November Brings New Features to Microsoft Teams


With hundreds of thousands of users daily, Microsoft continuously develops new and innovative ideas to simplify business, school, and everyday tasks. It was a busy month for Microsoft in November as the company added a wide variety of new and exciting features to its Microsoft Teams platform. This resulted in added features for devices, meetings, collaboration, and more for Microsoft Teams users. 

Devices

To optimize the meeting experience, Microsoft improved the companion device experience. By using proximity join, team members' companion devices will suppress the video streams of in-room participants on the front of the meeting display. Additionally, if a user joins an existing Teams meeting with a personal laptop, the video galleries on Teams Rooms and in-room laptops will display only video streams from remote attendees. 

In addition to supporting hotdesking in portrait mode on Teams displays, it also allows for the reservation and location of flexible workspaces. Hotdesks enables users to find and reserve workspaces in a more efficient manner. It is now possible to secure hotdesks, extend reservations and decide when a hotdesk session ends. After signing in, users are redirected to an ambient user experience. Users will automatically be signed out at the end of the hotdesk session. 

Collaboration

Teams users now have the option to accept or reject a group chat invitation from an unmanaged user. The ability to accept or reject a one-to-one chat with an unmanaged user is already available for Teams users. 

The increase in remote or flexible working hours and the location of workplaces across the globe means that sending a message can prove challenging. Teams chat now allows users to delay messages, just like emails, so they don't disturb colleagues during off-time. By right-clicking the send button, users can choose the time and date of delivery. 

Regardless of the age of the message, users can now see the entire message thread by clicking on the chat message in the search function. As a result of this update, Microsoft hopes to increase efficiency at work by providing all the context the user needs. 

Meetings

Android users have seen significant improvements with the addition of transcription for one-on-one and group calls. Teams users can also now view 49 videos simultaneously, with the Large Gallery view automatically selected. Prior to the new features, users had to manually select the Large Gallery view for meetings with more than nine video participants. In addition, for quick check-ins during meetings, a 1-click instant poll was added. 

While these aren't all the new features Teams received in November, it is evident that Microsoft has worked diligently behind the scenes to increase efficiency and productivity for all the people using Teams each month. As a result, teams have become popular for video calls, chats and meetings. Undoubtedly, Microsoft will continue improving Teams to streamline processes and increase user efficiency. 

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Google’s Continuous Scrolling Now on Desktops


On December 5th, 2022, Google announced on Twitter that it is bringing continuous scrolling to the United States desktop users.

Traditionally, while searching on Google, users could wander through pages to find the information they need. With continuous scrolling, desktop users can see up to six pages of search results at once by scrolling down to the bottom. Once users reach the bottom of the search, a "see more" button will show more results.

Google implemented the continuous scrolling feature on mobile devices in October 2021. On mobile, the continuous scrolling feature is limited to four pages. However, the feature allows more results to load automatically as the user reaches the bottom of the page.

In addition to helping users find information faster, the continuous scrolling feature will increase visibility for sites not ranked within the first page or two on Google. Users had to click the "next page" button to view more results, which limited some websites' visibility.

Continuous scrolling isn't a revolutionary concept. It is widely used throughout most social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram. While continuous scrolling can create a simpler and quicker way to browse the internet, some users may miss the older search engine results page (SERP). The pages were a natural break for users to consider if they had all the necessary information.

Google is dedicated to providing all internet users with a seamless and enjoyable search experience. It is certain that the latest feature, continuous scrolling, will be available in all languages and devices worldwide over time.

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The Benefits of Implementing a CRM Solution


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software allows marketing teams to manage customer interactions better, track customer relationships, and monitor customer activity. It also will enable businesses to collect detailed profiles of their customers, allowing companies to target future products and offers to specific users.

As technology becomes more sophisticated and affordable, it’s more important than ever for companies to implement a CRM system to help boost their revenues.

Main reasons why CRM systems are necessary:

Managing customers is expensive. Businesses spend a lot of time and money trying to retain top-selling clients and bring new leads into the fold. Having a system to track what makes customers want to purchase your products can drastically reduce customer retention and acquisition expenses.

With a CRM system, marketers gain valuable insights into how individual customers behave and how those patterns change over time. They can use those findings to improve overall sales. If you aren’t currently tracking how well individuals perform in relation to similar demographics and interests, chances are you’re leaving money on the table.

CRM systems also make it easier for businesses to reach past traditional sales channels. With modern platforms, sales representatives can interact directly with customers via email, online chat, social media sites, or phone calls. Many CRM solutions also integrate with mobile apps and websites, allowing seamless interaction between the company’s core platform and its customers.

