Why HTML5 leads the Charge for Chrome

Most people are familiar with the problems associated with loading a Flash-based page, from slower loading times to page crashes that require restarting the browser altogether. Now, Google has announced that its browser will disable Flash and initiate an HTML5 default that will eventually trickle down to every Chrome user. Learn more about how Google will transition the format of the information you find using Chrome and how this will impact your browsing experience.

The Current State of HTML5

HTML5 first hit the market in 2008 as a modification to its 4.0 version, adding a few changes and fixing bugs (as happens with most newer versions of programs). But it also promised to change the way developers design webpages and influence how browsers search for and view online information.

Most websites currently utilize a Flash-based display protocol, which is often slow and uses significantly more resources than HTML5 to accomplish the same tasks. By changing to an HTML5 default and requesting permission to use Flash, users have the advantage of faster load times and a more efficient browsing experience.

The Use of Adobe Flash

One benefit of using Flash for developers is purely aesthetic: Flash makes the website look good because the designs, colors and motion on the page are generally more eye pleasing. Unfortunately, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. Using Flash on a commercial website means slower performance, confusing navigation schemes, incompatibility with web analytics software, and limited visibility in some formats.

Google’s Plan to Phase Out Flash

Google Chrome users should begin to notice a change in how they browse websites starting this month, December 2016. Only 1% of Chrome users (and a handful of users using the beta browser) will be asked whether they wish to run Flash as they go about their Christmas shopping.

In January 2017, Google’s proprietary browser will begin asking users whether they wish to use Flash whenever they visit a new website. In February 2017, with the release of the newest iteration of the Chrome browser, users will be asked before Flash components run on a page. Finally, by October 2017 all sites will load using HTML5 by default and require users to physically enable the Adobe Flash to experience anything delivered in that medium.

Developers at Chrome hope that by stretching out the introduction of HTML5 default settings, web designers will have time to adjust their strategies away from Flash and toward a more user-friendly design strategy.

We suggest that you keep an eye on your website and keep up with your web developer to ensure that your site continues to run correctly on all browsers. Your web developer should be aware of the updates of all web browsers and must continuously check your site on these browsers to ensure that your site is displaying correctly and staying gorgeous.

Increasing Windows Update Speeds

One of the issues that face most users of Microsoft’s latest operating system platform is the amount of time and processing power required to perform Windows 10 updates. This issue causes problems both for businesses and individual users alike, because the newest Windows operating system processes these updates automatically. However, Microsoft has come up with a solution to the slow-update problem, and it may actually save you a great deal of frustration.

What Microsoft is proposing to streamline for the Windows 10 update process is a system known as a UUP or a Unified Update Platform. A Unified Update Platform is essentially a large series of changes to Windows 10, all of which occur behind-the-scenes and will not affect overall user experience. These changes will work to reduce the amount of processing power required to update Windows as well as make the updates move faster for Windows 10 users who need to keep things moving along quickly.

This UUP ambition will be accomplished in a number of ways, including significantly shrinking the size of the update files for all devices, and especially, making the Windows phone update process much more streamlined than it currently is. One of the ways Microsoft proposes to streamline and speed up the update process is by sending updates that are device-specific rather than distributing a full bundle of updates together, some of which are not necessary for the device in question.

Currently, Windows 10 updates essentially overhaul the entire version of Windows 10 that users have on their device. This makes the update process easier on Microsoft, but not on users. Instead of this system, the UUP will eventually allow updates to occur only to the specific programs and systems that need updating, leaving the rest of the operating system untouched. Larger system-wide updates will also be much faster and more efficient with the UUP system in place.

Should you have further questions about what this new Windows 10 update process could mean for you and your business, contact us as soon as possible. We can help you with all your operating system needs.

The Newest Cyber-Threats of 2017 to Watch For

The New Year is upon us, and with it comes a new batch of cyber threats. As advances are made in the world of technology, businesses anticipate changes that can make life more convenient. But, like snakes slithering into your home, cyber attackers also keep up with technological changes for their own nefarious ends. Knowing what you are up against is the first step to fighting these threats.

Increased Threats on Cloud Technology

Cloud service has numerous benefits to businesses. They make data storage, collaboration, and processing more efficient; they enable employees to work faster; and they help operations flow smoother. Cloud technology’s popularity is expected to rise well into the next few years, but as demand increases, so does the dangers presented by cyber attackers.

