Useful business features in Windows 10

August 18th, 2017

The Windows Fall Creators Update released in April introduced many useful and interesting features, including a decluttered Start menu, more control over Windows updates, and an enhanced Microsoft Edge browser. Five months later, Microsoft follows up on all those enhancements with a new set of features. Here’s everything business users should get excited about.

Files on-demand in OneDrive

‘OneDrive Files On-Demand’ solves syncing problems often encountered by those who don’t want all their files synced to all their devices. This feature will give users the option to choose the folders that will be downloaded to the device they’re using, which helps save storage space and bandwidth, and gives users more flexibility.

Greater protection from ransomware

Microsoft beefs up Windows 10 security by introducing ‘Controlled folder access,’ a welcome feature in an era of rampant ransomware outbreaks such as WannaCry and Petya. This security enhancement enables users to assign a ‘switch’ to applications. When the switch is turned on, users are alerted any time unauthorized applications attempt to access or modify files in protected Desktop, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos folders.

Enterprise-level threat prevention

The Fall Creators update will also feature ‘Windows Defender Exploit Guard,’ a threat prevention system that, in Microsoft’s own words, ‘helps make vulnerabilities dramatically more difficult to exploit.’ The platform is primarily intended to recognize and safeguard against brand new malware that has not been cataloged or analyzed by security professionals.

Microsoft will also introduce ‘Windows Defender Application Guard,’ a program that protects Windows 10 users by isolating and containing threats and malware within the Edge browser. For now, it will be available only to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition and Hyper-V users.

Both ‘guards’ will complement firewalls and antivirus software to provide comprehensive protection to data, programs, devices, and networks.

Easier to reach contacts

Windows 10 subscribers will also benefit from the ‘My People’ feature, which will enhance collaboration. This new feature will let users pin contacts from their contact list to the Start Bar for quick access to email, instant messaging, or video calling. To activate, launch the People program and click on the icon found in the taskbar’s notifications area. Contacts can be pinned only if they have the Windows 10 App open in their system.

Other essential enhancements

The Fall Creators Update will also introduce small yet essential enhancements that will prove highly advantageous to businesses, one of which is a bandwidth limiting capability. Using this feature, network administrators can limit the amount of bandwidth allocated for Windows updates, allowing them to manage the updates for all devices across an entire network.

To do this:

  • Go to Deliver Optimization > Advanced options
  • Tick any of the three sliders
  • Adjust download and upload settings: limiting bandwidth for downloading updates; uploading updates to other PCS on the internet; and adjusting monthly upload limit
A battery-saving function will also be introduced to the new Windows 10 via ‘Power Throttling,’ which determines the activities that the system should prioritize based on a user’s activity. For example, if a user has multiple apps open but is actively using only a photo-editing tool, the system will allot greater power resources to the most actively used app and minimal resources to inactive ones.

Are you maximizing your Windows-powered computers’ features and capabilities? Get in touch with our experts to explore what Microsoft products can do for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
August 17th, 2017

When a cyber security researcher stopped the spread of WannaCry, the headlines praised him as a savior. But just a few short months later he was in handcuffs for allegedly creating a piece of malware that steals banking information. Even if he is innocent, it’s important to understand the difference between white hat, black hat and even gray hat hackers.

A complicated history

Since all the way back in the 1950s, the term hacker has been vaguely defined. As computers and the people who worked with them became more accessible, the word was used to describe someone who explored the details and limits of technology by testing them from a variety of angles.

But by the 1980s, hackers became associated with teenagers who were being caught breaking into government computer systems. Partially because that is what they called themselves, and partially because the word hacker has an inherently aggressive ring to it.

Today, several of those pioneering hackers run multimillion-dollar cyber security consulting businesses. So what should you call someone who uses their knowledge for good?

“White hat” hackers

Sometimes referred to as ethical hackers, or plain old network security specialists, these are the good guys. Whether it’s selling what they find to hardware and software vendors in “bug bounty” programs or working as full-time technicians, white hat hackers are just interested in making an honest buck.

