Dropbox Expands Pro Plan to 1TB, Adds Security Features

Dropbox announced a new Pro plan which offers up to 1 Terabyte of cloud storage, greater sharing controls and improved security.  Already one of the most widely used cloud storage services for businesses and consumers now makes the Pro plan even more compelling. 

DropboxCertainly one of the most powerful advantages of Dropbox is it's ease of use.  It offer's simple way to store files from almost any device and easily share them with associates quickly. The upgrade plan focuses on business users that need more than the 2 Gigabytes of free storage.  The updated Pro plan provides 1 Terabyte for $9.99/month or $90.00/year.  This is a 10x increase in the amount of storage over the previous Pro plan.

The new sharing controls add an enhanced layer of permissions to the documents that are being stored.  Improved safeguards add passwords and expiration dates to file links.  This puts in place limits on who and for how long files can be accessed. In addition, remote wiping of files on mobile devices has been added to protect data on lost or stolen devices.

This is a competitive upgrade in what is becoming a very crowded cloud storage space. Dropbox had been  behind other players like Google, Box, Amazon and Microsoft recently with their features and pricing.  This squarely puts them back on top for business users who want a straightforward, multi-device, platform that almost everyone already is using in businesses today.  

Existing Pro users will automatically get updated in a few days.

Many firms are recognizing the value of cloud services.  To learn more about how cloud services can cut costs and improve your firm’s security check out the benefits of our Ease Cloud Workspace™ or call us today at (301) 854-0010.

Four New Features in Apple OS X Yosemite

Apple OS X Yosemite is coming soon, and it's a free upgrade for Mac users. It runs on any Mac manufactured since 2007. Here are four new features to look forward to this fall.

yosemite• New Layout and Design
Just like fashion, operating system design elements go in and out of style. The latest designs for computers and websites are flat with less shadowing and fewer 3D effects. OS X Yosemite also has a simple 2D dock with some new icon designs. Also, certain interface elements are now translucent, lending the design a more unified, connected feel.

• Revamped Notification Center
OS X Yosemite now packs more information into the new Notification Center widget. Calendar events, stock prices, and other notifications from your favorite widgets are centralized in one easily accessible place so you no longer need to dig around.

If this is sounding a bit like OS X's Dashboard, you're right. Most of the functionality present within Dashboard is now also present within the notification center. Apple has gone one step further and disabled Dashboard by default to encourage people to use the Notification Center instead. If you prefer Dashboard though, you can re-enable it through system preferences.

• New Safari Interface
OS X's Safari browser gets a major design overhaul in this release. A streamlined browser toolbar allows access to commonly used controls while providing a larger browsing area. Favorites are shown in a centered popup-display, similar to the iOS home screen, and active web pages can be viewed without clicking tabs. Additionally, a series of efficiency changes substantially improve battery life while browsing.

• iCloud Drive
Apple will be offering a cloud-based storage with an easy to use metaphor of files and folders. iCloud Drive provides a way for documents to be synced in the cloud in much the same way Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive do today.  Documents, movies and photos can be shared securely between your Macs, iPhone, iPads and even Windows computers.  Storage plans start with 5 GB for free and extend up to 1 terabyte for a fee.  


