Category Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

What is that phone?

Trying to explain why I ‘Choose’ Windows Phone

I’ve been a Windows Phone user for a long time. I love the simple, 2 Screen organization of 1.) A dashboard with live tiles feeding summary information at a glance, and 2.) An alphabetical list of everything on the phone. I recently switched to Android, because it seems like Microsoft has given up on the mobile world, and cell providers no longer even offer viable Windows devices. The ONLY Windows 10 phone TMobile offered was an Alcatel that posted half the specs of my 2-year old HTC Windows 8.1 phone and a 2 megapixel camera!?!

After a month trying to acclimate to the Android Samsung J7, I have returned to Windows by purchasing an unlocked Lumia 950 with Windows 10 from an online reseller. So 99% of readers can stop right here and go on with your day.

For the 1% with the curiosity of “What’s on the other side?” Everyone asks me why Windows? It is very difficult to explain, as so much of it is perception and inherent expectations. After some thought, I’ve realized that for me, the primary driver was Cortana, and integration with my Email and Calendar. I’ve come to realize this functionality truly saves me from hiring a part time assistant. I had taken for granted how nicely Cortana reads me texts in the car, and allows me to respond entirely by voice. After wrapping up a call, I can voice command a new appointment or reminder that is added to my Outlook calendar on all devices I use. My attempts to use Hey Google in actual work environment failed miserably with utter frustration on my part, and anyone on the road around me.

In the Android world, I attempted to customize the experience to meet my expectations using Apps, and the Gallery of Gadgets to replicate the Live Tile function inherent of Windows, and found it to be just ridiculous. Each Gadget has it’s own look and functionality, so using multiple gadgets on the same screen looks like an axe murderer had a busy day. Sizing constraints left me running out of real-estate with just a few gadgets per screen, and it was just simply ugly.

After being accustomed to a Windows phone, here is a scenario that I consider a simple expectation from a phone, and due to everybody else’s love of their iPhone or Android, I assumed everyone had:

Fade to dream sequence………
I’m driving to a client, phone connected to my stereo via Bluetooth jamming to a Spotify playlist that I created from my desktop at home. Cortana lets me know what time I need to leave to get there on time with current traffic. Along the way, the Client calls to tell me they are running late and need to push back 30 minutes. Spotify obviously politely stops playing for the call. After the call, I say Hey Cortana, call John Doe (who is also expected at the meeting). I had just added him to my contact list on my Desktop Outlook right before I left the office. Cortana pulls him from my contacts, asks me Work or Mobile? I say Mobile, and she calls him up so I can let him know about the scheduling change. The I say Hey Cortana, move my 4pm appointment to 4:30, and my calendar is updated on all devices that I use. Then I say “Hey Cortana – text my Wife I’m running a little late.” A minute later Cortana says “You have a text from Jenni, would you like to read it?” I say “Yes” and Cortana reads, Now its pizza instead of steak – Would you like to reply?” I say yes, “Very Funny”. Then I say “Hey Cortana – remind me to pick up T-Bones when I get to Cub Foods.” Spotify resumes playing. After the meeting, I’m driving right by the grocery store, and a reminder pops up – “Pick up Steak”.

Back to live..
So this has been a typical day for me ever since Cortana released with 8.1 two years ago. I just assumed that Siri and Hey Google could handle that equally, and for a month, I tried piecing together Android apps and gadgets and wizwacks and whatever to achieve this “obvious” scenario. What a cluster! So I’ve returned to the Windows Phone hippy bus, drank the Kool-Aid, and look with amazement at all these Android & iPhone users who think their phone is “So Cool” because they can play Angry Birds. LOL.

CPA & Accounting Firms are facing new pressure to drive cash flow and profits

CPA & Accounting Firms are facing new pressure to drive cash flow and profits, enhance IT security, protect client data, and attract top talent. Even the largest firms have found these challenges overwhelming. Until now.

