Digital Signage Advances Education

In all levels of education today, from pre-school to K-12 and through higher education, digital signage plays a vital role in communicating with students and parents as well as faculty and staff. Display.Works offers a cost-conscious way for educational institutions to take advantage of the benefits of digital signage without busting their budgets.

Let’s take a look at why digital signage is particularly beneficial in the education environment and some of the ways that schools are using digital signs today.


Digital Information for Digital Natives

Today’s students, from pre-K through college, are digital natives. This means that the vast majority of them have been using technology since early childhood. For instance, a Pew Research study found that 93 percent of K-12 school children own a laptop and 78 percent use social networking sites.

For Generation Z, digital content is an everyday part of their world. And as many parents and teachers already know, it can be difficult to get them to pay attention to anything that isn’t on a screen!

This is why digital signage is particularly important and impactful in today’s schools. Digital signs grab students’ attention in a way that posters, fliers and other traditional media simply can’t. If you want students to notice announcements about upcoming events, tomorrow’s lunch menu or reminders about the dress code, you need a digital sign.


Spread Information Quickly and Cheaply

Another major advantage of digital signage in an educational environment is that it allows information to be spread throughout a school or campus quickly and inexpensively. The Display.Works device on each digital sign links that sign to a website that you have selected. So, if you have five signs all linked to one website, all you have to do is update the information on that website once and the information will be displayed on all five signs.

Think of all the time and money that will save compared to printing dozens of fliers and spending time posting them all over the school and later taking them down! If you have us link your Display.Works devices to a website capable of supporting a slideshow, you can use each sign to display multiple screens of information, which can be easily added to, edited or deleted when no longer needed.


Keep Faculty and Staff Up to Date

 In addition to communicating with students and parents, digital signage can be very helpful for keeping faculty and staff informed and up-to-date. These audiences can be targeted by placing signs in areas such as teachers’ lounges, staff break rooms, the mailroom and administrative offices.

You’d simply need to have the Display.Works devices for these signs linked to a separate website, one specifically for faculty and staff. Then whenever you need to send information specifically to your employees, you can just update the faculty and staff website.

Again, this allows you to spread information quickly and easily—and even reach those faculty members who never check their emails!


How Are Schools Using Digital Signage?

Digital signage has a wide variety of uses in educational settings. Some are more obvious than others.

First, you can use digital signs to make announcements about upcoming events. These visual reminders can help reinforce reminders given in the classroom. Whether it’s Field Day or Prom, digital signs can help students remember when and where important things are happening, as well as what preparations they need to make.

Another common way that digital signs are used in K-12 schools is to display lunch menus and nutrition information. This can help students make healthy choices about their diet or avoid known allergans.

 Digital signs can also be useful for giving directions. Need to help those incoming freshmen figure out where their classes are? You could post a map of the school on the digital signs in your hallways for the first week.

Another use for digital signs is displaying videos. Display.Works can stream video from your linked website. If you want to show highlights from the weekend’s football game or speeches from student government candidates, digital signage can do that too.

Displaying student work is an important practice that’s emphasized a lot today. A digital sign linked to a slideshow of student work can be a great way to give students a feeling of pride and ownership in their school. And it looks good when prospective parents or district administrators come to check out your school!

Speaking of prospective parents and district administrators, digital signage can improve your school’s image overall. Good-looking, current digital signs relay that your school is forward-thinking and up-to-date with the latest technology.

Finally, digital signage can be used to communicate effectively with faculty and staff. It can be used to display reminders about faculty meetings, data about student test scores, duty assignments and more. It’s a great way to make sure this information gets to the people who need it without having to announce it publicly over an outdated PA system!

Contact us to learn more about Display.Works

Why You Should Upgrade to a Managed Synology Router

When was the last time you did a security update on your Wi-Fi router? When was the last time you changed its password? Did you know that your Wi-Fi router could be infected with malware that’s monitoring and potentially stealing information from your network, right now?

For many home offices and small businesses, a Wi-Fi router is an essential piece of equipment. As long as it seems to be working, it also tends to be invisible and overlooked. That’s why routers can be very tempting targets for those seeking to break into your network or intercept your data.

To help you protect yourself and your business, Visibil.IT offers our managed Synology router. With a managed Synology router, you get higher security without having to keep up with the latest security threats, updates, and patches yourself. Let us do the work for you!


Routers Are Under Threat

In April 2018, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Center issued a joint Tactical Alert. This alert warns that Russian state-sponsored hackers are carrying out attacks by exploiting network devices, particularly targeting the kinds of routers designed for small office/home office (SOHO) use.

Then in May 2018, DHS and the FBI issued another alert, this one warning about a specific malware called VPNFilter, which targets SOHO routers. Researchers found that this malware had infected over 500,000 devices worldwide, in 54 countries.

Further investigation found that this malware was developed by a Russian hacking group, like the ones warned about in the earlier alert. The malware can infect a wide range of routers, including models made by Netgear, LinkSys, MikroTik, QNAP and TP-Link.

Once it has infected a router, VPNFilter can cause a great deal of damage. For one thing, it can collect communications going through the router. The FBI warns that this could lead to the loss of proprietary or sensitive information.

VPNFilter can also take control of the router and use it to launch attacks on others. Plus, the attackers can command the malware to destroy the router itself. For many business, losing their network even for a few hours can cause serious problems.


Why Are Routers Being Targeted?

As TechRepublic reports, it appears that targeting routers may be the next big trend in cyberattacks. There are a few main reasons for this.

  1. The FBI’s April alert points out that the security of routers is usually not maintained as well as the security of other devices such as servers and desktop computers. In other words, they tend to be invisible and overlooked, as long as they seem to be working.

