Month: December 2017

6 Microsoft Teams tips

Despite being late to the group chat scene, Microsoft Teams is equipped with a handful of features and impressive integration that set it apart from its competitors. So if you’re already subscribed to Office 365, here’s how you can take Teams to the next level.

Use SharePoint to store and share files

You might already be using SharePoint to store files and collaborate with your teammates. But did you know that in every Teams channel, you can click the Files tab to share files from SharePoint with team members? You can also access SharePoint files that are already shared in the channel and use Office Online or Office Desktop to collaborate on those files, too.

Forward emails into a channel

You get countless emails every day, some of which might be lost in your inboxes. Fortunately, Microsoft makes it easy to forward any email message from Outlook to a channel in Teams so that messages show up in both places. Just click the ellipsis next to any channel name and select “Get email address”. This generates an email address for the channel which you can copy and use to forward files, documents, and messages.

Stick with a few groups

While you can create as many groups within your organization as you like, going overboard can result in a cluttered messaging interface that overwhelms team members. We recommend you create groups based on the number of projects and each members involved; you can always add more if necessary.

Set up audio conferencing

Teams lets you host voice meetings in groups or with just one team member. This is particularly useful when communicating with remote workers or clients, in which case you can give them guest access to your Teams channel. This ensures they’re able to communicate with you but not see history of other confidential information.

Test communication strategies

Just because some of the features in Teams overlap with Yammer and Skype for Business doesn’t mean they’re all redundant. Think of it as a chance to test different communication strategies to find out what works best for you. For instance, if most of your clients have a Skype ID, you can use Skype for client calls and Teams for internal calls.

Share conversations with new team members

Teams makes onboarding easy. Rather than forwarding numerous emails and documents to new employees, you can use Teams to share conversations from a thread or project with them. This enables everyone to catch up easily without having to deal with cumbersome documents.

Microsoft Teams and other Office solutions are equipped with plenty of useful features that can take some time to master. But by taking advantage of these tools, you’ll be able to save time and maximize efficiency, all without having to spend a dime. If you have any questions about Microsoft Office and how it can benefit your business, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Published with permission from Source.

Microsoft unveils new Windows features

The recent Windows 10 Fall Creators update is just a few weeks old but Microsoft has already released another major update. On December 19, they rolled out a new Windows 10 Insider update to test two new features: Sets and Timeline.


Sets takes the tab features from web browsers and adds them to various Microsoft apps, including Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. This reduces how many windows you have to have open.

For example, if you are working on a Word document and you need to research a particular topic, you can create a new tab, open Edge, and start surfing. The new tab page also gives you quick access to local files and Office 365 applications provided you have a subscription. This saves you from having to manage multiple windows since all the apps and websites that are relevant to your work are in one place.

And when you press save, Sets bundles your apps and research into a single file, allowing you to revisit relevant material.


Speaking of revisiting material, Timeline displays apps and files you were using at a particular time so you can easily resume past activities.

What’s more, this feature works across all Cortana-enabled devices, which means you can switch from your desktop to your phone and access the same files you were previously working on. Cortana even suggests activities you might want to resume as you switch between devices.

To try Timeline, access Task View by pressing the Task View icon in the taskbar or hitting the Windows logo key + TAB. From there, you’ll be able to see recently accessed apps and websites and reopen them. There’s also a “See all” option that lets you view everything you’ve done in a single day, organized by hour. If you’re looking for a specific app, you can always use the search bar.

Windows 10 Insiders

Unfortunately, Sets and Timeline are not yet available to the general public. But if you’re interested in trying out these features for yourself, you can sign up for the Windows 10 Insider program.

Not only will you get these features, but you’ll also be one of the first to receive the latest updates Microsoft has to offer. You even get the opportunity to give feedback about new features, which helps improve Microsoft’s apps and services.

Want to be the first to know what features Microsoft will release? Call us today! As an experienced managed services provider, we’re tuned in to the most recent tech developments, whether they come from Microsoft, Google, or other industry leaders.

Published with permission from Source.

Phishers use encrypted sites to scam

Just when you thought cyber criminals couldn’t get smarter, along comes a new scamming technique. Previously used for safeguarding browsing activity, encryption tools are now used by hackers in carrying out phishing scams. This means some fraudulent sites may have HTTPS on their address, giving users a false sense of security.

How hackers use encryption to carry out phishing scams

According to recent research, 24% of phishing scams in 2017 use web encryption — an astounding increase from last year’s 3%. This means more HTTPS sites may not be truly safe.

Phishing scammers rely on their victims to do what they ask, which is why it’s so effective. And with this new trick, unsuspecting users are more likely to be deceived. What makes this encryption-aided scam even more effective — and dangerous — is that it makes hackers’ phishing email or text that much more authentic-looking.

For example, if you receive an email that purports to be from Amazon and includes a link to an encrypted site, there’s now a slightly higher chance you’d believe this email is the real deal. Clearly, if you’ve never purchased anything from Amazon, you’d know that this is a fake. But then again, there are millions of Amazon customers who could be misled into thinking that that email is legitimate.

Does encryption mean a safer internet?

With organizations like the Internet Security Research Group and Google promoting encryption, the world wide web should be a safer place, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, encrypting more legitimate websites could simply result in an increased number of encrypted phishing sites.

It may also be useful to know that not all phishing sites use encryption. Many phishing scams are still carried out using websites that may or may not be encrypted.

What you can do to ensure safety

This isn’t meant to cause panic, and despite this new phishing tactic, encryption is still an essential security tool that every business must implement.

Websites with HTTPS are still much safer than unencrypted ones. This is why it’s more important than ever to be vigilant when visiting suspicious sites and clicking on links. If you receive an email from PayPal asking you to verify your bank account details or password to a seemingly secure link, be wary. Some phishing scams are easy to detect, but some are not.

Practice extreme caution when responding to requests for sensitive data. Consider the source of the message, think before clicking, and don’t hesitate to seek the advice of an expert in case you have doubts. Phishers succeed only if you do what they ask you to do.

Phishing and other cyber scams are constantly getting upgrades, and no single solution can prevent hackers from attacking you. But your business could be much safer with the right cyber security protections in place. If this is exactly what you need, get in touch with our cyber security technicians.

Published with permission from Source.

Update your Mac ASAP

With new vulnerabilities discovered every day, it’s important for users to keep their computers up to date. The problem is many find this process tedious and sometimes ignore it altogether. But if you’re a Mac user, we urge you to install the latest patch as soon as possible.

Serious bug
On November 28th, security researchers reported a serious bug in macOS High Sierra that allows anyone to easily take control of any Mac computer. Normally, users are asked for their username and password before logging into their Mac, installing a new application, or changing settings. However, this recent bug allows users to simply type “root” as a username, leave the password field blank, and click “unlock” to gain full access.

This means if hackers have physical access to a machine, not even passwords can stop them from getting inside. They could, for instance, log in with “root,” reset the username and password, and enjoy future access to the machine at any time. They could also install spyware with ease and monitor your activity 24/7 without being detected.

The bug was so alarming that Apple released an emergency patch within a day. But even the fix had problems, and when users installed the next major macOS update, High Sierra 10.13.1, the bug reappeared.

Luckily, Apple was quickly made aware of this secondary problem and rolled out a 10.13.2 update on December 6th to completely resolve the issue.

Other threats to Apple security
This wasn’t the only problem Apple had to deal with recently. In October, Apple released an update for Key Reinstallation Attacks (KRACK) — a type of attack that essentially breaks the encryption protocols between a router and a device, allowing hackers to read private messages and steal other sensitive data.

And last week, an iOS 11 update was rolled out to fix glaring weaknesses in Apple’s HomeKit Internet of Things framework, which enables hackers to exploit smart devices like security cameras and door locks.

How to protect yourself
The importance of checking for updates and installing them as soon as possible cannot be understated. Hackers are more active than ever and will use any means necessary to breach your network. Updating your software is the best way to reduce the number of exploitable entry points into your business.

To install updates for Apple devices, open the App Store, and click on Updates. All critical updates should be displayed on the window, but if you don’t see the one you’re looking for, use the Search field to find it.

Even though the potentially devastating High Sierra bug has been fixed, you should consider creating a genuine root user password to prevent others from gaining access to your machine just by typing in “root.”

To do this, open Directory Utility, which can be found in the Users & Groups tab in System Preferences. From there, click on Edit and select Enable root user, where you will be prompted to set a password. And last but not least, make sure you set a strong password.

Protecting your systems is a full-time job, so if you’re not experienced with computers, call us today. We’ll give you the tools and services you need to stay safe from a wide range of cyberattacks.

Published with permission from Source.

A keylogger found in HP laptops

Are you using an HP laptop? If so, your machine might have a keylogger pre-installed. This means every stroke you hit on your keyboard can be recorded and your passwords and personal details can be exposed. But don’t panic. We’re about to tell you how to remove it while educating you about this sneaky software and how to steer clear from it.

What are keyloggers?

Keyloggers are hardware devices or software programs that record every key you press on your computer’s keyboard. Most keyloggers can also capture screenshots and send them to a remote computer where someone is waiting to see what you’re up to.

And why does this matter? Because hackers can steal your usernames and passwords, keep track of the messages you send via instant messaging apps or emails, and other personal information you disclose on online forms. Imagine what they can do with all that data.

A keylogger spotted on hundreds of HP laptops

In early December, a security researcher discovered a keylogger pre-installed on an HP laptop. This led to the revelation that more than 460 HP laptop models, including ProBook, Pavilion, EliteBook, and the Envy line include the Synaptics touchpad driver — which can be used as a keylogger.

Even though the keylogger on those HP laptops isn’t activated by default, an attacker who gains access to your laptop can enable it without much difficulty. HP themselves said the keylogger code had been added to the software by mistake and they’ve since released patches to fix the issue.

What should HP laptop users do?

If you own an HP laptop, check whether you’re affected by referring to this full list of affected models. If your laptop model is on the list, click on the link provided on the right side of the model name and download the security patch immediately to remove the keylogger from your computer.

How to protect yourself from keyloggers

The standard security measures — which you should be taking to heart and keeping up to date — can help protect you from keyloggers. You should avoid suspicious websites and never download files from them, and take extra care when opening attachments, text messages, or social media links from unknown senders since they can be embedded with a keylogger.

You should also have antivirus software installed and keep it up to date. Most antivirus software nowadays has already added keyloggers to their databases. It’s also good to be aware of the latest security patches from your hardware manufacturers and software developers since they’re made to fix current vulnerabilities.

And to make things even more secure, consider using one-time passwords and two-step verifications when you need to log in to important online services, such as those related to personal finance or services that require sensitive personal data.

Need more tips and tricks on how to protect yourself and your business from cyber espionage? Talk to our security experts today. They will be more than happy to explain IT security issues to you in plain English!

Published with permission from Source.

Identity and Access Management 101

Whether it be cloud, mobile, or on-premises, every technology you use stores certain confidential data that are accessed by your employees. So how do you guarantee the safety of said data from cyber threats like identity theft, phishing attacks and more? IAM is the answer.

What is IAM?

Identity and access management is a system that secures, stores, and manages user identities and access privileges. It ensures that users are who they say they are and will grant access to applications and resources only if they have the permission to use them.

Some of the most common IAM solutions include single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and access management, all of which can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.

Why is it so important?

