Here’s what’s in store for the last ever Windows ‘Moments’ update

Here’s what’s in store for the last ever Windows ‘Moments’ update

Microsoft is soon going to release its latest update for Windows 11, known as “Moment 5” or the “February 24 Moment.” This update is expected to start rolling out in the next few weeks and it comes with some noteworthy changes that you’ll want to keep an eye on.

But first, let’s address one thing: After this update, Microsoft is going back to its roots with annual updates for Windows 11.

What does that mean for you? Well, it means you can expect more stability and fewer major overhauls to your operating system. It’s time to bid farewell to those frequent “moment” updates and embrace a more predictable schedule.

Now, let’s dive into what Moment 5 has in store for us…

One of the standout features of this update is the enhancement of Windows 11’s built-in accessibility features. Microsoft is improving the user experience for those who rely on these.

Voice Access now supports multiple monitors and additional languages. It introduces “voice shortcuts” for custom voice-activated commands. Narrator gains the ability to preview new natural voices and works alongside voice access for various tasks.

One notable change is the ability to write directly into text boxes using a stylus across the operating system. This feature streamlines the use of digital pens, eliminating the need for a dedicated handwriting panel.

For the first time ever, Microsoft is making some in-box apps uninstallable. Apps like Edge, Camera, and Photos can be removed if you don’t intend to use them.

Microsoft is also making the Windows Search pane more flexible. This update allows third-party search providers like Google or Yahoo to create plugins for the Windows Search pane. So, if you prefer another search engine over Bing (and let’s face it, many of us do), you’ll have the option to switch.

The Nearby Share feature (it’s like Apple’s AirDrop) gets a boost with “friendly name” support. You can give your PC a more readable name, making file sharing more user-friendly. Additionally, Windows Spotlight, which displays Bing’s background of the day, will become the default wallpaper setting.

Copilot is getting better. It can now be “undocked,” making it more versatile and accessible. You’ll also find the Copilot interface in the Windows ALT+TAB menu for quick and easy access.

And Microsoft is making changes to the Widgets Board. You’ll be able to disable Microsoft News integration, allowing for a widget-only layout if you prefer not to have news headlines in your Widgets Board. Plus, third-party news services can build plugins to integrate with the Widgets Board, providing more options for users.

Notepad will include a character count feature and an “Edit with Notepad” shortcut in context menus for select file types.

In a nutshell, Moment 5 brings a host of improvements and enhancements to Windows 11, making it more accessible, user-friendly, and versatile.

For business owners, these updates can improve productivity and streamline workflows for you and your team. If you haven’t already made the move to Windows 11, now’s the time! We can help you with that – get in touch.

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Unwrap the gift of knowledge: 5 free AI courses by Microsoft

Unwrap the gift of knowledge: 5 free AI courses by Microsoft

Merry Christmas! With the holiday season in full swing, you should be enjoying some well-deserved downtime. But what if I told you that you could make the most of your few days off from your business and prepare to seize the AI opportunity in 2024?

The world of AI is booming, rapidly transforming industries, and redefining how we do business. In fact, according to PwC, AI could contribute up to £12 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Microsoft has released five free courses on AI that you can take advantage of during your time off.

An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Let’s begin with the basics. This course helps you grasp the key concepts in AI. It’s designed for anyone and everyone, regardless of their technical background. By the end of this course, you’ll have a solid understanding of what AI is and how it can benefit your business.

You can find it here: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/introduction-to-artificial-intelligence

What is Generative AI?

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, dive into the world of generative AI. This course covers the fundamentals, including what it is, how it works, different models, and future predictions and implications. You’ll learn how generative AI can be used to create new content and ideas, opening exciting possibilities for innovation and creativity in your business.

You can find it here: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/what-is-generative-ai

This course takes a deeper look at the core concepts of generative AI-driven reasoning engines and how they differ from traditional search engine strategies. With a better understanding of these concepts, you’ll be able to leverage the power of AI to improve your online search capabilities, making your business more efficient and effective.

