Introducing Microsoft 365

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
July 29th, 2017

You’ve all heard of viruses, spyware, ransomware and trojans. But did you know that they’re all types of malware? They’re all designed to ruin your digital life, but different types of malware put your computer at risk in different ways. Understanding what sets them apart can keep your business guarded.

Viruses

Once created to annoy users by making small changes to their computers, like altering wallpapers, this type of malware has evolved into a malicious tool used to breach confidential data. Most of the time, viruses work by attaching themselves to .exe files in order to infect computers once the file has been opened. This can result in various issues with your computer’s operating system, at their worst, rendering your computer unusable.

To avoid these unfortunate circumstances, you should scan executable files before running them. There are plenty of antivirus software options, but we recommend choosing one that scans in real-time rather than manually.

Spyware

Unlike viruses, spyware doesn’t harm your computer, but instead, targets you. Spyware attaches itself to executable files and once opened or downloaded, will install itself, often times completely unnoticed. Once running on your computer, it can track everything you type, including passwords and other confidential information. Hackers can then use this information to access your files, emails, bank accounts, or anything else you do on your computer.

But don’t panic just yet, you can protect yourself by installing anti-spyware software, sometimes included in all-purpose “anti-malware” software. Note that most reputable antivirus software also come bundled with anti-spyware solutions.

Adware

Are you redirected to a particular page every time you start your browser? Do you get pop ups when surfing the internet? If either situation sounds familiar, you’re likely dealing with adware. Also known as Potential Unwanted Programs (PUP), adware isn’t designed to steal your data, but to get you to click on fraudulent ads. Whether you click on the ad or not, adware can significantly slow down your computer since they take up valuable bandwidth. Worse still, they’re often attached with other types of malware.

Some adware programs come packaged with legitimate software and trick you into accepting their terms of use, which make them especially difficult to remove. To eradicate adware, you’ll need a solution with specialized adware removal protocols.

Scareware

This type of malware works like adware except that it doesn’t make money by tricking you into clicking on ads, but by scaring you into buying a software you don’t need. An example is a pop up ad that tells you your computer is infected with a virus and you need to buy a certain software to eliminate it. If you fall for one of these tactics and click on the ad, you’ll be redirected to a website where you can buy the fake antivirus software.

Scareware acts more like a diversion from the other malware that often comes with it. A good antivirus solution will help scan for scareware too, but you should patch your operating systems regularly just to be safe.

Ransomware

Ransomware has become increasingly common and hostile. It encrypts your computer files and holds them hostage until you’ve paid a fee for the decryption code. Because ransomware comes with sophisticated encryption, there aren’t many options unless you have backups of your data.

There are some tools that can protect against ransomware but we recommend that you backup your data and practice safe web browsing habits.

Worms

Similar to viruses, worms replicate themselves to widen the scope of their damage. However, worms don’t require human intervention to replicate themselves as they use security flaws to transmit from one computer to the next, making them far more dangerous than your typical virus. They often spread via email, sending emails to everyone in an infected user’s contact list, which was exactly the case with the ILOVEYOU worm that cost businesses approximately $5.5 billion worth of damage.

The easiest ways to protect your network from worms is to use a firewall to block external access to your computer network, and to be careful when clicking on unknown links in your email or unknown messages on social media.

Trojans

Usually downloaded from rogue websites, Trojans create digital backdoors that allow hackers to take control of your computer without your knowledge. They can steal your personal information, your files, or cause your computer to stop working. Sometimes hackers will use your computer as a proxy to conceal their identity or to send out spam.

To avoid trojan attacks, you should never open emails or download attachments from unknown senders. If you’re skeptical, use your antivirus software to scan every file first.

In order to keep malware at bay, you need to invest in security solutions with real-time protection and apply security best practices within your office. If you have any questions or concerns, or simply need advice on how to strengthen your business’s security, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 27th, 2017

Employees don’t usually prioritize managing files and photos because they can be tedious and time-consuming. Those who have to deal with a high volume of files and photos across different devices often depend on the auto-sync functions of Google Drive or do manual backups on external drives or SD cards. With Google’s nifty new application, managing files and photos is more seamless.

Seamless backups and syncing

Google’s new application, Backup and Sync, allows both PC and Mac users to seamlessly back up files, photos, and video files from various devices, SD cards, and USB drives in Google Drive or Google Photos.

To use the app, download and install it on your Mac or your Windows computer, sign in with your Google account, select your sync settings, and choose the folders you wish to back up. If you’re uploading photos or videos, you can choose between High or Original quality upload size. And if you want to upload photos only, you have the option to upload to Google Photos.

