Can the Rombertik malware really "destroy computers"? No, no, three times NO!

Thanks to James Wyke of SophosLabs for doing the hard parts of this article.

We didn't really want to get drawn into this one.

But it's hard to avoid commenting on malware that has variously been described as a "terrifying 'suicide bomber'" and as having a payload that "destroys computers."

That's the sort of computer security hyperbole that does nothing but harm.

The best outcome is that you end up being offensive, as you are when you insist on trotting out the phrase "digital Pearl Harbor" and expecting to be taken seriously.

The worst outcome is that you create an entirely false sense of security by describing a manageable, albeit serious, threat as though it were truly extreme.

By creating the impression that a manageable threat is "as bad as it gets," you undermine your readers' interest in bothering about less serious threats at all.

Introducing Rombertik

The malware in question has been nicknamed "Rombertik" (Sophos products will block it as Troj/Delp-AD).

SophosLabs first came across it in January 2015, one of some 300,000 new malware samples that we encounter each day.

→ The vast majority of the samples we get each day aren't truly new. They're unique only in the strictly technical sense that they consist of a sequence of bytes that we haven't encountered before, in the same way that Good morning and GOOD MORNING are not literally the same. Most of the new samples that show up each day are merely minor variants that we already detect, or known malware that has been encrypted or packaged differently. Nevertheless, that still leaves plenty of samples worth looking at.

Rombertik's primary purpose seems to be to hook itself into your browser so it can keep track of what you type in.

Make no mistake, credential stealing malware of this sort is serious, because it can lead to compromised bank accounts, hacked servers, stolen data, decrypted secrets and more.

But it won't destroy your computer, or kill you along with itself.

The cause of the hype

Where the hype-making headlines come from is an anti-hacking trick that's buried in the malware.

Many Trojans and viruses over the years have had some sort of tamper-detection or tamper-prevention built in, just like the security tools that try to detect them in the first place.

Some malware, like Dyreza, about which we wrote recently, tries to work out if it is being run inside a malware research environment, and behaves entirely innocently if so.

This is the low-key way of avoiding notice: give nothing away at all, so that the file gets overlooked and put to the bottom of the queue for attention.

Other malware, like Rombertik, takes a different approach.

If it detects that you have altered the malware in certain ways – for example, if you are another crook trying to repurpose it without paying for the privilege – it will overwrite vital information on your computer.

In all likelihood, you'll lose your data and end up reinstalling your operating system and applications to get up and running again.

You can call it spite, call it revenge, call it retaliation, call it destructive to your data (that much is perfectly true)...

...just don't say that it destroys the computer, and don't even think of comparing it to suicide bombing.

How it works

For what it's worth, Rombertik's data-wiping techniques go something like this:

Try to wipe out the MBR.

The MBR is the very first data sector on the hard disk, known as the Master Boot Record, and it maintains an index of how your disk is partitioned.

Wiping the MBR really is a spiteful way to proceed, because it leaves you so near, yet so far.

Technically speaking, all your data remains behind, so with the right expertise or recovery tools you may very well get it back, but almost certainly not without plenty of frustration along the way.

It's like putting a vital document through a shredder and then handing back the strips and saying, "There you are. All present and correct! You only have to work out which pieces go where."

Fortunately, writing to the MBR requires Administrator privilege on Windows, so a program run by a regular user can't do it.

If trashing the MBR fails, Rombertik falls back on this:

Starting in the home folder, overwrite almost all files.

In what is almost certainly a bit of gruesome humour from the crooks, Rombertik works just like ransomware, encrypting your files in place on the disk.

The malware chooses a random 256-byte encryption key for each file, but none of the keys is saved anywhere, so you end up with what is effectively random, shredded cabbage instead of your data.

Only files with the extensions .EXE, .DLL, .VXD and .DRV will survive.

What to do?

Ironically, getting hit right away by Rombertik's data-wiping payload is probably a safer outcome than being infected for days or weeks without noticing.

Remember that the non-destructive part of the malware sets out, amongst other things, to snoop on your browsing and steal your data, perhaps even your identity.

Either way, as with any malware, your best bet is not to get infected in the first place:

  • Keep your operating system and applications patched.
  • Use an active anti-virus and keep it up-to-date.
  • Avoid unexpected attachments.
  • Try stricter filtering at your email gateway.