IVDesk has addressed all of your security, mobility and compliance concerns through development of a robust, vertically-focused IT solution called CPA Complete. Created specifically for today’s most progressive accounting firms, this completely virtualized program hosts, monitors, manages and delivers all of your business data and applications to transform IT from a tactical expense into a strategic business driver.

IVDesk has built a specific, specialized practice related to the accounting industry based on our expertise in installing and running the critical applications CPAs rely on every day. This practical experience and deep understanding of your needs make us one of the leading IT partners in the industry.

  • Save Cash, Grow Profits

    By virtualizing your IT, you move almost all of your IT to an efficient OpEx model, from dominantly CapEx. No more surprises on apps, security, server software or hardware purchases.

  • Complete Security

    Our maximum security offering provides 100% protection but allows you to ease restrictions to accommodate individual user permission, preferences and other parameters.

  • Complete Flexibility & Scalability

    Moving CapEx off the table and providing a pay-for-what-you-use solution helps you gain control of IT expenses. Now you can add new or seasonal users in just minutes for a simple monthly fee.

  • Complete Mobile Access

    The ability to work from anywhere, anytime on any digital device is a key enhancement to productivity and critical for client site activity. No more VPNs, constant access issues or expensive work stations. All your current data and apps are right there with the same familiar look as your desktop.

“IVDesk has not only improved our
firm’s productivity, but reduced our
overall IT-related costs significantly.
I hardly even think about IT anymore.”
– Jan Bjork,
Partner
Pieper, Whitaker & Bjork

All Your Current Applications – Available Anywhere
Our complete, virtualized approach to IT already includes over 800+ popular business applications and also accommodates your custom solutions. Don’t see one of your apps in the list below? Ask us.

Common Accounting Applications
1099-Etc
Accounting CS
ATX Tax Prep
BNA Fixed Assets
BNA Income Tax Planner
CCH ProSystem fx Tax
CCH ProSystem fx Engagement
CCH ProSystem fx Document
CCH ProSystem fx Practice Management
CCH ProSystem fx Tax Scan
CCH ProSystem fx Client Data Conversions
CCH ProSystem fx Planning
CCH ProSystem fx Fixed Assets
Creative Solutions Accounting
EFTPS BP Application
EstateVal
File Cabinet CS
Fixed Assets CS
Judy’s TenKey
Lacerte
Laserfiche
Planner CS
ProStaff
QuickBooks Enterprise
QuickBooks Premier
QuickBooks Pro
Sage 50
Sage 100
SpeedLink
TSScan
Tax Interest
Thomson Reuters PPC (Full Suite)
ToolBox CS
TimeTrak
TValue
Ultra Tax
W-2/1099 Filer

Accounting Suite Expertise
IVDesk’s longstanding focus on serving the accounting industry has earned us a position as a premier implementer of the CCH ProSystem FX Suite and its associated applications. Since our inception more than a decade ago, IVDesk has successfully implemented, updated and supported these applications for a variety of financial firms. Furthermore, IVDesk has also recently emerged as a key implementer of the Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite.
These core competencies, combined with uncompromising customer service, help IVDesk maintain its leadership in the Accounting Private Cloud environment to dramatically reduce costs and increase productivity while providing a far more secure environment.

Windows 10 Has Arrived – and man IT IS COOL!!!

Initial Testing of Windows 10 has been VERY POSITIVE!!  The upgrade process is smooth, automated, and fast.  So far we have experienced NO compatibility issues.  3rd party controller apps have worked without issue and all setting have transferred.  The new Edge browser is EXTREMELY FAST.  Cortana functionality is similar to Windows Phone, however I’m not completely sure how useful she will be on a non-mobile device.  I use Cortana for everything mobile (ie “Text my daughter”, “Open Pandora”, “Call my wife”, “Remind me to get milk when I get to Target”), however I haven’t quite figured out how useful she will be on a desktop environment.
The new interface can be summed up in one word “Perfection”.  All functionality for local and internet computing is clearly organized and accessible from the Desktop view.  The Start button has returned, but is now dynamic and learns from your activity.  Similar to Windows 8, realtime information flows into the tiles and keeps you informed without actually opening an app, however the mindshift of Start Screen vs. Desktop is now integrated with the On-Demand Start button that Windows 95 – Windows 7 utilized.
Microsoft has very nearly perfected a universal platform between mobile & fixed computing, but are they missing the boat with ‘wearable’ technology?  This concept still appalls me personally,  Business continues to focus on productivity and reliability.  Doing more with less effort.  I’m looking forward to moving new and existing clients to the Windows 10 platform with confidence, and don’t expect to be purchasing many iWatch’s in the next 12-18 months.
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KDS Systems, Inc. // Office: 320.281.7033 // www.kdssys.com