Once you’re done setting up, a folder will be created on your computer where files can be saved and accessible anywhere via the cloud. Any file dropped into this folder will automatically sync to Google Drive.

Benefits and downside

Although Backup and Sync is free, you can store only up to 15 GB of data. But if you want to exceed the limit, simply upgrade your Google Drive storage. That said, this new tool is valuable because it simplifies the backup process.

The app is especially beneficial to businesses because it’s easy to set up and requires minimal effort from users. It’s also useful to companies with remote work policies; employees can simply drag and drop files into their computer’s folder and access them anywhere from any device.

Backup and Sync not only gives your business greater flexibility by providing anytime-anywhere access to your files, but it also helps keep them safe and sound in the cloud. If you want to explore other productivity tools for your business, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
July 26th, 2017

For most small-business owners, processing email takes up a good chunk of the day. If you use Gmail, you’re already working with a powerful platform with numerous productivity-enhancing features. But what if you could streamline the process even further while ensuring each message is dealt with appropriately? These Gmail tips will do the trick.

Undo Send We've all had an email or two we wish we could take back. Gmail has a neat feature that gives you a short period of time to recall a mistakenly sent message. After activating Undo Send, quickly retrieve the email and it's as if nothing ever happened.

Canned Responses Dubbed as ‘email for the truly lazy,’ Canned Responses is a Gmail Labs feature that allows you to save time and reuse an email that you designate as a Canned Response. Working like an email template, it saves copious amounts of time since you won’t have to retype the same responses over and over again. It comes in handy for businesses that send plenty of routine emails.

Send large attachments with Google Drive With Gmail, users can easily send attachments reaching 25 MB. But say you have a huge zip file for a photo shoot that the clients want to review -- you’re going to need more space. If you use Google Drive with your Google account, you can send larger files on Gmail. Copy the large file to your Google Drive, then click Compose in Gmail and type your message. When you’re ready to attach the large file, click the Google Drive icon (next to the Attachment icon that looks like a paper clip). Insert the files you want to attach and send your message.

Turn on Priority Inbox As hinted in the name, Priority Inbox will organize your messages by their importance. You’ll be able to divide your inbox into five sections, where the messages will be displayed in the following order: 1. important and unread messages, 2. starred messages, 3. [customizable section], 4. [customizable section], 5. everything else. To enable it, go to Settings > Inbox > Inbox Type and choose Priority Inbox.

Back up your messages If you ever need to back up or migrate your Gmail messages, Gmvault can help. It is an open source solution that can back up your entire Gmail directory or just a handful of messages. The email data is then available whenever you need to restore or recreate your Gmail folders. You can also use it to migrate messages from one account to another.

Gmail Labs To get the latest Gmail features, you should sign up for Gmail Labs. This is where Google tests up-and-coming features before making them part of Gmail. Access Gmail Labs by heading over to Settings.

Spending the right amount of time with emails while managing other crucial business areas is a balancing act many business owners find difficult. If you have questions or need further assistance regarding Gmail or IT in general, feel free to contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
July 25th, 2017

More firms are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to create new business opportunities. For instance, companies that install smart sensors can automate data entry and monitor their inventory. However, if left unsecured, IoT devices also give hackers an opportunity to breach your network. In order to keep attackers at bay, we advise you take the following precautions with your IoT devices.

Set passwords Many often forget they can set passwords for IoT devices. When this happens, they tend to leave their gadgets with default passwords, essentially leaving the door open for hackers. Make sure to set new and strong passwords -- preferably with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols -- for each device connected to your network. Then, use a password manager to securely keep track of all your passwords.

Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) UPnP is designed to help IoT gadgets discover other network devices. However, hackers can also exploit this feature to find and connect to your IoT devices. To prevent them from getting to your network, it’s best to disable this feature completely.

Create a separate network When you’re dealing with IoT devices, it’s wise to quarantine them in a separate network unconnected to your main office network. By doing this, user gadgets will still have access to the internet but won’t be able to access mission-critical files.

You should also consider investing in device access management tools. These allow you to control which devices can access what data, and prevent unauthorized access.

Update your firmware If you want to keep your devices secure against the latest attacks, then you need to keep your IoT software up to date. Security researchers are always releasing security patches for the most recent vulnerabilities, so make it a habit to regularly check for and install IoT firmware updates. If you have several gadgets to secure, use patch management software to automate patch distribution and set a schedule to check for updates monthly.

Unplug it Disconnecting your IoT devices from the internet (or turning them off completely) whenever you don’t need them significantly reduces how vulnerable you are to an attack. Think about it, if there’s nothing to target, hackers won’t be able to make their move. Turning your IoT devices on and off again may not seem like the most convenient strategy, but it does deny unauthorized access to your router.

Unfortunately, as IoT devices become more commonplace in homes and offices, more hackers will develop more cunning ways to exploit them. Getting into the above mentioned security habits can protect you from a wide variety of IoT attacks, but if you really need to beef up your security, then contact us today. We have robust security solutions that keep your hardware safe.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
July 22nd, 2017

New strains of malware are being developed every day. In fact, the number was nearly one million per day in 2015. With so many in existence, some have gone under the radar, as such is the case with CopyCat. So if you’re using any type of Android device, know that CopyCat likes to use its claws.

What is it?

CopyCat is a strain of malware that pretends to be a popular app on third-party app stores. Alarmingly, it has already infected more than 14 million Android devices around the world, with the majority of victims in Asia. However, users in the U.S. aren’t in the clear as 280,000 Android devices have been hit since 2015.

Why is it dangerous?

Once downloaded, CopyCat collects data from the infected device and downloads rootkits that cut off the device’s security system. From there, it can download fake apps and hijack your device’s Zygote, the launcher for every app on your phone.

With control over your Zygote, CopyCat will know about every new app you’ve downloaded and opened. This allows it to replace the Referrer ID on your apps with its own and send revenues for every ad that pops up on the app to hackers instead of the app’s creators. Sometimes it even throws in its own ads to increase fraudulent ad revenues, too. So far, there have been nearly 4.9 million fake apps installed on infected devices, estimated to make CopyCat hackers more than $1.5 million.

And while it’s mainly after ad revenues, it could easily compromise confidential data collected from your Android device.

How to protect your Android device?

The malware spreads through five exploits that hit devices running Android 5.0 and earlier versions. Luckily, Google was able to track down this malware to update Google Play so all exploits have been discovered and patched.

However, Android users on older devices should avoid downloading apps from third-party vendors just to be safe. And even if you’re using newer versions of the Android OS, we recommend you ensure your Play Protect function -- Google’s security system which consists of application scanning, browser protection, and anti-theft measures -- is activated. It should be on by default on your Android device, but you can check its status by opening Google Play Store app > Tap Menu > Play Protect.

In an ideal world, you’ll no longer have to worry about cyber attacks and all the damage they can cause. But for now, staying knowledgeable and informed is the best way to protect yourself. If you’d like to learn more about how to keep your Android devices safe, just give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
July 21st, 2017

It’s nearly impossible to discuss virtualization without bringing up Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was one of the first big names in user-friendly virtualization services and it’s only gotten better over the years. With its latest release, AWS is providing customers with some serious computing power.

What are AWS virtual desktops?

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 19th, 2017

Workplace Analytics is a program that helps managers determine staff productivity levels using data gathered from their email, calendar, documents, and other applications within Office 365. Previously, Microsoft’s MyAnalytics allowed only employees to view their individual data, but with this updated version, managers now have access to this data, too.

How it works

Now available as an add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from Office 365 email, calendar, documents, and Skype. This means that any data an employee types into their email and calendar -- whether it’s on the subject line or the main content itself -- can be used to indicate their productivity status.

The program has an overview dashboard that provides specific information:

  • Week in the Life provides an overall view of how the entire organization spends time and how members collaborate
  • Meetings shows the amount of time spent in meetings
  • Management and Coaching gauges staff-manager one-on-one meetings
  • Network and Collaboration takes a look at how employees connect to colleagues

What does it aim to do?

Workplace Analytics aims to address what, according to Microsoft, are businesses’ most common challenges: complexity, productivity, and engagement.

Using Analytics data, managers and human resources departments can form productivity strategies for the entire company. If, based on Workplace Analytics data, a majority of your employees are spending 60% of their time attending meetings and not enough time doing creative work, they can come up with a strategy that reduces meeting time and focuses more on productive tasks.

It also identifies how employees collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose one of your sales staff frequently communicates with certain contacts. By using Workplace Analytics data, the employee’s manager would be able to determine whether this particular collaboration pattern is helping the employee hit sales targets or whether he or she is missing out on other more critical contacts. Also, based on this info, managers would be able to determine which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.

Data gathered by Workplace Analytics also allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement (i.e., whether the organization’s collaboration patterns are good for the company) and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.

Is it useful for small businesses?

Large corporations have been using Workplace Analytics, but small businesses can also benefit from it. For one, the data used to provide the insights are all based on data generated by employees themselves -- how much time they spend on meetings, whom they frequently communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.

Aside from letting managers examine their staff’s working behavior, Workplace Analytics also provides an overall look into what happens at an organizational level. If you want your organization to harness the capabilities of Workplace Analytics and other Office 365 tools, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
July 15th, 2017

The recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks have caused massive disruptions for Windows users. Although ransomware infection has slowed down in the past few weeks, many experts are saying that this is only just the beginning. Soon, newer and far more dangerous strains of malware will be developed. To help people defend against these threats, Microsoft has released new security features.

Controlled folders With Microsoft’s new Controlled folders access feature, you can list certain documents and folders as “protected.” Only whitelisted apps can access and edit these folders, while any attempted changes by malicious apps are simply blocked by Windows Defender.

In theory, this should slow down a ransomware’s ability to encrypt critical information. Some reports suggest that other threats like malicious file macros and viruses can be prevented by this feature.

So far, only Windows Insider users have access to controlled folders. But if you’ve already signed up, you can access the feature by going to Windows Defender Security Center and then enabling Controlled folder access. From here, you can choose which folders will be protected and what apps are allowed to access them. To save you time, common Microsoft applications are trusted automatically, but you can remove them from your whitelist whenever you want.

Application Guard Apart from folder protection, Microsoft also made security enhancements for web browsers. The Windows Defender Application Guard is designed to prevent intrusions, using Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtual machine technology to detect and isolate compromised applications from the rest of your system. So if someone accidentally downloads a virus from their web browser, Application Guard will contain the threat before it infiltrates the rest of your company’s devices, apps, data, and network.

Device Guard In a similar vein, the Device Guard feature, which is also found in the Windows Defender Security Center, minimizes computer exposure to malware by using advanced threat detection policies to make sure only approved code is running throughout the system. This is meant to add an extra layer of defense in between your firewall and antivirus software.

As mentioned, Windows Insider users can get early access to these security features, but if you want to make sure that these security features are as strong as they can be, we suggest you wait for their public release around September for the Fall Creators update.

Want to stay on top of the latest technologies that can help you beat ransomware, viruses, and other nasty cyberattacks? Contact us today for any security updates and advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
July 14th, 2017

The WannaCry ransomware, which infected 200,000 business globally and made over $100,000 in ransom payments, is said to be one of the worst cyber attacks in history. However, a new ransomware strain named Nyetya is shaping up to be a more formidable security threat. It has already affected businesses globally, and security firms and researchers believe it to be stealthier and more sophisticated than WannaCry.

Worse than WannaCry

Nyetya is deemed worse than WannaCry mainly because it spreads laterally, meaning it targets computers within networks and affects even systems that have been patched. Because it also spreads internally, it needs to infect only one device to affect several others within a single network.

Cyber researchers trace its origins to a tax accounting software called MEDoc, which infected 12,500 systems in Ukraine. Since the initial infections in June, it has spread to thousands of networks in 64 countries. And although it hasn’t spread as fast as WannaCry, it might have a wider reach soon because it uses three attack pathways to infect a system. It hasn’t made as much money as WannaCry, which is why cyber researchers are concluding that the attacks are not economically motivated.

Don’t pay the ransom

Cyber security firms and researchers strongly recommend affected businesses to avoid paying the ransom. According to them, paying the ransom would be a waste since the infected user won’t be able to receive a decryption key to unlock their files or systems. This is because the email provider has blocked the email address on the ransomware message.

Although it operates like a ransomware -- locking hard drives and files and demands a $300 ransom in Bitcoin -- it functions more as a wiperware that aims to permanently wipe out data and/or destroy systems. So far, it has affected big-name multinationals in various industries, including Merck, Mondelez International, and AP Moller-Maersk, among others.

Perform backups and update outdated security patches

The only way businesses can be protected is by performing backups and staying on top of patch updates.

It’s safe to say that in case of a Nyetya attack, there’s no chance of getting back your data. In such a scenario, you would have only your backup files -- whether on an external storage or in the cloud -- to fall back on. But backing up is not enough; you should also ensure that your backups are working, which you can do by testing them regularly. Given the nature of Nyetya, you should also make sure that your backups are stored off-site and disconnected from your network.

Like its predecessor, Nyetya exploited vulnerabilities in unpatched Microsoft-run computers. As a business owner, make it a part of your cyber security routine to update your systems with the latest security patches, or risk having your files or systems permanently corrupted.

As a business owner whose operations’ lifeline depends on critical files, your backups are your insurance. If your systems’ network security needs another layer of protection, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security