And these precautions will shield you against all sorts of catastrophes, not just destructive malware:

  • Only logon with Administrator privileges when you genuinely need to.
  • Take regular backups, and keep one backup set off-site.
  • Remove unnecessary or unwanted software so there is less to go wrong.

Lync is now Skype for Business–see what’s new

If you already use Skype to stay in touch with friends and family in your life away from work, you'll appreciate the power and simplicity of Skype for Business where it's easy to find and connect with co-workers. And you can use the devices you already have to reach businesses through an enterprise-grade, secure, IT-managed platform. If you're coming to Skype for Business from Lync, you'll recognize all of the features you already use but in a fresh new interface with simplified controls and some great new additions:

  • New look and feel

  • Call from Skype for Business using your desk phone for audio

  • Integration with the Skype directory

  • Call Monitor

  • Rate My Call

  • Quick access to call controls

  • Emoticons

New look and feel

If you’re a regular user of the commercial version of Skype, then Skype for Business will seem very familiar: the Contacts list, presence indicators, buttons and icons, and even the app sounds should make you feel right at home.Learn more.

Skype for Business Contacts list

Of course, all the essential Lync features are still there—like the Quick Actions buttons, which let you IM or call a contact (and more) with just one click or tap.

Contact quick actions: IM, audio, video, contact card, and more

In the Skype Meeting window, the simplified arrangement of controls and menus makes it easy to find the command you need. In the conversation window, chat text is formatted so you can easily see who’s talking, and tabbed conversations allow you to keep track of several discussions at once.

IM window with two conversations, and meeting window with Present menu

If you've ever had someone send you a file during an IM conversation, then file transfer preview is another feature of the new Skype for Business look and feel you'll appreciate. When someone sends you a file, select Download in the IM window to update the file's icon, or right-click or tap and hold to forward, preview, or delete it.

Preview a file sent to you during an IM conversation

Call from Skype for Business using your desk phone for audio

IMPORTANT   This feature is available only if your organization has Skype for Business Server 2015.

If you have a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) desk phone and your IT department has configured it to work with Skype for Business you can search for people in your organization and place calls to them from within the Skype for Business user interface, while audio for the call flows through your standard desk (PBX) phone. You can also place calls from the Skype for Business client using any phone near you (like your mobile, home, or hotel phone). The person you’re calling sees your phone number as though you were calling from your company's main phone number. When you make a Skype for Business call with audio routed through your desk phone, you get great audio, plus:

  • IM—so you can do a quick copy/paste of a URL you want to share, for example

  • Desktop and app sharing—so you can easily show and tell, work through problems, or explain stuff with visuals

  • Attachments—send files to the other person without leaving Skype for Business

Diagram of the call via work process

Server admins enable and configure this feature for the enterprise. End users have limited configuration capabilities, which include turning the feature on or off for their individual account (once it's enabled at the enterprise level) and setting the phone number that Skype for Business should call. If the number has been set and locked by the administrator, then outgoing call options will be unavailable.

Screen shot of the Call Handling dialog with the Outgoing Calls section highlighted

For more information, see Make a Skype for Business call but use your PBX desk phone for audio

Integration with the Skype directory

IMPORTANT   This feature requires:

  • Skype for Business Server 2015 or Skype for Business for Office 365 Skype for Business Logo

  • The latest version of Skype Skype logo

Skype for Business users can connect over the Internet with hundreds of millions of Skype users right from the Skype for Business user interface. The first step is to search for your contact.

  1. In the search box on the Contacts view of the Skype for Business main window, type a name, IM address, or desk phone number (if they are in your organization). As you type, search results will start appearing below the search box and the tabs will change from Groups, Status, Relationships, and New:

    When the Search box is empty, the available tabs are Groups, Status, Relationships, and New.

    to My Contacts and Skype Directory:

    When you start typing in the Search box, the tabs below change to My Contacts and Skype Directory.

  2. If the person you are searching for is in your organization, keep the My Contacts tab selected (that's the default). When My Contacts is selected, Skype for Business searches in your organization's address book.

    If the person you are searching for is not in your organization but you know they have a Skype account, click the Skype Directory tab to search for them among the millions of Skype users out there. Knowing their Skype ID and location helps narrow the search quickly. You can also search using their email address or Microsoft account (e.g.,

    NOTE   Your administrator enables or disables the Skype Directory search feature in accordance with your organization's search policy. If you don't see a Skype Directory tab like the one shown in the screen shot above, then you won't be able to search for Skype users.

