Azure is getting a new type of container

Virtualization has moved out of the server farms owned by big-name enterprises and onto the wishlists of small- and medium-sized business owners. As a subset of virtualization, container technology is benefitting from this commercialization and becoming more accessible to everyone.

What are virtual containers?

Virtual containers are isolated computing environments that contain the bare minimum to open and run the application they were designed around. It’s easy to confuse containers with virtual desktops and plain old applications.

A virtual desktop is a full-blown operating system packaged and quarantined on a server. Users can log in and interact with the virtual desktop over a network connection as if it were a physical workstation at their desk.

Containers do away with most of the operating system fluff to accomplish just a few tasks. Virtual containers are like apps in that they provide pre-programmed functions, except that one container can run on any operating system and comes with storage space and processing power on the server running it.

Virtual containers are an excellent way to create secure and efficient computing environments when you only need to perform a limited number of tasks, but they’re not easy to set up.

Azure Container Instances

Like every other major software vendor and cloud service provider on the market, Microsoft already offers container solutions through its Azure platform. In July however, Microsoft introduced a new program for streamlining the process of creating containers.

Dubbed Azure Container Instances (ACI), this new solution allows administrators to design and deliver containers in a fraction of the time. All it takes is a few short lines of code to outline how much memory and processing power you need, and everything is ready to go.

The ACI program is currently limited to a beta test, which means you’ll be setting up your containers on Microsoft’s servers and paying to use them based on how much time you need them.

Of course, Azure isn’t sacrificing security for the sake of simplicity. One of the many advantages of containers is the way they are isolated from each other. ACIs are no different, ensuring that if one of your containers were to be infected or compromised by malware, it would have no way of spreading to other containers stored on the same server.

Additionally, Microsoft’s latest solution will retain the strict access controls that allow administrators to control who can use your containers and when they can do so.

Are ACIs right for you?

For the moment, simplifying creation is mainly about making it easy to design dozens of containers when you need a short burst in capacity. For most small- and medium-sized businesses, there are more opportunities in the flexibility of full-fledged virtual desktops than a fleet of containers that are limited to a few basic tasks.

However, the fact that container creation has gone from a chore that required a certified professional to a few short lines of code in just a couple years bodes well for the affordability and accessibility of virtualization.

When you have trained virtualization professionals at your disposal, the possibilities for cost savings and increased efficiencies are vast. To find out how we can enhance your security and decrease your dependency on hardware, give us a call today.

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Microsoft’s newest virtualization service

Azure is a cloud platform for creating, deploying and managing virtualized solutions that are hosted by Microsoft servers. Included in Azure’s list of services is a technology that is quickly gaining popularity: containers. They’re a great way to get more out of your servers, but until recently they were also incredibly hard to manage.

What are virtual containers?

Virtual containers are isolated computing environments that contain the bare minimum to open and run the application they were designed around. It’s easy to confuse containers with virtual desktops and plain old applications.

A virtual desktop is a full-blown operating system packaged and quarantined on a server. Users can log in and interact with the virtual desktop over a network connection as if it were a physical workstation at their desk.

Containers do away with most of the operating system fluff to accomplish just a few tasks. Virtual containers are like apps in that they provide pre-programmed functions, except that one container can run on any operating system and comes with storage space and processing power on the server running it.

Virtual containers are an excellent way to create secure and efficient computing environments when you only need to perform a limited number of tasks, but they’re not easy to set up.

Azure Container Instances

Like every other major software vendor and cloud service provider on the market, Microsoft already offers container solutions through its Azure platform. In July however, Microsoft introduced a new program for streamlining the process of creating containers.

Dubbed Azure Container Instances (ACI), this new solution allows administrators to design and deliver containers in a fraction of the time. All it takes is a few short lines of code to outline how much memory and processing power you need, and everything is ready to go.

The ACI program is currently limited to a beta test, which means you’ll be setting up your containers on Microsoft’s servers and paying to use them based on how much time you need them.