Linus Torvalds is a great example of a white hat hacker. After years of experimenting with the operating system on his computer, he finally released Linux, a secure open-source operating system.

“Black hat” hackers

Closer to the definition that most people outside the IT world know and use, black hat hackers create programs and campaigns solely for causing damage. This may be anything from financial harm in the form of ransomware to digital vandalism.

Albert Gonzalez is one of the many poster children for black hat hacking. In 2005, he organized a group of individuals to compromise poorly secured wireless networks and steal information. He is most famous for stealing over 90 million credit and debit card numbers from TJ Maxx over the course of two years.

“Gray hat” hackers

Whether someone is a security specialist or a cyber criminal, the majority of their work is usually conducted over the internet. This anonymity affords them opportunities to try their hand at both white hat and black hat hacking.

Today, there are quite a few headlines making the rounds describing Marcus Hutchins as a gray hat hacker. Hutchins became an overnight superstar earlier this year when he poked and prodded the WannaCry ransomware until he found a way to stop it.

During the day, Hutchins works for the Kryptos Logic cybersecurity firm, but the US government believes he spent his free time creating the Kronos banking malware. He has been arrested and branded a “gray hat” hacker.

The world of cyber security is far more complicated than the stylized hacking in Hollywood movies. Internet-based warfare is not as simple as good guys vs. bad guys, and it certainly doesn’t give small businesses a pass. If you need a team of experienced professionals to help you tackle the complexities of modern cyber security, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 12th, 2017

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is essential for every marketing, sales, and customer service department. It allows you to capture your customers’ information and keep a record of their interactions with your business. If you’re new to the concept of CRM, here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of it.

Always update customer information A CRM system is only effective when the data it provides is current. If the customer’s address, company name, or preferred method of contact has changed, your staff should be recording this information immediately so your sales and marketing teams are always equipped with the right information.

Use purchasing history for upselling opportunities It’s easier to sell to existing customers than acquiring new ones. Boost your sales performance by analyzing your existing clients’ purchasing history and designing promotions or events designed just for them. For example, if they recently purchased a razor from your online store, you can program your CRM to recommend related products like shaving cream or aftershave. Not only does this widen your profit margins, it also makes customers’ lives a lot easier and promotes repeat business.

Automate processes Take advantage of the workflow automation features in CRM apps to eliminate time-consuming and repetitive tasks. For instance, when a new lead is added to your CRM (via newsletter subscriptions or website visits), the CRM can be programmed to send follow-up emails, offer promotions, and other interactions to keep your business at the forefront of their attention. This saves you from writing the same canned responses while also making sure that you’re engaging your clients throughout the entire sales process.

Learn from analytics CRM also makes it possible to analyze customer trends and behavior. If you noticed a spike in demand for certain products and services during the holidays, be more aggressive in pushing them out next year. If certain email campaigns were more successful than others (e.g., higher open rates, click-through-rates, and potential customers), understand what elements were responsible for that success and try to replicate them the next time you send a newsletter.

Customer data should also be used to shape sales and marketing tactics. A salesperson that already knows the client’s name, locations, and preferences can deliver more personal sales pitches and has a better chance of closing a deal. The point is this: If you're not learning from your data, your business growth will be limited.

Integrate CRM with other business software Tying CRM software to other programs makes it even more powerful. Integration with accounting software combines customer and financial data, eliminating redundant manual data entry and providing more insightful reports. When used alongside a VoIP system, your staff will get relevant customer information from multiple databases displayed on one screen when they’re about to make a call.

Get some CRM support Last but not least, work with a CRM provider that offers 24/7 support. Ideally, they should be keeping your data safe, updating your software regularly, and advising you on how to use complex CRM features.

This may seem like a lot, but the important thing to remember is that just like every technology investment, CRM requires active participation from executives, managers, and frontline staff. If you need more advice on keeping customers happy or want to know what technologies can add value to your business, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
August 11th, 2017

The Google Cloud Platform can do virtually any business computing task you need it to. From pre-written machine learning modules to high-end data analysis, it’s limited only by the internet connection you use to access it. But now, even that is being improved upon.

What is Google Cloud Platform?