  2. The FBI warns that SOHO and residential-type routers in particular don’t generally run anti-virus or other security tools. Plus, owners don’t always remember or know how to change the default passwords and other settings.

  3. Sometimes the issue is that owners don’t regularly perform security patching or that patches aren’t available.

  4. And another reason routers are so vulnerable is that vendors produce an extremely large number of different models. The vendors themselves may have difficulty supporting and providing updates for all those different devices.

  5. Ultimately, routers are also popular targets because once a hacker takes control of a router, they can do a lot with it. As TechRepublic puts it, the thing about routers is that they are both “high value targets” and “low-hanging fruit.” In other words, attacking routers is both easy and potentially very rewarding.


Protect Your Router, Protect Your Business

As you can see, defending your router from cyberattacks is necessary and important. That is what makes our managed Synology router so imperative.

You may have noticed that the list of routers affected by VPNFilter doesn’t currently include Synology. No router is invulnerable to attack, but Synology has a strong security focus with their routers. Consequently, they also have a good reputation for releasing security patches frequently.

Unlike some other vendors that release dozens of router models, Synology currently only offers two. This allows them to keep up with support and security better, as discussed above.

The most important piece of this security puzzle, though, is the Visibil.IT management of the router. When we manage your router or your network, that means we take care of keeping up with security issues for you.

We’ll set up your router so that it’s hardened against attacks, and then we’ll keep up that defense by updating it as security patches and firmware upgrades become available. We’ll monitor your router for signs of infection or attacks and take action to remove malware as necessary.

A managed Synology router may cost a little more, but it’s an investment in the security of your business. Let us help you keep your data safe and your business running smoothly!

Email Filtering and Encryption: Why Google’s Filtering Isn’t Enough

Businesses today simply cannot afford to skimp on email security. In fact, email has become the number one path that malicious attackers use to slip past your defenses and infiltrate your network. While Google G Suite offers good, basic security, it does not provide full protection against today’s quickly evolving email threats.

That’s where Symantec Email comes in. Symantec’s cloud-based email security solution provides the full range of protection your business needs to withstand known and emerging threats like business email compromise, ransomware and spear phishing.


Why Is Email Targeted?

Email has become the favored target of attacks for several reasons. First, it’s everywhere. These days, nearly every business, large or small, uses email for both external and internal communications.

This also means that email users vary a lot in their awareness of threats. Users who aren’t as aware of security risks may open attachments or click links that download malware or give hackers access to your network.

For instance, as’s State of Security reports, in 2016 a police department in Dallas, Texas, was infected by ransomware through an email that came from an address that imitated a departmental email address. The ransomware encrypted police files, including documents, photographs and videos. It demanded $4,000 in Bitcoin to decrypt the files.

While the Texas police department chose not to pay the ransom, these attacks can also be very profitable. For instance, according to Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Report, in 2016 the average ransomware payout was more than $1,000.

One victim of an email-based ransomware attack that paid significantly more than that was the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. In 2016, their network was infected by ransomware spread by spam phishing emails. Ultimately, the hospital paid a $17,000 ransom to get access to their data back.

Plus, emails themselves often contain sensitive and valuable information about a business. As a result, hackers can steal confidential data directly from the emails themselves, for later sale or other purposes.

Because email is such a tempting target for cybercriminals, it’s particularly important to ensure that your company or organization’s email is secure.


How Does Symantec Email Protect Against Threats?

Symantec’s email security solution provides a blanket of protection that addresses three major types of threats. First, Symantec defends against malware and spam using technology such as antivirus engines and reputation analysis to evaluate the links and attachments in emails.

To protect against phishing, Symantec checks links in emails before they’re even delivered, following them all the way to their final destination. This way, Symantec’s security can catch brand new phishing attacks, unlike less advanced security systems that can only detect already-known phishing links.

For additional defense against phishing, it also has the ability to identify and block emails that are designed to impersonate actual users or domains belonging to your organization. This could have prevented the ransomware attack against the police department in Dallas.

Finally, Symantec Email also protects against emerging threats—new and targeted attacks that may be designed to evade less sophisticated email security products.

For instance, today some malware is written so that it won’t execute unless it’s on a physical server and detects what appears to be human interaction. When Symantec detects an unknown file, the file gets “sandboxed”—isolated and sent to a physical server that mimics human behavior to see whether it’s actually a threat.

The email threat isolation capabilities offered by Symantec cannot be matched by any other email security solution available today. Suspicious links and websites are made harmless by either preventing the user from accessing them or rendering them in read-only mode so that the user literally cannot enter the sensitive information that the phishing attack is trying to capture—such as passwords.

Advanced machine learning, network traffic analysis, and behavior analysis are also used to analyze code, detect hidden threats, and find new and hidden ransomware that may be lurking inside seemingly harmless attachments.


Symantec Email Leads the Way

So how well does Symantec do in actual testing? In 2017, Symantec conducted internal testing of four email security solutions: Symantec, Proofpoint, Mimecast, and Office 365. They sent almost two thousand emails, including both clean emails and those containing malware and phishing attacks.

Symantec easily beat all of the competition. Symantec caught 98.77% of all the malicious email, with zero false positives. By comparison, the second-best security solution was Office 365, which caught only 88.11% of the malicious emails and had 0.06% false positives.

For instance, Symantec’s current Service Level Target for Antispam Efficacy is “Over 99%.” Every month, they report whether this target has been achieved. In June 2018, their actual Antispam Efficacy was 99.999986%!



Malicious attacks via email continue to rise, with new threats developing every day. Symantec’s Email can shield your company against both known and emerging threats. And thanks to its education and assessment components, it can even help to train your employees to guard against threats too.

Email Archive

Why Should My Business Spend Money to Archive Email?

