Starting with OEMs – Phasing Out 32-Bit Windows 10 Support

Starting with OEMs - Phasing Out 32-Bit Windows 10 Support

Microsoft has recently announced they plan to phase out support for the 32-bit version of their Windows 10 operating system. This recent change will arrive in their May 2020 (version 2004) release. At least initially, this phase out is intended only for their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) devices.

Phasing out their 32-bit version is simply a sign of the continual progress and expansion that tech companies embrace as they seek to provide more capable and more powerful technology devices for their user base.

Their Statement

Microsoft’s official statement regarding the phase out advises that beginning with the 2004 version of the Windows 10 operating system, all builds will be required to only use their 64-bit version for OEM distribution. Microsoft goes on to pledge continued support for anyone who still uses the 32-bit version of their OS by continuing to release security and feature updates for the 32-bit devices.  

The Impact

Fortunately the impact of the phase out at least initially, is minimal. The 32-bit version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system compromises only a very modest .20 percent of their overall customer base for this specific operating system. The overwhelming majority of Windows 10 users are already using the more robust 64-bit version of the OS. Of course, whenever a phase out occurs it is usually indicative of further reductions down the road. Eventually, Microsoft will likely phase out 32-bit versions altogether, although it remains to be seen how slowly or how quickly that may occur. 

Why the Change?

In terms of internal processing power, more is always better and there is simply an increased demand for 64-bit operating systems. Compared with the 32-bit version of Microsoft’s OS, the 64-bit version can handle more data at a time and it’s capable of storing more computational values, including memory addresses. With users demanding more and more service from their devices, 64-bit operating systems are easily more suited to keep up with demand. This increase in demand is also reflected in the software applications that developers create. A software app that takes advantage of the additional computational power associated with a 64-bit version of an OS delivers more value to their users.

Another reason why Microsoft decided to phase out their 32-bit version is that it’s always less complicated for operating system manufacturers and related parties to streamline the number of architectures they support at any one time. By streamlining OS versions, it allows those who develop Windows-based compatible software applications to avoid potential issues and development conflicts. Focusing on one architecture allows software application creators to target their efforts on adding real value to a single platform.

The Good News

For those users who want to embrace changes as technology moves ever onward, it is possible for those with the 32-bit version of Windows 10 to install the 64-bit version as long as their internal processor supports the transition. The benefits of doing so of course, will include a machine that is able to process information at a faster speed, thus increasing the responsiveness of the device. Any device that is more capable and runs faster is always a welcome improvement.

For those who have their reasons for wanting to remain with the 32-bit version, at least in the near future it is likely that manufacturers have at least some 32-bit versions remaining in stock. How fast that stock will become depleted is anyone’s guess. If you would like to know more about Microsoft’s phase out plan for their 32-bit version of Windows 10 or how to switch from their 32-bit to the 64-bit version, please contact us.

iPhone Update Includes COVID-19 Contact Tracing And Face Mask Detection

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Major tech companies are always on the lookout for ways to add new features to their products and/or services. In its recent 13.5 OS release for iPhone and iPad products, Apple incorporated a new feature designed to help users with contact tracing in the event they contract COVID-19.  In this article, we will outline how the new feature works, how to enable and disable it, as well as discuss another change in function related to the virus as well.

Contact Tracing with Apple

The new contact tracing features actually uses Bluetooth data sharing rather than GPS location. When the feature is enabled, Apple securely shares a random ID associated with a user’s device with the devices of nearby users, as well as collecting their IDs. After a period of 14 days, which is considered the maximum incubation period for COVID-19, any IDs collected on devices will be deleted. If an iPhone or iPad user does contract the virus, health officials now have a way to trace individuals they may have come in contact with. In addition, if the infected individual chooses to, they can anonymously share their diagnosis with those in which they came into contact. Notified individuals can then contact their own health care provider for further instructions on what to do about their exposure to the virus.

To enable the feature, one must be using the recently released 13.5 version of Apple’s operating system. To find the new feature, follow these instructions:

  1. Open the “Settings” app.
  2. Tap on “Privacy.”
  3. Under Privacy, tap on “Health”.
  4. Under Health, tap on “COVID-19 Exposure Notifications”.

The COVID-19 Exposure Notifications can be toggled on or off (enabled or disabled) in the same manner as all of Apple’s other Settings features.

Changes With Face ID

With the advent of COVID-19, many individuals are choosing to wear a mask to cover their mouth and nose to help prevent the spread of the virus. In many areas of the country, individuals are actually required to wear some type of facial covering when out in public. This presents a challenge to Apple’s Face ID feature since partially covering one’s face will make it more challenging for Face ID to recognize a user. To combat this, Apple revamped their Face ID feature to immediately prompt the user for their PIN if it fails to recognize the user’s face, rather than forcing the user to jump through multiple hoops before eventually allowing the user to enter their PIN. 

