Protect Your PCs Against Adobe Security Flaws

Adobe has been very successful at establishing its products as cross-platform, operating system agnostic tools for delivering content. Unfortunately, those same attributes are also attractive reasons to attack Adobe products, and Adobe has been a little less successful at ensuring those products are secure. IT administrators need to exercise increased diligence to protect against Adobe software flaws and malicious PDF files.

Continued exploits of vulnerabilities in Adobe software are helping prove Steve Jobs' case for not supporting Flash.
One of the reasons cited by Steve Jobs in defending Apple's decision not to support--or even allow--Adobe Flash on the iPhone or iPad is security concerns. Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader are virtually ubiquitous regardless of platform, which has made Adobe the low-hanging fruit with a bullseye on its back. Security vendors have already warned that Adobe is a weak link in the security chain.

Earlier this year attackers exploited a flaw in Adobe Reader with malicious PDFs playing on the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2010 soccer event this summer. The messages were spoofed to appear as if they originated from a legitimate African tourist organization, and contained mostly legitimate details and information along with a PDF attachment which took advantage of the Adobe Reader flaw to install malicious software on vulnerable systems.

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Going Digital Saves Medical Practice Money, Improves Patient Care

For three decades, a Phoenix-based medical practice of four physicians used virtually no digital communication among its three offices. The practice, Associated Gastroenterologists, lacked e-mail and an intranet, and had no system to centrally manage technology, data storage, or security.

Instead, 55 workers shared information by faxing or hand-carrying paper charts. Staff wasted time hunting for records on 140,000 patients. Dictating data from printed forms into Microsoft Word and storing paper files ran up costs. On 30 desktop PCs connected to a peer-to-peer network, Internet access was limited to accessing a remote billing system and a few managers e-mailing vendors over Windows Live Mail.

The practice wanted to reduce costs and improve efficiency by migrating to electronic record-keeping and adopting software to handle scheduling, billing, and reports.

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Making Sense of Your iPad Options with New AT&T Data Plans

With the death of AT&T's unlimited data plan, Cost-conscious IT administrators now need to put more effort into understanding how much bandwidth is consumed, and which option makes the most sense from both an operational and financial perspective.

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to the world in January, one of the most innovative things about the tablet device was the ability to enable or disable unlimited 3G data on the fly through AT&T without being shackled by a contractual obligation. However, AT&T pulled a little bait-and-switch, and now only two months after the launch of the iPad the rules have changed.Let's take a look at what your options are now for connecting the iPad to the rest of the world.

Connecting a 3G iPad

Personal Hotspots. If you are a Sprint wireless customer and you have a Palm Pre or the new HTC EVO, then you already have in your hand a device capable of creating its own personal hotspot that can connect a handful of devices and share out the wireless connection.

A similar option would be to get a personal mobile hotspot like the MiFi from Verizon or Sprint. The device is $270 full price, but like a smartphone you can get it at a significantly lower, subsidized price if you are willing to accept a two-year contract. Whether you enter into a contract or not, the service is $60 per month for 5Gb of monthly data capacity from both carriers (although Sprint also includes unlimited data over 4G where that network is available).

There are also some other less orthodox methods. For example, there is an undocumented feature of Windows 7 that allows you to turn a laptop into a portable hotspot as well. However, when you get to the point where you are carrying your Windows 7 laptop so you can access the Internet from your iPad, I think you have crossed some sort of line in terms of practicality.

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New Intel Processors Redefine Mobile Computing

A new family of low-power processors from Intel promises to further blur the lines between notebook and netbook--delivering power and performance similar to a full-size notebook, with the size, weight, and battery life of a netbook. IT administrators should consider this new class of mobile computers when evaluating platforms for mobile business professionals.

Netbooks--with their much more portable size and weight, and battery life that can last all day, have been a popular alternative to the larger, more powerful notebooks. Part of that tradeoff, though--aside from giving up built-in CD or DVD drives--has always been reduced performance and capabilities.

Full-size notebooks, however, can be quite cumbersome to lug around. Chiropractors, massage therapists, and orthopedic physicians don't mind the increased business resulting from users carrying their desktop around in a bag on their shoulder, but users are in search of a middle ground that can provide the performance without the weight, and deliver the functionality without needing to be recharged every two hours.

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Four Reasons Momentus XT Hybrid Should be Your Next Drive

Seagate announced a new drive--the Momentus XT--which combines features both a traditional and SSD drive to deliver a hybrid that is better than either drive architecture alone. Seagate's last foray into hybrid drives failed to impress, but there are a number of compelling reasons why your next laptop should have a Momentus XT drive, or for why you should consider replacing the drive in your current laptop.

New Momentus XT drives from Seagate combine best of SSD and traditional drives.
The Momentus PSD (power saving drive) was focused on being green--running more efficiently and extending battery life. The low capacity and marginal performance increase doomed the Momentus PSD, but with the Momentus XT Seagate looks to redeem the hybrid drive.

1. Speed. The primary advantage of SSDs over traditional hard drives is speed. With no moving parts, the SSD is capable of booting the operating system and loading applications in the blink of an eye relative to traditional drives. The Momentus XT drives combine 4Gb of solid state memory and a 32Mb drive cache to achieve speeds comparable to true SSDs.

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Clock Ticking to AT&T Fee Hike

AT&T announced that it is raising its early termination fee (ETF) for smartphones (a.k.a. the iPhone) from $175 to $325 effective June 1. That gives businesses that are current AT&T subscribers, but seriously considering paying the ETF to switch--especially if the speculation is true that Verizon may soon have the iPhone as well--just one week to decide before it gets much more costly.

If the rumors of a Verizon iPhone are true, those wanting to leave AT&T for Verizon must do so now or pay almost double the ETFs.
AT&T insists that the hike is not in any way related to any single device (a.k.a. the iPhone) or any impending change in iPhone exclusivity. However, it's hard not to connect those dots and at least consider that as a motivation. Regardless of AT&T's motives, businesses considering jumping ship from AT&T should give serious thought to doing so this week.

It is all speculation and innuendo at this point. It is expected that Apple will launch the next-generation iPhone sometime in late June or early July. That prediction, while unconfirmed, doesn't require much in the way of prognostication because it fits the Apple pattern of unleashing a new iPhone each year around June or July every year since the iPhone was introduced.

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HP Battery Recall: Prevent Fire or Injury

If you have used a laptop computer, you are aware that they generate a substantial amount of heat. The battery is one of the components that generates the most heat, and in the case of specific batteries from HP, the heat may be enough to spark a fire or cause significant injury. That is why HP has expanded a recall to include an additional 54,000 batteries.

HP had already initiated a recall of 70,000 similar batteries, but made the decision to expand the recall after receiving additional reports of overheating, battery ruptures, and injuries from users. IT administrators should be aware of the details of the HP battery recall, and act to have any applicable batteries replaced before they cause injury to users or potentially spark a fire.

The affected batteries include those found in HP and Compaq laptops (or purchased separately) between August of 2007 and July of 2008. A list of the affected computer models and battery bar codes can be found on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Web site.

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