Any business that uses email—which is just about every business, these days—should strongly consider setting up an email archiving system. Investing in an email archiving system now can save you time and money in the long run, and help to protect you from legal problems too.

Archive Isn’t Just a Fancy Word for Back-Up

Some people think that archiving email is just a technical term for backing it up. But that’s not the case. An email archive copies and saves your email in a format that cannot altered.

The contents of the emails, along with attachments, are extracted and saved in a read-only format. This ensures, for both legal and business purposes, that the emails’ contents cannot be tampered with or accidentally deleted.

Additionally, email archives are designed to be easily searchable. That way you can quickly and reliably access to the internet gives past emails that you need to find. A basic back-up system generally isn’t searchable, at least not in any convenient way.


Legal Reasons for Archiving Your Emails

For some businesses, email archiving isn’t just an option—it’s required by law. Many industries, including financial, healthcare and energy, must comply with governmental regulations that require saving emails in an unaltered form and in a way that can be easily accessed.

But even if your business doesn’t have to follow regulations like those, email archiving can be extremely important for other legal reasons. If your business is ever involved in litigation—as many businesses these days are, at one point or another—then you may be required to produce relevant emails.

If you don’t have those emails or cannot easily find and retrieve them, it could cause serious legal and financial harm to your business. Aside from dealing with litigation, you could also need to produce emails for compliance audits or if your business is being investigated.

None of us like to think that our business might be the subject of an investigation or face a lawsuit, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Investing in email archiving can help to protect your business in these situations.


Information is Money

Think about how much information about your business is contained in your emails. There’s not only the intellectual property being discussed in the emails, but also the information that can be gleaned about your business and marketing practices.

From this perspective, securely archiving emails is like putting money in the bank. Those unaltered emails can be used to prove that the intellectual property discussed in them belongs to you. They contain the knowledge of your employees, protecting it from being lost if those employees move on to other jobs. New employees can use the searchable email archive to retrieve that knowledge and learn from past employees.

And the emails themselves can be analyzed for insights into improving business practices, like determining the most effective ways to communicate with customers. Because email archives are designed to be easily searchable, they make this kind of analysis much faster and easier to do.


Decrease Waste and Enhance Productivity

Email archiving can also help your employees to be more productive. Without email archiving, users will often have to spend hours managing emails, determining which to save and which to delete, how to organize them, how to set things up so they can find those emails again when they need them.

Often in this situation, employees either end up saving almost everything, creating a major storage problem on your servers, or deleting almost everything, including important emails that needed to be saved.

And when emails need to be retrieved for business or legal purposes, employees waste even more time trying to find them. An archiving system takes all of these burdens off of the users, so that they can focus on doing their actual jobs, not managing emails.


When Disaster Strikes, Cloud-Based Email Archiving Can Save the Day

Another thing we don’t like to think about, but absolutely must prepare for, is disaster recovery. Floods, fires, tornadoes and other disasters can happen to any business.

Cloud-based email archiving stores your data in the cloud, where it will be waiting for you when the disaster is over and you’re ready to get back to business. Considering again how much of your business’ information can be found in your email, this is an extremely valuable benefit that can play a major role in getting you back on your feet.


You’ll Never Run Out of Storage Space in the Cloud

Finally, another advantage of cloud-based email archiving is that you never have to worry about running out of room on a server. Cloud-based archiving gives you unlimited storage space. As your business grows, your email archive will grow with it. Setting up a cloud-based email archiving system now is an investment in the future of your business.

IoT Network

Increase Security by Putting IoT Devices on a Separate Network

The use of Internet of Things devices in homes and businesses is widespread and growing. These IoT devices can be extremely useful, but they can also create a major security risk.

One way to alleviate that danger is to put your IoT devices on their own separate network. That may sound complicated and difficult, but it’s something we can easily set up for you along with an Eero mesh Wi-Fi network.


What is the Internet of Things and Why is It So Dangerous?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is made up of all the everyday devices that are connected to the internet. We’re not talking about things like laptops and smartphones, whose primary function is computing and connecting.

Instead we’re talking about devices like refrigerators, thermostats, light bulbs, door bells and wearable fitness trackers that connect to the internet. People love the functionality and convenience that connecting these devices to the internet gives.

Unlike your smartphone or laptop, these IoT devices often don’t have much in the way of built in security features. That makes them extremely attractive targets for hackers.

You may be thinking, so what if somebody hacks into my light bulbs? Are there really people interested in hacking for the sake of turning people’s lights on and off?

Well, there probably are some folks who’d think that was pretty entertaining. But that’s not the real danger.

The real danger is that someone will hack into that light bulb, use it to get into your network, and from there, be able to break into other devices connected to your network, like your laptop or server.

Ever handle banking on your laptop? What if a hacker used your connected refrigerator to get on your network and spy on your banking information? Now you see the problem.


Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe

So, you want to keep hackers from getting to your network through your IoT devices. How do you do that?

There are several steps you can take to help protect your network from the risks created by IoT devices. For instance, don’t connect any IoT device that you don’t actually need to have connected.

Sure, your toaster may be able to connect to the internet to track your toast-making habits, but do you really need it to do that? If not, just turn off the Wi-Fi connection and make your toast the old-fashioned, unconnected way. That’ll be one less backdoor for hackers to try to break into.

Next, use strong passwords for your devices, and do NOT leave the factory-default password set. Hackers can get those factory-default passwords and screen the internet for devices using them. Come up with your own passwords and use a different one for each device.

But one of the best things you can do, which we strongly recommend, is to set up a separate network just for your IoT devices. Your laptop, smartphone, servers and other computing devices will be on a completely separate network.

That way, if someone breaks into one of those IoT devices in your home or business, all they’ll be able to get to is other IoT devices. That will help to keep the sensitive information on your laptop, etc. safe and secure, away from prying eyes.


