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Get ready for another game-changer from Teams

Picture an AI-enhanced experience that streamlines your business communication and improves overall productivity to unprecedented levels.

Sounds a little like science fiction, right? But with Microsoft’s latest announcement, this future is closer than you think.

Microsoft Teams is launching an ‘AI library’ that promises to revolutionize our Teams experience.

The goal?

To empower developers to integrate Large Language Models (LLMs) into their Teams apps. The most famous LLM right now is ChatGPT.

You might wonder how that will help your business. Well essentially, it could mean you have a sophisticated AI at your beck and call during your Teams meetings.

The AI library, rolling out right now, will provide developers with a suite of code functionalities making it easier for them to integrate LLMs into their apps. This means creating Bots, Message Extensions, and Adaptive Cards for more engaging conversational experiences will be a breeze.

Microsoft assures us that the AI library will also aid the seamless migration of existing Bots, Message Extensions, and Adaptive Cards functionalities into Teams.

Isn’t this the same company that gave us the Copilot tool? Yep! Back in March 2023, Microsoft introduced GPT-4 integration across Microsoft 365 with its Copilot tool, which can whip up emails, compile reports, and, as Microsoft claimed very grandly, “rediscover the soul of work”. Who knew AI could be so poetic?

And let’s not forget the recently unveiled tool which uses AI to generate meeting notes, suggest follow-up actions, and even provide timeline markers for instant access to relevant parts of a call.

Microsoft Teams is on a mission to redefine our experience with AI. This isn’t just about making our lives easier; it’s about unlocking new possibilities for productivity and efficiency. Honestly, we can’t wait to see what the new AI library will bring.

If you need help getting more from Teams across your business, get in touch.

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Are you ready for Windows 11 to get even better? 

As if Windows 11 wasn’t already packed with enough goodies, it’s about to get even better.

Are you ready for a major upgrade to your favorite 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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That phishing site? Gone in 600 seconds

Did you know that a staggering 60% of phishing websites are only online for a fleeting 10 minutes? 

Yes, you read that right. Just ten minutes.

This surprising fact underlines just how rapidly cyber threats are evolving and how vital it is for us to stay ahead of the game.

Phishing sites are fake sites that try to trick you into entering your login details. Or to get you to download malware.

The idea is that cyber criminals drive huge amounts of traffic to them… scam people… then take down the site before it can be detected.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could spot these threats before they vanish into thin air and pop-up elsewhere? Well, Google Chrome has a trick up its sleeve to help us do just that.

 Imagine this: You’re running your business, constantly on the move, making split-second decisions. You absent-mindedly visit a website which looks a little… odd. But you don’t panic. You’re using Google Chrome and it scans websites you visit against its list of malicious URLs.  

But uh oh. Google’s list of bad websites is only updated every 30 to 60 minutes. That 60% of phishing domains that are active for just 10 minutes may slip through the net. 

Enter Google Chrome’s new security tool, Enhanced Safe Browsing.

As part of a recent update, Chrome has switched it on for everyone. It will now check URLs against a list of domains in real time. Think of it as a cyber bodyguard who can spot and neutralize threats at lightning speed.

Google has confirmed that Enhanced Safe Browsing will continue to offer features like deep scans for files and protection from malicious extensions. 

 So, does this mean Google will know every URL you visit?

Well, yes. But whilst this new feature does share all visited URLs with Google, the information won’t be used to power other features, including advertising. It’s a trade-off between security and privacy. Given the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, isn’t it worth having an extra layer of protection?

We say embrace these new tools and stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals. After all, the safety of all our businesses depends on it.

If you need additional support protecting your business from phishing scams – or anything else – get in touch.

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The end of an era: Goodbye WordPad

Can you believe it? After 30 years of faithful service, Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on WordPad. The app that debuted with Windows 95, and lets you open a .doc file if you don’t have Word installed, is being shown the door. 

But why now and what does it mean for your business?

Microsoft recently announced plans to stop updating WordPad and eventually remove it from Windows altogether. It was a quiet reveal, and it’s unclear when this will happen, but it’s in the works.

Let’s be honest though… how many times have you accidentally opened a document in WordPad when you were aiming for Notepad? 

Notepad is what you use for plain text. WordPad is more like a word processor. Everyone gets them confused.

Could this common mix-up be the reason behind WordPad’s impending demise? Or perhaps Microsoft is trying to nudge more people towards paying for Microsoft Word, a key part of its Microsoft 365 suite.

In an excerpt from Microsoft’s recently updated Windows deprecated features list, they recommend using Microsoft Word for rich text documents and Windows Notepad for plain text documents. So, in other words, “WordPad who?”