3 Little Known Risks Associated with Leading Cloud Services

Introduction

In the last few years, an increasing amount of corporate information has moved to the cloud. Office 365 and Google Apps moved productivity online; Salesforce paved the way for an entirely cloud- based CRM solution; and Box created a compelling cloud-based file sync and share solution. Rightfully so: cloud services and SaaS applications have unlocked numerous benefits including affordability, collaboration, accessibility, and mobility. Unfortunately, these inroads have not reduced the potential for data loss.

Misconceptions abound about cloud data; the most prevalent myth is that there is no risk of data loss in the cloud. This belief has led many small- and medium-sized business to eschew standard business continuity practices, such as regular backup and auditing of data, when it comes to the cloud. Unfortunately, the statistics are sobering: a study commissioned by Symantec and published in 2013 reports that more than 40% of companies have lost data in the cloud.1

This white paper aims to address several aspects of the cloud that businesses overlook. It highlights the issues of accidental and malicious data deletion, subpar data retention policies applied by leading SaaS providers, and common mishaps with data migration, export, and integration. This white paper also discusses why it is imperative that businesses employ a cloud-to-cloud backup, search, and restore solution that will minimize the risk and cost of data loss.

 

Risk #1: Accidental or malicious data deletion

 

The primary threat to cloud data is user error. Accidental or malicious deletion poses a constant threat to corporate data, and the open and collaborative nature of cloud applications increases this risk. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group revealed that user error was the number one source of cloud data loss, accounting for 64% of data loss events.2

Data, including records, emails, contacts, and documents are all susceptible to user error or accidental deletion. As an example, an employee may delete an old electronic receipt she believes she no longer has a need for, only to discover that the accounting department needed access to her copy. On a daily basis, system administrators are burdened by these types of data recovery procedures.

Malicious or deliberate data deletion is also all too common. There are several instances of ex-employees or disgruntled employees with proper credentials logging into their cloud account and deleting critical emails, documents, customer data, and more. If the cloud service being used does not have adequate retention policies in place, a timed, automatic deletion could result in permanent deletion of the data.

When data is stored in a cloud application with an inadequate or non-existent backup strategy, accidental or malicious deletion is a time-consuming and costly experience.

 

Risk #2: Subpar data retention policies

Organizations using cloud services wrongly assume that once their data is stored in the cloud, it is always accessible at a moment’s notice. In reality, most major cloud services only retain data for a limited amount of time; this often only becomes apparent when a system administrator tries to retrieve deleted information only to discover that it has been automatically purged.

It is important to note that data retention does not just come into play when files are accidentally or purposefully deleted. When an employee leaves an organization, his or her user accounts are usually closed, taking the corresponding data with them. Besides the inconvenience of lost data, there can be serious legal and financial implications if data is not retained for a lengthy enough period of time. Here is a look at the retention policies of four major cloud services:

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 has been a major hit in the business world, but its retention policy deserves a second look. SharePoint Online retains deleted data for a maximum of 216 days, after which it is purged and unrecoverable. For Exchange Online, once a user deletes an item from his or her Deleted Items folder, the item is retained in a secondary folder accessible to admins for only 30 days unless Exchange Online Archiving is added on for an additional cost (included with Enterprise E3 plans). With OneDrive for Business, deleted items are retained for a maximum of 186 days, after which they are purged and unrecoverable. More concerning is the lax retention surrounding deleted user profiles: OneDrive only retains data for 14 days once an admin deletes a user profile. Since Office 365 drives so much productivity within organizations, losing any data from this service could result in significant downtime and costs.

Google Apps       

Much like Office 365, Google Apps is the hub of emails, calendars, contacts, and other important documents for businesses that have fully embraced the cloud. Unfortunately, Google Apps’ retention policy is rather onerous. With Gmail, deleted emails stay in the Trash for only 30 days before they are purged. Google offers an archiving solution, called Vault, for an additional $5/user/month. However, Google Vault does not protect items that have been deleted from Google Drive’s Trash; these files are purged and unrecoverable once deleted from the Trash. From a data security standpoint, Google Apps is not much better than an ordinary computer that doesn’t have a backup system in place. Especially since storing and backing up most Google Apps data locally is not an option, losing data from Google Apps could result in permanent loss.

Box

Box, used by many businesses as a cloud file sync service, features configurable retention for its Business and Enterprise plans. Additionally, Box’s Retention Management feature, released in 2015 and available only for Enterprise plans, allows administrators to set “formal retention periods to protect selected files from deletion for a number of days, months, or even years.” Box does note that “at the expiration of a retention period, [Retention Management] ensures proper disposition.”5 This means that administrators who improperly set retention policies for critical data could see that data deleted permanently sooner than expected.

Salesforce

Salesforce helps over one hundred thousand organizations keep track of their contacts, opportunities, and other CRM data in the cloud. For such a comprehensive solution, Salesforce’s minimal retention policy is alarming. Once a user deletes an item (such as a record), it goes into Salesforce’s Recycle Bin. Unfortunately, just 15 days after an item enters the Recycle Bin, Salesforce purges the item. Though Salesforce offers the option to recover purged data, this process — called Data Recovery — is limited, expensive, and time-consuming. Salesforce says it “can go back no more than 90 days for production and 30 days for Sandbox from the date of deletion” and charges $10,000 at minimum for the service.6 Moreover, Data Recovery takes about 4 business weeks. Companies whose Salesforce data goes missing can suffer immensely if their sales and marketing teams are unable to access any customer information when they need it the most.

 

Risk #3: Data migration, export, and integration mishaps

Every cloud platform is vulnerable to mishaps when it comes to data migration, export, and integration. Whether it is customer records in Salesforce, information in a shared document, or contact lists, it is easy for anyone to overwrite previously existing data, either purposefully or inadvertently.

Issues related to third party software and account migration can result in cloud data loss. Moving to a new email client, for example, could result in a user’s inbox being lost, especially if multiple email accounts are being configured at once. A record management application, such as Salesforce Data Loader, could import duplicate contact information from multiple services and overwrite information at the source when syncing new data. An outgoing employee may delete her calendars without realizing her incoming replacement needs that data. Regardless of the case, undoing the damage caused by data overwrites or data loss requires a separate backup repository linked to individual recovery points.

 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that using cloud services presents companies with numerous advantages. Data, including files, emails, contacts, and documents, can be shared and accessed by multiple people across multiple devices, and businesses can save money and enjoy greater collaboration by moving productivity to the cloud.

Unfortunately, the risks of inadequate data retention policies, data deletion, and data corruption need to be carefully considered by administrators looking to utilize the cloud. Administrators eager to transition to cloud services need to consider the risks of inadequate data retention policies, data deletion, and data corruption. The sources of data loss and the limited retention policies of cloud applications make it imperative for businesses to implement a robust backup, search, and restore solution when transitioning business applications to the cloud.

Though little can be done to prevent files from being accidentally or maliciously deleted, eFolder Cloudfinder backs up the critical data stored in Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce, and Box to ensure these deleted files can always be found and recovered. Commonly used cloud services often lack customizable retention policies in line with corporate requirements, but Cloudfinder provides an encrypted, tamper-proof SafeHaven™ with unlimited retention for all cloud data. Finally, Cloudfinder ensures that mishaps with migrations, exports, and integrations do not cause important data to be overwritten.

