Microsoft updates Office 365 apps for Apple

Microsoft updates Office 365 apps for Apple

Microsoft recently updated Office 365 for iOS and Mac to enhance user experience. Office apps are now better integrated into the Apple ecosystem, which means iPhone, iPad, and Mac users can expect a more seamless experience when creating, accessing, or storing Office documents.

Co-authoring in Word, Excel, PowerPoint

Apple users can now co-edit documents in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. This new feature for Apple products allows several users to work, edit, or view changes in a document at once, whether from a PC, Mac, or mobile device. This feature also allows co-authors to track and identify other users who are making changes in real time.

Autosave documents in the cloud

The latest updates also come with an autosave feature for Apple users. This functionality not only automatically saves files, but also lets users view and restore previous versions of their content, similar to the autosave function in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

OneDrive support for iOS’s Files app

iOS’s Files app, which was introduced in the iOS 11 update, made searching and organizing documents more convenient for iPhone and iPad users. However, it’s only now that Microsoft has integrated its own cloud storage platform with the Apple app. OneDrive for iOS now supports the Files app, which means users can access and edit all their files in OneDrive or Sharepoint, and easily classify them via a new tagging feature.

File type preview enhancements

The improved list view in OneDrive for iOS makes viewing file names and relevant details and sorting files much easier. This view option includes thumbnails on file previews and support for 130 file types that can be opened, viewed, or shared within OneDrive.

Drag-and-drop functionality

A drag-and-drop capability is nothing new in iOS, but it was previously limited to moving around files from non-Office sources and apps. With the latest update, Apple users can drag and drop files from various sources that now includes OneDrive, Office, and other Microsoft sources. This capability saves users’ time when adding photos, graphs, and other files into documents or presentations on their iPad, iPhone or Mac.

Better search function in Outlook

Microsoft has also improved searching in Outlook for iOS because the search function now has its own tab in the navigation bar. The search feature is now more intuitive; tapping on the tab gives you instant access to top contacts, upcoming travel itineraries and deliveries, and recently accessed attachments.

These recent updates to Microsoft’s productivity tools aim to make users’ life much easier regardless of the device they use. But there’s way more Office 365 apps and programs to help you work more efficiently, and we have Microsoft consultants who can help you maximize all of them. Just give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Facebook makes space for more relevant posts

Facebook makes space for more relevant posts

Social media has proven to be very influential in shaping people’s lives, affecting everything from one’s mental health to people’s views on certain political parties. To limit this, Facebook has made a decision to limit the posts from business accounts on your News Feed to make room for more meaningful posts shared by your friends and families.

Potential outcome for Facebook

One of the main sources of revenue for the social media giant is from its advertising program. But with the changes set to take place, there’s a high possibility that users will spend less time on its platform. This would mean comparatively less effective advertising than before, thus fewer advertisement signups from businesses.

While they do admit this move may potentially hurt profitability, Facebook hopes this change will improve user experience, which in the long-run may translate into higher profits.

Reason for News Feed change

Users enjoy learning about what’s happening in their social circles. Whether what’s shared is as mundane as what someone recently baked, or as momentous as a wedding, every day millions of users like and comment about each other’s lives. For this reason, Facebook has decided to spotlight images and videos that are more meaningful to people on a personal level. Such posts have greater power to deepen human bonds.

Weighing the pros and cons of the News Feed change

However, research has found that constant use of Facebook can cause people to feel alienated and inadequate, reducing people’s overall well-being in the long run. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenagers are especially liable to “Facebook depression,” as they constantly compare themselves with their peers.

On the other hand, several researchers believe that an individual’s personality has a greater impact on the type of response he or she will have. If you feel your life is very fulfilling, seeing your friend or family member having fun would make you happy. By contrast, if you’re unhappy or feeling insecure with life, seeing other people’s happier moments will depress you even more.

Effectiveness of change

It’s still too early to tell whether this move will change society for the better and, at the same time, salvage Facebook’s reputation of being a platform that helps people connect with each other. Only time will tell.

Besides Facebook, there are other online channels that can improve your business reputation. If you’re interested in building a stronger web presence, contact us today and we’ll help you get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

The dangers of distributed spam distraction

The dangers of distributed spam distraction

Users get around 200 emails in their inbox a day, including work messages, automated payment slips, and everyone’s least favorite email, spam. Spam messages are mostly harmless, but when you get more than 10,000 of them flooding your inbox, you’re probably the victim of a special type of spam attack.

