Broadcast Video from the Air

More than 600 municipal law enforcement agencies have helicopters for aerial surveillance and observation, but few of them have real-time video feeds for responders on the ground. The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office was one of those agencies. Although Greenville is South Carolina’s most populous county, and the Greenville Sheriff’s department has over 400 deputies and 100 additional employees, they still couldn’t get real-time video from their Bell OH58C helicopter to their mobile command center and responders in the field. Industry standard COTS microwave systems are expensive, require multiple towers, and line-of-sight transmission. Using an off-the-shelf microwave transmission system was not only cost prohibitive, it was a massive undertaking. Adequate coverage of Greenville County with a microwave system would have required finding, leasing, or erecting towers to cover 800 square miles. The only field alternative was a $10,000 handheld receiver that still required line-of-sight connection to the Helicopter.

Frontier’s Peplink Partner Creates the Solution

The Greenville Sheriff’s department worked with Joe Schmauch of Greenville Media, a helicopter pilot himself, to find a better way to broadcast the video into the field than the off-the-shelf microwave systems. Greenville media is one of Frontier’s Certified Peplink partners, and worked with Taylor Avery, Frontier Computer’s Peplink Technical Manager to develop the proof of concept for sending real-time video to all responders. They configured a system using Peplink’s SpeedFusion secure VPN, Bandwidth Bonding, and Hot Failover. The result is a cost effective system that uses existing cellular assets in the community without additional infrastructure. Schmauch brought in Mark Robison of VITEC to improve the broadcast stream quality and video compression/error correction. With the Peplink System, the Sheriff’s department can send broadcast quality video to headquarters, a mobile command center, and directly to deputies responding at the scene in real-time. The full HD stream is broadcast with error correction and less than a two second delay.


At Headquarters a Peplink Balance 210 establishes four SpeedFusion VPN tunnels to receive the encrypted video stream from the Pepwave HD2 IP67 in the helicopter. The stream is also instantly and securely transmited through the SpeedFusion tunnels to the Pepwave HD4 in the Mobile Command Center. SpeedFusion bonds the Cellular WAN links into an unbreakable high speed connection that is more robust than any single cellular connection alone. Seeing the results from the Peplink Configuration, Mark Robison who usually works with video broadcast through Microwave transmission, was impressed with the quality and low latency.

“This use case implements Peplink bonded cellular to replace line-of-sight microwave transmission systems. It is orders of magnitude less expensive, and is more robust even than the microwave COTS solution that is currently the most well-known alternative approach.” — Mark Robison, VITEC

The system provides a steady broadcast quality video from the helicopter to both headquarters and the mobile command center, with a less than a two second delay. Over a secure CDN, the video streams are also shared to department cell phones and to other first responders. The Greenville Sheriff’s Department shares their aerial observation abilities with other agencies through a mutual aid agreement. With a FLIR camera, the chopper shows firefighters on the ground real-time thermal images from the air. The Pepwave outfitted Bell helicopter has been dispatched beyond Greenville to assist with other efforts including hurricane response. From any remote location the HD2 in the chopper can send video back to headquarters, and from there to anywhere in the world.

Frontier is the World’s Largest Peplink Distributor with more than 600 partner integrators in North America and Europe4.

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New Peplink IP67 Router for Worksite, Maritime, and Mobile

The Peplink HD2 Dome with the Ethernet Splitter attached.

Peplink has been the go-to solution for rugged and outdoor applications that require cellular Internet, but recently they have added a unit that will redefine outdoor cellular routers. The new HD2 Dome offers the unique innovation of an antenna and dual radio cellular router in one enclosure, built for any weather conditions.

Built-in Antenna Eliminates Cable Loss

All cellular routers deployed in outdoor applications require external LTE antennas. Ideally the remote antenna should be installed in the highest location for the best reception. For maritime and field applications that can mean 50 feet or more of cable. Even a high quality low-loss cable will give up about .5 dBi per meter. A quality high-gain external antenna will have a 6-8 dBi gain, but even a 40 foot cable can absorb most or all of that gain. The HD2 Dome’s 2×2 MIMO antennas are part of the circuits, without connectors and cabling, which means that their full 2-5 dBi gain is delivered to the cellular radios. The lightweight HD2 Dome can be easily mounted at the top of a mast, pole or roof, for maximum reception without losing any signal in long cables and connectors.

The HD2 Dome can be powered and attached to the network with a single PoE Ethernet cable.
Single Wire Installation

In addition to no antenna cables, no separate power wires are needed. The HD2 Dome connects to the network with a single PoE Ethernet cable. The Internet signal from the HD2 Dome can travel through more than 300 feet of Ethernet cable with no loss. The HD2 dome is ideal for pole or mast mounting outdoors where the signal is needed as much as a football field away.

Unbreakable Cellular Connection

Each of the HD2 Dome’s Dual LTEA radios have redundant SIM card slots. Peplink’s SpeedFusion technology, with hot failover and bandwidth bonding is included with the HD2 Dome. The HD2 Dome can use the strongest cellular networks to assure your connection never breaks. SpeedFusion’s Bandwidth bonding can build one wide connection from two cellular links.

The components included: The HD2 Dome, Ethernet Splitter, and universal mounting bracket.
Mount it Anywhere

The HD2 Dome includes a full range of mounting options. The main unit has an M35 thread for pole mounting, but the other options are included. The HD2 Dome comes with an Ethernet splitter. The splitter enables a second gigabit LAN port and can be used as a second mounting option. With the Ethernet splitter attached an included pivot mounting bracket can be attached for articulating surface or pole mounting.