What you should know about the Russian hacker password heist

A group of Russian hackers has stolen the largest amount of Internet credentials in history, Milwaukee-based Hold Security announced this week. The stolen information includes a reported 1.2 billion usernames and password combinations, as well as 500 million email addresses.
Hold Security, who discovered the theft, has declined to name the victims in light of its nondisclosure agreements and the fact that several of the targeted companies still remain vulnerable. However, The New York Times confirmed Hold Security’s findings by hiring an expert unaffiliated with the security company who then determined that the database of stolen identities was genuine.
The Details of the Information Theft
This gang of cyber criminals built up their pool of stolen credentials over a span of several years. They started work on their illegal enterprise back in 2011, when they began buying personal information on the black market. However, in April 2013, they advanced their capabilities. Alex Holden, the founder and chief information security officer at Hold Security, said that he believes that the group teamed up with another criminal entity, which he has not yet identified, in order to learn more about various hacking techniques.
Since then, the group has begun using botnets — networks of computers that have been infected by a virus — for stealing information on a amazing scale. By July, they were able to steal 4.5 billion records, each with a username and password. Although many of these records overlapped, Holden estimated that around 1.2 billion of them were unique.
According to the security firm, the hackers captured information from over 420,000 websites. The victims were from countries around the world, and ranged in size from small businesses to large corporations.
Another Instance in a Growing Trend of Cyber Crime
This is not the first large-scale information theft to occur in recent history, with several information security breaches just coming last year. In December, Eastern European hackers stole 40 million credit card numbers and 70 million other pieces of personal information, including addresses and phone numbers.
Similarly, US authorities uncovered in October a Vietnam-based identity theft scheme that had managed to steal around 200 million personal records. That stockpile of stolen data included credit card information, bank account records, and Social Security numbers.
How to Protect Your Information
I have written several other blog posts some important Tips on Creating Secure Passwords. While it remains unclear what companies were struck by the latest theft, there can be no doubt that both corporations and consumers should be on their guard. First and foremost, those concerned about the safety of their records should change their passwords, making sure not to duplicate passwords for multiple sites.
Another crucial measure involves using a password manager tool like 1Password or LastPass. These applications create unique passwords for each site that a person visits, and then stores them in a database secured by a master password. This decreases the likelihood of a person using the same password twice or choosing one that is too easy to hack.
Managing passwords is only one part of the solution. While it is a good first step, it is often not enough on its own. Other security features such as secondary or two-factor authentication should also be used when the opportunity presents itself. Websites that use this method will send users a message with a one-time code that they must enter before accessing the system.
While consumers should take care to protect themselves, information security companies are still the best method for stopping hackers. Contact us to learn more about the most optimal security options for your organization.

Be sure to check out our webinar schedule.  Several times a year we provide a webinar Keeping Your Business Secure Online that provides an overview of these types of issues and ways you can better protect your business.  View our schedule here.


How to Prepare Your Office for a Major Storm [Infographic]

Hurricane and tropical storms run through the end of October. Is your office prepared? Follow these steps to weather the storm.


Five New Features in Windows 8.1 Update 1

Windows 8Windows 8.1 Update 1 is now available for free to everyone running the Windows 8 operating system. At its launch, Windows 8 proved to be a controversial operating system, largely because of its bias towards tablets and touchscreen interfaces. The previous upgrade to Windows 8.1 made strides in the right direction to address consumer concerns, but problems persisted. Update 1 makes further revisions based on the resulting consumer feedback. Every Windows 8 user, particularly those with desktop or laptop computers, should update sooner rather than later.

Here are the biggest changes and improvements that you can expect.

1. Context Aware Startup
Windows 8.1 introduced a manual setting allowing users to bypass the Start screen and go straight to the desktop. This made a lot of sense for desktop users who didn't need the Metro-based Start screen the way a tablet user would. Update 1 automatically configures this setting to provide the best user experience for a given device.

2. Context Aware Apps
With Update 1, applications display in the best style for the device on which they are executed. Applications on a desktop will display in the familiar desktop style, while those on a tablet will continue to display with Metro. A vast majority of Windows 8 users will once again have ready access to their desktops once the update is installed.

3. Right-Click Context Menus
The right-click context menus of Windows 8 have also received some attention with Update 1. They now provide all of the familiar options present in previous versions of Windows. Update 1 also updates the Metro-based Start screen with its own context menu that provides new options such as "Pin to taskbar" and resize.

4. Title Bars for Windows 8 Apps
The original version of Windows 8 didn't provide a quick and simple way to identify or close Metro-based applications. While Windows 8.1 partly addressed this issue, Update 1 goes a step further by providing title bars for all such apps. The title bars appear automatically whenever you move the mouse pointer to the top-right corner of the screen, so they don't get in the way of the full-screen experience. The title bars also provide controls to minimize and close apps, as well as split the screen.

5. Reduced System Requirements
Update 1 has dropped the memory requirements from 2 to 1 gigabytes and the installation footprint from 32 to 16 gigabytes. Thanks to the lower system requirements, you'll be able to install Windows 8 on older machines and possibly even netbooks.

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