You can find it here: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/generative-ai-the-evolution-of-thoughtful-online-search

Streamlining Your Work with Microsoft Bing Chat

Chatbots are revolutionising the way businesses interact with their customers. This course helps you discover the power of chatbots and how to use them effectively. Learn how to streamline your customer service, automate routine tasks, and provide a better user experience with the help of AI-powered chatbots.

https://www.linkedin.com/learning/streamlining-your-work-with-microsoft-bing-chat

Ethics in the Age of Generative AI

Finally, this course addresses one of the most pressing issues in AI – ethics. As AI continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, it’s crucial that we consider the ethical implications of using these tools and products. This course will guide you on how to navigate these complex ethical issues, ensuring that your use of AI aligns with your values and principles.

You can find it here: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/ethics-in-the-age-of-generative-ai

Make the most of these free courses to help you stay ahead of the curve, enhance efficiency, build trust with your customers, and unlock new opportunities.

I know you want to kick back and relax for the next few days, and you should! But when you hit that no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year and you start to forget what day it is, this is a great investment of your time.

What are you waiting for? Oh, right, the turkey…

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7 Helpful Features Rolled Out in the Autumn Windows 11 Update

Windows 11 Autumn update

In a world where technology constantly evolves, Microsoft stands at the forefront. It continues to pioneer innovations. Innovations that transform how we interact with our digital universe.

The fall Windows 11 update is a testament to Microsoft’s commitment to excellence. It’s more than just an upgrade. It’s a leap into the future of computing. Microsoft touts it as “The most personal Windows 11 experience.”

Let’s explore some of the great features that make this update so significant.

Microsoft Copilot: Your Intelligent Partner in Creativity

A standout feature of the fall Windows 11 update is Microsoft Copilot. This AI-driven marvel is like your personal PC assistant.

Need help summarizing a web page? Want to change to dark mode, but forgot how? Looking for a quick custom image for a social media post? Microsoft Copilot can do all that and more.

Image credit: Microsoft

Copilot is seamlessly integrated into Windows 11. It offers real-time suggestions and turns ideas into reality with remarkable ease. Ask it what you need, and the AI engine gets to work.

Updated Apps (Paint, Snipping Tool, Clipchamp & More)

Have you ever wished that Windows’ Snipping Tool could do more? This update grants that wish. The Snipping Tool is just one of many to get an AI upgrade.

Look for new capabilities in Paint, Clipchamp, and Photos. Get a unique image from inputting a text prompt and style. The Cocreator tool in Paint makes it easy to jumpstart your creativity. It will generate the image, then you can edit it in the same app.

Microsoft Clipchamp is one of the easiest video creator tools out there. You can now just drag in your assets and clips. Then, click to have the AI engine work its magic to create a video for you.

The new Clipchamp Auto Compose feature can:

  • Recommend scenes
  • Make edits
  • Create a narrative based on your inputs       

Easy Data Migration with Windows Backup

When you buy a new computer, moving data can be a pain. It can take hours to move your “pc life” between devices. And there’s always the risk you’ll miss something.

The new Windows Backup feature makes moving between computers easier. You can choose backup options and folders. When ready to move, it’s a simple process. You can restore the new PC from another backed-up PC.

Microsoft Edge: A Faster and More Secure Browsing Experience

Microsoft Edge received significant enhancements. These focus on speed, responsiveness, and security. The Edge Secure Network feature offers more gigabytes. Microsoft increased user storage from 1GB to 5GB. This function encrypts your internet connection to secure data.

Edge Secure Network has many features of a VPN. This is great for extra online security. It’s also helpful for companies trying to prevent breaches from clicks on phishing links

Save Energy & Battery Power

A feature called Adaptive Dimming is another enhancement of this update. Your screen slowly dims if you’re no longer paying attention. This has the dual benefit of saving energy and helping you refocus.

PC sensors power this feature as well as two others. So, it’s going to be more common with newer computers.

The other two features that use sensors are:

  • Wake on Approach
  • Lock on Leave

A More Personal Windows 11 Experience

Beyond the technical innovations, this update brings more. Including a more personal touch to the user experience. Tailored to individual preferences, Windows 11 becomes an extension of the user’s identity.

This includes things like:

  • Personalized themes
  • Custom widgets
  • Intelligent assistants

Every interaction feels curated and intuitive. It makes for a truly personalized operating system.

Other Cool Enhancements

There’s a lot of excitement packed into Windows 11. Here are a few more new features you can explore.

  • Copilot in Microsoft Shopping: Find what you need fast when shopping online. Bing will provide tailored recommendations based on your requests.
  • Content Credentials: Add an invisible digital watermark to your AI-generated images in Bing. Cryptographic methods help you tag your work.
  • Bing Chat Enterprise Updates: Boost work creativity and enjoy multimodal visual search. Find information using only images.
  • DALL.E 3 Model from Open AI: Use the Image Creator in Bing and you’ll likely be impressed. It’s had an upgrade and uses the DALL.E 3 model to render images from text prompts.

Harness the Power of Microsoft Products

Microsoft is definitely a leader in work productivity tools. And it has been for a long time. If you’re still working like it was 2020, let us help you upgrade. Employees can be more efficient than ever with the right apps.  

We’ve got your back with Microsoft 365, Windows 11, and other solutions. Our experts will guide you, so you can gain an edge on the competition.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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You’ve heard of Copilot… but what is it?

You’ve heard of Copilot… but what is it?

What if we told you your business could have its own personal assistant that’s always ready to help, can answer virtually any question, and even change system settings on your devices?

It might sound too good to be true, but thanks to Microsoft’s innovative new AI chatbot, Copilot, it’s a reality.

Imagine this: You’re busy. Your day is packed with meetings, and you need to quickly find information or change a setting on your device. What do you do?

Instead of panicking or wasting time you don’t have, just ask Copilot.

It’s the new kid on the block, replacing Cortana as Microsoft’s go-to AI assistant. But what makes Copilot stand out from the crowd? Well, it’s built into the Microsoft Edge browser and integrated directly into Windows 11, allowing it to perform a broader range of tasks than ever before.

Ever tried to find a specific setting on your device and ended up lost in a sea of menus? With Copilot, you can simply ask it to change the setting for you.

But Copilot isn’t part of the operating system. It’s more like a bonus feature of the Microsoft Edge browser that’s been cleverly disguised to look like a native part of Windows 11.

When you summon Copilot, a sidebar appears from the right, revealing an interface identical to Bing Chat’s web version. Here, you can set your conversation style and ask questions on virtually any topic. From “Make me a picture of a tropical beach with palm trees” to “Create a five-day itinerary for my business trip in March,” Copilot is ready to assist.

The best bit? Copilot understands context, meaning you can ask follow-up questions without repeating specific keywords. It’s like having a conversation with a real person.

You can also use Copilot to get answers from any page on Microsoft Edge. Simply ask something like, “Give me a summary of the page I have opened on Microsoft Edge,” and Copilot will scan the webpage content and respond accordingly.

So, what’s the catch? Well, the preview of Copilot in the Windows 11 2023 update doesn’t reflect the final product that Microsoft plans to roll out. But they’re continually polishing the interface and will be adding more features in future updates.

While it might still be finding its feet, there’s no denying its potential.

If you’d like a hand navigating Copilot, or any other productivity tools, get in touch.

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The Danger Of Holiday Phishing Scams:

How To Recognize And Avoid Them To Stay Safe This Holiday Season

Holiday Phishing

The holiday season is in full swing, which means so are the cybercriminals! While you’re making holiday gift lists, they’re plotting and scheming new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. Holiday phishing scams have become an all-too-common threat, targeting customers to steal personal information, financial data and even identities.

To help reduce the chances that a cybercriminal will ruin your much-deserved holiday fun, we’ve outlined a few of the most common and dangerous scams that you should be on the lookout for, how they work and tips to help you avoid becoming their next victim.

Understanding Holiday Phishing Scams:

Phishing is a deceptive technique cybercriminals use to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details or Social Security numbers. During the holiday season, these scams often take on a festive disguise, tricking victims with holiday-themed e-mails, messages and websites. Whether you’re ordering gifts for clients or friends and family, here are some common tactics used by holiday phishing scammers to be aware of:

  1. Holiday-Themed E-mails: Scammers send e-mails that appear to be from trusted sources like your favorite retailers or even beloved charities. These e-mails look legit and usually offer fake exclusive holiday deals, order confirmations or requests for donations. Inside the e-mail, there is usually a link that leads to a fake website designed to steal your information or your money, or even install dangerous malware on your computer.

  2. Fake Promotions: Cybercriminals create fake holiday promotions and discounts that seem too good to be true. Unsuspecting victims see a great deal from a spoof e-mail account and are enticed to click on links or download attachments that can contain malware or lead to phishing websites.

    Sometimes cybercriminals aren’t looking to install malware but instead hoping to steal your money. They’ll duplicate popular retailer websites or set up their own, so when you make a purchase, they’ll collect the money, but you’ll never receive your order. These sites are often difficult to track, making it hard to get your money back.

  3. Delivery Notifications: With the increase in online shopping during the holidays, scammers send fake delivery notifications, claiming that a package is on its way or that there’s a problem with an order. These e-mails may prompt recipients to click on links or download attachments containing malicious software.

  4. Social Engineering: Scammers may impersonate friends or family members via e-mail or social media, asking for money or personal information under the guise of a holiday emergency or gift exchange. This is a common scam against seniors – who might not realize that the profile requesting money from them that was made “three days ago” isn’t actually their granddaughter – and young teenagers who don’t know fake profiles are an issue.

Recognizing and Avoiding Holiday Phishing Scams:

Now that we understand how holiday phishing scams operate, it’s essential to know how to recognize and avoid falling victim to them.

1. Verify The Sender: Always check the sender’s e-mail address or domain. Be cautious of misspelled or suspicious e-mail addresses. Legitimate companies and organizations use official domains for their communication.

2. Don’t Click On Suspicious Links: Hover your mouse over links to see the actual URL they lead to. Be wary of shortened links or URLs that don’t match the sender’s domain. If in doubt, visit the website directly by typing the URL into your browser.

3. Beware Of Urgency And Pressure: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, claiming limited-time offers or imminent problems. Take your time to verify the authenticity of any claims before taking action.

4. Double-Check Websites: Before entering personal or financial information on a website, ensure it’s secure. Look for “https://” in the URL, a padlock icon in the address bar and a valid SSL certificate.

5. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA wherever possible, especially for online shopping and banking accounts. This provides an extra layer of security, even if your password is compromised.

6. Educate Yourself And Others: Stay informed about current phishing tactics and share this knowledge with friends and family. The more people are aware, the harder it becomes for scammers to succeed.

7. Protect Personal Information: Avoid sharing sensitive information via e-mail or text messages, even if the request seems legitimate. Use secure channels for such communication.

While the holiday season is a time for celebration and togetherness, it’s crucial to remain vigilant against holiday phishing scams. Cybercriminals prey on the festive spirit and increased online activity during this time. By recognizing the signs of phishing attempts and following best practices for online security, you can protect yourself and ensure a safe and joyous holiday season for you and your loved ones.

Business owners: If your staff will be ordering gifts online for clients, make sure they know how to spot a phishing attack and that your network is properly secured in case something slips through the cracks. You don’t want your organization to be negatively impacted by extending holiday goodwill. If you aren’t sure if you’re protected, please give us a call or schedule a 10-minute discovery session with our team. We can help give you peace of mind this holiday season. Click here to book now, and happy holidays!

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10 Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes of Small Companies

Cybercriminals can launch very sophisticated attacks. But it’s often lax cybersecurity practices that enable most breaches. This is especially true when it comes to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).

Cybersecurity measures is often not a priority for small businesses, they tend to be more focused on other areas of the business. Sometimes the business owner thinks there is a low chance of a data breach. Or view cybersecurity as an expense.

But cybersecurity is not only a concern for large corporations. It’s a critical issue for small businesses as well. Small businesses are often seen as attractive targets for cybercriminals. This is due to many perceived vulnerabilities. 

Fifty percent of SMBs have been victims of cyberattacks. More than 60% of them go out of business afterward.

Cybersecurity doesn’t need to be expensive. Most data breaches are the result of human error. But that is actually good news. It means that improving cyber hygiene can reduce the risk of falling victim to an attack.

Are You Making Any of These Cybersecurity Mistakes?

To address the issue, you need to first identify the problem. Often the teams at SMBs are making mistakes they don’t even realise. Below are some of the biggest reasons small businesses fall victim to cyberattacks. Read on to see if any of this sounds familiar around your company.

1. Underestimating the Threat

One of the biggest cybersecurity mistakes of SMBs is underestimating the threat landscape. Many business owners assume that their company is too small to be a target. But this is a dangerous misconception. 

We see that Cybercriminals think small businesses as easy targets. They believe the company lacks the resources or expertise to defend against attacks. It’s essential to understand that no business is too small for cybercriminals to target. Being proactive in cybersecurity is critical.

2. Neglecting Employee Training

When was the last time you trained your employees on cybersecurity? Small businesses often neglect cybersecurity training for their employees. Owners assume that they will naturally be cautious online.

But the human factor is a significant source of security vulnerabilities. Employees may inadvertently click on malicious links or download infected files. Staff cybersecurity training helps them:

  • Recognise phishing attempts
  • Understand the importance of strong passwords
  • Be aware of social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals

3. Using Weak Passwords

Weak passwords are a common security vulnerability in small companies. Many employees use easily guessable passwords. They also reuse the same password for several accounts. This can leave your company’s sensitive information exposed to hackers.

People reuse passwords 64% of the time.

Encourage the use of strong, unique passwords. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible. This adds an extra layer of security.

Limbtec we use a password manager, and let that take care of choosing the passwords, so we end up with very complex passwords, along with MFA

4. Ignoring Software Updates

Failing to keep software and operating systems up to date is another mistake. Cybercriminals often exploit known vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to systems. Small businesses should regularly update their software to patch known security flaws. This includes operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus programs.

This is something we take care of for all our customers.

5. Lacking a Data Backup Plan

Small companies may not have formal data backup and recovery plans. They might mistakenly assume that data loss won’t happen to them. But data loss can occur due to various reasons. This includes cyberattacks, hardware failures, or human errors.

Regularly back up your company’s critical data. Test the backups to ensure they can be successfully restored in case of a data loss incident.

6. No Formal Security Policies

Small businesses often operate without clear policies and procedures. With no clear and enforceable security policies, employees may not know critical information. Such as how to handle sensitive data. Or how to use company devices securely or respond to security incidents. 

Small businesses should establish formal security policies and procedures. As well as communicate them to all employees. These policies should cover things like:

  • Password management
  • Data handling
  • Incident reporting
  • Remote work security
  • And other security topics

7. Ignoring Mobile Security

As more employees use mobile devices for work, mobile security is increasingly important. Small companies often overlook this aspect of cybersecurity.

Put in place mobile device management (MDM) solutions. These enforce security policies on company- and employee-owned devices used for work-related activities.

8. Failing to Regularly Watch Networks

SMBs may not have IT staff to watch their networks for suspicious activities. This can result in delayed detection of security breaches.

Install network monitoring tools. Or consider outsourcing network monitoring services. This can help your business promptly identify and respond to potential threats.

9. No Incident Response Plan

In the face of a cybersecurity incident, SMBs without an incident response plan may panic. They can also respond ineffectively.

Develop a comprehensive incident response plan. One that outlines the steps to take when a security incident occurs. This should include communication plans, isolation procedures, and a clear chain of command.

10. Thinking They Don’t Need Managed IT Services

Cyber threats are continually evolving. New attack techniques emerge regularly. Small businesses often have a hard time keeping up. Yet, they believe they are “too small” to pay for managed IT services.