Creating a Separate Network with Eero

We use the Eero system to set up mesh Wi-Fi networks that can provide fast, reliable Wi-Fi networks with coverage that extends throughout your home or office.

The Eero system can form a guest network in addition to the regular network. Once we’ve set up this guest network, we can connect your Internet of Things devices to it.

That way anyone breaking into those IoT devices will only be able to see and potentially access other devices that are connected to the guest network. Your regular network will stay safe and secure with no unnecessary backdoors.

The Internet of Things is a fact of modern life. It comes with risks, but also has great potential. We can help to manage those risks by thinking carefully about what we connect to the internet and how we connect it.

Using a separate network specifically designated for IoT devices can help to keep the rest of our networks safe and secure, protecting sensitive information and avoiding potentially costly attacks. Investing in managing your IoT network now could save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.

Mesh Wi-Fi Networking: It’s Not Just for Large Businesses Anymore

In today’s connected world, it’s important for businesses (large and small) to have fast, stable Wi-Fi networks with ample coverage that reaches every corner of their office, warehouse, shop, or other workspace.

For years, big businesses have used mesh Wi-Fi networking to achieve these goals. But thanks to advances in technology and decreases in cost, these extremely fast and stable mesh networks are now becoming accessible to small and medium businesses as well as homeowners.


What is a Mesh Network?

With a standard Wi-Fi setup, you have a single router that broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal. The further you are from that router, the weaker that signal gets. If the router goes down, your Wi-Fi goes with it.

With a mesh Wi-Fi network, on the other hand, there’s no one central hub for your Wi-Fi. Instead, the network is made up of a series of routers, called nodes. All of these nodes communicate with each other, determining the best path for data to travel.

By spreading the nodes out across a space, you create a blanket of overlapping coverage from their signals. If you need that coverage to extend across a larger space, you just add more nodes.


Go Faster and Farther

The most obvious advantage of a mesh network is expanded coverage. The Wi-Fi signal from a single router generally only provides ample coverage to about 1000 square feet of space. And that’s assuming the space is all one story and doesn’t have any difficult-to-penetrate walls, like ones made of glass or containing heavy steel beams.

For larger buildings, especially multi-story ones, a mesh network can help to ensure that every office, conference room, warehouse and waiting room has a strong wifi signal, thanks to the overlapping blanket of coverage created by multiple nodes.

Because the multiple nodes all work together to find the optimal path for data traveling across the network, mesh networks are also significantly faster. In everyday terms, the nodes prevent traffic jams so everything can flow more smoothly.


Stability and Resilience

What may be the biggest advantage of mesh networking is the greatly enhanced stability of the network. Losing access to the internet, even for a short time, can cause serious and potentially costly problems for small and medium sized businesses.

With a standard Wi-Fi network, the router is a point of weakness. If it goes down, the whole network goes with it. But with a mesh network, there’s no central hub. Every node is an equal part of the network.

So, if an individual node goes down, the rest of the nodes automatically take up the slack. Every node just needs to be in contact with at least one other node in order to keep working.

This enhanced network stability can prevent work from being lost, increase worker productivity and help keep customers happy by avoiding unnecessary delays.


Easy to Use

Once set-up and installed, mesh Wi-Fi networks are very user-friendly. Every node is part of the same network, so your devices don’t have to switch between them as you go from one part of your workspace to another.

The network can be monitored from a smartphone app, and more nodes can easily be added if needed for wider coverage.


Advantages Over a Range Extender

Prior to mesh Wi-Fi networks becoming more accessible, many home and business owners solved their Wi-Fi coverage problems by connecting one or more range extenders to their router.

While range extenders can still be useful for some applications today, mesh Wi-Fi networks have some clear advantages over them. For one thing, range extenders tend to slow down your network rather than speeding it up.

That’s because a range extender generally uses only one wireless radio for both transmitting and receiving. On the other hand, mesh Wi-Fi nodes have multiple radios so they can talk to your devices and the other nodes all at the same time.

Another issue with range extenders is that many of them broadcast as a different network than the original router. So, you might need to connect to one network in your office, but switch to another one as you walk into the conference room.

In contrast, the mesh network provides one single network throughout your space. That decreases frustration and prevents your connection from being interrupted.

Finally, range extenders don’t provide the boost to stability that you get with a mesh network. With range extenders, there’s still a centralized hub. If the router goes down, the extenders are no longer connected to the internet, so the whole network goes down.

Again, stable, reliable Wi-Fi is extremely important to many businesses, so the mesh Wi-Fi network has a significant advantage over range extenders.

Shut the Door on Hackers with the Managed Internet of Things

Currently, one of the biggest security concerns for IT professionals is the Internet of Things (IoT). While definitions of this term differ, the IoT essentially refers to the many “dumb” devices connected to the internet today, such as thermostats, cameras, cars, and even pacemakers.

The problem is that many of these devices are not built to be particularly secure. Flaws in their security are constantly being found and exploited by hackers. Sometimes those hackers use the IoT devices to commit attacks against outside targets, but other times they manipulate the devices or use them to infiltrate the network to which the device is connected.

For example, the cybersecurity firm Darktrace reported that they discovered a casino’s network was hacked and their database of high-rollers was stolen. How did the thieves get access to the network?

Through the fish tank.

No, Nemo wasn’t handing out passwords. Instead, the hackers were able to get into the network via the internet-connected fish tank sensors that monitored and controlled temperature, salinity, and even feeding the fish.

The hackers were able to evade the casino’s regular security because they attacked a new and unconventional device that wasn’t properly protected. As a result, 10 GB of valuable corporate data was transferred from the casino to a device in Finland before the hack was detected.

