Laptop Battery Lives ARE Way Too Short

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Laptop computers have been pretty darn great since they made their arrival and offered the portable alternative to a desktop. Being able to fold open a 13 or 15” workstation and hop onto a network has been an advantage that nearly all of us take advantage of on a very regular basis, and it’s quite possible you’re reading this on a notebook or laptop right now. Whatever you want to call them, they’re a huge part of our working and private lives, but one of the realities with a laptop is that you don’t dare travel very far or long from home base without the charging cable in tow.

We’ve yet to meet a laptop that has an impressive battery, and one of the things about them – whether Mac OR PC – is that that they tend to hold charges even less well as they get older. The basics of that is understandable, as nothing works as well as it did when it was younger and computing hardware is no exception. Older smartphones have their battery dies very quickly too, but in all fairness here iPhones are MUCH worse than Android phones in that way, and don’t think for a moment that isn’t intentional on Apple’s part.

But today we’re talking about laptops only, and looking more deeply into the why and how of laptop batteries being such a disappointment. This is a topic of interest here at 4GoodHosting in the same way it would be for any reliable Canadian web hosting provider because so many of us are on our laptops daily in the same way you are, and quite often they’re not plugged in – either by necessity or the fact we don’t want to be cabled up for whatever reason.

We are web hosting experts in Canada, but we’re not tech experts to the same extent. In the last little while we’ve learned a little bit about why laptop batteries die so quickly, so that’s what we’re going to look at here with this week’s entry.

Faster All the Time

Sure, laptop and CPU makers do urge you to upgrade your PC as the performance can’t keep up with the latest hardware. But the biggest reason someone would make that move is because the device’s battery life is probably exponentially worse than when they first bought it. There are a number of primary factors that go into this, but all that most people will need to know is that on average a laptop’s battery life capacity will go down by around 16% every year.

That is based on average real-world use, and of course some people will be putting their laptop through its paces much more emphatically. For most their charge-discharge cycles is much more uneven than they’d like, although newer laptops do charge more quickly than older models.

Reality is that charging and discharging your laptop’s battery reduces its lifespan, but using your device in the way most people do means that is unavoidable. Never letting it discharge fully, and never letting it charge fully to 100% is best and a lot of people won’t be aware of that. One thing that is interesting these days is how many manufacturers are including applications that prevent you from charging your PC to 100 percent, and the Surface Laptop Studio is a good example via the Surface app.

Smart Charge if Possible

The battery sub menu in Windows 11 Settings is where you’ll want to look to see if this is a possibility with your device. Between it and the Surface app you should be able to turn on smart charging. Microsoft has a number of tools to learn about battery life, but even if you don’t have a surface the Settings menu can be used on all Windows 11 PCs.

Look for your Windows battery report tool too to learn more about how much battery power is available to a PC, and even though it is not easy to find it’s a quick and effective reference. The Windows battery capacity history often reveals a steep drop in battery life over time.

Windows also estimates actual battery lifetimes. It isn’t entirely accurate with the fact how people use laptops will change over time. There’s been studies that have shown that from an active battery life of 9 hours 56 minutes in October 2021, Windows’ current estimate came in at just 7 hours 31 minutes for the Surface Laptop Studio’s battery life.

This works out to the laptop’s battery falling by nearly 2:30 over just one year’s time, and that works out to an estimated 24% decrease in actual battery life.

Not much to be done there, but you can learn how to use the Windows battery report tool. The Windows 11 Settings control (System > Power & battery) will only show the battery state of your laptop for the past 7 days, and without the details you need to really determine how well your laptop battery is retaining its vitality.

 

Improving Network Security for 5G

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The way 5G network connectivity is set to revolutionize the digital world really isn’t grasped to the extent it should be by a lot of people, but what is right now a trickle when it comes to seeing it worked into mainstream applications is set to soon become a torrent. Of course for many people the only real look into it they’re making is whether their new smartphone is 5G enabled and what that means they can do on an individual level. Which is fine, but like stated the relevance of 5G is about to become super apparent to everyone in the near future.

Not surprising that cyber security and the increasing emergence of 5G networks are moving in step with each other, as the ever-expanding risks with data breaches and other types of malicious activity are going to be magnified quite a bit with 5G. So the question for developers is what will be the best ways to ensure that the reach of 5G doesn’t mean that bad actors have a whole lot more reach too. This is a topic that nearly everyone will take some degree of interest in, but especially those of us here at 4GoodHosting in the same way it would be for any good Canadian web hosting provider.

The way we browse and interact within the World Wide Web is going to be wholly changed by 5G too, and that means everyone like us is going to need to be able to pivot as needed. So let’s take a deeper dive into the need for better 5G network security in the very near future with this week’s blog entry here.