Understanding DSD
Distributed Spam Distraction (DSD) is designed to inundate your inbox with thousands of nonsense emails. There are no dangerous links, ads, or attachments involved, just random excerpts of text stolen from books and websites. What’s more, the email and IP addresses used are all different so victims can’t simply block a specific sender.

These attacks last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours and can flood inboxes with as many as 60,000 messages. While they may seem like harmless annoyances, the true purpose of DSD is to draw victims’ attention away from what hackers are doing behind the scenes.

And what they’re doing is exploiting your personally identifiable information (PII) to make unauthorized purchases or pilfer cash directly from your accounts. The DSD acts as a sort of smokescreen to hide payment confirmation messages behind a deluge of spam messages.

New tactics
Over the years, hackers have developed new tactics involving DSD. Several reports have shown that, instead of nonsensical emails, hackers are using automated software to have their targets sign up for thousands of free accounts and newsletters to distract them with authentic messages. This allows DSD blasts to slip past spam filters that have been designed to weed out malicious code and gibberish text used by traditional DSD attacks.

What’s even more worrying is that any ill-intentioned individual can go to the dark web and pay for DSD services. They just have to provide a hacker with their target’s name, email address, and credit card numbers — all of which can also be purchased in the dark web — and pay as little as $40 to send 20,000 spam messages.

How to stop it
DSD is a clear sign that one of your accounts has been hijacked, so whenever you receive dozens of emails in quick succession, contact your financial institutions to cancel any unfamiliar transactions and change your login credentials as soon as possible. It’s also important to update your anti-spam software (or get one if you don’t have one already) to protect your inbox from future DSD attacks.

Hackers only initiate DSD attacks after they’ve obtained their target’s email address and personal information, so make sure your accounts and identity are well protected. This means you should regularly change your passwords and pins, enable multi-factor authentication, set up text alerts for whenever online purchases are made in your name, and be careful about sharing personal information.

For more tips on how to deal with DSDs or other cyberattacks, call us today. We offer powerful tools and expert advice that will ensure your business’s safety.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

5 things to do to your new laptop

5 things to do to your new laptop

Getting a new laptop can be very exciting. It guarantees a more seamless user experience with faster speed, more memory, and better battery life. But it’s all for naught if you don’t take certain preventive steps before using your new machine. Discover five things you should do before you start exploring your new toy.

1. Update your laptop’s operating system

One of the first things you should do before using your laptop is upgrade its operating system. Assuming you did not purchase the laptop right when it was released, your laptop will still be running an older operating system. With important patches and fixes released in each new update, it is recommended that you install the latest one to ensure your laptop is free of any vulnerabilities.

2. Remove bloatware

Opening your laptop for the first time, you might notice that there are already several preloaded software in the system — some of which you will probably never use. These are known as bloatware.

These apps take up a lot of your valuable drive space, so consider getting rid of them. The easiest way to do this is by downloading a bulk uninstaller, which allows you to check all the bloatware apps you don’t want and remove them in one fell swoop.

3. Install protection software

It’s no secret that the world we live in is unsafe. And with so much confidential information nowadays becoming digitalized, it is necessary to protect yourself against losing important data from your computer. The solution to this is very simple. By installing antivirus software that can automatically — or manually — scan your computer at a scheduled time, potential attacks can be thwarted before they become more serious.

Not only is your laptop’s data vulnerable to cyberattacks, there is always a chance your laptop can get lost or stolen. While there are preventive steps you can take — such as being mindful while using your laptop in public places — another solution would be to install anti-theft software. Security features such as “Find My Device” for Windows 10 and “Prey” for other operating systems can help you locate your device if it’s ever stolen or misplaced.

4. Optimize your power settings

One of the most frequent problems that laptop users have is that their batteries run out of juice too fast. However, you can actually extend the battery life by making a few tweaks to your power settings.

Reduce your display brightness, but not so much that it causes eye and mental fatigue
Use the Sleep or Hibernate mode for your operating system

5. Set up a backup plan

Imagine spending months working on an important project and suddenly finding it nonexistent the next day just because your laptop crashed. Deadlines will be missed. Profit margins will decrease. Customers will leave unhappy. And if worse comes to worst, you’ll be out of business.