Of course, Azure isn’t sacrificing security for the sake of simplicity. One of the many advantages of containers is the way they are isolated from each other. ACIs are no different, ensuring that if one of your containers were to be infected or compromised by malware, it would have no way of spreading to other containers stored on the same server.

Additionally, Microsoft’s latest solution will retain the strict access controls that allow administrators to control who can use your containers and when they can do so.

Are ACIs right for you?

For the moment, simplifying creation is mainly about making it easy to design dozens of containers when you need a short burst in capacity. For most small- and medium-sized businesses, there are more opportunities in the flexibility of full-fledged virtual desktops than a fleet of containers that are limited to a few basic tasks.

However, the fact that container creation has gone from a chore that required a certified professional to a few short lines of code in just a couple years bodes well for the affordability and accessibility of virtualization.

When you have trained virtualization professionals at your disposal, the possibilities for cost savings and increased efficiencies are vast. To find out how we can enhance your security and decrease your dependency on hardware, give us a call today.

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Containers will soon be much easier to manage

Microsoft continues to be one of the biggest names in virtualization, and with its most recent announcement about a new type of container technology, it’s not going anywhere. Even if you don’t need containers in your IT framework, Microsoft has signalled that big things are coming.

What are virtual containers?

Virtual containers are isolated computing environments that contain the bare minimum to open and run the application they were designed around. It’s easy to confuse containers with virtual desktops and plain old applications.

A virtual desktop is a full-blown operating system packaged and quarantined on a server. Users can log in and interact with the virtual desktop over a network connection as if it were a physical workstation at their desk.

Containers do away with most of the operating system fluff to accomplish just a few tasks. Virtual containers are like apps in that they provide pre-programmed functions, except that one container can run on any operating system and comes with storage space and processing power on the server running it.

Virtual containers are an excellent way to create secure and efficient computing environments when you only need to perform a limited number of tasks, but they’re not easy to set up.

Azure Container Instances

Like every other major software vendor and cloud service provider on the market, Microsoft already offers container solutions through its Azure platform. In July however, Microsoft introduced a new program for streamlining the process of creating containers.

Dubbed Azure Container Instances (ACI), this new solution allows administrators to design and deliver containers in a fraction of the time. All it takes is a few short lines of code to outline how much memory and processing power you need, and everything is ready to go.

The ACI program is currently limited to a beta test, which means you’ll be setting up your containers on Microsoft’s servers and paying to use them based on how much time you need them.

Of course, Azure isn’t sacrificing security for the sake of simplicity. One of the many advantages of containers is the way they are isolated from each other. ACIs are no different, ensuring that if one of your containers were to be infected or compromised by malware, it would have no way of spreading to other containers stored on the same server.

Additionally, Microsoft’s latest solution will retain the strict access controls that allow administrators to control who can use your containers and when they can do so.

Are ACIs right for you?

For the moment, simplifying creation is mainly about making it easy to design dozens of containers when you need a short burst in capacity. For most small- and medium-sized businesses, there are more opportunities in the flexibility of full-fledged virtual desktops than a fleet of containers that are limited to a few basic tasks.

However, the fact that container creation has gone from a chore that required a certified professional to a few short lines of code in just a couple years bodes well for the affordability and accessibility of virtualization.

When you have trained virtualization professionals at your disposal, the possibilities for cost savings and increased efficiencies are vast. To find out how we can enhance your security and decrease your dependency on hardware, give us a call today.

Posted in General Articles C, Virtualization | Comments closed

How to protect your VoIP system from phishing

Your business may be well-armed against email-based phishing scams, but you shouldn’t neglect your VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems. Through ‘vishing scams,’ hackers can disguise themselves as a bank representative and convince your employees to provide confidential financial details via a seemingly harmless VoIP call. Your business will be well-served by guarding itself from this new breed of phishing scam.