Some Caveats

In order for Apple’s new feature to fully function, users must also locate and download an app from a health authority that can actually make use of the feature. The availability of such an app, along with support of health authorities can vary depending upon which countries and states the user resides in or travels through. The health support may vary as the virus travels throughout various regions, although in general, it is likely that major metropolitan areas will have more timely access to the feature rather than areas with low population levels.

Privacy Concerns

It’s normal to have concerns about privacy when tech companies handle information, especially personal information that relates to one’s health. In their collaboration efforts with Google to help prevent the spread of the virus, Apple has taken several measures to address privacy concerns. The random IDs used to share between devices change every 10-20 minutes to help increase security. Both Google and Apple have pledged not to collect COVID-19 related data and they will not share it with any government entity, nor will they monetize any process associated with the transfer of the data. Any data collected will only be shared through apps associated with the proper health authorities. To address all privacy concerns, Apple and Google have created a FAQ page to answer any questions users may have. 

If you would like further information about Apple’s recent changes that include a COVID-19 contact tracing feature, please contact us.

6 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers

As we transition into the #WorkFromHome life, staying safe remains our top priority. Don’t forget to consider data security and cyber threats while working remote. Viruses of a different kind can throw a wrench in productivity and compromise core systems and information.

Stay safe at home with these 6 Cyber Security Tips for Remote Workers.

Best Practices for The Best Remote Office Experience

Transitions are the perfect opportunity to review best practices and ensure your company is operating at maximum efficiency. Preventing cyber attacks begins with a thorough review of your organization’s security and compliance. 

Review employee password requirements and ensure your company is following the recommended security protocol to keep your sensitive information from slipping into the wrong hands. Protect your clients and your team by requiring two-factor authentication and passwords that consistent of a phrase or sentence with capitals, numbers, and special characters.

Ensure employees have logged out of all devices aside from their designated work computer. Be clear with your team that personal devices should not be used for work purposes. These devices are unsecured and may compromise integral security. This includes transferring files with confidential information between work and personal devices.

Support your crew with sufficient resources such as tablets, work phones, and laptops for on-the-go business instead. For easy data transfer, opt for convenient and secured Cloud storage solutions.

Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Portals, email, and CRM’s aren’t the only platforms that require strong security. Remote work should always be conducted via a secured Wi-Fi network. This ensures that sensitive information is not transmitted through compromised channels. For staff that are currently working from home, offer a DIY IT workshop to get them started. 

Change the router password to meet best practice standards and consider installing firmware updates and cracking down on encryption levels. 

Protect Privacy

Cyberspace is a dangerous realm. You never know who may be viewing your information and tracking your supposedly private IP address. From advertisers to phishing scams, accessing sensitive information and demographics is surprisingly easy.

Get your team outfitted with the protection of a virtual private network or VPN. A company wide VPN supports secured browsing by masking the IP address (or digital footprint) of each user. These helpful tools encrypt internet traffic, keeping company data protected and private information secured.

Check for Updates

Good anti-virus software is only as good as its last update. Think twice before hitting the “later” button on daily or weekly updates. Although keeping software and applications in top shape can seem like an extra annoyance in your busy day, these updates contain essential information and patches for vulnerabilities.

Firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software are the most critical components to prioritize. These programs are constantly adapting to capture and quarantine new, evolving threats. Ensure an automatic update schedule has been enabled. Taking a few minutes to streamline applications will save you a lot of grief in the event of a cyber attack.

Don’t Be a Victim of Cyber Crooks

There’s no better time for a company refresher on the importance of cyber safety. Phishing scams are on the rise since the increase in remote workers. These devious cyber crooks typically operate by sending scam emails, calls, or texts in order to gain personal and financial information on their target. Make your team aware of recent scams and threats while keeping each member up to speed on what they can do to prevent a data breach.

A few SOP’s for remote work might include a cheatsheet of information you should never give out via phone, text, or email, as well as helpful tips on how to spot a phishing scheme.

Be Prepared

One positive element to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is that the current situation underscores the value of preparedness. Data loss can happen to anyone, whether by human error or cyber breach. Be sure your company is prepared with a backup plan in case the unexpected happens.

Investing in a robust Cloud storage system provides a sufficient backup in case of disaster. This simple solution is typically the most convenient and cost effective for small to mid-sized businesses. If all else fails, AETechnology Group has your back(up) with disaster recovery options for our Long Island and New York business clients.

Contact our experts today for all your remote work needs as we continue to empower businesses to prioritize safety alongside productivity.

IaaS, SaaS, PaaS – What Do All These Cloud Words Mean?

IaaS, SaaS, PaaS - What Do All These Cloud Words Mean?

Many industries have a wide array of acronyms they employ in order to define certain industry-specific concepts, products, and services, and the field of information technology is no exception. While technology experts are typically well-versed in the meaning of the various IT acronyms, for the average layperson, they can present a definite challenge.

Of course, in order to determine which technology services will deliver the best results for a business, it’s important to understand all the various options available. In this post, we will discuss three acronyms used to define cloud services, specifically, IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS, to bring about a clear understanding of what these services have to offer to a variety of corporate settings.

Defining IaaS

IaaS is an acronym for “infrastructure as a service”

Companies who decide to select this type of service often do so because they don’t want to invest in substantial amounts of hardware in order to support their various software packages and apps. Instead, they invest in cloud services such as virtualization and server space to meet their needs. Buying hardware does mean more accessibility and control, however it also comes with a hefty price tag that smaller companies often find off-putting.

While IaaS provides the benefit of reduced costs and the time involved in maintaining hardware,  business owners are still responsible for maintaining their software. This means they either must have some degree of technological expertise to manage this on their own, or they need a dedicated IT person or perhaps a team to provide software support.

Defining SaaS

SaaS stands for “software as a service”

SaaS allows smaller companies to take advantage of pre-built cloud-based apps that have a defined purpose.  Rather than creating a custom software package to perform a task, smaller companies can simply incorporate third-party apps such as Dropbox for their file sharing requirements, or they can use Shopify if they need an eCommerce site platform. While outsourcing certain tasks does have certain advantages in that it may allow companies to get a certain project up and running faster, and they won’t be responsible for maintaining third party applications, there are some downsides.

Employing third-party software apps means a business will have little to no opportunity to customize the app to suit their specific needs.  They also have no control over third-party apps, which lessens their degree of control over potential security issues as well.  In addition, integration may be challenging with SaaS, since third party software may not work with a company’s current overall platform, or a new platform if they decide to change at some point in the future.

PaaS

Last but not least, PaaS stands for “platform as a service”

If a company wants customized software to meet their needs, PaaS  can provide them with the cloud-based tools they need to build their own customized software. With PaaS, developers are given access to a vast library of pre-built elements, so they don’t need to code every process from scratch. Developing, testing, and deploying all happen in one environment, making it generally faster and easier to pump out software applications.

A downside to PaaS is that it is not a good option for companies who work with confidential data, which they may be required to keep on-site by law. Also, for businesses who already have some existing frameworks they would like to keep, this may present a significant challenge when trying to integrate them into a new PaaS platform.  

We’re Here to Help

When it comes to cloud-based platforms and services, there truly isn’t one right or wrong solution. The beauty of having the options such as PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS, is that it allows companies to choose the best solution to meet their specific needs.

If you would like more information on how to select the right cloud-based services for your unique setting, please contact us.

Should I Hire An IT Guy Or An MSP?

Should I Hire An IT Guy Or An MSP?

Businesses rely on technology to keep their operations running smoothly, but who do you turn to when something goes wrong with your computers or phone system?

Keeping your tech operational is key to helping your business stay on track, and it’s likely you’ve considered a traditional IT team to handle your computer problems. However, sometimes a managed service provider (MSP) can have a lot of benefits over traditional IT. Read on to learn more about how an MSP compares to IT, and which may be right for your business. 

MSP And IT: What’s The Difference?

Businesses who use traditional IT rely on a person or department within the business to handle any tech problems. Some of their main functions include installing new hardware or software, configuring networks, troubleshooting problems, solving connectivity issues, making sure computer networks are secure, and many other things that happen behind the scenes of your business. IT people are paid members of the staff. One of the main drawbacks of an IT person or team is that their knowledge and time can be limited. 

On the other hand, an MSP puts an entire team of knowledgeable experts at your fingertips. They are always there, whenever you need their services. Unlike an IT team that works on-site at your business, an MSP works remotely. While many businesses may see this as a drawback, an MSP is usually only a quick phone call away. 

Benefits Of An MSP

There are plenty of benefits of hiring an MSP to handle your information technology systems. For example, they’re always there when you need them. Unlike a traditional IT team, they don’t call out sick or take vacations, which means that no matter when something goes wrong, you’ll be able to get it fixed quickly. And tech problems don’t always happen during normal working hours.  An MSP is often on call 24/7.

One of the biggest benefits of using an MSP, though, is the depth of experience and knowledge they can offer you. An MSP is comprised of professionals who all have different levels of expertise and useful skill sets. They have diverse qualifications and can collaborate whenever it’s required. A traditional IT team just doesn’t have the same level of knowledge that an MSP has. This means they can help you spot problems in your systems before they even arise. They can offer preventative measures, while an IT team may only fix problems after they happen. 

Another great thing about an MSP is that they are an extremely affordable option for many businesses. Hiring IT onto your staff means you have to pay them, even when they have downtime. In the long run, an MSP can save your business money, and they often offer a range of service options, so you can find something that fits into your budget. And as your businesses grow, you can scale up their services to meet your needs. 

MSP – The Right Choice For Your Business?

No matter what size your business is, an MSP is a great choice. They offer a range of options at the right price and the reassurance that you will always have tech support on hand if something goes wrong. An MSP can handle all your tech needs so you can worry about making sure your business keeps running smoothly. Before hiring an MSP, make sure they have the right training and certification for their team members. Read reviews online and talk with their team so that you know they’ll be a good fit.

If you’re looking to hire an MSP with the skills and expertise your business needs to be successful, contact us for more information.