Modern technology enables businesses to be more agile and efficient than ever before. For instance, the cloud lets your employees work from anywhere at anytime on any device. However, this means that your workforce has moved beyond the protections of on-premise security.

That’s why you need to embrace another security solution, one that focuses on identity rather than physical or network security, which is exactly what IAM was designed for. It makes sure that your employees, customers, and partners are who they say they are and are only able to access the resources they need, nothing more. And that’s just scratching the surface on how IAM can benefit your company.

Centralize access control

Too much access to certain systems are risky and too little can hamper productivity and frustrate users. IAM strikes the perfect balance by letting you set centralized policies for the right access privileges. For example, you can deny your design team access to the accounting system while granting it to your CFO.

Each user’s role and attribute can be used to determine which resources they’re allowed to access and to what extent. This not only offers better security but also more flexibility and ease of management.

Lower chances of data breaches

With SSO and MFA, your employees will no longer have to remember multiple passwords. Instead, they’ll be able to prove their identity using evidence-based authorization such as answering a personal question that only they would know. IAM also comes equipped with advanced encryption tools to protect sensitive data and so reduces the risk of compromised user credentials.

Improve user experience

Customers today interact with your company across multiple channels, whether in the cloud or via third-party applications. This is where IAM helps provide a better experience through SSO, self-service capabilities, and unified customer profiles that makes communication processes quick and easy.

Your employees, on the other hand, will be able to access the information they need securely and conveniently no matter where they are. This means productivity will no longer be confined to their office table.

Achieve regulatory compliance

Businesses today must meet the constantly changing regulatory requirements concerning data access governance and privacy management. IAM was designed with just that in mind and provides control over who can access data and how it can be used and shared.

Reduce IT costs

IAM automates and standardizes many aspects of identity, authentication, and authorization management. This means you’ll be able to minimize significant labor costs associated with keeping your business environment secure.

Identity and access management solution equips you with much-needed security without compromising on usability and convenience. To operate in today’s digital business environment, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll adopt IAM within your company.

If you’re looking to enhance company-wide security, whether with IAM or other solutions, why not give us a call? We’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from Source.

How to master Microsoft Office!

Despite Microsoft Office’s easy-to-use interface, mastering all the features in this suite of productivity tools requires time. But fret not, the following training videos will help you become a Microsoft Office expert fast.

Office Basics is a series of free Office training videos from Microsoft which cover different features and functionality.

Intro to Office Basics

This training video will help you use templates to create professional documents, learn the ins and outs of SmartArt and Charts to express complex data and ideas, and collaborate in shared documents whether you’re working online, offline, or simultaneously with others.

What is Office 365?

Discover the features and upgrades within Office 365 that aren’t available anywhere else, and learn how cloud versions of applications like Word, Excel, and Outlook differ from their desktop counterparts.

Word Training

These training videos will show you how to create and edit documents as well as create and format tables in just a few clicks. They also cover document makeovers, how to organize documents, creating mailing lists, and how to translate text instantly.

Excel Training

Creating, organizing, and analyzing data from charts and tables can be quite complicated, which is why these training videos are perfect for anyone looking to design workbooks, add text and data, format and analyze charts, and create pivot tables and formulas. Other tips include how to slice data and locate them using VLOOKUP.

PowerPoint Training

There’s more to PowerPoint than adding text to slides. These training videos will show you how to create presentations, add and format text, design presentations, add audio, video, and animations, and format images. You’ll also learn about nifty features such as how to match slide colors using the Eyedropper and how to export slides to videos.

Outlook Training

Organize your Outlook inbox with ease and learn how to add and format text and images, manage contacts, calendars, meetings, and to-do lists, as well as other tips such as how to spice up your email signature, keep your inbox clean, and hold meetings using Skype and OneNote.

Microsoft’s new training videos might not be jaw-dropping, but they will surely help users do more with Office. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Microsoft Office for small businesses, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from Source.

