Are Smartphones And Tablets Killing The Traditional PC?

In the early days of the Internet, there was only one device that enabled you to access it. That was the desktop computer.

Laptop computers have existed for as long as desktops have, but due to hardware limitations, they never really became a viable alternative.

In a technical sense, laptops are “mobile” devices, but still require the user to be seated to use. It hasn’t been until recently that we have seen truly mobile devices.

The Rise Of Smartphones
The first smartphone was invented in 1992, three years before the term “smartphone” even existed. It was IBM’s “Simon,” which was a cellphone with a monochrome LCD touchscreen and a stylus.

It was the first phone was able to send faxes, pages, and emails and it was even capable of running third party applications.

It came with built-in features that are so commonplace on today’s smartphones that most people take them for granted, such as a calendar, a notepad, a world clock, and a way to schedule appointments.

Simon didn’t sell well and its $899 price tag surely didn’t help move units either. For comparison, that’s the same purchasing power as $1607 in 2018.

It wasn’t until Apple’s iPhone in 2007 that the modern smartphone became mainstream. IBM was able to sell a total of 50,000 Simon smartphones over its entire lifetime, a number that is dwarfed by Apple’s 1.4 million iPhone sales in the first year of its existence.

The Aging Desktop
Hardware advancements in recent years have made smartphones powerful enough to perform all the basic functions that consumers were using desktops for in the early days of the Internet.

Smartphones are also priced lower than their desktop counterparts. Sure, if you compare the price of a brand new, top-of-the-line smartphone to a much more powerful desktop PC you may find that the desktop by itself is less expensive.

But for a desktop to function you also need peripherals like a monitor, keyboard, a mouse, speakers, etc. You also need a desk, a chair, a constant source of power, and, in most cases, an entire dedicated room. One could make the argument that you need to pay for a cell phone service to be able to use all the functions of a smartphone, but that isn’t much different than paying for an ISP.

Tablets
In 2010, Apple made yet another mobile device that would change the tech world forever: the tablet. Tablets are essentially large smartphones although they aren’t typically used to make phone calls.

Due to their size, they are capable of carrying stronger hardware than smartphones and they are easier to use as a practical tool in the workplace. There are even specialized “professional” tablets that are designed with detachable keyboards and Bluetooth mice that run the same operating systems that their desktop cousins do.

They weigh less than modern “lightweight” notebook laptops, and have the advantage of a touchscreen. Their functionality comes at a steep price though, and it’s one that will be felt by your wallet. Most “professional” laptops will cost even more than the most powerful desktops and laptops.

No Clear Winner
Each option has different pros and based on how you intend to use it. Although smartphones and tablets have been quickly taking over the home user market, almost all workplaces still use the desktop computer.

The price per performance ratio is still in the desktop’s favor. It could be a very long time before mobile devices gain the functionality of a desktop while matching their price.

Google Maps “Guesses” Your Destination, Getting Smarter

In further proof of how the digital age has transformed daily life, you no longer have to make tough decisions about where to go when you access Google Maps from an Android device.

Google Maps now has a new feature that predicts where you would like to go and weighs all the pros and cons for you between potential destinations – even if you weren’t actively debating your options.

Let’s say you usually go to a favorite coffeehouse at about the same time every Saturday. Google Maps can now alert you if the traffic to your normal destination is exceptionally bad and can automatically provide you with less stressful alternatives based on your past behavior. You don’t even have to enter a destination – it all happens just by opening Google Maps.

The mapping app will also alert you to gas prices in the area, your estimated time of arrival to each option, and tell you the quickest way to get to your preferred choice. You can even add shortcuts, that Google Maps may have overlooked, for future use.

While this all sounds futuristic, it has the potential to be a huge time saver. Any time that you’re not quite sure of where you’re going, you can get the lowdown on the trip to your potential destinations without having to actually go there.

You can access this new feature on Android devices on the sidebar of Google Maps. Choose the option to Start Driving, and the application will quickly help you decide, if you really want to try the newest restaurant on the other side of town or stick closer to home with a tried-and-true location and have time to spare for an after-dinner coffee or cocktail.

