Beware of This Microsoft Outlook Security Flaw


Microsoft Outlook users have a new security concern. A vulnerability in the platform increases the risk of exposing your password to threat actors when you accept calendar invitations.  

Cybersecurity researchers from Varonis Threat Labs uncovered this Microsoft Outlook security flaw in July 2023. Microsoft fixed it with a patch on December 12, 2023. If you haven't implemented this patch, malicious attackers may gain access to your passwords.

Explaining the Calendar-Dependent Microsoft Outlook Security Flaw

The latest Microsoft Outlook vulnerability can leak your password hash in one click. 

The vulnerability allows attackers to launch offline brute-force attacks (where they test millions of passwords against the hashed passwords from your system) or relay attacks. Either way, the result could be compromised accounts or unauthorized access to critical data.

How Are Victims Attacked?

This Microsoft Outlook security flaw targets how Outlook handles calendar invites and user interaction throughout the process.

In most cases, you must open an iCalendar file (.ics) to accept a calendar invite on Outlook. Accepting the file format is the only way to transfer events or other calendar data to your calendar application.

Threat actors actively exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Outlook infuse malicious headers into the .ics file, forcing a remote code execution. Successful execution sends them NTLM v2 hashed passwords from the victim's system.  

So, it only takes one click (which is accepting the calendar invite) for the victim to unwittingly give up access to their passwords.

How To Protect Yourself From The Flaw

You can protect yourself from this Microsoft Outlook security flaw in various ways.

Technical Approaches

Cyber security experts recommend several technical approaches to avoid NTLM v2 hashed passwords:

Adopting Kerberos authentication in place of NTLM wherever possible
Blocking outgoing NTLM v2
Protecting your SMB server from man-in-the-middle attacks

Non-Technical Approaches

Everyday Outlook users can also take steps to avoid security vulnerabilities such as this one. The first option is to stay up to date with security patches.  

Microsoft (and other tech giants) constantly monitor threat reports. They publish a security update when the threat level of a vulnerability is high enough to warrant action. Users are now responsible for downloading patches to protect themselves.

Keeping your systems up to date helps keep you safe from threats like the current Microsoft Outlook security flaw.

Secondly, users must be more careful about the calendar invitations they accept. Always verify the sender and any invitation or request details before accepting them. Check for obvious signs of spoofing, such as misspelled names, domains, or email addresses.

You should also pay attention to the subject and message body. Are they relevant? Have you shown any interest in such an event recently? If you have any reasons to doubt the invite's authenticity, ignore it.


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This Adobe Innovation Could Help Your Small Business


A major part of running a small business is grabbing an audience's attention with effective marketing campaigns. Thanks to a new Adobe innovation, this process can become much easier. Learn more about the technology that is a trailblazer for small business owners. 

What To Know About Adobe Premiere Pro Beta

The latest version of Premiere Pro software, Adobe Premiere Pro beta, provides groundbreaking audio and video editing improvements. The software is set to be available for all Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers as a standalone application, enhancing the process of creating videos with clear sound and picture capabilities. 

Some of the new Premiere elements utilize artificial intelligence to streamline the video editing process without compromising the results. Creators can complete high-quality projects in less time than using other video-editing software. 

Brand-New Features Within the New Version of Premiere Pro

What sets Adobe Premiere Pro beta apart from other video-editing programs? Its innovative features aim to reduce clicks and edits using the power of artificial intelligence. Below is a breakdown of each new feature and its benefits. 

Interactive Fade Handles

Make your videos stand out with custom audio transitions. What once took more time in other programs is now seamless in Premiere Pro beta. All you need to do is drag your audio transitions across your main editing timeline, which reduces the total editing time. 

AI-Powered Audio Category Tagging

Creators can spend a lot of time sifting through audio clips to label them correctly and cut out unnecessary noise. The AI audio tagging feature in Premiere Pro beta eliminates the hassle of manual editing. It automatically runs through all of your audio clips and then identifies and labels the content into the following categories:

Ambient noise
Sound effects

The software then lets you access each category of sound in one click. 