VoIP makes it easy to create fake numbers

One of the main reasons why vishing scams are on the rise is the ease by which cyber criminals can hide their tracks and pull off scams with minimal risk of detection.

Using a fake number, they can call one of your employees, pretend to be a bank or government representative, ask for critical business information — like employee data, bank details, and company intellectual property — and get away with it. Scammers can also manipulate local numbers to emulate multinational banks, which they will then use for various VoIP scams.

VoIP is easy to set up and difficult to track

Cyber criminals don’t have to be geniuses to configure VoIP deployments, make personal or automated phone calls, and run away with your money and data. They only need to know the basics of a VoIP setup.

VoIP hardware such as IP-PBXs, IP phones, and routers have become affordable and more accessible. Hackers can conveniently connect this equipment to PCs for the purposes of recording phone calls and stealing information from conversations.

Also, fake numbers are difficult to track because they can be destroyed instantly. And with advanced voice-changing software widely available nowadays, a vishing scam is much easier to pull off.

Caller ID can be tampered with

In some vishing scams, attackers don’t even have to destroy a number to cover their tracks. Instead, by tampering with the caller ID, they can trick users into thinking that they’re talking to a legitimate Microsoft technical support staff, a PayPal representative, or a fraud investigator.

VoIP scamming is cost-efficient

Traditional phones are still used for phishing scams, but they don’t compare to the efficiency VoIP affords, which allows attackers to target victims all over the globe at a fraction of the cost.

Other than traditional phones and email phishing scams, cyber criminals are resorting to VoIP scamming due to its cost-efficiency. Vishing scammers are sneaky and resourceful, and they will exhaust all possible means to attack your systems for profit — that includes your VoIP channels.

Protecting yourself is simple

To protect against VoIP-based scams and ensure your employees aren’t easy targets, set stringent policies on information-sharing and impose strict security processes for all business communications. Protect your company against all types of scams by getting in touch with our experts today.

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Scammers are creating new scams just for VoIP

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) makes business communications simple and inexpensive. Naturally, shrewd scammers have found a way to use VoIP as a means to carry out ‘vishing scams,’ a new type of phishing whereby fraudsters make phone calls, pose as a business or financial partner, and request private details. Understanding these scams well is your best shot at beating them.

VoIP makes it easy to create fake numbers

One of the main reasons why vishing scams are on the rise is the ease by which cyber criminals can hide their tracks and pull off scams with minimal risk of detection.

Using a fake number, they can call one of your employees, pretend to be a bank or government representative, ask for critical business information — like employee data, bank details, and company intellectual property — and get away with it. Scammers can also manipulate local numbers to emulate multinational banks, which they will then use for various VoIP scams.

VoIP is easy to set up and difficult to track

Cyber criminals don’t have to be geniuses to configure VoIP deployments, make personal or automated phone calls, and run away with your money and data. They only need to know the basics of a VoIP setup.

VoIP hardware such as IP-PBXs, IP phones, and routers have become affordable and more accessible. Hackers can conveniently connect this equipment to PCs for the purposes of recording phone calls and stealing information from conversations.

Also, fake numbers are difficult to track because they can be destroyed instantly. And with advanced voice-changing software widely available nowadays, a vishing scam is much easier to pull off.

Caller ID can be tampered with

In some vishing scams, attackers don’t even have to destroy a number to cover their tracks. Instead, by tampering with the caller ID, they can trick users into thinking that they’re talking to a legitimate Microsoft technical support staff, a PayPal representative, or a fraud investigator.

VoIP scamming is cost-efficient

Traditional phones are still used for phishing scams, but they don’t compare to the efficiency VoIP affords, which allows attackers to target victims all over the globe at a fraction of the cost.

Other than traditional phones and email phishing scams, cyber criminals are resorting to VoIP scamming due to its cost-efficiency. Vishing scammers are sneaky and resourceful, and they will exhaust all possible means to attack your systems for profit — that includes your VoIP channels.

