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To send a text message, there's not only "an app for that," there are dozens of apps for that.

So why does sending a message through Skype drain over three times more battery than WhatsApp? Developers simply haven't had a way of knowing when and how to make their apps more energy-efficient.

Purdue University researchers have created a new tool, called "DiffProf," that uses artificial intelligence to automatically decide for the developer if a feature should be improved to drain less battery and how to make that improvement.

"What if a feature of an app needs to consume 70 percent of the phone's battery? Is there room for improvement or should that feature be left the way it is?" said Y. Charlie Hu, the Michael and Katherine Birck Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the CEO and co-founder of Mobile Enerlytics, LLC.

The tool, which was announced on Oct. 8 at the 13th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation, aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration, acknowledging the university's global advancements made in AI, algorithms and automation as part of Purdue's 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration's Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

In 2012, Hu's lab was the first to develop a tool for developers to identify hot spots in source code that are responsible for an app's battery drain.

"Before this point, trying to figure out how much battery an app is draining was like looking at a black box," Hu said. "It was a big step forward, but it still isn't enough, because developers often wouldn't know what to do with information about the source of a battery drain."

How code runs can dramatically differ between two apps, even if the developers are implementing the same task. DiffProf catches these differences in the "call trees" of similar tasks, to show why the messaging feature of one messaging app consumes more energy than another messaging app. DiffProf then reveals how to rewrite the app to drain less battery.

"Ultimately, in order for this technique to make a big difference for an entire smartphone, all developers would need to make their apps more energy-efficient," said Abhilash Jindal, fellow co-founder of Mobile Enerlytics and a former Ph.D. student in computer science at Purdue.

"The impact also depends on how intensively someone uses certain apps. Someone who uses messaging apps a lot might experience longer battery life, but someone who doesn't use their messaging apps at all might not," he said.

So far, the DiffProf prototype has only been tested for the Android mobile operating system.

The work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (Grant CSR-1718854).

Purdue University. "AI tool automatically reveals how to write apps that drain less battery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181009135825.htm

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

Microtechs 24/7 White label support services

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Proactive NOC monitoring

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

Posted by on in Latest Microtechs news posts

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New research sheds light on how people decide whether behaviour is moral or immoral. The findings could serve as a framework for informing the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies.

"At issue is intuitive moral judgment, which is the snap decision that people make about whether something is good or bad, moral or immoral," says Veljko Dubljević, lead author of the study and a neuroethics researcher at North Carolina State University who studies the cognitive neuroscience of ethics.

"There have been many attempts to understand how people make intuitive moral judgments, but they all had significant flaws. In 2014, we proposed a model of moral judgment, called the Agent Deed Consequence (ADC) model -- and now we have the first experimental results that offer a strong empirical corroboration of the ADC model in both mundane and dramatic realistic situations.

"This work is important because it provides a framework that can be used to help us determine when the ends may justify the means, or when they may not," Dubljević says. "This has implications for clinical assessments, such as recognizing deficits in psychopathy, and technological applications, such as AI programming."

Moral judgment is a tricky subject. For example, most people would agree that lying is immoral. However, most people would also agree that lying to Nazis about the location of Jewish families would be moral.

To address this, the ADC model posits that people take three things into account when making a moral judgment: the agent, which is the character or intent of the person who is doing something; the deed, or what is being done; and the consequence, or the outcome that resulted from the deed.

"This approach allows us to explain not only the variability in the moral status of lying, but also the flip side: that telling the truth can be immoral if it is done maliciously and causes harm," Dubljević says.

To test this complexity and the model, researchers developed a series of scenarios that were logical, realistic and easily understood by both lay people and professional philosophers. All of the scenarios were evaluated by a group of 141 professional philosophers with training in ethics.

In one part of the study, a sample of 528 study participants from the U.S. also evaluated different scenarios in which the stakes were consistently low. This means that the possible outcomes were not dire.

In a second part of the study, 786 study participants evaluated more drastic scenarios -- including situations that could result in severe injury or death.