Extend the HD2 Dome Capabilities with the SIM Injector

The HD2 Dome can be paired with the Pepwave SIM Injector to add eight additional SIM cards, or when the HD2 Dome is mounted in an inaccessible location, a SIM Injector can replace the HD2 Dome’s internal SIMs. If the HD2 Dome is mounted atop an 80 foot mast, the SIM Injector, with its eight card slots can be mounted inside the cabin for easy SIM access. While the HD2 Dome is ideal for worksite, maritime, and mobile applications, several other application will benefit from the potential for remote installations without antenna cables that degrade cellular signals, and the simplicity of single Ethernet wire connectivity. The HD2 Dome is available for order now at Frontier Computer.

Frontier is the World’s Largest Peplink Distributor with more than 600 partner integrators in North America, Europe, and Africa.

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Peplink included in Gartner Report

Gartner WAN Edge ReportGartner needs no introduction to anyone in the IT world. They are the objective reference source for both existing and emerging technology. Gartner is the tech world’s Oxford English Dictionary, Consumer Reports, and Farmer’s Almanac all rolled into one. It could be argued that an IT trend isn’t real until Gartner reports on it. Gartner’s Magic Quadrants are the Who’s Who of IT market segments.

In this, their first WAN Edge Magic Quadrant, Gartner predicts that by 2023 90% of all WAN Edge replacements will be based on virtual appliances (vCPE) or SD-WAN rather than traditional routers. To simplify, Edge technology is a device or system that creates the virtual or physical boundaries of a network. Traditionally those have been hardware; your data center was the edge of your network. The data center was where your business network started and from there connected to other networks beyond it, including the Internet. As more businesses are eliminating in-house data centers the Edge of the network has become a virtual rather than physical device.

Peplink Makes the Cut

The WAN Edge marketplace, once dominated by the giants like VMware and Cisco, has become a larger sector with several providers at many levels. This first Gardner Magic Quadrant signifies that what started as a trend is now the direction. Peplink’s inclusion in this first Magic Quadrant cannot be overlooked. Peplink has met many required inclusion factors: a significant number of customer installations, a long list of basic and advanced product capabilities, financial performance, and commercial support. Many larger companies did not make the cut, including HP’s Aruba.

Gartner noted that in North America more than 60% of WAN Edge installations are DIY, as opposed to a managed service approach. They predict that of the 90% of businesses replacing traditional data centers, more than half will want a solution they control and manage rather than a vendor controlled package. This could be one of the reasons Peplink has a place in this report. Many Peplink adopters note the ease of both initial set-up and continued management as an early positive in the Peplink experience. Peplink’s ease of installation and user accessible features are ideal for the North American market.

Peplink Leading in Cellular Connections

The report also identified some unique advantages Peplink brings to WAN Edge installations. Peplink was the only company listed that was specifically noted as “optimized for applications where bandwidth is limited.” Gartner recognized Peplink’s expertise and ease in integrating cellular connections, noting “Peplink has a rich set of WAN management and troubleshooting capabilities, particularly relating to wireless issues.”

The report further noted “Peplink can support a large number of links in its platforms and can bond multiple links (wired and wireless) into a single logical link to deliver high-bandwidth connections where others cannot.” Gartner cited one of Peplink’s direct competitor’s lack of T1/M1 interfaces and WAN optimization as a weakness, and noted that the competitor does not offer a Virtual Appliance like Peplink’s FusionHub. Peplink integrates all types of connection, from T1, DSL, and Cable to Satellite and Cellular, which sets it apart from others in the segment. The FusionHub virtual appliance means Peplink’s SpeedFusion bonding, failover, and WAN smoothing technology can be installed inside any cloud architecture without physical hardware.

SD-WAN as a Cost-Saving Measure

In the Market Forecast section Gartner notes: “Many Gartner clients hope to fund their WAN expansion/update by replacing or augmenting expensive MPLS connections with internet-based VPNs, often from alternate providers.” Peplink’s unique ability to integrate all connections has made it a leader for MPLS replacement. Frontier partners using Peplink have built many large MPLS replacements saving customers significant IT dollars and reducing the connection failure risks associated with a single provider. As wireless connections increase and become faster, Peplink is the primary company with experience integrating cellular to supplement or replace wired connections. Gartner cautions, “However, suitability of internet connections varies widely by geography, and service providers.” They warn that as the number of connections and providers increase, so does the complexity. SD-WAN, as provided by Peplink, “has dramatically simplified” integration of multiple sources into one stable connection. At several places in the report, Gartner notes the problems with limited Internet access when adopting WAN Edge deployments, an issue Peplink solved many years ago.

Peplink has been a leader in SD-WAN technology, and as Gartner predicted, 90% of WAN Edge installs will be vCPE or SD-WAN, not traditional routers. Using SD-WAN technology, businesses are freed from the legacy suppliers of enterprise routing. Gartner reports, “The emergence of SD-WAN has demonstrated that routing has been democratized and that many vendors are as good, or perhaps even better, at branch office routing than the incumbents.”

Other than recognition, there is nothing earth shattering in the Gartner Magic Quadrant report, but it is a solid, authoritative acknowledgement of Peplink’s importance in the SD-WAN/WAN Edge segment. It will come as no surprise to the thousands of installed users that Peplink is alone in its ability to use all connections in creating a virtual Edge network, and that Peplink is a leader in wireless connectivity even where bandwidth is limited.

Frontier is the World’s Largest Peplink Distributor with more than 600 partner integrators in North America, Europe, and Africa.