Why add more unnecessary stress if you can prevent it from happening in the first place? By setting up an automatic backup system, you can regularly save all your important files; that way, you’d still have access to the data anytime were anything to happen to the original file.

You can also store all your important documents in the cloud, which ensures access whenever you need, even if your laptop crashed or got stolen.

Getting a new laptop can be fun, but the joy might be short-lived if you don’t set up any preventive measures from the start. Call us for information on how we can help you secure your company’s laptop today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Fighting ransomware with virtualization

Fighting ransomware with virtualization

Ransomware takes your data hostage and demands a payment for its recovery. While it may seem like there’s no other choice but to pay the ransom, you should never give in to the hacker’s demands. Before the next wave of ransomware comes around, it’s important to protect your business with virtual disaster recovery solutions.

Virtual DR
Virtual DR solutions allow you to create point-in-time copies, or “snapshots,” of operating systems, data, and virtual machines as they appear at a given point in time. These snapshots can then be loaded onto any workstation with everything still intact. In the event of a ransomware attack, administrators can essentially roll back the system to a point before the malware hit.

What’s great about point-in-time copy features is that they are automated. Just schedule the snapshots, and your virtual DR software will do the rest. And although virtual DR solutions vary, most of them have the capacity to store thousands of point-in-time copies, giving you plenty of restore points to choose from.

Why virtual DR trumps traditional DR
Traditional DR methods don’t have these features. Even though most computer operating systems have a system restore functionality, modern ransomware strains are designed to disable them. On the other hand, virtual DR software isolates point-in-time copies and restore functionality from virtual machines, which means they can’t be affected if one virtual machine was compromised with ransomware.

Another reason why traditional DR is not a great option is because there is a lot of manual labor involved. You have to copy all your data into a backup drive, reinstall applications, and reconfigure hardware. By the time you’ve recovered from the ransomware attack, the financial and reputational damage caused by downtime will have taken its toll on your business.

When recovering your system, you want as little hassle as possible. With virtual DR, you can load a clean, ransomware-free snapshot onto your system in less than 30 minutes.

However, implementing virtual DR can be complex, especially if you don’t have much IT expertise. But if you partner with us, this won’t be a problem! Call us today to get robust solutions that guarantee business continuity.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Is Bing the right search engine for you?

Is Bing the right search engine for you?

Have you ever tried asking your search engine something to no avail? With many of us facing this problem, Bing has been updated with four new features that give users more thorough answers and enable it to respond to broader search terms.

Validating answers using many websites

Before the recent update, Bing would answer questions based on what it found on a single website. Now, it scours several sites and aggregates results before replying to your query. For questions that have two different perspectives, answers from both sides will be compiled and displayed at the top of the search page. A compilation of answers will also be given for questions with numerous answers.

Analogies

Have you ever gotten an answer you couldn’t comprehend? Search engines have a relatively easy time finding answers, but they don’t always display the simplest ones. For example, knowing that Syria is 71,498 square miles isn’t the same as learning that Syria is approximately as big as Florida, but depending on where you live one is much better than the other.

With Bing now providing relevant analogies and comparisons, information has become easier to understand. Answers are based on things search engine users are familiar with, making the search experience far more user-friendly and empathetic.

Clarifying questions

Bing is now able to provide a more specific answer when being asked broad or conversational questions. To accomplish this, the search engine will ask the user follow-up questions to refine search results.

Microsoft has also an advanced image search, which allows users to search based on specific objects within images. For example, if you wish to purchase a shirt you saw in a picture, Bing’s advanced image search allows you to select it and locate a store that sells it.

Partnering with Reddit

Bing has also partnered with Reddit to display information from its threads to Bing’s search page. What this means for users is that certain topics in Reddit or subreddits can be searched through Bing search. Answers found in the site will also be displayed on the search page.

With these four new features in Bing, searching for your answers has never been easier. To find out more about other web and cloud services, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Understanding Office collaboration tools

Understanding Office collaboration tools

Office 365 is chock full of so many apps that it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of them all. Sure, you have the most popular tools like Word and Skype for Business, but there are three tools in the lineup that seem like they could be used the same way: Outlook Groups, Yammer, and Microsoft Teams. Read on to find out what makes these collaboration tools different from each other and when each of them should be used.