When you search for contacts in the Skype directory, you can add them to your contact list, have an instant messaging conversation, see their presence information, and have an audio or video call with them. Note that the Skype directory only contains contact information for Skype users, not Skype for Business users. A Skype user who wants to add a Skype for Business user to their contact list must use the Skype for Business user's full email address, such as

Call Monitor

Call Monitor is a popular Skype feature that's now available in Skype for Business. With Call Monitor, you can move back and forth between a full Skype for Business window, for those times when you're actively participating in the call, and a compact version that lets you continue to monitor call progress—and mute or end the call—while focusing on other tasks.

The compact Call Monitor window appears during an audio or video call whenever the main conversation window is minimized. To show the full conversation window again, simply double-click or double-tap the Call Monitor.

Screen shots of both full Skype for Business windows and minimized window

Rate My Call

The Rate My Call feature lets Skype for Business Server 2015 administrators collect call data, access standard reports, and export raw data for further analysis. This feature is available for on-premises deployments only. Users are prompted to take a survey after completing a call.

Screen shot of the call quality rating dialog

Quick access to call controls

Access to the dial pad and call controls is much improved. For public switched telephone network (PSTN) calls, the dial-pad and call controls remain visible throughout the call. For non-PSTN calls, the dial-pad and call controls are accessible with one click.

Comparison of call controls in PTSN and non-PTSN calls


Skype for Business now includes the same set of emoticons found in the consumer version of Skype. You can turn off emoticons in Skype for Business by going to Options > IM. No server setting is available.

Screen shot showing available emoticons and the control for turning them on and off


Apple confirms that tattooed wrists will confuse Watch

Apple has stated:

imagePermanent or temporary changes to your skin, such as some tattoos, can ... impact heart rate sensor performance. The ink, pattern, and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings.

This technology, while difficult to pronounce, is based on a very simple fact: Blood is red because it reflects red light and absorbs green light. Apple Watch uses green LED lights paired with light‑sensitive photodiodes to detect the amount of blood flowing through your wrist at any given moment. When your heart beats, the blood flow in your wrist — and the green light absorption — is greater. Between beats, it's less. By flashing its LED lights hundreds of times per second, Apple Watch can calculate the number of times the heart beats each minute — your heart rate.

Dark inks, such as red, blue and black, are reportedly more likely to obscure heart rate readings, given how colors play into the device's sensor system.

There has also been some conjecture that the watch may not work as well with people who have darker skin. Hmmm, a bigoted watch.


Why migrate to 802.11ac?

sidebar imageMobile devices and apps are pushing Wi-Fi to the limit and there’s no end in sight. Workers are determined to use enterprise apps on personally-owned devices to get more done and it’s placing a huge burden on corporate Wi-Fi networks. That’s why enterprise IT is migrating to 802.11ac, the gigabit Wi-Fi standard.

In this 802.11ac primer learn more about:

  • Why is 802.11ac crucial for today’s all-wireless workplace
  • What are the key technical advantages of this wireless standard
  • Why you should move to 802.11ac

Get the 802.11ac Migration Guide

Let me help you to become the Mobility Hero for your organization today.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the Aruba product line give Jude Daigle or Bob Appleby a call at 724-838-7526

imageLearn more about the why, the how, and the significant improvements attained by migrating to 802.11ac.



Fliers’ rights to use electronic devices in flight upheld

imageIn 2013 the FAA ruled that passengers can use their electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Shortly after, the Association of Flight Attendants sued claiming the FAA had overstepped their authority by changing policy without going through appropriate legal steps. Their major complaint is with passengers ignoring safety briefings and they were worried that phones cam become dangerous projectiles in the case of turbulence.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled against the AFA on technical grounds, saying that the FAA has always had discretion regarding rules on portable electronics:

In this case, it really does not matter whether Notice N8900.240 is viewed as a policy statement or an interpretive rule. The main point here is that the Notice is not a legislative rule carrying “the force and effect of law.” Perez, 135 S. Ct. at 1204. A legislative rule “modifies or adds to a legal norm based on the agency’s own authority” flowing from a congressional delegation to engage in supplementary lawmaking. Syncor, 127 F.3d at 95.

Say yeah for passengers unless you happen to be the one at the other end of the flying projectile’s path!