Protecting yourself is simple

To protect against VoIP-based scams and ensure your employees aren’t easy targets, set stringent policies on information-sharing and impose strict security processes for all business communications. Protect your company against all types of scams by getting in touch with our experts today.

Posted in General Articles C, VoIP | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

VoIP phishing: how scammers do it

Although many companies still use traditional phones, an increasing number rely on VoIP’s (Voice over Internet Protocol) multi-functionality, which allows employees to make voice calls, conduct video-conferences, and chat. Although many scammers send fraudulent emails to extort money or steal data from businesses, new ‘vishing’ campaigns are proving to be a more efficient way to scam.

VoIP makes it easy to create fake numbers

One of the main reasons why vishing scams are on the rise is the ease by which cyber criminals can hide their tracks and pull off scams with minimal risk of detection.

Using a fake number, they can call one of your employees, pretend to be a bank or government representative, ask for critical business information — like employee data, bank details, and company intellectual property — and get away with it. Scammers can also manipulate local numbers to emulate multinational banks, which they will then use for various VoIP scams.

VoIP is easy to set up and difficult to track

Cyber criminals don’t have to be geniuses to configure VoIP deployments, make personal or automated phone calls, and run away with your money and data. They only need to know the basics of a VoIP setup.

VoIP hardware such as IP-PBXs, IP phones, and routers have become affordable and more accessible. Hackers can conveniently connect this equipment to PCs for the purposes of recording phone calls and stealing information from conversations.

Also, fake numbers are difficult to track because they can be destroyed instantly. And with advanced voice-changing software widely available nowadays, a vishing scam is much easier to pull off.

Caller ID can be tampered with

In some vishing scams, attackers don’t even have to destroy a number to cover their tracks. Instead, by tampering with the caller ID, they can trick users into thinking that they’re talking to a legitimate Microsoft technical support staff, a PayPal representative, or a fraud investigator.

VoIP scamming is cost-efficient

Traditional phones are still used for phishing scams, but they don’t compare to the efficiency VoIP affords, which allows attackers to target victims all over the globe at a fraction of the cost.

Other than traditional phones and email phishing scams, cyber criminals are resorting to VoIP scamming due to its cost-efficiency. Vishing scammers are sneaky and resourceful, and they will exhaust all possible means to attack your systems for profit — that includes your VoIP channels.

Protecting yourself is simple

To protect against VoIP-based scams and ensure your employees aren’t easy targets, set stringent policies on information-sharing and impose strict security processes for all business communications. Protect your company against all types of scams by getting in touch with our experts today.

Posted in General Articles B, VoIP | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Microsoft adds new Office 365 apps for SMBs

Office 365 is the ideal productivity tool for small- and medium-sized businesses. It’s cost-effective and receives plenty of support and upgrades from Microsoft. During last month’s Inspire conference, they announced even more applications for Office 365 that you will love.

Microsoft Connections
Email marketing campaigns are a great way to build relationships with contacts and increase sales, but they’re often difficult to manage. With Microsoft Connections, you can easily launch a campaign in minutes using pre-designed templates for newsletters, referrals, and promotions.

As you acquire more contacts, Connections allows you to segment your mailing list so you can target different customers. For instance, you can send product promotions to clients who have stayed with your business for more than six months.

After firing off your emails, performance charts track important metrics like open rates, clickthrough rates, new sign-ups, and canceled subscriptions that can be used to improve future campaigns.

Microsoft Listings
Microsoft Listings helps you seamlessly manage your online presence. Whenever you update your business profile, Listings automatically publishes those changes across your Facebook, Google, Bing, and Yelp accounts, allowing you to keep important information like business hours up to date.

What’s more, Listings includes a web dashboard where you can monitor page-views, reviews, and likes, helping you assess your company’s online reputation.

Microsoft Invoicing
Another useful addition is Microsoft Invoicing, a tool that helps you generate price estimates and invoices. When combined with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, you can program workflows that automatically redirect invoices, pending payments, and estimates to the right accountant. This application works for credit, debit, and PayPal transactions.

