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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Black Friday Deals – Wal-Mart

Black Friday deals seem like they begin earlier every year. Most of the bigger retailers don’t even wait until Friday to roll out the specials on big-ticket or most wanted items.

As your trusted IT company, we are here to offer you some insight into this year’s tech deals. Whether it’s about a new 4K TV or how to get that great new gaming system running, we will do our best to help make your Black Friday tech shopping a bit less stressful.

But is it worth your time and aggravation to wait in line half the day or more on Thanksgiving, or should you stay home and overeat on turkey and stuffing? After all, the same retailers will have the same items available (mostly) on their website for the same prices and quantities, but with less physical violence over a toaster oven.

Every year Wal-Mart is the hub people pushing and fighting for the last set of pans or the last coffee maker. In recent years, Wal-Mart has moved Black Friday deals to Thursday night and there have been less of the crazy pricing and more handing out numbers to alleviate tensions and fist fights. Quantities are still limited and you’re going to have pushing and shoving over things like WWE 2K18 for $29, but what you should be worried about is whether it’s worth it to stand in line for $100 off an Xbox One S.

Speaking of the Xbox One S, Wal-Mart will have the 500GB model on sale for $189 (a savings of $110). Similarly, the PS4 will be on sale for $199, also a savings of $100. Wal-Mart is advertising that they will also have stock of the Nintendo Switch. No sale price, still $299, but considering you couldn’t find one anywhere all summer it’s an item worth braving the crowds for.

Of all three retailers we’ve covered, Wal-Mart has the best overall pricing on movies and games for Black Friday. Titles vary by location and not every title Wal-Mart has the competitors have, but if you are in the market to pick up a few low-priced gems for someone, this would be a place to look. A couple highlights are the Call of Duty Combo Pack (WW2 & Infinite Warfare) for $59, Horizon Zero Dawn for the PS4 only $19, and Overwatch for $29.

4K TVs are the gift of the year for 2017. Everyone wants to go 4K, and Wal-Mart has a wide selection of TVs to do just that. The best buy here would be the Sharp 4K 55” Smart TV. It does everything you want a 4K TV to do, and it comes with Vudu, Netflix, and more already installed, and it’s only $298! 55” not big enough for you? How about the 65” inches for $998, featuring built-in streaming apps and 4K Ultra HD.

Wal-Mart also has the Google Home Mini for $29, an iPad for $250, a Nintendo 2DS system that comes with The Legend of Ocarina of Time for $79, and everything you need to take your home into the next stratosphere with Google Home, a Netgear “Nighthawk” router for $89, and a home security setup.

Bottom line, Wal-Mart may be the better overall deal as far as movies and games go, but do you really want to brave the crowds for something that you can find online with free shipping for $35 or more. The 4K TV might be hard to pass up, but is braving an angry mob of shoppers worth the savings? Only you can know for sure.

{company} wants you to have a happy Thanksgiving and a productive Black Friday experience. Look for more Black Friday tips from us tomorrow.

The Benefit of Managed IT Services For Large-Scale Construction firms

Construction companies, be they large or small, have some unique aspects of their business that make them a different kind of business from others that rely on a managed service provider.  With programs like CAD, construction project planning and procurement of materials are unique to that industry and would require an MSP that is dedicated to the construction industry.

Construction companies do use typical IT software and hardware for standard office tasks and accounting functionality.  What really sets this industry apart, however, is how collaborative it is.  Workflow does follow traditional paths such as design, construction, and testing.  There is also a role played by industry compliance and security in all aspects of the industry.

But success is dependent on collaboration between architects, engineers and the actual foremen and workers at the on-site level.  An MSP must be able to manage this team and collaboration in real time.  This is why many larger construction companies use an internal IT team rather than outsourcing to an MSP that isn’t fluent in CAD or certain planning software.

When it comes to construction companies, not all MSP’s are created equal.  You need one that can specialize in the construction industry and has your best interests at heart.  Some things to look for are:

  • Access to highly trained and specialized staff.
  • Supporting the technologies that run your critical core applications such as estimating, accounting, project management, document management and scale management.
  • Extensive experience with supporting software such as Sage, JD Edwards, Quickbooks and Autocad Solutions.
  • An MSP that provides Mobile Device Management (MDM) and remote access solutions that allow your team to have access to anything, anytime and from anywhere.
  • Affordable and comprehensive services, such as standard IT solutions, to go along with the specialized services.

Any good MSP will do a few basic things for every type of industry, but these things are just as important to the construction industry as any other industry.  You want one that will be available when you need them as well as one who is up-to-date with current technology.  Hiring an outside IT company will save you money.  Having IT in-house means paying them a salary and possible benefits and 401k.  Hiring an outside company negates the salary and 401k, which becomes the problem of their company not yours.

The MSP will perform monthly updates and preventative maintenance, keeping your software and hardware running at peak efficiency, cutting down the probability of failure at critical times.  When the system is running efficiently and smoothly, that equals peace of mind and best of all, profits.

By using a third-party IT provider, you are more likely to stay ahead of new cyber threats and viruses.  An MSP makes it their business to stay up to date on new cyber threats and hackers so that they can keep your business ahead of these threats and running smooth.  Should something get through or hardware breaks down, you have an experienced and dedicated team you can call to fix the problem.  Most MSP’s are available 24/7.

The MSP can run an analysis of your IT environment to prevent issues such as having to add equipment and up the budget given.  This also serves to give your business a deliverable, comprehensive executive summary of your company.  The summary shows any vulnerability in your system as well as the pros and cons of your current network.  It will also give you the MSP’s recommendations for any adjustments to your current technology.

Never one to rest on their laurels, tech giant Google started a project that could revolutionize the construction industry.  Beginning as a project for Google X it has spun off into its own company, Flux.io.  Essentially a cloud-based platform, Flux is a collaborative platform that allows architects and construction engineers to work together in real time on a project.  It sports an advanced analytic engine and state of the art simulators.

With the ability to translate data from multiple programs such as Excel, ACAD, and Rhino into a single platform, various collaborators could work simultaneously rather than one at a time.  All computations are done in the cloud, so no worries that your system will slow down or cause it to freeze.  Flux.io is touting that it will save 30% to 50% in manufacturing and construction costs.  Overall, Flow has the potential to save the construction industry over $120 billion a year.

As technology gets better and new software makes the collaboration process more streamlined and easier to communicate with members of your team, the need for dedicated IT grows even bigger.  Whatever IT service provider that you choose to go with, make sure to get the system analysis to check for any vulnerability in your network.  The MSP will be able to tell you what is essential and what isn’t while saving you money.

ATTENTION SonicWall Users: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Bad Rabbit Malwar

Starting on Tuesday, October 24th, reports of a new strand of ransomware dubbed Bad Rabbit, began appearing in Russia and Ukraine. The virus is a wide-reaching and fast-spreading malware infection that initially targeted media and government institutions in Europe.

The virus targeted institutional giants in Ukraine including a local airport, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Kiev’s public transportation system. Russia experienced similar hits to critical agencies including Interfax, a local news service that recently issued a statement to announce they had been hacked and were working to restore their network. Initial reports about the Bad Rabbit virus note that the virus is specifically attacking media outlets, and an additional Russian newsgroup, Fontanka.ru, was also affected.

“Our researchers have detected a number of compromised websites – all news or media sites,” said Russian security company Kaspersky in a recent blog. “Based on our investigation, this is a targeted attack against corporate networks, using methods similar to those used in the Not Petya and ExPetr attack. However, we cannot confirm officially that it is related to ExPetr.”

Regardless of its origins, experts agree that Bad Rabbit now joins NotPetya and WannaCry as another of 2017’s major ransomware-style malware epidemics.

Touching Down in the US: Bad Rabbit Spreads to North America and Has US Department of Homeland Security Taking Notice

Early Wednesday morning, leading anti-virus security company, Avast, reported that the Bad Rabbit virus had made its way to the US. Though specific breach details are difficult to come by, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning about Bad Rabbit yesterday stating:

“US-CERT has received multiple reports of Bad Rabbit ransomware infections in many countries around the world. This suspected variant of Petya ransomware is malicious software that infects a computer and restricts user access to the infected machine until a ransom is paid to unlock it. US-CERT discourages individuals and organizations from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee that access will be restored. Using unpatched and unsupported software may increase the risk of proliferation of cybersecurity threats, such as ransomware.”

DHS urged individuals and businesses to take notice and be vigilant in the face of this latest malware attack. To combat the threat, DHS is urging IT professionals to review US-CERT Alerts TA16-181A and TA17-132A, each of which describes recent ransomware events.

While cybercriminals can often be hard to track and prosecute, DHS is urging professionals to recognize the importance of making explicit reports in the case of an attack. The organization asked any potential victims of Bad Rabbit to report ransomware incidents to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) immediately.

So, How Does It Work? Understanding How Bad Rabbit Takes Business Networks Hostage

Bad Rabbit relies on fooling potential victims and having them play an active role in the infection. The initial virus installer masquerades as an Adobe Flash update. Interestingly, this malware contains a list of hardcoded Windows credentials, most likely to allow brute force entry into devices, on the network, according to SonicWall Capture Labs Threat researchers. 

While the virus might sound like a goofy cartoon character, the impacts of this ransomware variant are no laughing matter. The Bad Rabbit virus works swiftly to encrypt the contents of a computer and asks for a payment of 0.05 bitcoins, or about $280 (£213), according to recent reports. Even worse? The domain then flashes a countdown on the screen, giving victims limited time to pay-up before the ransom price increases.

However, as a rule of thumb, anyone infected is discouraged from paying the ransom. For one, there is absolutely no guarantee that the payment will restore data access. Secondly, much like the refusal to negotiate with terrorists, refusing to pay the ransom discourages criminals from using similar attacks in the future. If victims don’t pay, cybercriminals will realize their attempts at robbery won’t pay off.

Are SonicWall Users Safe? SonicWall’s Swift Response to Bad Rabbit

SonicWall users rejoice! Yes, SonicWall Capture Labs has released signatures to protect users against Bad Rabbit malware. These protections are available for anyone with an active SonicWall Gateway Security subscription (GAV/IPS). In addition, SonicWall’s Capture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandboxing service is designed to provide real-time protection against new strains of malware even before signatures are available on the firewall.

While SonicWall has protections in place, users should actively ensure their networks are set up correctly to prevent infection. First and foremost, SonicWall customers should immediately ensure they have the Capture Advanced Threat Protection sandbox service turned on with their next-generation firewalls.

Additionally, SonicWall users should ensure that the Block Until Verdict feature is activated. For Bad Rabbit protection, there is no need to update the signatures on SonicWall firewalls, as they are automatically propagated to the worldwide installation base upon deployment.

Stopping the Bad Rabbit: Ensuring SonicWall Features are Set Up to Protect

To confirm that SonicWall Capture ATP is enabled login to the firewall and navigate the following steps:

  • For SonicOS 6.2 and earlier click Capture ATP | Settings. Ensure that “Block file download until a verdict is returned” is enabled.


    • For SonicOS 6.5 and later click Manage | Security Services | Capture ATP. Ensure that “Block file download until a verdict is returned” is enabled.

 To confirm your Gateway Anti-Virus has the latest signatures navigate to:

      • For SonicOS 6.2 and earlier click Security Services | Gateway Anti-Virus. Use the search box and type “”
      • For SonicOS 6.5 and later click Manage | Security Services | Gateway Anti-virus. In the lookup search string box type “BadRabbit.


In addition to these specific and technical protections, SonicWall has released a list of general recommendations for everybody, regardless of their security vendor, including:

      • Ensure all OS patches are applied
      • Use a reliable and up-to-date anti-virus solution to protect end-points
      • Ensure firewall and endpoint firmware are current and reliable
      • To proactively identify and mitigate new threats, install network sandboxing
      • To stop pre-existing threats, deploy a next-generation firewall with a gateway security subscription

Don’t Let Cybercriminals Dupe You, Your Clients or Colleagues: Banding Together to Keep Bad Rabbit from Spreading

As news around Bad Rabbit continues to develop, US business professionals should be on high alert – working deliberately to monitor and protect their business networks and implement security measures like those outlined above. Be wary of Adobe Flash download prompts. Talk to other business professionals to spread the word.

If you’re worried you’ve been affected or could be affected, reach out to a local cybersecurity expert for guidance and consultation. When professionals band together proactively, cybercriminals can and will be stopped in their tracks. Until then, stay alert, stay vigilant and stay tuned for more SonicWall updates.

