Stay on Top of the Latest IT Industry News With This Selection of Blog Posts from BCS

Zoom wants to be the new Teams

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.

Why you will not be fine on this Cloud9

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.

Windows 12 is coming… here’s what we know so far


While Windows 11 is only just celebrating its first birthday, we’re already hearing our first rumors 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-center 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.

Are you using Teams to share sensitive data?


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?


When you think about tools for remote working and chatting online, one of the first names in your mind is Zoom.

But its popularity has opened the door for cyber criminals. They’re using its name to steal sensitive data.

Researchers have discovered at least six convincing-looking download sites. They’re not the real thing. They’re designed to tempt you into downloading FAKE Zoom software, containing ‘info stealers’ and other forms of malware (malicious software).

Accidentally use one of these sites thinking that you’re downloading a Zoom update… and you risk having sensitive data stolen. Possibly your banking info, passwords, or browser history.

Some can even steal your multi-factor authentication details. That could give cyber criminals access to your most sensitive data.

The research also found these ‘stealer logs’ for sale on the dark web, where criminals can buy this information and use it to gain access to business networks.

Once a cyber criminal has access to your network, every piece of data you have stored becomes a target. In extreme cases, this can leave you vulnerable to ransomware attacks, or data theft.

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.

Bosses think 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.

Your USB cable is about to get a speed boost

We’re all familiar with USB. After all we’ve been using it with our computers since 1996, and now with mobile devices too.

Yes… it’s really been that long.

Without USB it would be harder to connect different types of devices, charge them, and transfer data.

Of course, USB has changed and improved over the years. And there’s another new improvement due in the next few months.

What makes this one fun is that you won’t need to buy any new USB accessories or cables.

The USB Promoter Group, which is the industry body that drives USB improvements, recently announced the planned release of USB 4 2.0.

What’s exciting about that, you ask?

This will actually allow you to double the speeds of data transfer on cables you already own – so long as they’re no more than a couple of years old.

This new standard will see a maximum data transfer performance of up to 80GBps. That’s gigabits per second.

It means displays will perform better and data will transfer faster. Great news to improve productivity in your business.

The USB Promoter Group is made up of tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, HP, and Intel.

Its primary job is to develop USB capabilities to meet the demand of the current market and to extend support for more platform types.

We expect to have an update on USB 4 2.0 in around November.

If you want improved productivity and performance in your business before the end of the year, please get in touch. There are always ways to make things faster in every business.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

None of your team would fall for this trick… would they?


Cyber criminals have a reputation for constantly coming up with new ways to scam us into handing over login details or sensitive data.

And while you might think your team would spot an attempted attack, you could be surprised. We’ve seen a lot of intelligent people – including many business leaders – caught out over the years.

One of the latest scams is very retro… and that seems to be why people are falling for it.

Cyber criminals have gone back to basics. They’re sending USB drives in the post.

The packaging and branding on the drives suggests they’re from Microsoft (they are not).

The story is there’s an updated version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus on the drive and it needs to be installed straightaway.

Of course, this is a complete lie. Microsoft has confirmed that these packages aren’t genuine. It’s warning people it would never send out unsolicited packages.

If you plug the drive into your computer, it will detect a “virus” and ask you to call a support line.

The scammers at the other end will pretend to remove the virus, gaining your trust. And then they’ll ask for payment details to help complete your subscription setup.

It’s old fashioned, but we can see how the mixture of the physical USB, the belief it’s from Microsoft and the fake support line would be compelling for someone who’s busy and just wants to get back to work.

We’re expecting elaborate, clever attacks through our email. Our guard is down with this mix of events.

Play it safe and warn everyone in your business about this scam.

This is also a good time to review the software and staff training you use to protect your business.

You need the right combination of the two… we can help with that. Get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Are you using a malicious browser extension?


There are hundreds of thousands of browser extensions designed to help us to save time, be more productive, and personalize our online experience.

And while the majority of them do what they’re supposed to, some are not designed to help you at all…

If you’re unfortunate enough to download a malicious browser extension without realizing, it could harm your productivity and even flood your work with unwanted advertising.

This is known as adware. It’s a form of malware (malicious software) that’s designed to bombard you with unwanted adverts.

It can also change your search engine and send you to affiliate pages when you’re making purchases. These activities generate revenue for the extension’s creators.

In a recent report from a cyber security company, it revealed more than 4 million of its customers have been attacked by adware hiding in browser extensions over the last couple of years.

And often people didn’t realize they were under attack.

There’s a darker scenario where these malicious extensions are hiding actual malware which can infect your computer.

This can lead to sensitive data such as your logins or even payment details being stolen. And of course malware can spread across an entire network.

To keep your business and its data safe from the risk of malicious browser extensions, it’s important you only ever download them from reliable and trusted sources.

Read reviews and look at ratings. If a browser seems too good to be true it probably is.

As the business owner, you might also look into controlling which extensions can be installed by your team. We can help with this, as well as looking at up-to-date software protection and (fun) security training for your team.

Passkeys could improve the way you work


Back in May, we heard there would soon be a successor to the password – the Passkey.

Now, we’re hearing that Apple will start rolling out Passkeys in the next few months in iOS 16. And we’re excited.

Though it’s caused a bit of confusion. Apple is going to great lengths to market the Passkey, and understandably, people have assumed that it’s a feature exclusive to Apple.

That’s not the case.

In fact, Passkeys will be used in a joint effort to boost online security by Apple, Microsoft and Google. The reason Apple is promoting this new feature so hard is to get the message out there.

Microsoft and Google are also keen to spread the word so that people understand how Passkeys work.

The more people take advantage of Passkeys, the safer our businesses are online.

Passkeys – otherwise known as FIDO authentication – work by letting you log into an app or website with just your username and your pre-authenticated device, most probably your phone.

Your device generates a cryptographic token, which makes the second part of a cryptographic key pair. When the pair matches, you’re allowed access to the app or website.

What that means in practice is when you’re logging in, you just use your phone to prove its really you. You’ll just unlock it using your face, fingerprint or PIN.

So long as your phone is within Bluetooth range of your computer it will work.

And without needing a password… bliss…

It’s a far more secure way to access apps and keep your accounts safe from cyber criminals. You never see your cryptographic token, so it takes away a lot of the danger of having your login credentials stolen.

Cyber criminals will be unable to use their normal tactics – such phishing emails, brute force attacks, or key loggers – to steal your credentials.

They’ll need your physical device, making remote hacking much less likely.

If you use Windows Hello, you’ll see that Passkeys are already supported. And it won’t be long until all three tech giants roll out support across their entire product range.

Before then, if you’d like any help or advice on keeping your apps and accounts safer, just give us a call.