But let’s not get too sentimental here. As a lifelong Windows user, I can confess that I’ve mostly opened WordPad only by mistake. And if it does vanish, I won’t be losing sleep. There are plenty of other word processors out there, and I’m quite fond of Word.

However, if you’re a diehard WordPad fan, don’t despair just yet. Microsoft is asking for feedback via the Windows Feedback Hub app. So, if there’s an outpouring of support, who knows? Maybe Microsoft will reconsider and allow WordPad to stick around, even if it’s just as an optional, rarely-updated app from the Microsoft Store.

If we can help you discover the best apps for your business, get in touch.

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Beware these “too good to be true” Facebook ads

We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, and an ad pops up promising to help you grow your business with some AI-powered software…

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Without giving it much thought, you click to see what it’s about.

Bad news: This is a big red flag.

Cyber criminals have been found creating Facebook ads that promise to supercharge your productivity and revenue. But when you click, there’s a catch. 

The software they ask you to install is actually malware (malicious software).

And when it’s on your computer it can give the criminals access to your Facebook data, including your ad budget. 

You might think, “Who’d fall for such an obvious trick?” 

But let’s be real. When you’re a small business owner juggling a million things at once, it’s easy to take the bait. And these hackers are smart. They know how to make their phoney offers look legit, and how to hide the malware on your computer so it’s hard to spot.

How do you stay safe? First, be skeptical of offers that seem too good to be true, because they often are. You can verify ads by Googling the advertiser before clicking on them. 

And above all, take steps to secure your Facebook account. Use two factor authentication, where you use a second device to prove it’s really you logging in.

Remember, these cyber criminals might be sneaky, but they’re not infallible. For instance, the researchers who uncovered this scheme found several Vietnamese keywords in the malicious script.

This is another stark reminder of the importance of good cyber security. Yes, running a business is a juggling act, and adding another ball to the mix might feel overwhelming. 

But think of it this way: Would you rather spend a little time now securing your account or a lot of time later dealing with the fall out of a breach?

As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” So, stay safe, stay alert, and protect what you’ve worked so hard to build. If you need some help doing that, get in touch.

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Tempted to test new features before everyone else? DON’T BE! 

Ever been tempted to download the beta version of your favorite app, ready to test out all the cool new features before everyone else?

STOP!!

The FBI has some news that might just make you think twice.

Cyber criminals have come up with a brand new trick to lure us into their lair. They’re hiding malicious code in fake beta versions of popular apps, turning unsuspecting people’s mobiles into their personal piggy banks.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we love innovation as much as the next team of tech enthusiasts. But whilst beta versions have a certain allure, they haven’t gone through the rigorous security checks that apps in the official app stores must pass.

Criminals send fake emails pretending to be the developers of popular apps, offering early access to new beta versions.

But of course they’re fake too. Once installed, they can do all sorts of bad things, including accessing data from your finance apps and even taking over your mobile 

If your staff download them onto company devices, could your business be compromised?

There’s a moral to our story. And it’s a simple one: Patience is a virtue. 

Hold off on downloading beta versions of apps. Wait until they’re stable and officially released in app stores. Good things come to those who wait, and that includes secure apps.

If you have downloaded beta versions in the past, keep an eye out for red flags like faster battery drain, poor performance, persistent pop-up ads, and apps asking for unnecessary permissions.

In this digital age, we must be as smart and savvy as the technology we use. So, before you hit download, take a moment to think: is this app worth the risk? 

Train your staff to think the same way. And if you do give them business mobiles, consider a Mobile Device Management solution to control what they can do with them.

We can help keep all your devices better protected. Get in touch.

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And breathe… the “file too large to send” problem is over

How many times have you been in the middle of an urgent email, attaching a critical file, only to be met with the dreaded notification – “file too large to send”? 

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Well, Microsoft has heard our collective sighs of exasperation. They’ve announced an update that promises to banish the ‘file too large’ issue once and for all.

And this is one of those rare times where something that feels too good to be true is actually true! 

In an official post on the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the tech giant’s revealed its plan to integrate Outlook with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage platform. 

It means when you hit that attachment size limit, Outlook will ask you to upload your file to OneDrive, so your document still reaches the intended recipient. 

Clever, don’t you think?

Android devices get this new feature first, but for everyone else, the rollout is due this month. We don’t have long to wait.

Soon you’ll no longer need to compress, resize, or even abandon your large files. Or turn to third-party services (which can be a security risk). Microsoft’s paving the way for a smoother, more efficient email experience.

If you’d like a hand getting more from your Microsoft 365 subscription, get in touch.


