Coleman Technologies Blog
Have you ever cleared a notification on your phone, then gotten a sinking feeling a couple hours later, like you’ve missed something important? Well, worry no longer, for we will show you how to turn on your Android smartphone’s notification history feature. This should alleviate at least some of the stress you might experience about clearing notifications.
How to Help Keep Your Mobile Devices Kicking for Longer
It’s a common enough frustration—just as you really need it, your mobile device’s battery is on its last legs. This is something that we all would like to avoid if we could. That’s why we wanted to take the time to share a few ways to prolong your device’s battery life just a bit longer.
Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Improve Mobile Business Etiquette
Business Doesn’t Stop, But You Should
We’ve all been there. We’re driving or on the train and a phone call comes in that you absolutely have to take. What do you do? Most people will take the call, but the right thing to do is send it to voicemail and return the call as soon as possible. Why? Because you are distracted. It’s best to call back and give the caller the attention they deserve rather than trying to juggle a phone call in the middle of traffic. Okay, this one is pretty basic, but it’s the foundation of all mobile etiquettes.
You Even Need To Worry About Phishing In Your Text Messages
What is Smishing?
When cybercriminals use phishing scams, they aren’t using advanced technologies to crack their target’s digital defenses. Instead, they hack users by exploiting the assumptions, bad habits, and ignorance of the target to get them to release sensitive information.
Attackers circumvent cybersecurity measures by sending messages purporting to be from an authority figure or trusted contact, thereby convincing the user to undermine their protection. A notorious example of phishing is the email from the persecuted royal family, known as the "Nigerian Prince scam."
Smartphone Flagships to Consider Going into 2021
The flagship smartphone gets its name from a military nautical tradition where the ship that holds the commanding officer would be the best, strongest, and most capable ship in the fleet. When discussing smartphones, it typically describes the best available device that any manufacturer has released for the year. Let’s take a look at some of 2020’s flagship smartphones:
Why is VoIP Seen as Such a Great Business Solution?
What is VoIP, Anyways?
Voice over Internet Protocol is simply a different, more cost-effective means of transmitting voice data from one telephonic device to another. Rather than using a telephone provider’s infrastructure, a VoIP signal utilizes the Internet. This eliminates an entire line item from your expenses by rendering your telephone provider’s services redundant. This enables you to simultaneously save money while enjoying many often-included features that would otherwise have cost extra—assuming that they were even available with traditional telephony.
Tip of the Week: Simple Solutions to a Few Android Problems
Screen Rotating Too Much? Lock It in Place!
How often have you been in the middle of doing something, only to shift your phone’s position and have your screen switch orientation as it calibrates to what it assumes is what you are looking for? It doesn’t take long for this to get old, and quick.
How to Make the Most of Mobile Device Management
Let’s go over a few key practices to successfully using MDM to your business’ benefit.
What is Mobile Device Management?
Mobile device management is the application of software solutions that allow you to implement policies that control how users can access your business’ data. This enables your business to improve its data security while implementing a Bring Your Own Device policy.
Network security is a major point of emphasis for most businesses that rely on their IT. As a result, mobile security should work in concert with your network security rules. Here are a couple of guidelines you will want to include to ensure that your mobile platform stays secure:
Nope, You Haven’t Been Hacked By Google and Apple’s COVID-19 App
There’s been a consistent pattern that has emerged with popular software applications: a major update or other change is made, and uproar on social media ensues.
Just look at what happened when the Android platform’s Facebook application began requesting access to the user’s smartphone camera several years ago now. While this was required so that Facebook’s newly released native photo-taking capabilities could be embraced, there was still a lot said about it on social media.
Today, it’s not enough to have an antivirus or firewall. You need solutions designed to actively protect your network and data from those that are actively trying to gain access to them. So while it may not be enough, making sure that your firewall and antivirus software are updated with the latest threat definitions, and that your other solutions like spam blocking and virtual private networks are being utilized properly, can set you up for success. Let’s look at four additional strategies that extend traditional cybersecurity into the modern age.
Tip of the Week: What Happens when a Laptop is Left Plugged In?
For this week’s tip, we’ll dig into this exact question.
How Working from Home Has Impacted the Use of Mobile Devices
Here’s the thing: with stay-at-home orders and other measures being put into place across the country, a lot of people aren’t as mobile as they once were. As a result, the mobile devices that would travel with them back and forth to the office have effectively become temporary desktops in their homes… and as such, are spending more time plugged in than not.
Mobile Phones and Their Batteries
Cellular phones have been around on the open market for about 35 years. In the 1980s and 90s, these devices were bulky and had considerable heft, as did the nickel-cadmium (NiCD) batteries that powered them. These batteries couldn’t power these phones for very long at all, and had a relatively short lifespan (especially if charged when they still had some juice in them).
This didn’t stop the demand, however, and so improved batteries were manufactured using nickel-metal hydride (NiMH). This material was lighter, charged back up more efficiently, and while they still had a severely stunted lifespan by today’s standards, they degraded more slowly that NiCD batteries. This technology hit the market in the late 1990s, leading to considerable growth in the cellular phone market.
This growth eventually led to the introduction of the smartphone, making the NiMH batteries an ineffective option - there just needed to be more power in order to run what effectively boiled down to a computer in your pocket. As a result, lithium-ion batteries were developed. These batteries lasted longer, charged more quickly, and didn’t degrade over time. The one drawback to these batteries is the increased price, which helps to explain the sudden increase in the cost of a phone in recent years.
Even more recently, the lithium-poly ion (Li-Poly) battery was developed, offering about 40 percent more power than NiMH batteries. Unfortunately, the cost of production has prohibited them from being used in anything other than flagship devices.
Batteries of the Future
As our technology continues to advance, so must the batteries that power it. Lithium-ion batteries are already being improved by up to three times performance, the graphite they once contained being replaced with silicon. This is far from the most intriguing example of tomorrow’s tech we’re apt to see in our batteries, too:
- Charging your device with a Wi-Fi signal - What if your Wi-Fi connection could help to charge your phone? Researchers are essentially trying to accomplish as much. By using a rectenna (an ultra-thin and flexible radio wave antenna), the idea is that AC power could be found in Wi-Fi signals and other electromagnetic waves, and harvested. This power could then be converted to DC to supplement a device’s power supply.
- Literally charging your device by yourself - The human body relies on electricity to function - as in, any and all of its functions. In order to communicate, your cells generate a charge. The reason that lightning strikes are so dangerous to your business’ infrastructure is the same reason they are so dangerous to people - the circuitry is fried. However, research into improvements to triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG technology) implies that we may someday be capable of harvesting the energy produced by the human body and amplifying it, giving us an on-hand (or on-shoulder, or on-foot…) power supply.
- Lithium-ion batteries will be solid state - The use of solid electrodes and electrolytes to create a battery isn’t a new idea - some devices, like pacemakers, wearables, and RFID sensors, actually already use them. However, due to cost prohibitions, they haven’t yet been incorporated into smartphones… emphasis on “yet.”
- Batteries will be biological - Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. Less complicated chains are known as peptides. Scientists have discovered that incorporating peptides into batteries can help improve them further, making them more stable. An Israeli startup, StoreDot, has also used peptides to develop a device capable of charging a smartphone in 60 seconds.
- Sodium-ion, instead of lithium-ion, will be used - Lithium is abundantly rare, which is why newer devices cost so much - it’s the batteries. Sodium, on the other hand, is just plain abundant, which would make these batteries cheaper to produce, leading to more affordable end-products.
- Liquid flow batteries take over - Liquid flow batteries have been shown to be a cost-effective means of increasing power storage in everything from our personal devices to our municipal infrastructures. While there is considerable work yet to be done, these batteries could appear in the near future.
For now, it is probably best to understand the batteries we have around today, and how to best handle them.
Modern Battery Myths and Best Practices
- Myth: Always let your batteries drain to zero before recharging.
As mentioned above, this was once necessary, but the batteries we use now no longer have the vulnerabilities that NiCD and NiMH did.
- Myth: One way to ruin your batteries is overcharging them.
Again, this isn’t so much a myth as it is a best practice that no longer applies. Modern devices have failsafe defenses built into them to prevent overcharging. However, you still need to be concerned about heat build-up. Make sure your device has some breathing room.
- Best Practice: Don’t throw batteries away.
Many of the materials that go into batteries are hazardous, and have no place in a landfill as a result. Instead, recycle them! We might be able to help with that, depending on what you have to dispose of. Call us at (604) 513-9428 to talk more about that.
- Best Practice: Check your settings to see what uses the most power.
If you have a device that just doesn’t seem to hold a charge, you probably have some options to go about fixing it. Reducing the brightness of the screen, adjusting how long the screen stays on, and other tweaks can help extend the life. Some of your applications may be a contributing factor as well.
An increasingly mobile world will require the power to be available to support it. We can help support your business’ mobility in other ways, keeping it secure and reliable. To learn more, call (604) 513-9428 today.
Smartphones in the Workplace
Let’s start with the trickiest bit of this first. Smartphones are a distraction, pure and simple. In fact, according to one survey, employees average about 56 minutes per day on their phones while they are in the office. This equates to a massive productivity leak for many businesses, but just when you think it isn’t equitably fair for the employer to pay for time employees spend scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, responding to personal emails, and browsing websites blocked by the company’s content filter, employers aren’t totally innocent in this situation.
The modern employer is the first person to take advantage of the computing prowess of these devices. Since the modern company tries to do more with less, many employers expect their workforce to always be available; and, that means always. Moreover, managers and executives aren’t any different: they are always on their smartphones too!
Some organizations feel the need to try and strategically design policies to keep people from using their personal devices for personal use on company time. These same people don’t have a problem with them using these devices for the benefit of the organization, just not for personal gain. This is where policies go wrong. They create archaic and completely unrealistic policies and are shocked when even their best performers can’t avoid their phones for long.
If you want your staff to limit their phone use at work, you have to make that clear. Some companies have implemented a policy that provides small breaks in which they can use their phones, but most companies have come to understand that this isn’t a trend and that phone use is part of day-to-day life. Locking down people’s ability to connect with the outside world for eight (or more) hours a day is only going to serve to bring negative reviews from your team, so your best bet is to embrace it, and realize that as long as your expectations have been communicated properly, most employees won’t take advantage.
Smartphones Out of the Workplace
While the smartphone may be a bit of a distraction to your in-house staff, what happens the moment people leave the confines of your business? They use their phone. In fact, I doubt very much if they make it out to their car or onto the train without a full assessment of the messages sent by applications, people, and others. How long do you last without checking yours?
This brings us to the point that needs to be hammered home. The more people use mobile devices, and specifically smartphones, the more they are willing to do off the clock for work. You don’t think this is true? If you are a business owner or manager, try texting, emailing, or messaging a member of your staff outside of work. They may not appreciate it, but more than likely, they will respond. This effectively extends them to “on-call”, a state that was typically reserved for people with jobs that the public depends on like doctors, lawyers, and the like. Now if you have a question about a project that just can’t wait until the morning, there is an excellent chance that you will be able to get the answer you seek directly from the person who worked on a task last. That can have a lot of benefits for your business.
What About Security?
Mobile malware has become much more prevalent than ever before--so much so that it can be a major problem for your business. The best way to mitigate liability from this is to design and enact a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy that takes advantage of cutting-edge mobile device management tools. Your staff may scoff at first, but if their two options are using their data or using your wireless network, they will opt in, guaranteed.
If you need some help ensuring that you are doing everything you can to take advantage of your staff’s reliance on their smartphones, we can provide you with all the information, resources, and technology you need to make employee smartphone use work for your company. To learn more, call us today at (604) 513-9428.
Tip of the Week: Your Phone Can Work as Your Security Key
As we begin, it is important that we acknowledge that the Android operating system has been granted FIDO2 certification. In other words, the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance has given the Android OS their seal of approval in regard to the authentication standards that the Alliance has set.
What Does This Mean?
In very simple terms, any Android device running 7.0 or higher with the latest Google Chrome update installed can be used as part of a two-factor authentication strategy - more specifically, as a security key. This includes the support that FIDO2 offers for onboard fingerprint scanners as a means of identity authentication. Currently, this authentication standard is only supported by Android, with no indication of Apple devices incorporating it.
In no uncertain terms, this all means that passwords may soon be phased out.
Passwords have been the standardized form of authenticating one’s identity for quite some time, despite the potential issues that are present with them. How often have we seen just how many ways a determined cybercriminal has to obtain a password? Between insecure databases filled with credentials and unfortunately successful phishing schemes, millions of accounts have been exposed - and that isn’t even taking all the times an insecure password was guessed into account.
The biggest weakness that any password has is the fact that it can be shared at all, that someone other than the owner can use it. Over any other reason, this is why FIDO2 is likely to become as popular as it is expected to be. When was the last time you successfully shared a thumbprint with someone, after all? Furthermore, FIDO2 keeps all of the information that is pulled from its biometrics onboard the device, keeping it safe from being stolen on the Internet.
As an added bonus, FIDO2 won’t allow the user to input their fingerprint’s biometric data into websites that don’t have sufficient security measures in place.
How to Use Your Android Device as a FIDO2 Security Key
In order to leverage your Android device as a security key, you need to make sure that it meets a few benchmarks. First and foremost, you’ll need to be running at least Android 7.0, with the latest version of Chrome installed. You will also need to have Bluetooth activated, and a Google account with two-step verification enabled.
This is somewhat simple to do. Logging into your Google account, access the Security section. Here, you’ll find the option to activate 2-Step Verification. After a short process, your smartphone will work as a security key.
Authenticating Google Sign-Ins with Your Phone
As long as you have enabled both Bluetooth and Location on your mobile device, any Google service you try to access will prompt you to confirm the sign-in attempt via your phone. This process is exceptionally simple - all you have to do is press Yes on your phone and wait. Once you’ve done so, you can confidently access your Google account, securely. As more developers adopt FIDO2, this enhanced security will only appear more often.
What do you think of this new authentication method? Share your impressions in the comments! While you’re there, let us know if there are any other tips you’d like us to cover!
How Can BYOD Manifest Issues?
Unfortunately, for all its benefits, there is no shortage of drawbacks to BYOD - at least, if it is implemented without conscious deliberation and preparation. Here, we’ve listed a few such drawbacks:
Business and Personal Data Often Mix, but Shouldn’t
Do you really expect an employee to have a personal device that isn’t for personal use? If this device is used for work purposes as well, it can become very easy to combine this data and put some of it at risk. What if an employee who brought their own device in then left the company, the device in question full of your company’s sensitive data? Without some kind of policy in place to eliminate this risk, BYOD is simply too risky to allow.
Your Business Will Be Vulnerable to More Risks
Unfortunately, a poorly-strategized BYOD policy opens your business up to a variety of issues that could have severe and lasting ramifications.
This is mainly due to the many risks that mobile devices inherently have in terms of data leakage, malware infection, and other vulnerabilities. If your employees aren’t vigilant in keeping their devices updated and secured, your network will be subject to the same vulnerabilities. Malware infections can also be introduced via an employee not treating their device as carefully as they should be. If malware is installed on their device, it can easily be spread to your network - free to wreak havoc and steal data.
Your Infrastructure Will Likely Need Reworking
This one is admittedly less of an issue as it is an inconvenience. Simply put, adding an influx of devices and ensuring that your IT remains compliant to any policies can be a huge investment of time - and if not done correctly the first time, this investment will only grow.
How to Prevent These Issues Via Policies
As we briefly mentioned above, any BYOD initiative you introduce to your company needs to be controlled through a stringent use policy. This policy needs to clearly describe how an employee is to use their device during work hours, as well as the prerequisites that your employees need to abide by and agree to in order to use their own device. We recommend the following:
Mobile Device Management and Endpoint Protection
This technology helps to keep any company data isolated from any personal data on the device, which means that it allows you to control your data without intruding on an employee’s privacy. As a result, if a device is stolen, you can remotely remove any business data from it to ensure your data is protected.
Another precaution to enact is endpoint protection software. This software essentially performs a preemptive security scan of any device trying to access the network, identifying if a device has been infected. This means that your network isn’t introduced to whatever malware is present on the device, and the owner is then aware of their security issue as well.
The fact of the matter is that not every employee needs access to every byte of data you have. Therefore, it makes sense to implement role-based access controls. These controls can help keep an employee focused on the data they need for their work duties, and can help you identify where a breach occurred, should one happen. Some access controls can even prevent a device that isn’t up to date from connecting to the network at all. You should also investigate two-factor authentication measures that might assist you in limiting access to those who should have it.
Exit Strategies and Safeguards
Finally, you also have to consider what to do if something happens to one of the devices that has been used for BYOD purposes. First of all, you need to have your employees agree to have a lost device wiped remotely, applying the necessary solutions to each device used. Your employees also need to report a lost or stolen device immediately so these precautions can be put to use.
Finally, should an employee leave your business, you also need to make sure you have already secured the authorization to remove your company’s data from their device. You don’t want someone walking around with access to your data, whether their departure was amicable or not. Including this in your BYOD policy will ensure that anyone who leverages their mobile device is aware of your capability to remove your company data from their device, and will allow them to opt out of BYOD if it makes them uncomfortable.
With these policies backing up your Bring Your Own Device planning, you should be able to make use of a great productivity tool without sacrificing your data security. For assistance in putting BYOD into practice, reach out to Coleman Technologies at (604) 513-9428.
Tip of the Week: Is a Laptop the Best Fit for Your Employees?
Reason 1: Mobility
Let’s begin with the most obvious reason laptops are a great option - you aren’t tied to a desk to do your work as you would be with a conventional desktop. Instead, you can just pick it up and take it with you, whether that’s to a meeting on the other side of the office or home for some remote work. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone haul an entire desktop workstation around, but if you have, you know that it just isn’t practical to do.
Potentially travelling with a laptop is also much easier. A desktop workstation would need to be carefully stowed in a vehicle, if not shipped to its destination. While it may seem like a hassle at the airport, stowing a laptop in a carry-on is a much more secure and convenient option when all is said and done.
In short, utilizing a laptop makes a lot more sense in an increasingly mobile world than does utilizing its far less mobile cousin, the desktop.
Reason 2: Concision
If the resources are there, one might make the argument that it makes more sense to utilize both a desktop and a laptop - one for the office, and one for home and travel.
Financial considerations aside, there are other issues with this strategy. The major one is the fact that it makes it that much more complicated to ensure that everything you need is where you need it to be, when you need it to be there. There is little that is more professionally frustrating than sitting down to work and realizing that the data you need is on your other device. Hopefully, you have the access to the other device at the time to make the necessary transfer.
While properly utilizing a cloud solution would be another way to approach this difficulty, why use two devices when one will suffice? That way, you can be sure that your employees always have access to the programs and data that they need to be productive.
Reason 3: Consistency
One of the most important considerations for any office technology configuration to take into account is how compatible the many devices it contains are with each other, and the solutions needed to accomplish each day’s tasks. If each employee has a different device, not only is this no longer guaranteed, you have no guarantee that each laptop will have the same shortcuts and features. For instance, if you want to encrypt the data on laptops and allow your staff to sign in with a thumbprint scanner, not all models are equipped with that. Different devices don’t tend to change how complicated it is to manage the devices, but it can vary the experience your users have and limit the policies you can set.
Standardizing your office’s devices becomes much easier when everyone has the same device, which inherently means that everyone has the same capabilities in the office. Of course, if someone needs their device to have more specialized capabilities, they should be the exception. However, for the run-of-the-mill tasks that many are responsible for, the average laptop should suit them just fine.
If you want more help in designing your technology infrastructure and setting it up for prolonged productivity, reach out to Coleman Technologies. One call to (604) 513-9428 is all it takes to start receiving the technology services that you need for success!
It’s the holiday season, which means that many will find that themselves traveling, either to visit family and friends or to seek out more agreeable climates. However, business being what it is, many will also still be trying to get work done during their travels.
Thanks to the incredible capabilities of the mobile devices we have today, this is made much easier. A business that leverages cloud solutions offers mobile users an exceptional amount of maneuverability, and the popularity of Bring Your Own Device policies have made it so that the resources needed to accomplish work goals are never too far away. Yet, this access is a catch-22, as it also means that data can be easily lost, far from the business’ location and the protections it should have in place.
Resultantly, there are a multitude of ways that a cybercriminal can come into possession of your data, either personal or professional. Fortunately, there are some ways to help prevent this from happening as well.
- Public Wi-Fi is Too Public: When out in public, you’ll want to avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks when shopping or accessing sensitive information. We all know that hunting for the best deals is made much easier when you can look up prices online, but you’ll want to use your data instead. Public signals make hackers’ jobs that much easier with their typically insufficient security standards.
- Charity Good, Charity Scams Bad: These phishing variants can come in via all avenues, but very commonly take the form of calls and text messages. A scammer pretends to be working for some charity, but in actuality, just wants your money and data for themselves. If you receive what you believe to be a charity scam attempt, you’d be wise to do some research into who is asking for it before handing over your data, payment information or otherwise.
- Charge Carefully: Whether you’re at the airport during a layover and trying to eke a few more minutes out of your device, or you’re deal-hunting online as you’re wandering the mall, you need to make sure you’re being smart about how you’re keeping your device charged. Many attackers will hide attacks in charging stations, waiting to strike whomever connects.
Of course, these hacks and threats aren’t going to end after the holiday season is over. Moving into 2019, the above threats are still going to be just as large of a problem, along with many other threats. Much of this will be in part due to our reliance on mobile devices.
Hackers will still be able to intercept data exchanged on an unsecure network, more devices will become outdated and insecure (you may want to peek at some of those holiday deals for an upgrade), and yes, more people will enable these threats through uninformed decisions. You need to make sure that your business isn’t influenced by threats like these.
Coleman Technologies can help. Get your business a holiday gift by calling (604) 513-9428 and speaking to us about our managed IT services.
Tip of the Week: Locating a Misplaced Smartphone
The Stakes Are High
A lost smartphone is something that needs to be taken seriously nowadays. Not only is it an expensive device to replace, its contents could be considered priceless. Anything you’ve accessed via that phone (potentially including your finances and social media) is then at risk. If this device was used for business purposes, your data could be at stake if your device was stolen - and, if you used it as a part of a two-factor authentication measure, there goes your access to your network.
Clearly, this wouldn’t be a good thing.
This is precisely why Android includes a feature to help you find a device, should it ever be lost.
On your Android device, you need to work proactively and enable a few settings.
In your Settings, you should be able to find a Find My Device option. Make sure this is turned on. Your Location should be set to High accuracy. Finally, you will want to enable Google to Use Location History. While this will diminish your privacy from the eyes of Google, it will make your phone that much easier to find.
To locate your device, you’ll then need to access the same Google account that is used on the device in question from a web browser. Google is able to give you a general idea of where the device was last located on a map, and even what Wi-Fi networks it is connected to. The Find My Device application can do the same thing if you have access to a second device.
Find My Device also allows you to remotely lock your device and display a message to help anyone who might find it get it back to you. Once you’re in the vicinity of your device, you can also command your device to ring. This command will override the volume settings, increasing the chances of it being heard.
If you truly believe that your device has been stolen, there is also the nuclear option: remotely wiping the device via Find My Device.
Keep in mind, in order for these features to work, you absolutely have to enable them on your phone first. Otherwise, you’ll be out of luck if the device ever goes missing.
It is also important to remember that these features will only work as long as the phone is on. Sure, you could still check for its last known location in Find My Device, but there’s no guarantee that it will still be there.
Finally, if you truly believe that your device was stolen, contact the proper authorities and give them everything you know.
With any luck, you’ll be able to find your lost phone lickety-split. While you’re here, take a look at some of our other blogs, where you can find other handy tricks and useful information, courtesy of Coleman Technologies.