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BlackBerry Bouncing Back? Winner of the 2016 Red Dot Award for Product Design.

PRIV by BlackBerry Wins Red Dot Award for Product Design 2016!

PRIV by BlackBerry

03.30.16 /

A new year, a new design, another win. BlackBerry’s PRIV secure smartphone powered by Android, has hit the ground running with rave reviews from journalists, customers and respected third-party testing agencies highlighting its one-of-a-kind design and security features.
PRIV demonstrated its design prowess in one of the most important competitions dedicated to product design, Red Dot Product Design 2016.  Red Dot awarded PRIV the Product Design award for high design quality, where only outstanding products were recognized for their achievements. PRIV was selected from a record number of 5,214 products from 57 nations, where 41 jury members designated the awards.
Blackberry has consistently been recognized by Red Dot for its outstanding work in design. In 2015, the BlackBerry Passport won Red Dot: Best of the Best for its innovative design. In 2014 the BlackBerry Q10 won a Red Dot award and again in 2013 with the BlackBerry Z10. In 2013 Porsche Design won in the “Best of the Best” category for Porsche Design P’9981 smartphone.
Danish fashion designer David Andersen was on-site for this year’s jury session and said: “It is inspiring to see designs from all over the world and to follow the development. It is a pleasure to be a juror in a group of such competent designers who are looking at so many fantastic products and discussing each one individually.”
BlackBerry PRIV redditBlackBerry’s PRIV was designed by a highly skilled team of engineers and architects who brought to life the ideation of an Android-powered device with BlackBerry’s acclaimed physical keyboard, alongside a new world of security functions.
“Our BlackBerry Design Team is extremely excited to be recognized by the prestigious Red Dot, given the time and energy spent on developing this next level design for BlackBerry,” said Scott Wenger, Global Head of BlackBerry Devices Design. “PRIV is an innovative device encompassing a re-imagined form factor while also offering security standards on an Android device that many in the industry never thought would be possible. These design features and security enhancements set PRIV apart from the pack.”
We are so impressed and thankful for the brilliant designers, engineers, and overall team who came together to help us develop PRIV! Giant congratulations to the BlackBerry Design team!


There are a ton of great ways to reduce your business’s overhead costs. If you employ these tips and tricks, and still find your utility bills are too high, then you’ll absolutely want to perform a Utility Bill Audit. Call 877-209-0021 


Tips for Energy Efficiency from the SBA:

Whether you own or lease your building, you typically need lighting, heating, air conditioning, power for office equipment, and other services to stay in business. This guide will help you to maximize energy efficiency, which will save you money while helping the environment.
Heating and Air Conditioning | Lighting | Office Equipment | Food Services Equipment | Vehicles | Water Conservation
Energy Saving Tips: Heating and Air Conditioning

  • “Tune-up” your heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual maintenance contract. Even a new ENERGY STAR qualified HVAC system, like a new car, will decline in performance without regular maintenance. A contract automatically ensures that your HVAC contractor will provide “pre-season” tune-ups before each cooling and heating season. You save energy and money, and your system may last years longer with minimal costs for yearly maintenance fees.
  • Regularly change (or clean if reusable) HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating seasons. New filters usually only cost a few dollars. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment and result in lower indoor air quality.
  • Control direct sun through windows, depending on the season and local climate. During cooling season, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through glass on the East and especially West sides of the facility. Depending on your facility, options such as “solar screens,” “solar films,” awnings, and vegetation can help keep facilities more cool. Over time, trees can attractively shade the facility, and help clean the air. Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it’s best to prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and inside. During heating season, with the sun low in the South, unobstructed southern windows can contribute solar heat gained during the day.
  • Use fans to maintain comfortable temperature, humidity and air movement, and save energy year round. Moving air can make a somewhat higher temperature and/or humidity feel comfortable. Fans can help delay or reduce the need for air conditioning, and a temperature setting of only three to five degrees higher can feel as comfortable with fans. Each degree of higher temperature can save about 3 percent on cooling costs. When the temperature outside is more comfortable than inside, a “box fan” in the window, or large “whole facility” fan in the attic can push air out and pull in comfortable air from the outside.
  • Plug leaks with weather stripping and caulking. Caulking and weather stripping let you manage your ventilation, which is the deliberate controlled exchange of stuffy inside air for fresher outdoor air. To learn more about indoor air quality in your facility visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s EPA Indoor Air Quality.