In the first part, when the stakes were lower, the nature of the deed was the strongest factor in determining whether an action was moral. Whether the agent was lying or telling the truth mattered the most, rather than whether the outcome was bad or good. But when the stakes were high, the nature of the consequences was the strongest factor. The results also show that in the case of a good outcome (survival of the passengers of an airplane), the difference between a good or a bad deed, although relevant for the moral evaluation, was less important.

"For instance, the possibility of saving numerous lives seems to be able to justify less than savory actions, such as the use of violence, or motivations for action, such as greed, in certain conditions," Dubljević says.

"The findings from the study showed that philosophers and the general public made moral judgments in similar ways. This indicates that the structure of moral intuition is the same, regardless of whether one has training in ethics," Dubljević says. "In other words, everyone makes these snap moral judgments in a similar way."

While the ADC model helps us understand how we make judgments about what is good or bad, it may have applications beyond informing debates about moral psychology and ethics.

"There are areas, such as AI and self-driving cars, where we need to incorporate decision making about what constitutes moral behaviour," Dubljević says. "Frameworks like the ADC model can be used as the underpinnings for the cognitive architecture we build for these technologies, and this is what I'm working on currently."

Story Source:

Materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

North Carolina State University. "How people judge good from bad." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 October 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181002102844.htm>.

Microtechs 24/7 White label support services

Most of our customers approach Microtechs as they are looking for a partnership with a fully flexible, UK based support team. We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our services to dovetail to your individual requirements.

Do you need help with; 

·        Covering support overnight and weekends

 

·        Need to free up your senior staff to work on project or development duties

 

·        Issues with staff retention

 

·        Outsourced offshore and have experienced a high number of complaints.

Cost savings, operational efficiencies and service improvements can be found through your team working in conjunction with us.

 

Microtechs Service Desk and NOC solutions provide the right level of support for you. 24/7 access to a client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams, scalable models to meet your requirements, proactive monitoring and alerting, backed up by a state of the art service desk infrastructure.

So, what does all this mean for your business and customers? Increased up-time, reduced costs (in some cases by more than 40%), lower overheads, incident reduction and continual service improvements – all managed by Microtechs.

·         Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

 

·        30 minute NOC response times

 

·        Fully GDPR compliant

 

·        Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

 

·        Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

 

·        Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call 01483 407417.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The world is edging closer to a reality where smart devices are able to use their owners as an energy resource, say experts from the University of Surrey.

In a study published by the Advanced Energy Materials journal, scientists from Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) detail an innovative solution for powering the next generation of electronic devices by using Triboelectric Nanogenerators (TENGs). Along with human movements, TENGs can capture energy from common energy sources such as wind, wave, and machine vibration.

A TENG is an energy harvesting device that uses the contact between two or more (hybrid, organic or inorganic) materials to produce an electric current.

Researchers from the ATI have provided a step-by-step guide on how to construct the most efficient energy harvesters. The study introduces a "TENG power transfer equation" and "TENG impedance plots," tools which can help improve the design for power output of TENGs.

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI, said: "A world where energy is free and renewable is a cause that we are extremely passionate about here at the ATI (and the University of Surrey) -- TENGs could play a major role in making this dream a reality. TENGs are ideal for powering wearables, internet of things devices and self-powered electronic applications. This research puts the ATI in a world leading position for designing optimized energy harvesters."

Ishara Dharmasena, PhD student and lead scientist on the project, said: "I am extremely excited with this new study which redefines the way we understand energy harvesting. The new tools developed here will help researchers all over the world to exploit the true potential of triboelectric nanogenerators, and to design optimised energy harvesting units for custom applications."

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Surrey. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

University of Surrey. "Smart devices could soon tap their owners as a battery source." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180927105647.htm>.

Microtechs 24/7 Outsourced White Label Support Services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Proactive NOC monitoring

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

 

 

 

 

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Want to be a better boss? Check your email less often. Research from Michigan State University shows that keeping up with email traffic places high demands on managers, which prevents them from achieving their goals and from being good leaders.

The research, led by management professor Russell Johnson and published in Journal of Applied Psychology, is one of the first to examine how distractions from email impact managers, their productivity and their role as leaders.

