Monthly Archives : November 2010

Microsofts Onecare Online Scanner

This scanner performs many steps in one run. I had a workstation the other day that was infected with spyware. I ran this tool which scanned ports, spyware, viruses, registry issues, etc. It took just about over an hour to run and it fixed many issues. After a reboot the machine performed better and was able to dig deeper into cleaning and repairing the workstation. This is a full scan, all in one tool that can be handy in this situation. http://onecare.live.com/site/en-us/default.htm

New Blackberry Flip Phone- More Stable (Model 9670) – Sprint

Blackberry’s old flip phone was simply not a good product and many of our clients had this unit and it always broke in one way or another.  The OS side of the unit worked fairly well with little problems, it was more on the hardware side.  The button construction, as well as the flip hinge always seemed to break in one form or another. BVA would also get a lot of feedback that the signal was poor on the phone when other Blackberry’s got full signal. I had the opportunity to play with one last week which was a pleasant surprise and I am sold on it.

Interestingly enough it still was a popular phone for many executives due to the flip feature and the small physical footprint that it has. It does have a 5 Mexa-pixel camera which is pretty slick and has good resolution.  The BlackBerry 9670 Flip Phone (Blackberry Style) is for Sprint, the second smartphone from RIM running the new Blackberry 6 OS.  It is the first BlackBerry flip phone with a full, four-row QWERTY keyboard.  This makes typing on the phone so much easier and the keys are the same size as a regular Blackberry keypad.  The clamshell flip phone design is sturdy and polished, an attractive form factor seemingly fitting for a BlackBerry. Unfortunately, the Style does not support Sprint’s 4G WiMax network, instead offering 3G EVDO Rev A and 802.11n for connectivity.  The Style comes with two low resolution screens—an external screen showing the clock, waiting message indicators, callerID information or media information when the Style is closed—and an internal screen for normal operation when open.

Securing Your Network

With the proliferation of Information Technology (Companies) and the efficiency it gives businesses today, securing your network against SPAM, viruses, Malware and Hackers  has become vital to survival.  The very technology that has allowed businesses to become so efficient and productive also brings the risk of catastrophe, if that technology fails or is compromised.  Therefore, it is vital that any business that relies on IT for its productivity make sure that they have taken practical steps to secure their network infrastructure.

There are several areas of concern when considering securing any IT network, including user access control, data backup and protection, firewalls, etc., but for the purpose of this article the focus will be limited to protecting a network from viruses, SPAM, and other Malware.

Most computer users are familiar with the need to protect their computers from viruses and most companies have antivirus software installed on their servers and workstations.  However, one of the biggest threats to network functionality comes from email.  Emails are delivered directly to the user’s desktop and can go through firewalls as well as virus scans, depending upon the nature of the Malware they may contain.  Then, if a user inadvertently opens the infected  email and perhaps clicks on the links it contains, they can infect their workstation and alow it to spread to the entire network.

To secure the multiple points of potential infection it is recommended that email be scanned by a third-party SPAM filtering, Malware, and virus protection vendor before being delivered to the company’s Exchange or mail server.  The company’s firewall should also be configured to only accept eamil from the third party scanning servers.   This will vastly reduce the SPAM  getting to the company Mail server, and stop known Malware.   Finally, the Exchange or mail server should also have virus and Malware software running on it.  Why, since the mail is supposedly checked before delivery by the third party scanning service?  Because users can bring in infected laptops and connect to the network behind the firewall, users can also access webmail from their personal accounts  and bring Malware into their computers directly.  Also, users can get Malware from websites they visit.    When this happens the virus or Malware must be stopped on the network side of the firewall and to do that requires that the proper software be installed directly on the Exchange or Mail server.  A recommended antivirus anti-malware solution for a typical small business network is illustrated below in figure 1.

Figure 1

iPads Usage Up – Businesses have bought 2 Million Units

I was at a conference last week and saw a funny thing that I did not think would ensue so quickly in the technology and business environment.  Sitting in the meeting with 25 other people, both business and technical folks, about 80% of them had iPads which was shocking really.  More and more with our client base, iPads are starting to take over as the presentation tool and fun toy for the “c” level executives.  Several of my own team member here at BVA own and leverage iPads in business activity, but for the most part it’s not adding value in my humble view in a business perceptive.  It’s definitely moved into the benefit category as opposed to the NEED one.  That being said it is a nice product that has it’s place in the residential side as well as the educational sector.  The unit is not very secure and has alot of the security risks associated with the iPhone.  ??The iPad can be used to access networks via RDP session (remote session) and actually works very well and quick on the 3G network but that still raises the question of security and access points for your network.  I read an article here recently, that talked about how popular the iPad is with business and that a research company estimates that 2 million iPads have already been bought by companies with 1-99 employees. That is hard to believe but its a fact, the adoption rate is higher for companies with at least 20 employees.

The research article surfaced that the common uses for the device include demos, presentations, email, and Internet browsing. Larger businesses also use them as a tool when speaking with customers. Most of the businesses are using the iPad as a new gadget; it is not replacing PCs or other devices.  The research company believes that notebooks, netbooks, tablets, and smartphones will continue to coexist in the future as data moves into the cloud. Technically does not provide further statistics from its survey or the number of people and type of survey it conducted. Having said that, it is encouraging to see small businesses adopting a device like the iPad.

It will be interesting what Apple decides to do with their new market share in the business segment.  Will they decide to alter their OS code to be more desktop centric?  It’s a great way to penetrate a market that Apple quite frankly has ignored.

Windows Intune – Optimistic View

BVA has been in the cloud for sometime.  Obviously being in the cloud means alot of different things to alot of different people.  Everyone seems to have their own spin on the term.  For some time now we have wondered if Microsoft would come out with System Center for the cloud (BPOS). The overall BPOS solution has been fairly stable and successful yet there have been a few pitfalls but have worked through them with support.

As its core, Windows Intune is a cloud-based version of the desktop management capabilities customers could previously get by deploying Microsoft System Center technologies. For those that do not know that Microsoft System Center, it’s basically a bunch of older product put together via a large suite of applications.  That being said the applications contributed are valid and great products.  It’s basically the old SMS desktop management system and basically MOM.  These are tried and tested application that BVA has deployed for several years, yet all required their own on-premise servers.  Therefore, Window Intune, rather than hosting a System Center server on-premises and managing desktops from the server, administrators using Windows Intune load a client onto the desktops.  Administrators can access, via a browser, the management software and tools in the cloud and manage and secure those desktops through the cloud. In addition to the product features, the monthly subscription will include upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise for every covered desktop and an option to buy the otherwise hard-to-get Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP).

When the first limited beta of Windows Intune arrived in April, Microsoft described it almost exclusively as a midmarket IT-focused offering, with a slightly lower-end core audience than the System Center suite of products reaches. Core capabilities of Windows Intune include the ability to centrally manage the deployment of updates and service packs to PCs, to manage protection of PCs through the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine, to receive alerts that help administrators proactively monitor PCs, provide remote assistance, track hardware and software inventory, and set security policies.  For users familiar with Microsoft’s other product families, Windows Intune combines a Web-based management console with the desktop malware protection and reporting of the Microsoft Forefront Protection Suite and the update management, inventory and software deployment of Microsoft System Center Configuration manager 2007 or Microsoft System Center Essentials. Windows Intune also has the operating system distribution capabilities of Configuration Manager.

After reviewing all the facts it seems that this will be a great offering for our client base.  We are going to try this out at a client next month and we are looking forward to really seeing the real-world applications and cost savings.  I think it is fair to say that I am a little apprehensive about the security associated in imaging desktops through the cloud, but time will tell.  As a collective unit, BVA is staying positive with the security and ease of use.

Windows Mobile 7 Phone Launch

Effective November 8, 2010 Microsoft kicks off the release of Windows Mobile 7, adding to the number of Exchange-ready phones available to the Business World. Pre-release reviews have been mixed, but even the most negative reviews I’ve seen, seem to see this OS as a serious player.  Initially on devices from AT&T and T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint will also have phones, shortly into the next year. Phones will come from manufacturers LG, HTC, Samsung and Dell.  For more information on Windows Mobile 7, got to http://www.windowsphone7.com/.

To learn more about our launch lineup, check out the Windows Phone site (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/buy/7/phones.aspx)

If you would also like to check out some mobile apps for the phone you can take a look at this site as well (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/apps/default.aspx)

Exchange Cleanup Agent

I recently migrated some mailboxes from one exchange 2003 server (remote) to another 2003 exchange server(local) across a WAN. When trying to configure one of the mailboxes that migrated successfully it would error out saying it was not configured. I made sure replication had run between sites to rule out any DNS or other issues. I then opened the system manager and expanded both servers mailbox stores and ran the cleanup agent on the remote server. I tried to add the test account again and it still said not configured and closed out. I then ran the cleanup agent on the local server and tried to configure it and this time it resolved the local exchange name and was able to open the mailbox in outlook.