It’s Summertime! 3 Ways to Get the Most From Your Tablet

It’s summertime, and the living’s easy… unless you’re a small business owner. The heat and great weather is the perfect excuse to take off for a while and use that vacation time you’ve been saving up. But if you’re still worried about leaving your business behind, the mobile technology of a tablet can help you keep in contact and still enjoy your vacation.

One of the best things about a tablet is the fact that it is designed for media consumption, and you can saturate your vacation with music, YouTube videos, and more. However, if you feel you need to bring a tablet with you on vacation, there are some things you should be aware of that will let you take advantage of its full potential.

Keep Your Tablet Safe from the Elements
Your body might be resistant to the crystal-clear waters and silk-like sand, but that doesn’t mean that your tablet is, too. What would happen if a breeze picked up and kicked sand in your direction? Not only would you get a mouthful of gritty sand, but you’d also likely experience problems with your tablet. Sand isn’t compatible with your tablet, and neither is water, especially in excess.

To prevent your vacation from meeting a watery grave, modern science has produced a spectacular tool that can keep your tablet safe from the elements. It is called the “plastic baggie,” and it can now be found at any of your local retail stores for a modest fee. You can use the tablet through the bag with little risk of actual damage, but you still might run into problems if you decide to take a dip in the water with your tablet. Not even the mighty plastic bag can save it from floating off with the tide, if you’re not careful!

Avoid Mediocre Hotel WiFi with a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
You’ll probably be staying in a hotel with wireless Internet access, but just because it comes with the room doesn’t mean it’s safe. And if the wireless service is substandard, your access to the wondrous Internet will be significantly limited. You should especially be careful about the security of these networks, as they are typically not well-monitored or secure. As a business owner, you use your tablet for more than just media, so you can’t afford this risk.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) from Michell Consulting Group can help mitigate this issue. You, and only you, will have access to a private network designed to keep you safe from outside threats. You can know with confidence that your network is as safe as can be from hackers and other malicious online elements.

If you are worried about having bad wireless service while on the move, you can always try a wireless hotspot-activated device that uses your mobile data plan. This basically turns your mobile device into a wireless router that you’ll be able to connect your laptop and tablet to. This means you won’t have to rely on someone else’s network, and it gives you more privacy as well as a more reliable connection.

Don’t Forget – You’re on Vacation!
This is the most important pointer of all. Just because you can connect to your workplace while on vacation doesn’t mean you have to. You’re on vacation, so enjoy it. Take a load off and have some fun. You’ve earned it! We’re sure that your business won’t be reduced to a pile of embers without you there.

Be sure that you don’t turn your tablet into your vacation, though. Spend time in the nice outdoor weather, and don’t forget to put down the tablet from time to time. The entire reason you are on vacation is to escape the monotony of your workplace’s technology, right? So relax, and enjoy some time separated from it.

If you take advantage of these three tips, you’re practically guaranteed to have an enjoyable, media-enriched vacation. For more pointers on how to take full advantage of your technology, contact Michell Consulting Group at 305.592.5433 ext 2601. By the time we’re through with it, your technology will work for you, instead of the other way around.

Apple’s iOS May Contain Backdoors to Leak Your Personal Information

Apple’s iOS operating system might be well known for its impressive security features, but that doesn’t mean that it’s invulnerable to all threats. In fact, backdoors may have been located in the operating system, which allow Apple and law enforcement agencies like the NSA to access the devices.

The discovery was made by Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensic scientist who spoke at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York City. According to Zdziarski, Apple’s untouchable operating system might have hidden backdoors that let certain institutions access personal information. These backdoors are thought to be used for debugging, but due to the information that is taken from the devices being of a personal nature, this isn’t likely. It’s also unlikely that the information is being used for data backup and recovery, as it cannot be returned to the devices after it has been extracted in a raw format.

So, what exactly is this data used for? Nobody knows. These services aren’t referenced by any other Apple software or documentation, and to make matters worse, they also work around data encryption. This “flaw” is most commonly seen in iOS 7.0. Locking your device doesn’t even make it safe. The second you boot up the phone and unlock the system, the data can be accessed and retrieved, even through the lock screen.

Zdziarski says, “Your device is almost always at risk of spilling all data, even while locked.” He also claims that it’s not outlandish to suggest that third-party forensic software companies also have access to this information, who then market it to law enforcement for a price. It’s already been confirmed as of last month that Russian software firm Elcomsoft markets a tool which allows users to access backup files from an iCloud account, without the account holder’s Apple ID. If that’s not sketchy, we don’t know what is.

iOS 8, which is currently in development, is supposed to tote several improved privacy features which could give Apple the edge they need to outrun the Android mobile OS. However, if these problems remain an issue, Apple’s reputation will surely suffer.

This whole situation brings up the question of whether or not Apple is the only company which participates in this shady activity. If these problems aren’t fixed in future versions of iOS, their support will likely run dry as the public continues to favor Android, or the Windows Phone 8.1.

When it comes to purchasing new mobile devices, you want the most secure option for your company’s sensitive files. Michell Consulting Group can help you find the right technology for your business needs. To keep your business safe from external threats, contact Michell Consulting Group at 305.592.5433 ext 2601. We’ll equip your company with a security solution that’s right for you.

What are your thoughts on the potential backdoor threats? Are you an Apple user, and does this change your opinion on anything? Let us know in the comments.

What Anti-Surveillance Technology Could Mean to the Government

The Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference which took place on Saturday, July 21st 2014, had an important panelist, that being Edward Snowden. Whether he’s a whistleblower or a traitor is a hot topic on the web, but one thing is certain – he has called for assistance in creating and promoting anti-surveillance technology to mitigate government spying.

Back in early 2013, Snowden leaked confidential documents exposing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) involvement in secret surveillance systems to the general public. Due to his inability to attend the conference in person, he had to phone in via a video link from Moscow, Russia, where he is currently in asylum. He refuses to return to the United States to face the charges against him, believing that he would not receive a fair trial under the Espionage Act. Instead, Snowden is suggesting that the people put a stop to government surveillance by developing anti-surveillance technology – something that he intends to work towards in the future.

Snowden defends his actions toward exposing the NSA’s surveillance, saying that we “have a right as Americans and as members of the global community to know the broad outlines of government policies that significantly impact our lives.” He claims that we, as citizens, should know whether or not the government is monitoring us. Keep in mind that he doesn’t say that we should know details – rather, we deserve to know the broad outline of such an endeavor. Basically, he’s saying we should know that we’re being watched, and nothing more.

“We can’t have the government shut us out from every action that they’re doing,” he says, claiming that it is the key to enlightened citizenry and democracy in the United States.

Though he doesn’t mention anything about the nature of this technology that he proposes, we should consider the repercussions of introducing this kind of technology to the world. Think about how many people could conceal themselves from government activity. Would it cause an increase in cyber crime, or would it decrease the odds of being watched while online? Could hackers take advantage of it, and use the technology to conceal their movements from others? These are all concerns about this proposal, and they need to be addressed if technology like this surfaces.

If you are concerned about hackers accessing your system, the anti-surveillance technology might scare you to death. Michell Consulting Group can help your business avoid the common pitfalls and threats that hackers use to take advantage of your network. Give us a call at 305.592.5433 ext 2601 – you’ll be glad you did.

What are your thoughts on this whole Snowden situation? We (and the NSA) would like to hear your opinions about national security, particularly concerning this anti-surveillance technology idea. Let us know in the comments.

Boost your Productivity: The Best Android Smartphones on the Market Right Now

Business is on the move. There is no argument from industry professionals that more business is done on the go today than ever before. A big part of this upward trend in mobile computing is the proliferation of smartphone technology to boost productivity. The capabilities of these devices have increased to the point where any worker can accomplish a cursory amount of work.

The smartphone market has never been more competitive. While Apple and Microsoft begin to make strides with new devices and new, more dynamic operating systems to cut into Android’s immense superiority in the market share, users are expecting every new generation of devices to be substantially better than the last. Here are five of the best Android phones on the market right now:

Samsung Galaxy s5
The Samsung Galaxy s5 is a continuation of the Galaxy line of smartphones that have Samsung at the top of the smartphone market. The Galaxy s5 offers users a plastic chassis that houses the 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display. Inside the s5 is a very powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor with up to 32GB of onboard memory. The device comes with Android’s latest OS – 4.4.2 Kit Kat with the Touchwiz user interface on top. Available in copper gold, shimmery white, silver, and blue, the Samsung Galaxy s5, like its other namesake devices, is one of the top Android smartphones available in 2014.

Model – Samsung Galaxy s5.
Body – Plastic (5.59 x 2.85 x .32in).
Display – 5.1-inch Super AMOLED 1080 x 1920 (~432 ppi).
Memory – 16/32 GB onboard storage; microSD – up to 128 GB expandable memory.
RAM – 2GB.
Chipset – Qualcomm Snapdragon 801.
CPU – Quad-core 2.5 GHz.
GPU – Adreno 330.
Device sensors – Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, gesture, fingerprint.
Camera(s) – Back – 16 MP w/ LED flash; Front – 2 MP.
Battery – 2,800 mAh removable.
Availability – Available Now

The LG G3 is LG’s flagship device that is available now, and it’s a game changer. Using last season’s flagship device, the largely popular G2, as the jumping off point, they have improved on the device substantially. With what is now the industry’s highest-resolution, and largest (5.5-inch) display, LG has created a high quality device that looks to be a competitor to some of the industry’s top-selling smartphone manufacturers’ flagship devices. Looking at the specifications of the device, users may think they are getting a behemoth of a device, but even with such a large display, the footprint of the phone is not much different than that of their direct competitors.

Model – LG G3
Body – Plastic (5.76 x 2.94 x .35in).
Display – 5.5-inch True HD-IPS 1,400 x 2560 (~534 ppi).
Memory – 16/32GB onboard storage; microSD – up to 128 GB expandable memory.
RAM – 2GB.
Chipset – Qualcomm Snapdragon 801.
CPU – 2.5 GHz.
GPU – Adreno 330.
Device sensors – Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass.
Camera – Back – 13 MP, dual LED flash; Front – 2.1 MP.
Battery – 3,000 mAh.
Availability – Available Now.

HTC One M8

The HTC One M8 is HTC’s newest flagship device. Like many of the other manufacturers they have increased the display size to a solid five inches. The build quality of the HTC One M8 is as good as you are going to find with an Android device. Made of 90% metal, the HTC One M8 offers users the user experience they are used to from previous HTC One models. The handset offers users an onboard sound system that is unparalleled in the market. The One M8 keeps the “Ultrapixel” camera technology that debuted with HTCs One M7, but overhauled the system with a more powerful sensor. The combination of superior build quality and top-of-the-line specifications, the One M8 gives HTC a flagship Android device that can compete with Samsung and LG’s top devices.

Model – HTC One M8.
Body – Predominantly Metal (5.76 x 2.78 x .37in).
Display – 5-inches 1080 x 1920 (~441 ppi).
Memory – 16/32GB onboard storage; microSD – up to 128 GB expandable memory.
RAM – 2GB.
Chipset – Qualcomm Snapdragon 801.
CPU – 2.3 GHz.
GPU – Adreno 330.
Device sensors – Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer.
Camera – Back – 4 MP “Ultrapixel” dual LED flash; Front – 5 MP.
Battery – 2,600 mAh.
Availability – Available Now.

Sony Xperia Z2
Sony’s Xperia Z2 smartphone is Japanese electronics juggernaut’s third foray into mainstream smartphone creation after their Xperia Z and Z1. The newest model is the epitamy of a flagship device. The Xperia Z2 features top-of-the-line specifications as well as a build quality that is second to none. Made of front and rear glass, the phone features a 5.2-inch display and features IP67 certification, meaning it is both dust and water resistant. A beautiful and sleek-looking glass design, the Xperia Z2 is definitely one of the top devices on the market.

Model – Sony Xperia Z2
Body – Predominantly Glass (5.78 x 2.89 x .32in).
Display – 5.2-inches 1080 x1920 (~424 ppi)
Memory – 16 GB; microSD – up to 128 GB expandable memory.
RAM – 2GB.
Chipset – Qualcomm Snapdragon 801.
CPU – 2.3 GHz.
GPU – Adreno 330.
Device sensors – Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer.
Camera – Back – 20.7 MP, LED flash; Front – 2.2 MP.
Battery – 3,200 mAh.
Availability – Available Now.

Google Nexus 5
Built and manufactured by LG, the Google Nexus 5 is probably the world’s best high-end smartphone value. The Nexus has a 5-inch screen and comes in white or black. The clear, 1080p-capable display is something you’d find on a more expensive device. LG has replaced the all-glass makeup of the Google Nexus 4 with a hard plastic bezel and soft-touch backing that makes the device feel great in the hand. The device comes equipped with the newly released 4.4.3 Android with no skin. This pure Android experience provides users with additional customization options. The camera and speakers leave something to be desired, but for the money, you can’t beat the powerful and attractive Nexus 5.

Model – Google Nexus 5 (LG)
Body – Predominantly Glass (5.43 x 2.72 x .34in).
Display – 4.95-inches 1080 x 1920 (~445 ppi)
Memory – 16/32 GB.
Chipset – Qualcomm Snapdragon 800.
CPU – 2.3 GHz.
GPU – Adreno 330.
Device sensors – Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer.
Camera – Back – 8 MP, LED flash. optical image stabilization; Front – 1.3 MP.
Battery – 2,300 mAh.
Availability – Available Now.

There’s no denying the dominance of the Android mobile operating system as nearly three-quarters of all devices in service right now run on the software. These devices get the most out of the dynamic Android interface. At Michell Consulting Group we keep our fingers on the pulse of consumer and business technology trends in an attempt to provide our clients with the most thorough service possible. We not only can provide you with information about mobile computing, we can implement systems that can protect your organization while providing the kind of boosts in productivity that every business owner is looking for in today’s competitive marketplace. To see how we can assist your organization with technology information, support, and services call us today at 305.592.5433.

Use of Windows XP Grows and Windows 8 Declines!

Windows XP is a product that has consistently performed well for Microsoft and it continues to see growth, even though it’s not supposed to. With its support ending this past April, Windows XP was supposed to never be heard from again. Instead, XP is refusing to go quietly into the night by posting positive usage numbers for June 2014.

As reported by Net Application, the usage growth of Windows XP was minuscule, increasing from 25.27 to 25.31 percent, but it’s the fact that it actually grew that causes this news story to be a hot mess that’s captured our attention.

For active XP users that haven’t yet heard why it’s bad to use XP after its support has ended because they’ve been under a rock for the past year, unsupported software like XP is highly vulnerable to security threats. Sure, Windows XP seems to still be working just fine, albeit perhaps a little more buggy than twelve years ago, but without the safeguards and updates from Microsoft, Windows XP is like a ticking time bomb that can seriously compromise your data. We strongly recommend every XP user to upgrade ASAP. In fact, upgrading yesterday is preferable.

The fact that Windows XP usage grew is a mystery that has the IT world scratching their heads and the folks at Microsoft pointing fingers. We could speculate all day as to why this is. One important fact to consider is that this report takes into account worldwide OS usage. Windows XP is still a popular operating system in developing nations where having consistent electricity is more of a concern than running the latest OS. Then there’s the mentality of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” that may be keeping many XP users clinging to their beloved decade-old system.

Enough about XP, the important question for Microsoft is how did Windows 8 (its latest OS) fare in the last month’s usage report? According to Net Application, not so well. In June 2014, use of Windows 8 and 8.1 dropped from 12.64 to 12.54 percent. This news doesn’t bode well for the software giant, seeing that they’ve gone all in with Windows 8 by throwing a ridiculous amount of marketing money at it.

Then there’s good old Windows 7, Microsoft’s ace in the hole. Last June, usage of Windows 7 increased from 50.06 to 50.55 percent. This was Microsoft’s strongest showing on the OS usage report, but it’s a fair guess that Microsoft would have much preferred those numbers to be for Windows 8.

XP, 8, 8.1, 7, Vista, the rumored 9, the Windows operating saga continues and Michell Consulting Group is kicking back with a bag of popcorn and taking it all in! We can help your business upgrade from Windows XP to a more secure OS, and we can arm your company with the latest solutions like Windows 8.1 to keep your business secure and competitive. Give us a call today at 305.592.5433 ext 2601 to learn more.