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4 Things You Need to Know About Ransomware

Different IT professionals might not agree about everything, but we all hate ransomware. We hope you’re not too familiar with this particular type of malicious software, but you have probably heard about it or seen in on the news. It usually involves computers and workstations being locked behind encryption until a payment is made to an anonymous third-party. Hence the “ransom” part of the name.

While everyone but hackers hates ransomware, it’s clear that the trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Already in 2018 we’ve seen the SamSam attack affect thousands of organizations, including hospitals and governmental agencies.

Should you worry about something similar happening to you? How can you prevent your company from being held hostage for tens of thousands of dollars? Can you even prevent these attacks at all?

To help you get the answers you need, let’s look at four things you need to know about ransomware…

 

#1 The Best Cure for Ransomware is to Avoid It

This might seem obvious, but it’s important to mention. The best way to deal with a ransomware attack is to not endure one in the first place. Often, businesses are affected through suspicious attachments, unknown downloads, or employee visits to unsafe websites.

With a little bit of training and the right virus protection tools in place you can cut out the most significant risks. This will also help protect you from phishing scams, data breaches, and the other kinds of IT-related headaches that keep you up at night.

 

#2 It’s Not a Great Idea to Pay the Ransom

Assuming you are affected by ransomware, it's generally not that wise to pay the requested fee (which hackers will typically want in untraceable crypto currencies). After all, if you give up money now, what’s to stop a criminal for asking for more later? They already know you’ll pay.

Also, paying a ransom for access to your files just papers over the problems instead of putting better longer-term solutions in place.

 

#3 A Good IT Team Can Sometimes Beat Ransomware Easily

There are a lot of factors that determine how severe a ransomware infection is. These include the specific software being used, the number of devices affected, etc. It’s easy to understand why some targets (including the hospital we already mentioned) choose to spend money rather than wait for a fix.

However, if you have a good IT team working on your side they may be able to brush off a ransomware attack by using standard virus removal techniques or restoring an old backup. These are simple and cost-effective steps that might resolve the problem very quickly.

 

#4 Ransomware Infections Can Be a Sign of Bigger Problems

As a rule of thumb, having a ransomware infection suggests – at the very least – that a review of training procedures and web security software is in order. As we mentioned, these types of issues normally don’t come out of nowhere. Instead, they usually suggest an organization isn’t paying enough attention.

No matter what the outcome, it’s important to learn from a ransomware attack and come through the process a little bit stronger and wiser. Otherwise, the damage could be even worse the next time around.

 

Is Your Business or Organization Properly Protected From Ransomware?

If you worry that your company or agency doesn’t have the right kinds of data protection and cybersecurity tools and procedures in place then don’t wait for something bad to happen. Call the experts at Kinetik IT in Phoenix today so we can assess your technology and start taking steps to keep you covered.

9 Things You Might Not Have Known About Custom Software Development


How much do you know about custom software development? Or a better question might be: how much do you care about custom software development?

In truth, most business owners and executives don’t give it a lot of thought… until they learn that specialized programming can help them to automate data entry, streamline order processing and fulfillment, customize marketing, assist with scheduling, and help with dozens of other tasks that are critical to any company. In other words, having someone program an app specifically for your company can make or save you huge amounts of money.

Of course, that’s the one thing you really need to know about custom software development. Once you get past the basic reason why businesses invest in programming, though, there are a lot of other little things to consider. That’s because they can help you focus your thinking and get your project off the ground.

Today, we want to share with you nine things you might not have known about custom software development but probably should…

 

#1 Custom Programming is More Common Than You Think

Custom programming isn’t just for huge companies, or firms with big technical resources. In fact, we have worked on software builds and tweaks for very small enterprises and brand-new upstarts.

You don’t have to have huge budgets to benefit from software development. In fact, the smaller and more specific your company is, the easier it is to separate yourself from the competition with the right app or resource. So, if you haven’t thought about custom programming in the past because you imagined it was too complex or intensive for your operations, think again. No matter where you look, businesses like yours are using apps to accomplish more and spend less.

 

#2 It Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune

Not only can custom software development save you tons of time and money every week by making it easier for you to run your company, but it probably costs a lot less than you might imagine.

New clients are routinely surprised at how affordable it is to work with a team of experienced programmers. Unless your vision is extraordinarily complex, there isn’t any reason you have to break the bank to bring it to life. The same goes for scheduling. You probably won’t be waiting nearly as long as you would imagine to get finished software you can use.

 

#3 You Don’t Have to Start an App or Program from Scratch

In some cases, it makes sense to start from scratch when building a new piece of software. Very often, though, we can tweak an existing application, create a plug-in that piggybacks off another piece of software, or work from a template that’s already been created.

The benefits of working from existing software are that it speeds the process up, costs less money, and gives you a conceptual head start. It also restricts your imagination a little bit, but if you aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel – and just want to make it turn a little bit faster – know that your goal is probably well within reach.