How to Cut Down Your Mobile Data Usage

With unlimited mobile data plans being few and far between, it is imperative to monitor and manage your data usage to prevent outrageously high cellular bills. Even if you have an unlimited plan grandfathered into your service, there are other benefits to cutting down your mobile data usage, including increased battery life on your device and faster service in general. Try these tips to keep your data usage at a minimum:

• Track your usage. It’s impossible to set a usage goal or identify problems without knowing how much data you use and how you use it. Within the settings of your smartphone, you can easily find how much data you’ve used in a billing period and even set warnings for when you approach your data limits.

• Identify what applications use the most data. This can also be done within your smartphone’s settings where you can see app usage at a glance and can also set warnings or cut-off limits at this level. After assessing how much data each application uses, you may even want to delete the most data-hungry ones.

• Take advantage of free WiFi. A wide array of businesses offer free wireless Internet service as a perk to customers, so don’t pass up the opportunity to get your high-usage needs met at no expense to you. You can even configure your settings where applications only update when WiFi is available.

• Put the stymie on streaming music and video. While you may like to show your friends the latest footage off of YouTube or listen to your playlists while on a run, these activities come with a high data usage price tag. Try waiting to view videos until WiFi is available and make your playlists available offline to listen to them at will without any costly data usage.

Just by implementing these simply usage-reducing and awareness strategies, you can greatly decrease your cellular data bill and the workload on your smartphone device. This is a win-win no matter how you look at it.

Does Your Company Need An Internet Usage Policy?

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

With the growth and expansion of the Internet, it is important to make sure that your business has a policy in place to protect its assets.

Depending on your business, an Internet Usage Policy (IUP) can be long and drawn out or short and to the point.

An IUP will provide your employees with guidelines on what is acceptable use of the Internet and company network. IUPs not only protect the company, but also the employee.

Employees are informed and aware of what is acceptable when it comes to websites and downloading files or programs from the Internet.

When employees know there will be serious consequences for breaking the IUP, such as suspension or termination of employment, companies tend to notice a decrease in security risks due to employee carelessness.

You will need to make sure your IUP covers not only company equipment and your network, but also employee-owned devices such as smart phones and tablets. You may be surprised at the number of employees that feel they do not have to follow the IUP because they are using their own device to surf or download from the Internet.

Make sure you address proper usage of company-owned mobile devices. Your business may have satellite employees or a traveling sales force. Even when they are away, they need to be aware they are still representatives of the business and must follow the business IUP.

After all, it would not go over well if your sales staff was giving a presentation to a prospective client and suddenly, “adult content” ads popped-up on the screen because one of your employees was careless in their web habits.

The downloading of files and programs is a security risk in itself. Private, internal company documents and correspondence downloaded from your company’s network can become public, causing unrepairable damage.

On the same thought, employees downloading from the Internet open your company’s network up to malware attacks and infections.

There are a lot of hackers that prey upon the absent-minded employee downloading a video or song file by hiding a piece of malware within the download. Once the malware makes it into your network, there’s no telling what damage it can cause.

As for non-work related use of the company network and Internet, make sure your employees know there is no expectation of personal privacy when using the company’s network and Internet connection.

Make it well-known that the network and Internet are in place to be used for work purposes only. Improper use of the network can reduce bandwidth throughout the company network.

This includes all mobile devices owned by the company. This way, your employees know that no matter where they are they still must follow the guidelines of the IUP.

Make sure all of your employees sign the IUP and fully understand what it is they are signing. Make sure you answer any and all questions they may have.

This will help clear up any confusion your employees may have. This way, there can be no excuses as to why the IUP was broken.

Whenever you update the IUP, make sure you have all of your employees sign and understand the new additions and/or changes to the IUP. It may seem like overkill, but you’ll be glad you did if you ever run into any violations of your company’s IUP.

For assistance in creating Internet Usage Policies or if you have any questions, call the experts at Tech Experts: (734) 457-5000.

Is Antivirus Necessary For Smartphones?

July_2015_CellPhone_email_sizeChances are, you have an antivirus program installed on your personal computer. You may not, however, have the same sort of protection for your smartphone.