Cloudfinder adds value to leading SaaS applications, empowering businesses to work in the cloud without worrying about their data being permanently deleted. Learn more at www.cloudfinder.com.

1 Symantec. “Avoiding the Hidden Costs of the Cloud.” Mountain View, 2013

2 Aberdeen Group. “Who are the Heavy Users of SaaS Applications?” Boston, 2013

3 Microsoft. “Configure Deleted Item retention and Recoverable Items quotas” https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee364752%28v=exchg.150%29.aspx

4 Google. “How retention works” https://support.google.com/vault/answer/2990828?hl=en&ref_topic=3209998

5 Wacker, Rand. “The Products That Power Box for Financial Services.” Web log post. Box Blog. Box, 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

6 Salesforce.com. “Data Recovery Service and Cost” https://help.salesforce.com/apex/HTViewSolution?id=000003594

Will your company have a CDO by 2017?

CDO is becoming a vital role in many companies.  In 2012 Harvard Business Review named Chief Data Scientist as the ‘sexiest job of the 21st Century’, and Gartner has predicted that 25% of organizations will have a Chief Digital Officer by 2017.  Are these indications that business leaders of all shapes & sizes recognize that all things connect digitally?

A CDO provides vision and strategy for all data management activities and is responsible for digital quality control and managing digital vendor relationships across an organization. Metrics of this operation are reported on and provided to CEO/CFO/CIO to summarize clearly the health and benefit of digital systems that businesses depend on. CDO provides owners with the Big Picture.

The CDO is able to maximize quality of data and digital systems through continual root cause assessment as day to day issues arise. While employees encounter system crashes, errors and nuances directly; a CDO is able to identify patterns and commonalities across isolated incidents. This enables high level decisions and changes that PREVENT OR AVOID system and/or end-user errors that would have resulted in productivity loss and potentially bad data.

Standardization. The only way to manage the fast paced evolution of technology is though standardization of systems and policies in real-time. Staying in tune with a company’s vision, constraints, and culture is critical to leveraging technology as a tool rather than a hindrance. Lest we become buried in the bureaucracy of our digital systems.

Navigate and succeed in mastering unstructured data. Social media, email, transactional records, images, video, and media are very real aspects of any businesses digital day. But they don’t necessarily compute on a one-to-one basis very well. Understanding how to implement, manage, store, and report on very different technology models is crucial to a successful CDO and ultimately a company’s digital health.

Master of all things Digital. A CDO begins to shine as the technology they manage begins to benefit people in quantifiable ways. Decision makers who have quick access to accurate information, and weary employees who begin to experience mundane, time consuming tasks becoming automated become a CDO’s greatest advocators.

Data Protection – Multi-Function Printer a Security Threat?

Have you considered your printer a security threat, a potential bridge of information in and out of your organization? As IT trends towards access “outside the firewall” we need to closely consider all components that store and process information, even the seemingly mundane Multi-Function Printer.

Today’s MFP’s have hard drives that store information, memory, and processors. Many include features to enable remote users to communicate to and from the public internet via remote PC’s and mobile devices. Features like scan to email, and print from phone are great for productivity, but what vulnerabilities are exposed for malicious purposes?

It is very possible that every print job is stored in a persistent history log. Could any employee with physical access to the printer simply walk up and select re-print of the most recent payroll? What information would be gained by removing the hard drive?

Unfortunately, plugging in your new printer and “getting it to work” is only the first step. Most MFP’s offer surprisingly advanced data protection features that are overlooked, especially in small businesses where resources are limited and productivity gains overshadow security risks. Administration passwords should always be set and documented. Many MFP’s offer drive encryption, ability to secure the user, and even to secure the output tray. “Sanitization” can overwrite historical information and clear active cache’s on a regular basis. While scan to email may seem a simple and green method to send paper outside your office, other document management tools offer much more robust audit trail and accountability of the delivery and receipt of such information.

Most people know that they need to invest in physical security, network security, firewalls and data backup. Many businesses overlook the inherent risks from physical or remote access to productivity features of their most fundamentally basic technology equipment.

Contact KDS Systems today by phone at (320) 281-7033 or by email at virtualcdo@kdssys.com to learn how quickly and cost effectively your business can review, plan, and implement secure network infrastructure to protect your valuable business assets.

Managed Risk: For those who fear the cloud

Trusting Cloud Providers:  Trust your mother (but cut the cards)

Risk is a part of life, of business, and fundamental survival. Crossing the road, getting in a vehicle, and picking up the phone all require you to assess the rational, potential outcome, and likelihood for success behind the activity. And yet we carry on, learn, and strive to improve tomorrow. As business technology evolves, the principles underlying the foundation and operational aspects of data storage and the functionality of our tools is continually critiqued. Change is constant, truths of yesterday no longer apply, and risks we have not yet considered will undoubtedly be encountered. So what path do we choose to follow when considering overall approach to our business technology?

Security

Data breaches, extensive downtime, and lack of compliance mechanisms are issues that IT Pros fear. How can an outsourced cloud provider be trusted? These concerns must be addressed before they consider moving business critical systems to the cloud. Rather than hitting that head on, let’s circle our current state.

Internet Dependence

“If my Internet connection goes down, I can’t access my systems.” This is the common retort to avoiding cloud adoption. Let’s think through that scenario. Is that in any way the cloud provider’s issue? No. What is impacted if your office loses connection in a cloud based model? Your office. What is impacted if your office loses connection in an on-premise model? Everything. Customers, Vendors, Remote & Field staff (and your office still can’t access the Internet). The likelihood that your business will have a redundant Internet connection in the next 3 years is very high. Dependency on Internet for communication and transactional interaction will demand high-availability to internet resources in nearly every business regardless of level of cloud adoption.

Single Point of Failure

Redundantly redundant. Cloud providers stake their business on providing service in a highly competitive market. They are in the business of providing reliable systems to a broad customer base. The days of a hosting provider delivering services from a server in the lunchroom are long gone. Today’s providers deliver services from equipment, facilities, and connections far beyond what Widget Manufacturer A or Service Provider B can ever justify. Every aspect is controlled and monitored, from connection quality, power conditioning, cooling, physical access, and on and on. Consider the server you have nicely racked and locked in the back room closet. Raid5, redundant power supplies and all. Realistically considering the potential failures that could render it useless is staggering. Power outage, Fire, Water, Backplane, Internet Outage, Corrupted Raid Config, Ransomware, Smash-n-Crash burglar, IT Admins spilled Coke. Unfortunately enough time in this industry and you see many things, truth often stranger than fiction but nonetheless very real.

Staying Current

You invest, buy the biggest and the best, and… tomorrow it is obsolete. Just as scaling user counts is inherent, the burden of allocating resources is entirely upon the cloud provider. Managing the infrastructure and platform for your systems is no longer an issue. Never will the business controller be asking themselves “Why is it my problem that Microsoft is ending support for server version XX and the new server version YY isn’t compatible with my legacy software AA?” While infrastructure responsibility is eliminated, interoperability of systems will become the focus of technology development. Choosing systems that complement one another and provide solid interaction with other systems will become an opportunity for differentiation of businesses and professionals.

Full circle to Security

The simple fact is that businesses hesitating to embrace cloud technologies are very likely not accurately assessing risk to their current technology approach. The pitfalls and potential for failure for on-premise IT are many and great. In 1980 it was uncommon to wear a seatbelt, yet many survived and thrived. Today it is accepted that seatbelts are safe, pose less risk and provide greater likelihood of success to arriving safely when advancing from point A to point B. The real issue at hand is selection. Choosing providers who are reputable, with strong products. Acquisition of tech companies will continue to prevail, how does that impact the future of data and systems we rely on? Assessing and managing risk continues to be the differentiator for those who succeed, but the first step is moving onto the appropriate playing field.

Melding data between cloud delivered systems.

Melding data between cloud delivered systems.


Windows Phone 8.1 review and initial reaction

2 years ago many of you know I drank the Microsoft Kool-Aid and went to all Microsoft driven technology tools.  Windows 8 Desktop, Laptop, Surface RT Tablet, and Windows Phone.  I started using Skydrive (now OneDrive) to sync my personal data and Office 365 with Skydrive Pro for my business data.  The immediate benefits included a common interface amongst the devices.  Once you figure out how to do something on your laptop, chances are you can find it on your phone.  I loved the picture syncing, and abandoned carrying a digital camera around.  One disappointment was the camera on the Surface – it’s terrible.  But my HTC Windows phone has taken some great pictures – especially outdoors.

A little history of the ‘mobile-me’.  I had been a die-hard Blackberry user for years, from the green screen calculator through the failed attempts at combining sleek design with a full or partial keyboard.  I would regularly type up the equivalent of a 1-2 page draft or fully thought out email.  At one point, in search of better multi-media and apps I switched to Android for a year.  I never fully recovered from not having a full keyboard, though I did become fairly proficient with swipe.  After a fatal screen-shattering drop, I went back to Blackberry – electing the Torch touchscreen with a vertical slide out keyboard.  This device brought me through to electing the Windows phone, about the time that Windows 8 released.

So 8.1, my point of writing.  To get the pre-release, I had to join the developer club and void all warranty from T-Mobile.  My phone was 6 updates behind, so I spent an afternoon accepting updates and letting them run.  It went smoothly but was time consuming.  The finishing touches are great – in my mind polishing out most (if not all) of my laments for other platforms.

Camera:  Just as I went Windows, Blackberry released 10 with a great bursting feature on its camera.  Windows phone 8.1 now has burst mode!  As I mentioned, my phone is my on hand camera and this is great for getting just the right look – especially with kids, pets, and events.

Keyboard:  Still missing my full keyboard, Microsoft now has swipe.  A close runner up!  Maybe my responses will start to be more than “Got it – thanks”  (or maybe people appreciated short and to the point).

Background:  The solid-color theme choices were a little stale and limiting.  My background is now an amazing sunset picture that I took (with my phone) and the first impression of grabbing my phone is ultra-modern.  Love-it.

Cortana:  The idea of telling my phone what I want and getting an appropriate and accurate answer is still a little distant.  Like anything automatic, accuracy less than 99% and the manual approach is more effective.  Still the idea of giving Siri some competition is sexy and fun, and they’re bound to get this technology dialed in someday.  So far I have not heard her voice, though the articles claim she has one.  She has called the correct people for me, and run a couple of web searches.  I’ll give her more testing over the next week, but at the first mis-dial she’ll get demoted to the mailroom.

Settings from the homescreen.  Very Android-like but needed.  They pull down from top of screen with quick access to Wifi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode (??), and Rotation Lock.  ‘All-Settings’ are one more click out.

Those are the big ticket items that come to mind.  The upgrade went well and all my Apps continue to work, which was my biggest concern of going ‘Beta’.  Now if the last of my ‘short-sighted’ providers would release Windows apps, all would be perfect in Windows land (Hello SONOS!!!!)

 

7 Risks of Dropbox to Your Corporate Data

This insight is brought to you by KDS Systems and Anchor Cloud File Sync

Introduction

We live in a world where information equals power. With the influx of online file-sharing solutions, distributing information has become easier than ever. As a result, it’s now easier for information to fall into the wrong hands intentionally or unintentionally.
-Enterprise file sync-and-share, Terri McClure, Kristine Kao, TechTarget
Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and an increasingly mobile workforce are putting new pressures on IT and changing the requirements for how workers want (and need) to access corporate data.
With over 200 million users, Dropbox has become the predominant leader for mobile file access. Unfortunately, what works for family pictures does not work with corporate files. In most cases, Dropbox quick to install, easy-to-use, consumer services present unacceptable security, legal and business risk in a business environment.
Here are 7 Risks of Dropbox to Your Corporate Data.