New Needs for Modern Enterprise Networking

One of the most highly anticipated technology advancements in recent memory is definitely the rollout of 5G. So much is being made about the advantages for consumers, but organizations are also set to benefit significantly. Next-generation cellular performance and low latency are going to be great, there are still some with valid concerns about whether 5G for business will meet all the security requirements of modern enterprise networking.

Let’s start with the fact that cellular-enabled Wireless WAN (WWAN) has been capable of enterprise-grade security at the network’s edge for a long time already. Plus in actuality 5G is already even more secure than 4G was to date, and that’s because of new developments at the network core level. 5G has prompted several key changes, and the biggest of them has been new authentication frameworks.

The 5G protocol has demanded new and better authentication frameworks, and they’ve arrived. Most are based upon a well-established and widely used IT protocol called extensible authentication protocol (EAP) that is open, network agnostic, and increasingly secure.

Enhanced subscriber privacy has become a priority too, and developers have met that need too. 5G offers privacy improvements against attacks happening when a false base station pages the user equipment and requests it comes out of idle. The International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) is not used in paging with 5G and the amount of text exchanged is much lower. The network also performs analytics on the radio environment, detecting anomalous base stations.

Security Plus Agility

Improved core network agility and security has become a priority too. The 5G network core moves to a Service-Based Architecture (SBA) and made possible by a set of interconnected Network Functions (NFs), that authorize each other’s services. An SBA makes for plug-and-play software, agile programming, and network slicing that streamlines operations and makes further innovation much more likely.

The next need in the process of being addressed is extended roaming security: The 5G standard presents enhanced interconnect security between network operators. It is centered on a network function called Security Edge Protection Proxy (SEPP) and this Proxy is set up at the edge of each network operator’s 5G network. Each operator’s SEPP must be authenticated, and application layer security protects traffic.

For Private Networks Too

Private 5G networks are going to be a priority for organizations with large areas requiring secure LAN-like connectivity so they are able to deploy their own PCN – private cellular network. Controlling their own PCNs becomes possible for companies by implementing localized micro towers and small cells what work like individual access points. This is like a version of a public network that’s been scaled down, except you control quality of service as well as the security.

The last thing to see in all of this for now is how 5G is the first cellular network specification to embrace virtualization entirely, and this will offer significant cost savings for implementing otherwise expensive physical network cores. Network slicing will improve the reliability, speeds and low latency of 5G can by balancing the components of the network so they share the right information with the appropriate VNFs – virtual network functions.

Companies all over the world are set to roll out 5G connectivity for a range of applications, in industries ranging from mining to automakers to retail and in food services too. All of them can have better capacities for scaling safely and quickly through the deployment of cloud-manageable wireless edge routers and security layers. Made possible in a cohesive manner with 5G network connectivity.

Blockchain-Built Web 3 Improvements Underway

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Crypto has been talked about more than enough, even though there are plenty of people who don’t know that it has values that go far beyond just financials. At the root of all its capabilities is blockchain, and again most people are at least aware of how the technology of it has so much potential for improving much of everything humans do on larger scales. Yes, cryptocurrency is in a bit of a slum right now but the technology as a whole is going strong and blockchain is doing extremely well in making up the building blocks of Web 3.

That’s a term that some may not know as well, but it’s for applications built off distributed, user-owned blockchains and the promise it has for speeding up improvements in all sorts of areas is nearly immeasurable. Healthcare and financial security are front and center there, and the reason this of interest to a good Canadian web hosting provider like 4GoodHosting is also because Web 3 has the potential to factor into what we do as a service provider too. There is a lot to look forward to if Web 3 gets off the ground the way we all want it too.

There’s always going to be bugs in any type of new largest-scale digital development though, and when it comes to blockchain the biggest concern is with reliable, consistent performance that is going to be needed if Web 3 is to be leaned on the way people hope to be able to. So this is what we’ll look at with this week’s entry as it is one of those topics that’s worthy of a longer look if you have any sort of interest in getting as much as possible out of your investment in digital.

Multi-User Functionality

Over the next 10 years or so billions of people are going to begin using applications built off distributed, user-owned blockchains as part of the emergence of Web 3. One the ongoing biggest issues with blockchain networks is the need for an efficient way of detecting and resolving performance problems. Current analytics tools for monitoring websites and apps are right now designed for one user for the most part.

A key part of the decentralized world of the blockchains is users being owners, and this means traditional maintenance models simply don’t work. Fortunately what is starting to be seen are suites of tools to help the distributed communities of the blockchain world monitor and improve their networks. Users are now more able to create alerts, access reports, and view real-time community dashboards that visualize network performance, problems, and trends over time.

The viability of this extends to popular blockchain protocols like Ethereum, Algorand, Flow, Birdfat and Solana.

Addressing Decentralized Structure

The reality is that right now blockchains lack monitoring and operational intelligence, and the reason for this is because the structure of blockchains tends to be decentralized. Users operate as a node in the system by creating, receiving, and moving data through their server. When they come to a problem, they need to determine if the problem lies within their node – or involves the entire network.

The solution is going to be setting up open-source nodes across the globe that pull data from the nodes and networks before aggregating it into easy-to-understand reports and other tools. This is integral to enabling Web 3, and making sure that she does it for free because blockchains are no longer niche technology. They’re being adopted all over the place and in nearly every industry.

Ethereum is most notable here with the way it is really upping the level with applications and smart contracts, creating what are essentially decentralized, smart computers. An offshoot of advances likes this will be the growth in services for the many applications being built on top of those infrastructures. Improving blockchain performance is not simply going to be about optimizing networks, it is also going to be about speeding entry into the world of open finance and open applications that Web 3 promises.

Web Application Security Best Practices

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Many of you may not need to know what an enterprise stack is, but if you do then there’s a darn good chance you either have one or you’re responsible for one. Businesses have no choice but to have their operations tailored to digital operating realities nowadays, and being visible online with their website is the only connection that a lot of people will make with that. What they won’t know is that any business relies heavily on data in ways that didn’t exist 20+ years ago, and that is where the real importance lies when it comes to those new digital realities.

Software applications are commonly an enterprise stack’s weakest link. A 2020 report found that over 70% of external hacks result from vulnerabilities with software and web applications, and this pushes the need for better web application security. This is beyond the scope our expertise here at 4GoodHosting, as providing good web hosting in Canada is where we’re your best bet but having all the workings of your site being secure is something that everyone can see as important. So let’s use this entry to share what we DO know from doing a little reading of our own.

So what is web application security exactly? It is the process of protecting your website and online services against cybersecurity threats that take aim at the app’s coding. Database administration tools like phpMyAdmin, content management systems like WordPress, and SaaS apps are the most common targets for web-app attacks.

All Devices at Risk

Hackers then use the breached apps to attack devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers when they have access to the internet. Sensitive personal information is often contained here, and this makes them appealing targets for hackers who’d like that data for performing fraudulent transactions. Retail, finance, government, and healthcare sectors are more likely to see cyber-attacks because organizations in these sectors hold massive databases containing personal and financial data.

Companies lose the trust of their customers with security breaches, and that’s very understandable. Significant financial losses can result too. Look no further than the $575 million penalty given to Equifax because of a 2017 data breach that exposed the data of over 145 million customers. Data security should be taken seriously, and so here are best practices for web application security.

  1. Ensure Full Data Encryption

Data encryption takes readable data and converts it into encrypted data that is only readable after the user or recipient uses a security key. Encryption of both static and transit data is crucial for data security, and anyone and everyone can start by getting an SSL certificate. They work well for making your website secure. Next, if you haven’t transitioned your website to HTTPS then that is something you should so as soon as you can get around to it.

Next, don’t store sensitive user information such as user IDs, passwords, and financial details in plain text. A password storage app is a much better choice.

 

  1. Do Risk Assessment

Risk assessment allows your organization to view its application portfolio from the perspective that a potential attacker would have. This will let you identify, assess, and implement security controls over your applications. Here is the 4-step process for this

Identification – list all the critical applications in your technology stack and create a risk profile for each

Assessment – determine type and volume of data each application handles, the number of users accessing it at a given time, and the likelihood of unauthorized users attempting to gain access to it

Mitigation – Identify ways to reduce the impact of security breaches with mitigation strategies, and there is plenty of information on the web about what you can do in this regard

  1. Keep a Data Backup

Backing up your website, user information, and application data will not thwart all data security threats. Backups are particularly useful if you encounter malware attacks that primarily target things like ecommerce platforms. It is common for web hosting providers to be able to provide backups of your data in cloud-based storage.

With mission-critical data, you should back up your databases on daily basis. If your business is software development, you can use a code repository like Git that will allow you to roll back to specific code changes.

  1. Regularly Site Scans

Safety and security of your web app will always benefit from scanning your website regularly, and once every week is best. Also don’t just rely on one scanner to do all the work for you. It’s common for malware to be structured in a way that isn’t readily detectable by scanners.

  1. Use Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) provides a filter for traffic between a server and its clients. This will prevent malicious requests from intruding into your web application and core infrastructure. It inspects all incoming traffic and stops different types of risky behavior before they happen.

Network-based: installed on specialized hardware and filter all incoming traffic to a server. Best for low latency

Host-based: Fully integrated into the web application and operate at the software level. Complicated to implement and maintain and take up more system resources.

Cloud-based: Implemented in a specialized cloud and does not require any upfront costs on the web application developer. Not much in the way of customizability.

  1. Use a Content Security Policy

Protecting applications on the client-side is important too. A content security policy stops cyberattacks that involve hijacking websites as displayed on a user’s screen and ensures that only content from sources you approve is displayed. Tactics such as cross-site scripting (XSS) are prevented by having a good CSP. Malicious hackers can use XSS to convince your website that their content is legitimate and should be executed.