Office 365 Business Center
The Office 365 Business Center brings Connections, Listings, and Invoicing all under one roof. This means information listed on one application is automatically registered onto another, saving you from inputting data multiple times.

The main hub also features a unified dashboard where you can track an email campaign’s performance, Facebook impressions, and any outstanding invoices, giving you full visibility into your accounting and marketing processes.

According to Microsoft, these powerful features will be generally available for Office 365 Business Premium subscribers in the coming months. But if you want to get early access, consider joining the Office 365 Insider program.

Office 365 will likely have even more surprises for SMBs this year, so make sure to keep in touch with us to get the latest rundown on feature releases and Microsoft news.

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Grow your business with new Office 365 apps

Microsoft never fails to announce exciting new features for their products. In an effort to improve support for small- and medium-sized businesses, they introduced a series of new apps and enhancements for Office 365 during the Inspire conference in July. Some of the most notable upgrades include:

Microsoft Connections
Email marketing campaigns are a great way to build relationships with contacts and increase sales, but they’re often difficult to manage. With Microsoft Connections, you can easily launch a campaign in minutes using pre-designed templates for newsletters, referrals, and promotions.

As you acquire more contacts, Connections allows you to segment your mailing list so you can target different customers. For instance, you can send product promotions to clients who have stayed with your business for more than six months.

After firing off your emails, performance charts track important metrics like open rates, clickthrough rates, new sign-ups, and canceled subscriptions that can be used to improve future campaigns.

Microsoft Listings
Microsoft Listings helps you seamlessly manage your online presence. Whenever you update your business profile, Listings automatically publishes those changes across your Facebook, Google, Bing, and Yelp accounts, allowing you to keep important information like business hours up to date.

What’s more, Listings includes a web dashboard where you can monitor page-views, reviews, and likes, helping you assess your company’s online reputation.

Microsoft Invoicing
Another useful addition is Microsoft Invoicing, a tool that helps you generate price estimates and invoices. When combined with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, you can program workflows that automatically redirect invoices, pending payments, and estimates to the right accountant. This application works for credit, debit, and PayPal transactions.

Office 365 Business Center
The Office 365 Business Center brings Connections, Listings, and Invoicing all under one roof. This means information listed on one application is automatically registered onto another, saving you from inputting data multiple times.

The main hub also features a unified dashboard where you can track an email campaign’s performance, Facebook impressions, and any outstanding invoices, giving you full visibility into your accounting and marketing processes.

According to Microsoft, these powerful features will be generally available for Office 365 Business Premium subscribers in the coming months. But if you want to get early access, consider joining the Office 365 Insider program.

Office 365 will likely have even more surprises for SMBs this year, so make sure to keep in touch with us to get the latest rundown on feature releases and Microsoft news.

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Office 365 gets a slew of new upgrades

There’s a good reason why businesses like Office 365: It’s a feature-rich productivity suite that gets plenty of upgrades throughout the year. Last month, Microsoft announced four new upgrades that will make the cloud platform even more irresistible for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Microsoft Connections
Email marketing campaigns are a great way to build relationships with contacts and increase sales, but they’re often difficult to manage. With Microsoft Connections, you can easily launch a campaign in minutes using pre-designed templates for newsletters, referrals, and promotions.

As you acquire more contacts, Connections allows you to segment your mailing list so you can target different customers. For instance, you can send product promotions to clients who have stayed with your business for more than six months.

After firing off your emails, performance charts track important metrics like open rates, clickthrough rates, new sign-ups, and canceled subscriptions that can be used to improve future campaigns.

Microsoft Listings
Microsoft Listings helps you seamlessly manage your online presence. Whenever you update your business profile, Listings automatically publishes those changes across your Facebook, Google, Bing, and Yelp accounts, allowing you to keep important information like business hours up to date.

What’s more, Listings includes a web dashboard where you can monitor page-views, reviews, and likes, helping you assess your company’s online reputation.