Energy Saving Tips: Lighting

  • Turn off lights (and other equipment) when not in use. High utility costs often include paying for energy that is completely wasted.
  • Install switch plate occupancy sensors in proper locations to automatically turn off lighting when no one is present and back on when people return. Even good equipment can be installed wrong, so don’t install the sensor behind a coat rack, door, bookcase, etc. It must be able to “see” an approaching person’s motion to turn on the light before or as they enter an unlit area.
  • Adjust lighting to your actual needs; use free “daylight” during the day.
  • To prevent glare, eyestrain and headaches, do not “over-light.” Too much light can be as bad for visual quality as too little light – and it costs a lot more.
  • Install ENERGY STAR qualified exit signs. These exit signs can dramatically reduce maintenance by eliminating lamp replacement, and can save up to $10 dollars per sign annually in electricity costs while preventing up to 500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Consider upgrading to T8 (1″ diameter) fluorescent lamp tubes with solid-state electronic ballasts that are more efficient than older T12 (1.5″ diameter) tubes with magnetic ballasts.

Energy Saving Tips: Office Equipment

  • Always buy ENERGY STAR qualified products for your small business. The ENERGY STAR mark indicates the most efficient computers, printers, copiers, refrigerators, televisions, windows, thermostats, ceiling fans, and other appliances and equipment.
  • Turning off machines when they are not in use can result in enormous energy savings. There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use by monitors; they do not. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better energy-saving strategy.
  • To maximize savings with a laptop, put the AC adapter on a power strip that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically); the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.
  • Common misconceptions sometimes account for the failure to turn off equipment. Many people believe that equipment lasts longer if it is never turned off. This incorrect perception carries over from the days of older mainframe computers.
  • Consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers, resulting in long-term savings.
  • Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These “phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance, or using a power strip and the strip’s on/off switch to cut all power to the appliance.
  • Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
  • Studies have shown that using rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and PDAs is more cost effective than throwaway batteries. If you must use throwaways, check with your trash removal company about safe disposal options.

Energy Saving Tips: Food Service Equipment

  • Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified commercial food service equipment. For example, qualified refrigerators and freezers can save over 45% of the energy used by conventional models, which equals as much as $140 annually for refrigerators and $100 for freezers; deep fryers can save between $60 and $180 per year; hot food holding cabinets can save up to $280 per year; and steam cookers can save between $450 and $820 per year depending on fuel.
  • For existing refrigerators, clean refrigerator coils twice a year and replace door gaskets if a dollar bill easily slips out when closed between the door’s seals.
  • Have large and walk-in refrigeration systems serviced at least annually. This includes cleaning, refrigerant top off, lubrication of moving parts, and adjustment of belts. This will help ensure efficient operation and longer equipment life.
  • Consider retrofitting existing refrigerators and display cases with anti-sweat door heater controls, and variable speed evaporator fan motors and controls.

Energy Saving Tips: Vehicles
Save money by improving the fuel economy of your business vehicles. Use the links below to find information and tools that can help you get started.
Fuel Economy

Gas Prices

Alternative Fuels

Types of Vehicles

Tax and Financial Incentives



Energy Saving Tips: Water Conservation

  • Fix leaks. Small leaks add up to many gallons of water and dollars wasted each month. Water conservation saves energy and money.
  • Use water-saving faucets and showerheads and urinals to save water.
  • Install an insulation blanket on water heaters seven years of age or older, and insulate the first 3 feet of the heated water “out” pipe on both old and new units.
  • If buying a new water heater, always buy the most efficient model possible. In areas of infrequent use, consider “tankless” water heaters to reduce “standby” storage costs and waste.
  • Set water temperature only as hot as needed (110-120 degrees) to prevent scalds and save energy (check local codes for specific temperatures).

When landscaping, practice xeriscaping by using plants native to your climate that require minimal watering and possess better pest resistance. If local code allows, consider diverting “gray water” for irrigation.

One of the Best Video Descriptions of Cloud Computing… EVER.

As Telecom and Cloud Consultants, we may not select Salesforce as the best solution for every business, but we have to hand it to them… they do have the best video description of cloud computing out there…  If you need help navigating through all of the various cloud solutions available, we can help. Call 877-209-0021


California Hospital Forced to Pay Hackers a Ransom

This article is just another example of how absolutely essential it is to have all telecommunications, cloud services and technical components SECURE. It costs more in the long run to be faced with destroyed or unusable data. To be sure that your hospital or medical facility’s security is secure, Applied Utility Auditors LLC, can provide a thorough test of your current security levels. 

California hospital makes rare admission of hack, ransom payment Reprinted from Reuters.com

By Alex Dobuzinskis and Jim Finkle Fri Feb 19, 2016 1:57pm EST

While it was not the first hacked organization to acquiesce to attackers’ demands, the California hospital that paid $17,000 in ransom to hackers to regain control of its computer system was unusual in one notable way: It went public with the news.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center relented to the demands, President Allen Stefanek said, because he believed it was the “quickest and most efficient way” to free the Los Angeles hospital’s network, which was paralyzed for about 10 days.

That announcement sparked fears Thursday among hospitals and security experts that it would embolden hackers to launch more “ransomware” attacks and calls in California for tougher laws.
“It’s no different than if they took all the patients and held them in one room at gunpoint,” said California State Senator Robert Hertzberg, who on Thursday introduced legislation to make a ransomware attack equivalent to extortion and punishable by up to four years in prison. 