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Disrupt Your Own Market

photo by Octavian Rosca

If you are ever having trouble sleeping, pick up an article on Digital Disruption. Instead of counting sheep you can count the jargon crammed into every sentence. Sentences with four or more nonsense words get a score of 2. Sentences earn an extra point when every single word is easily understood, but combine into gibberish. The points mean nothing and you don’t have to keep score; you will be asleep by the third sentence.

Here’s a jargon laden jewel from the Gartner IT Glossary: “Digital disruption is an effect that changes the fundamental expectations and behaviors in a culture, market, industry or process that is caused by, or expressed through, digital capabilities, channels or assets.” Yikes. In that mumbo-jumbo there is a nugget of wisdom. The broad concept of Digital Disruption is helpful for describing something we all inherently understand. Let’s translate that Gartner definition: Digital Disruption is when technology changes the way consumers buy things or do stuff.

• People bought books at bookstores. Now they buy them on-line. Amazon used technology to change (disrupt) the way people buy books (and now pretty much everything else).

• People watched their favorite TV shows when they were scheduled. Networks owned the programing and some people planned their days around the network schedule. Now people expect to watch TV when they want to.

• People carried cash. It was the default for commerce when nothing else worked. Now, an entire generation of consumers grew up without cash. Credit and debit cards are being replaced with phone and watch payments. It won’t be long before cash will only be used to pay babysitters and drug dealers, but both are probably taking payments on their phones with Square. Easy, secure payments have disrupted the world of currency.

There is nothing complicated about Digital Disruption. You don’t need a consultant to tell you that any enterprise dependent on limited customer choice or a captive audience will falter when technology opens access. If your business relies on a protected market, or restricted consumer knowledge, your days are numbered.

Lead or Perish

Following digital trends is chasing your tail. You can’t just keep up, and it’s not enough to innovate, for innovations sake. Innovation has to improve your customers’ experience and access. Many small business were built on social media. It was the emerging technology and some people who jumped on quickly had success. But the same social media strategy that worked to sell housewives* yoga pants is not a model that will sell sandpaper to machine shops. Social Media is yesterday’s news, and is now the norm, not disruptive. By the time a market disruption is observed, it’s too late for anything but a me-too position.

The key to digital disruption is creating your own — your own disruption, not your own technology. Again, Gartner is the authority here if you can make sense of their MBAspeak. “Understanding the potential for disruption related to customer outcomes requires an understanding of the value chains within intended customer markets/segments.” Wait, what? Let’s translate: When you know what your customers want, and where they struggle, you can find technology to give them more of what they need, and less of what gets in the way.

Back to the example of network TV: People love episodic entertainment, but they had to make network broadcasts fit their schedules. Networks exploited the very thing people disliked the most, scheduling. They tried to own a night, as with NBC’s “Must See Thursdays” when Seinfeld ruled. The first technology to disrupt this was the VCR, and its refinement, TiVo. People could record and watch shows later, and on their schedules. It took away some of the scheduling problem, but shows were still portioned out in tiny bits like carrots leading the mule.

Streaming technology ended network television (it’s over, they just haven’t figured it out yet). Netflix delivered the deathblow when they released entire seasons of shows in one day. Viewers aren’t going to wait six months to find out what happens when they can find another show that gives them the whole story at their own pace. Not to pick on Network Television, but they are the perfect example of what happens when an industry fights or ignores disruption. When it became clear that owning a night of television was over, networks tried a new strategy, randomly moving favorite shows to different nights to draw an audience to specific day. It didn’t work. Rather than moving viewership, they alienated their customers who expected a specific show in a specific time slot. When their favorite show wasn’t where they expected, they didn’t go looking for it, they turned to Netflix to find something new.

Learn from Netflix

Netflix didn’t disrupt the television industry by creating technology. They used developing technology to give their subscribers what they always wanted, television on their schedules. Netflix didn’t invent the Internet, they didn’t wire it to houses, and they didn’t increase bandwidth. Instead Netflix identified a growing technology and started using it before it was even widely adopted. As more people had increasing bandwidth coming into their homes, Netflix gave them something to do with it.

You do not disrupt your market by creating technology. Creating your own market disruption requires fully understanding what your customers need from your products or services. It requires knowing what aspects of the buying process your customers dislike, but tolerate to get to the good parts. Once you have identified where your customer struggles, you have to find, modify, and exploit technology to reduce or eliminate that pain.

Digital Disruption is a new term for an old concept. In the 19th century the key to success was building a better mousetrap. Digital Disruption is identifying existing technology that gets rid of the mice without a trap at all.

Frontier can help you find the tools you need to disrupt your market.

Contact Frontier at 866.226.6344.

*Housewives still exist, and businesses ignore them at their own peril.

Replacing an LTE Antenna

Our customer installed a Poynting LPDA-92 antenna in the same location and orientation as her previous antenna, but she wasn’t getting better reception. We turned to Poynting in South Africa for an answer. Their engineer’s response is worth sharing. The original is filled with technical language and delightful but confusing British phrasing. We’ve translated it into American and condensed it.

When a new Poynting antenna is installed to replace another brand, it will have different characteristics than the previous one. We recommend treating the installation of an upgraded antenna as a new installation. There are several reasons. The most obvious is that two antennas from different manufacturers, even with similar specifications, will have different radiation patterns.