CRM implementations provide the foundation to streamline all communication between marketing agents, customer care representatives, sales reps, and executives. With a CRM, marketers never miss a step when dealing with clients or attempting to convert them.

Which CRM Solution Should You Choose?

There are many available options on the market for choosing a CRM solution, and there is no standard CRM software that is perfect for everyone. Additionally, it is hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution. To choose which CRM will be the right fit for your business, you need to review both your business and your client’s needs so you can compare and select the right product.

Choosing Features

When picking out your ideal CRM software product for your business, you’ll see that different applications will cater to specific industries better than others. For instance, business owners who run small or medium-sized operations won’t be as concerned about the advanced analytics or features offered by robust application suites compared to large enterprises running multi-million dollar marketing campaigns.

There are many reasons why a CRM system is necessary for businesses. It can help boost sales, reduce customer retention and acquisition expenses, and provide valuable insights into how customers behave. A CRM system allows businesses to reach past traditional sales channels and interact directly with customers. When choosing a CRM solution, businesses should review their and clients' needs to select the right product. Utilizing CRM software has proven to increase conversions by 15-35%. Therefore, using a CRM to manage your clients is essential for business growth.

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SiriusXM Flaw Unlocks Vehicles and More


A somewhat concerning flaw has been fixed by SiriusXM that would allow unauthorized individuals to unlock doors remotely and start engines by only having the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Sam Curry, a researcher at Yuga Labs, published a Twitter thread explaining the details of the discovered security flaw.

The security bug affected vehicles using SiriusXM's Connect Vehicle Services, including Honda, Nissan, Acura, and others.

The VIN of a vehicle is all a threat actor needs to authorize actions and gain access to a user's profile. For example, the VIN is often located on the windshield of a vehicle, which an attacker can gather by walking by it.

When an attacker has access to a VIN, they are able to send requests that allow them to unlock, start, locate, flash the lights, and honk the horns on connected vehicles.

As a result of the security flaw being reported to SiriusXM through the company's bug-hunting bounty program, a solution was available within 24 hours of receiving notification of the vulnerability.

SiriusXM confirmed that no previous or current SiriusXM subscriber data was compromised. SiriusXM takes the security of its customers' accounts seriously, which is why the bug bounty program is in place. The program helps identify and correct potential security flaws that impact their platforms.

This isn't the first time there has been a security flaw that could lead to criminal mischief. Earlier this year, researchers discovered Honda Civics manufactured between 2016 and 2020 were susceptible to being remotely unlocked and started.

Criminals are always looking for clever ways to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. So this holiday season, don't make your vehicle look enticing to criminals by leaving valuables in it.

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Are Your Smart Devices (Siri, Alexa, Google) Eavesdropping On You?


Have you ever had a conversation about a topic, and then later that day you start seeing news, ads or updates about that subject, and said to yourself, “This can’t be a coincidence”?

Well, you’re probably right.

According to Norton, who you may remember as an antivirus software company and who now also owns LifeLock, your smart devices ARE listening to you because that’s their job.

However, you probably didn’t realize how much they are listening to you or what they do with the information they collect.

In this blog, you’ll see that your devices are listening to you and using and distributing the information they get, and how to protect yourself while still using the features these smart devices offer.

Chances are when you activated Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, it asked you to accept the terms and conditions, which you did, without reading or listening to them.

A quick search of the terms for Siri (https://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/data/en/ask-siri-dictation) advises you that:

When you use Siri and Dictation, your device will send other Siri Data, such as:

Contact names, nicknames and relationships (for example, “my dad”), if you set them up in your contacts
Music and podcasts you enjoy
Names of your devices and those of your Family Sharing members
Names of accessories, homes, scenes, shared home members in the Home app, and Apple TV user profiles
Labels for items, such as people names in Photos, Alarm names and names of Reminders lists
Names of apps installed on your device and shortcuts you added through Siri

And Google states (https://policies.google.com/privacy):

We will share personal information outside of Google if we have a good-faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of the information is reasonably necessary.
We may share non-personally identifiable information publicly and with our partners – like publishers, advertisers, developers or rights holders. For example, we share information publicly to show trends about the general use of our services. We also allow specific partners to collect information from your browser or device for advertising and measurement purposes, using their own cookies or similar technologies.

These are just some of the highlights from their privacy policy, which is a lengthy 15 pages.

You’ve got to remember, the privacy policy isn’t there to protect you – it’s there to protect the companies that create them!

So, what do you do? Do you stop using smart devices, get rid of your phone and build a house in the woods?

That’s probably a little extreme for most, so here are two things that actually make sense.

First, you can take some basic actions to disable a few of the “eavesdropping” features built into your smart devices. Norton (the antivirus people) has a three-step way to do that at: https://us.norton.com/blog/how-to/is-my-phone-listening-to-me

Second, you need to know that if your data is going to be stolen, it’s probably NOT through Alexa, Siri and Google.

Most data breaches come from malicious links in e-mails; old, unpatched security vulnerabilities in software; and unsuspecting employees taking actions they shouldn’t be taking.

These risks can be mitigated and monitored, and existing vulnerabilities can often be eliminated, simply by having the right software updates installed.

While it’s a little weird that Apple may know that your favorite musician is actually Taylor Swift, it’s much worse if your business data gets stolen or locked down and you’re out of business until you pay ransom to hackers.

Click here to schedule a brief 10-minute call to discuss your situation, needs and concerns. If appropriate, we can conduct a simple security assessment for free to know for sure if your network and data are safe.


End-to-End Encryption for Dropbox Business Users

Dropbox has announced its plans to purchase several key assets from Boxcryptor so that it is able to provide end-to-end encryption for its business users. In addition, the partial merger between the two companies will enable Dropbox to better meet its client's needs, including an enhanced level of security for cloud storage.

Boxcryptor, a provider of cloud backup services, utilizes zero-knowledge encryption to protect its customers' data.

Dropbox's acquisition of Boxcryptor assets

In November, Dropbox reported that customer demand for encrypted file storage had grown significantly. As a result, the company is looking to integrate built-in encryption features into its services.

Boxcryptor's features will be directly integrated for business customers who subscribe to Dropbox's paid plans. This feature will encrypt data locally on devices before syncing with Dropbox folders.

It is unclear how much Dropbox has paid for Boxcryptor's assets and what these assets may be since the acquisition details were not made public.

Boxcryptor's Clients

Cloud storage services like SharePoint, OneDrive, and Google Drive are some of the cloud storage services Boxcryptor protects.

Boxcryptor and Dropbox were selective with the language they used in the announcement. Boxcryptor stated that its "new mission" was to integrate its technology into Dropbox.

Dropbox said it was purchasing "several key assets," hinting that this wasn't a full-blown acquisition. Boxcryptor will continue to support its existing customers as long as their contracts remain valid.

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Lastest LastPass Security Incident


According to LastPass CEO Karim Toubba, the password manager has been hacked once again.

A data breach occurred in the development environment only a few months ago, prompting LastPass to announce they had experienced a security breach on August 25, 2022. LastPass disclosed to its customers that a developer account was compromised. At the time, only portions of LastPass' source code and some proprietary technical information appeared to have been compromised due to the breach.

A combined investigation with Mandiant was initiated immediately. After completing their analysis on September 15, they concluded that the threat actor had engaged in limited activity for four days. Moreover, there is no evidence of threat actor activity beyond the established timeline. Neither was there evidence suggesting any access to customer data or encrypted password vaults occurred during the incident.

Although it seemed that the cyberattack had ended, Toubba said that his company discovered strange behavior in a cloud storage service used by both LastPass and its affiliate, GoTo.

Toubba confirmed that unauthorized parties were accessing customer information using data obtained during the August 2022 cyberattack. However, LastPass' Zero Knowledge architecture ensures that customer passwords are completely secure.

At this point, it is not clear what information was obtained by the cybercriminal. However, the company assured users that they were diligently working to gather more information about the breach and to identify what data has been compromised.

Hackers have targeted LastPass on multiple occasions, but the cybercriminals are gaining ground this time. While it seems that the cybercriminals couldn't gain access to customers' passwords, they could still access customers' information, which could significantly affect more than 25 Million users.

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Amazon Security Lake Aims to Enhance Cybersecurity for Businesses


The new security-focused data lake solution from Amazon Web Services (AWS), unveiled at re:Invent 2022, aims to give consumers more value from their security data.

The Amazon Security Lake service aims to consolidate an organization's security data from various on-premises and cloud-based sources into a single location to pinpoint security threats precisely.

With the help of Amazon Security Lake, based on Amazon S3, security teams will find it simple to automatically gather, aggregate, and analyze security data at petabyte size.

In his keynote address, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky stated that security data is spread across various applications, firewalls, and identity providers.

By combining a variety of AWS's existing data analytics and management services, the new platform may significantly enhance AWS's security capabilities.

The platform integrates with CloudTrail, Lambda, and GuardDuty to allow customers to import their data. The data can be analyzed further with tools such as Amazon Athena or SageMaker.

Security Lake is fully compliant with the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), meaning it can combine data from the world's top technology companies and connect with up to 50 partner analytics systems.

Jon Ramsey, vice president of Security Services at AWS, emphasized the importance of customers being able to detect security risks to quickly and effectively protect data and networks. However, their data is often scattered and stored in various formats, making it difficult to analyze.

With Amazon Security Lake, customers can create a security data lake. Then, in just a few clicks, gather data from various sources and normalize it to OCSF standards, enabling customers to quickly take action with their preferred security tool.

Amazon Security Lake is in the preview phase in the AWS Regions of North Virginia, Ohio, Oregon, Sydney, Tokyo, Frankfurt, and Dublin. More AWS regions will be added soon.

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How AI is Transforming Businesses


While artificial intelligence (AI) is seen as a new phenomenon in mainstream society, it is not a new concept. As AI technologies increase, AI is becoming increasingly important for companies looking to stay competitive.

What is AI

Artificial intelligence is a broad term for any computer software that engages in human-like activities. This includes learning, planning, and problem-solving.

Machine Learning

Many different types of artificial intelligence (AI) are used in business today. One of the main types is machine learning, which is primarily used to process large amounts of data quickly. These types of AIs are algorithms that appear to learn as they are given more data.

Machine learning algorithms can analyze data that would otherwise be too complex for humans. Additionally, the algorithms can rapidly analyze data as it is entered and identify patterns and anomalies as they appear.

Businesses can use machine learning to determine when equipment is working at a reduced capacity and inform decision-makers when preventative maintenance is required. Nevertheless, machine learning is still a relatively broad category.

Deep Learning

Deep learning evolved as a result of the development of artificial neural networks. In deep learning, neural networks can perform nonlinear reasoning, a more advanced form of machine learning. Therefore, a deep learning model is essential for detecting fraud and conducting a more comprehensive analysis.

The deep learning approach allows simultaneous analysis of a wide array of factors. Deep learning models continue to improve their performance as more data is received. For example, self-driving vehicles must simultaneously identify, analyze, and respond to numerous factors. As a result, deep learning models become more detailed and scalable as more data is received.

AI and business

Artificial intelligence is not considered a replacement for human intelligence and ingenuity. However, it can process and analyze data much faster than humans. As a result, AI can assist with anticipating possible outcomes and decision-making by providing alternative courses of action.

AI is commonly used in cybersecurity, customer relationship management, content generation, and personal assistants.

It is unlikely that human jobs will disappear as artificial intelligence becomes more integrated into the workforce. Instead, it is predicted that the need for specific skills will shift as technology advances, leading to a growing demand for more refined technical skills.

Overall, AI is playing an increasingly important role in businesses today. As the technology continues to develop, it will be interesting to see how else AI will transform various industries.

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Scammers Impersonating Refund Payment Portals


The FBI warns about scammers pretending to be refund payment gateways from financial institutions to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting victims.

The federal law enforcement agency stated that scammers deceive victims into granting them access to their computers via email or phone calls by posing as representatives of technical or computer repair companies.

According to the FBI, scammers typically start by specifying the service to be renewed and include a fee, usually between $300 and $500 USD, causing a sense of urgency for the victims to supply information for a refund.

"In this case, the scammers pretend to help the victim secure a refund by gaining remote access to the victim's computer."

Although tech support scams are nothing new, the FBI said that recently, con artists started employing scripts created to mimic the appearance and feel of refund payment gateways in command prompt windows.

It has been discovered that some of the scripts imitate Chase Bank, JPMorgan Chase's division for consumer and commercial banking. In addition, other batch files used in this tech support campaign have also been uncovered. These batch files allow dynamic customization by changing the output's bank name using Windows environment variables.

However, these scripts aim to gather the targets' personal and financial data (such as full name, bank name, ZIP code, and refund amount) to facilitate unlawful wire transfers of money from the victims' bank accounts.

According to the FBI, "the malware will often launch a command prompt styled to seem like a service interface."

The script also has many pauses that encourage user interaction as they "wait" for a refund or other action to happen, as well as commands to send data to a text file.

Individuals who have been victims of this tech support fraud should report it as soon as possible by submitting a report to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The FBI also cautioned potential victims against granting remote access to their computers to unauthorized parties and against sending wire transfers in response to the advice they received from internet or telephone contacts.

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