The State of the Internet: Cause for Concern

The State of the Internet: Cause for Concern

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in IT News, Technology

fiber optic cables

In light of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony on Capitol Hill regarding Facebook’s use of data and role in foreign nationals influencing the American public with engineered news, many questions have been asked about just how we utilize the Internet in 2018.


We’ve come far from the days of digital bulletin boards and dial-up modems. Now, our interface with the internet is seamless, and reflexive. It touches every aspect of our lives, from relationships to business, art, science, recreation and finance. But is the system we place ourselves wholeheartedly into ultimately healthy, in its own right? And that begs a second question – is it healthy for us?

The Mozilla Foundation, a known open source pioneer and the creator of the Firefox browser, recently published a report on the health of the Internet. Their goal was to foster a wider understanding of the human experience of the Internet – from connectivity barriers, to economics, to security and privacy, to online harassment – and find out how those issues all relate to each other, and find the existing patterns in these previously separate experiences. In short, changing the perception of the Internet from a technology experience, to a fundamentally human one, with a very real impact on the well-being of people in a number of ways.


With Big Tech


Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have market share and influence the likes of which have never been seen before. They are seamlessly ingrained into almost all facets of our lives, from civil discourse & public engagement, right down to the contents of your refrigerator and washing machine. They built the internet through innovation, by dreaming big, and giving us exactly what we wanted. It’s not their wealth which makes them dangerous; it’s their market share. Are they now too big to fail, knowing that they take the convenience of modern culture, along with all of our personal data, with them?


With Fake News


One of the founding ideals of the Internet was almost true democracy and the openness of knowledge. In 2018, it looks more like targeted product placement and the manipulation of the data you’re shown based on how an algorithm believes you think. A growing number of people source at least 30% of their news from social media, one of the most malleable platforms for fake news. A story need not be ‘true’, it need only be ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ enough for the appearance of validity. Since some of these ‘news’ stories tend to be extreme or alarmist, to either side of the political spectrum, they become nothing more than propaganda for special interests at best, foreign spies at worst. Russian citizens were able to use Facebook pages to organize social protests, and even counter-protests to the original protests they had created. It’s no stretch to see the tools used in that case turned to causing outright violence and creating panic during disasters.


We are no longer separate from the Internet. It’s now a part of almost everything we do. It is very much a human system now. Keeping the Internet open, free, and diversified is the key to a prosperous and free 21st century.

Technology Impact: Self Driving Cars

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in IT News, Technology

The innovation of self-driving cars has been happening behind the scenes for a few years now. It’s also been happening on public roads without much fanfare and in courtrooms with much more attention.

The two front runners in the field which will readily be available to consumers are Waymo, a Google spinoff, and Uber, the ridesharing pioneer that’s looking to become a disruptor in another field. There’s no clear leader yet, but the victor will be the organization that can acquire the best talent in data analytics and fast learning, both human and machine.

Driverless cars operate using a variety of cameras and sensors positioned strategically on a vehicle, in addition to a combination of LIDAR and RADAR to assess the environment the car travels through with enough distance to predict outcomes of other objects and vehicles on the road. Surprisingly, the amount of hardware needed to process that information is small; in fact, Chevrolet is using cars right off their factory floor with some small additions, to operate its Cruise service, due out in 2019.

What is also surprising is that while Waymo is investing a large sum of both capital and engineering expertise, it doesn’t plan on actually selling these driverless vehicle systems direct to consumers; instead it will leverage the technology in its rideshare platform.


But before you hop into an automated car for a quick trip across town, are they really safe?


Currently, legislation is before Congress to remove conventional automobile safety regulations from thousands of self-driving cars on the roads today, as the field of driverless technology is evolving so rapidly that attempts to regulate would be obsolete as soon as they are put into law. What makes more sense, is that more scrutiny is applied to Waymo, Uber and the like to make their test and operational data collected thus far to be available to authorities and the public at large. This would create oversite of a hard-to-govern new technology and provide transparency while allowing progress to move forward.


We are already sharing the roads with the future in some states, and a safe driverless taxi platform isn’t very far away.

Video Management Software: Unlock your Camera Network’s Full Potential.

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Security, Technology

Video Management Software: Unlock your Camera Network’s Full Potential.

risk of theft

Hopefully you’ve selected the correct models for your site based upon your unique security needs. Now your attention turns to their integration into your daily operations. How you utilize your camera video is just as important as the physical specifications of the cameras you’ve installed, and there are many video management solutions to choose from that can fit you. There’s a few critical factors to consider when choosing video management software


Your current number of cameras is a critical piece. Are you planning on expanding your camera network in the future? You want to find a platform that can be scalable while still being cost-effective at every state of your growth. Small networks (1 – 25 cameras), medium networks (25 – 50 cameras) and enterprise networks (50+ cameras) all have great options for management solutions.


How long would you like to archive your video for? This could depend on a number of variables: insurance requirements, state laws depending on your industry, and cooperation with local law enforcement are just a few. The longer you want to store video for, the more storage space you need in the video management server or NVR appliance. If those previous criteria aren’t a factor, you can simply adjust your archive to the storage that you wish to purchase.


Will you need to monitor your site’s cameras during off hours? Or from anywhere you happen to be? Many VMS solutions now include a mobile app on both Apple and Android to view your cameras with a single login anywhere you are. This is especially helpful if you have more than one location to monitor and using a single VMS solution across them all.


Many of the security challenges that require the need of cameras in the first place can be resolved much faster with additional VMS features. One important feature is heatmapping (using analytics and video of human traffic captured by cameras) to determine how many people are entering your facility and which route or locations they use the most. This is especially valuable for retail locations or educational campuses. Another is facial recognition software, which is especially useful for public safety applications. Using 16 points of facial data, and then using a corresponding database, your video management solution can detect and alert you to individuals whom, for any reason, you do not want on your site. This can also be used for license plates on vehicles as well, adding another layer of physical security.

When considering all the above factors, keep in mind your site’s internet connection limits. It may need to be upgraded to allow for the increase of data traffic to and from your network if you decide on a cloud-based VMS, as opposed to an on premise server solution. Keeping these factors in mind will ensure that you’re using your new or existing VMS to its full potential.

Top Reasons you need a Managed Services Provider

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Infrastructure Management, Technology

IT Security With a Managed Services Provider

Although you probably already have standard security measures in place – firewalls and passwords, for instance, proper IT security requires a sophisticated, multi-layered approach.

A managed services provider ensures that you have all of the safeguards in place that you require to protect your data, and remains on the cutting edge of security services because that is our primary focus.

Proactive approach to IT issues.

Rather than reacting to issues as they arise – an IT management style that can lead to data loss, a managed services provider catches a crisis before it begins. Systems monitoring, patch management and a robust help desk means that you’re always out in front of trouble. We see it coming and protect your data.

Superior uptime

Without constant system monitoring, you could experience outages and downtime on your systems, costing you productivity and, in retail services, clients. Our guaranteed SLAs (service level agreements) mean that you can always count on access to your systems. Our helpdesk is available 24/7 when required, which means your technology is too.

Gain access to new technologies

In an ideal world, you’d spend some time each week learning about the innovations that could make your business stronger, but in the real world, you don’t have time for that. This is all we do, and we do it best. Our technicians not only work in IT, they’re interested in it, they’re “tech people” and they know about tech things. When we have a product that will make your business more efficient, we’ll let you know about it.


Protecting Computer Equipment from the Elements

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Technology

With Hurricane Season upon us it is important to ensure that your computer equipment is protected from the elements.

Here are a few suggestions that can help you stay up and running during a storm and recover your systems after the storms have passed.


Store Data in the Cloud

It is important that all your systems have a Cloud Backup.  On premise solutions such as tapes/external hard drives are susceptible to damage just like your computer equipment so having a redundant cloud backup is key.

Physically Secure your Site

  • Verify that your Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) are functional as well as Backup Generators if applicable.
  • Make sure that all your systems have Surge Protectors in place
  • Ensure that any computer equipment is kept off of the floor in the case of flooding
  • If possible shut down your computers and servers if you plan on evacuating your facilities
  • Take photos of your equipment in case you need to file an insurance claim after any storm damage

Configure Remote Access

Reach out to your IT company and inquire about setting up remote access to your systems. These solutions allow you to access most files/data from home in the case that your facility does not open right away. Setting up Cloud based email is a best practice in particular for events such as these.


Need Help With These Steps? SOS Tech Group Is Here to Help

Whether you are looking to perform a technological audit for your company or seeking a new security camera system for your commercial space, SOS Technology Group has the expertise and equipment to keep you talking around the clock. SOS Technology Group is a full-service IT consulting company that provides IT services and solutions for businesses throughout the United States. If you are interested in seeing how we can help your business, contact us online or give us a call at (410) 559-7020. For more technology tips, follows us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Tech Headaches? We can help! Contact us now »