A Poynting antenna will deliver an even gain over its entire frequency range with a smooth radiation pattern. In contrast, a different antenna may have gain spikes in one segment of the frequency band, or at one point in the radiation pattern. If the old antenna is placed SSE 167° and receiving a good signal, it does not assure that the tower is at SSE 167°. One off-axis spike in the antenna’s pattern could be picking up a stray signal from the side. To quote the Poynting engineer, “with the previous installation they may have just been lucky to receive some spurious signal from an adjacent angle.” Installing a new antenna in the same location, without the flaws of the old antenna could result in no reception improvement, or even lower reception. The answer is to re-orientate the new Poynting antenna as part of its installation.

Locate the network cell towers before you install the antenna.

It is not always clear where cell signals originate. Locate nearby cellular sites by trying a combination of the following:

  • Check your cell provider’s web site. Sadly, this is a long shot because carriers don’t want to disclose this information, to either customers or competitors.
  • Ask your cell provider’s help desk or tech support. You are probably not going to get this information from the level 1 support people, but with persistence, you may find someone who can give you the locations of your nearest towers.
  • Use your eyes. Look for towers or rooftop sites (not all cellular sites are on towers). In Frontier’s home location, there is a cell tower disguised as very tall, oddly symmetrical pine tree.
  • Check, which will show existing towers and antennas. Unfortunately, it will not always tell you which carriers are using which towers, but it is one of the best indicators of tower locations. will allow a search by carrier. With its interesting coverage and broadcast diagrams, Cell Mapper will sometimes show that the site closest is not the one broadcasting in your direction. Antenna Search, Cell Mapper, and a little deduction can help you figure it out. Sources on the Internet change often, so a Google search is probably worth a try.

Finding your carrier’s nearest broadcast sites best achieved by using several of these resources.

Setting up the Antenna

Once the nearest cellular sites are determined, begin installation by pointing the antenna toward them and testing to refine the orientation. The nearest site or site with best Line of Sight (LOS) is usually preferred. A nearby site completely blocked by tall buildings, dense trees, or terrain features may offer less signal than one farther away with a clear path. The only way to identify the ideal location is to test more than one antenna orientation toward different cellular sites (see below).

When Cellular site locations are unknown

In situations where the locations of the cellular mobile network sites are unknown, and where the known locations do not provide sufficient results, we recommend the more methodical and involved process of testing in all the directions.

Point the antenna towards a direction where coverage is expected, or you can start in a known direction. Test your reception in this starting orientation. After your first test, redirect the antenna clockwise and test again. Keep repeating this until you have tested a full 360 degrees. The angle you move for each test depends on the horizontal beam width of your antenna. Test at an angle slightly less than the horizontal pattern width of your antenna.

For example, the Poynting LPDA-92 antenna has a beam width of approximately 50 degrees, so a 45-degree angle will be sufficient. For the LPDA-92, you would take measurements in eight different directions, 0, 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270 and 315 degrees. For any antenna, the beam width is different for each specific frequency band. Using the published data for your antenna, choose a test interval slightly less than the antenna’s narrowest horizontal angle.

How to measure the antenna performance in each direction.

You can measure the values with most LTE enabled routers, which are capable of reporting the cellular network signal strength and quality as RSRP, RSRQ, or SINR. Nearly every cell phone has a signal meter built-in, although it is mostly hidden from the consumer. It’s pretty easy to find on Android, under ABOUT DEVICE: STATUS. You can find it on iPhones too, but it’s not so easy (search Field Test Mode). The meter will show the value in –dBm. There are apps on the market that will show this as well.

LTE Signal Strength

It is best to reboot the device before each measurement to ensure that it is not holding on to the previous cellular site. A cellular router or cell phone can ‘lock’ onto the previous cellular site even when the new cellular site is available with a much better signal level and quality.

Take note of the signal strengths measured in each direction. Finally, use the best performing direction as the baseline and install the antenna in that direction. Even with a known antenna location, fine tune and further optimize the placement by re-testing at +20 degrees and -20 degrees from the determined position. It is a slower process, but the only way to assure you are finding the best performing antenna orientation.

General Tips
  • Although installing an antenna as high as possible is generally recommended, it is possible that the highest position is a weak coverage spot. In other words, vertical placement can make a difference. Poynting has found that a lower installation height achieves better results in few cases.
  • Cellular network signals and quality can fluctuate as much as 6 to 12 dB. A measurement taken now and a few moments later can differ substantially even if nothing apparent has changed. Reflections, interference, and load capacity cause signal variations. Network throughput can also change significantly for the same reasons.
  • Network topology and usage change over time, even from one minute to the next. If a previously tested antenna position begins to yield poor performance over time, you may have to re-test, and reorient the antenna. It is possible for a cellular site to become over used, or taken out of service. As the network design and topology changes, so will the experience change.
  • Poynting has many informative webinars on YouTube. This video gives a detailed overview of the factors involved in cellular reception.
  • An antenna can only pick-up an existing signal. If the ambient cellular signal has an RSRP -110dBi or less, it is unlikely even the best antenna can improve reception.

Frontier Computer stocks Poynting and Axxess Marine Antennas, WilsonPro and weBoost cellular amplifiers, and the entire Peplink and Pepwave lines of SD-WAN communications.

Contact Frontier at 866.226.6344.

IBM: Part Number, FRU, or Feature Code?


Way back in 2015 we published a similar article on the confusing world of IBM nomenclature. To this day, it is among our most searched posts. To make it easier to find, we are republishing this updated version.