According to the research, employees spend more than 90 minutes every day -- or seven-and-a-half hours every week -- recovering from email interruptions. Managers, Johnson said, are no different, and their distractions have further-reaching implications.

"Like most tools, email is useful but it can become disruptive and even damaging if used excessively or inappropriately," Johnson said. "When managers are the ones trying to recover from email interruptions, they fail to meet their goals, they neglect manager-responsibilities and their subordinates don't have the leadership behavior they need to thrive."

What further makes managers different from other employees is that when feeling overwhelmed and unproductive because of email demands, they recover by limiting leader behaviors and pivoting to tactical duties. This action, Johnson said, is strategic and intentional so that they feel more productive.

"Interestingly, we found that managers scaled back 'leader behaviors' more so than initiating 'structure behaviors,'" Johnson said. "The former behaviors relate to motivating and inspiring subordinates, talking optimistically about the future or explaining why work tasks are important; the latter are more concrete and task-focused, such as setting work goals, assigning duties or providing feedback."

So, not only are managers not managing -- but they're also focusing on smaller tasks for the sake of feeling productive.

To test how email demands hinder managers, Johnson and colleagues collected surveys from a group twice a day for two weeks. Managers reported their frequency and demands of emails, their perceived progress on core job duties, how often they engaged in effective transformational leader behaviors and initiating structure leader behaviors.

"We found that on days when managers reported high email demands, they report lower perceived work progress as a result, and in turn engage in fewer effective leader behaviors," Johnson said.

Beyond failing to complete their own responsibilities, email distractions cause subordinates to suffer from a lack of leader behaviors, or those that motivate and inspire.

"When managers reduce their leader behavior and structure behaviors, it has been shown that employees' task performance, work satisfaction, organizational commitment, intrinsic motivation and engagement all decrease, and employees' stress and negative emotions increase," Johnson said.

Importantly, Johnson said, leader behavior has a strong correlation to employee performance which, unfortunately, were the behaviors that got put on the back burner because of email distractions.

"The moral of the story is that managers need to set aside specific times to check email. This puts the manager in control -- rather than reacting whenever a new message appears in the inbox, which wrestles control away from the manager," Johnson said. "As we cite in the paper, findings from prior research suggest that it takes time and effort for employees to transition between email and work tasks, so minimizing the number of times they have to make that transition is to their benefit."

Michigan State University. "Is email evil? Bosses are getting boxed in by their inbox." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180918110931.htm>.

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7/365 Outsourced Helpdesk and NOC

With more demands for 24/7 support and quality customer service in the forefront for many businesses, now may be an appropriate time to review how you deliver support and what it costs your business in resourcing, customer retention and new business wins.

Advantages of Outsourcing your support desk.

·        Flexible hours

·        Reduced cost

·        Easier management

·        Higher profits

Microtechs can help.

We can provide a completely UK based support function for your customers or products whilst simultaneously saving you money and improving your service levels.

·        Office hours or 24/7

·        UK based from Guildford, Surrey

·        1st & 2nd line / NOC and incident management capabilities

·        Ability to learn and support bespoke applications

·        All white labelled to your brand

·        25-50% reduction in overheads

·        Pricing from £500 per month

·        Sole traders through to enterprise companies supported

"We transitioned our first line tech support for our entire subscriber base across to Microtechs in 2015 in order to offer a true 24/7 helpdesk service. Since that point, we have been delighted to see a huge reduction in calls unanswered together with a substantial increase in first time fixes and a subsequent dramatic increase in customer satisfaction levels and retention rates. Most noteworthy of all, we have also seen an overall reduction in cost to our business. It’s vanishingly rare to come across a service that is simultaneously more competent, more comprehensive and less costly – but that is exactly what Microtechs is currently providing to us"

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

 

 

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During her keynote at this year’s Infosecurity Europe, Baroness Dido Harding - former chief exec of TalkTalk - warned other business leaders about the threat of legacy tech, and she was well placed to do so: TalkTalk customers had their details comprised in a large breach in 2015, resulting in huge damage to brand reputation for the company as well as a £400,000 fine from the ICO.