Similar to Amazon Web Services or Microsoft’s Azure, the Google Cloud Platform is a suite of services that run in Google data centers around the world and are accessible to clients over the internet. There are currently 60 services available, grouped into nine categories:
  • Compute
  • Storage and Databases
  • Networking
  • Big Data (for analysis)
  • Internet of Things
  • Machine Learning
  • Management Tools
  • Developer Tools
  • Identity and Security
Each one offers a unique set of tools for getting work done in the cloud. For example, the Compute category has several services for setting up virtual desktops powered by high-end hardware that can be logged into from almost anywhere.

What is Google upgrading?

To put it simply, a new approach to bandwidth management will allow Google to send more information in less time. Way back in the ’80s, an algorithm was standardized that recognized when data didn’t reach the final destination and reacted accordingly. The assumption was that the majority of this data loss was due to an overloaded connection, so when the entity sending the data noticed losses, it slowed down transfer speeds.

A lot has changed since then, and recently Google introduced a new algorithm for its search and streaming video services. It was a huge success, granting YouTube a 2,700x improvement to its YouTube network throughput in some cases.

By applying this new technology to the Google Cloud Platform, customers will see noticeably faster service, regardless of whether they’re storing and retrieving business data or hosting an application.

Web and cloud services are indispensable for keeping up with the breakneck pace of IT advancements in a cost-effective manner. Choosing the right platform and configuring it properly isn’t something to be taken lightly. For expert advice and support, message us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
August 10th, 2017

Businesses are using mobile devices more than ever to increase productivity and profitability. However, like desktops and laptops, smartphones and tablets are highly vulnerable to hacking, and some employees expose them to threats in ways they may not even be aware of. To protect your company from these threats, follow these tips on keeping mobile devices safe.

Ensure mobile OS is up-to-date

Apple and Android’s operating system updates improve overall user experience, but their most important function is to fix security vulnerabilities. You can reduce your business’s exposure to threats by installing updates for ALL devices as soon as they become available. Some people wait for a few weeks or months to update their device’s OS. This gives hackers ample time to exploit vulnerabilities on devices that run on outdated operating systems.

Install business applications only

Downloading apps seems harmless, but lenient mobile devices policies on what should and shouldn’t be downloaded on company devices could lead to staff downloading and installing non-business-related apps from third-party stores, most of which are notorious for malicious advertising codes and other threats.

Be careful with public Wi-Fi networks

Emergency situations might compel you to use password-free Wi-Fi networks in hotels, airport, cafes, or any public place. Connecting to an open network could expose your confidential information and sensitive company data to hackers connected to the same network.

You can avoid this by providing a practical internet data plan, preferably one that includes roaming services, for remote workers. And if you really have to connect to an open Wi-Fi, don’t use the connection for transferring sensitive data.

Enable phone tracking tools

Losing a company-issued mobile device is a scenario many would rather not contemplate, but it happens. Devices can be misplaced or stolen, and enabling a useful app such as ‘Find my iPhone’ for iOS devices, ‘GPS Phone Tracker’ for Android, or any other device-tracking app in Apple’s App or Android’s Google Play stores helps users locate lost phones, or otherwise delete data in stolen devices. Downloading and setting up the app takes just a few minutes, and it will give you peace of mind knowing that even if your phone is lost or stolen, its contents will not be compromised.

Screen SMS carefully

SMS messaging may not be as effective as email phishing, but SMS phishing can also be used to trick users into clicking malicious links. Hackers send messages purporting to be from someone you know or a legitimate source that asks you to urgently send confidential data. You can either delete these messages, block unknown senders, or alert your IT department in case you encounter a possible scammer.

Mobile devices are becoming more critical to operations. And with more devices open to attack, businesses must bolster their cybersecurity efforts. Hackers will exploit every possible vulnerability, and that includes those in unsecured smartphones and tablets. Get in touch with us if you need comprehensive security solutions for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 9th, 2017

You use a computer, smartphone, or tablet -- or all three -- to surf the web. So wouldn’t it be great if you could share the sites that you’re browsing between devices? If you’re using an Android phone and Windows 10, now you can.