Trying to navigate IBM hardware presents a seemingly endless array of numbers to describe processor speed, drive storage space, transfer rates, and a host of other characteristics. In the sea of IBM numbers, none are more confusing than part numbers, which are subdivided into marketing numbers, FRUs, and feature codes. In any IBM server installation there thousands of these numbers. Understanding the difference between a part (marketing) number, a FRU, and a feature code can save both time and money.

Part number

The Part Number, also called a Marketing Number, describes a specific part within a specific system among IBM’s various product lines. It is used to configure a new system or add features to an existing system. For example, if you want a dual port expansion card in an IBM Blade Center you would include 46M6140 when you build the system, or order it to add it later. These numbers tell IT infrastructure technicians exactly which parts are included in their servers, storage and networking equipment. The numbers are used in IBM marketing materials for technicians configuring new equipment. You can use a part/marketing number to find a replacement part, but it is not the primary reason that number exists. Some parts may not have a part number at all, if they are not for original purchase outside of a configured unit.


FRU stands for Field Replacement Unit. It is the number IBM uses to reference a part for repair. The FRU number may, or may not, be accompanied by a part number; some parts have a FRU only. Use FRU numbers to request spare or replacement parts. FRUs are the numbers IBM technicians will use when replacing a part. However, a FRU number may not be the only number associated with many parts, and the exact same part may have different FRU numbers in different countries or inside different systems. The FRU number indicates the IBM specified replacement part, but sometimes two identical parts can have different FRU numbers.

Feature Code

Inside IBM, they use the Feature Code to process orders. Finding a replacement part can be easier and cheaper if you know the Feature Code. IBM uses the feature code because any one IBM item can have twenty or more FRU or part numbers. For example, 36.4GB 10K SCSI drive with the feature code 3129 can have the part numbers 00P1519, 00P2676, 07N3774, 07N4803, and many others. While a you may be holding a faulty drive with IBM Part number 00P1519, that isn’t the only number indicating an exact replacement. To save time and money, try to find the feature code when replacing a part.

It is important to know the correct feature code for an IBM part, or to have a partner you can trust to provide the information. At Frontier, we have had customers come to us requesting a specific part number that may have the same feature code as many other part numbers. To go back to our 36.4GB SCSI drive with the feature code 3129, a customer may ask for part 00P2676. If they only have this specific part number and search the internet, they may find a reseller advertising that part number for $150, hoping their buyer doesn’t know the 00P2676 part number is a feature code 3129 drive, worth maybe $50. We will share the correct feature codes to assure our customers pay a competitive price for the IBM parts they need. If you are not well versed in features codes, it is important to have a vendor like Frontier that will reference the correct feature code when you ask for a specific part number.

If you have any questions about part numbers, FRUs or feature codes, give Frontier’s IBM team a call. We will tell you exactly what part you need, and which FRUs and feature codes will work as replacements.

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Ignore Email from the CEO

CEO Fraud Email

Maybe you shouldn’t ignore it, but at least wait a few minutes before responding to any urgent request. Nothing makes employees snap into action like a message from the CEO. Which is why CEO Fraud has become such a problem. No, Chief Executive Officers are not engaging in dirty deeds at any higher rate than they have before. Hackers, posing as CEOs, are using employee’s immediate deference to their top leader as a way to get sensitive company information and even bank accounts. Even if you and your staff are just hearing about it, CEO Fraud — better described as CEO Impersonation — is not new. In 2016, the FBI reported a one-year, 270% increase in CEO Fraud, or as they characterize it BEC (Business Email Compromise). The FBI reported 17,000+ victims and 2.3 billion in losses in a three-year period. Is your organization at risk?

As with most Social Engineering attacks, CEO Fraud is not a spam email from Nigeria written in broken English. These planned attacks start by learning about a company’s top executive. Using LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, as well as any information and interviews available in a Google search, thieves will build profiles of both the CEO and other employees. Using those profiles, they will find mid-level employees with access to accounts or records and find a weakness or distraction to exploit. Email imitating the CEO will be targeted to a specific employee. The request will be specific and urgent, but within the target employee’s authority. Because there is a natural reaction to please the boss, workers will put aside other tasks to complete the requests quickly. That sense of urgency is often all it takes to distract an otherwise cautious person into careless action.

While common sense is still the first defense against cyber fraud, there are additional red flags that should trigger extreme caution:

  • Any email or phone request with a short deadline or high level of URGENCY.
  • Any unfamiliar email signature.
  • Tone or language that doesn’t fit what is known about the alleged sender.
  • Any name or greeting using unfamiliar nicknames.
  • Unfamiliar email addresses or phone numbers.
  • Any requests that suggest or would require bypassing policies or standard procedures.

Even absent these indicators, a message can be fraud. Criminals are sophisticated, and the bigger the potential reward the greater care they will take in constructing the con.
Follow these steps to avoid CEO Fraud attacks:

  • Never answer requests for sensitive data or money transfers by replying.
  • Respond with a new email to the correct address you know from the company directory.
  • Respond to requests in a different form entirely. Confirm important requests with an instant message, text, or phone call, to numbers already known.
  • Never respond using contact information included in the original email.

One of the critical factors in cyber-attacks against humans is that it only takes one distracted person to succeed. You are reading this, so for now, you are not that weak link. What about the people in the next office? Every company needs a culture of security awareness, with constant reinforcement. Share this post. Start the conversation and keep your organization from being the next victim of CEO Fraud, Spear Phishing, or any of several other staff based cyber security attacks.

— ♦ —

Frontier security experts can schedule a security check-up and train your full staff to be alert to every cyber security threat.

Contact Frontier at

Contact Frontier to discuss your cyber security profile or schedule a security audit for your business.