However, the threat of outdated systems is hardly a new one, and private businesses as well as public sector bodies are facing the same dilemma.

In brief, the shackles of legacy tech are inhibiting companies from fulfilling their digital transformation journeys and leave them exposed to new and emerging threats. So what are the barriers that are leaving organizations exposed?

Lack of awareness

Firstly, organizations can find themselves uninformed to the fact that they are running technology that is no longer supported by its creators and therefore poses a security risk. This can be the case for organizations that are rapidly progressing; part of this process might be making planned consolidations such as mergers and acquisitions, which in turn could mean inadvertently inheriting outdated technology.

This is essentially the situation that TalkTalk found itself in, as Harding explained: “We were a fast-growing company, acquiring others, and were hit by a simple SQL vulnerability in a legacy website that no one noticed.”

This mindfulness of legacy technology and infrastructure, particularly during times of amalgamation, is crucial; paramount to this is communication between IT teams and wider business leaders. Otherwise, organizations can find themselves out in the open to security risks – as Harding explained: "...there was the IT equivalent of an old shed in a field that was covered in brambles. All we saw were the brambles and not the open window."

Greater still, lack of awareness and understanding can also be found when it comes to vital software reaching its end of life. Many organizations still run legacy operating systems such as Windows XP which haven’t received security updates from the vendor in several years; an astonishing fact given the rate at which security threats are evolving and becoming more sophisticated.

It may be the case these organizations who still run legacy are simply naïve of the risks, but, often enough, the problem goes far deeper.

Time, cost and risk perception

Many organizations that run outdated software are not uneducated to the risks, but are still forced to host applications in an environment that has reached its end of life due to perceived limitations.

When it appears that their bespoke applications are incompatible when newer alternatives become available, organizations are seemingly left with the dilemma of either rewriting the applications or keeping them where they are.

The former scenario has the potential to present a huge time and budget expense that could extend into the millions for a large enterprise and, even more dire still, some organizations may not even possess the ability or talent in-house to undertake this process even if money and bandwidth permit.

Additionally, it is often the perceived notion of vendor lock-in that deters organizations from making the sensible and imperative decision to move away from legacy technology. Many organizations may feel that after sinking immeasurable amounts of time, effort and money into one particular vendor, it is difficult and painstaking to move to a more modern alternative.

The reality is far less bleak

It is important for organizations to understand that the barriers that seemingly hinder an organization’s journey away from legacy technology and towards a more modern future often do not exist.

Technology is available that provides portability for these applications; compatibility that does not discriminate against technology suppliers and can provide unification where it otherwise cannot be achieved.

The use of compatibility containers, for example, offers a ‘lift and shift’ option that does not require a single code change - saving time, money and resources in the process. With this in mind, the biggest obstacle to the modern threat of legacy technology is simply cognizance of the issue: a fact that, as more and more influential business leaders speak out about, will hopefully be diminished.

By Mat Clothier CEO, CTO and Founder at Cloudhouse

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/legacy-threat-outdated-systems/

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 White Label support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Proactive NOC monitoring

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop me an email or give me a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

b2ap3_thumbnail_thief-stealing-laptop.JPG

Most modern computers have a weakness that allows hackers to steal encryption keys and other sensitive data, according to new research.

Cyber security firm F-Secure said it had managed to revive a decades-old attack that involves stealing user data during a computer's reboot process, warning that the majority of modern-day computers are vulnerable to the exploit.

The exploit, known as a cold-boot attack, which has been known to hackers since 2008, involves rebooting a computer without initiating a proper shutdown process, then scalping the residual data that briefly sits on the machine's RAM. While most modern laptops have been designed to overwrite this data by default, the research team was successfully able to disable this overwrite function.

Researchers warn that the attack could mean that businesses risk losing data through machines they have either lost or ditched in recent replacement cycles, and that current security measures are not good enough to protect against the exploit.

"Typically, organisations aren't prepared to protect themselves from an attacker that has physical possession of a company computer," said F-Secure principal security consultant Olle Segerdahl.

"When you have a security issue found in devices from major PC vendors, like the weakness my team has learned to exploit, you need to assume that a lot of companies have a weak link in their security that they're not fully aware of or prepared to deal with."

