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In today’s world, businesses encounter threats on a daily basis that can negatively impact their business by seriously harming their data.  

These threats can strike any moment and cause unpredictable damage to the infrastructure of any corporation. Various forms of disasters including natural, accidental, cardinal mistakes or just bad luck all have the potential to cause untold damage.  

Protection and preparation are two key factors which every business owner must keep in mind when planning ahead. Many businesses include a data backup plan, but it is important to set this plan up for optimal performance.  

Often the day-to-day tasks can make it hard to focus on the larger picture. Taking a moment to pause and reevaluate your systems infrastructure will set your business up successfully, but it is essential that the plan is also meticulously followed.  

Integrating these four simple practices into a data recovery plan can be the difference between a complete system shutdown and a seamless transition that can happen in the blink of an eye.    Read more...

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The global chip crisis is continuing into 2022. The industry has been hit hard by a worldwide shortage of chips, which are used in computers and other electronic devices. This has left small businesses across the world to scramble for alternative solutions to their computer needs, as they can no longer source new parts on demand. For many companies this means relying on older equipment that may be slower or not as reliable as newer technology would be or buying older product that is still available in distribution warehouses. The future looks bleak as demand is set to outstrip supply for the indefinite future.

The global chip crisis started in 2016 as a result of China’s weak economy and the demand for technology dropping across developed countries, which caused companies to scale back on investment. This problem became more serious last year when Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd reported that they would be cutting their production by 30%.  Read more...

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SpireTech staff will be in an all-staff vendor driven training meeting and will be not taking calls Friday November 12th from 3PM-4:30PM. As always, we will be monitoring email and voicemail for any critical situations, but all other normal requests will be responded to after 4:30PM.

SpireTech’s Holiday Schedule:

  • November 25th – Thanksgiving – Closed
  • November 26th – Lightly staffed
  • December 23rd – Lightly staffed
  • December 24th – Christmas Eve – (Christmas Holiday Observed) – Closed
  • December 27th – Lightly staffed
  • December 31st – New Year’s eve – (New Year’s day holiday observed) – Closed

We wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

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Microsoft has notified partners that they are implementing a new commerce experience starting January 2022. They had also announced in August 2021 that a change with pricing to certain subscription packages was coming in 2022. SpireTech has been tracking these changes as Microsoft has already adjusted some of their terms after announcement in August 2021.

At this time, we can share what we know and how that may affect your existing subscriptions and will keep you updated as we learn more.

What is changing that impacts our clients:

  • You can still pay monthly for annual term licenses, but cannot reduce the quantity purchased during that term.
  • Microsoft will now enforce subscription terms to all subscriptions
  • Microsoft will implement premium pricing for month-to-month terms
  • Microsoft is raising the rate on certain subscription options regardless of terms
  • Microsoft will implement a pro-rated refund for the first 72 hours of term only
  • To date, Microsoft has allowed Partners to provision subscriptions for clients and raise and lower subscriptions counts at their leisure.

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If you are a business owner, then you will likely have heard the phrase “IT budget” before. It’s not as simple as just having a chunk of money to spend on your IT needs – there are many variables at play when it comes to this important part of running a successful business. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to make the most of your IT budget and get the maximum return for your company!

The most important thing to remember is that a successful IT budget needs planning in order to be effective.  If you are not sure how much money to put towards IT, talk to your IT provider for advice. They will be able to provide an estimate on what the overall costs of running a business’ technology would likely be over time – and can advise on where they think it is best spent in order to get the most benefit out of your technology.  Read more...

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We all had a few chuckles around here when we learned the reasons for the Facebook outage on Monday.

Datacenters use something called BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), a way for routers on the internet to learn the fastest path for traffic to take, learn when a circuit may be down, and re-route traffic as needed.  We run BGP in our datacenter, and it’s pretty important.

What someone at Facebook did was the equivalent of cutting themselves off at the knees… They deleted the advertised BGP information, and with no way for traffic to reach Facebook, essentially everything was down.  Hilarious, at least to the IT crowd, because we understand what they are going to have to go through to fix it.

Facebook’s VP of Infrastructure blogged about this here, and said in part: “it was not possible to access our data centers through our normal means because their networks were down… we sent engineers onsite to the data centers to have them debug the issue and restart the systems.  Read more...

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This week, Microsoft announced the availability of Windows 11.  While it offers some interesting new features, we recommend you wait a bit to let us sort out the bugs first.  Our initial testing has revealed a few annoyances that you might want to be aware of before upgrading.

Right now, we can confirm the following:

  1. We will not be upgrading clients to Windows 11 via our normal system maintenance processes.
  2. Even though Microsoft may offer it to you via Windows Update, we do not recommend our clients upgrade at this time because it is too new.
  3. Windows 11 is an upgrade, not an update – and although Microsoft offers the software for free to qualified systems, we reserve the right to charge for work related to these upgrades.
  4. Microsoft will be staging the rollout, and if their data indicates there may be issues with your hardware, it will not be offered to you.

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This month, a proof-of-concept (PoC) was sold on a hacker forum, suggesting that cybercriminals may be moving to a new level of sophistication in their assaults.  By embedding malware inside video cards from AMD and NVIDIA, the criminals are able to better hide and stay under cyber security radars.  The most recent proof-of-concept (POC) does not persist beyond a reboot, because it is not permanently installed in firmware – but other POC’s have demonstrated the ability to infect firmware. 

There is nothing we can do at the moment to detect this type of malware.  The only thing we can do is educate:  Be careful what you click on and download. Avoid pop-ups and suspicious links: Cybercriminals can use malicious advertisements or fake online videos to lure you into clicking on them, which may lead to a phishing scam.  Only click on links from trusted sources. If it’s not clear where the link leads, do some research before following it.

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Today, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced that it has added single-factor authentication (SFA) to a rather short list of cybersecurity bad practices it recommends against. 

The CISA’s “Bad Practices” list includes procedures that the federal government has deemed “extremely dangerous” and that should not be used by organizations in the public and private sectors, since they expose them to an unnecessary risk of their systems being hacked by threat actors. 

Since the list was released in September 2017, it has been updated twice to include new practices that should be avoided at all costs. 

In its latest update, CISA additionally added SFA to a list that includes bad practices such as using only one factor for authentication when authenticating into cloud or web applications; reusing passwords across multiple accounts (e.g. using the same password for a corporate and a personal email account); or exposing public folders to everyone with access to an organization’s IT resources.   Read more...

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This article is about the use of AI in content creation. The previous two articles (The latest Threat to your Computer, CISA: Don’t use single-factor auth) were written with the assistance of artificial intelligence, and this one will be as well. Artificial intelligence can help to increase your blog post production by generating more content for you at a faster rate than you could do it alone.  

The Jarvis AI first scans the title and description and determines the main point, summarizing it in a few sentences before using those to write its own post.  It also inserts relevant keywords and synonyms throughout to improve SEO.  The system is built on top of Google Cloud Natural Language API, but the team did not provide much detail how it works exactly.   

Microsoft is using AI in its products as well.  For example, Microsoft 365 uses AI to provide a more personalized experience for its users. PowerPoint uses  Read more...

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