How to See Stars in Google Search

By following these simple steps, you can make your website stand out from the crowd with shining star ratings in Google’s search results.  

Have you ever tried searching for your own business on Google?  If your business has a website, you likely pay attention to the content on your site, the efficacy of your site’s search engine optimization, how you advertise your site, and perhaps even its Google Analytics.  Have you ever considered what your website looks like as a Google search result, though?  Many business owners overlook this simple, yet important step in driving traffic to their websites.  An organic search result listing which is well-designed and organized with respect to relevancy and aesthetics will ensure you make a great first impression on your webpage’s potential viewers.

When searching through Google for other reasons, you have probably noticed that some webpage listings, which appear on the list of search results, include a star rating in addition to the site’s title, meta description, and meta tags.  Although Google does not publicly release the specific parameters of its search algorithm, one can speculate the great difference that a good star rating which appears next to a website on a Google search results page makes when the average internet user selects one website while choosing to ignore the rest.  The increased traffic to your webpage, as a result of displayed star ratings, should work well to improve your page’s place in search results for at least your top few keywords and keyword phrases.  Not only do star ratings draw a surfer’s attention to your search listing, they also immediately gain your company priceless earned media (i.e. trusted reviews and word of mouth advertising from your customers).

Simple Steps to Stardom

You or your web developer can make short work of affixing a star rating (and its added credibility) to your website with the help of either a plugin or some basic backend HTML coding. Follow these simple steps to stardom:

  1. Get Rated and Reviewed– You can skip this step and go on to those which follow, but if your business has no existing online reviews or ratings, then Google will not be able to locate or calculate an average star rating to display on the search engine results page.  To gather reviews, you will need to encourage your customers to rate your business, products, services, or their experience with you on a trusted review site, in an acceptable format, or on your Google Business Page.  Google provides a complete list of the types of reviews which they consider trusted, here.
  2. Add a Schema Markup to Your Website– Once you have acquired a sufficient number of online reviews and ratings from customers, you can manually add directions to your website which specifically tell Google’s search engine crawler about all of the great, new reviews you want your customers to see when they search for you.  In order for Google to detect your reviews, you will need to add a schema markup to your webpage.  This schema should include various types of structured data for Google to read in order to learn more about your webpage and type of business. While you could include all sorts of data in the footnotes of your page, the most pertinent information for star rating purposes includes defining your company as a local business or a more specific sub-category and specifying your product or service.  You will also need to point Google to your business name, address, logo, business hours, phone number, and email.  You will also include a geolocation section in the schema, which defines your location’s latitude and longitude (NASA will help you determine your coordinates here).  In the schema, you will add information to define the number of reviews you have and your average star rating, which will help Google include this on your page’s search result listing.  As your reviews increase and the average rating changes, you will need to manually adjust the rating in your schema.
  3. Take a Shortcut Using a Plugin– Manual entry for the schema is the best way to ensure the most accurate search engine results and star ratings for your webpage.  If, however, you feel uncomfortable with the code, you can add a plugin to your website to handle entering the schema (or structured data) on your behalf.
  4. Give It a Test Run– Once you have either entered all of your webpage’s structured data yourself or had a plugin fill in the blanks with an automated scan of your site, you can test the data using Google’s handy Structured Data Testing Tool.  Enter your web address into the search tool and scan through the results looking for noted errors or warnings.  This tool can help you locate typos, incorrect data, or data which might not add up in all of the right places.  If the tester finds an error, go back and correct the issue and then re-test to make sure all of your data is in order.
  5. Wait and Watch– Your search result listing stars will not appear immediately after you have completed the setup process.  It should take Google’s web crawlers about four or five days to re-crawl your recently updated website and add the star ratings to your listing on the search results page.

Make Your Page a Star

If you want to improve your business, your webpage’s search results, and bring your page to the top of the list with star ratings which are displayed in your customers’ and potential customers’ search results, but do not feel comfortable making the back-end changes to your website yourself, our skilled IT professionals can help you.  In addition to setting up your star ratings, we can also provide advice on optimizing your existing webpage to improve your search engine results with back-end coding designed to assist web crawlers when they read your page and its riveting content to boost your click-through rates.  To learn more about how we can help your business convert more leads through improved search engine results, contact us today.  We look forward to being an integral part of your company’s online success.