And if you’re surprised that a fish tank could be so dangerous, consider the FBI’s warning about children’s toys.

In 2017, the FBI issued a warning that interactive, internet-connected toys, which often contain sensors that record conversations or pictures as well as GPS location data, could be vulnerable due to a lack of security safeguards. The FBI warned that this data could be used to commit identity fraud or child exploitation.

In the case of these toys and many other IoT devices, one key issue is that security is overlooked in the rush to get new products on the market. The holes in security aren’t found until later — after the products are already in consumers’ homes and businesses.

For instance, in a perfect example of irony, major security flaws have been found in some IP security cameras, which are digital surveillance cameras that connect to the internet. Cybersecurity experts describe these flaws as easily exploitable and dangerous.

Because these insecure cameras are so attractive to hackers, it’s not unusual for them to get attacked daily. Using programmed bots, hackers are able to scan the entire internet for vulnerable targets, meaning that no insecure device is too unimportant to be detected.

Driving home this point, the CEO of Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, says that once you connect a poorly secured IoT device, you should expect it to be hacked within a week.

In addition to using these devices as doorways into your network, malicious hackers can take control of the device itself. For instance, two security experts demonstrated that they could take control of a smart thermostat by sending “ransomware” to it that would lock up the thermostat until the owner paid off the hackers.

Another hacker exploited a security flaw in an older Heatmiser thermostat and raised the temperature inside of the home to 95º F. That model of thermostat has been discontinued due to the security flaw, but how many homes had the device been installed in before that flaw was discovered?

Essentially, the problem is that these IoT devices aren’t just a toy or a thermostat or a fish tank. They’re a toy, thermostat or fish tank with a computer attached to them. And just like any computer connected to your network, they’ve got to be secured. Otherwise, they are vulnerable and they make your entire network vulnerable too.

As you can see, Internet of Things devices can pose some serious risks to your home or business. But they can also be extremely useful, even unavoidably necessary in today’s world. So what can you do if you need connected devices like cameras or temperature and humidity sensors?

That’s where our Managed Internet of Things devices and services come in. We can build IoT devices that fit your company’s specific needs and provide the security you need, too.


For instance, our Display.Works device can turn a basic “dumb” television monitor into a secure digital sign, which can be used to communicate with customers or employees without fear of it getting hacked. Or it can be used to securely display the feeds from your security cameras.

We can also build custom devices with sensors, such as those used to detect temperature or humidity, so that you can remotely monitor and regulate your warehouse—or your fish tank—without fear that someone will use those devices to rob you.

Data from these managed IoT devices will travel over the secure network that our system creates. Plus, we monitor these devices to detect vulnerabilities or attacks, and update them whenever needed, so that you don’t have to worry about keeping the security up-to-date yourself.

The Internet of Things holds an enormous amount of both promise and peril. Our managed IoT systems can help to maximize that promise while minimizing the risks of connected devices.

Case Study: NovaHR

In today’s connected world, almost every business has IT needs, like secure email for internal and external communication and a professional website so potential customers and clients can find you. But many small and medium-sized businesses may not find it cost-effective to hire their own, full-time IT staff.

That’s where Visibil.IT can help. We create complete IT solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. We use our expertise to select cutting-edge products and vendors that will keep your business up-to-date, and we provide the traditional core services like email and websites that all businesses need.

Let’s take a look at one of the businesses we currently support so you can get a better idea of what Visibil.IT can do for you.


NovaHR Business Profile

NovaHR is an Alabama-based consulting firm that provides human resources support and advice for small and medium-sized businesses that may not have their own full-time HR professional on staff. In other words, they’re not that different from us, except they provide HR services instead of IT!

NovaHR provides a wide range of services, all specifically tailored to clients’ needs. These services include handling recruitment, improving hiring practices, developing orientation and training programs, and consulting on discipline and termination practices to decrease the risk of legal actions.

The owner of NovaHR, Laurie Halvorson, first started her consulting business in 2001, then spent eight years working full-time for another company before going back into business for herself in 2017. Her new business needed email and a website, so she turned to Visibil.IT.


Getting Started with Visibil.IT

For many business owners, the process of setting up things like email and a website can be stressful and consume valuable working hours that could be spent in more profitable ways. According to Laurie Halvorson, working with Visibil.IT made her part of the job much easier, which meant less time taken away from running her business.

On setting up her email and website, Halvorson says that Visibil.IT “handled pretty much everything. I just sent my logo and a description of services, and they did the rest.” She appreciated that the site was up and running in less than a week, with no other input or decision-making required on her end.

NovaHR’s website includes descriptions of the services they provide, as well as a contact form that allows potential clients to quickly and easily get in touch with them. In fact, the website has been so effective at connecting her with clients, Halvorson says that she hasn’t had to do any other advertising!


Improving the Wi-fi Network

One technical problem that Halvorson encountered as her business got up and running was insufficient wi-fi coverage that limited where and when she could get work done. She asked Visibil.IT what we could do about that, and we suggested a mesh wi-fi network.

A mesh wi-fi network uses multiple routers, called nodes, to provide consistent wi-fi coverage throughout a large space, like an office building or a large house. For many businesses, a mesh network can really help with meeting today’s wireless needs. The Eero system that we prefer works with an app that allows you to easily monitor the network from your smartphone.

According to Halvorson, once she decided that she wanted to try the mesh wi-fi network, Visibil.IT handled everything else. Describing the process, she said, “It was so easy. They purchased the equipment, programmed it for me, and made sure all my devices were connected to it.”

She appreciated how quickly the work was done as well, noting that the entire network was installed in less than a day.

Halvorson likes the mesh wi-fi network because it allows her to work from anywhere. According to her, that flexibility “benefits me personally, which benefits my business.”