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Microsoft and Samsung team up to boost work phone security

You’ve checked your pockets, your bag, under pillows … and then it hits you. You left your work phone on the table at the coffee shop. 

You panic.

It’s not the device itself that’s got you worried, but all the sensitive business information stored on it. If that mobile ends up in the wrong hands, you’re facing a nightmare.

But that worry could be over. Microsoft and Samsung are joining forces to make your work mobiles  safer. This month, they’re launching a groundbreaking solution to help protect anyone who uses a Samsung Galaxy device in the workplace.

How? 

With something called on-device attestation. It lets companies see if mobile devices have been compromised, even at their deepest components. Think of it as a security guard for your cell phone. 

Samsung brings its software and hardware innovations to the table, whilst Microsoft provides its endpoint management expertize. 

And whilst other device attestation tools require a network connection and access to cloud services, this solution works reliably regardless of network connectivity or device ownership model. 

This solution will be released alongside Microsoft Intune (previously known as Windows Intune), a unified endpoint management service for both corporate devices and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). And it will be available to select Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets, especially those “Secured by Knox”.

So, whether you’re working from the office, a busy coffee shop, or a remote cabin in the woods, you can rest assured your device is safe.

In business, your mobile is more than just a communication device. It’s a vault of sensitive (and valuable) information. And with Microsoft and Samsung on the case, that vault just got a lot safer.

If we can help you keep any of your devices more secure, get in touch.

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Is that Microsoft email actually a phishing attack? 

You’re no stranger to the endless threats lurking in your email inbox. But have you ever considered that an email which seems to be from Microsoft could end up being your worst nightmare?

Microsoft, the tech giant we all know and trust, has become the most imitated brand when it comes to phishing attacks. That’s where cyber criminals send you an email which contains a malicious link or file. They’re trying to steal your data. 

And whilst Microsoft isn’t to blame for this, you and your employees need to be on high alert for anything that seems suspicious.

During the second quarter of 2023, Microsoft soared to the top spot of brands imitated by criminals, accounting for a whopping 29% of brand phishing attempts.

This places it well ahead of Google in second place (at 19.5%) and Apple in third place (at 5.2%). Together, these three tech titans account for more than half of the observed brand imitator attacks.

But what does this mean for your business?

Despite a clear surge in fake emails targeting millions of Windows and Microsoft 365 customers worldwide, careful observation can help protect you from identity theft and fraud attacks. 

Whilst the most imitated brands change from quarter to quarter, usually cyber criminals are less likely to change their tactics. 

They use legitimate-looking logos, colors, and fonts. Phishing scams frequently use domains or URLs that are similar to the real deal. But a careful scan of these, along with the content of any messages, will often expose typos and errors – the tell-tale signs of a phishing attack.

One of the latest attacks claims there has been unusual Microsoft account sign-in activity on your account, directing you to a malicious link. These links are designed to steal everything from login credentials to payment details.

And whilst tech firms continue to be popular scam subjects, many cyber criminals have turned to financial services like online banking, gift cards, and online shopping orders. Wells Fargo and Amazon both rounded up the top five during Q2 2023, accounting for 4.2% and 4% of brand phishing attempts respectively.

What can you do to protect your business?

The answer is simpler than you might think. The best course of action when it comes to phishing is to slow down, observe, and analyze. Check for discrepancies in URLs, domains, and message text.

If we can help you keep your team aware of the risks, get in touch.

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Google Calendar has a great update for hybrid workers

Have you heard about the latest productivity update from our friends at Google? 

They’ve just added a little feature to Google Calendar that could make your life a whole lot easier – especially if you’re a hybrid worker. 

Remember back in 2021 when they first introduced the option to share your working location with your colleagues? They’ve taken it up a notch.

Now, you can set up multiple locations for any given day on your calendar. So whether you’re splitting your time between the office and home, or out and about as a mobile worker, Google’s got you covered. 

Picture this: you’re only in the office for half a day before you head off to a client meeting. With this new feature, your colleagues will know exactly when and where to find you.

Google is all about helping us work smarter, not harder. They know that loads of us are still working remotely, or juggling a mix of office and remote work. This update is specially designed for hybrid workers. 

It’s only available to those with a Workspace account, including:

·       Google Workspace Business Standard/Plus

·       Enterprise Standard/Plus

·       Education Fundamentals/Standard/Plus

·       The Teaching and Learning Upgrade

·       Nonprofits

Unfortunately, personal accounts won’t have access just yet.

The working location feature will be switched on by default. But if you prefer that your colleagues can’t find you (we’re not judging… we all get distracted at work) you can easily disable it.

If we can help you get the most out of everyday applications like calendars and email, get in touch.