talked about biometric security before and here it is in a phone. Now even though fingerprints are secure they are hack-able. In fact, there are claims that the fingerprint scanner has already been hacked, albeit in a very mission impossible way. A very high resolution image of a print lifted off of a piece of glass was used to break into an iPhone protected by a fingerprint. Now granted a spy might be able to pull off this kind of trick, but the average bear is not going to steal your phone and stalk you for a fingerprint to get into your phone. I feel like for the average user this is still a safe way to secure your phone. A better way would be to require a password or PIN as well, but that’s another matter. All in all, the new iPhone is a big win if you are due for an upgrade. Not to downplay the 5c, but it really is just the 5 with a plastic body so for the budget minded iPhone 4 or 4s owner out there, you have an option too.

As excited as I was about the new iPhone announcement and the release of iOS7 what really got me this month was the announcement of the next generation of Surface tablets from Microsoft. The first Surface was cool, but it needed some work. Users made sure that Microsoft knew what the next generation should have and Microsoft listened — for the most part. The biggest thing missing was battery life. With the upgraded faster Intel processor and a redesign to the internal hardware, Microsoft increased the battery life by 75% and with the Power Cover keyboard accessory the new Surface will run 2.5x longer than the original. I mentioned the new processor. The new Surface is powered by a Nvidia Tegra 4 processor and the Surface 2 Pro has the Intel Haswell processor. The screen is a full 1080p HD display and both will be running the latest editions of Windows 8.1. At the release event it was very clear that the Surface Pro 2 was the star, catering to business users who also want to use their devices to play. It was mentioned over and over that the Surface Pro 2 is more than a tablet. It is a device for every computing scenario. They showed using the Surface Pro 2 as a tablet, as a laptop with the new 2 position kickstand and the power cover for typing and as a desktop with a new dock that allowed 2 additional monitors and USB devices to be added to the system. Yup, a docking station that’s right, cue the chorus of angels. One device for all your needs plus it plays games. The demo included a developer playing Halo on the projection screen with a wireless Xbox controller. This tablet is stacking up to be a beast. Both the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro are set to ship October 22, and I cannot wait to see if these little fireplugs are as powerful as Microsoft boasted at the event. I highly recommend visiting to check out all the specs and goodies that are being offered with the new tablet, like 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for 2 years with the purchase of the new tablet. While the price may seem a bit high, remember that this device is set to replace your tablet, laptop, and desktop in one fell swoop!