Usually embarrassment and a desire to discourage hackers keep attacked companies quiet. Hollywood Presbyterian did not say why it made the disclosure, but its hand may have been forced by spreading rumors a week after the hack. Stefanek confirmed the cyber attack after at least one doctor appeared to have told local media. 

In addition, he disputed media reports the 434-bed hospital had faced a ransom demand of $3.4 million, far more than the amount paid in the hard-to-trace cyber-currency bitcoin.

In a ransomware attack, hackers infect PCs with malicious software that encrypts valuable files so they are inaccessible, then offer to unlock the data only if the victim pays a ransom.

The hack at Hollywood Presbyterian forced doctors to use pen and paper in an age of computerization. News reports said its fax lines were jammed because normal e-mail communication was unavailable, and some emergency patients had to be diverted to other hospitals.

Investigators said administrators were so alarmed that they may have paid ransom first and called police later.

Medical facilities in the area plan to consult cyber security experts on how to protect themselves, the Hospital Association of Southern California said. “Hospitals are certainly now aware of ransomware more than they ever were before, and this has become a very real threat,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Bayer.

Some experts said ransomware encryption can be so hard to crack that victims feel they have little choice but to pay if they want their systems back. The hackers’ success could also prompt other hospitals to make quick payments to avoid the disruption and bad publicity Hollywood Presbyterian faced.

“Our number one fear is that this now pretty much opens the door for other people to pay,” said Bob Shaker, a manager at cyber security firm Symantec Corp.


He knew of at least 20 other attacks on healthcare facilities in the past year and hundreds more in other industries that had been kept secret.

Some of those put patients at risk and affected infusion pumps that deliver chemotherapy drugs, risking patient overdoses, he said.

Because hackers hide their identities and demand payment in bitcoin, authorities may have to work harder to find them than if they used old-fashioned methods.

But cyber-crime experts say that they can still be traced.

“The public nature of the network does give law enforcement an angle to help defeat them,” said Jonathan Levin, co-founder of Chainalysis, a New York company working with bitcoin users. “But it’s a game of cat and mouse.” 

Ransomware is big business for cyber criminals and security professionals. Although ransoms typically are less than the hospital paid, $200 to $10,000, victims of a ransomware known as CryptoWall reported losses over $18 million from April 2014 to June 2015, the FBI said.

Ransomware attacks climbed sharply in 2014, when Symantec observed some 8.8 million cases, more than double the previous year. IBM said that last year more than half of all customer calls reporting cyber attacks involved ransomware.

Does your cloud provider meet or exceed SSAE 16 standards?

To be properly vetted a cloud provider needs a reputable CPA firm to perform this certification, and the usual cost is between $75,000 and $100,000. 

Are you sure your cloud provider obtain this certification? 

Learn About the SSAE16 History here, or read on to learn more about Service Organization Control Reports in the words of SSAE16.com:

Service Organization Control (SOC) reports

One of the most effective ways a service organization can communicate information about its controls is through a Service Organization Control (SOC) report. A SOC 1 report focuses on controls at the service organization that would be useful to user entities and their auditors for the purpose of planning a financial statement audit of the user entity and evaluating internal control over financial reporting at the user entity.  The SOC 1 report contains the service organization’s system description and an assertion from management.  In addition, the independent service auditor (i.e., CPA firm) opinion or service auditor report is included.  There are two types of SOC 1 reports: Type I and Type II.
A Type I report is intended to cover the service organization’s system description at a specific point in time (e.g. June 30, 2012). A Type II report not only includes the service organization’s system description, but also includes detailed testing of the service organization’s controls over a minimum six month period (e.g. January 1, 20xx to June 30, 20xx) – also known as Tests of Operating Effectiveness. The contents of each type of SOC 1 report is described in the following table:

In a Type I report, the service auditor will express an opinion and report on the subject matter provided by the management of the service organization as to (1) whether the service organization’s description of its system fairly presents the service organization’s system that was designed and implemented as of a specific date; and (2) whether the controls related to the control objectives stated in management’s description of the service organization’s system were suitably designed to achieve those control objectives – also as of a specified date.
In a Type II report, the service auditor will express an opinion and report on the subject matter provided by the management of the service organization as to (1) whether the service organization’s description of its system fairly presents the service organization’s system that was designed and implemented throughout the specified period; (2) whether the controls related to the control objectives stated in management’s description of the service organization’s system were suitably designed throughout the specified period to achieve those control objectives; and (3) whether the controls related to the control objectives stated in management’s description of the service organization’s system operated effectively throughout the specified period to achieve those control objectives.

SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports are designed to allow service organizations to communicate information about their system description in accordance with specific criteria related to availability, security, and confidentiality. You can read more about SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports in the Trust Services section [of SSAE16.com.]