According to Gartner, Android operating systems held 81.7 percent of the worldwide smartphone market share in 2016. Windows PCs have a similarly robust 84 percent of the desktop operating system market share worldwide.

It comes as no surprise that Microsoft plans to closely align many of its features with Android. In fact, they’ve just released a new Windows 10 preview for PCs with which consumers can try out some new features. Microsoft Apps is one of them, a test application that focuses on cross-device web browsing so you can send website links from your Android phone to your Windows PC.

How does it work?

On your Android phone, go to Settings > Phone > Link Your Phone. You will receive an SMS directing you to install Microsoft Apps. Once installed, you can share websites with your PC by clicking the Share option and then picking the “Continue on PC” option.

From there, you’ll have to sign in with the same Microsoft Account you’re using on your PC. You’ll then have two options to choose from, “Continue now” which opens the website on the linked PC, and “Continue later” which makes the website appear in the Action Center of your computer instead.

This is part of the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, set to arrive in September this year. What’s more, you can also expect to see more Android and Windows 10 features in the future, including apps content sharing to and from PCs, as well as content copying-and-pasting from a universal clipboard.

As always, if you have any questions about any Android device, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
August 8th, 2017

With 4.75 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook and 500 million tweets shared every day, harnessing crucial social media data is becoming an increasingly monumental task. Businesses need to leverage social media in order to deliver relevant and personalized content to customers. You can make it happen by taking these four steps:

Identify what’s trending on social media From global events like the WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks to the Super Bowl halftime show that took the internet by storm, content marketers need to know what consumers are talking about on social media.

For example, when Steve Harvey read the wrong name at Miss Universe in 2016, Burger King wasted no time tweeting a picture with the caption: “At BK, everyone gets to keep their crown.” This clever and timely message resulted in almost 100,000 retweets, likes, and replies.

Knowing what's trending helps marketers fine-tune content to ensure better engagement and higher conversion rates. And it can even help establish relevance in larger conversations and engage new groups of potential customers.

Understand what’s happening locally and globally Content marketers should stay on top of what's happening on both a global and local scale, and then share what they've learned with their teams. For instance, children’s clothing companies can combine the latest trend with the back-to-school season to attract more students and parents.

Leverage user-generated content According to a recent Bazaarvoice report, shoppers who interact with consumer-generated content are 97 percent more likely to make a purchase than shoppers who don’t. Customer-generated content helps drive awareness among non-customers who may be persuaded by positive and authentic customers' experience. Social data derived from user-generated content also helps marketers address content pain points.

Incorporate social data into your marketing strategy Put the social media data you've gathered to good use by integrating them into your current marketing strategy. They immediately provide a better understanding of the customer and highlight the type of content audiences are currently engaging with. This can be used to help develop and execute better content and marketing campaigns.

Social media has changed the way small- and medium-sized businesses operate. In order to get ahead of your competitors, it’s imperative that you understand how to leverage it to your business’s advantage. Feel free to contact us about what we can do to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 5th, 2017

More businesses are moving their operations to the cloud, but sadly some applications are getting left behind. Today, customers want to access their desktop software as easily as they can access their G Suite apps from any device. Luckily, Google listened to their customers and developed new features with Citrix.

Workspace Service Organizations often struggle to manage multiple apps, especially if some are running on a cloud environment while others are running locally. This means devices and applications are disjointed, making processes slow and inefficient.

With Citrix Workspace integrated with Google Cloud, businesses can unify all their web-based, mobile, desktop, and Google apps into one hub to easily manage access permissions, security updates, and workflows across applications and devices. Essentially, this feature enables businesses to better manage their hybrid IT environments.

ShareFile Along with Workspace Service, Citrix also announced that they will be bringing their ShareFile feature to G Suite. ShareFile uses advanced encryption to protect data in transit and at rest. When used as a plugin for Gmail, employees can send emails and file attachments securely.

Additionally, ShareFile has a “follow-me data” feature that allows seamless access to local drives, network drives, and Google Drive. When enabled on G Suite, users can run, edit, and save documents to their virtual apps and desktop software while on the road.

NetScaler Another feature that will soon be released for Google Cloud is Citrix’s NetScaler. NetScaler is a system that uses load balancing to optimize the performance of apps and services. In other words, it makes sure that applications are getting sufficient computing resources (e.g., processing power, RAM, storage space). If used properly, applications can run up to five times faster and experience little to no downtime.

By combining NetScaler and Google Cloud, developers can take advantage of Google’s vast computing resources to build powerful applications and run them in the cloud easily.

Considering how these features allow employees to access and manage their desktop infrastructure online, it’s clear that both Citrix and Google want more businesses moving to the cloud. Only time will tell whether these features will actually ease the transition for business owners who are on the fence about the cloud.

If you want to know more about the cloud and virtualization technologies, call us today. We’ll make sure you have all the information you need before investing in cutting-edge solutions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 3rd, 2017

Pairing your business with the right productivity-enhancing tool is a challenge. Fortunately, you can choose between two popular options: Office 2016 and Office 365. But which is right for you? Here are three main differences that may help you decide.

How they’re paid for Office 2016 is a stand-alone suite, and regardless of the quantity purchased, is described by Microsoft as a "one-time purchase.” You pay a single, upfront cost, meaning the entire purchase price must be paid before receiving the license to legally run the software for life.

By contrast, Office 365 is a subscription service requiring monthly or annual payments. Office 365 allows users to run applications only if payments are made. If you stop, you will have 30 days to continue operating after the previous payment's due date before the license expires.

How they’re serviced Another aspect to consider is the service and support offerings. Microsoft provides monthly security updates for Office 2016 applications, and these updates fix non-security bugs. However, you don’t get upgrades for improved features and functionality. If you wish to run the latest edition, you'll have to pay another upfront fee.

Office 365 users, on the other hand, get the same security patches as Office 2016 and also additional feature and functionality upgrades twice a year.

How they sync with the cloud Microsoft announced a major change this April: As of October 13, 2020, Office 2016 applications acquired through an upfront purchase are required to be in the "Mainstream" support period (the first five years of the decade-long commitment) to obtain cloud connectivity. Office 365 subscriptions won’t experience this problem.

In order to achieve measurable results and enjoy business growth, it’s imperative that your business is working with the right Office solution. Give us a call and let our team of experts assess your needs and determine the better option.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
August 2nd, 2017

Microsoft pays more attention to customer feedback than you might think. Many business owners who complained about having to purchase Office 365 and Windows 10 separately are finally getting what they wanted: Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 combines Office 365 and Windows 10 into one solution, which will be available in two plans: Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise.

Microsoft 365 Business

Designed for small- to medium-sized companies, this bundle includes Office 365 Business Premium and selected features from Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Simply put, you’ll get cloud versions of Office applications, business class email, Windows 10, and cyber security controls, among many other user-friendly features.

The main difference between the new Microsoft 365 Business and the current Office 365 Business Premium is that the former includes Windows 10, plus a single console to manage settings, automatic Offices apps to Windows 10 PC deployment, and robust security applications like Windows Defender.

Microsoft 365 Business will be available on August 2nd, 2017 for $20 per user per month.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise

Capable of supporting up to 300 users, Microsoft 365 Enterprise is designed for medium-to-large businesses. It combines Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security features into one solution. You can expect all the features of Office 365 including cloud versions of Office applications, access across mobile devices, business-class email, document and email access controls, and Skype for Business.

The inclusion of Windows 10 Enterprise means you’ll get more advanced capabilities than from the basic version such as Credential Guard and Device Guard, extensive manageability and a broad range of options for application management and operating system deployment.

Last but not least, Enterprise Mobility + Security offers comprehensive identity-driven protection, mobile devices and applications management, risk-based conditional access to threat analysis, and single sign-on capabilities across devices to keep things secure.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is now available with a pricing structure based on your subscription plan.

By choosing the right subscription model, you’ll be able to make the most out of Microsoft’s growing number of service offerings. If you’re looking to upgrade to Windows 10 and have any questions about the operating system, or are wondering which of the two plans to choose, give us a call today.

 

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows