Custom Technology Solutions, Inc

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Custom Technology Solutions, Inc - Corporate Blog

AVG to sponsor The Pitch 2014

I’m delighted to announce that AVG will be the headline sponsor of The Pitch 2014 . Now in its seventh year The Pitch is one of the UK’s longest running small business competitions and awards thousands of pounds worth of prizes to innovative startups. In 2014, hundreds of business entrepreneurs from up and down the UK are expected to submit their businesses and ideas for assessment by a panel of judges in order to win an exclusive package of prizes and business support. The Pitch is Britain’s top competition for emerging entrepreneurs and gives us an opportunity to show AVG’s passionate belief that a well-connected business is an essential ingredient for success today. Our philosophy is all about empowering small businesses to manage their technology simply and reliably so they can stop worrying about their data and concentrate on growth in today’s fast changing, increasingly mobile workplace. This partnership gives us a superb opportunity to connect directly with many thousands of business start-ups and entrepreneurs. Successful applicants will be picked to pitch their ideas at two regional Boot Camp events to be held in September. These entries will be further narrowed down to 30 who will compete in a live final in October.  Previous winners include Bio Bean , developers of a bio-fuel made from coffee beans, AdvanceToGo , a website that helps private landlords manage property and find tenants, and Cyclehoop , an ingenious solution to bike theft.

Yes, a Mac is Safer than a PC…for Now

Does using a Mac provide more protection against viruses and malware than a Windows PC?  Yes, but not for the reason you may think.  And maybe not for much longer. Despite what you may hear from the Apple community, Macs are no safer than Windows PCs.  Each release of OS X has its vulnerabilities, going back to the ‘80’s.  Most recently in 2010 and 2011 the “ OS X Pinhead ” and the “ BlackHole RAT ” trojans infected hundreds of thousands of Mac users, allowing unauthorized access to their systems. In 2012, hundreds of thousands more were infected by the “ Mac Flashback Trojan .”  The “RSPlug-A (2007)”, “iWorkS-A Trojan (2009)”, and “MacDefender (2011)” viruses and malware additionally affected the Mac community over the past few years.  During 2013 widespread malware attacks both indirectly and directly affected Mac users . The problem isn’t going away.  In fact, it’s only going to get bigger.  That’s because, in my opinion, Apple did not figure out how to protect its users from viruses and malware.  Apple products are great.  But there is nothing so special about OS X or its security features. As we all saw this past year the world’s largest technology, government and financial services firm were hit by hacker attacks.  There is no infallible system.  Any developer will tell you that any software can be exploited.  Apple is no exception. Why haven’t there been more malware or virus attacks on Apple users?  Well, quite simply, in spite of considerable growth in Apple users in recent years, there still aren’t enough of them.  With all the blather we hear about Microsoft’s demise and Apple’s surging popularity, the fact is that 90% of the world’s computers are still controlled by Windows operating systems. If anyone’s going to spend the time and take the risk to devise a malware or virus attack, they’re going to want the biggest return on their investment.  And that’s why Windows users are more vulnerable than Mac users.  That’s all there is to it. So if you’re a small business owner looking to equip your office with Macs or other Apple products, then that’s great.  And if you’re already a Mac enthusiast, then good for you.  But, just be careful what you ask for.  You love your Mac.  You love Apple.  And each year there are more and more of you.  Maybe Microsoft will stave off this trend.  Maybe Apple’s growth will be stunted by the likes of Google and Amazon. If this happens, then hackers and others like them will avoid you because it’s just not worth the effort.   But if the trend carries on, if Apple continues to grow in popularity, if more and more users worldwide are using iPhones, iPads and Macs, then those that create malicious software will set their sights on this community.  That means you.  Which means that you’ll need something like AVG Managed Workplace watching your back.

