In-Car Internet: 25% of Cars Online by 2015

Guest Author: This week’s blog post was provided to us by Bradley Taylor, an independent writer. Taylor writes across a variety of subjects, but specialises in automotive and technology pieces. You can learn more about him on Google+ and follow his updates on Twitter.

All new cars could be connected to the Internet by 2015, as billions of dollars are being invested in the cars of the future. These futuristic cars will allow you to use the Internet via voice commands by using a technology similar to smart phones. Experts predict that Internet screens could even eventually be shown on dashboards; but wouldn’t that be a little distracting? Industry members say no; and it’s even been foretold that the online car will have a vast array of benefits that the driver will love. Picture this; finding free parking spaces with ease, having access to nearby restaurant reviews, and even get a countdown that let’s you know when the traffic lights will change without having to pick up your mobile device. Through the use of voice command – drivers can keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Image Credit: Flickr

Image Credit: Flickr

The app culture found that smartphones and tablets could soon become a big part of driving, which would totally change the way we use our cars. Major automotive brands are already spending around a third of their budget on in-car entertainment and Internet technology. Audi even recently announced that its self-driving technology would be just about everywhere within the decade. It’s thought that this technology will help to improve safety while driving. After all, it would be much safer to update your Facebook status via voice command rather than trying to do it illegally on your smartphone.

Understandably, many are concerned about encouraging the distraction of drivers, but these safety concerns are being addressed by automotive developers through the use a different technology – sensors. You may have even seen examples of these safety measures in place today, such as the vehicles that are able to administer the breaks automatically if your car gets too close to another object or vehicle.

Additionally, even though it’s illegal in most countries for drivers to use handheld devices while operating a vehicle, that hasn’t deterred drivers from using them. Integrating a voice operated Internet system into the vehicle would help eliminate the need, or want, for drivers to pick up their smartphones while driving.

This all sounds amazing, but the one other thing that’s concerning people is hackers being able to access the car. If there’s a data system in there, this means there’s the possibility of somebody hacking into it. Although this was demonstrated by security consultants who managed to break into the car without touching it, the risk is said to be very small due to the amount of time and effort put into security by the major companies. Ford even claims that their system is impossible to hack into, as the apps will be separated from the vehicle’s essential devices.

Although it might take a while before we’re travelling back in time in Deloreans, it won’t be long before we’re all enjoying an online, in-car experience!

To learn more about in-car Internet, click here. 

Yet Another Security Breach – When Will Businesses Learn?

Another week, another data breach. More and more businesses seem to be falling victim to cyber crime, and the rate of attacks doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. This week alone, I’ve read about companies like Microsoft, SAP, and Adobe experiencing issues with with preventing attacks or securing their data. However, it would be very naive  to think that only big name companies are being targeted by cyber criminals.

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Every business, big or small, must increase their security measures in order to alleviate any outside threats. Just like locking your doors when you leave your home — it doesn’t matter that your house is smaller or larger than your neighbour’s, the threat of someone breaking in still exists. Many small business owners carry the mentality that “it won’t happen to me” – but that’s a very ignorant way of approaching the issue. Not every attack is as sophisticated as some may imagine.

With continuous network and technology upgrades happening almost daily, ensuring that your security system is also up to date can be time consuming. In many cases, IT resources are stretch so thin that they just don’t have the time to go through every single item to ensure the company data is protected. Increasing network security must be a company-wide exercise, it can’t rest solely on the shoulders of IT. That being said, can IT rely on company employees to reinforce network security?

As discussed in our previous blog, which detailed a number of security breaches experienced by the Federal Government, human error is one of the primary contributing factors to a loss in data. This includes the theft of company devices, such as laptops, USBs, or cell phones, as well as the use of weak passwords, downloading corrupted content, or general negligence. However, by making employees responsible for protecting their own devices, IT members can focus on protecting the company network as a whole instead of working to secure every single device.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – companies of any size must do everything in their power to protect their data. In our increasingly virtual world, data can be easily compared to currency. Having thousands of customer records stolen is just as bad as having thousands of dollars stolen. Companies that lose control of their data also lost the trust of any existing or potential customers. Rebuilding your business after a data breach can be a very difficult exercise, resulting in the permanent closure of some companies who aren’t able to recoup their losses.