F-Secure said that although the exploit requires some extra steps to the classic cold boot attack, it's proven to be effective against every modern laptop tested. It added that because the threat is typically used against devices that are stolen or lost, hackers have plenty of time to execute the attack.

Segerdahl also added that there's no reliable way for organisations to know their data is safe if a computer goes missing, and because nearly all company laptops will have things like access credentials for corporate networks, it gives attackers a consistent and reliable way to compromise corporate targets.

Rather worryingly, there is no easy fix for this issue either, but Segerdahl stressed the importance of invalidating access credentials once a machine is reported lost, stolen, or no longer in use.

When contacted by IT Pro, Microsoft senior director Jeff Jones said: "This technique requires physical access to a target device. We encourage customers to practice good security habits, including preventing unauthorized physical access to their device." Crucially, however, there was no mention of a potential fix for the problem.

F-Secure's advice is for businesses to configure laptops so they automatically shut down or hibernate instead of entering sleep mode, or require employees to enter an encrypted system's BitLocker PIN each time they boot up their machines.

Written by Bobby Hellard

Original article: http://www.itpro.co.uk/security/31911/businesses-at-risk-of-data-theft-through-classic-cold-boot-attack

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 UK White label support services

With more demands for 24/7 support and quality customer service in the forefront for many businesses, now may be an appropriate time to review how you deliver support and what it costs your business in resourcing, customer retention and new business wins.

Advantages of Outsourcing your support desk.

*     Flexible hours

*     Reduced cost

*     Easier management

*     Higher profits

Microtechs can help.

We can provide a completely UK based support function for your customers or products whilst simultaneously saving you money and improving your service levels.

*     Office hours or 24/7

*     UK based from Guildford, Surrey

*     1st & 2nd line / NOC and incident management capabilities

*     Ability to learn and support bespoke applications

*     All white labelled to your brand

*     25-50% reduction in overheads

*     Pricing from £500 per month

*     Sole traders through to enterprise companies supported

"We transitioned our first line tech support for our entire subscriber base across to Microtechs in 2015 in order to offer a true 24/7 helpdesk service. Since that point, we have been delighted to see a huge reduction in calls unanswered together with a substantial increase in first time fixes and a subsequent dramatic increase in customer satisfaction levels and retention rates. Most noteworthy of all, we have also seen an overall reduction in cost to our business. It’s vanishingly rare to come across a service that is simultaneously more competent, more comprehensive and less costly – but that is exactly what Microtechs is currently providing to us"

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

 

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_datafail.JPG

Anyone who has ever cursed a computer network as it slowed to a crawl will appreciate the remedy offered by scientists at Rice University.

Rice computer scientist Eugene Ng and his team say their solution will keep data on the fast track when failures inevitably happen.

Ng introduced ShareBackup, a strategy that would allow shared backup switches in data centers to take on network traffic within a fraction of a second after a software or hardware switch failure.

He will present a peer-reviewed paper on the work this week at the SIGCOMM 2018 conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Ng said the idea would solve a common annoyance among data professionals, scientists and everyone who relies on a network to deliver results day in and day out.

"A data network consists of servers and network switches," said Ng, a professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering. "Switches move data packets to where they need to go. But things fail, especially in large-scale data centers with thousands of pieces of hardware."

The usual response to a failed switch is to shunt the flow of data to another line. "Generally, the network has multiple paths for connecting servers so, just like if there's a closure on the highway, we'd drive around it. This is a conventional, natural approach that makes a lot of sense: You reroute around the failure to get where you need to go."

But sometimes that other road is congested and everything slows down. "Data centers aren't the internet; they're not about people surfing websites," Ng said. "They're about supporting data-intensive applications like data mining or machine learning. And a lot of these applications have stringent performance deadlines, so blindly rerouting traffic could be the wrong thing to do in a data center."

Rather than the expensive option of installing redundant switches throughout a network, the Ng lab's strategy would put fast switches and software in strategic locations that could pick up the traffic from a failed switch in a microsecond. When that problem is resolved, the team's software makes the backup switch available to handle another failure.