Six good habits to help protect your small business from hackers

As business owners, we know that we could be doing a better job protecting our data.  We should be more responsible, have better controls and be more secure.  Like the big companies, right?  Hmmm. Right before Christmas, someone hacked into Target’s system and stole encrypted bank pins on top of 40 million credit card number of the retail giant’s customers. Oh, and by the way, this was before ZDNet reported on other enormous breaches of security that were suffered in 2013 by the world’s biggest names in media, government and technology from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to The U.S. Federal Reserve, Facebook, Adobe, Apple and Twitter. In all cases, private and confidential data was taken. Although there are suspicions, no one really knows who is taking the data or what it’s being used for.  And after the furore dies down, no one can say for sure that the same won’t happen again. These are not dipsy-doodle, little, tiny companies.  These are some of the largest, most well known companies and government organizations in the world who supposedly specialize in technology.  And they couldn’t even protect themselves from getting hacked. So yes, we can take solace that we’re not alone.  But we must also admit:  this is serious.  And that our smaller businesses are not just as vulnerable.  We’re more vulnerable.  Why? For starters, most of us are accepting and storing more credit card and social security numbers now more than ever.  We’re accepting online and mobile payments.  We’re sending out and receiving fewer checks and transacting more virtually.  And when we accept this information our customers are entrusting us to keep it on file so that they don’t have to give it to us more than once. So small businesses responded by storing data in on-premises databases that require nothing more than a simple password to access. Our security is terrible.  And the hosted ecommerce services that we rely on aren’t much better. And who will be to blame if our customers’ info is stolen?  We will.  Our customers will stop doing business with us.  Some may sue us.  Others may tell others or report their problems to the media.  Our credibility would be challenged.  Our reputations may be lost.  We are unable to be trusted.  We are embarrassed.  And we are potentially facing enormous liabilities.  Would you like to be the subject of the next ZDNet slide show featuring businesses that were hacked?  I didn’t think so. So how do you protect against this?  There are ways.  For example, you should always make sure your customer data is stored in an encrypted database. You should have multi-levels of passwords to access any database storing customer information and change these passwords frequently. You should periodically and regularly run background checks on employees handling customer data. You should make sure to have malware detection software running on both your servers (hosted or not) and workstations and ensure that your firewalls are up and secure. You should review and implement the standard network security health check controls like the ones suggested here . You should make sure your Disaster Plan (you have one, right?) has a plan for if a breach occurs. And lastly you should have your attorney update your terms and conditions to hold you harmless in the event of a stolen data incident (although that still can’t stop anyone from suing you, you losing that suit or at the very least suffering the same lack of credibility and reputation issues). It’s a brand new year.  And with it will come even more hacks of private information.  We’ll hear about the big ones from the big companies.  However, the thousands of small companies who will be hacked this year will not make the national headlines.  And unfortunately they will suffer the most.  Let’s hope that you and I are not one of them.

Nope, We’re Still Not Doing Backups Right!

My favorite news of the week is from AVG, with a new survey revealed that the typical small business owner spends more time cleaning his desk than backing up his data .   Oh, and he also spends more time ordering business cards too. “Our research shows that while the great majority of small businesses in North America are relatively savvy about the importance of backup, there is still plenty of market education to do, especially when it comes to mobile and cloud platforms,” said Mike Foreman, AVG’s General Manager, SMB. “In today’s mobile and data-driven world it’s particularly shocking to hear how business owners still spend more time on physical-world activities like tidying their desks and ordering new business cards than digital ones, which suggests that, despite evidence cybercriminals see value in small business data, business owners themselves are still failing to appreciate the true value of the data held within their systems.” I believe this 100%.  My desk is pretty clean. I always have business cards available.  But my backups?  Gee, your guess is as good as mine! I’m going to take this research one step further.  I’m going to bet that even those good, diligent business owners who are spending the appropriate amount of time on their backups aren’t even doing them correctly.  I think I’m one of them.  In fact, I know that most of my clients, as well as I, are just not doing backups correctly.  Yet we know we should be.  We know we’re at fault.  But we still keep making the same mistakes. Why is this? For starters, we don’t check our backups as often as we should.  The applications are running.  The online services are working.  Theoretically.  So what, we should check that the backups are actually happening?  Do you even check? Most of my clients don’t.  I don’t.   And yet we know that technology doesn’t work all the time.  We know that we can’t rely on technology to work when we want it.  So why aren’t we checking that our backups actually backed up?  Do you get alerts if a backup failed?  Do you ever look at your backup application logs to make sure everything worked the way it should? When was the last time you actually restored your backed-up database just to make sure?  This should be done at least every week.  It only takes a few minutes. We are storing your backups locally.  Just because you’re backing up your system to a tape or external drive doesn’t mean you’re entirely safe.  And just because you then store those materials in a ‘fire proof’ cabinet or container doesn’t mean you’re safe either.  If there was a fire in your office things will get pretty…well…hot.  Tapes melt.   Hard drives get damaged.  You can’t keep your backups in your office.  We need to keep multiple copies of them around – in our offices, at our homes, with an online service.  Otherwise we’re leaving ourselves seriously exposed. We’re not backing up our cloud based data.  So many of us are using cloud based applications to run our companies. And we blithely trust our providers when they say they are backing up our data.  But are they?  And even if they are, what happens if they disappear? Or you have a billing dispute? Or you decide to switch providers?  Where’s your data then?  You need to get copies of your backed up data from your cloud service provider.  You need to have physical ownership of these materials.  It’s great that they’re backing up your systems.  But it’s still not enough. We’re backing up the wrong stuff.  Sometimes you think you’re backing up your data, but you’re really not.  You’re backing up database files. So what happens if you need to restore that data?  Where do you restore it to?  If you don’t have the application for the data then the data is just setting there in a database that can’t be used.  Make sure you also have backups of your application installation files too.  That way if things ever go down you can reinstall the application and THEN restore the data to it. Our employees are not backing all their stuff up.  This is the most common thing I see.  And that’s because everyone’s doing stuff from everywhere – tablets, phones, PCs, etc. etc.  Some people save their stuff locally.  Others do remember to save it to our servers.  But you probably aren’t accounting for this very well.  And meanwhile you’ve got confidential materials everywhere and you’re not sure what’s the most recent version and who has what.  You need to make sure that every device your employees are using have an automated backup system on it that’s saving their localized data somewhere that you can get to it. Yeah, you’re backing up your data.  But are you?  Am I?  No, no where near what we should.  Why not take a few minutes to answer these few simple questions to see how your data protection stacks up? Maybe we should all spend a little less time tidying up our desks and a little more time making sure our company information is safe and secure.  I know I will.