If you don’t, you’re certainly not alone. Being part of a majority, however, doesn’t make the data on your smartphone safe. The same threats that lurk in cyber land can attack your phone as easily as a personal computer, but there isn’t a lot of attention being given in the media and other venues about viruses on smartphones.

So, despite that lack of attention, should you install antivirus protection on your smartphones and tablets?

The truth is that you should. Smartphones are fast becoming the prime method of accessing the Internet, and the amount and nature of sensitive data on these devices puts you, your business, and even others whom you hold dear at risk.

Since many viruses are designed to gain access to personal information on devices, the risks are greater than you may think. We may not think about installing antivirus applications on our smartphones because it doesn’t address a widespread problem at this time.

In the near future, however, viral attacks on phones is inevitable. From an employer’s standpoint, the need to protect smartphones is even more important than on a personal level. With more and more business being conducted via handheld devices, a virus on a smartphone has the potential to interrupt operations, causing costly delays and compromising sensitive company data.

Security software applications that can protect smartphones are available for download. Look for one that is not just vigilant against malware, however.

It should also provide an option to remotely wipe smartphones clean in the case of a viral attack to protect company data as well as have a GPS location feature to facilitate easy recovery.

Another feature experts recommend in a security software application is the ability to limit the types of applications employees download onto their company-provided smartphones.

Security Tips To Keep Your Mobile Phone Secure

We’ve all seen the stories about celebrities getting their mobile phones hacked and having their private photos splattered all over the web.

Although you may think there is nothing of real interest on your phone, you are still at risk of security invasion. Any number of people could have motive to do so from exes to a colleague who perceives you as a threat, and even innocuous content on your phone can be taken out of context to reflect negatively on you in general.

Use some of these simple tips to protect your mobile phone and reputation:

Passwords
Your passwords are your primary defense against would-be hackers – from your lock code to email account password. Don’t share your passwords with others. Also, make sure your passwords aren’t easily guessed, such as your pet’s name or child’s birthday.

A secure password may not be as easily remembered, but it is far harder to hack. Finally, shield your phone’s screen when entering passwords in public lest onlookers take note of which buttons you push.

Clear Out the Cobwebs
In addition to creating more storage space on your mobile phone, it is just wise to remove old text conversations, photos, and other data periodically.

Back up the things you want to keep onto other devices, so you can access them later. With all of the excess stuff you don’t use on a regular basis gone, you leave less for hackers to work with if the security of your mobile phone is breached. In the event of being hacked, you would also likely lose all of those things, so backing such info up protects you twofold.

Beef Up Security
Take advantage of the lesser-known security features of your mobile phone. For example, turn off the Discoverable mode on your Bluetooth.

Look on your phone under Security to see if there are already included options, such as an automatic lock screen that activates after a certain period of inactivity.

There are also applications you can download to increase the level of security on your phone, including apps that allow you to access and control your phone remotely in the case of loss or theft.

How The “Internet of Things” Will Affect Small Business

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Just when you thought you had the Internet mastered, something new crops up on the horizon.

One of the newest advances that will likely revolutionize the world is the Internet of Things (IoT).

If you haven’t heard of this, you’re not alone, but this idea is fast becoming a realization. Simply put, the IoT refers to how it is possible to remotely control and monitor just about anything via sensors and, of course, your Internet connection – from opening your home’s garage door from your office to the level of dog food remaining in your pooch’s bowl.

This concept recently gained definition at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference when the company unveiled two applications for iOS8.

The first was the HealthKit app, which lets users keep up with health and fitness data without wearing an actual tracker. The other was the HomeKit that can remotely control electronic devices like lights and cameras at home. [Read more…]

Risks When Employees Use Their Own Mobile Devices

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is an exciting development for increasingly mobile and interconnected employees, but also a new challenge for IT security teams.

Gone are the days where security professionals can lock down a finite set of machines and facilities; instead, they must manage an ever-growing, ever-changing landscape of employees, devices and applications, many of which have access to information that needs to be protected.

According to an article on eWeek, a survey was done on organizations with mobile devices connecting to their networks: only 33 percent have any official BYOD policy governing the use of personal portable devices, 67 percent do not.