Trusted Service, Ongoing Support

When asked why she initially chose Visibil.IT to provide the IT services she needed, Halvorson said, “I have worked with the owner, David before and trust his work.” 

Halvorson also reports being very satisfied with the support she’s received from Visibil.IT since the initial set-up and installation. She likes that she can easily get in touch by phone call, email, or text and that there is a quick response to all of her questions.

Overall, Halvorson describes her experience of working with Visibil.IT as fast, easy, and providing significant benefits to her business. We’re glad we could help!

Security Matters!

Imagine this: One morning, you sit down at your laptop with a cup of coffee and log on to your favorite social media site. To your surprise, you find the name of your business is listed as a trending topic. Hundreds, even thousands of posts about your business have been made in the last few hours.

At first, you’re excited. After all, going viral is every social media manager’s goal. But why have you gone viral now? What is everybody talking about?

You click on your business’ name and that’s when you make a terrible discovery. Overnight, someone hacked your network via the cheap security camera you just bought online. The hackers got into your customer files, installed ransomware on your workstations and found the digital sign on your storefront or in your lobby. Instead of showing the daily specials or educational marketing information, that digital sign is broadcasting explicit adult content to everyone who walks by!

So, pictures and videos of your hacked sign, in your business, are spreading across the internet like wildfire. Think that sounds like some far-fetched science fiction story? It happened to a digital sign outside of the Chipotle restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s Union Station during the afternoon rush hour last year.

Similar horror stories are easy to find online, from a digital billboard in Atlanta, whose regular content was replaced with the picture of a man’s naked posterior, to digital road signs in Dallas that were re-programmed to display vulgar messages rather than important safety information.

It’s a nightmare no one ever wants to experience because there really is such a thing as bad publicity. Digital signs can be incredibly useful tools for businesses, but they’re also a point of vulnerability. Malicious hackers seek them out ,not only to play highly visible and potentially destructive pranks, but also in search of backdoors to break into your business’ network.

That’s why the security of digital signage matters—to protect both your business’ reputation and its systems. And that’s why in designing and supporting the Display.Works device, security is our top priority.

Any digital sign, security camera, thermostat, doorbell connected to the internet becomes a part of the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is the network of millions of “smart” devices that connect to the internet and share data, from televisions to toasters to exercise trackers.

The vast network created by these products is extremely vulnerable and the source of a lot of headaches for people concerned with protecting privacy and security. While nothing can ever be perfectly secure, the Display.Works system includes features that make it more secure than most Internet of Things (IoT) devices available today.

To begin with, Display.Works is a single-purpose device that is designed and hard-coded to do one thing and one thing only: Connect to the Display.Works server and display one specific webpage that you have chosen.

Unlike the laptop or desktop computer you might have used to run your sign before, the Display.Works device cannot be easily redirected to another site with the click of a mouse. And the single-purpose device doesn’t contain anything else, like financial information, that hackers could access through it.

The Display.Works device runs on Linux, an operating system less frequently targeted by malware than Windows. When running a digital sign off of a PC or Mac, one of the major headaches is the need to make sure you’re keeping current on security updates as they come out. If you miss an update, your computer and signage become extremely vulnerable, since the updates themselves act as notifications to malicious hackers of weaknesses that exist.

You can set your system to auto-update, but what if it tries to update in the middle of business hours, when you need your sign working? Display.Works takes care of this issue for you. The monthly subscription fee includes regular security updates done outside of business hours. That way you can feel confident that your system is up to date and protected without the hassle of managing it yourself.

The monthly fee also includes monitoring of your sign and notification if it goes down. That helps to ensure that if there ever is a problem with your digital signage, you’ll find out about it before it hits Facebook!

Ultimately, security matters to every business. Digital signs need to be secured just like any other important system. With the Display.Works device and monthly subscription, you get a highly secure device with the updating and monitoring necessary to keep it secure.

And that will help to ensure that when your business gets a lot of attention, it will be for all the right reasons!

Case Study: Conditioned Air Solutions

The Display.Works device and support provide businesses with an inexpensive, reliable and secure opportunity to enhance communication with both customers and employees using digital signage.

One Huntsville-area business that has taken advantage of that opportunity is Conditioned Air Solutions. Let’s take a look at how Conditioned Air Solutions is using Display.Works-powered digital signage to help their business run better...

Business Profile
In business since 2004, Conditioned Air Solutions provides both residential and commercial HVAC services to the Huntsville and Madison, Alabama, region. Services include installation of new systems as well as maintenance and repair.

Conditioned Air Solutions emphasizes providing excellent, professional service; done right the first time without cutting corners. Thanks to this commitment, they’ve earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and the Super Service Award from Angie’s List every year from 2009-2017.

Conditioned Air Solutions’ approximately 40 employees are based at their office and warehouse in North Huntsville, but serving customers at home has many of the employees coming and going throughout the day. This can be a challenge for internal communication.

The CEO of Conditioned Air Solutions, Keith Lowe, has a background in electrical engineering and a strong interest in using new technology to improve his business procedures and the quality of service they can provide to customers.

How Conditioned Air Solutions Uses Display.Works
While many business owners think of digital signage only as a way to communicate with customers, the Display.Works-powered digital signage at Conditioned Air Solutions’ headquarters is used for internal communication.

One way these digital signs are used is for security. In his office, Lowe has a digital sign that constantly displays the feeds coming from several of the office and warehouse security cameras. This allows him to supervise employees as well as keep an eye out for any security issues that might arise, even while he’s using his computer for other things.

In order to display these feeds, the Display.Works device is actually programmed to log in to the website that the security cameras feed to, then automatically click through to select the specific cameras that Lowe wants to see. As part of its programming, the device also automatically logs out and logs back in every night to prevent login from timing out during the day.