Running DHCP Server on Windows Server 2012 Essentials

[This post comes to us courtesy of Rituraj Choudhary from Microsoft Commercial Technical Support] Windows Server 2012 Essentials is enabled to run on a network with the DHCP Server service running on the router. This blog post describes the method to configure DHCP Role on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials, if you prefer so. The first step in this process is to assign a Static IP to the server. On a Command Prompt , type ipconfig , and make a note of the IPv4 address, Subnet Mask and Default Gateway. Open the Network Card properties. Click Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) , and then click Properties. To assign a Static IP, click to Use the following IP address , and enter the same details that were noted down earlier for the IP Address, Subnet mask and the Default Gateway. At this point, stop and disable the DHCP Server service running at the existing computer or device . Please note that during the process of migration the network clients will not be able to obtain IP address; if you have business critical servers on the domain, assign them a Static IP. Let’s now install the DHCP Server role on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials. On the Start screen, type Server Manager , and open it from the results displayed. On the Server Manager window, click Manage on the Title bar, and then click Add Roles and Features . It will open the Add Roles and Features Wizard . On the Before you begin page, click Next . On the Select installation type page, choose Role-based or feature-based installation , and then click Next . On the Select destination server page, verify that the Windows Server 2012 Essentials is chosen, and then click Next . On the Select Server Roles , click to select DHCP Server . After this option is selected, you may see a pop up to add additional features. Click Add Features on this popup window. It will redirect back to the Select Server Roles page. Click Next . On the Select features page, do not select anything and click Next . On the Confirm installation selections , click Install . Do NOT select the option Restart the destination server automatically if required . On the Installation progress page, or click Close . Once the installation is complete, the same is notified under the Notification icon on the menu bar of the Server Manager window. If the installation went fine, you will get a successful message as: To complete the DHCP deployment, click on Complete DHCP configuration on the Post-deployment Configuration under the Notification icon. The DHCP Post-Install configuration wizard is quite straight forward. On the Description page, click Next . On the Authorization page, verify that Use the following user’s credentials is selected and the Administrator user name is put there. On the Summary page, check the status of the post install configuration and then click Close . Here is the final status that you should see on the Server Manager . It is now time to configure the DHCP Server. On the Start screen, type DHCP , and click to open DHCP console. On the DHCP console, expand the Server name, and then right-click IPv4 . Click New Scope… It will open New Scope Wizard . Follow this wizard to name the Scope conventionally, e.g. Scope [] fabrikam.local . Add the IP Address Range for the client computers, e.g. to . Add the Default Gateway (IP of the router), DNS Server (IP of the Server itself), and activate the scope. Your server is now ready to lease out new DHCP addresses to the network clients. More Information: There is a service named as Windows Server LAN Configuration that gets installed on a computer when it joins Windows Server 2012 Essentials. The purpose of this service is to detect the presence of the Windows Server 2012 Essentials, which by default, has a DHCP Server assigned IP. To explain, let’s say you have a laptop which is joined to a Windows Server 2012 Essentials domain. When this laptop is taken to a different network, it gets a new IP assigned by the new network’s DHCP Server to connect to this network and the internet. When the laptop comes back into its home domain, it again gets a new IP from the DHCP Server (Router) on the Windows Server 2012 Essentials domain. The Windows Server LAN Configuration service now comes to play; it detects the presence of Windows Server 2012 Essentials on the domain, obtains the IP of the server, and overwrites the DHCP Server assigned DNS Server address for the client, which helps this laptop resolve Active Directory. After rehoming the DHCP Server at the Windows Server 2012 Essentials, it would have a Static IP. This DHCP Server IPv4 Scope Options would also carry the DNS Server information (which is the Static IP of the Windows Server 2012 Essentials). At this point, the services of Windows Server LAN Configuration is not required, and may be turned off. Leaving it turned on does not harm either.

Windows Server Essentials Integration Module for Windows Azure Backup is Now Available

[Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Yang Cao and Ashish Sukhija] Hello everyone, we would like to update you on an Add-In software that is now available for Windows Server 2012 Essentials. We have updated the Windows Server Essentials integration module for Windows Azure Backup and is now available for download from the link below: More Information A reboot might be needed if you don’t have the Visual C++ redistributable installed because it requires the server to reboot. After reboot, please launch the add-in installer again. If you already have an old version of the Add-in software installed, then you need to: Uninstall the old Add-in from the Dashboard; Uninstall the Windows Azure Backup agent from the Control panel; Reinstall the new Add-in NOTE: During step #3, we’ll automatically reinstall the new Windows Azure Backup agent. Known Issue If you update the Windows Azure Backup agent before uninstalling the previous Windows Server Essentials Integration module for Windows Azure Backup, the Dashboard will crash. This is because of the compatibility issue between the old add-in and the new Windows Azure Backup agent. To fix this issue, follow the steps below: Open the Dashboard in safe mode. Disable the online backup add-in. Go to Dashboard to uninstall the add-in. Reinstall the new add-in. Visit the Windows Azure Backup Forum

Enterprise Hotfix Rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Available Now

An enterprise hotfix rollup for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 has been released which contains 90 hotfixes released after the release of Service Pack 1. These hotfixes improve the overall performance and system reliability of Windows 7 SP1-based and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1-based computers. We recommend customers to apply this hotfix rollup as part of their regular maintenance routine and build processes for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 computers. This hotfix rollup includes the following improvements: Improves the Windows Client Remote File System components. Improves the SMB Service and TCP protocol components. Improves the processing of Group Policies and Group Policy preferences. Improves the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) components to reduce the CPU usage and to improve the repository verification performance. To view the list of hotfixes included in this hotfix rollup, please visit . How to get the Hotfix Rollup This update is available from the Microsoft Update Catalog . Type 2775511 in the search field that is located in the upper-right corner of the catalog webpage.

My Server Windows App for Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Hi, my name is Clinton Ho, lead program manager on the Windows Server Essentials team. I’m proud to announce the availability of the My Server Windows app , available as a free download in the Windows Store. Similar to the My Server Windows Phone app, My Server Windows app is designed to help keep you seamlessly connected to your server resources on devices running Windows 8 and Windows RT. With My Server , you can manage users, devices, and alerts, and access shared files on Windows Server 2012 Essentials.  In addition, the files that you have recently accessed with My Server will continue to be available to you even when you are offline. Sound cool? Then head on over to the Windows Store, search for My Server , and install the app! Don’t forget to let us know what you think by rating it or writing a review. Here are some more things you can do with the My Server app: Browse, edit and search for files stored on your server Copy files from your local computer to the server, or save files from the server to your computer Access files from your server that were opened recently—even without an Internet connection; the changes made offline will automatically be synchronized to the server when you are back online Transparently search for documents located on both your local device and your server’s shared folders Play back media files stored on the server If you are an administrator, you can also: Manage users, devices, and alerts Reset user passwords  

Windows Server Solutions BPA Updated January 2013

Update Rollup 4 for Windows Server Solutions BPA ( KB2796170 ) is now available via Microsoft Update. New Rules Added DefWebSiteExtended – This rule checks whether the default website is extended correctly. RemoteVDirAuthentication – This rule checks whether Anonymous Authentication is disabled. SelfUpdateVDirSSL – This rule checks whether the SSL protocol is enabled or Anonymous Authentication is disabled in the SelfUpdate virtual directory. How to get BPA Update Rollup SBS 2011 Standard: By default, Microsoft Update points to the WSUS service in SBS 2011 standard. This update will show up in Admin Console’s Update tab to allow you to apply this update. Then this update will be shown available in Microsoft Update to be installed. You can also get this update by including Microsoft Update. In SBS 2011 Standard , launch Windows Update and select the option to Check online for updates from Windows Update . Then click the option for “Get updates for other Microsoft products” and complete the process to opt-in for Microsoft Updates. SBS 2011 Essentials, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials and Windows Multipoint Server 2011: Please go to Windows Update and find out more about free software from Microsoft Update, and click “ Click here for details ”. And follow the steps to get patches from Microsoft Update. If you already include the Microsoft Update, you can ignore this step. Go to Windows update and click “ Check for updates ” to get the updates. To find out more about the issues it fixes, please visit