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Specifying the Right Antenna

Whether you are trying to connect to WiFi or cellular the right antenna is a primary factor determining success. Bundled antennas often deliver minimum performance required for ideal installations, but many factors can interfere with, or attenuate signal transmission. The following chart shows the relative obstacles to radio wave transmission.

The frequency of a signal also effects how well waves transmit through obstacles and how well signals travel. Low frequency signals like the original 900 MHz bands for cellular are less susceptible to attenuation and travel well over longer distances. Higher frequency signals, like the newer channels used for LTE in the 1700-2500 MHz bands, are more prone to interference and don’t spread as far from the towers. T-Mobile is now using some channels in the 5.2 GHz and 5.7 GHz bands for LTEA Aggregation. These high frequency signals do not move well through barriers and require high tower density because the signal spread is shorter. For example, in dual band WiFi the 2.4 GHz signal will spread better through walls for a whole house installation; the 5 GHz signal, while stronger near the router, may only penetrate a single wall before attenuation makes the transmission unusable. As more bands are used with varying characteristics, mobile, remote, and M2M communications depend more on proper antennas.

Choose the Frequency Band, not the application

It is important to remember that antennas are agnostic to technology. An antenna tuned for 1.7 to 2.7 GHz will work equally well for Cellular, WiFi, or any other transmission within that range. When specifying an antenna upgrade, matching the correct frequency range is more important than the use specified for the antenna or even the stated gain. Since the frequency range is such an important factor, it is critical that an antenna actually delivers the full range advertised, often more important than higher gain.

Poynting antennas deliver level performance over their full frequency range, which is not the case for many other antennas. An antenna listed as having 5-dBi gain may have the 5-dBi gain at only one frequency within the range. The numerical gain is not as important as how widely the gain occurs in the radiation pattern. What distinguishes Poynting Antennas is that they deliver a flat gain across the full-specified frequency bands, a direct function of proper engineering and manufacture.

Example: the radiation pattern for the Poynting LPDA-0092 shows the directional gain pattern for each frequency segment in the specified range. While the off-axis transmission is different for each segment, the directional transmission both horizontally and vertically are nearly identical at all frequencies within the 60° beam width.

Often two antennas will have similar frequency and gain designations, while their results can be significantly different. A thin wire Omni antenna may be within a given frequency band, but the pattern response will be markedly uneven. A more substantial Omni pole antenna will have properly tuned elements inside, engineered to deliver an even pattern response. Poynting only sells careful engineered antennas designed for maximum performance.

Poynting Now Available

Earlier this year Frontier Computer became the US Distributor for Poynting Antenna. Poynting is a leader worldwide but has had limited availability in the United States.
Poynting is a unique company because is was founded by an electrical engineer. André Fourie, Ph.D. was a professor at University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and an electromagnetic and antenna consultant when he started Poynting in 2001. Dr. Fourie is listed on over 30 patents, has published more than 50 scholarly papers, and 4 books. He started Poynting to manufacture the antennas he wanted to see in the market. His expertise in antenna technology means Poynting Antennas are designed, from the concept through production to deliver the performance they specify.

Frontier has added Poynting to give our partners a high-quality antenna for their customers at a very competitive price. When integrators, providers, and VARs select Poynting antennas, they can be certain the products will deliver the performance their customers expect, which is why Frontier is stocking several Poynting models. Visit here for more information on specific Poynting antennas. Frontier Partners can add Poynting antennas to their product lines today. Apply here to become a Frontier Partner.

Frontier Computer stocks Poynting and Axxess Marine Antennas, WilsonPro and weBoost cellular amplifiers, and the entire Peplink and Pepwave lines of SD-WAN communications.

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Keep your RV Connected

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer travel season is here. Soon hundreds of thousands of couples, families, and adventurers will hit the road. From luxury travel coaches to towable RVs they will all have one thing in common. They will be traveling to new and unfamiliar places. Many of those places will be remote and tree covered. As a result, the familiar cellular connections of home will be gone. Staying connected is always a challenge when traveling, and even more so for RVers heading to the woods.

“The weBoost Drive 4G-X has been a game changer for our connectivity on the road.”

The weBoost Drive 4G-X RV is designed specifically to give RV travelers stronger cell signals in difficult conditions. Built by Wilson Electronics, with the same technology used in WilsonPro professional cellular amplifiers. The 4G-X RV is a complete, easy to install system. The entire system with all components, cables, and fasteners comes in one box for under $500.

“It has worked flawlessly and boosted cell signals in remote areas where we have never had a signal before!”

It starts with a high quality outdoor omnidirectional antenna. The antenna can be permanently mounted on the roof of an RV for maximum line-of-sight clearance. The outdoor antenna brings the signal inside to the booster unit which amplifies the signal up +50 dB, the maximum allowed by the FCC. The booster broadcasts the signal to users through a desktop antenna inside the vehicle. The desktop antenna can be moved anywhere, even outside, to create a cellular signal space that can accessed by up to four users at the same time.

“We were camped where there was no AT&T service and Verizon had 1 bar. With the booster AT&T could make calls and Verizon had 4G LTE.”

The Drive 4G-X RV system works in all Recreational Vehicles: Class A, Class C and all towables. It can be used parked or while on the road. The 4G-X RV is compatible with all phone brands and all North American cell carriers. It can boost a Verizon signal to an iPhone, an AT&T signal to a Samsung Galaxy, and a T-Mobile signal to a pay-as-you-go phone simultaneously.

