FBI Says It Has Detected More Attempts to Hack Voter Registration Systems

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FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday there is evidence that there have been additional attempts to hack state voter registration systems than those that were previously known. Comey didn’t elaborate on the number of attempts or verify where they came from during his House Judiciary Committee testimony, but there has been concern that Russian operatives, in particular, could be able to cause havoc in the election process. Comey said the FBI is looking “very, very hard” at the Russian links and the agency issued a cyber-security warning to state and county voter registration offices last month.

“There have been a variety of scanning activities which is a preamble for potential intrusion activities as well as some attempted intrusions at voter database registrations beyond those we knew about in July and August. We are urging the states just to make sure that their deadbolts are thrown and their locks are on and to get the best information they can from DHS just to make sure their systems are secure,” Comey said. “Because there’s no doubt that some bad actors have been poking around.”

“In no cases was information changed, nor were any actual voting systems at risk. Comey reiterated to Congress that those actual voting systems are not connected to the Internet and are decentralized, making broad hacking of the election nearly impossible,” CNN notes. “Hacking attempts are also not a cause for panic. Voting registration databases have always been appealing targets for hackers, who can use personal information for financial crime.”

Texting and Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging: An Evolution

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see technology is getting faster every day. On average, more than 100 billion emails are sent and received every day – a nearly instantaneous form of communication free to anyone on the Internet. For comparison’s sake, 509 million items are processed by the United State Postal Service each day, and may take days or weeks to arrive at their destination. The Internet offers a level of instantaneous communication not even the telegraph or telephone could achieve, and it offers countless platforms for said communication.

Instant messaging had humble beginnings, however – spending decades confined to single laboratories and university campuses. True appreciation of modern instant messaging requires some degree of knowledge of its past.

Humble Beginnings

The most archaic messaging systems were housed in laboratories at universities and were used as notification system or to send basic text messages between users logged into the same machine. Throughout the 70s and 80s, technology grew to allow messages to be exchanged between multiple devices connected to a shared server, and by the late 1980s, programs like MIT’s Project Athena had built networks which could send communications throughout entire university campus. The 1980s also saw the popularization of bulletin board systems, or BBSes, which allowed users connected to a network to upload and download information to a server, or even for just one computer to call another computer and exchange information. Bulletin board systems were made feasible by early dial-up modems which didn’t require manual user intervention to connect to a server.

When dial-up Internet became widely accessible in 1994, bulletin board systems and other communication systems confined to a single small network began their slow-but-rapidly increasing journey to oblivion.

The Age of the Internet

With the rise of the Internet in 1994, instant messaging became a much more plausible idea for the general public. The first America Online (AOL) instant message was sent in 1993, and AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, would go on to become one of the most popular messaging platforms through the early 2000s, offering one-on-one communication and chat rooms. Internet forums began to pop up, some of which are still maintained. While they weren’t necessarily instant mediums, they allowed for prolonged and in-depth discussion.

Cell phones also gained the ability to send SMS messages in 1994, though text messaging wasn’t nearly as efficient then as it is today. Original full keyboards were a feature of task managers rather than phones – until the two device categories were married by the rise of the smartphone.

The Instant Era

Smartphones helped to kick off the era in which we currently live, where instant communication is a normal part of life. Phones with built-in keyboards made text messaging practical as a form of communication, making “textspeak” a part of the Millennial vernacular.

The release of the iPhone and subsequent spike in popularity for Android devices allowed an instant messaging service to dwell inside a device as an app. Whatsapp, founded in 2010, is among the most popular instant messaging services on smartphones. Whatsapp is ubiquitous in Europe and Asia, where unlimited texting isn’t as widely offered from service providers. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as conferencing apps like Skype, also offer built-in chat functions.

Apple then streamlined texting by introducing the iMessage, which replaces SMS messages for texting between multiple Apple devices.

Instant messaging has grown from humble beginnings into a generation-defining phenomenon with a litany of personal and professional applications. These services will only get bigger and better over time, but even today, current technology allows for lightning-fast communication that connects people on opposite sides of the planet each and every day. As space exploration and futuristic technologies trudge along, we may yet discover that not even the sky is the limit for instant messaging.

Want to IM Like A Boss? Talk To A Nerd.

We Nerds are pretty darned excellent at setting up the best IMs and collaboration systems for business. Drop us a line, and we’ll get you chatting as early as yesterday. Sorry, nerd joke.

Nerdy instant messaging at work

Instant Messaging for Your Business

For a business in a competitive industry, effective communication can be the difference between massive success and complete failure. Being able to effectively communicate both inside and outside of the office is a massive asset that shouldn’t be underestimated when building your organization. Video conferencing technology is continually advancing, but in most cases, you can fall back on a classic tool: instant messaging. Originally popularized in the 90s, instant messaging has been a social tool for decades but is just beginning to see real use within organizations as a legitimate communications tool.

Instant messaging in your business is a powerful digital solution that can make life just a little bit easier for you and your employees.

Instant Messaging is a Gateway to Other Digital Solutions

If your business is in the early stages of going digital, acclimating your employees to communicating through instant messaging is a great way to build a culture that is open to more digital solutions in the future. Instant messaging can make employees more open to video conferencing, file sharing, and integrating their personal devices into their work life.

If your business is split between multiple locations or relies on employees working from home or freelance employees working from out of town, instant messaging is a great way to bring employees closer together without having to cram them in the same physical location or cause unnecessary noise with telephone conversations and physical meetings in the office.

Instant Messaging Creates Organizational Efficiency

Imagine trying to relay information in the office without instant messaging. Unless your desk is in the same room as the person you need to speak with, your options are limited to a phone call, a trek to a different part of the building, or shouting, all of which can be disruptive to you and those around you, and none of which are necessarily clear and concise.

Instant messaging is a simple way to communicate clearly and effectively with employees at your business without disrupting the workplace, and most instant messaging services are native to your desktop and don’t require a glance down at a phone or tablet.

When properly implemented, instant messaging can also facilitate enterprise mobility efforts. When employees can communicate quickly and quietly with those in the office, it becomes feasible to let employees work remotely once or twice a week. Working from home or a local coffee shop can be a relaxing alternative to spending time in the office as long as employees are reminded that time spent working remotely is still a time for work.

When preparing a business for the future and optimizing it for the present, instant messaging is an ideal place to start. At Nerds Support, we’re committed to helping your business run as smoothly and intelligently as possible. If you’re thinking about moving forward with instant messaging or any other digital solution, get in touch! We can’t wait to help you get moving.

Softphones

From Bricks to Softphones: How Mobile Communication Has Changed

As you go about your day, you don’t even notice the weight of the smartphone in your preferred pocket. That candy bar shaped gadget is as invisible and weightless as a wallet or a tried and tested pair of glasses – not a tool so much as a natural extension of your person. It allows you to connect instantly with the world around you, records your experiences and broadcasts them to your digital network, and carries more music than your parents’ CD rack could ever hope to accommodate. The smartphone is an impossibly complex and useful facet of modern life.

Mobile technology is developing at an exponential rate. The possibilities today would have raised eyebrows just two years ago and been seen as science fiction when the first smartphones hit the market. As video streaming and web browsing became everyday activities, the trend of miniaturizing phones has reversed, and larger devices have since dominated the market. Mobile communication is in a state of constant flux and has been ever since cordless technologies were first pioneered in the 60s and 70s. By understanding the past, it becomes easier to predict the future.

Building Networks Brick by Brick

When 1G and 2G networks began to develop, America began to move beyond clunky and inconvenient briefcase and radio phones and started to adopt what we recognize as mobile phones today. That’s not to say that primitive cellphones were that much more accessible; in its first year on the market in 1984, the Motorola DynaTAC was priced at $3,995 (roughly $10,000 in 2016) and took ten hours of charging per half hour of talk time. The next decade was kind to cell phone development, culminating in the mid-90s with the first truly miniature cell phones and the Nokia 9000, the first marketed smartphone (though incredibly dumb by modern standards). While phones capable of managing emails were invented a few years before, they made little progress on the market.

In the 80s cell phones were symbols of wealth and futurism, but by the mid-90s they were gaining real mainstream popularity.

The Slimming Effect

By 2000 cell phones were essential pieces of technology for both business and personal reasons. Digital assistants like the PalmPilot were also on the rise but were fundamentally different devices. The marriage of phones and task managers was one of the trademarks of the smartphone revolution a few years later.

Miniaturization became fashionable as phone manufacturers strove to make devices as small as possible. This aesthetic epitomized the Motorola Razr and similar ultrathin phones. The early 2000s also saw the inclusion of cameras, games, and very, very limited web browsing capabilities. The impending revolution wasn’t a difficult thing to foresee.

The Smartphone Wars

In 2007, Apple released the iPhone and set the world on fire. Modern smartphones had been drifting around the edges of the market for a few years, but the marriage of a quick and user-friendly operating system (the iOS that’s still evolving today), a futuristic aesthetic, and a touch screen had a profound effect on mobile technology. The iPhone kicked off a golden age for Apple that doesn’t seem anywhere close to ending. The arms race between phone manufacturers and programmers blossomed into a genuine patent war in 2009, and the legal conflicts are in and out of the news with each new release. Early modern smartphones weren’t much larger than their flip phone equivalents, but as networks grew to make data more affordable, web browsing and video streaming on the go became an essential part of the millennial lifestyle, device sizes began to grow to accommodate larger screens (and batteries).

The Auspicious Future

Mobile technology seems to be heading for a convergence with more traditional technology. Many devices are designed to integrate with other platforms. If you own an iPhone and a MacBook, for example, you can send and receive text messages, audio and video calls, and emails seamlessly regardless of the device you’re on. Phones are no longer reliant on hardware, and can function as software on any device with a speaker and a microphone – these “softphones” are the latest way around landlines.

Laptops are still massively popular but are slowly being upstaged by convertible notebooks that work as both laptop and tablet. Phones are growing large enough to be mistaken for smaller tablets. Perhaps new developments will force the pendulum to swing back towards miniaturization, but for now it seems that bigger is better. The functioning adult of 1996 had a veritable tool belt of electronic devices. In 2016 a single handheld communicator stores more tools than a Swiss army knife. The technology of 2036 is an unknowable and exciting dream.

Soft Phones

Soft Phones or Hard Lines: Which One is Best for Your Business?

The lines have blurred. Land lines are very nearly a way of the past, a forgotten time when memorizing a phone number was a requirement of life. In the office we now meander between the world of using the tried and true hard line phones and soft phones. Hard lines, still connected directly through whatever preferred vendor you most likely have a longstanding relationship with have been with us all through the thick and thin. They helped us connect with our clients of the past, which have allowed us to be where we are today. There is another way, though. With soft phones, using a system otherwise known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), you are able to connect simply by using your internet. Now where do you and your business fit into all of this? Let us help you figure that out.

 

Mighty Mouse Scenario

 

This is great! You’ve started a business and you feel good about where you’re at. There’s room to grow, but your priority right now is focusing on your clients and keeping them happy. To do this though you need to stay connected, which means a reliable way of communication. Given the size of the company, the soft phone could be a solid option to save a bit of money instead of having to use a vendor with a high priced monthly plan. This would allow you to reach out office-wide, but also even world wide as the internet is nearly limitless in it’s reach.

 

Up, Up, and Away!

 

Your business is growing, it’s time to expand. The sky’s the limit and you’re unsure of where your current phone service fits into your grand scheme. It’s a hard question, but a necessary one to take into account as you grow. As the business grows, a blend of both hard line and soft phone could be a smart way to be able to offer the flexibility for your clients as you may have clients of varying size. The soft phone will allow you to keep in contact with your smaller or international clients while the hard line could allow you the most reliable and highest quality service that larger clients would come to expect.

 

Nerd's support and automatic backups

The Importance of Automatic Backup

Let’s start off with a joke –

A woman calls a computer help desk to inquire about a problem. She explains her problem to the IT consultant, and he eventually figures out a few files were lost from a USB disk. “Do you make backups?” he asked hopefully.

“Oh, yes, we were instructed to copy all of our USB disks every day.”

“Well, put the backup copy in the computer, and I’ll show you how to restore the files.”

“You mean put it in the printer?”

“Huh? Put it in the disk drive.”

“How am I going to do that?”

You see, each night they used a Xerox machine to copy their USB’s, and neatly store pictures of them in a filing cabinet.

Automatic backups are no joke. Imagine this as a real scenario – incorrect storage of critical data. Can you afford to lose your business’s intellectual property? The process of backing up refers to the copying and archiving of computer data. The importance of automatic backup is the restoration of original data. In case of emergency, backups provide companies with the reassurance that their files are safe and sound.

Why Should You Care?

Eliminate the time spent backing up your data by automating the process. You can locally store your backups on-site, or choose to save them online. If you’re searching for reasons to care about the safety of your entire hard drive – you can begin with taking into consideration how inexpensive the process is. It’s extremely convenient which means you have more time to focus on your business objectives. It provides constant support and notifications to give you accurate reports on your infrastructure.

Nerd’s Support Are the Jocks In Tech Support

Don’t let your business become another victim of critical data loss. When you work with Nerds Support for business continuity planning, backup and data recovery, you are working with a team of dedicated industry experts who have the skills and knowledge to help you retain your data, no matter where your business takes you. Connect with us today!  

Woman repairing the clock, concept of time management.

Time Management with Cloud Computing

Improve your business’s efficiency and organization by becoming more conscious of how you spend your time. Time management supports the wide range of tools and techniques used to accomplish a business’s goals. When companies are mindful of the planning and process of a project’s completion time and scope, they create an effective environment. Cloud computing maximizes a company’s services by enabling companies to consume computer resources as a utility. Cloud computing advantages extend far outside of time management – there is no doubt the Cloud will offer your company many benefits.

Time Management through the Cloud

Time to Work Anywhere

Got Internet? As long as you are connected to the Internet, you can work from anywhere. Companies are experiencing more productivity and expanding their footprint to new locations with ease. Your company will have the capability to open and invest in new offices anywhere at any time. Through Cloud services, your efficiency will increase without any lengthy delays when it comes to technology. According to Goldman Sachs, spending on Cloud computing infrastructure and platforms will grow at a 30% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2013 through 2018, compared with 5 percent growth for overall enterprise IT.

Time to be Effective

The deployment of Cloud computing will allow you to upgrade on a regular basis, keep up with maintenance, and give you the time to actually take care of your business’s core values. Companies that adopted Cloud services experienced a 20.66% average improvement in time-to-market, 18.80% average increase in process efficiency, and 15.07% reduction in IT spending. Together, these benefits led to a 19.63% increase in company growth.

Nerds Support Improves Time Management with the Cloud

Cloud computing IT services from Nerds Support gives your company a way to improve your technology capability without the need to invest in all-new equipment or retrain employees to use new software programs. Your business can take advantage of the newest technologies through Cloud services! Connect with us today!

 

Woman happy with automatic backup

With Automatic Backup, You’ll Always Have the Latest Version of Your Data

One of the worst feelings on the face of the planet is powering up your computer to see your data – inexplicably – vanished. There are several different reasons your data could easily go the way of the dodo, but if you have automatic backup on your side, it becomes little more than a small inconvenience. Let’s look at a few scenarios in which automatic backup can be your hero of the day.

Automatic Backup Can Restore Accidentally Lost Files and Folders.

You’re happily working away in your office. Then, one of your co-workers comes in – a ghastly look on their face. They begrudgingly tell you they were reviewing the 300 page document you finally finished yesterday and, in their attempt to “select all” and just change the font size, they hit the letter “k” instead – changing your 150,000 word document – and six month’s worth of work – into a “k”. They tried to click “Undo”, but accidentally clicked “Save” instead. The work is GONE. After you’ve restrained yourself from throttling them, you realize you can simply pull up the file from the automatic backup performed yesterday. You do so, and – boom – your work is back. Only this time, you opt to change the font yourself.

Automatic Backup Can Save Your Data from Hard Drive Death.

Here’s another scary tale: you come into work, try to pull up a client’s file from your external hard drive, and . . . the computer can’t find the drive. Huh?! You call IT, and after a quick investigation, it is determined that your loyal, faithful old hard drive tragically perished sometime in the night of natural causes. Along with ALL your data. Luckily, your IT guy has a spare external drive. He hooks it up, starts your restore from your last automatic backup, and you’re back in business! Now you’re free to get your work done, and even have some time to plan the expired hard drive’s memorial service. (Hey, it was your first one ever!)

Automatic Backup Can Rescue You from Hackers and Ransomware.

A last story: A client calls to ask you to send them a file. You start to go into your hard drive – when a window pops up. It says all your work files have been encrypted, and unless you pay $100,000 to a certain ambitious hacker, all the data will simply be deleted. Are you now out a hundred grand? Nope, because you have automatic backup! You get your IT guy to simply format your hard drive, restore the data from backup, and you’re rolling again. Then, you have a nice, productive talk with your IT guy about beefing up your network security . . .

Nerds Support Can Handle Automatic Backup and your Other IT Needs.

Not only can we set you up with automatic backup, we can also pump-up that network security, beef-up your network infrastructure, and remotely keep close tabs on your network to see if any issues – hard drive or not – start to come up. Tell us what you’re looking for; we’re ready to hear YOUR story!

Working concept of Internet of Things as a man works with laptop with other objects around.

Exploring Some Communication Between the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things- where ordinary things have extraordinary powers to connect to one another through networks. People tend to overlook the everyday things that have the power to connect with one another – interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, or people whom are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to process data through a network. The Internet of Things promises to change the way we live and work, as broadband Internet is expanding and the cost of connecting is decreasing. The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020, there will be over 26 billion connected device. That’s a lot of connections (some even estimate this number to be much higher, over 100 billion). The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people). The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things. Today, we’ll explore the communication between the Internet of Things in the medical field.

Medical Solutions of Internet of Things

The Healthcare industry has established the highest standards for electronic healthcare devices. The integration of Internet of Things-features into medical devices will improve the quality and effectiveness of medical attention for patients. The elderly, patients with chronic conditions, and those in desperate need for constant supervision can be set up with the Internet of Things, healthcare solutions. Not only are patients benefiting from the Internet of things but the medical healthcare professionals as well. Hospitals are able to monitor the location of wearable medical devices on both employees and patients.

Examples of Medical Solutions in the Internet of Things

  • Grow service margins by reducing the number of field-service deployments and increasing first-time-fix rates with remote access, diagnosis and repair
  • Reduce the cost of care by leveraging predictive maintenance and enabling pay-per-usage
  • Deliver “home-care” offerings that provide real-time information and alerts to physicians and patients, wherever they are
  • Deliver a secure solution that ensures regulatory compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Medical Device Directive (MDD) requirements
  • Differentiate your products, and improve hospital productivity and patient outcomes with complementary web and mobile apps

The Nerds Support the Internet of Things

As technology is develops, we make sure we are up-to-speed with the latest and greatest ways to implement them into your everyday life. We know that keeping up with the pace of the Internet of Things might be overwhelming, but we want to show you how they can simplify the way you do business. Call today and let’s talk more.

 

street signs to backup and restore incremental backup software

How Incremental Backup Software Works

Incremental backup software is growing in popularity like crazy. Each day, more and more businesses are using it for its many, many benefits and the typically low cost of utilizing it. However, some people have never even heard of it, or just don’t know how it works. So, here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect when you ultimately decide to put incremental backup software in place in your business.

First, Your Data is Uploaded to an Off-site Data Center.

When your incremental backup software is activated, the big backup upload begins. All your indicated data begins copying through the Internet to an off-site data center, where it will be kept and secured to ensure your data cannot be compromised. In essence, your entire database is sort of being “cloned,” so if anything irreparable were to happen to your existing database, the healthy off-site “clone” could always replace it.

Next, Every New or Changed File is Uploaded Incrementally.

Once the complete backup transfer is complete, any file you change or create after that backup will also be backed-up on an incremental basis of your choosing. That means much less backup time and data transfer for you. If you decide you want all new or altered files backed-up once a week, once a day, even once an hour, it’s up to you.

Finally, You Can Access or Restore Data from Anywhere.

Remember our “clone” comparison? If your network suddenly – inexplicably – experiences a data loss, that “clone” is here to save the day. Just download some (or all) of the backed-up files, and you’re back to work. Another unique benefit of incremental backup software is that it can also act as a sort of basic cloud computing: if you’re on a business trip, and one night, you really need to work on a file from your office desktop, you can sign into the backup program, download the backed-up file, and you’re off!

Nerds Support Can Totally Set You Up with Incremental Backup Software.

It’s great. It’s awesome. It’s helpful, it’s stress-reducing, it’s life-saving. Well, okay – maybe the last one was more metaphorically speaking, but you get the drift. Incremental backup software can totally benefit your business, and Nerds Support is totally the company to call to set you up with it. Let’s do this.