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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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2 Free Tools that Will Read Documents and Web Pages to You

2 Free Tools that Will Read Documents and Web Pages to You

These days, who has time to read? For busy business owners, reading is a luxury. This is what makes audiobooks such a valuable tool. They allow busy people to consume information while accomplishing a mindless task like cleaning the house. While this arrangement works wonders for titles found on Audible.com, what about the documents you must read that haven’t been made into an audiobook?


For example, what if you have to read a long Word document about a project, or a blog article about an important development in your industry, but, dang it, you just don’t have the time? Thankfully, there are some great text-to-speech tools available online that will do this heavy lifting for you. Granted, the narrator comes off sounding a bit robotic, but when it comes to helpful freeware, beggars can’t be choosers.

SpeakIt!
SpeakIt! is an extension for Chrome that reads text on a webpage back to you. With the extension downloaded, all you have to do is highlight the text you’d like read to you and then click on the SpeakIt! icon in the upper-right corner of Chrome. Then, just like that, it’s storytime.

SpeakIt! boasts of a few handy features, like the ability to adjust the playback speed 10x faster or slower than the standard 330 words/minute, as well as the ability to translate text and utilize different languages.

On the downside, a quick read through of the reviews reveal that some users experienced bugs after using SpeakIt! for more than a few minutes. Additionally, while SpeakIt! works great for static web pages, playback is painfully slow for pages in Chrome that allow for text to be edited, like apps in Google Drive, Gmail, Adobe Reader, etc.

@Voice Aloud Reader
For busy audiobook aficionados on the go, @Voice Aloud Reader for Android is a great mobile solution. It’s available for free on the Google Play Store. The app also has plugins available designed to enhance the functionality of reading specific files, like @Voice PDF Crop Plugin.

@Voice Aloud Reader works by uploading text to the app, then, with the app open, select play and it will be read aloud to you. The app does a good job at retaining the formatting of the uploaded article. Additionally, while the text is being read, the app highlights the current sentence that it’s on, making it easy to follow along. Like Speak It!, @Voice Aloud Reader lets you adjust playback speed, and it’s compatible with a variety of files, like PDF, DOC, TXT, EPUB, FB2, and more.

Overall, @Voice Aloud Reader is a highly-rated app. The biggest annoyance may be advertisements, but you can make these go away by upgrading to the pro version. Plus, the fact that the advertisements only show up in the display and they don’t interrupt the audio playback, makes this a non-issue.

So go ahead and download these two free text-to-speech tools, knock out that list of assigned readings you’ve been putting off, and then share your review with us in the comments below!

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Sunday, 22 January 2017 02:18
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4 Tips to Protect Your Company Network From Hackers

4 Tips to Protect Your Company Network From Hackers

As a business owner in the age of technology, the idea of a hacker getting into your company data is a real threat. Hackers covet company information that they can use to extort money or resources out of business owners, or use to damage their business and reputation. With new methods being descovered every day, it can be overwhelming to find a way to combat cybercriminals looking to steal your data. Luckily, there are a few easy things any business owner can do to keep there data safe. Here are five tips you can use to keep your critical data out of a hackers hands.

Security Software

Securty software such as firewalls are your first and best defense against an attack. For smaller companies, software firewalls can help track and manage any threats that might make their way into your company's network. Larger networks can benefit from a widespread hardware firewall that runs with your server. Firewall hardware will add higher security to your network by controlling access to all computers in the network from a specific point. In addition to firewalls, there are a variety of security plug-ins you can run on your company's prefferred internet application. These tools can protect your network from malicious software lurking around the internet.

Frequent Data Backup

Backing up your data frequently is one of the best ways you can reduce the impact of a hacker attack. Businesses big or small should constantly back up their company data, along with the data of their clients, to ensure that nothing is lost should your network fall pray to malicious software. Check that all files saved onto your network are automatically saved to several locations. It is recommended that you keep a backup of your data both on and off-site, as on-site data can still be vulnerable if it is on your network. 

Encrypt Your Confidential Data

Encryption is a way for a user to store their data in an 'scrambled' form that makes it impossible to read by people who don't have access. Examples of encryption can be found on ecommerce sites that use online payment methods in order to prevent the leaking of credit card information. Encryption can be done on individual files, or across an entire drive. While encryption can slow down your data access, it ensures that anyone who managed to get their hands on your sensitive files will be unable to read them. It is recommended that you encrypt your most sensitive data, such as payment methods or client information.

Keep Up With Software Patches

In attempt to keep hackers from exploiting their products, software companies will often release new patches for their products. These patches update the software in order to do away with any vulnerabilities that a hacker could exploit. Anti-virus application developers also work dilligently to update their software any time a new virus is created. Check to make sure that your software is always up to date, and enable automatic updates when available. This will ensure that your data is protected with the latest security.

Even with these simple methods, the threat of data loss at the hands of a hacker is a real one. Info Advantage offers several solutions to ensure that your company and client data is completely secure and ready for a hacker attack. Contact us at (585) 254-8710 to learn more about how Info Advantage can take the burden of cybersecurity off your shoulders.

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3 Talk-to-Text Apps that are Well Worth the Money

3 Talk-to-Text Apps that are Well Worth the Money

The development of mobile platforms have led to the development of hundreds of apps that give users the ability to capture websites, take notes, and do just about anything else as it pertains to a person’s daily business tasks. Some users of modern smartphones (and other mobile devices) routinely complain about the reliability of the on-screen keyboard interface, as communication is as important to the development and outcome of projects as ever. For this reason, some developers have begun creating applications that allow users to dictate to their devices; turning spoken words in to text. Here are three of the most reliable options to turn your voice into text.

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DroidJack Malware is Super-Effective Against Impatient Pokémon Go Users

DroidJack Malware is Super-Effective Against Impatient Pokémon Go Users

Augmented reality is a growing trend in the technology industry, and perhaps one of the best known uses of it today can be found in the extremely popular mobile device app, Pokemon Go. However, hackers have seized the opportunity to infect players who want to “catch ‘em all” with a backdoor called DroidJack - something that certainly won’t help gamers “be the very best.”


The Pokemon series has long been known as one of Nintendo’s most popular gaming franchises, and with the release of Pokemon Go, the series has finally made its way to everyday mobile device users. It’s currently ranked as the #1 most downloaded free app on the Apple Store, as well as the Google Play store. The game was such a hit that Nintendo’s stock increased exponentially overnight, and the app has over 26 million users worldwide - more than Tinder, Twitter, Google Maps, and other mobile apps.

However, like many extremely popular things, hackers have taken this and exploited it to do their bidding. Prior to the app’s release worldwide, many impatient fans downloaded the APK (Android application package) from third-party websites and “side-loaded” it onto their devices. This can only be done by going into Android’s settings and allowing app installation from unknown sources. Normally, this is a red flag for any security-minded mobile device user, as some malware is known to infect devices and download apps without the permission of the user; yet, some Pokemon fans just couldn’t wait, and downloaded the APK without thinking of the consequences; like downloading a backdoor.

Considering how many countries outside the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, are still waiting for access to Pokemon Go, many have chosen to just use the APK to get the app on their device, rather than wait for the official release. One particular source of the APK provides a modified version of Pokemon Go that, upon installation, installs a backdoor onto the device, which allows for remote access to the device and provides full control over the victim’s phone. The infected version of Pokemon Go is so well-done and inconspicuous that the user likely won’t know that their device has been infected. Security firm Proofpoint suggests that it’s entirely possible that, should infected devices connect to your network, networked resources can also be put at risk.

Take a look at the DroidJack-infected app’s permission request, and see for yourself just how strange they might look.

https://www.proofpoint.com/sites/default/files/users_content/10/pokemon-fig2.png
https://www.proofpoint.com/sites/default/files/users_content/10/pokemon-fig3.png

When downloading any app, it’s crucial that you drive this best practice into the heads of your employees: be sure to pay attention to the permissions required by the apps that you download. For example, there’s no real reason why Pokemon Go would need to make phone calls, edit and send text messages, modify your contacts, and record audio. All of this is just asking for disaster. While exploitation of the APK hasn’t been observed in the wild, it represents a dangerous development in mobile applications, one which shows hackers taking advantage of wildly popular smartphone apps, and turning them into catalysts to spread their malware and influence.

There are two lessons to be learned. Don’t download apps from unknown sources, even if they’re just games, and make sure that your employees know what your policy on mobile apps is on your in-house network. Also, be sure to examine a new app’s permissions, and only download them from the Apple store or Google Play store. Among your millennial workforce, there may be many users of Pokemon Go, so it’s your responsibility to reach out to them, and educate them on these best practices.

After all, “Gotta catch ‘em all,” doesn’t refer to malware infections.

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Tip of the Week: Adjust the Brightness of Your Device’s Screen to Prevent Eye Strain

b2ap3_thumbnail_control_your_brightness_400.jpgComputer monitors have become streamlined in appearance and design over the years. One of the biggest improvements was the addition of the LCD screen, which in comparison to the old CRT monitors is more pleasing to the eye. However, its brightness means that there are side effects that can lead to eye strain and headaches. You can lower your screen brightness to preserve both your eyesight and your sanity, in addition to saving precious battery life.

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