Web Services and Extensibility for Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Hi, I’m Mike Chen, program manager for the Windows Server Essentials team, and today I would like to share with you the extensibility story for Windows Server 2012 Essentials. I’ll start with an overview of the extensibility points across Dashboard, Launchpad, Remote Web Access, and Health Monitoring. As you know, Windows Server 2012 Essentials is a hybrid solution that connects your on-premises environment to the cloud service. We will use cloud service integration scenarios when we talk about the extensibility points; these extensibility points can also be used by non-service-integration add-ins. Let’s take a look at the Windows Azure Online Backup add-in (for more information, see the blog post Windows Azure Online Backup and Windows Server 2012 Essentials ). In the preceding screenshot, add-ins can be used in the Dashboard in four places: Top-level tab . Usually, as a standalone feature, most add-ins will have a separate tab. We recommend that you use all capital letters for the names of your tabs to be consistent with other built-in tabs. A top-level tab will own its standalone content space in the content area. Sub-tabs . To logically separate your features, you can have multiple sub-tabs under your top-level tab. If you own a separate top-level tab, you will naturally group sub-tabs together. If your add-in doesn’t create a top-level tab (for example, your add-in provides additional manageability for storage), you can add a sub-tab to the tab in question instead. Main panel . Different add-ins typically have different requests. While you can build your main panel from a blank panel, you can also leverage the list view in the SDK if you’re managing a list of objects, such as users or folders. Task panel . When you manage a list of items or a service, you usually need per item tasks and global tasks. When you leverage the list view, the Dashboard allows you to register per item tasks where you can perform tasks on a single item, such as removing a folder. It also allows you to perform global tasks, which apply to the entire add-in functions, such as registering your service. In addition to these four options, the Dashboard also allows you to extend the built-in list view, wizards, and property pages by adding your own logic to the existing experience. An existing implementation of this is the built-in email solutions (including Office 365 and on-premises Exchange) that extend the list view, add a user wizard and user property pages that leverage the framework. We’re going to discuss this in depth in the upcoming blog for Hosted Email Add-in Framework. Client-side integration is also interesting when you write an add-in to integrate with online services. Launchpad . Most of the service integration, such as Office 365 Integration, provides value to end users where they need to have shortcuts to the new functionality they get from add-ins. In this case, you can extend the Launchpad by adding an additional shortcut. Remote Web Access . Remote Web Access allows you to provide links on the Homepage, as well as provide your own page. Health Integration . If the online service has dependencies on the client, such as agents running on the client or settings on the client, you can implement health monitoring rules on the client so that the monitoring results can be rolled up to the admin view. (Note that health integration is able to monitor the server as well.) Web service platform Anywhere Access is important for home and business environments today. To keep users more productive, they need to access files and folders anytime from their devices. In order to support this, Windows Server 2012 Essentials exposes a set of built-in web services for third-party developers to build applications on different devices that can access files and manage the server remotely. The built-in web services include file access, file operations, media access, and management tasks (including alerts, users, storage, devices). For a complete list of web services, see our MSDN page . The following sample code demonstrates how to call the web services to access a folder from Windows 8 by using HTML and JavaScript. In HTML, we create a list view on your page to display the data. You will need to define the template of the item that defines how it’s going to be displayed. In JavaScript, we use an HTTP request with your credential to get the information about items in the Company folder. var url = “https://[serverName]/services/builtin/fileoperationservice.svc/items/index/0/count/10?path=\\[machineName]\Company&filter=All&sortByField=Name&ascending=True” ; WinJS.xhr({     url: encodeURI(url),     user: “[userName]” ,     password: “[password]” ,     headers: {         “AppName” : “[appName]” ,         “Accept” : “application/json”     } }).done( function (response) {     var obtainedData = window.JSON.parse(response.responseText);     var fileList = new WinJS.Binding.List(obtainedData.Items);     WinJS.UI.setOptions(fileListView.winControl, { itemDataSource: fileList.dataSource });     WinJS.UI.processAll(); }); To learn more about the Windows Sever 2012 Essentials SDK, you can visit our MSDN site and download the SDK . We’re looking forward to your feedback in our forum .