Outlook Groups
With Outlook Groups, every member gets a shared inbox, calendar, project planner, notebook, and document library. You also get the ability to connect to third-party apps — like Twitter, Trello, and Mailchimp — so notifications are sent directly to your shared inbox.

This means all relevant messages and information are contained in one place, so if a majority of your conversations occur via email then, Outlook Groups is the perfect choice. What’s more, HR and Sales departments that communicate with external parties will also find plenty of uses for its email features.

One drawback with Outlook Groups, however, is email overload. Because all messages and notifications are sent to one inbox, users may be overwhelmed by the number of emails they have to sort through every day.

Microsoft Teams
Then there’s Microsoft Teams, a chat-based collaboration platform similar to Slack. It works with Skype for Business so you can text, call, video chat, and share files with colleagues. And thanks to its seamless integrations with other Office 365 programs, you can even work on shared files without having to leave the app.

Unlike Groups, Microsoft Teams is designed for high-velocity collaboration, making it the best of the three for completing projects with tight deadlines or other tasks where employees need immediate feedback.

Yammer
Much like Groups and Teams, Yammer works well with other Office 365 tools like Outlook and OneDrive. But the big difference is Yammer is a social media app designed to foster open communication and break down barriers between teams.

With Yammer, important files and announcements can be shared with the entire company like an office bulletin board. What’s more, users can see the most popular post on their feeds, follow it, and even provide their input by leaving a comment.

Yammer also takes design elements and features from popular social media apps like Facebook, making it a popular choice for companies with a significant number of millennials in their workforce.

Although we’ve discussed the fundamental differences between Groups, Teams, and Yammer, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what each app can do. To figure out which apps you need, you must understand how your employees work, how they prefer to collaborate, and what you want to achieve.

But there’s another way to find the right app for your business. Contact us today for an IT assessment!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Meltdown and Spectre fixes cause problems

Meltdown and Spectre fixes cause problems

It’s been three weeks since one of the worst IT security vulnerabilities in history was announced, and consumers are still receiving mixed messages about how to protect themselves. We usually encourage users to install software updates as often as possible, but when it comes to Meltdown and Spectre, that advice comes with an asterisk.

Unsecured data storage

Spectre and Meltdown are the names given to two hardware flaws that allow hackers to see any piece of information stored on your computer. Although slightly different in execution, both take advantage of a hardware feature that computer chips use to access and store private information. For the last 20 years, security experts believed this information could not be stolen or spied on by malicious software, but that assumption was proven false on January 3, 2018.

Now that the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities are public information, hackers can use them to create programs that steal passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and anything else you type into your computer.

Because these problems are hardware-based, none of the updates will be able to secure the vulnerable storage; they’ll simply prevent your computer from storing anything in it. Currently, there are patches for:

  • Operating systems (Windows, macOS, and Linux)
  • Web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and IE)
  • Chip firmware (low-level programs installed on the processor itself)

If you’re using an Apple computer, these updates are relatively easy to install. If you’re using a Windows or Linux-based computer, these patches may cause your machine to freeze, reboot unexpectedly, or significantly slow down.

Why should I wait to install the updates?

Intel, one of the chipmakers responsible for the Spectre and Meltdown flaws, has provided contradictory recommendations on more than one occasion. As recently as January 18, Intel recommended waiting for an updated patch, but in the same announcement also recommended “consumers to keep systems up-to-date.”

Experts believe detecting an attack that is based on one of these flaws will be relatively easy and represent an alternative to installing updates that could render your computer unusable.

What should I do?

IT support experts will be able to quickly and easily assess what is the best option for your computers. For example, our team can determine whether or not your hardware will conflict with the current patches, and either install them or set up a detection strategy that will help you mitigate the risks without ruining your computer.

If you need expert IT support for quick responses and ironclad security — give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Data safety: The non-technical way

Data safety: The non-technical way

Keeping up with advancements in technology as a business owner is tough, especially when those advancements relate to information security. However, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few physical security tips you can implement to protect your data before calling us!

Cover up your webcam

There must be some credibility to doing this if Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, former FBI director, James Comey, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden all believe their webcams could be compromised. This is not just another paranoid celebrity reaction to ruthless paparazzi, there’s a genuine reason behind it. Kindly take a moment to consider the following scenario: hackers using your webcam to spy on you.