 

#4 Software Development Can be a Productivity Booster

As we’ve already mentioned, there are dozens or hundreds of potential uses for custom software development. However, automating repetitive work tends to be one of the most impactful ways to use a new app or program.

If you have a part of your business that currently takes more hours than it should, or regularly produces costly and time-consuming errors, then a new custom app might be just what you need. The more time you can spend actually running your company (and having your employees handle the most important aspects of their jobs), the higher your productivity is going to go.

 

#5 There are Three Important Parts to Software Development

When business people think of “custom software development,” they usually imagine coders knocking out line after line until a piece of software is finished. In reality, there are really three important steps that have to be followed.

First, you and your creative team get together to discuss the concept. Then, they’ll create flowcharts and mockups of the interface so you can get a visual sense of the way your program will look and feel. And then finally, after that wireframe or static has been approved, they’ll start actually putting the pieces of code together.

Beware any programming team that only emphasizes aesthetics, for example, or functionality. Each of these steps is critically important, and you can’t afford to rush through any of them.

 

#6 It’s Important for Your Software to be Tested

Even the smallest pieces of custom software need to be tested extensively. This doesn’t take a lot of time, but it’s something you want to be sure is being handled.

There are couple of reasons for this. Naturally, you’ll want to ensure your app or program works the way it’s supposed to. At the same time, custom software should work well across any platform (for instance, desktop computers versus smartphones) it’s made to function on. And finally, you have to be sure your software doesn’t contain any security flaws that could leave it vulnerable to hackers.

This is an area where a lot of newer and inexpensive firms will cut corners. However, your business and credibility are on the line, so make sure testing is a priority.

 

#7 Your App or Program Might Change During Development

No matter how crystal-clear your vision of your finished program is, there is a chance that your idea might need to be changed or tweaked along the way.

When this happens, it’s usually because the client realizes a key feature is missing, or they discover users might like some functionality during beta testing. However, it’s also possible that your ideas will be amended because your original concept isn’t quite feasible, or could work more cleanly with a twist.

The more flexible you are during the software development process, the more likely you are to end up with something you and your customers or employees can actually use.

 

#8 Most Custom Software Needs Updates

Even the best pieces of custom software are never really “finished,” they just have to be released eventually. You should approach the launch of your app with the idea that it may need to be upgraded or revised later.

One reason for an upgrade or improvement traces back to the notion that you might decide to add new features. And, it’s possible your customers or users will ask for something more than what you give them initially. Even if those things don’t happen, though, you might need to eventually update your software to match changes to the operating systems it runs on.

A good custom software development team is going to prepare you for this eventuality early in the process and factor it into their quote. Once again, you should take it as a red flag if your programmer doesn’t bring up future updates and revisions with you.

 

#9 The Right Programming Team Can Make or Break Your Project

As you might imagine, choosing the right vendor is critically important to the success of your software development project.

An experienced team can guide you through each step and decision that comes up along the way; a bargain-basement vendor might simply take a feature list from you and then deliver work that meets the specs but doesn’t really fit the vision you had in mind. Then, you might be left with the dilemma of spending more time and money to get it right or using software that doesn’t really do the job you intended.

Experience, technical expertise, and reputation should be important guiding principles as you develop your app, so don’t sacrifice them to save a few dollars in your IT development budget.

 

Want to Learn More about Custom Software Development?

Do you have an idea for an app or program that could help your company grow? Or, do you simply want to learn a little bit more and figure out whether it’s something your business could profit from?

In either case, your next step is clear. Talk to the custom software development experts at Kinetik IT today. We have served businesses, nonprofits, and institutions across Arizona for years, helping them to find, imagine, and build the resources they need.

In one brief consultation, we can help you to think about software programming in a new way. Better yet, we'll give you the answers you need to tweak your idea or move it forward. Contact us now to get started!

What NOT to do When Facing a Malware Attack


Malware can take many forms. What they all have in common, though, is that they can turn into a big concern for your business very quickly.

Some pieces of malicious software take over your computers or workstations until you give up ransom payments to developers. Others can flood your business – including your employees and customers – with endless spam and pop-up ads. Perhaps the worst form of malware are the little bits of code that spy on your communications, looking for things like account numbers and financial transactions so thieves can get access to that information later.

Because the threat of malware is changing and evolving all the time, lots of business owners and executives aren’t really sure what they should do to guard against the threat. Even worse, most have no idea how to respond to a malware attack once it happens.