Microsoft Invoicing
Another useful addition is Microsoft Invoicing, a tool that helps you generate price estimates and invoices. When combined with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, you can program workflows that automatically redirect invoices, pending payments, and estimates to the right accountant. This application works for credit, debit, and PayPal transactions.

Office 365 Business Center
The Office 365 Business Center brings Connections, Listings, and Invoicing all under one roof. This means information listed on one application is automatically registered onto another, saving you from inputting data multiple times.

The main hub also features a unified dashboard where you can track an email campaign’s performance, Facebook impressions, and any outstanding invoices, giving you full visibility into your accounting and marketing processes.

According to Microsoft, these powerful features will be generally available for Office 365 Business Premium subscribers in the coming months. But if you want to get early access, consider joining the Office 365 Insider program.

Office 365 will likely have even more surprises for SMBs this year, so make sure to keep in touch with us to get the latest rundown on feature releases and Microsoft news.

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Enterprises features in Windows 10 update

In Microsoft’s Fall Creators Update, Windows 10 business users can expect a better, more secure operating system. Since introducing new features to the OS in April, Microsoft is revising existing features and introducing new enhancements focused on collaboration, usability, and security. Take a look at the most noteworthy enhancements for business users.

Files on-demand in OneDrive

‘OneDrive Files On-Demand’ solves syncing problems often encountered by those who don’t want all their files synced to all their devices. This feature will give users the option to choose the folders that will be downloaded to the device they’re using, which helps save storage space and bandwidth, and gives users more flexibility.

Greater protection from ransomware

Microsoft beefs up Windows 10 security by introducing ‘Controlled folder access,’ a welcome feature in an era of rampant ransomware outbreaks such as WannaCry and Petya. This security enhancement enables users to assign a ‘switch’ to applications. When the switch is turned on, users are alerted any time unauthorized applications attempt to access or modify files in protected Desktop, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos folders.

Enterprise-level threat prevention

The Fall Creators update will also feature ‘Windows Defender Exploit Guard,’ a threat prevention system that, in Microsoft’s own words, ‘helps make vulnerabilities dramatically more difficult to exploit.’ The platform is primarily intended to recognize and safeguard against brand new malware that has not been cataloged or analyzed by security professionals.

Microsoft will also introduce ‘Windows Defender Application Guard,’ a program that protects Windows 10 users by isolating and containing threats and malware within the Edge browser. For now, it will be available only to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition and Hyper-V users.

Both ‘guards’ will complement firewalls and antivirus software to provide comprehensive protection to data, programs, devices, and networks.

Easier to reach contacts

Windows 10 subscribers will also benefit from the ‘My People’ feature, which will enhance collaboration. This new feature will let users pin contacts from their contact list to the Start Bar for quick access to email, instant messaging, or video calling. To activate, launch the People program and click on the icon found in the taskbar’s notifications area. Contacts can be pinned only if they have the Windows 10 App open in their system.

Other essential enhancements

The Fall Creators Update will also introduce small yet essential enhancements that will prove highly advantageous to businesses, one of which is a bandwidth limiting capability. Using this feature, network administrators can limit the amount of bandwidth allocated for Windows updates, allowing them to manage the updates for all devices across an entire network.

To do this:

  • Go to Deliver Optimization > Advanced options
  • Tick any of the three sliders
  • Adjust download and upload settings: limiting bandwidth for downloading updates; uploading updates to other PCS on the internet; and adjusting monthly upload limit

A battery-saving function will also be introduced to the new Windows 10 via ‘Power Throttling,’ which determines the activities that the system should prioritize based on a user’s activity. For example, if a user has multiple apps open but is actively using only a photo-editing tool, the system will allot greater power resources to the most actively used app and minimal resources to inactive ones.

Are you maximizing your Windows-powered computers’ features and capabilities? Get in touch with our experts to explore what Microsoft products can do for your business.

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