Lenovo uses System Update to patch serious System Update security hole

by Paul Ducklin on May 11, 2015 | 1 Comment

FILED UNDER: Featured, Vulnerability

Laptop megabrand Lenovo was all over the news recently thanks to a preinstalled utility calledSuperfish.

Lenovo's motivation for choosing Superfish seems to have been entirely innocent, but nevertheless ended in tears, especially for Lenovo.

The program supposedly boosted the accuracy and relevance of image searches you did; in return, the company bankrolling the Superfish system could make money at the other end by putting relevant advertisers in front of you.

That's sort of what Google and others do with their search engine, except that Superfish was preinstalled, and hooked into your browsing, making it less obvious that you were giving away search information to a third-party company in the on-line advertising industry.

But that wasn't the really bad part.

Superfish also quietly included a module to peek inside your dealings even with encrypted websites, using the same sort of technique as security software that scans encrypted web traffic for exploits, scams, malware and more.

Unfortunately, the Superfish vendor completely botched up the cryptography, theoretically making it trivial for a well-informed crook not only to trick you into trusting a fake website, but also to trick your computer into trusting any software that you downloaded from it.

We quickly published instructions to help you get rid of Superfish, so that you no longer had to worry about any side-effects it might have; happily, Lenovo soon followed suit with removal instructions and a removal toolkit of its own.

Lessons learned; problem solved; move on.

Back in the news

Sadly for Lenovo, the company is now back in the news with another security problem, but this time it's in the company's own System Update software.

System update tools can be a exploiter's dream, because they are usually designed to let an unprivileged but authorised user (i.e. you if it's the personal laptop you bought to use at home) kick off updates without having to login as an administrator first.

That's actually good for security if done well, for a variety of reasons:

  • It makes official updates easy, so you are less inclined to put them off "until next time."
  • You can let others in your family apply updates without giving them the administrator password.
  • You don't need to login as administrator at all, which reduces your time exposed to danger.

Obviously, however, system update tools that accidentally give too much power to an unprivileged user are a bad thing, because that turns them into an Elevation of Privilege (EoP) security hole.

Unfortunately, when bug-hunters IOActive took a recent expedition into Lenovo's System Update software, they found that it was too liberal in how much power it put in the hands of users who weren't supposed to have it.

Simply put, Lenovo's update service did include an authentication system that was supposed to limit accessto specific users, but the password (more correctly, what's known as a security token – a special blob of data that is supposed to be unique) could easily be guessed.

So any user on the system could pretend to be authorised to communicate with the update service.

To make things worse, the commands that the update service could handle were of a general nature, such as "please run this command for me."

In other words, any user, even an unprivileged one, could run any command as the SYSTEM account, simply by asking Lenovo's System Update service politely.

Command line utilities available on every Windows computer make it easy for privileged users to do useful tasks such as changing passwords, creating accounts, altering file access permissions, opening up network shares, installing new software and much more.

But you definitely don't want to let unprivileged users do any of those things, even if all you are worried about is accidents.

Add in the risks of users, internal or external, with malicious intent and the risks are even worse.

What to do?

This was all privately disclosed to Lenovo, and fixed before IOActive made its bulletin public.

That's the right way to deal with holes of this sort, in our opinion.

Anyone who already knew about this hole could have exploited it anyway; those who didn't were given a decent opportunity to fix the hole forever.

(Yes, it seems that Lenovo did indeed use System Update to patch System Update, giving a simple but tidy closure to the problem.)

NB. According to IOActive, Lenovo System Update at version or earlier is vulnerable. If you have a later version, you should be immune to this vulnerability. You can check the version number of third-party software installed on Windows usingControl Panel | Programs | Programs and Features. In the Detailsview, you should see the columns Name, Publisher, Installed On, Size and Version.


I love to watch people with these kinds of skills


3D Drawing a realistic Glas Water/ AMAZING illusion anamorphic


Done by PortraitPainter Pabst, you can watch him draw the 3D glass below.

★About PortraitPainter Pabst★
I am a professional and passionate artist and I want to inspire people through my art videos.
I want to show that you can do anything with painting. I want to show the magic of painting.
Subscribe to my channel to see:
- How portraits come to life, from a blank page to the finished artwork!
- How to paint amazing 3D illusion drawings. You won't believe that they're not real!
- Tips and Tricks about painting and illustration techniques that you can use to create your own masterpieces!


Sophos has some of the best videos…

This one we saw first at the Partner Conference…


Time to Switch to Google Analytics


So if you are setup to capture stats using the old Google Webmaster Tools you are going to need to switch.

Here’s the link you need to learn how: how to add Google Analytics to Website Builder


Report: Healthcare industry unable to protect patient records

The Ponemon Institute reported that even though the healthcare industry is actively embracing technology, it isn’t properly prepared to keep employee and patient data secure from hackers. Ninety-one percent of the healthcare companies that participated in the survey reported at least one data breach in the pas two years. This is according to their "2015 Study on Privacy and Security of Healthcare Data" report.

The healthcare industry is paying more than $6 billion per year related to data breaches and associated cyber security incidents. Don’t be one of the statistics. Let us help you get to the next level a security support using products from the leader in cyber security, Sophos.

It is hard to get it all right and that is why you call on a security expert. PAconnect is working with industry leaders in the security area to ensure that we stay knowledgably and are able to provide you with the in class security products available at pricing that you can afford. Take advantage of our free consultation services today!


New Program to Provide 10,000 free eBooks through your library

imagePresident Obama announced a new program aimed at delivering access fro more than 10,000 eBooks to financially strapped schoolchildren across the U.S.. $250 million has been earmarked for this program that will feature titles from many different publishers including: Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Hachette, selected by volunteers from Digital Public Library of America.

The New York Library has signed on to develop the fee app. The program hopes to work with local libraries to boost enrollment of the children and to provide the hardware necessary to access the eBooks. Details are still being worked out on how the kids will gain access but at least there is some positive movement in this direction.


Rep Ted Lieu (D-CA)–I like his take on privacy rights

imageTake a look at Cory Doctorow’s post discussing his take on putting backdoors into cryptography programs. We do live in a world where we need to acquire as much information about those who would like to harm our country, however, we can’t allow that to overstep our basic rights. This is worth a read….


Microsoft Word Intruder - the malware that writes new malware for you

Thanks to Gabor Szappanos of SophosLabs for the technical work
that forms the basis of this article.

Malware construction kits aren't new.

Back in the early 1990s, for example, DOS-based tools such as VCL (Virus Creation Laboratory) and PS-MPC (Phalcon-Skism Mass Produced Code Generator) lowered the barrier of entry to virus "writing".

In those early days, the main purpose of malware creation tools was to give non-techies entry into the virus writing counterculture.

Nowadays, the main purpose is business, plain and simple: to generate income by selling malware generation services in the underground cyberthreat marketplace.

The early malware generators produced executable files (programs), but today, you can buy generators to produce booby-trapped MS Office files.

A contemporary example is MWI, short for Microsoft Word Intruder, most likely developed somewhere in Russia.

Because MWI isn't widely known or circulated, we had assumed until recently that many malware samples we now consider to have been generated with it had been produced by hand, using the old-fashioned but effective approach of copy-and-paste.

But following a recent article by FireEye, it became obvious that this "copy-and-paste" was, in fact, an automated process.

MWI essentials

The kit was probably developed in Russia, where it has been advertised on the underground by an individual who goes by the handle Objekt.

MWI generates Rich Text Format (RTF) documents that are booby-trapped to exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word.

In fact, the latest versions of MWI can deliver multiple vulnerabilities in the same document, stacked one after another.

Because we don't have access to the MWI creation kit itself, we can't be completely certain which samples in our malware collection really were created with it, but we can make some educated guesses.

Notably, as reported by FireEye, samples produced since December 2014 have included a special tracking feature called MWISTAT, which embeds a distinctive URL in the generated RTFs:

While these URLs help the crooks keep track of their malware campaigns, they also let us keep track of the malware samples involved.

Running a similarity analysis on our malware collection suggests that we already have about 160 MWI-created attack documents.

Droppers and downloaders

Malware delivered in booby-trapped Office files tends to fall into two categories:

  • Droppers include one or more encoded malware programs (EXE files) as data that are unscrambled and written directly to disk during the infection process. This means that once you have received the booby-trapped file, in an email perhaps, you already have all components of the final malware available locally, so the infection can proceed even if you are offline.
  • Downloaders contain a URL from which the final infectious malware payload is downloaded and installed. This means that you can't predict exactly what malware the booby-trapped files might deliver, because the attackers can vary the download at will. But it does mean that if you can block the "callhome" URL, the original RTF attack file becomes effectively harmless.

We've seen MWI-created malware of both types, with slightly more droppers than downloaders.

Decoy documents

Booby-trapped documents and spreadsheets usually carry some sort of decoy document along with their malicious code.

Because Office exploits often cause Word or Excel to crash or exit unexpectedly, opening an infected file often arouses suspicion, because the promised document never appears.

Decoys are secondary documents, often exact copies of perfectly legitimate files (such as articles and news items) ripped off from the internet, that are deliberately popped up by the original booby-trapped file as a cover-up for the unexpected termination of Word or Excel.

But none of the 160 MWI samples in our collection include a decoy document feature, which is surprising.

After all, it is somewhat suspicious that after opening a document received in email, Word  crashes or exits and nothing visible happens.


Fortunately, quite a few of the MWI samples we analysed were buggy.

This is because recent versions of the creation kit try four different Office exploits in turn.

From oldest to newest, these are: CVE-2010-3333, CVE-2012-0158, CVE-2013-3906 and CVE-2014-1761.

If your computer is patched against CVE-2012-0158 and CVE-2013-3906, the exploit code used in the booby-trapped RTF file doesn't trigger on those vulnerabilities, but falls through to the CVE-2014-1761 exploit code instead.

This fails about two-thirds of the time, due to the complicated structure of the juxtaposed exploits.

Of course, this doesn't protect you from CVE-2014-1761 in general, so it doesn't exonerate you from getting up to date with your Office patches – something that would protect you from all current MWI-generated samples, given the exploits that the MWI kit knows about so far.


We went back to a SophosLabs report on Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) written at the beginning of 2014.

Interestingly, our "top attack" charts showed that a combination of CVE-2010-3333 and CVE-2012-0158 was the most prevalent attack vector:

And these attacks were predominantly used to distribute variants of the Zbot (also known as Zeus) malware:

Revisiting the samples from this period, it is now obvious that these dual-exploit samples were generated by MWI.

The Zbot/Zeus malware is commonly used for stealing online banking credentials and we've often seen it used to install ransomware like CryptoLocker.

As we said at the time:

Exploited documents, once used almost exclusively from players in the APT scene, are now used routinely in the sort of malware that is distributed widely by money-seeking cybercriminals.

Clearly, MWI has been an integral part of that money-motivated crimeware scene.


Look how official this looks. What A SCAM!

imageThis is a continuation of the scam that we have been warning you about! The problem is that once you are infected it is too late to do anything about it.

You have two choices. Pay up or revert to your backups. What! No Backups! Well this is something that you need to think about. The encryption locks away your data so that you need to access some kind of clean separate backup that is incremental so that you can roll back to a clean drive.

If you are not already setup to do this, then you need to talk to us to give you a solution to provide this kind of protection.


Beware the PUP (potentially unwanted programs)

Top download portals to avoid

imageMichael sent this out to us internally but it is something that has bothered me for quite awhile so I thought I would get it out there so you would be able to be aware. I use all of the time for some of the programs that I want to use but you have to watch what else is being asked of you. They are making money from your clicks and installs of products that you never really wanted. Beware!

Interesting read about how commonly used download portals (ex:, tucows, etc...) bundle crap that you don't need. I think this is a really nice read and we should post it to the Facebook site. Not only does it tell you which sites bundle stuff, it also gives instruction on how to carefully read what you're clicking on and avoiding getting the bundled stuff in the first place as well.


Tech Republic reported on the next release of Office (2016)

Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview has a number of valuable new features  By Tony Bradley March 18, 2015

imageTony discusses that many of the new features revolve around security and data loss protection (DLP). Installation and feature updates are going to be more fluid and more frequent. Activation of the product is also supposed to be simplified. There will be an Office 365 admin portal to manage device activations for your users.

Outlook should have its stability improved over unreliable networks to help improve performance. Hopefully this will help to speed up delivery of messages. Other than these under the hood changes the UI is going to remain essentially the same so that should be a good thing for your users. There are always some cries of anguish when then UI is changed substantially. I don’t think many of us like change that much.


Video Conferencing made easy by Logitech

imageLogitech has three great solutions for adding Video Conferencing to your Conference Room. Gone are the days for most of needing a $50,000 specially designed room to be able to communication both visually and verbally between two locations. It has really become easy and affordable using one of these three solutions from Logitech.

Starting under $300 for the BCC950 these units can bring Video Conferencing into most any situation using your notebook and either a projector or fixed large screen display. They have built high quality microphones that work great in small groups with noise cancellation and high quality audio clarity. They include High Definition 1080p cameras and work with  Microsoft® Lync™ 2013, Cisco Jabber™, WebEx® compatible* and Skype™ certified. See for the latest version.

All cameras use ZEISS Optics with Autofocus to give you sharp resolution. Whether the camera is showing your smiling face or held up articles or paperwork all can be shared between sites. The camera has a 78 degree field of view and can be controlled with zoom and rotation up to 180 degrees. The sound is crystal-clear. The built-in, full duplex speakerphone and noise-cancelling microphone allow meeting members to hear and be heard clearly up to 8 feet away from the base. The speakerphone can also be used as a standalone during audio calls.

Download the ConferenceCam data sheet

The ConferenceCam is extremely portable, has a 90 degree field of view with digital pan and tilt and a 4x digital zoom. Logitech states that this unit is optimized for small groups of 4-6 people. They have included Mult-Device connectivity that provides simple setup with either PC’s or Mac’s and provides screen mirroring and audio pairing with mobile devices. The acoustics are tuned for a 12 foot radius. Plug in the USB cable and your PC or Mac will begin it’s plug and play connection. There is no software to load or device drives to load everything works in minutes. The unit has a built in rechargeable battery and can run a video call for up to 3 hours of use or 15 hours if you are just using audio. The battery can be recharged using either the AC adapter or USB connection.

Download the ConferenceCam Connect Data Sheet

If you need a system that will allow a slightly larger coverage area the ConferenceCam CC3000e might fit the bill. This system also uses the ZEISS lens with autofocus and 1080p resolution and sports a 10x lossless zoom. It also has a 90 degree field of view with remote controlled mechanical 260 degree pan and 130 degree tilt. It also includes USB Plug and Play connectivity. Optimized for Microsoft® Lync™ 2013, Cisco Jabber™, WebEx® compatible1, and Skype™ certified ensures an integrated experience with most business-grade UC platforms. The audio microphone allows a 20-foot  diameter around the base without mic pods. The system also support NFC pairing to enable mobile devices connectivity to the base unit. Set up the conference room with up to a 32-foot range between the camera and the speaker. Use the camera on the table or mount it on the wall with included hardware. The bottom of the camera is designed with a standard tripod thread for added versatility. Download the CC3000e Data Sheet

We have had very good results using Logitech’s video conferencing products and if you find yourself wanting to add this capability into your conference room call us to help your pick and design the perfect setup for you.


Update: Video Creation

imageI have been putting together a couple quick videos this month and demonstrate certain types of functions in different applications. These come typically to me from clients who run up against the wall when trying to accomplish a task in the program that they are using. This is typically done by using a program that we sell called Camtasia that is manufactured by TechSmith. This program has been around for quite a few years, and is very useful in creating quick documentaries on how to use your computer. It works by capturing both of voiceover and a screen capture of your computer. So basically what you do, is a quick demo of of the program, feature or function of the program that you want to demonstrate and describe it as though the person was right there beside you. You can then go back in and edit the video to exclude long pauses, retakes and other sections that you don't want to be part of your video presentation.

Another great feature of this program is its integration with Microsoft's PowerPoint program to be able to go through a PowerPoint presentation and record that presentation with both your narration and the speed that you go through the slides. This makes it very easy for you to put together a presentation for client that you can deliver to them when you can't physically get in front of them.

The program works on both Apple and Windows-based computers and has been widely used in educational situations for years. It is a great enhancement to their getting your point across and keeping everybody on the same page. The price is quite reasonable at only $299. If you need more than one copy the first break is at five licenses. Discounts are also available for education and government pricing.


Should you be worried about crooks jamming your wireless security system?

imageI have listed a great article by CNET writer Ry Crist  discussing this issue. But the bottom line of this issue is do you really think you have a burglar that is so sophisticated that they are able to use this kind of equipment? Personally I don’t think that this is a real worry. Statistics show that most break-ins are of the nature where the intruder is literally breaking something to gain access. They typically are breaking in through a window or taking advantage of open doors or windows. Take a look at this article and form your own opinions but I believe you will be feel better after reading it.


Outlook 2013–Export Contact List to .csv format

Had a customer ask how to export their contacts to a .csv format. Here is a video I whipped up to show them how.


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