The security risks are inherent in BYOD between viruses, hacking, improper security, and more. Flat-out thefts of smartphones, laptops, and tablets are also an issue.

In New York City alone, police data show that Apple products were stolen in a total of 11,447 incidents in the first nine months of 2012. That is an increase of 40 percent compared to the previous year.

Of course, employee education and awareness are important as informed users are more likely to act responsibly and take fewer risks with company data. Unfortunately, employees can be careless and criminals crafty, which is why network security defenses and policies are so critical.

Although implementing a restrictive device policy may feel like the most secure approach for your company, it can easily backfire.

Your craftiest employees are going to find a way to connect their devices to your network no matter what. And employees who do obey your “no iPhones” message will probably resent the policy and experience lower productivity.

Bring Your Own Device conceptToday’s workers expect to have 24/7 access to their information. They want to be able to catch up on emails on the evening train ride home or access information while away from the office.

BYOD lets IT staffs eliminate the hassle and expense of provisioning, distributing, and maintaining hundreds of corporate-owned mobile devices.

But setting up a BYOD program isn’t without its challenges. For starters, when you give employees free rein to bring in their own devices, you put your corporate documents and data at the mercy of the native security on these devices.

When you consider that many of your employees probably have “1234” as the PIN on their iPhones, that’s a pretty sobering thought.

Another major concern is your network. When you allow today’s increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets to request resources from your network, you really put your infrastructure to the test.

Are you ready to serve data instantly to hundreds of increasingly powerful hand-held mobile devices?

What if your mobile employees want to watch training videos, play back webinars, or listen to conference call recordings on their devices – can you deliver this kind of bandwidth?

Like most things, there are upsides and downsides, but a decision should be made on what best suits you, your employees, and your business.

When it comes down to it, BYOD isn’t a completely ridiculous idea. In fact, the benefits of BYOD may be worth the extra security precautions required to implement it.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

New Security Risk For Android Phones

Just when you thought you had safeguarded your mobile device from any misuse, a new threat emerges.

For Android users, it’s a big one. Rapid7 has recently discovered a security bug that allows cyber criminals to access a smartphone user’s data.

Although this security problem is widespread, Google has responded that it will take no action to fix it. The bug exists in phones operating on Android 4.3 and below, and allows hackers to control your smartphone.

Although Android 4.4 and 5.0 users are not vulnerable to this risk, this issue affects approximately 60 percent of Android users – almost a billion people worldwide.

Google’s official response is that their policy is not to develop fixes for older software versions, but it can notify people of the risk and others are welcome to create their own fixes.

To date, there are no known patches to address this issue. There is, however, one way to ensure your safety if you possess an affected smartphone. Simply download and install a newer version of the operating software.

Security Tips For Your Smart Phone

Today it is fairly easy to carry out business tasks using smart phones. Emailing, browsing the Internet and even creating or editing documents is now a breeze.

So technically, smart phones are now carrying a large amount of sensitive data that needs to be protected. Not only are Smart phones subject to the same threats as PCs, but they are also quite easy to misplace and lose.

Here are a few tips that will help you mitigate some of these security risks:

Screen lock the phone
Whenever you leave your phone unattended, lock your smart phone to require a password or PIN code or set it to lock after few minutes. This will prevent unwanted access and will protect your data in case the phone is lost or stolen.

Enable remote device wipe
Check if your phone allows the memory-wipe function in case it is lost or stolen. Some phones have this feature embedded, but most others will require that you download an app and potentially pay for the service that goes with it.

Apply system updates
From time to time, smart phone vendors, mobile carriers, or hardware manufacturers update the operating systems on their phones. These updates usually include useful and necessary security-related improvements.

Turn off Bluetooth discovery mode
Many people leave their smart phones on Bluetooth-discovery mode around the clock. On some phones, this feature is set by default; however, check your phone and make sure it is disabled when you are not using it. Failing to do so, your phone will constantly be discoverable to others and allow people to connect to your device without prior authorization.

Install mobile anti-virus
Malware purveyors are increasingly targeting smart phones. It is now important to use anti-virus software for your phone just like you would do for your PC.

This is particularly important for Android devices as they are built on an open platform susceptible to malware.