It’s easy to make things worse by doing something you shouldn’t. So, today we’re going to share a handful of tips you can use in the event you know or suspect you have malicious software on your computers or devices. We hope you are never in that situation, but if you are, here’s what you definitely shouldn’t do…

 

Don’t Ignore the Risk of Malware

When it comes to malware, a lot of professionals seem to take the “it could never happen to me” approach. That might be comforting, but it isn’t sound business strategy. You don’t have to run an enormous company to have hackers target your business. Many online thieves commit quick and easy crimes of opportunity. If your company’s hardware or software seems easy to get into, they’ll come looking for you.

It’s hard to find firm statistics, but it’s thought that malware affects thousands of small and medium-sized businesses throughout Arizona each year, costing them tens of millions in theft, missing revenue, and lost productivity. Typically, it’s the businesses that think they have the least to lose that are hit the hardest.

Know that the risk is real, and pay attention to warning signs like error messages, suspicious emails, and slow technology performance that seems to come out of nowhere. If any of these seems to be a problem, make a phone call and find out whether you need help from a professional IT team.

 

Don’t Panic About Your Malware Attack

If it turns out you do have malware on company computers or equipment, don’t panic. Sometimes, business owners or managers will decide to deal with the issue by formatting hard drives or replacing specific devices. Buying new tech can get expensive, and you don’t want to overreact and wipe out all your files at once.

You may not know what the scope of the problem is. That’s not great news, but it’s not a terrible position to be in, either. Things might not be as bad as they seem, and you don’t want to make them worse by taking drastic steps that won't solve the issue.

Sometimes the quick fixes business owners turn to in order to resolve malware are worse than the original infections themselves. Don’t turn a small repair into a big one by formatting something you shouldn’t, downloading software you don’t understand, or turning to a solution that seems too good to be true.

 

Don’t Ignore the Issue and Hope it Will Resolve Itself

Just as you don’t want to go too far, neither do you want to ignore malware if it has infected your computers or devices. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and seemingly small issues can get progressively worse with inattention.

For example, some small pieces of spyware can download malicious code in the background if you don’t get rid of them right away. Or, you could end up spreading malware from one computer, workstation, or device to another if you aren’t diligent about getting rid of the problem. The point here is that the issue won’t solve itself, so don’t bury your head in the sand and hope for the best.

Having malware removed usually isn’t expensive or time-consuming, but it isn’t something that can be put off indefinitely, either.

 

Don’t Keep Infected Devices Online

Digital viruses resemble their biological counterparts in an important way – both stay alive through constant spreading and infection. So, if you don’t deal with malware quickly, there’s a chance it will move from one device on your network to another.

The best way to stop this from happening is by simply taking affected workstations, tablets, etc., offline if you can. Better yet, turn them off completely (unplugging cords if necessary) until they can be inspected by an IT professional. Leave them sitting where they are and you could make the problem worse, even if you aren’t actively doing anything with the affected hardware.

If you can’t take affected hardware offline, consider shutting down your network until the problem is solved. The problem will be fixed quicker if fewer devices have malware, and there will be less chance of hackers stealing information from you.

 

Don’t Make Any Payments or Money Transfers

In the last couple of years, lots of individuals – and more than a few very large organizations – have made big payments to hackers who are holding their files ransom. This is almost always the wrong course of action.

Even if the amounts demanded by the producers of a piece of malware are small, there are a couple of problems with the payoff approach. One is that you have identified yourself as a target for future exploitation. The other is that you are rewarding the hacker, thereby encouraging them to develop even more malicious code in the future.

Of course, there is also the chance that your financial information will be shared or stolen. So, take our advice and call an IT team if you are infected by malware, rather than paying a ransom you'll regret later.

 

Don’t Forget to Monitor Website, Email, and Financial Activity

In many cases, malware can be removed from many infected devices in a short period of time. Afterwards, you’ll want your IT team keeping an eye on your website, email, and other technology. Additionally, you’ll want to watch your own financial transactions to ensure nothing seems out of place.

There are two reasons you need to take this step. One has to do with unknown consequences. If you aren’t sure when your computers were infected with malware, then you can’t be certain what kind of information hackers already have. Also, this kind of activity check can help you be sure that all the malicious code was taken away and your business is back to normal operations.

In the same way your doctor wants to know you're well after giving you medicine, your IT team will likely want to keep an eye on your computers and email activity following a malware attack.

 

DO Call the IT Experts to Protect Your Business and Customers

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s a lot easier to deal with a malware attack that doesn’t happen, than it is to fix the damage after the fact. Unfortunately, most business owners and executives simply don’t have the time or expertise to identify suspicious activity, much less prevent it.

For that reason, your best bet is almost always to have an experienced team of technical experts working on your behalf. That’s exactly what we have at Kinetik IT in Phoenix. Contact us for a free consultation and you might be very surprised at just how easy and affordable it is to get the help you need.

Whether you’re dealing with performance and security issues stemming from a malware attack, or suspect you might not be as safe as you could be, now is the time to act. Get in touch with our team today so we can get your technology running perfectly again!