Though it might sound unrealistic, this actually happened on several occasions. Sometimes for purely voyeuristic reasons and sometimes what appeared to be espionage. This is a very real threat with disturbing repercussions. Hackers aim to gain personal information based on your surroundings, deduce your location, as well as spy on the people you’re with, ultimately using this information to hold you ransom, threatening to broadcast your most intimate and vulnerable moments if you don’t pay up.

Fortunately, guarding yourself against such danger is really easy and some painter’s tape over your webcam should do the trick. If you’re not confident about regular tape, you can purchase a cheap webcam cover online or at any hardware store.

Purchase a privacy shield

Think of privacy guards as those iPhone scratch protectors, but with an anti-snooping feature. These are thin covers you put on your computer, laptop or smartphone screen to limit viewing angles. Once installed, anyone trying to look at your screen from anywhere — except straight-on — sees nothing. Privacy filters are commonly used to protect work devices, particularly which display or contain critical files with sensitive data or confidential information. However, less sensitive, personal devices are still vulnerable to ‘shoulder surfing’ — the act of peeking at someone else’s screen, with or without ill intent, which is why we recommend using these protectors on all your devices.

Use a physical authentication key

Requiring more than one set of credentials to access sensitive resources is common sense, and has become standard practice for established online services. With something called two-factor authentication in place, you gain access to your account only after you’ve entered the authentication code, which the website sends to your smartphone once you’ve entered your account credentials. Until recently, two-factor authentication relied mostly on text messages that were sent to mobile phones. But professionals have now realised that phones can be hijacked to redirect text messages.

Moreover, authentication codes can be stolen, or users can be tricked into entering these codes via a convincing phishing website. If you’re looking for authentication services that cannot be hijacked, stolen or lost, your best bet is a USB or Bluetooth key you can carry on your keychain. This means nobody — not even you — will be able to access your account without the physical key. Ultimate security at your fingertips.

If you need help setting up two-factor authentication, or any IT security services, contact our experts and experience true peace of mind as we fortify your data to no end.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto

Is your browser safe from Spectre?

Is your browser safe from Spectre?

The Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox browsers may not be as safe as you think. Security researchers recently discovered that computer chips manufactured in the past two decades contain major security vulnerabilities. One can be used by hackers to gain access to sensitive data. Read on to learn more.

What is Spectre?
To understand this unprecedented vulnerability, you need to know some computer chip basics. Modern chips try to speed up their work by storing information related to predictable and repetitive processes. Whenever CPUs perform calculations ahead of time that end up being unnecessary, the data is thrown away into a supposedly secure storage cache.

Hackers can gain access to the discarded data by using malware to create digital backdoors. From there, they can simply sneak in, sift through the private information, and even trick the processor into throwing away even more sensitive information. This is known as a Spectre attack.

Though the exploit is highly technical and difficult to execute, researchers said Spectre affects all modern processors, including those developed by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

How does it affect browsers?
As mentioned, hackers would need to install malware on a device to perform a Spectre attack. One tactic experts found effective is if hackers build a malicious program and embed it on a website. Should anyone visit the rogue website, their browser will automatically run the malicious program.

Once inside, the attacker can use Spectre to gain full access to keystrokes, encryption keys, and login credentials.

So far, there is no evidence of Spectre attacks actively being used to steal data from web browsers, but they are difficult to detect. Experts also predict hackers will likely develop specialized malware now that this information is available to the public.

Is there a way to protect myself?
Fortunately, major browser developers were quick to release updates as soon as the Spectre attack was discovered.

Mozilla also has security features to prevent some Spectre attacks, but announced a full-blown solution is in the works.

As for Chrome, users can expect an update as early as January 23. But for the time being Google recommends enabling the Site Isolation feature, which limits how much access browser plugins have to your computer. This feature can be enabled by going to your address bar and entering: chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process.

Even though the updates may affect browser performance, it’s a small price to pay compared with having your credit card or social security number stolen.
Like it or not, Spectre is just one of the many threats targeting your web browsers. That’s why you should call us today. We offer expert advice and cutting-edge solutions to make sure your browsing experience is a pleasant and safe one.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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Source: Pronto