Ransomware Will Be Complex

Ransomware incapacitates computer systems by locking down files and preventing access for ransom. In its 2016 Threat Predictions report, security software company McAfee predicts a peak in ransomware attacks next year. Although they also predict it to recede by mid-year, damages to vulnerable cloud-dependent infrastructures can be great and costly. Most alarming in the prediction, however, is that in the coming year ransomware attacks will be more complex due to new elements.

Ransomworms, which use advanced victimization techniques to mine further data within an already compromised network, are expected to put an even crueler spin to an already formidable malware. Doxing, on the other hand, affects avenues such as social media and any place where sensitive, easily identifiable information can be extracted to serve the ultimate purpose of extorting money. Yet another wicked ransomware to watch out for is Backup Deletion, which destroys the very mechanism that can otherwise help you recover from a compromised system or files: your backup data.

More Threats to IoT (Internet of Things)-Enabled Devices

It is also predicted that 2017 will see attacks made on IoT-powered devices, which will make life harder for those who depend on technology that makes life easier. It targets medical devices and Electronic Medical Records, “connected cars”, basic domestic tools, and tech-driven wearables, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. The danger posed by this intrusion is fully capable of corrupting information stored in your devices.

Advanced Cyber Espionage

Cyber espionage is by no means a novelty. In 2017, it’s expected to hold sway in cyber-threat prevention measures as it becomes even more complex. It encompasses all sectors of society, including individuals, private organizations, government institutions, and entire countries. Perpetrators will have the means to bypass networks by attacking firewalls and wreak havoc in their victims’ network. Fret not, for there will be measures in place to detect this threat also in the coming year.

Hackers are one of the most cunning criminals to have ever existed. While the cyber-police and the defenses they put up are no slouches, threats to security systems can still make technology-dependent individuals and businesses quiver. Although damaged networks can be repaired, compromised privacy restored, and stolen data returned, the amount of damage that hackers can cause might be irreparable and/or result in a significant dent in your IT infrastructure and budget. The value of a network security system makes itself known when you least expect it, which is why security should be a top priority.

Are your systems protected from these predicted remarkable feats of hacking? Call us if you want to discuss security services that are best for you.

Points to Ponder: Small Business Computers

Buying a computer for a small business seems like a simple task. You work from a budget, go to a store, buy the computer, and assemble the components. This would be true for small businesses from decades past, but times have dramatically changed. To keep up, small businesses must make smart decisions when it comes to purchasing computers. Whether your main consideration is software compatibility, availability, or even battery life, here are some of the things you need to consider when choosing computers for your small business.

Laptop or desktop?

Laptops are highly portable, efficient, and inexpensive. If these are the most important qualities your business requires in a computer, then by all means, choose them. Clearly, desktops aren’t built for mobility, but what they lack in portability, they more than make up for in storage, processing capacity, and security. Although laptops make perfect sense for small businesses with great need for portability, they are much more prone to security threats and are not as easy to upgrade and maintain, unlike desktops.
Processor

The Central Processing Unit (CPU), or simply processor, determines the speed at which you can access your data and perform business-critical tasks. Speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), and a processor that runs from 2 to 4 GHz should be plenty for small enterprises. Arguably the most important item on the list of a computer’s specifications, the processor plays a crucial role in your computer’s speed and efficiency.

Storage

As critical hardware components, hard drives indicate how much information you can store and use. Storage capacity typically ranges from 128 gigabytes on “light computers”, all the way up to 2+ terabytes on more critical machines. If your business doesn’t need to store large files such as videos and images and will be used mostly for email and a few applications, 250- or 500-GB storage should do the job. If processor speed is number one on your list of computer requirements, it’s followed closely by hard drive storage.
Operating System

Operating system (OS) decisions often boil down to choosing between Windows or Mac. It might help in your decision-making to know that Windows remains the most widely used OS mainly due to its high compatibility with business software, not to mention, its relatively cheaper price. Macs can perform just as brilliantly as Windows-operated systems can. And although Macs are usually more expensive, they’re well known for their own outstanding features, such as being less prone to crashes.
Other Components

Not to be confused with storage drives, a computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is only used to run open applications. It is responsible for keeping your computer performing at optimum speeds, especially when you’re working with several applications or programs at once. For small businesses, a 1200-2600-MHz RAM should suffice. The higher the MHz of your RAM, the higher its performance will be. To keep your basic programs running, 6-8 gigabytes of RAM is often satisfactory.

Ready to Buy a New Computer?

Deciding which computer to buy is an important business decision. While there are a handful of factors to consider, what you aim to accomplish in your business’s day-to-day operations should be your main consideration when choosing a computer. Businesses that require plenty of remote and mobile work should definitely go for laptops. Those that require regular transfers of large datasets could benefit from the increased storage capacity associated with desktops.

Do you need expert advice in choosing the best computers for your small business? We’re happy to guide you in every step of your purchase decision. Give us a call today at 800-421-7151.

How Automation Helps Small Business Marketing

Small business marketing has often been a difficult endeavor for small business owners. Marketing involves a great deal of time, effort, and can require significant financial investment. For a long time, marketing automation was something only enterprise-level businesses and corporations could afford, but with new technology, that’s no longer the case. Read up on the five most profitable benefits of this new IT innovation right here.

Instant Response to Email Request

If a customer or prospect sends your business an email via your website or a “Contact Us” form, any delay in response could ultimately cost you a client. But if you have a marketing automation plan in place, you can customize automatic email responses to respond to these leads as soon as an email is received. This lets potential customers know either the information they requested or that you will be responding in more detail soon.

Stop Leaving Voicemails and Start Closing Deals

There’s a reason most people prefer to communicate via email: Keeping in touch over phone can be tough if both parties are always busy. An automated system solves this by logging when you’ve contacted leads and automatically emailing them about follow-up times. The call, email, and its response are all logged in your CRM and calendar without a single minute wasted entering mundane information.

Inbound Lead Assignment

When you have phone calls, emails, and meetings piling up, it’s hard to keep track of which customer goes where and who is working with them. With marketing automation software and tracking, customer service representatives are automatically assigned to inbound leads based on specialities and demographics so they can begin working on building profitable rapport right away.

Give and You Shall Receive

Potential clients and leads get dozens, sometimes hundreds of business emails every day. You need something to set your business apart from the rest. By offering valuable content such as “How to” guides and “Total Cost of Ownership” tools in exchange for contact information, you can provide prospects with content they actually want.

All it takes is a web form and some creative writing that ultimately leads visitors back to your products and/or services. Your automation software delivers content to anyone who provides contact information, and it downloads metrics that can be tracked and analyzed by your solution.

Never Type Another Phone Number Again

Networking events mean new contacts and new leads. Although that used to mean thick stacks of business cards, cutting-edge marketing tools make it possible to take a picture of contact information and automatically convert it into a cloud database. Call-ins, scanned business cards, and received emails all get organized into a single digital rolodex with recommendations for whom to contact, and when is best to do so – without one minute of tedious data entry.

Every business owner knows that automating mindless tasks is a worthwhile investment. But not everyone knows just what sort of tools are available to help you cut down on wasted work. Our team can advise you in using technology to add value to your business, and if you’re not utilizing any of the solutions above – that’s the best place to start. Get in touch with us today to make your marketing technology work for you.

$1.5M Cyber-Heist Typifies Growing Threat

Efficient Escrow of California was forced to close its doors and lay off its entire staff when cybercriminals nabbed $1.5 million from its bank account. The thieves gained access to the escrow company’s bank data using a form of “Trojan horse” malware.

Once the hackers broke in, they wired $432,215 from the firm’s bank to an account in Moscow. That was followed by two more transfers totaling $1.1 million, this time to banks in Heilongjiang Province in China, near the Russian border.

The company recovered the first transfer, but not the next two. They were shocked to discover that, unlike with consumer accounts, banks are under no obligation to recoup losses in a cybertheft against a commercial account. That meant a loss of $1.1 million, in a year when they expected to clear less than half that. Unable to replace the funds, they were shut down by state regulators just three days after reporting the loss.

Net result? The two brothers who owned the firm lost their nine-person staff and faced mounting attorneys’ fees nearing the total amount of the funds recovered, with no immediate way to return their customers’ money.

Avoid Getting Blindsided

While hacks against the big boys like Target, Home Depot, and Sony get more than their share of public attention, cyber-attacks on small and medium-sized companies often go unreported, and rarely make national headlines.

Don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. The number of crippling attacks against everyday businesses is growing. Cybersecurity company Symantec reports, for example, that 52.4% of “phishing” attacks last December were against small firms and businesses – with a massive spike in November. Here are just a few examples out of thousands that you’ll probably never hear about:

Green Ford Sales, a car dealership in Kansas, lost $23,000 when hackers broke into their network and swiped bank account info. They added nine fake employees to the company payroll in less than 24 hours and paid them a total of $63,000 before the company caught on. Only some of the transfers could be canceled in time.

Wright Hotels, a real estate development firm, had $1 million drained from their bank account after thieves gained access to a company e-mail account. Information gleaned from e-mails allowed the thieves to impersonate the owner and convince the bookkeeper to wire money to an account in China.

Maine-based PATCO Construction lost $588,000 in a Trojan horse cyber-heist. They managed to reclaim some of it, but that was offset by interest on thousands of dollars in overdraft loans from their bank.

Why You’re A Target – And How To Fight Back!

Increasingly, cyberthieves view Small Businesses and Firms as easy “soft targets.” That’s because all too often we have:

Bank accounts with thousands of dollars.
– A false sense of security about not being targeted.
– Our customers’ credit card information, social security numbers and other vital data that hackers can easily sell on the black market.

If you don’t want your company to become yet another statistic in today’s cyberwar against smaller companies, and your business doesn’t currently have a “bullet-proof” security shield, you MUST take action without delay – or put everything you’ve worked for at risk. The choice is yours.

Here are three things you can do right away:
1. Remove software that you don’t need from any systems linked to your bank account.
2. Make sure everyone with a device in your network NEVER opens an attachment in an unexpected e-mail.
3. Require two people to sign off on every transaction.

We are offering our Cyber Security Assessment at no cost to firms in the Greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas. Call us at 800-421-7151 or e-mail info@wamsinc.com to schedule.

Protect Yourself from this iPhone Video Bug

Although iPhone bugs and malware are typically unheard of, there’s one circulating the web that you should be aware of right now. The bug, which was discovered in Reddit, is a brief, five-second video that when played causes your iPhone to freeze and ultimately crash. So far the malicious video’s intentions are still unknown, but this trap can be easily avoided.

What is the video? As mentioned, the MP4 video initially seems innocuous enough. It portrays a man standing by a bed with the word “honey” across the screen. After one or two minutes of viewing the video, the affected iPhone becomes sluggish. It then freezes and becomes unresponsive, ultimately requiring a reset.

It appears that the bug takes advantage of a flaw within iOS memory management. The corrupted video generates a loop that causes the affected Apple device to use more memory, leading to a temporary crash.

Reports have shown that the MP4 is hosted on a video-sharing site, Miaopai. Since then, the video has been distributed in other social media platforms, online forums, and, more commonly, as a link via iMessage.

Tests have also found that the video effects the latest iOS version (iOS 10.1 and 10.2) all the way to iOS 5. So far, the bug doesn’t seem to affect other non iOS products. But regardless, all users should be careful of the video.

Although this video’s effects may seem worrying, there is a fix to the problems caused by the corrupt clip.

How to Perform a Hard Restart
The only way to recover from the crash is to do perform a hard restart. To do this, you simply have to hold down the power button and home button for a few seconds.

As for the iPhone 7, all you need to do is hold the power button and volume decrease buttons simultaneously to force a reset. In both cases, just hold the buttons until the Apple logo appears, and your device should restart normally.

Always be careful Even though it’s easy enough to fix, it’s probably best to avoid the crash bug altogether. Soon, Apple will introduce a new security patch for this vulnerability, but until the update is released, you should avoid clicking on suspicious MP4 video links no matter what platform you use.

And this is the same for other videos, URLs, photos, emails, and websites you encounter on the web. When it comes to traversing online worlds, it’s imperative to develop a critical mindset for everything you see in the internet. While this particular bug only slows down your Apple device, you might not be so lucky the next time you unwittingly click on an unknown iMessage link or email attachment.

If there’s any lesson we can learn here, it’s that you can’t be complacent no matter how secure Apple platforms may be. Want to protect your device from future security incidents like these? Contact us today at 800-421-7151, and we’ll provide you with sound advice and security solutions to nip these problems in the bud.