5 Signs Its Time to Call for Help With IT Networking



There are times when it’s obvious you need help with networking from an experienced Phoenix area IT team. When you’re staring at a pile of hardware that’s covered in water and giving off smoke, for instance. Or, when you try to load up your computers and see nothing but error screens.

However, when it comes to network maintenance and security, there are also more subtle indications you could use professional technical assistance. Sometimes, these little signals are clues that bigger (and more expensive) network problems are on the way. In other cases, they could simply be slowing you down and causing endless aggravation.

Either way, you don’t want to ignore serious network issues. They may get better on their own for a little while, but you’ll almost always end up with bigger headaches – not to mention IT repair bills – at a later date.

To help you understand why, let’s look at five clear signs that it’s time to call us for help with IT networking…

 

#1 Your Network Goes Down for No Identifiable Reason

If your network is unreliable, going off-line at irregular times and for no identifiable reason, it’s important to figure out what’s causing the issue. That’s because whatever problem you may have, it’s likely to become more prevalent the longer you wait.

Generally speaking, when a network isn’t as stable as it should be, it’s because there are hardware problems or conflicts in the configuration. In other words, you have a piece of equipment that is wearing out, or multiple devices or apps that don’t work together the way they are supposed to.

That might not seem particularly dire, but consider what happens when equipment fails altogether and causes more serious failures or data loss. Imagine that suddenly you can’t process credit card transactions, access account information, or save files you need to complete your projects. Why face that kind of situation when you can see it coming ahead of time?

 

#2 Your Network Performance is Slow at Times

A network that runs slowly from time to time might not seem like a big concern. After all, as long as it isn’t always happening, and performance turns back to normal, do you really need to worry about something that’s a minor inconvenience?

You probably should, if you want to get the most from your technology. Slow networks can be a sign that some of your hardware is on the verge of failing. Or, it could simply indicate that you have bottlenecks that are holding up the flow of data during peak periods of usage. It might even be a sign of compatibility problems between newer and older devices or software packages.

None of these common IT issues should cause you too much stress on their own, but they can lead to larger difficulties. For instance, if your network is too slow, it might prevent backups from occurring normally. Or, you could find that software updates can’t run the way they should, leaving you with security issues.

As a rule of thumb, it isn’t difficult to repair a slow or lagging network. Put it off for too long, though, and you might end up with a bigger issue than the one you started with.

 

#3 You Aren’t Sure if Your Network is Being Backed Up

No matter how big or small your organization might be, and what kind of hardware software you’re running, regular data backups are crucial to your long term profitability. That’s because you’ll eventually run into a situation where your primary storage devices fail.

A lot of business owners and executives fail to understand just how common it is to lose access to important data when it matters most. Something as simple as an electrical surge, hard drive failure, or an improper setting in the wrong place can all lead to years and years worth of files disappearing within moments. When that happens, you’re going to want the data you’ve been sending back and forth through your network to be accessible as quickly as possible.

If you aren’t sure where your data is being backed up, how often those backups are being run, or whether that backup data itself is being secured, now is the time to get the answers you need. Even a network that’s functioning perfectly at the moment can experience problems. That’s just a fact of life in the digital age. Whether such an event causes minor hiccups or major problems for your business will largely be dependent on what you have stored in the event of an emergency.

 

#4 Network Security Feels Like a Bit of a Mystery

It almost goes without saying that network security has become a top priority for businesses of all sizes in the past few years. For every high-profile hack and cybercrime that has made the news – and there have been dozens – there are dozens of other smaller companies affected by online theft and malware.

In the same way that locks, alarms, and cameras can help keep a retail business safe from shoplifters and break-ins, basic networking security protocols can prevent unauthorized third parties from snooping in on your files and communications. If you don’t have the right tools and procedures in place, though, you’re practically inviting thieves to see what they can steal.

A good IT team will ensure your network is as safe and secure as it can be. However, if you haven’t had a professional looking after your systems in the past, now might be a good time to ensure you aren't an easy target for hackers.

 

#5 You’re Opening a New Location and Want to Install Networking Equipment

Expanding your business is a sign of prosperity, not IT problems. But, it can also present some logistical headaches. Do you need to buy new networking equipment? Is what is available on the market compatible with your existing hardware and software? Are you sure your new network will be reliable, and connect seamlessly between offices or locations?

Your IT partner can help you make sense of all of these questions. That’s because a technical team that knows your business can help you choose the right hardware at an affordable price, set it up correctly, and test it for both performance and security. In other words, they can ensure you are ready to step in and get to work from the first minute your new office or location opens.

We deal with bad network configurations every week. Usually, they come about because a company was in a hurry to get things set up and didn’t do enough planning. That leads to persistent (and expensive) networking problems that go on and on for months and years. Do yourself a favor and hire an experienced IT partner who can set your systems up correctly the first time.