Read our blog “Small and Medium Businesses are being Targeted by Hackers” to learn some tips for securing your company’s network.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

 

 

What’s Preventing your Company from Adopting the Cloud?

Without a doubt, the number of IT professionals utilizing cloud technology is steadily increasing. The cloud provides companies with a secure, convenient virtual location to store their data. Many companies are also using the cloud for disaster recovery and Platform as a Service (PaaS). However, a recent study has revealed some unanticipated hurdles that companies need to overcome in order to adopt cloud computing.

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The study, conducted by TheInfoPro, found that people, process, policy, and organizational issues are the four biggest obstacles to overcome when adopting cloud technology. It’s undeniable that cloud computing is expected to grow exponentially over the next couple years, but the roadblocks mentioned above are impacting the completion of any cloud related projects.

83% of IT professionals reported that they are experiencing difficulty implementing their cloud computing initiatives, which is a 9% increase since the end of 2012. However, IT-related roadblocks have actually decreased by 15%. Of the 83% of respondents that cited difficulties, 68% reported non-IT related obstacles as the problem.

The study also revealed that cloud security was another significant pain point for IT professionals. However, there is a variety of software and hardware tools available to IT members looking for increased protection. Additionally, many cloud vendors are recognizing that security is a concern for IT employees and are taking steps to implement additional protection.

Installing firewalls and obtaining your Internet connection through a reputable provider is two simple ways IT members can help protect the company network. However, when it comes to obstacles that are outside the control of IT employees, the solution isn’t quite as simple. Prior to implementing cloud initiatives, department leaders must be aligned. If every department is doing their part to support the implementation of cloud technology, the transition will be much easier.

To read the study conducted by TheInfoPro, click here.

To learn more about obtaining a secure Internet connection, click here.

Blog author: Vanessa Hartung

8 Tips for Securing Your Wi-Fi

Our previous blog outlined the importance of protecting your computer network by implementing a firewall. Protecting your network or device is even more important for those utilizing Wi-Fi to access their Internet service. The convenience of using Wi-Fi is undeniable, since it allows for company members to connect to the secure wifiInternet anywhere in your office – no wires necessary, but it also provides hackers with an alternative access point. To ensure that your Wi-Fi is secure, we’ve compiled a list of 8 tips for protecting your Wi-Fi network.

  1. Change the name of your network: The network SSID, or name, is actually part of the security for encrypted network. If your company uses a default Wi-Fi network name, it can make it easier for hackers to quickly guess your password.
  2. Use a strong password: Having a strong password can prevent hackers from breaking in to your network. Simple passwords can be cracked in a short amount of time.
  3. Use strong encryption: Enabling Wi-Fi protected access provides stronger encryption.
  4. Hide your SSID: Your company’s SSID, or network name, can be hidden from the list of Wi-Fi networks that are visible to computer and mobile devices in your area. This is a lighter defense tactic that should be supported by the other security tactics we have listed here, but it will help combat casual hackers (such as the ones looking to piggyback on your Internet service).
  5. Employ an authentication strategy: Typically, employees all use the same password to connect to the Wi-Fi, which opens the possibility that they may unintentionally share it with others. Consider utilizing a certificate-based authentication mechanism so that each employee has their own log-on credentials.
  6. Manage the names of networks you’ve connected to: Most devices will remember which Wi-Fi networks you’ve connected to. This may not be a seem like a big problem, but the names of wireless networks may reveal important information, such as the business you work for, hotels you’ve stayed in, or other sensitive information.
  7. Control guest access: If your business needs to provide guests or visitors with Wi-Fi access, you may want to consider establishing a separate network that has restrictions on what your guests can access. This is especially true in companies that only have one Wi-Fi network password for all employees.
  8. Manage wireless access points: Ensure your wireless access points use the right security configuration, particularly the access points located in branch offices. Many companies protect their headquarters’ Wi-Fi, but don’t take the time to properly secure their branch office locations.