User-Friendly Badges and Waveforms

Visual badges allow you to indicate which clips have effects while editing easily. The audio waveforms use AI to monitor height changes with the clips and boast new color correction features. These improvements ultimately make editing much easier to manage and let you focus on your creativity. 

How Adobe Premiere Pro Beta Benefits Small Businesses

Running a small business requires you to juggle many tasks against limited resources. You can create effective and high-quality audio or video advertisements by subscribing to the Adobe Creative Cloud. Premiere Pro beta's AI-powered features minimize the time it takes to sort through each clip and add the effects you want. 

You can focus on sharing the story you want and quickly create video clips that appear professionally made to share with a wide audience. Investing in this software can save you time and money. 

Improve Your Small Business With Technology Resources

In addition to Adobe Premiere Pro beta, there are countless pieces of software and technology that can help small business owners increase productivity. Contact qualified industry professionals to learn more about the programs that can benefit your workflow. 


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How AI Can Contribute to a Business’s Success


Nothing has captured as much attention among business leaders over the last year as AI and machine learning. The technology spurs nearly as much concern as it does excitement about its potential. You’re probably wondering how AI can contribute to a business’s success and how to leverage it best to give your company a competitive edge. 

AI tools use pattern recognition and statistical analysis to arrange large amounts of data and produce detailed insights, predictions, and assessments. Current iterations of AI technology are far from perfect. Still, they are powerful tools to augment everything from writing to goal-setting efforts. In this post, we share three ways AI and machine learning can bring value to your organization.

Increased Productivity

With help from AI tools, your team can spend less time on low-value tasks and devote their creative talents to more important strategic objectives. 

For example, the data analysis necessary to identify critical objectives requires much time and effort, and there’s a real risk of human error to skew the results. AI’s ability to quickly process large amounts of data eliminates that tedious and resource-intensive process and provides actionable insights. This is not only more efficient, but it also allows your company to be more agile and responsive to opportunities and threats.

AI can also support greater productivity on a day-to-day basis. For example, its natural language processing abilities let HR quickly draft performance reviews or other communications. They spend less time wordsmithing and focus on minimal editing and refining to ensure better documents in less time.  

Improved Performance Management 

Your team needs ongoing support and feedback to meet performance objectives. How can AI contribute to a business’s success in this realm?

AI tools make providing objective and accurate insights easier, even in real-time, when it’s most valuable and actionable. For example, AI tools can monitor performance continuously, even when employees work remotely, by collecting data from email, instant messaging, collaboration platforms, and more. AI can use that data to identify communication and collaboration styles and patterns, positive and negative feedback on customer services, and skill areas that need development. 

Managers can use this information to provide higher-quality feedback throughout the year. Employees feel more seen, supported, and valued, which can improve their performance and their loyalty, reducing costly turnover. 

Better-Aligned Objectives and Key Results 

When it’s time to establish objectives and key results (OKRs), AI’s advanced data processing power and analytical capabilities allow you to choose them based on past data and more accurate predictions — and do so in less time. AI also makes it possible to align goals with each other and the business, ensuring you’re focusing on the right things.

Perhaps the best explanation of how AI can contribute to a business’s success is the ability to ensure that every objective aligns with a strategic goal and that everything your teams do drives the company to success. You can use AI to determine the most relevant and beneficial OKRs, evaluate risk, and make more informed and strategic decisions.


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Watch Out for This Google Pixel Storage Bug


Google Pixel owners often mention the bloat-free software and the speed of receiving Android patches and security updates quickly as some of the key draws to the brand. However, that advantage can sometimes become a disadvantage when bugs appear.

Many Google Pixel users are again experiencing the Google Pixel storage bug, which first reared its head in October 2023. Users affected by the bug reported seeing the signs after updating their devices to the January 2024 Google Play system update.

The top signs of the bug are as follows:

Camera crashes
Internal storage glitches and mount failures
Files app showing no files
Screenshots seemingly disappearing

The bug doesn’t seem to affect only specific models. Analysts and everyday users have sounded the Pixel Storage bug warning for owners of Pixel Fold, Pixel 8, Pixel 7, Pixel 6, and Pixel 5 devices.

A Recurring Issue for Google 

In a statement to 9to5Google, Google acknowledged the issue and stated they were looking into it. However, industry watchers and Pixel users have become more concerned about this latest issue because it repeats a major issue that first happened three months ago.

The Google Pixel storage bug of October mostly affected users with multiple profiles on their devices. Google released a patch in November to fix the issue, so it’s frustrating for users to experience it again.

It’s unclear how Google wants to fix the current debacle. Will it roll out another patch again? Should users who have not initiated the January update proceed with it? How about the risk of the problem resurfacing in future updates? Users continue to wait for answers.

A Possible Workaround

In the future, it’s best to avoid being one of the first early adopters of future Google Play system updates if you’re on a pixel device.

It’s the best way to avoid getting hit by this seemingly recurring Google Pixel bug until we get more definitive guidance from Google.

However, if you have already installed the update and are currently dealing with the Google Pixel storage problem, there might be a workaround.

Other users have recommended deactivating multiple profiles. If you’ve set up multiple profiles, consider deactivating them temporarily until Google announces a permanent fix to the Pixel Storage concerns.

What Happens to the Lost Data?

Going by how Google resolved the October case, there’s a high chance of data recovery if the company pushes an over-the-air update to fix the Google Pixel storage bug. However, the recovery will only work on functional devices that have not fallen into the dreaded Pixel startup loop.

Google Pixel troubleshooting is impractical for phones already in the loop. The only fix is a complete wipe and software reload. Unfortunately, that means losing your data.


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This New Cisco and NVIDIA Partnership Could Benefit Your Business


A brand-new Cisco and NVIDIA partnership is underway that will help your business safely take advantage of artificial intelligence-powered technology. The corporations are teaming up yet again to improve the operations of countless businesses that rely on AI tools. Keep reading to learn about Cisco and NVIDIA's new endeavor and how it can benefit your business. 

Your Business Can Harness the Power of AI

Artificial intelligence is quickly shaping the way businesses operate. Business leaders across all industries are recognizing its impact within their networks. Thanks to the Cisco networking cloud and NVIDIA AI enterprise software, you can use cutting-edge AI and data-intensive infrastructures. 

Generative AI offers creative solutions to various business practices. However, the technology requires extreme software workloads. Cisco and NVIDIA strive to make AI scalable for businesses. 

What the New Cisco and NVIDIA Partnership Entails

What exactly awaits you as a Cisco and NVIDIA data center user? How will you be able to access the new features available? Below is a breakdown of what business leaders can expect from the new partnership between these two industry powerhouses. 

New Graphic Processing Units

Anyone using Cisco's M7 generation of unified computing systems can now leverage NVIDIA's latest Tensor Core GPUs. The updated graphic processing technology is available across Cisco's UCS rack and blade servers. As a result of this integration, you'll enjoy optimal performance within the data center. 

Digital Experience Monitoring

Experts will monitor your AI workloads whether you store data in the public cloud, onsite at your business, or across several data centers. The Digital Experience Monitoring feature offers automated solutions for problems with your workloads. 

NVIDIA's AI Enterprise

You can now access the NVIDIA AI Enterprise if you rely on Cisco for your business needs. This robust software lets you build and deploy generative AI models anywhere. It features an optimized infrastructure that can handle the intense workloads of business leaders. 

These new solutions will be available beginning in the second quarter of 2024. They can be purchased through Cisco channel partners. 

Cisco and NVIDIA's Partnership Success 

Cisco specializes in Ethernet networking, while NVIDIA is known for being an innovator in GPUs, particularly those that can accommodate improving artificial intelligence. 

Both companies previously teamed up to provide solutions for the data center computing space and various collaboration-focused devices. Their partnership is responsible for some of the industry's most cutting-edge products. 

New Technology Can Improve Your Business

The new Cisco and NVIDIA partnership can secure both cloud-based and on-premises AI infrastructures. Your business can use this integration and safely implement generative AI into your operations. Contact our industry professionals for more information about this and other emerging technologies that can benefit you. Learn more today.


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Best Practices To ‘Celebrate’ National Change Your Password Day: How Does Your Password Stack Up?


Each year on February 1st, we celebrate Change Your Password Day. While it’s not a holiday that gets you off work, it serves as a good opportunity each year to do a quick check-in and make sure you’re using strong passwords that will keep your accounts protected.

The suggested ‘rule’ used to be to change your password every three months. With advanced tools like password managers and data encryption, experts now say the type of password you use is more important than how often you create a new one. We’re sharing up-to-date advice on how to create a strong password that will keep your account secure and hackers guessing.

Make It Complex

Aim for complexity by combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid easily guessable information like birthdays, names or common words. The more intricate and unique your password, the harder it is for hackers to crack it.

Longer Passwords Are Harder To Crack

Long passwords provide an added layer of security. According to Hive Systems, brute-force hacking can crack an eight-character password in less than one hour! When creating a new password, aim for a minimum of 12 characters, and consider using passphrases—sequences of random words or a sentence—which can be both strong and easier to remember.

A random passphrase would be something like: cogwheel-rosy-cathouse-jailbreak.

This passphrase was generated from the website, which will auto-create a four-word passphrase for you if you’re stumped.

Use Unique Passwords For Each Account

Resisting the temptation to reuse passwords across multiple accounts is crucial. If one account is compromised, having unique passwords for other accounts ensures that the damage is contained. Consider using a reputable password manager to help you generate and store complex passwords securely.

*Do NOT use Google or your browser's password manager. If your Google account is compromised, all of your passwords will be too. Talk with your IT team about what password management tool they recommend for you and your organization.

Update Passwords Yearly

As long as your account hasn’t been compromised, you only need to change your passwords once a year to minimize the risk of unauthorized access. The only time a regular password change routine would be exceptionally helpful is if someone has access that you don’t know about. A frequent password change can make it more challenging for attackers to maintain access to your accounts over an extended period of time.

Engage Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Implementing multi-factor authentication is another easy way to make your password bulletproof. MFA typically involves combining something you know (your password) with something you have (like a code sent to your phone). Even if your password is compromised, MFA significantly reduces the chances of unauthorized access.

Set Up Strong Password Recovery Alternatives

Leverage password recovery options like security questions or alternative e-mail addresses. It’s important to choose questions with answers that are not easily guessable or have publicly available information so “What’s your mother’s maiden name” is out!

Use Password Managers

You don’t have to try and remember every password, and you shouldn’t write them down on a sticky note on your desk. Instead, use a good password management tool that is secure and will handle keeping track of your passwords for you.

Bonus points for turning off the auto-fill feature. Hackers can infiltrate sites and install a little bit of code on a page that creates a second, invisible password box. When your password manager autofills the login box, it will also fill in the invisible box, giving hackers your password. This isn’t overly common, but it still poses a risk.

Regularly Review Account Activity

Monitor your account activity for any suspicious logins or activities. Many online platforms offer features that notify you of login attempts from unfamiliar devices, allowing you to take swift action in the event of unauthorized access.

It’s also always good to be aware of phishing attempts, never click suspicious links or attachments in e-mails, avoid public Wi-Fi and only use secure connections and educate and train your team on what to look for when it comes to cybercrime so they can protect themselves, you and the company.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, mastering the fundamentals of cybersecurity, like creating strong passwords, becomes paramount. By making informed choices and staying proactive, you can significantly enhance your online security.

However, as the leader of your organization, it’s important to remember that nothing is foolproof. Educating your team on cybersecurity best practices is essential, but mistakes can and will still happen. For most, it’s not a matter of if, but when. You must have a robust cybersecurity plan in place. The right IT team will make sure you have every protection in place to keep you safe and a crisis management plan ready if something goes wrong. To find out what gaps you have in your cybersecurity system, we’ll do a FREE Cybersecurity Risk Assessment. Click here to book yours now.


What You Should Know About Gemini AI Google Ads Campaigns


Buying ads in Google search results is one of the fastest ways businesses can increase visibility and expand their online footprint.

According to Similarweb, the search engine giant handles 90% of all search traffic in the United States. Therefore, it’s the best ad platform for businesses looking for the highest level of visibility and engagement. However, successful ad campaign management can be challenging.

Google’s Gemini AI is here to make the process easier with the launch of the Gemini AI Google Ads campaign model.

With Google’s new AI, all your ad-quality worries could soon be in the rearview mirror.

What Is Gemini AI?

Gemini AI is Google’s latest artificial intelligence model. The model can work with text, images, videos, voice, and code. The robustness of the model is why the company has now added it to Google Ads.

It promises to streamline the ads campaign management process for marketing enthusiasts across the globe.

How Does Gemini AI Work for Search Ads?

Running a Gemini AI Google Ads campaign is simple. Business owners will communicate with a chatbot based on the Gemini model to discuss campaign specifics. All it needs is your website link to get to work. The AI can generate:

Relevant keywords
Conversion-friendly headlines and ad copy
Possible images to use
Possible links to include

The entire process of using Gemini AI for ads will be conversational. Once the AI has generated the elements, you can focus on picking the best elements that meet your needs. The AI can further tweak your selections. You also retain the right to approve specific assets before the campaign launch.

Measurable Improvement to Ad Campaigns

Most advertisers and analysts agree that the Gemini AI Google Ads campaign will significantly cut campaign setup time while providing the foundation for better ad campaigns.

Reports from early adopters also show that using the model increases your chances of getting a “Good” or “Excellent” ad Strength rating by up to 42% and boosts conversions by an average of 12%.

The Future of Ad Search

Looking at the early reviews about Gemini AI Google Ads campaigns, it’s clear that Google will continue improving the use of AI in search marketing.

According to industry estimates, generative AI will have a $40 billion impact on digital advertising and ad revenues each year, with niches such as B2B technology, e-commerce, and healthcare seeing the most changes.

US and UK marketers can now run a Gemini AI Google Ads campaign. 


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Adjusting to Customers’ Digital Needs


The past few years have signaled a radical digital transformation in consumers’ interactions with businesses.

Adaptation is the name of the game in the business world. Businesses in the modern age must prioritize adjusting to customers’ digital needs. This article will cover some strategies for businesses to update their customer engagement and interaction approach.  

Search Model vs. Request Model

One of the biggest changes is moving from search-driven to request-driven models in search engines. Traditional internet search behavior works like this: The customer makes a specific query, and the search engine brings up various websites. The customer compares and contrasts prices before making a final purchase decision. 

Now, compare this with a request-driven search model. The customer enters a specific query, but instead of listing different relevant websites, the platform collects information and, using generative AI, produces unique results tailored to the user’s preferences, search history, etc. 

The main benefit of this kind of generative request-driven model is the high degree of integration. The traditional search-driven model provides a more fragmented experience in that the customer looks at separate websites to compile the relevant information. A request-driven model instead provides a more unified and cohesive search experience by compiling the information into a single generative response. 

How Generative AI Is Changing Digital Marketing

Generative AI is poised to change the face of digital advertising as we know it. Another avenue for adjusting to customers’ digital needs is how businesses handle SEO. Traditional keyword placement and link-building SEO strategies must consider how generative AI pulls information from websites. In that sense, the accuracy and timeliness of information become even more important. Businesses with out-of-date or inaccurate information risk being left out of generative AI results. 

How Should Businesses Adapt?

Here are a few adaptation strategies to consider as a business owner:

Investing in technological adaptation: Companies must embrace new digital tools, such as machine learning and generative AI, to fine-tune their marketing strategies and go with the flow of changing customer preferences. 
Prioritizing social media accounts: Social media remains a powerful platform to engage on a personal level and build a brand reputation while adjusting to customers’ digital needs.   
Focusing on customer experience: Now more than ever, customers are looking for streamlined digital convenience. A bad customer experience can forever push a customer away from your brand, so creating a user-centric approach is paramount.  


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The Benefits of Canva Magic Studio for Your Business


Have you used Canva for personal projects and are wondering if it's a viable program to meet your business's needs? With a new expansion of content and programs, your business can realize more benefits of Canva Magic Studio than ever before. 

What Is Canva Magic Studio?

Canva Magic Studio is a new bundle of content from Canva. It simplifies, expedites, and expands the platform's design capabilities. It includes features like magic expand, magic morph, magic switch, and more.

Centering around increased access to AI and media formats, Canva now positions itself as a viable platform for your business. No longer is it only a starting point for amateur designers and marketers.

Benefits of Canva's New Content

The new suite of Canva content provides several benefits to businesses. Some features are available for free in limited capacity. Enterprise users can optimize the benefits by investing in the premium version of the website.

1. More AI-Powered Apps

The major benefits of Canva Magic Studio derive from increased access to AI. This optimizes harnessing it as a comprehensive digital design and marketing asset.

Three features form the core of Canva's new content. Magic Switch focuses on providing quick and easy interchangeability of content. It can convert the same content into blogs, emails, etc., without spending time changing the format. With Magic Media, you can easily convert your writing into an image or audio format for more comprehensive content. You probably already use Magic Edit, but the new expansion provides even more capabilities for photo editing.

2. Text Conversion Capability

The new features allow you to convert text to an image or video easily. You won't spend excessive time on it and risk reducing workplace productivity.

For example, imagine you have a blog post talking about the beauty of the kitchen counters you offer. With just a few easy clicks, Canva AI can generate stunning images you can add to your content.

3. Media and Language Translation

Magic Switch can translate your content into over 100 different languages. It doesn't require a new internet tab or window. Within the same platform, you can convert a single piece of content into a blog post, email, social media post, PDF, or even a PowerPoint presentation.

4. Improved Access Controls

As a business owner or manager, you know the importance of controlling who has access to your various forms of technology. The new content from Canva increases accessibility controls for enterprise users. Team administrators can assign roles to their members and toggle their access to each Canva feature based on those roles.

5. Wide-ranging Applications

Because every business and industry can benefit from high-quality marketing and design tools, Canva is not restricted in its use. If you're wondering if you could harness the benefits of Canva Magic Studio, the answer is yes! Check it out today!


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New Google Meet Update Could Improve Work Calls


Do you use Google Meet for your business but frequently leave meetings feeling frustrated because you can't focus on the information that matters? The new Google Meet update could improve work calls and increase the overall productivity of your work meeting. Keep reading to discover the update's video conferencing enhancements and what they mean for your business.

What Is the New Google Meet Update?

The newest update to Google Meet focuses on remote collaboration improvements, especially for large meetings with many panels. During these meetings, focusing on the speaker or presentation becomes difficult among shifting voices and moving panels. 

The new Google Meet update features upgrades that mitigate these problems in the following ways:

Pin users: Hosts can now pin up to three tiles, which makes them consistently stand out among the other participants, regardless of who's speaking or background noise. Participants won't have to adjust their settings to stay focused on the important aspects of the meeting.
Ultra-low latency: With this enhanced Google Meet performance feature, you'll never have to worry about how much stress the meeting puts on your employees' devices.
Quick access: This feature allows people to join without using the traditional phone call method. Plus, videos start faster, even on large conference calls.

Benefits of the New Google Meet Update

The new Google Meet update could improve work calls, benefiting your business in several ways.

Work Call Optimization

With the low latency feature, employees with older or weaker machines won't have trouble connecting or the audio and visual not syncing. The improved latency should also greatly reduce the frequency of audio cutting in and out or people freezing in their frames. Because the Google Meet updates focus on improving the experience on old and less powerful machines, you'll now experience optimized calls every time.

Streamlined Focus

With Google Meet's new feature for pinning up to three speakers or panels, you'll never risk your coworkers losing sight of important content. If you have a speaker and a tile of content, you can now pin both rather than risk one becoming overshadowed. 

Virtual Meeting Productivity Boost

How much time do you lose every meeting waiting for people to connect, troubleshooting technology issues, and waiting for a presenter to stop freezing or lagging? These issues can add significant time to your meeting, stealing your employee's time and productivity from other tasks.

With Google Meet's new optimization features, your 30-minute meetings won't become 40-minute meetings because you're wasting the first 10 minutes. With easier and faster joining capabilities, ultra-low latency, and videos that start faster, you'll experience more productive meetings than ever.

Will the New Update Improve Your Business?

Because the new Google Meet update could improve work calls for even the largest conference calls, it has great potential to improve your business. Meetings are often the low point in an employee's day. With mitigated technical issues, they'll feel more empowered to contribute and know they're not wasting time dealing with technology.


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