 

Networking and IT Support Done Right

Most networking issues, if they are caught early enough, are easy enough to fix. That’s because a team of trained technicians can identify simple issues with routers, servers, and backup media pretty quickly. Additionally, these kinds of components are generally inexpensive to repair or replace.

On the other hand, once you get into a situation where your network is failing, the costs can spiral out of control quickly. If you’re dealing with issues like malware or corrupted data, the problem can spread from one drive or device to another. And of course, it’s worth pointing out that you and your team aren’t being as productive as you could be when you can't communicate with customers and each other.

Consider these details together and it’s easy to see why networking problems should be dealt with sooner rather than later. Luckily, we have a team of trained, experienced, and inexpensive technicians that can get you back online and working quickly. So, if you’ve noticed one of these five signs affecting your network, contact Kinetik IT in Phoenix today so we can get to work for you!

9 Ways to Prevent or Solve Software Development Issues


Custom software development can be the key to boosting revenue and productivity with the perfect app. Or, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and pointless if the process drags on or the buyer gets a piece of software that doesn’t meet their business needs.

Having worked within the software development industry for so long, we know that the biggest issues that affect developers and their clients don’t appear out of thin air. Instead, they stem from things like poor planning and a rush to get a finished product out the door quickly.

That’s because a good piece of custom software is sort of like a cake that has to be baked. If you have a solid recipe, the right ingredients, and a diligent baker, you’re going to end up with something that looks and tastes great. On the other hand, if you wing it every step of the process, substitute salt for sugar, and give yourself an unrealistic deadline, the final result will be unappetizing to eyes and stomachs.

Because this is so important to understand – and because custom software development can be so profitable for businesses that use it correctly – we want to help you avoid making the common big mistakes. Here are nine ways you can prevent or solve the kinds of software development issues your colleagues and customers are struggling with…

 

#1 Ask Customers or Users What Features They Want

One of the classic mistakes you see in custom software development occurs before a single line of code has been written: moving forward with the wrong idea. If you aren’t creating something your customers, employees, or users want, then it doesn’t matter how great your software looks or what the performance is like.

You might use polls, questionnaires, or interviews. No matter what you prefer, though, it’s important that you get a sense of what features and functions matter most to the people who will actually use your software. Otherwise, you could end up with something they aren’t going to adopt in the first place.

 

#2 Plan Extensively, Even if You Think Your Project is Simple

Ideally, you’ll want every phase of your custom software development project planned out in advance. You’ll want to know exactly what your app will do, what it will look like, and which tools will be integrated before your programming team starts putting it together.

You might even anticipate stumbling blocks, programming challenges, and future releases. That information isn’t crucial at the outset (and in fact can be difficult to predict), but having more information and insights is better than less.

 

#3 Get a Written Agreement with Milestones Spelled Out

Naturally, your software development team is going to want you to sign a written agreement or proposal before any work begins. When you do, be sure that the deadlines and expectations for major milestones are spelled out thoroughly.

From a client’s perspective, this can add a little bit of peace of mind. You want to know when you’ll start seeing early versions of your software, at what date you can expect it to launch, and so on. For developers, these sorts of milestones also prepare the client so they can be ready to make important decisions in a timely way. That helps everyone to keep the process moving along.

 

#4 Decide on a Look for Your Software Interface

What do you want the various screens or pages within your software package to look like? At some point, early in the process, it’s good if you can decide on a certain aesthetic that will carry from one interaction to the next. That’s because you don’t want your programming team making a lot of last-minute changes to the visuals if it’s not necessary. That can lead to crashes and inconsistencies.

If you have a sense of how you want your interface to be presented, bring that up early on. The design element of your app isn’t necessarily as important as the concept itself, but it does add to the overall feel and usability of the finished product.

 

#5 Create Flowcharts for User Flow and Interface Design

In some ways, custom software projects are similar to web designs. That’s not only because many new apps end up on the internet; it’s also because you want to manage things so it’s as easy as possible for users to get from one screen, prompt, or feature to the next.

To maximize usability, work with your development team to come up with flowcharts and menus that guides users through the various steps needed to complete common tasks. You’ll double check this work in the testing phase later, but it’s easier if your software is set up in a coherent way from the beginning.

 

#6 Give Prompt Feedback to Your Development Team

As they move through the design and programming phase of your software development project, your creative team is going to present you with various models and mockups. These might be screenshots, artistic designs, or versions of your app with limited functionality.

When you receive them, take care to respond with any feedback in a timely way if possible. That will stop the development project from stalling, of course, but will also make it easier to facilitate a back-and-forth discussion that influences future work. To put it another way, it’s easier to prevent the same mistakes from being repeated again and again when your programming team is getting solid and immediate responses.