Ensuring that your company’s data and network is secure on all fronts is an effective way of preventing hackers from infiltrating your system. As more and more companies move online, their data and information is ripe for the picking for cyber criminals. Your company needs to do all that it can to protect itself, including its Wi-Fi.

To learn about securing your company’s network, read our previous blog by clicking here.

Blog author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – What is a Firewall?

Typically, a firewall is one of those items that you don’t necessarily think of until something goes wrong. It’s always there in background, protecting your computer from viruses and other outside threats. The term “firewall” is actually an general term used to describe a specialized defence system for a computer network.

The term actually originated in construction, where specialized fire-prevention systems involve fire-resistant walls being placed strategically in buildings or automobiles to slow the speed at which a fire spreads. When using the term firewall in reference to computers, it describes the hardware and software that slows down the invasion of a computer system by blocking viruses and hackers.

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A computer firewall can take hundreds of different shapes, from specialized software programs, to specialized physical hardware devices, to a combination of both. At the end of the day, it’s priority is to block unauthorized or unwanted traffic from getting into your computer system. The firewall is located at a network gateway, which is the point of access.

So how does it work? Basically, your firewall will examine each network packet to determine whether or not to forward it on to its destination. Some other screening methods used by firewalls include screening requests to make sure they come from an acceptable or previously identified domain name and IP address. Other features can include logging and reporting, automatic alarms, and a graphical user interface for controlling the firewall.

For business, having a reliable firewall in place can dramatically reduce the threats that can result in costly data loss, breaches, and down time. Many companies also have customer information on file, so it’s imperative to have the proper security measures in place. Losing private customer information is inexcusable, and would likely result in a domino effect of lost customers. Once they learn their information isn’t being properly protected, it’s unlikely your company will retain their business.

To learn more about why your company needs a firewall, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

 

High Bandwidth Consumption is Back in Session as Students Go Online

As another summer comes to an end, businesses need to prepare themselves for the upcoming spike in Internet activity as students return to school. Internet technologies are being adopted by an increasing number Primary Schoolof educational institutes, including primary, secondary and post-secondary schools. It’s also important to recognize that it’s not only the students who are consuming bandwidth, but the school officials as well.

It’s no secret that we’re moving more and more materials online. Therefore, educational institutes need to ensure they have a reliable Internet service that provides them with the capability to send and receive a great deal of data. Items such as email communication, video conferencing, student records, learning materials, and tests are now frequently used by teachers, professors, and school board members. Primary and secondary schools use their Internet connection primarily for communicating with their regional school board via email or accessing a virtual private network. However, teachers have also begun to integrate online materials into their classrooms as well.

Post-secondary schools have fully embraced the use of Internet Technologies in their establishments, with several professors using the Internet to communicate directly with their students through email, online chat, or university onlinestudent portals. A large number of post-secondary schools are also using the Internet for class registration, where students log on to a private network to select their courses. And every student is now assigned a student number as well as an email address upon successful registration. Most universities and colleges also assign each student with a username and password that are used to log-in to an online portal. Typically, these portals allow for students to view their class schedule, network with other students, obtain class notes, submit assignments, and communicate with their professors or instructors.

Taking into consideration the number of students who connect to their school’s Internet service for compulsory reasons, such as submitting an assignment or getting the class notes, one can only imagine how much bandwidth is being used. Add to that all the students who do research for their assignments online, are killing time in between class, or live in residence, and we’re talking some serious bandwidth consumption. During the school year, there are a significant number of users consuming a substantial amount of bandwidth. It’s important for schools to have an understanding of how much bandwidth is needed before school is in session in order to avoid a slow connection as students log on.

Businesses also need to be aware of any schools in the surrounding area since, in many circumstances, they’ll be sharing an Internet service with them. A majority of providers don’t make the distinction between business and residential, so the two types of customers are left sharing the same connection. This can result in an extremely slow connection once school begins, which can have a negative impact on your productivity.

To learn more about obtaining an Internet service that is exclusively for business, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Network Presents: The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has the potential to drastically change the way we do business. But what exactly is the Internet of Things (IoT)? The term is quite ambiguous, but IoT is quickly becoming a tangible technology that can be used to collect information on pretty much anything. In other words, it’s another aspect of the digital transformation of the world.

IoT

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system in which unique identifiers are assigned to objects, people, or animals. These unique identifiers then transfer the data they’ve collected about their assigned “thing” over a network, without the need for human interaction. IoT uses machine-to-machine (M2M) so that the objects, people, or animals are able to communicate with one another. So far, the Internet of Things has primarily existed in the manufacturing and power, oil, and gas industries. However, there is plenty of opportunity to expand into all industries.

For example, a “thing” can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a car that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when the tire pressure is low, or any other object that can be assigned an IP address and is provided with the ability to transfer data.

Why is the Internet of Things Important?

It’s no secret that we’re turning in to a virtualized world, but the development of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) has increased the rate in which this transformation is taking place. IPv6 is an important factor in the advancement of IoT because it provides a seemingly endless number of IP addresses that can be assigned to objects, people, or animals.

Currently, we depend primarily on people to input data on our computers and upload information to the Internet. In fact, nearly all the information available on the Internet today was captured and created by people. However, the problem is that people can be impacted and influenced by outside factors, such as time, attention, and accuracy. By automating the process and allowing computers to gather information on their own without human assistance, we would be able to input and track everything while also reducing waste, cost, and loss of data.

Most importantly, IoT provides businesses with a vast amount of reliable information on their customers and products. Working with real time, digitized information that has been input directly from a “thing” (object, animal, or person) is a very accurate way of determining how your customers are interacting with your product.

Is your company ready to manage a significant amount of data? Your business should have a reliable, fast Internet service in order to obtain the data quickly, as well as place to store the data, such as a data center.

Next week, I will be discussing the security and privacy concerns of businesses and customers regarding the Internet of Things.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Email Security: Google Gmail Users Shouldn’t Expect Privacy

This week, the California-based advocacy group, Consumer Watchdog, has exposed the details of their class-action lawsuit against Google for data mining. The lawsuit, which was filed last month, reveals that Google scans Gmail emails for keywords as a way to target specific ads to each user. Several of the plaintiffs in this case are Gmail users who feel that their privacy has been violated. However, a brief filed by attorneys for Google says that Gmail users should assume that any correspondence that’s being passed through Google’s servers can be accessed and used for a variety of options, such as targeted advertising.

The plaintiffs claim that an illegal interception occurs each time an email sent to or from a Gmail account is scanned. Google counters that claim by stating that the automated scanning is outlined in the Terms of Service agreement, which all users must accept in order to use the Gmail service. However, it is important to note that it is not only registered Gmail account users who are susceptible to data mining – any user who sends an email to a Gmail address is vulnerable as well. To address the plaintiffs who are complaining about their emails to Gmail users being scanned and processed, Google’s lawyers have stated:

“While the non-Gmail Plaintiffs are not bound to Google’s contractual terms, they nonetheless impliedly consent to Google’s practices by virtue of the fact that all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.

Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s [email] provider in the course of delivery. Indeed, a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to their parties.”

To put the above statement into perspective, please consider the following analogy provided by John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director: Sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office. A person expects that the letter will be delivered based on the address written on the envelope – not that the mail carrier will open the letter and read it before dropping it off at the specified address. Similarly when someone sends an email, the expectation is that the email will be delivered to the intended recipient – not that Google will intercept and read the email before it arrives at the stated email address.

So what does all this mean for your business? It’s important that your company is aware that any information being sent to customers who have a Gmail account is likely to be intercepted. In order to protect company and customer information, Gmail (or any similar type of web-based email service) should be avoided where possible, especially if the email communication holds sensitive or valuable data.

Additionally, web-based email services can be very appealing to start-up companies looking to save money. However, it may end up costing your business in the long run if confidential information is leaked. Although tempting, businesses that are looking to save on costs should consider alternative ways to save on costs instead of registering for a free web-based email service. Even Google has admitted that their service is free for a reason, stating that it would be “virtually impossible” to offer this type of free service without the financial support of advertisers.

It is highly recommended that businesses employ a secure email service, one that is able to provide end-to-end encryption and doesn’t store emails in an unencrypted form. To add an extra layer of security, we also suggest using an Internet Service Provider that is exclusive to businesses (such as TeraGo Networks). Business-only providers have a better understanding of the needs of companies, including the need to keep all information secure.

To learn more about the lawsuit against Google, click here.

If you would like to learn more about TeraGo Networks, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – What is Virtualization?

The term “virtualization” has been generating some buzz in the technology community as IT professionals look for ways to maximize their resources. But what exactly is virtualization? And how can it benefit your business? This blog post breaks down the history and functionality of virtualization.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization refers to the technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them.  Since virtualization provides a logical view of computing resources instead of a physical view, it provides you with the capability to trick your operating systems into thinking that a group of servers is a single pool of computing resources. Virtualization also allows for you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single machine.

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At its roots, virtualization is essentially partitioning, which divides a single physical server into multiple logical servers. Once the physical server has been divided, each logical server can run an operating system and applications independently.

Historically, virtualization has been around for several years. It was first used in the 1960’s as a way to partition large mainframe hardware. Back then, engineers faced the same problems that are faced today, such as too many underutilized servers. The team at IBM pioneered virtualization by providing the capability for engineers to partition mainframes, allowing tasks to multitask.

After the popularity of virtualization faded for a long period of time, it experienced a rebirth in the 1990s. Server virtualization on the Intel based x86 platform was invented in the 90s primarily by VMware. Since then, many other companies have entered into the x86 hardware and software virtualization market, but it was VMware that developed the first hypervisor for the x86 architecture, planting the seeds for the recent virtualization boom.

So what exactly is x86? It’s the generic name for Intel processors released after the original 8086 processor. The “x” in x86 stands for a range of possible numbers. If a computer’s technical specifications state that it’s based on the x86 architecture, it means that it uses an Intel processor, not AMD or PowerPC.

One of the aspects driving the increased popularity of virtualization is the shrinking availability of data center space. Many companies are also using virtualization as a money-saving initiative. By reducing the numbers and types of servers that support business applications, companies are looking at a significant cost savings.

Next week, we will discuss the benefits and features of virtualization.

To learn more about data center options, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Top 5 Benefits of Using a Data Centre for Business

More and more businesses are starting to recognize the benefits of colocation. By relocating their mission critical information and equipment to a data center, they can save time and money. Colocation data centers provide solutions to companies of any size, whether you only need 1U of space or if you need a whole cage. No matter how much space your business requires, your company will greatly benefit from the services offered by colocation data centers. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top five advantages of colocation for business.

1. Physical Security: Data center facilities are equipped with multiple onsite security measures. This typically includes closed-circuit television (CCTV), 24/7 monitoring systems, and security personnel. Additionally, many data centers employ biometric security measures and pass cards for those who need to enter the premise.

2. Connectivity: A majority of data centers have fully redundant network connections to ensure that their customers’ business critical applications are uninterrupted.

3. Network Security: Colocation data centers have extensive network security measures, including the latest and greatest firewalls/IDS systems to detect and prevent any unauthorized access to customer data.

4. Redundant Power Supply: Data center facilities employ a combination of multiple power grids, generators, and battery systems in order to ensure that there is a constant source of power. Many centers also have an extensive maintenance process in place to ensure each power source is operating at optimal levels.

5. Customization: Colocation facilities offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of the amount of bandwidth or space your company needs. If your business needs to increase its bandwidth levels, or burst up to a higher bandwidth level, data centers can easily accommodate the increased activity. Additionally, if your company needs more space to store its data, you can easily upgrade your service to meet your storage requirements.

In summary, any business that stores its data offsite at a colocation facility stands to gain considerably from the greater security and performance levels provided without incurring any significant costs. Data center locations are equipped with resilient power and cooling systems, in addition to the high level of security that ensures its customer’s data and IT infrastructure is operating 24/7.

To learn more about data centers, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

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