“We are currently parked in an area of northern Idaho, and had to drive 3 to 4 miles to use our “hot spot”. After installing the weBoost 4G-X RV we get a consistent 4G signal throughout our coach”

The weBoost system can extend 4GLTE signals up to 32x for clear, uninterrupted calls and fast, reliable data connections. In the case of marginal or faint signals the weBoost can hold a call where even a text message would be have been impossible. If there is any signal at all, a Drive 4G-X RV can make it a usable connection.

Full Drive 4G-X RV Specs can be found here.

Frontier Computer stocks WilsonPro and weBoost cellular amplifiers.

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Drop-in Mode for Easy Multi-WAN

Multi-WAN networking has significantly changed the connectivity options for both small and large businesses. As little as 10 years ago, the only way to assure a fast, always-on connection to the Internet was with an expensive dedicated line to an ISP. Even then, the single connection was an eggs-in-one-basket solution. It was a good, solid basket, but businesses were dependent on their single ISP never going down. Multi-WAN technology allows a business to combine inexpensive local connections like cable, DSL, and even cellular to create a reliable, fast connection without the expense of dedicated lines. Despite the significant advantages of Multi-WAN connections, many businesses have avoided the technology because of the network reconfiguration required. If it ain’t broke, they don’t want to fix it.

Drop-In to the Rescue

Reacting to that concern, Peplink introduced Drop-in mode with several of their more advanced balance and cellular routers. Drop-In mode adds a Peplink router — and Multi-WAN connections — to an existing network without reconfiguration. Using Drop-in mode, a Peplink router can be installed between an existing ISP and the network firewall (Between the WAN and LAN) without any modification of the established network. There is no need to change network IP addressing or duplicate configurations from another router. Only a straightforward 30-minute set-up of the Peplink router is required. The existing network is unchanged. Once the Peplink router has been “dropped-into”, the network additional WAN connections can be added.

Many businesses have used Multi-WAN technology to add an inexpensive cellular back-up WAN connection to existing single WAN networks. As the benefits of cellular fail-over have become more widely understood, there has been a call for an affordable way to add cellular back up without changing existing network topology. To meet this demand, Peplink has introduced a $99 Drop-in mode license for their popular and affordable Pepwave BR Series. Drop-in mode is now available for all Peplink and Pepwave routers.

For well under $1,000 in hardware and an inexpensive monthly cellular data plan, the confidence and reliability of Multi-WAN failover is available to any business wanting to assure their internet connection never goes down. When a main connection slows or goes down, Peplink, using Multi-WAN technology, seamlessly switches to the high-speed cellular backup on the fly. The addition of the $99 drop-in mode has removed another obstacle to the certainty of an always-on connection; no modification of the existing network is required.

Contact Frontier Computer to find a Peplink reseller who can show you how easily your business can have a Multi-WAN network.

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Controlling Our Data

In an April 6, 2018 article on National Public Radio’s website, the writer, Vanessa Romo never references the soon to be implemented GDPR in Europe. She believes Facebook COO Sanberg’s promise that if they find more examples of data collected by Facebook getting into the wrong hands, they will notify the public. She accepts Sandberg’s apology that Facebook “didn’t do enough” to protect their user’s privacy. The writer seems comfortable with Facebook holding “a massive trove of user data.” With all due respect, Ms. Romo is asking all the wrong questions.

Amid all the political noise about Cambridge Analytica, and the horse-race coverage of Facebook’s stock price, Big Data Collectors have managed to keep the narrative, the press and the politicians away from the real question:

Should Facebook, Google, Amazon, or any other entity be allowed to collect and store extensive personal information about private individuals for the sole purpose of leveraging that information for wealth and power?

In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has at least partly answered this question. For more information on GDPR, you can read our November 3, 2017 blog, but in short, the answer in the EU is that they cannot collect data without the specific consent of each individual whose records are being stored. The GDPR goes into effect in May, and with the current attention on Facebook, it is the perfect time for the United States to get proactive about data privacy.

The GDPR has set the groundwork that could be a roadmap for the US. The political gears turn slowly, but two of the six GDPR requirements would be overwhelmingly embraced by Americas, and if proposed would quickly gain public support. If Americans thought they could get the data protections going into effect in Europe, they would demand them.

First, we need to adopt the GDPR’s simple, explicit consent requirement. Before any entity could collect or store personal data, the owner of the data, the individual, would be required to give consent. Legal agreements in the US have become so long and cryptic that they retain little or none of their original intent, unless that intent is deception. Long legal disclaimers that require scrolling and then clicking “OKAY” would not suffice. Instead, we need clear yes/no statements, each that must be answered individually. Imagine these queries before Facebook could add your data to the stockpile:

Can Facebook collect and store the personal data you enter? Y/N

Does Facebook have permission to sell or use your personal data? Y/N

Can Facebook share your data with companies and political organizations? Y/N

Next, we need to require a personal right to have data forgotten or corrected. This again comes directly from Europe’s GDPR. The option to remove data must be clear and easy to find, not hidden behind pages and pages of menus clearly designed to camouflage the relief users are seeking. Currently to change any privacy setting on Facebook you are required to find the hidden settings link at the bottom of a long menu secreted away behind a tiny triangle on the right side of the menu bar. Once in Settings, privacy is in yet another menu. Even then, your privacy choices are significantly limited. When Facebook asks for your phone number, they say it is to “keep your account safe,” but once they have it, your phone number becomes publicly searchable. You can restrict who can search for your phone number and address to only friends, but you cannot make it private. Under “Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?” “No One” is not an option. You cannot delete your phone number. We need easy to find, simple ways to edit or delete our data, a link in a top-level menu clearly labeled “Edit Personal Data.” The choices need to be concise, like, delete my data, correct my data, and restrict my data. Companies like Google, Yahoo, and Apple have your data stored as well, but unlike Facebook, there isn’t an entry page. Google and Apple collect data every time you use your browser or phone.