Here come crapware-free PCs

Bloatware, trialware, crapware — the unnecessary software usually pre-installed by the manufacturer on your brand new PC. Besides being annoying, this type of software also slows down your machine and can tamper with security. Microsoft is fed up with it too, which is why they’ve come up with Windows 10 Signature Edition PCs. Read on to find out more.

What are Windows 10 Signature Edition PCs?

Microsoft Windows 10 Signature Edition is a new generation of specially configured PCs that are clear of junkware, which is unnecessary software pre-installed by PC manufacturers on new PCs. Microsoft is aiming to provide users with cleaner, more optimized PCs.

What’s tempting about them?

They are cleaner. It’s undeniable that PCs devoid of aggressive attempts to lure you to pay for upgrades is a more pleasant user experience. No more annoyances, no more need to spend time manually uninstalling unnecessary programs yourself.

They are faster. Once PCs are clear of third-party junkware, they’ll load quicker, whether you need to boot, shutdown, sleep, or resume working.

They are more secure, according to Microsoft. The Signature Edition PCs boast a built-in firewall and anti-virus and anti-phishing tools that come with ongoing security support and updates throughout their useful lives. What’s more, ridding your PC of bloatware means reducing the chances of you clicking on suspicious ads that will make your PC prone to attack.

You can find Signature Edition PCs in Microsoft’s brick-and-mortar stores and online, manufactured by leading PC makers such as Dell, Acer, HP, and Lenovo.

Is there any downside?

Possibly, yes. Signature Edition PCs usually cost more than similar machines containing bloatware. This is because bloatware is a source of extra income, and many vendors end up increasing the PC price to make up for the loss.

Another thing to note is that even though the Signature Edition PCs have less third-party software, much of Microsoft’s own crapware remains. That includes Candy Crush Soda Saga, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, and Drawboard PDF. The good news is Microsoft bloatware generally doesn’t affect a PC’s performance unless it is running.

Interested in switching to a cleaner version of Windows, but unsure whether it would be worth it? Before spending your hard-earned money on a piece of hardware, you need to make sure you understand the pros and cons, so why not consult our experts today? They know about computers and can advise you on how to make the right IT investments.

Published with permission from Source.

Cybersecurity Essentials: VPN

Whether it’s because of government surveillance or cyberattacks, internet users are more concerned than ever about the privacy of their online activities. Unfortunately, security measures like firewalls and antivirus software can’t help you in this case, but there’s one that can: Virtual Private Network (VPN).

What is VPN?

Simply put, a VPN is a group of servers you connect to via the internet. Once you’ve established a connection, your computer acts as if it’s on the same local connection as the VPN, making it seem like you moved to a different location.

When you surf the web through a VPN, all the data transmitted and received is also encrypted, preventing anyone — from hackers to government agencies — from monitoring your online activities.

Why should you have one?

Of course, security and privacy are major reasons why you would want a VPN. For example, if you’re connected to a public WiFi network — like the ones you typically see in local cafes and airports — using a VPN encrypts the information you’re sending or accessing online. This means things like credit card details, login credentials, private conversations, or other sensitive documents can’t be intercepted by a third party.

VPNs are also useful for accessing geo-restricted websites. If you’re traveling abroad and certain US websites are blocked in that region, you can simply connect to a VPN located in the US to access the sites you need.

Which VPN should you choose?

Given the increasing demand for secure online privacy, VPNs are surging in popularity. The following considerations can help you find the right one.

1. Cost
While free VPNs are available, we strongly suggest you avoid them. These keep logs of your internet activity, and in some cases sell them to the highest bidder. Maintaining a VPN service is also expensive, which means the free ones will likely plaster ads on your browser to make a quick buck.

Paid VPNs like SurfEasy and StrongVPN often come with more robust features and configurations that keep you secure. What’s more, they don’t keep a record of the sites you visit and hound you with pop-ups that lead to dangerous websites.

2. Location
The physical location of VPN servers is important if you want to access region-blocked websites. So if you’re planning on accessing a UK-based service, your VPN provider must at least have servers installed in London.

3. Capacity
Read through a VPN provider’s terms of service to determine how much data you’re allowed to use. If possible, find out how many servers a VPN provider has. If they have plenty of servers online, you can rest assured that they have the capacity to support your internet browsing.

4. Device compatibility
Another important factor to consider is whether the VPN can be used across multiple devices. Nowadays, employees work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll want a VPN that’s compatible with all these.

5. IP leaking
Finally, a great way to evaluate a VPN service is to sign up for their free trial service and visit, which will allow you to check whether your real IP address is actually being leaked. If it manages to track your physical location, you need to opt for a more reliable VPN service.

VPNs are now a vital component of cybersecurity, and if you need help selecting the right one for your business, consult with our security experts today. We also offer comprehensive cybersecurity services so no hacker or third party can get their hands on your data.

Published with permission from Source.

Useful keyboard shortcuts for Mac users

Did you recently switch from Windows to Mac? If so, you’re probably still getting used to the Apple keyboard. The good news is it’s only slightly different from a non-Apple keyboard. The bad news is you’ll have to learn a whole new set of shortcuts. Although some basic shortcuts are the same in both Apple and Windows computers, there’s plenty more that you ought to use.

Minimizing (or ‘Docking’) the front app window: Command M

Use this combination when you have several apps, browsers, or Finder windows open and want to minimize the active one. To minimize all open windows at once, press Command + Option + M.

Closing an active window: Command + W

This shortcut lets you close active apps or programs like browsers, Finder, Thesaurus, or any app that allows multiple tabs to be open simultaneously. To close all tabs without quitting the program entirely, press Command + Option + W.

Quitting a program: Command + Q

Clicking the red X button in most Mac apps and programs, like Mail, only puts them in the dock. This shortcut lets you fully quit an application.

Force quitting a program: Command + Option + Escape

If an app becomes unresponsive, you can shut it down by using the force-quit shortcut, which displays all your open applications. Select the one you want to quit and hit ‘Force Quit.’ In some instances, you might need to press Command + Tab to switch to another app, then press Command + Shift + Option + Escape to quit an active app.

Hiding apps: Command + H

With this trick you can hide an active window, which is particularly useful when you want to quickly conceal what’s on your screen. It’s also great for decluttering your screen by keeping only one app active. Simply press Command + Option + H.

Opening folders in Finder: Command + Shift + A/U/D/H/I

These combinations offer faster ways to view your Applications (A), Utilities (U), Desktop (D), Home (H), and iCloud (I) folders without having to click several apps.

Shutting down a Mac: Command-Alt-Control-Eject

In a hurry and need to power off quick? This shortcut shuts down everything — apps, operating system, and power.

Taking a screenshot:

  • Command + Shift + 3 – Use this to take a snapshot of your entire screen.
  • Command + Shift + 4 – This combination will turn your cursor into a set of crosshairs that will let you select a specific area of your screen.
  • Command + Shift + 4 + Spacebar – Hit these keys to screenshot only your current window (browser window, Notes app, etc.) without altering its dimensions.

Other little-known shortcuts:

  • Command + Spacebar – Press these keys and the Spotlight Search bar will appear in the upper center of your screen, which you can use to search for files or programs.
  • Command + Option + D – Use this to hide the Dock.
  • Command + Shift + [ or ] – Cycle through tabs in Safari by pressing [ when moving right or ] when moving left.
  • Command + Shift – See all your open tabs in an active browser.
  • Command + , (comma) – Open the active app’s settings.
  • Command + Shift T – Opens the last closed tab in the active browser.

Everyone uses hotkeys to work faster and more efficiently. If you need more usability and productivity tips and tricks on MacBook, iMac, MacBook Pro, or any of your business devices, call our experts today!

Published with permission from Source.