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Posts from December, 2017


Putting Unused Computers Back to Work

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Replacing an old computer that still works is a good feeling: The device survived the replacement cycle. However, some desktops and laptops have the potential to lead second lives in the workplace. Re-assigning old devices to different jobs is a great way to save money and increase productivity. For instance, maybe it wasn’t cost-effective to buy a dedicated office server, but a retiring computer serves as a low-cost alternative. Some businesses also may want to avoid throwing out old devices to avoid regional computer recycling fees.

Draw inspiration from the following five ideas — these are just some of the many unique second-life uses for an old workplace computer.

1. Old Operating System Testing Computer 

Your business may keep its devices running modern operating systems and software, but there’s no reason to believe all your customers do the same.

An old computer running an old version of Windows is a great troubleshooting tool.

You may encounter customers who can’t get your site or online services to work and are running old software and hardware, so the dated computer will help confirm the problem exists and possibly identify an easy fix. However, keep security in mind with this old system and isolate it from your main network.

2. NAS or Office Server

An old desktop computer can be easily converted into an onsite mass storage solution as either a network-attached storage device or a local server. This device, which can be used to store backups and share files, is helpful for collaboration purposes. Setting it up is pretty straightforward, and your server can even take unused hard drives from other computers to amass plenty of space. Your office may have much to gain with a NAS device or local server.

3. Media Server

Similar to the office server solution, the retiring computer could be reused as a media server. This device can be helpful for creating a localized storage place for promotional videos, training information and other frequently accessed media.

4. Intranet Server

Medium-sized businesses looking to invest a little time into a more user-friendly server option should consider using the old computer as an Intranet server. Intranet servers behave like an inexpensive internal website.

5. Conference Room Skype PC

An old laptop with a functioning webcam can work well as an office conference room “Skype system.” The laptop stays in the conference room and is only used when someone needs to hold a teleconference. Because nothing else is running on the computer, it’s a hassle-free solution.

If your business wants to get the most out of the technology you purchase, the IT consulting experts at MPA Networks can guide you with an IT and Productivity AssessmentContact us today to learn more about our services.

HTTPS: Securely Sending Personal And Private Information

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Avoid costly data security breaches by training your staff to check for secure connections when handling private information on the Internet. Secure Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, or HTTPS, is a technology legalhealthcare, and financial businesses use to protect confidential client information safe on the Internet. Hackers do not have to go to much trouble to intercept non-encrypted website communications, especially when a target is using public Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, it’s essential employees make sure they’re using encrypted HTTPS instead of HTTP when working with confidential information like uploading patient information to a website or sending a record of financial information to a client.

Defining HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP is a data transmission method web browsers and website servers use to communicate with each other; HTTPS is a version of the protocol that encrypts communication for extra protection. Simply put, HTTP and HTTPS are the communication protocols Internet-connected devices use to “talk” to websites.

Checking for Protection

Websites and browsers make determining if a connection is secure straight-forward. HTTPS applies to individual connections, so every open tab has its own security configuration. The easiest way to check if a page is running an HTTPS connection is to look at the address bar:

  • if the URL starts with HTTPS:// it is a secure connection
  • if the address reads HTTP:// the page is not running a secure connection

However, manually checking can be tedious, so modern web browsers are built to make confirming if a page is secure easy.

For example, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox will display a green padlock icon at the start of the address bar when HTTPS is present; both browsers will display warning icons if the connection’s security is in question or the website is a known danger.

Plugins like HTTPS Everywhere provide additional security by forcing HTTPS connections whenever possible.

When HTTPS is Necessary (and when it isn’t)

Train employees to recognize that HTTPS is necessary whenever they are using a service with login credentials, are uploading confidential files, or are filling out forms with private information. However, HTTPS can actually make web browsing worse when it’s being used unnecessarily.

With HTTPS providing a seemingly simple fix for a large share of security woes on the Internet, it might seem negligent for sites to continue using regular HTTP. Unfortunately, HTTPS comes with several caveats including increasing connection latency and disabling caching which contribute to longer load times. If someone is just browsing a news site or reading a public blog, there’s no confidential information being sent so HTTPS increases the load time to protect nothing. By eliminating caching, people accessing the site need to go through the original hosting server instead of a possible closer-located CDN server which could substantially increase loading times for users outside of the hosting region. Additionally, HTTPS hosting costs more than HTTP hosting.

If your business is looking to improve its Internet security practices, the IT Consulting experts at MPA Networks can help. Contact us today!