 

#7 Leave Time for Beta Testing and Security Evaluations

Sometimes, business owners, nonprofit directors, and executives get so excited about a software development idea that they want to rush the product to market, or get their team using it as quickly as possible. That enthusiasm is wonderful, but you should always leave a little bit of time on the calendar for beta testing and intensive review from your creative team.

No matter how well-planned or envisioned an app is, there are often small corrections that need to be made once real humans start interacting with the product. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure your software is as stable as it can be, and that it isn’t leaving you open to any kind of security concerns. It can be hard to wait while testing goes on, but it’s an important step that shouldn’t be skipped.

 

#8 Plan for Future Updates

Once your app is ready to launch, schedule some time with your development team to review your progress and talk about version updates later. You might not have any idea what those updates will be like, but you are very likely to need something once your software is in use.

Little patches, revisions to text, and feature growth are all common requests that come into play after an app or software package has been delivered. By planning to review for these changes ahead of time, you can make it easier for you and your team to keep track of what you might like to see done.

 

#9 Choose a Software Development Company You Can Trust

It’s worth pointing out, of course, that everything we’ve suggested on this list is easier to accomplish and manage when you have a team of experienced and professional software developers on your side. That expertise is going to come with a cost, but you’re also going to get what you need and expect in the end.

There is a common misconception that programming is all the same and it doesn’t matter who you work with for custom software development. However, the lowest bidders and newest providers start out on the bottom wrong for a reason. If you want software that helps your business to grow, and wish to avoid the kinds of headaches and issues that can cause you to give up on the project before it’s finished, then do yourself a favor and work with professionals you can trust.

 

Turn to Us for Custom Software Development

An experienced Arizona software development team won’t just give you a completed application you need – they’ll also have plenty of questions and guide you step-by-step through the programming process.

That’s how we’ve been so successful at Kinetik IT. With more experience than virtually any other team the Phoenix area, we have helped our clients to develop usable software that works in a variety of situations, and on just about any kind of platform or operating system you can imagine.

Whether you have a perfect idea of what you want your custom software package to do, or need to talk about the possibilities with a team of experts, we’re here to help. Contact our development team today and will be happy to schedule a no-obligation consultation for you. In just one short conversation you could get all the information you need to grow your company, automate repetitive tasks, and improve your bottom line.

Why not reach out now and get the answers you need?

‘Bad Rabbit’ Ransomware Epidemic Starting To Infect Computers


Reports have started to surface that a new strain of ransomware is spreading through Russia and Europe. This ransomware is called Bad Rabbit, and first surface up in Russia and the Ukraine, however is starting to spread through Turkey and Germany, but it’s not fully known how far this virus has spread.

Some targets that have been attacked and infected by Bad Rabbit so far include Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Kiev’s public transportation system, along with the Russian news groups Fontanka.ru and Interfax.

Bad Rabbit appears to be attacking news and media outlets, along with corporate networks – a method similar to the ExPetr attack. Yet, it cannot be confirmed if the ExPetr and Bad Rabbit attacks are related.

The way in which Bad Rabbit infects a computer, the virus first requires the potential victim to download and run a fake Adobe Flash Player installer file, that way infecting themselves. The fake Adobe Flash Player installer file is prompted to the user when they visit a compromised website, most of these websites that have been compromised with the Bad Rabbit virus are Russian news agencies.

The hackers that created the Bad Rabbit ransomware must have been fans of the television show Game of Thrones, as throughout the malware there are references to Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons and Grey Worm.

Computers that have been infected with the Bad Rabbit ransomware are then directed to a .onion Tor web domain where the user is then asked to submit a .05 Bitcoin payment which is roughly $280, this will then release all of their encrypted files and data. On the .onion Tor web domain that the user is directed to, there is a countdown timer shown before the requested ransom amount goes up.

At this point, it is not certain if the Bad Rabbit malware will decrypt all of the users encrypted files once the ransom has been received, although researchers have performed tests and believe that Bad Rabbit is unlike the WannaCry malware that will wipe all of the users data and files.

It is always recommended that anyone infected with a ransomware malware to not pay the ransom, as there are zero guarantees that once you have paid the ransom that your data and files will be decrypted and released back to you.

One way to be proactive and prevent yourself falling victim to the Bad Rabbit ransomware attack is to create a c:\windows\infpub.dat file and remove all of the write permissions. This will disallow the Bad Rabbit malware from encrypting your files if ever attacked.

The Bad Rabbit malware is bares similar resemblance to the WannaCry and Petya attacks that spread around the world earlier this year.

At this time not all anti-virus and anti-malware tools are able to detect the Bad Rabbit malware, allowing it to go undetected and continue to infect users’ computers. With this level of severity, it’s important to take proactive measures and do not download files from any untrusted sources on the internet. 

Google is the New Yellow Pages… Did Your Company Adjust?


It used to be that placing an ad in the Yellow Pages was the surest way to attract local buyers. Over the course of the last decade, however, those thick printed directories have been almost completely replaced in most parts of North America.

In 2017, buyers don’t flip through thin sheets of paper to find businesses in their neighborhoods. Instead, they turn to their smartphones and tablets to find what they need because Google offers them more choices, up-to-date contact information, and even unbiased reviews from other buyers.

This change in technology has provided a big boost to lots of savvy marketers. And, it has allowed them to save quite a bit of money – it’s a lot cheaper to find customers using Google than it ever was to place a full-page ad in a print directory. But, if your business hasn’t adjusted, then you might be missing out.

Here are a few steps you can take today to get more customers from your local area…

Make the Most of Local Search Engine Optimization

Ever wonder how Google figures out which businesses match up to customers in a certain area? It mainly determines location by scanning a website for geographic keywords. Having city, state, and province names (as examples) on your website can help search engine spiders to figure out where you’re located. Additionally, things like street names, ZIP Codes, and neighborhood identifiers can be helpful in the same way.

Go Beyond Geographic Keywords

As important as it is to have geographic keywords in your website, there are other tools you can use to pull local customers into your business. Maps, driving directions, and local landmarks are all useful. In addition to giving Google more data about your geographic location, they can help you turn search visits into new revenue. That’s because photos of your location, along with updated phone numbers and contact details, make it easier for someone who is thinking about visiting your office or store to find you in the real world.

Have a Mobile-Ready Website

It’s no coincidence that print directories began to decline in importance just as smartphones found their way into millions of pockets. Lots of buyers are making spur of the moment decisions from anywhere, relying on Google to show them the closest restaurants, dry cleaners, and other local businesses. To take advantage, it’s important that your website be mobile-friendly. Otherwise, those customers are going to take their time and money to a competitor.

Boost Your Reputation With Buyers

Customers looking for local companies to work with aren’t necessarily going to find your website. That’s because they may explore third-party review sites (like Yelp) to look for recommendations first. For that reason, it’s important that your business have profiles on these types of portals, that your information be up-to-date, and that buyers can see lots of positive reviews about your business. Encourage your best customers to say good things about you online and you’ll have an easier time standing out in your local market.

You probably have hundreds or thousands of local buyers who are ready to work with your business, but only if they can find you on Google. So, if you haven’t already replaced the Yellow Pages with a good online marketing strategy, now is a great time to set up a meeting with our creative team to see how we can help.

4 Things Advanced CRM Systems Can and Can’t do for Your Website


Executing a profitable internet marketing campaign can involve a lot of tedious and exhausting details. It’s no wonder, then, that so many business owners ask us about the value of advanced customer relationship management (CRM) systems like HubSpot and Infusionsoft.

Hardly a week goes by when we aren’t asked whether one of these platforms (or perhaps a lesser-known competitor) is worth the investment of time and money. Unfortunately, there’s hardly ever a clear-cut answer to this question. Although advanced CRM’s work differently, and offer some unique functionality, no solution is perfect for every situation.

To understand whether you need an advanced CRM like HubSpot in your business, you should be aware of what they can and can’t do in a broad sense. So today, we want to focus on for things you should know before you make a decision…

#1 An Advanced CRM Can Help You Organize Your Online Marketing Activities

One major challenge facing small business owners these days is keeping track of all the different activities needed to move an online marketing plan forward. There are different tools and platforms for blogging, SEO, and email, not to mention several different social apps and websites. an advanced CRM can help you manage and organize these different systems so you can stick with a coherent plan.

#2 An Advanced CRM Can Put Information at Your Fingertips

It’s hard enough just to use all the different tools and platforms we've just mentioned. Keeping track of your progress with them is even tougher. With software like HubSpot, you can put all kinds of detailed and interactive reports right at your fingertips. That way, you won’t just be able to stay on top of your marketing channels, but you also get a sense of what sorts of results you’re achieving on a day-to-day basis.

#3 Advanced CRM’s Can Boost SEO, Sales, and Lead Generation

Advanced CRM systems allow you to structure and refine your campaigns easily. Because you have blogs, emails, social posts, and other tools all working in coordination, it’s easier to stay in touch with prospects and turn them into leads or actual customers. By following a coordinated approach, you can not only get a bigger payoff from SEO, social media marketing, and other channels, but you’ll be much more profitable overall.

#4 No Software System Can Do the Hard Work of Marketing for You

There is an important caveat to the three benefits we’ve given you with regards to advanced CRM’s – you have to actually use them before they’ll pay off. That means taking the time to learn the software, and then plugging in new content, posting to your social accounts, and checking out the results. No matter how sophisticated a platform is, it can’t do everything for you. Advanced CRM’s make it easier to organize your marketing, but they can’t replace the time and effort that’s needed from a committed business owner or Internet marketing professional.

The bottom line looks like this: an advanced  CRM like HubSpot can help you if you take the time to learn its features and then put them into use in your campaigns. However, if you’re just looking for a magic solution that will help you get real results from very little effort, it’s just going to be a waste of money.

To learn more about how advanced CRM’s and other online marketing tools might fit into your business plan, contact our team today to schedule a free consultation!

4 Things You Might Not Know About Web Hosting



While business owners love talking about web design and Internet marketing, most aren’t that concerned (or familiar) with the details of their web hosting plans. That’s easy to understand, given that servers and hosting software work behind the scenes and under the surface. They aren’t visible in the way a social media profile or prime search engine spot would be.

But, that’s not the same as saying hosting doesn’t matter. In fact, the quality of your web hosting package will have an enormous effect on the performance and stability of your business website. To understand why hosting is a bigger deal than you might think, here are four things we’d like you to keep in mind…


#1 Web Hosting Affects Web Performance

Usually, when an Internet connection is moving slowly, we think to blame our computers, tablets, or routers. However, there are two sides to any online interaction. The disc or server your website is stored on can either speed the delivery of your content up or slow it down. Those differences in speed matter, particularly when your customers are coming to you via mobile devices and are impatient to get to your site. Better web hosting means customers spend less time waiting and you end up with more conversions.


#2 Google May Ignore You if You’re on the Wrong Hosting Platform

Google uses multiple elements of web hosting (like page loading speed, for example, along with website availability and SSL connections) as search signals. That means the better your website performs, the more visible you are going to be to potential customers. Having a faster, more reliable website won’t take away the need for lots of great and original content, but it can give you an edge over your competitors. The tighter your search market is, the more important the hosting -related details of SEO can make a difference.


#3 Better Web Hosting is More Secure

Security is a big topic in web design and online marketing, and for good reason. You need to know that your HTML – not to mention customer information – is being kept safe. An easy way to do that is by using a better web hosting package. That’s partly because premium web hosting can give you availability to its SSL connections, system monitoring, and automatic backups. It’s also because the cheapest web hosting packages tend to group lots of budget websites together on the same servers, meaning your site could become “contaminated” by less ethical or careful neighbors.


#4 Premium Web Hosting is Incredibly Affordable

For all that you get from upgrading to premium web hosting, it might surprise you to know that the difference between your average run-of-the-mill shared hosting plan and a premium package could be as little as a couple of dollars per day. And, better hosting means you’ll get more from the money you spent on your website the first place. Financially, that makes it one of the smartest and most cost-effective investments you can make in your business.

Web hosting will probably never be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering upgrades or improvements to your business. But, with a little bit of attention to the space where your site is stored – and a few extra dollars a month – you could gain big benefits in performance, security, and even search visibility. Knowing that, doesn’t it make sense to talk with a member of our team today to see whether a fast and inexpensive tweak could make your web presence stronger?


Why Microsoft’s next HoloLens will have Artificial Intelligence


This last Sunday, Microsoft announced radical changes to the next generation augmented reality HoloLens by incorporating an artificial intelligence coprocessor. What is HoloLens? HoloLens is essentially a holographic computer built into a headset that lets you see, hear, and interact with holograms within an environment such as a living room or an office space.

The AI coprocessor will expand the capabilities of the HoloLens allowing it to analyze visual and auditory data locally, without having to send and receive information from a cloud based server, giving the next generation HoloLens faster processing times and increased mobility.

“… and this is the kind of thinking you need if you’re going to develop mixed reality devices that are themselves intelligent. Mixed reality and artificial intelligence represent the future of computing, and we’re excited to be advancing this frontier.” Wrote Marc Pollefeys, Director of Science for the HoloLens at Microsoft, in their latest blog post.  

Previously, the current version of the HoloLens could only perform simple augmented reality tasks such as simple visual interactions and displays. However with the AI coprocessor Microsoft plans to develop, the next generation HoloLens will be able to perform much more complex interactions and tasks. Possible examples of these tasks could be displaying real time statistics on products. Since the AI coprocessor will help with tagging data in the real world the HoloLens can present overlays that are incredibly informative.

Microsoft plans of create the silicon AI coprocessor in house because they believe that is the most productive way to unlock the best uses from augmented and mixed reality environments. Google has also built its own AI processor, and Apple has also been developing its own dedicated AI chip for the iPhone. However, Micorsoft’s approach to developing its own AI coprocessor chip is to unlock the full potential of MXNet, an open-source deep neural-network framework that Microsoft supports.

With Microsoft developing their own AI coprocessor to incorporate into their next generation HoloLens, Microsoft is taking augmented and mixed intelligent reality to the next level. Removing cloud based computing to store information locally, giving the HoloLens increased processing times and enhanced real world interactions. All of these enhancements will make for faster and smarter business decisions, allowing companies and organizations to win and succeed through an intelligent augmented reality.