In another executive’s office, the Display.Works-powered digital sign displays a different set of security camera feeds—again, chosen by the individual and pre-programmed into the device. As part of the monthly subscription fee for the device, these selections can be re-programmed securely if needed.

These security camera feeds stream constantly, demonstrating that Display.Works has the ability to handle streaming video, with a single device displaying the feeds from six or more cameras at a time.

In addition to keeping an eye on security, Conditioned Air Solutions also uses Display.Works to communicate information about performance to their employees. A digital sign displaying Key Performance Indicators allows employees to check that their performance is meeting the expected standards.

Another digital sign located in the breakroom continually streams the feed from the software that keeps track of every job. This allows all employees to see what work is coming in and getting done, as it happens.

Finally, a fifth digital sign in a manager’s office displays the schedule of all Conditioned Air Solutions’ installers. This schedule is posted and updated as a Google spreadsheet, which the Display.Works device is programmed to link to. This allows the manager and others to see at a glance where installers are currently working as well as their availability for scheduling.

Why Conditioned Air Solutions Chose Display.Works
According to CEO Keith Lowe, the most important factor in choosing Display.Works is security. So many devices have almost no security, but the programming and support of the single-use Display.Works Linux-based device give him confidence that it is as secure as possible, particularly with the monthly subscription that includes regular security updates.

Additionally, Lowe cites the reliability of the Display.Works device, saying it compares favorably to every other option out there, being significantly more reliable than plugging in an old laptop or using a USB drive.

And finally, there’s the issue of price. Lowe points out that a basic flat-screen television can be purchased for as little as $100. The Display.Works device can turn that basic TV into a reliable, secure digital sign that can be programmed and adapted for a wide variety of purposes. Considering that purpose-built digital signs can cost thousands of dollars, that’s a major cost savings.

The cost-effectiveness of a Display.Works-powered sign includes the cost of electricity too, as the monitor and device combined use less energy than a single 100-watt light bulb. Thanks to this low overall cost, Lowe is able to use multiple digital signs throughout his offices and experiment to find the most effective ways to use them.

Steam and macOS High Sierra

I just took the plunge and installed a fresh new copy of High Sierra. Next, I tried to install the Steam client and all it did was pause at the splash screen. Running the Steam command from the console produced the following errors:

Errors in public/subpanelwelcomeintro.res:
error loading file 'public/subpanelwelcomeintro.res', no such file
Errors in public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccount.res:
error loading file 'public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccount.res', no such file
Errors in public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccountaccountname.res:
error loading file 'public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccountaccountname.res', no such file
Errors in public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccountemail.res:
error loading file 'public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccountemail.res', no such file
Errors in public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccountnamecollision.res:
error loading file 'public/subpanelwelcomecreatenewaccountnamecollision.res', no such file
Errors in public/subpanelwelcomecreatingaccount.res:
error loading file 'public/subpanelwelcomecreatingaccount.res', no such file

Technically, those files were not there. However, files that looked very much like those were there. My new shiny APFS filesystem is case-sensitive like every good Unix filesystem should be. Steam, on the other hand, doesn't seem to understand this. So, here's a script to get you up and running. It basically renames all the files the Steam client is looking for into the correct case:

cd /Users/${USER}/Library/Application\ Support/Steam/Steam.AppBundle/Steam/Contents/MacOS/public; ls *.res | while read line ; do file=$(echo $line | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]'); mv $line $file; done
cd /Users/${USER}/Library/Application\ Support/Steam/Steam.AppBundle/Steam/Contents/MacOS/steam/cached/; ls *.res | while read line ; do file=$(echo $line | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]'); mv $line $file; done
cd /Users/${USER}/Library/Application\ Support/Steam/Steam.AppBundle/Steam/Contents/MacOS/friends; ls *.res | while read line ; do file=$(echo $line | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]'); mv $line $file; done
cd /Users/${USER}/Library/Application\ Support/Steam/Steam.AppBundle/Steam/Contents/MacOS/graphics; ls *.tga | while read line ; do file=$(echo $line | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]'); mv $line $file; done
cd /Users/${USER}/Library/Application\ Support/Steam/Steam.AppBundle/Steam/Contents/MacOS/servers; ls *.tga | while read line ; do file=$(echo $line | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]'); mv $line $file; done

And now you should be good to game.

VMware Workstation 12 and Centos 7

After I upgraded my Centos 7 box to kernel 3.10.0-693.2.2.el7.x86_64, VMware Workstation 12 spit this error out when trying to recompile the network modules:

compat_netdevice.h:343:46: error: ‘struct net_device’ has no member named ‘trans_start’

That's because the kernel just doesn't have trans_start anymore. So here's the fix:

mkdir ~/vmnet-fix
cd ~/vmnet-fix
cp /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/vmnet.tar ./vmnet-12.5.7.tar
tar xf vmnet-12.5.7.tar

Open up your favorite text editor and make the file CentosVMwareWorkstation.patch with this content:

--- vmnet-only/compat_netdevice.h
+++ vmnet-only/compat_netdevice.h
@@ -337,7 +337,8 @@
 typedef u32 compat_netdev_features_t;
+    (defined(RHEL_RELEASE_CODE) && RHEL_RELEASE_CODE >= 0x0704)
 #define compat_netif_trans_update(d) netif_trans_update(d)
 #define compat_netif_trans_update(d) do { (d)->trans_start = jiffies; } while (0)

Save that and:

patch -p0 < CentosVMwareWorkstation.patch
tar cf vmnet.tar vmnet-only/
sudo cp vmnet.tar /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source/vmnet.tar
sudo vmware-modconfig --console --install-all

And then you're back in business.

Email Signatures and Spam Filters

Do you wonder why sometimes the email you send gets placed into the recipient's spam folder? You've been emailing them for years but once in awhile or all the sudden your messages are marked as spam. Every email you send gets scored (graded with a numeric value by a spam engine) multiple times before it ends up in someone's inbox and every scoring system is different.

Most email servers work the same way. The first level of spam detection occurs before the email is ever accepted. The receiving server checks several things about the sending server to make sure it should be sending out email from a particular domain. IE: A yahoo email server should not be sending out email with a from address containing Once the receiving email server accepts delivery of the message, the second level of spam detection occurs: content scanning.

Here is what a normal email looks like:

From: Email Test <>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2017 14:14:30 -0500
Subject: Hi
Hi there.

Here is what the server sees:

Received: by with SMTP id d80csp1091303lfl;
Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:14:31 -0700 (PDT)
X-Received: by with SMTP id 102mr3738794qkr.56.1506626071639;
Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:14:31 -0700 (PDT)
ARC-Seal: i=1; a=rsa-sha256; t=1506626071; cv=none;; s=arc-20160816;
ARC-Message-Signature: i=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed;; s=arc-20160816;
ARC-Authentication-Results: i=1;;
dkim=pass header.s=20150623 header.b=Ev0UvhD9;
spf=pass ( domain of designates as permitted sender)
Return-Path: <>
Received: from ( [])
by with SMTPS id a184sor1681237qke.149.2017.
for <>
(Google Transport Security);
Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:14:31 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: pass ( domain of designates as permitted sender) client-ip=;
dkim=pass header.s=20150623 header.b=Ev0UvhD9;
spf=pass ( domain of designates as permitted sender)
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed;; s=20150623;
X-Google-DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed;; s=20161025;
X-Gm-Message-State: AMCzsaVMAYt46cG72Q+gilUv8VdQ+sy5r+KLcKu3yvZ804/XomcsUBmL VFTBfj8eK6FmGuPV/OwrBkunXMfgseHWYf+PH0ThUQ==
X-Google-Smtp-Source: AOwi7QBB610tnIas/Try6wpkQUFaCW0WckIeIvHWwfg3ca1mgOneiK+yGwhGOHqxOGqrhby7Cdzd9I83ocIbNbpZmGA=
X-Received: by with SMTP id g186mr8061174qke.347.1506626070824; Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:14:30 -0700 (PDT)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Received: by with HTTP; Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:14:30 -0700 (PDT)
X-Originating-IP: []
From: Email Test <>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2017 14:14:30 -0500
Message-ID: <>
Subject: Hi
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
Hi there.

Big difference for such a short message but it is still pretty easy to read as the content of the message was in plain text. This is the way email was designed and it was never really meant to carry today's payload of images, html and javascript. Below is the same email with a modern email signature with all the various social media hooks:

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 2.54.00 PM.png

Here's the additional code that now appears at the bottom of every email you send:

<table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" border="0" style="background: none; border-width: 0px; border: 0px; margin: 0; padding: 0;">
<tr><td colspan="2" style="padding-bottom: 5px; color: #F7751F; font-size: 18px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Email Test</td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2" style="color: #333333; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><i>Overlord</i></td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2" style="color: #333333; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Operations</td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2" style="color: #333333; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><strong>Visibil.IT</strong></td></tr>
<tr><td width="20" valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; width: 20px; color: #F7751F; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">p:</td><td valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">256-665-9282&nbsp;&nbsp;<span style="color: #F7751F;">m:&nbsp;</span>256-555-0000</td></tr>
<tr><td width="20" valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; width: 20px; color: #F7751F; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">a:</td><td valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">200 Dan Tibbs Road</td></tr>
<tr><td width="20" valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; width: 20px; color: #F7751F; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">&nbsp;</td><td valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">Suite 200</td></tr>
<tr><td width="20" valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; width: 20px; color: #F7751F; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;">w:</td><td valign="top" style="vertical-align: top; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;"><a href="" style=" color: #1da1db; text-decoration: none; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px;"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<span style="color: #F7751F;">e:&nbsp;</span><a href="" style="color: #1da1db; text-decoration: none; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px;"></a></td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2" style="padding-bottom: 8px; padding-top: 5px;"><img src=""></td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2"><a href="" style="border-width:0px; border:0px; text-decoration: none;"><img width="25" height="25" style="border: none; width: 25px; max-width: 25px !important; height: 25px; max-height: 25px !important;" src=""></a></td></tr>
<tr><td colspan="2" style="padding-top: 10px;"><a href=" " style="border-width:0px; border:0px; text-decoration: none;">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="Inbound Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="Email Marketing Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="HubSpot Marketing Software Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="HubSpot Sales Software Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="Inbound Sales Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="Partner Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="HubSpot Design Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="Contextual Marketing Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="Contextual Marketing Certification">
<img width="35" height="34" style="border: none; width: 35px; max-width: 35px !important; height: 34px; max-height: 34px !important;" src="" alt="Growth-Driven Design Agency Certification">

That's a huge difference for a message that just says "Hi there." Also notice all the links to external websites to pull images and data from. Not only does this slow email display time down on the recipient devices, but the external websites are what the spam filter focuses on. Things that can get these external sites scored higher on a spam filter:

  • If anyone on any email service, such as gmail, marked a message as spam using the same company that generated your signature.

  • The signature company's website has been marked as dangerous by a spam reporting service.

  • If a mass marketing email campaign with that signature was used and marked as spam.

  • If the signature is too image or link heavy. Each item adds more to the spam score.

  • If new spam definitions contain a false positive signature (Something that scored low in the past could score high now due to any non-text elements.)

Keep your email signature simple. Keep it plain text. 

Now a blast from the past. Even in the before time, people tried to out do each other on email signatures. Here's one of my favorite: