You think Zoom, you think video calls. For millions around the world, it’s a tool they rely on at work every day.

But for productivity, collaboration and workplace integration (as well as video calls), it’s Microsoft Teams that’s leading the way. Its tight integration with other Microsoft 365 services makes it so easy.

Now Zoom is looking for a piece of that action with the launch of a whole suite of features and services. They’re clearly designed to take on Teams and Slack head-to-head.

These will include email, a calendar app, and a virtual co-working space called Zoom Spots. Meanwhile a bunch of upgrades to the Zoom One platform are aiming to improve collaboration, keep chats flowing, and keep projects moving.

While it feels like a logical step for the video conferencing giant, it remains to be seen how widely adopted the new services will be. And before we recommend it to our clients, we’ll want to know that the levels of support, reliability and security are all bulletproof.

Many businesses are already committed to Microsoft Teams, which releases its own improvements almost on a weekly basis. But this is an interesting new development and we’ll be watching what happens carefully.

If you want to know more about the best tools to keep your team working smoothly together, just get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

We go to a lot of effort working to protect our clients from online security threats. These could come in the form of key loggers that record you as you enter your login information, or DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, which overwhelm a service with fake traffic, causing it to crash.

As part of our service, we always advise our clients to install software updates as soon as they become available, and support them through the process where they need help.

But if you visit a website that asks you to install an Adobe Flash update… STOP!

Flash itself was actually discontinued in 2020 and is no longer supported, so you should assume that any Flash update messages will be a security threat.

Currently, fake Flash messages are being used as a cover for a new ‘botnet’ campaign that installs a malicious browser extension, called Cloud9. If you use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge you could be a target.

A botnet forms a group of infected devices that are controlled as one, without the owners’ knowledge, stealing sensitive data, sending spam, or performing DDoS attacks.

Worse still, the Cloud9 botnet will attempt to install additional malware to your device or network if it’s not stopped in time.

This type of attack is hard to spot because it looks like a genuine request, and just about anyone can become a target.

But there are things you can do to protect your business.

First, make everyone aware of the threat. If your people know what to look out for it’s less likely they’ll install the update in the first place.

Next, make sure everyone’s running the latest version of their browser and that security software is up to date.

Finally, enable Enhanced Protection in your browser’s Privacy and Security settings. This will give you a warning if you stumble upon a risky website or download.

We can help you keep your business protected from cyber criminals. Just get in touch. Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

You could be losing a full-time working week for every member of your team, thanks to the hassle of setting up video calls.

Video conferencing has revolutionised team meetings, and saves a huge amount of travel time. But we’re still not getting the full benefit from the new technology, according to new research.

Employees aged between 18 and 24 take up to 10 minutes to get set up for each remote meeting.

Times that by a typical five meetings a week, and it’s suddenly lost you 40 hours every year. That’s a whole working week of wasted time – a figure that gets even higher when you look at older age brackets.

It isn’t necessarily a result of differing technological know-how. The research shows that employees blame the tech itself for the loss of productivity.

Almost a third of people said they didn’t have the right tools for the job, and 23% even said they felt excluded from remote meetings thanks to inadequate tech.

Employees often feel that the audio-visual (AV) technology they’re provided for remote and hybrid working simply isn’t up to the job. That means poor microphones that don’t play ball, jittery webcams that interfere with communication, or the wrong choice of video calling software. All that makes meetings harder to set up and causes them to take longer than they should.

Despite this, businesses that offer remote and hybrid working are reaping the rewards in many other areas, including staff engagement and performance.

But there is a solution.

Assess your employees’ AV technology to make sure their tools are not slowing them down – new webcams and microphones could be a cheap and simple fix.

It’s also a good idea to ask your employees to find out where they see that problems are occurring. If they are finding your existing system difficult to use, or slow to log in to, you should consider alternative options or better training.

If this is something that’s slowing you down, we can help – just get in touch. Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

A huge number of small and medium-sized businesses would consider using pirated software to try and save money. A new study has revealed a surprising number of businesses willing to break the law to save costs. Our advice? Think twice before you walk the plank.

Right now, the most popular types of pirated software are project management tools, and marketing and sales software. But a huge 56% of business owners said they’d even think about using illegal cyber security software in an effort to cut costs.

Don’t do it.

Not only is pirated software unsupported – so if you have a problem with it (which you probably will) there’s no help available to rectify the issue – but it can open your business up to bigger problems too.

It’s common for cyber criminals to use pirated software to distribute malware. Some of this is designed to evade firewalls, which means once installed, it can spread malicious files beyond your device to your entire network. That can lead to your sensitive data being compromised or stolen.

The cost of putting things right after this kind of cyber attack can end up costing a fortune, and the pirated software can damage your devices by causing them to slow down or overheat.

We advise our clients to always use genuine software from a reputable source. If the cost of the software seems too good to be true… it probably is.

But there’s more you can do. You should prevent unauthorised employees from downloading software that could be harmful by managing admin rights properly. And you should ensure your whole team has regular cyber security awareness training to make everyone aware of the risks to your business data.

If you’d like help finding genuine software for your business, or creating a cyber security plan, just get in touch.  

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Do you inwardly (or outwardly) groan at the thought of yet another video call?

They’re now a normal part of our working lives, but it doesn’t make them any more exciting.

Good news: Microsoft is introducing Metaverse-style avatars, called Mesh avatars, to Teams.

You’ll be able to design your own avatar, personalizing its appearance, accessories, and even choosing its reaction gestures.

According to Microsoft, it’s common for us to feel stressed and exhausted after spending a long time on camera. So using a virtual representation of yourself to reduce that stress is just one application for these new avatars.

Better still, you won’t need an expensive virtual reality headset. It’s all done using the Avatars app that’s available in the Microsoft Teams app store.

Big tech is investing billions on developing the Metaverse – a 3D virtual world that mimics the real world. Within it you’ll find many of the things you’re already familiar with – shops, workplaces, and even social spaces. Some are predicting it will become ‘the new internet’ in the coming years.

It might seem wild to imagine a virtual world like this – but 20 years ago it was hard to imagine routinely having a mobile video calls with someone on the other side of the world.

Times change, and it’s really exciting.

Right now the new avatar feature is only available in the Teams preview build, but we’ll get a general release date soon.

Will you encourage your people to use personalized avatars in Teams? Want to find more ways to make work more fun for your team? We can help. Get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

While Windows 11 is only just celebrating its first birthday, we’re already hearing our first rumours about what Windows 12 will have in store.

There’s no rush for the time being – we won’t see this new operating system until the back end of 2024 – but we love to be ready for what’s coming next, so here’s what we know so far…

Details are sketchy and, as usual, Microsoft is being coy about what it’s planning. But we’ve been digging into how it could look. And it’s… different!

If our research is correct, we’ll see a floating taskbar dock and a search bar taking top-centre position. The widgets panel and Action Centre will move to the top of the screen instead of the bottom.

We don’t expect a big change when it comes to hardware requirements, but they’re unlikely to cause the same headaches that arose with the launch of Windows 11. That’s because more PCs will be compatible out of the box.

That said, some of the security hardware required by Windows 11 will likely become more important as Microsoft keeps its focus firmly on security.

Above all, we’re expecting to see more of the stream of minor improvements that make such a big difference to useability. Making Windows 12 stable and bug free will be the number one priority – good news for all business users.

There will undoubtedly be more updates in the coming months. We’ll share the most important ones with you as we hear more from Microsoft.

If you haven’t yet made the move to Windows 11, now could be a great time. We can help with that. So, if you’re thinking about the upgrade, just get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Microsoft Teams has fast become one of THE most useful business tools for the way we work today.

No matter where your people work from, they can communicate and collaborate quickly and reliably.

But this remote way of working can also open the door to some MAJOR security issues.

New research shows that nearly HALF of employees frequently share confidential and sensitive files via Teams.

That can be a big problem if employees are using personal equipment rather than company issued kit… it’s simply not as secure as work devices.

More than half of people surveyed say they’ve shared ‘business critical’ information using personal devices. Worse still, 48% admitted they’ve accidentally sent files they shouldn’t have – possibly to the wrong person!

So how can you be sure that your people are using Teams in the safest, most secure way?

The solution lies with regular training and cyber security awareness for employees at all levels of your business – from trainee to CEO.

And you need to make sure you have all the right safeguards in place to protect your sensitive business data. Because if it fell into the wrong hands, the results could be an expensive nightmare, potentially with legal consequences. Just imagine if sensitive employee information got shared outside of the business…

Remember, even a trusted app like Teams is only as safe as the people who use it and the devices it’s installed on.

If you need help with cyber security training, or putting the right protections in place, get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Are you really downloading Zoom… or is it malware?

While these fake sites can be incredibly convincing, take these simple steps to avoid being fooled.

  • Before you download the Zoom application (or any application), double check the address of the website you’re on. Is it what you’re expecting? If you clicked an email to get to that site, are you 100% sure it’s from the real company?
  • Study the rest of the web page too, looking for anything that doesn’t ring true, such as spelling mistakes or a clunky layout.
  • Make sure your security software is up to date and is actively scanning for malware and suspicious downloads.
  • Have a plan to roll out this advice across your business.

If you need any help or advice to keep your business protected from malware and other security threats, get in touch. Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Some bosses think their people do less when working from home

Microsoft has become the leader of productivity over many decades. Can you imagine doing your day to day work without their software?

So it’s no surprise the tech giant recently conducted a major new survey into productivity in the workplace – and some of the results might surprise you. Researchers surveyed 20,000 people working for businesses in 11 different countries. They discovered the majority of bosses don’t believe their employees are as productive when working from home. In fact, four out of five employers said they thought their people got less done when working remotely. On the other hand, a massive 87% of staff felt they were MORE productive when working from home. How is there such a big disconnect?

Microsoft boss, Satya Nadella blames what he calls “productivity paranoia”. What that means is a gap between what employers expect from their people, and what employees feel. Maybe some bosses want to go back to the way we worked before 2020… but their people prefer the flexibility of today’s hybrid working. There’s a lot to gain from less commuting and a better work/life balance. We believe bosses need to communicate better with their people.

Yes that’s about setting clear expectations and giving feedback if they feel people aren’t performing properly. But it’s also important to make sure your team have the right tools and technology to allow them to get things done, no matter where they’re working. Are their devices suitable for the job they’re doing? Do they have the right applications to communicate effectively and collaborate on projects?

Take the time to discuss the tools and technology you’re using with the people who use it every day. You should also demonstrate how much you trust and value your people. In the long-term you’ll be rewarded with a loyal and productive team. Need a hand finding the right tools and tech for your specific kind of business? We can help – just get in touch. Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.