It is easy to be discouraged that these simple privacy changes might never happen. The deck is certainly stacked against unaffiliated users. The UK Daily Mail reported that Google staff had 427 meetings in the Obama Whitehouse. There are many photos of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg with Barack Obama, and there are reports that Facebook staffers met with Cambridge Analytica employees attached to the Trump campaign in Trump Campaign offices. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. Facebook has donated to 46 of the 55 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee before whom Mark Zuckerberg will testify. The cards are not in the favor of our privacy. Still, it happened in the European Union. It could happen here, but only if the attention on Facebook moves away from the stock price and who will give the most sincere apologies. The question is not who had access to what. The question is do we want all of our personal information stockpiled by private companies that have no repercussions when they misuse it?

On April 9, 2018 TechCrunch reported that Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue (a privacy watchdog), along with the Center for Digital Democracy in the US, and the Norwegian Consumer Council have sent a public letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him adopt the GDPR worldwide. The letter asks for GDPR guidelines as the “baseline standard for all Facebook services.” TechCrunch writer Natasha Lomas asserts, “These are protections that all users should be entitled to no matter where they are located.” Momentum is moving in the right direction, but we need something stronger than a request to one of several companies that trade in our data.

— ♦ —

From our offices in the USA and the Netherlands, Frontier Computer provides IT hardware, enterprise computing support, Peplink SD-WAN routers, and IP communications to the world.

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Your Greatest Security Risk

Social Engineering Exploits Human Trust and Courtesy to Gain Unauthorized Access

When we talk about security everyone thinks about firewalls and brute force attacks, but most IT administrators have things pretty well locked down on the server side. Some of the recent headline attacks were because of people, not systems. Investigators traced the now famous Hilary Clinton email leak to a hack of John Podesta’s Gmail account, a result of him clicking on a fake Google security alert in a spear-phishing attack. Back-end security will not help when an employee at a work computer clicks a fraudulent link in Facebook, bringing ransomware in the virtual front door. The easiest way into your private information is probably through your employees.

Security Awareness Must be Taught

Social Engineering against human vulnerability is one of the most prevalent attack strategies used today by criminals and other malicious entities. Phishing, fake phone calls, attachments with malware, and even physical access are Social Engineering techniques used to get into your business. Since firewalls and other technical security countermeasures are difficult to bypass, criminals have moved their attacks to the easier, more vulnerable targets: Humans.

Common Social Engineering Attacks

Phishing scams seek to obtain personal or company information with embed links that redirect to fraudulent websites, which appear legitimate. They often use threats, fear, and a sense of urgency to encourage prompt action before thorough consideration. Many Phishing attempts are crude and obvious to spot, which lowers alertness to more sophisticated and refined attacks. Spear Phishing uses similar techniques but the attacks are targeted to a specific individual, often with one or two personal details from the recipient that add to the scam’s legitimacy and likelihood for success.

Pretexting: Attackers focus on creating a pretext, or a fabricated scenario, that they can use to try to steal their victims’ personal information. These attacks commonly take the form of a scammer who pretends that they need certain bits of information from their target in order to confirm identity. Pretexting attacks rely on building a sense of trust with the victim. This requires the attacker to build a credible story that leaves little room for doubt on the part of their target. Pretexting attacks will rely on entry and mid-level employees’ desire to appear courteous and helpful to gain information in small pieces.

Baiting / Quid Pro Quo offers the promise of information, goods, or service as a reward to entice victims. Baiters may offer users free downloads, links to prurient content, gifts, or deals just for logging in. The scams usually have the goal of capturing login information. One famous baiting swindle left USB sticks in a company parking lot. Curious employees picked up the USBs and plugged them into their computers, activating a key logger that captured login credentials. Quid pro quo attacks promise a benefit, usually in the form of a service, in exchange for information. For example, a quid pro quo attack will call random numbers inside a business posing as tech support. If they happen to find someone expecting or even desiring support they will develop a relationship to gain remote access or passwords.

Tailgating: Not all Social Engineering attacks happen on computers. Tailgating or “piggybacking.” is used to gain access to an otherwise secure facility. Tailgaters follow an employee into a restricted area by exploiting employee courtesy. An attacker, in a delivery driver costume, will arrive at the door with an arm full of packages and ask someone entering a secure portal to hold the door. In one case, a security consultant tailgated access to several floors, a data room, and eventually established a base in a third floor meeting room, out of which he worked for several days.

Water Holing: Like animals at a familiar watering hole, people let their guard down on sites they regularly visit. Water holing can be as simple as hiding a fraudulent link in a Facebook post, or on other social media sites, or any well-trusted, popular website. It can get much more complicated as well, exploiting any web location outside a company where that company’s employees regularly interact.

Find Your Social Vulnerabilities

Frontier’s Social Engineering Testing assesses the state of your staff by attacking them with the same methods used by social engineering hackers: e-mail phishing, phone calls and other methods. We then follow up with Security Awareness education to disclose how we were able to gain access and educate the staff on how to protect themselves at work and at home.

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Contact Frontier to discuss your cyber security profile and schedule a security audit for your business.

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for more information on securing your business from increasingly creative attacks.


Frontier Computer provides enterprise IT hardware, software, and security.