The switch is fast enough -- the failure-recovery time is 0.73 milliseconds, including latency from hardware and control systems -- that most users would never know that part of the system had failed.

"The reality is that the fraction of devices that fail at any given time is very small, and most of these failures can be addressed by things like rebooting the device," Ng said. "Sometimes the software gets screwed up and a simple power cycle will bring it back. These failures may also not last long.

"These are the characteristics we're trying to exploit," he said. "Because of that, we can get away with having very few devices back up a large number of devices."

Ng said ShareBackup could save data centers time and money not only by maintaining full bandwidth but by also helping to analyze problems, including misconfigurations that commonly lead to network failure.

"Part of our work is to help data centers figure out what went wrong in the network," he said. "Once the backup is activated, you can take the failed device out of the production network and test it to identify which component caused the problem.

"Now, if we take two devices out and can't figure out which went bad, both need to be replaced," he said. "It's very likely only one of the devices is having the problem. Our software can diagnose these devices in a semiautomatic manner, and if one of the parts is good, it can be reinstated."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Rice University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Rice University. "Ciircuit-switching tech to help data centers recover from failures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180816132107.htm>.

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 white label support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

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Research shows that 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries'

Employer expectations of work email monitoring during nonwork hours are detrimental to the health and well-being of not only employees but their family members as well.

William Becker, a Virginia Tech associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business, co-authored a new study, "Killing me softly: electronic communications monitoring and employee and significant-other well-being," showing that such expectations result in anxiety, which adversely affects the health of employees and their families.

"The competing demands of work and nonwork lives present a dilemma for employees," Becker said, "which triggers feelings of anxiety and endangers work and personal lives."

Other studies have shown that the stress of increased job demands leads to strain and conflict in family relationships when the employee is unable to fulfill nonwork roles at home -- "such as when someone brings work home to finish up."

Their new study, he said, demonstrates that employees do not need to spend actual time on work in their off-hours to experience the harmful effects. The mere expectations of availability increase strain for employees and their significant others -- even when employees do not engage in actual work during nonwork time.

Unlike work-related demands that deplete employee resources, physical and psychological, by requiring time away from home, "the insidious impact of 'always on' organizational culture is often unaccounted for or disguised as a benefit -- increased convenience, for example, or higher autonomy and control over work-life boundaries," Becker said.

"Our research exposes the reality: 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries,' compromising an employee's and their family's health and well-being."

As negative health outcomes are costly to them, what can employers do to mitigate the adverse effects identified by the study? Becker said policies that reduce expectations to monitor electronic communication outside of work would be ideal.

When that is not an option, the solution may be to establish boundaries on when electronic communication is acceptable during off-hours by setting up off-hour email windows or schedules when employees are available to respond.

Additionally, he said, organizational expectations should be communicated clearly. "If the nature of a job requires email availability, such expectations should be stated formally as a part of job responsibilities." Knowing these expectations upfront may reduce anxiety in employees and increase understanding from their family members, he said.

As for employees, they could consider practicing mindfulness, which has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety, Becker said. Mindfulness may help employees "be present" in family interactions, which could help reduce conflict and improve relationship satisfaction. And, he added, mindfulness is within the employee's control when email expectations are not.

Becker, whose research interests include work emotion, turnover, organizational neuroscience, and leadership, is based at Virginia Tech's National Capital Region campus in metro Washington, D.C.

His study, co-authored with Liuba Y. Belkin, of Lehigh University; Samantha A. Conroy, of Colorado State University; and Sarah Tuskey, a Virginia Tech Ph.D. student in executive business research, will be presented at the Academy of Management annual meeting in Chicago on August 10-14.

"Employees today must navigate more complex boundaries between work and family than ever before," said Becker. "Employer expectations during nonwork hours appear to increase this burden, as employees feel an obligation to shift roles throughout their nonwork time.

"Efforts to manage these expectations are more important than ever, given our findings that employees' families are also affected by these expectations."

Story Source: Materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Virginia Tech. "Mere expectation of checking work email after hours harms health of workers and families: Research shows that 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180810091553.htm>.