01 – Data theft

Most of the problems with Dropbox emanate from a lack of oversight. Business owners are not privy to when an instance of Dropbox is installed, and are unable to control which employee devices can or cannot sync with a corporate PC. Use of Dropbox can open the door to company data being synced (without approval) across personal devices. These personal devices, which accompany employees on public transit, at coffee shops, and with friends, exponentially increase the chance of data being stolen or shared with the wrong parties.

02 – Data loss

Lacking visibility over the movement of files or file versions across end-points, Dropbox can improperly backup (or not backup at all) files that were modified on an employee’s device. If an end-point is compromised or lost, this lack of visibility can result in the inability to restore the most current version of a file or any version for that matter.

03 – Corrupted data

In a study by CERN, the European Organization of Nuclear Research, silent data corruption was observed in 1 out of every 1500 files. While many businesses trust their cloud solution providers to make sure that stored data maintains its integrity year after year, most consumer file sync services, including Dropbox, do not implement data integrity assurance systems to ensure that any bit-rot or corrupted data is replaced with a redundant copy of the original.

04 – Law suits

Dropbox gives carte blanche power to employees over the ability to permanently delete and share files. This can result in the permanent loss of critical business documents as well as the sharing of confidential information that can break privacy agreements in place with clients and third-parties.

Many compliance policies require that files be held for a specific duration and only be accessed by certain people; in these cases, it is imperative to employ strict control over how long files are kept and who can access them. Since Dropbox has loose (or non-existent) file retention and file access controls, businesses that use Dropbox are risking a compliance violation.

05 – Compliance violations

Many compliance policies require that files be held for a specific duration and only be accessed by certain people; in these cases, it is imperative to employ strict control over how long files are kept and who can access them. Since Dropbox has loose (or non-existent) file retention and file access controls, businesses that use Dropbox are risking a compliance violation.

06 – Loss of accountability

Without detailed reports and alerts over system-level activity, Dropbox can result in a loss of accountability over changes to user accounts, organizations, passwords, and other entities. If a malicious admin gains access to the system, hundreds of hours of configuration time can be undone if no alerting system is in place to notify other admins of these changes.

07 – Loss of file access

Dropbox does not track which users and machines touched a file and at which times. This can be a big problems if you’re trying to determine the events leading up to a file’s creation, modification, or deletion.

If you would like to LEARN MORE about file storage and mobile device syncing in a secure, compliant, and safe manner CONTACT KDS SYSTEMS for insight and pricing.

How to choose a mobile smartphone platform for your business

I’m pretty neutral on this, our smartphones have become such a critical part of our daily lives that they have to work for our individual needs. Like a favorite pair of jeans, each is unique and we create odd connections to them. Amongst the devices themselves there is much conjecture, and it’s really just a matter of personal preference. From a company standpoint, it makes sense to standardize and use a common platform. Like anything else it will work better for some than others and we just need to decide what will work best overall. As such, I wouldn’t set expectations of any device being more reliable than another as there isn’t data supporting that.

Having mobility apps that are compatible with the corporate mobile platform is key. What is the factory software that you’ve been looking at? We can research the apps and development roadmap. Properly selected and implemented core infrastructure will support all mobile platforms equally. ActiveSync works with iPhone, Android, and Windows for email, calendar & contacts. Windows has released a free Remote Desktop App that will connect to IVDesk for the full Windows desktop. Surprisingly, Microsoft has not released that App for their own Windows mobile platform, citing that the need and usability of a Windows desktop on a phone is not that great. There are 3rd party Remote Desktop apps for Windows mobile, and Microsoft does publish an App for RT – the Surface Tablet operating system that works very well with IVDesk’s remote gateway.

For the ‘enabled road warrior’ mentality, I’ve seen good results from the Galaxy Note 3. It’s huge, 5.7” and comes with a stylus. It has a steel frame construction with a leatherish back. http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/samsung-galaxy-note-3-1178226/review