Tech Talk

MUST READ: POPULAR PC MAINTENANCE SOFTWARE CCLEANER COMPROMISED BY HACKERS

Users of a free software tool designed to optimize system performance on Windows PCs and Android mobile devices got a nasty shock this morning when Piriform, the company which makes the CCleaner tool, revealed in a blog post that certain versions of the software had been compromised by hackers — and that malicious, data-harvesting software had piggybacked on its installer program.

The affected versions of the software are CCleaner 5.33.6162 and CCleaner Cloud 1.07.3191.

The company is urging users to upgrade to version 5.34 or higher (which it says is available for download here).

An estimated 2.27 million users have been affected.

Read more on Cisco’s Blog here.

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Hurricane Irma: Disaster Preparedness Advisory

We are keeping a close eye on Hurricane Irma. Uncertainty over where this category 5 storm is headed was intensified this morning by computer runs that shifted the track east — potentially toward the Bahamas, the Southeast coast and potentially South Carolina.

Now is the time to take responsibility to enable your business to continue to operate through whatever storm it is forced to weather.  Our mission is to support you to ensure that your organization can to continue to deliver your products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident, and ensure optimized, speedy recovery and restoration of your data and applications.

To prepare your business, the following critical activities need to take place as part of a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan:

  • Review and validate your disaster recovery plan  
  • Review and validate your business continuity plan
  • Verify backups are running and test restores
  • Verify your team is prepared for work stoppage  and resumption tasks
  • Validate your IT infrastructure is sound, up-to-date and stable

We will continue to monitor this storm very closely, and are here to help you prepare. Let us know how we can assist by giving us a call at 843.352.0130, or shoot us an e-mail.

All too often, we find that companies overrate their level of readiness. When an emergency or disruption hits – chaos and confusion ensue, rather than quick response and recovery.  Resolve to be resilient by carving some time out ahead of the storm to focus on your preparedness efforts.

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Tech Quick Tips: 4 Ways to Increase Your Laptop Battery Life and Charge

1. Keep the Vents Clear

Never ever sit your laptop on a couch cushion, or on a mattress, or anything soft that hinders airflow through the little slot on the bottom and sides of your machine. Those vents can suck up dust and debris, clogging up the fans and causing your laptop to work harder. And, the harder the machine works, the more battery power it is going to require. If you hear a loud buzzing (like a fan spinning really fast), or your laptop base is so hot you could cook an egg on it, chances are you should consider moving to a tabletop or hard surface to work on.

2. Keep the Screen Brightness Down

When you do not need the screen brightness cranked up, turn it down. The screen is the number one battery drain on any mobile device, including your laptop. Adjusting this setting through the Power Options will prove beneficial, I promise. If you are using Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10, type “Power” in the search field by the power menu. Click on “Power Options,” and notice the slide bar at the bottom of that window, aptly named “Screen Brightness.” You can adjust accordingly from here. Make sure to keep the backlight to a minimum.

3. Hibernate and Sleep

While you are in the Power Setting menu, you can tweak your Power Plan to help optimize battery life. Two settings to note are the “Choose when to turn off the display” and “Change when the computer sleeps” commands. These are listed on the left-hand side of the window and can also be accessed by clicking the “Change Plan Settings” link in the middle of the same window. In this menu, you have the ability to tell your computer what to do when it is plugged in, and when it is not plugged in. When you are just running on battery power and are not hooked up to any outlets, adjust the display to turn off or dim after a short period of time. Essentially, you want your laptop to hibernate and sleep sooner when it’s inactive and not being charged.

4. Unplug When Charged

When the battery is full and the laptop is not in use, unplug it from the charger. Generally speaking, and according to Battery University, a battery will give you 300 to 500 full discharge cycles or charges. Keeping it plugged in can significantly decrease the amount of charges that this battery can take. Keeping that juice flowing when the laptop battery is full can be damaging to some batteries. Battery University even recommends operating your laptop between forty and eighty percent battery life to get the most life out of the battery.

Download the PDF here.

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Bluetowne Offers Free IT Infrastructure Assessments


Bluetowne offers free IT Infrastructure Assessments to help local businesses prepare for what is predicted to be an overly active hurricane season.

MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – August 15, 2017 – Bluetowne, a leading provider of innovative information technology solutions and infrastructure managed services, today announced it is offering free on-site IT Infrastructure Assessments to help local businesses prepare for what is predicted to be an overly active hurricane season. An IT Infrastructure Assessment is a no obligation way to gain insight into the true status of your IT systems and processes, uncover any potential threats, and point the way to appropriate corrective actions you can make to secure your business effectively and efficiently. Bluetowne will deliver a comprehensive report detailing recommendations to remediate any problems, so you can be confident your business is operating at optimal performance and would survive a hurricane or other natural or man-made disaster.

“All too often, we find that companies overrate their level of readiness. When an emergency or disruption hits – chaos and confusion ensue, rather than quick response and recovery. Our mission is to support organizations to ensure that they can continue to deliver their products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident, and ensure optimized, speedy recovery and restoration of data and applications.  The alternative—excessive downtime and lost data—can be completely devastating for a company’s bottom line and reputation.  We care about the businesses in our community, and as we enter the peak weeks of hurricane season we want to offer our services to help them be proactive about focusing on their preparedness efforts,” said Eric Hartley, President, Bluetowne.

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What is the Financial Impact of a Ransomware Attack?

The reason for ransomware’s popularity boils down to one thing: economics. Without the proper defenses, cybercriminals can extort hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars from SMBs by encrypting valuable data and demanding a ransom be paid to restore the data. Below, see the rise in the average ransom amount by year (in US dollars).

Let Bluetowne help you ensure your company’s data is protected with the highest level of security as part of your overall IT strategy. Reach out at info@bluetowne.com or 843.352.0130.

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Silicon Harbor has become a tech landing spot for some weary city dwellers

CHARLESTON, S.C. — It may be 2,740 miles away, as the crow flies, but Charleston seems like a million miles away from the hustle, bustle and stress of Silicon Valley.

An idyllic beachfront on the Carolina coast, drawing 7 million tourists annually. Horse-drawn carriages and pastel antebellum houses with roots to the American Revolution. Fort Sumter in the distance, a reminder of where the first shots were fired in the Civil War.

And yet the economic formula is decidedly 21st Century after decades of relying extensively on the military, automotive and textile industries. The focus today is on high-wage jobs in an affordable, lifestyle-friendly setting.

Welcome to Silicon Harbor: Home to more than 250 tech companies employing 11,000. This port city has quietly become the No. 1 mid-sized U.S. metro area (500,000 to 1 million) for IT job growth, adding 4,000 jobs the past five years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Read more from USA Today.

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Tech Quick Tips: 3 Microsoft Office Hacks You Never Knew You Needed

With Microsoft Office You Can…

1. Edit PDFs

Your PDF files open by default in Adobe. But, what if you want to edit them? You cannot do that within Adobe Reader, and the Adobe software that does let you make changes to PDFs is not cheap. Microsoft Word to the rescue!

Launch Microsoft Word. Attempt to open a document like you normally would by selecting “File” and then “Open.” On the bottom right of the window that pops up, click the drop-down menu. Choose “PDF”, and then browse to the file that you wish to edit. Once you open it, you can make your edits. You may lose some of the formatting in the process, but it’s nothing that you cannot overcome.

2. Collaborate in Real Time

With Microsoft Office, you and a colleague can edit the same document or spreadsheet at the same time. This feature is actually built into Office 2013. No magic needed. It’s a little bit of a process, but will pay off once configured.

First, save your document, spreadsheet, or presentation – whatever it may be within the Microsoft Office suite – to OneDrive. Once the document is saved, select “File,” “Share” (on the left side of the screen), and then send out your invites.

If all goes accordingly, your colleague on the other end will now be able to review and edit your work in real time. You may need to adjust your Microsoft Office settings in order to do this, but you can always request help from Bluetowne, if you have any trouble.

3. Ignore Reply-All Email Annoyances

Have you ever been included on one of those spam email threads that have absolutely nothing to do with you, but someone (or multiple people) keep on hitting the reply-all button? Ignore these frequent annoyances with Outlook!

Select the chain of messages. Then, in the top of the Outlook window, to the left of the “Delete” button, you will see “Ignore.” By choosing this command, any future messages will now be sent straight to the Deleted Items folder, helping you cut down on inbox clutter.

If you use Microsoft Office at home and at work every day, these time-saver tips may be just what you need to kick productivity into high gear!

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How Managed IT Services Align with SMB Business Priorities

Despite the need to embrace technology and IT innovation, most SMBs lack the necessary vision, strategy and resources. However, partnering with a managed services provider like Bluetowne can help SMBs address these challenges to achieve strategic growth that aligns with their business’ priorities – including the top SMB business priorities that are depicted below.

With Bluetowne’s Managed IT Services you’ll be free from necessary, but time-consuming tasks. Tasks like monitoring and managing your IT infrastructure, performing server maintenance and updates, and remediating end-user issues. You’ll be free to focus the right people and resources on the right things. Your strategic initiatives will fall into place all while increasing efficiency and productivity.

Let us know how we can help!  843.352.0130 | info@bluetowne.com

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eBook: 10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business (Plus 1 Fast Way to Find Them)

Download our FREE eBook: 10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business (Plus 1 Fast Way to Find Them)

You may not be in the intelligence technology business, but it’s probably impossible to imagine your business without IT. Today, computing technology plays a vital role in the way you serve, work with, and communicate to your clients. Thanks to advances that have made technology more powerful yet less expensive, even
the smallest practice can enjoy capabilities – in everything from marketing and sales to delivery and fulfillment – that were once the sole domain of large enterprises.

But today’s big IT advantages come with major risks. Your networks and systems serve as your silent partner in operations. Should they fail – and when they do, it’s usually without warning – you’re exposed not just to an IT problem, but to a potentially large business problem.

This brief paper exposes 10 silent threats that might be quietly undermining your operations now – and proposes one quick, easy and FREE way to bring these threats under control, fast.

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Tech Quick Tips: Understanding the Cloud

1.What is the Cloud?
The cloud is virtual and therefore does not require any hardware of your own to deliver a service. Cloud technology can deliver that service to you, without having to install anything or have it on a server at your business. This is something that you can access remotely, or via the Internet through your web browser. Offsite, secure third party data centers manage all of your cloud data so that you can access it at your convenience.

2. You May Already be Using the Cloud
Are you using Gmail? Amazon Music? A Kindle? Dropbox? These are all cloud services that store the data you access. All you have to do is log in to their servers to get what you need. If you use an Apple iPhone or iPad, then you’re familiar with the iCloud service, the cloud technology that allows you to sync and upload your photos and contacts.

3.Why Use the Cloud?
The cloud is convenient for accessing and backing up data no matter where you go. With it, you can access servers anywhere, rather than just locally from your office. This allows you to perform your job duties at home and on the go! There is no need to carry around (and risk losing) USB drives with sensitive information on them. If you lose that USB drive, then your files are gone forever. If you back them up to the cloud or store them there, however, you can easily retrieve that data.

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