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 White Label Support Services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

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IT departments aren't at all prepped for the end-of-life of Windows 7 and with almost half of businesses still running Windows 7, it's going to come as quite a shock to the system when Windows shuts down the platform in just over a year.

That's according to a survey conducted by Enterprise content delivery platform Kollective, which revealed that out of 260 businesses decision makers in the UK and US, two-thirds of businesses haven't developed a strategy to migrate to Windows 10, while a fifth of those questioned didn't even know Microsoft was withdrawing support.

A quarter of businesses said they'll leave it to the employees to update and migrate their systems to Windows 10, which leaves many businesses open to fragmentation and secrity risks if the process isn't overseen properly.

“While 500 days may seem like a long time, it took many businesses upwards of three years to transition from Windows XP to Windows 7," Jon O'Connor, solution architect at Kollective said. "Although Microsoft has since streamlined the process, we are expecting similar migration timelines for Windows 10."

However, he warned that businesses need to take the news seriously. It can take at least a month for businesses to migrate to a newer computing platform, with 27% saying there could well be network issues when upgrading machines to Windows 10.

“For large enterprises, the key will be ensuring that the update can be rolled out automatically and at scale," O'Connor added. "Unfortunately, our research suggests that many businesses simply don’t have the network infrastructure needed to achieve this simultaneous update, as such many will spend months – or even years – migrating their systems entirely. If the January 2020 deadline is missed, this will pose a major security threat for the world’s businesses.”

Despite Kollective's argument that businesses are not prepared for the Windows 7 phase-out, figures released by Net Applications showed that Windows 10 adoption is rising fast and should overtake Windows 7 by November. 36.6% of total PCs are using Windows 10, representing 41.4% of Windows machines. In comparison, Windows 7 is running on 41.2% of all PCs and 46.6% of those running Windows.

http://www.itpro.co.uk/microsoft-windows/31819/two-thirds-of-businesses-not-prepped-for-death-of-windows-7

Written by Clare Hopping

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop me us email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

 

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A new study shows that communication channels between different parts and pieces of computer software are prone to security breaches.

Researchers from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki have found over ten computer security-critical applications that are vulnerable to insider attacks. Most of the vulnerabilities were found in password managers used by millions of people to store their login credentials. Several other applications were found to be similarly susceptible to attacks and breaches across the Windows, macOS and Linux operating systems.

Computer software often starts multiple processes to perform different tasks. For example, a password manager typically has two parts: a password vault and an extension to an internet browser, which both run as separate processes on the same computer.

To exchange data, these processes use a mechanism called inter-process communication (IPC), which remains within the confines of the computer and does not send information to an outside network. For this reason, IPC has traditionally been considered secure. However, the software needs to protect its internal communication from other processes running on the same computer. Otherwise, malicious processes started by other users could access the data in the IPC communication channel.

'Many security-critical applications, including several password managers, do not properly protect the IPC channel. This means that other users' processes running on a shared computer may access the communication channel and potentially steal users' credentials,' explains Thanh Bui, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University.

While PCs are often thought to be personal, it is not uncommon that several people have access to the same machine. Large companies typically have a centralized identity and access management system that allows employees to log into any company computer. In these scenarios, it is possible for anyone in the company to launch attacks. An attacker can also log in to the computer as a guest or connect remotely, if these features are enabled.

'The number of vulnerable applications shows that software developers often overlook the security problems related to inter-process communication. Developers may not understand the security properties of different IPC methods, or they place too much trust in software and applications that run locally. Both explanations are worrisome,' says Markku Antikainen, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki.

Following responsible disclosure, the researchers have reported the detected vulnerabilities to the respective vendors, which have taken steps to prevent the attacks. The research was done partly in co-operation with F-Secure, a Finnish cyber-security company.

The research will be presented at the DEFCON security conference on August 12, 2018, and at the Usenix Security conference on August 17, 2018.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Aalto University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Aalto University. "Password managers vulnerable to insider hacking: A new study shows that communication channels between different parts and pieces of computer software are prone to security breaches.." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180815102906.htm>.

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 White label support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

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