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Info Advantage has been serving the Upstate New York area since 1993 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Microsoft Now Pushing Into the Technology as a Service Market

Microsoft Now Pushing Into the Technology as a Service Market

One of Microsoft’s latest moves to appeal to business owners has been to establish a Technology as a Service program, allowing small businesses to purchase Surface products, accessories, and support by subscribing to a monthly payment plan. What’s more, when time comes to upgrade, customers can do so, although some fees may apply as dictated by the lease.

Through Microsoft’s TaaS agreement, a customer can select to pay for their device over 12, 24, or 36 months. Prices vary based on the customer’s length of lease, choice of device, and features included. Their most affordable offering is a basic model Surface 3 device paid for over 30 months, while a Surface Book costs considerably more per month as it is billed over 18.

Membership in this program comes with a few select benefits, including seven-day-a-week support by phone or in-store, one-on-one personal training, and in-store discounts on hardware and software for your device.

However, there are a few catches to this deal Microsoft has set up. First of all, this is a business-exclusive service: in the General Terms section of the TaaS Program Benefits Summary, it is explicitly stated that the service is for “Business Customers Only; No purchase for resale.” Microsoft goes on to explain that the program sells and ships to end-users only and that any orders may be canceled if resale activity is suspected.

Additionally, not all products will be available under the service, and the devices will only be official Microsoft products.

Of course, for a service of this type, one doesn’t necessarily have to turn to the Microsoft Corporation. Info Advantage can help select the right devices to fit your needs, whatever they may be, without the stresses brought about by lease terms, purchase option fees, and cancellation fees.

Furthermore, when dealing with Info Advantage, you won’t have to deal with leasing your equipment through a third-party vendor. Microsoft, on the other hand, is financing Surface Membership through LiftForward, a marketplace loan platform. With a solution from Info Advantage, we can handle your dealings with all the solutions that are right for your needs, allowing you to focus on your business.

If you’re looking for advice and access to the latest in computing systems and devices to assist your business operations, give Info Advantage a call at (585) 254-8710. We can help you select the solution that will best fit your needs.

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Microsoft Office 365 vs. Microsoft Office Suite: Which is Right for Your Business?

Microsoft Office 365 vs. Microsoft Office Suite: Which is Right for Your Business?

Regardless of what type of organization you run, there is always a need for a word processor, spreadsheet software, and email solution. You might already take advantage of Microsoft Office, but do you take advantage of the subscription service (Office 365), or do you purchase the software licenses outright?

The primary benefit of Office 365 compared to Microsoft Office 2016 comes from understanding the difference between the two. In particular, users and business professionals need to know that Office 365 is a subscription-based model, while the traditional Office 2016 suite is a one-time purchase. However, the differences don’t stop there. Here are three of the major reasons why your business should consider Office 365 as its primary productivity suite solution.

Office 365 is More Cost-Effective
When you consider the fact that small monthly payments fit into budgets easier than large up-front expenses, the benefits of Office 365 are clear. When purchased through Microsoft, Office 365 provides users with a discount for paying for 12 months ahead of time, allowing for further cost savings.

Office 365 Stays Up-to-Date
When using the traditional Microsoft Office suite, you would purchase the most recent version of the software. In this case, it would be Office 2016. However, in several years when the next version of Microsoft Office is released, users who paid up-front for their solution will have to, once again, shell out for up-front costs. A better option is to just pay for the Office 365 subscription, which will take into account all of these upgrades so that you’re always using the most recent version of Office--for no real additional costs.

Office 365 is More Flexible
Unlike Office 2016, which is a one-time download of your productivity solutions, Office 365 benefits from its subscription-based status by providing varied levels of service. If your current service plan doesn’t quite meet your expectations, you can change your plan to better suit your business’s needs. This type of flexibility is great for businesses that are growing or anticipating growth.

So, have we convinced you to switch to Office 365, or at least give it a shot? Either way, regardless of how you want to take advantage of Microsoft Office, Info Advantage can help you get started. To learn more, reach out to us at (585) 254-8710.

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When DDoS Attacks and Ransomware Combine, the Results are Ugly

When DDoS Attacks and Ransomware Combine, the Results are Ugly

Ransomware, the malware variant that has appeared more and more frequently has struck again, this time targeting users of Microsoft Outlook in a zero-day attack. A malware variant of Cerber (a ransomware) was recently utilized in a large scale attack on users of the messaging program, sent via phishing emails to corporate users.

What’s worse, this variant of Cerber is more than just your typical ransomware, as it also possesses DDoS capabilities.

DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, programs utilize the previously infected systems in their attacks on new victims as part of a botnet, causing the target system to cave under a deluge of useless traffic. Therefore, as an unfortunate recipient of this malware tries to resolve the problem, their system has already been assimilated into a cyber horde that’s attacking other systems.

Cerber demands a ransom of 1.24 Bitcoins to unlock the currently uncrackable ransomware, which converts (as of this writing) to approximately $718 US dollars.

The attack typically goes down as such: An intended victim receives an email with the ransomware. If activated, Cerber adds three files onto the desktop of the victim’s computer, each containing the same message. One is TXT format, one is HTML, and one is a Visual Basic Script that converts into an audio message. Their message reads: Attention! Attention! Attention! Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted! The most annoying part is that every startup will trigger this message.

The other two files also contain instructions to navigate to the Tor payment site in order to pay the ransom, with the phrase “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” transcribed in Latin at the bottom. As a brief reminder, we never recommend paying a malware ransom, as there is no guarantee that they will comply and release your files, and your funding will only contribute to further attacks.

As there is currently no known fix for Cerber, it is critical that businesses (the clear target of the ransomware) avoid falling victim to it, or any phishing-based attack for that matter. To do so, decision makers in companies should implement and enforce the following policies in their day-to-day practices.

  1. Users should be informed of email security best practices, including not running or opening attachments from unknown sources or suspect emails in general.
  2. In case of possible infection, all files should be kept on an isolated backup to prevent data loss. An infected backup is no good, and so it should remain separate from the network to avoid such a circumstance.
  3. Be sure to keep all systems thoroughly updated with the latest versions of all your protections, as malware designers are in a constant race with their programs to outpace those who design protective programs.

To find out more about threats like this affecting your business, subscribe to Info Advantage’s blog.

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Alert: 27 Vulnerabilities Patched in Latest Round of Windows Updates

Alert: 27 Vulnerabilities Patched in Latest Round of Windows Updates

27 vulnerabilities: The amount of vulnerabilities that were resolved with the round of security patches in Microsoft’s latest Patch Tuesday. Windows, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, the Edge browser, and more, were all affected. It’s important to patch these vulnerabilities as soon as possible, especially if you haven’t done so already.

However, if you’ve already applied the latest security patches, you have little to fear. We thought we’d share some background information on the nature of the vulnerabilities, and why Microsoft had to patch them in the first place. If you haven’t yet applied these patches, it will be good to know what you’re exposing your systems to, and why it’s important to get them fixed.

For Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and Edge, they are critically in danger of being exploited remotely through web pages or Office documents. This could allow hackers to execute malicious code and do your business harm. Read more about these patches on Microsoft’s security bulletin:

Patch for Microsoft Office: MS16-099
Patch for Internet Explorer: MS16-095
Patch for Edge: MS16-096

Even more critical vulnerabilities were found to affect Windows, Microsoft Office, Skype, and Lync, which have to do with the Windows Graphics Component. This could allow hackers to execute malicious code through malicious web pages or documents.

Patch for Windows, Microsoft Office, Skype, and Lync: MS16-097

In another security bulletin, Microsoft claims that a critical remote code execution flaw exists in Windows PDF Library, which is bundled with Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2. This vulnerability affected Edge in a different way from usual, and allows attackers to take advantage of malicious PDF documents hosted on a website, and then trick users to loading the file within their Edge browser.

Patch for Windows PDF Library: MS16-102

Other patches that have been flagged by Microsoft as “important,” rather than “critical,” can be found below. However, it’s important to note that even if they aren’t critical, they certainly shouldn’t be ignored.


If you haven’t yet updated your system with these security patches, you should reach out to Info Advantage at (585) 254-8710. Our technicians will work with you to ensure that your systems are protected and patched against the myriad of threats that can be found both online and offline.

Of course, if you already have Info Advantage’s remote monitoring and maintenance services, chances are that your systems have already been patched. In fact, we apply the patches for any product of Microsoft, so that you don’t have to. It’s just one way that managed IT service can help your business stay focused on what really matters.

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Sneaky: Some Microsoft Users are Reporting Unwanted Upgrades to Windows 10

b2ap3_thumbnail_windows_10_updates_400.jpgWindows 10, the latest operating system in Microsoft’s repertoire, has several business-friendly features that can potentially improve your organization’s workflow. However, many users are reporting that Windows 10 is installing on their devices automatically without their consent. If this is true, and your organization’s software is upgraded without your consent, you could be facing a big issue.

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