Managed services come in all package sizes. This includes those designed for SMB budgets. A managed service provider (MSP) can keep your business safe from cyberattacks. As well as save you money at the same time by optimising your IT.

Learn More About Managed IT Services

Don’t risk losing your business because of a cyberattack. Managed IT services can be more affordable for your small business than you think.

Give us a call today on 01752 546967to schedule a chat.

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Watch Out for Ransomware Pretending to Be a Windows Update

Imagine you’re working away on your PC and see a Windows update prompt. Instead of ignoring it, you take action. After all, you want to keep your device safe. But when you install what you think is a legitimate update, you’re infected with ransomware.

That’s the nightmare caused by an emerging cybersecurity threat.

Cybercriminals are constantly devising new ways to infiltrate systems. They encrypt valuable data, leaving victims with difficult choices. Once ransomware infects your system, your PC is pretty useless. You either have to pay a ransom or get someone to remove the malware. As well as install a backup (if you have one!).

One such variant that has emerged recently is the “Big Head” ransomware. It adds a new layer of deception by disguising itself as a Windows update. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Big Head ransomware. Including its deceptive tactics. We well as how you can protect yourself from falling victim to such attacks.

The Big Head Ransomware Deception

Ransomware attacks have long been infamous for their ability to encrypt files. This renders them inaccessible to the victim until a ransom is paid to the attacker. In the case of Big Head ransomware, the attackers have taken their tactics to the next level. The attack masquerades as a Windows update.

Big Head ransomware presents victims with a convincing and fake Windows update alert. Attackers design this fake alert to trick users. They think that their computer is undergoing a legitimate Windows update. The message may appear in a pop-up window or as a notification.

The deception goes even further. The ransomware uses a forged Microsoft digital signature. This makes the fake update appear more authentic. This adds an extra layer of credibility to the malicious message. And makes it even more challenging for users to discern its true nature.

The attack fools the victim into thinking it’s a legitimate Windows update. They then unknowingly download and execute the ransomware onto their system. From there, the ransomware proceeds to encrypt the victim’s files. Victims see a message demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.

By 2031, it’s expected a ransomware attack will occur every 2 seconds.

Protect Yourself from Big Head Ransomware & Similar Threats

Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated. It’s not just the good guys exploring the uses of ChatGPT. It’s crucial to take proactive steps to protect your data and systems. Here are some strategies to safeguard yourself from ransomware attacks like Big Head.

Keep Software and Systems Updated

This one is tricky. Because updating your computer is a best practice for security. Yet, Big Head ransomware leverages the appearance of Windows updates.

One way to be sure you’re installing a real update is to automate. Automate your Windows updates through your device or an IT provider (like us). This increases the chances of spotting a fake that pops up unexpectedly.

Verify the Authenticity of Update

Before installing any software update, verify its authenticity. Genuine Windows updates will come directly from Microsoft’s official website. Or through your IT service provider or Windows Update settings. Be cautious of unsolicited update notifications. Especially those received via email or from unfamiliar sources.

Verify the Authenticity of Update

Before installing any software update, verify its authenticity. Genuine Windows updates will come directly from Microsoft’s official website. Or through your IT service provider or Windows Update settings. Be cautious of unsolicited update notifications. Especially those received via email or from unfamiliar sources.

Backup Your Data

Regularly back up your important files. Use an external storage device or a secure cloud backup service. In the event of a ransomware attack, having backup copies is vital. Backups of your data can allow you to restore your files without paying a ransom.

Use Robust Security Software

Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware software on your computer. These programs can help detect and block ransomware threats. This helps prevent them infiltrating your system.

Educate Yourself and Others

Stay informed about the latest ransomware threats and tactics. Educate yourself and your colleagues or family members. Discuss the dangers of clicking on suspicious links. As well as downloading attachments from unknown sources.

Use Email Security Measures

Ransomware often spreads through phishing emails. Put in place robust email security measures. Be cautious about opening email attachments or clicking on links. Watch out for emails from unknown senders.

Enable Firewall and Network Security

Activate your computer’s firewall. Use network security solutions to prevent unauthorized access to your network and devices.

Disable Auto-Run Features

Configure your computer to disable auto-run functionality for external drives. This can help prevent ransomware from spreading through infected USB drives.

Be Wary of Pop-Up Alerts

Exercise caution when encountering pop-up alerts. Especially those that ask you to download or install software. Verify the legitimacy of such alerts before taking any action.

Keep an Eye on Your System

Keep an eye on your computer’s performance and any unusual activity. If you notice anything suspicious, investigate immediately. Suspicious PC activity can be:

  • Unexpected system slowdowns
  • File changes
  • Missing files or folders
  • Your PC’s processor “whirring” when you’re not doing anything

Have a Response Plan

In the unfortunate event of a ransomware attack, have a response plan in place. Know how to disconnect from the network. Report the incident to your IT department or a cybersecurity professional. Avoid paying the ransom if possible.

Need a Cybersecurity Audit?

Don’t leave unknown threats lurking in your system. A cybersecurity audit can shed light on your system vulnerabilities. It’s an important proactive measure to ensure network security.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

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That long password isn’t keeping you better protected

Passwords are important

How secure do you think your passwords are? Do you believe that longer is always better? Well, we have some news for you. It’s time for a serious talk about password security.

New research has revealed a sobering truth – even passwords that are 15 characters long can be compromised. Yes, you read that right. It’s time to face the stark reality… length doesn’t always mean strength.

The eight-character password reigns supreme as the most compromised length of password. But don’t breathe a sigh of relief if yours is a longer one. The 15-character password also makes an appearance in the top ten most compromised lengths.

You might ask, “How could this be?” The answer lies not only in the password length but also in the content of the password and whether you use the same password on multiple sites.

The most compromised eight-character password is none other than “password” itself, while the most compromised 15-character password is “Sym_newhireOEIE”.

Doesn’t exactly feel secure, does it?

It’s not just about individual people. Businesses like yours are at high risk too. An alarming 86% of all cyber attacks start with stolen credentials. That’s nearly nine out of ten attacks. Can you afford to be complacent?

Sure, longer passwords do offer more resistance to brute force cracking. An eight-character password can be cracked in five minutes, while a good 15-character one could take up to 37 million years if it’s not following any obvious pattern (i.e., it’s random and uses many types of character). Impressive, isn’t it?

But remember, this is just one piece of the puzzle. Length alone won’t save you from stolen credentials via phishing attacks.

Use a robust business password manager. Not only will it randomly generate long passwords for you, but it will also remember them and fill in the login box for you.

You should also use two factor authentication, where you generate a code on a separate device to prove it’s you. Even if cyber criminals crack your password, they still won’t be able to access your data.

If you need help keeping your business better protected, get in touch.

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Windows 11 is about to get better!

Windowss 11 done better

Windows 11 is already packed with enough goodies, but it’s about to get even better.

Are you ready for a major upgrade to your favourite tools included with the operating system?

First, let’s talk about the Snipping Tool. This humble screenshotting tool has been quietly serving us for years, capturing our screens one snip at a time. But now, with a new text capture and recognition capability, called ‘Text Actions,’ we’re looking at a drastic game-changer. You can copy and paste text straight from a screenshot. No more typing out information from an image like a caveman (or a more modern version of a caveman anyway).

And that’s not all. A new ‘Quick Redact’ function, lets you hide sensitive information right in the screenshot. Gone are the days of awkwardly scribbling over confidential data with a digital marker.

With integration from Windows 11’s Phone Link feature, your Android devices and PC are going to be best friends too. Syncing will be so much easier.

Now, let’s talk about the Photos app. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Microsoft pulls another rabbit out of the hat. Based on community feedback – yes, they do listen to us – the Photos app is getting a makeover complete with a new Background Blur option.

Want to make your subject pop by blurring out the background? No problem. Need to control the intensity of the blur or select specific areas to blur? They’ve sorted it.

The new ‘Content Search’ capability for photos backed up on OneDrive is a game-changer as well.

Ever wished you could search for a photo based on its content? Wish granted! Using intelligent image detection software, Microsoft will now scan and label your photos with searchable tags. And yes, you can also search for photos based on location, across local files, OneDrive, and even Apple’s iCloud. That’s right, iPhone users haven’t been left out.

Now, we know some people are still smarting from the changes to the Windows 10 Photos app, notably the removal of the Video Editor feature. But it looks like Microsoft may be making amends. The vague mention in Microsoft’s announcement that “Edit and Create Video options are now easily accessible at the top of the gallery view” suggests some video editing functions might be heading our way. We’ll just have to wait and see what that means.

As we eagerly await these updates, one thing is clear: Microsoft is not resting on its laurels. They’re working tirelessly to make our lives easier one update at a time. I’m thrilled, and as a business owner, you should be too. After all, who doesn’t love a good upgrade?

If you’d like to get started with Windows 11 or need a hand spreading its productivity features to your team, we can help. Get in touch.

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Are Your Business Tools Ticking Time Bombs For A Cyber-Attack?

Are Your Business Tools Ticking Time Bombs For A Cyber-Attack?

In June a popular file-sharing software amongst big-name companies likes Shell, Siemens Energy, Sony, several large law firms, a number of US federal agencies such as the Department of Health and more was hacked by Russia-linked cybercrime group Cl0p. Security Magazine reported that, to date, there are 138 known companies impacted by the breach, resulting in the personal information of more than 15 million people being compromised. More are expected to emerge as the investigation continues.

If you’re reading that list of company names thinking, “I’m just a small business compared to these big guys – that won’t happen to me,” we’ve got news for you. Many of these companies have cyber security budgets in the millions, and it still happened to them, not because they were ignoring the importance of cyber security, but because of a piece of software they use to run their business.

Progress Software’s MOVEit, ironically advertised as a tool you can use to “securely share files across the enterprise and globally,” “reduce the risk of data loss” and “assure regulatory compliance,” was exploited by a tactic called a zero-day attack. This occurs when there is a flaw in the application that creates a gap in security and has no available patch or defense because the software maker doesn’t know it exists. Cybercriminals quickly release malware to exploit the vulnerability before the software maker can patch it, essentially giving them “zero days” to respond.

These attacks are dangerous because they are difficult to prevent and can quickly and easily ruin smaller businesses.

Depending on the organization’s motives, the stolen data can be deleted, held for ransom or sold on the dark web. Or, if you are lucky enough to recover your data, you might still end up paying out thousands or more in fines and lawsuits, losing money from downtime and coming out on the other end with a damaged reputation that causes clients to leave anyway. In MOVEit’s case, the cybercrime agency Cl0p has claimed on their website that their motivation is purely financial and has allegedly deleted data obtained from government agencies as they were not the intended targets.

What does this mean for small businesses?

For starters, it underlines the harsh reality that cyber security isn’t just the concern of big businesses and government agencies. In fact, small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, as they often dedicate fewer resources to protection.

It also means that even if your organization is secure, the third-party vendors you work with and the tools you choose to use in your business still pose potential risks. Most of MOVEit’s customers that were affected likely had strong cyber security measures in place. Even though it was no direct fault of their own, at the end of the day, those companies still must go back to their clients, disclose what happened and take the verbal, legal and financial beating that comes with a data breach.

The MOVEit hack serves as a grim reminder of the critical importance of cyber security for businesses of all sizes.In the face of an increasingly sophisticated and fast-moving cyberthreat landscape, businesses cannot afford to ignore these risks. Cyber security must be an ongoing effort, involving regular assessments, updates, monitoring, training and more. As this terrible incident shows, a single vulnerability can lead to a catastrophic breach with severe implications for the business and its customers.

In the digital age, cyber security isn’t just a technical issue – it’s a business imperative.

If you have ANY concerns about your own business or simply want to have a second set of eyes examine your network for vulnerabilities, we offer a FREE Cyber Security Risk Assessment. Click here to schedule a quick consultation to discuss your current situation and get an assessment on the schedule.

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