Surprise! Your Computer Mouse May Be Letting in Viruses and Hackers

Surprise! Your Computer Mouse May Be Letting in Viruses and Hackers

I can think of few accessories more essential to computing than the mouse. This device made computer use more friendly. The ability to point and click revolutionized home and business computing.

Computer Mouse

It is easy to take the computer mouse for granted. I have grown accustomed to using it. In fact, to me, a mouse is a virtually natural extension of the computer, seemingly indistinguishable.

Yet, problems always seem to accompany progress. Such is the case with the mouse and wireless keyboard. As it turns out, these helpful devices may be letting in viruses and hackers.

That is right. Many computer users are unknowingly vulnerable. I recently came to learn that the mouse and wireless keyboards we love so much are highly susceptible to cyberattacks.

Wi-Fi Connections to Blame

As is true of many of you, I use Wi-Fi daily. I try not to dwell on all the security dangers possible because of Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the reality is that just as colds can spread when people cough and sneeze into the air, computer viruses disseminate via Wi-Fi signals.

My Beloved Wireless Mouse

I was so excited when I brought home my first wireless mouse. The ability to slide the device around the table without a cable proved optimal in my work. The thought that I could possibly be the victim of a hacker virus never occurred.

Now, wireless mice and keyboards are a primary means of contracting the so-called MouseJack virus, created by hackers.

How Hackers Get Inside the System

Wireless mice and keyboards connect to the actual computer via a dongle, which translates user actions from the devices back to the computer. So, when I type or click on something using a wireless device, there is a moment when my information is out there in cyberspace. Guess what? That is how hackers can intercept data and get into the system.

A hacker who wants to steal my information or install a virus only need be within 100 meters of the computer to cause havoc.

Brands with Known Problems

Right now, there are certain brands that exhibit weaker defenses than others to these wireless attacks. The names include:

  • Dell
  • HP
  • Lenovo
  • Linux
  • Logitech
  • Macs
  • Windows PCs

Fighting Back

Using a Bluetooth-enabled mouse or keyboard is the best way to protect against these cyberattacks. Bluetooth technology comes with standard security that keeps out known viruses and provides defenses against hacking.

It is also possible to get a firmware patch from the computer or accessory manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

Small businesses, such as mine, must remain extra vigilant about security. I lack the financial resources to buy a whole new computer system if one falls victim to a serious hack attack. Nor can I afford to lose any sensitive data that could cost me clients.

I strongly advise that anyone serious about remaining safe in cyberspace take precautions as soon as possible.

Microsoft’s New Release: SharePoint 2016

Microsoft’s New Release: SharePoint 2016

The behemoth, Microsoft Inc., finds itself in ongoing talk as software platforms online unanimously rave of a springtime upgrade being made. These digital communities are buzzing: debates and analysis for an emerging SharePoint platform to be made official this year.

Sharepoint 2016

The Redmond, Wash., software organization, on March 14, 2016, announced its most recent “released to manufacturing” for the SharePoint 2016 development and amid expectations. The latest version is a 2013 model. The RTM has been expected by numerous companies lately as design features are already live in their accounts.

You see, Microsoft has already released SharePoint’s new search service to its primary consumer. The “free” upgrade gives the software developer a slight edge in upselling SharePoint 2016 to all current users.

The new search capabilities allows data to be accessed from multiple Microsoft products, but through one search key now found in all related software. It’s a maneuver taken by the corporation as the software company is distancing itself from the suspicion and speculation forums are creating.

They question the usefulness of this year’s version and from its 2013 predecessor.

Some may argue these new benefits as slight at best.

Yet contrary to skepticism, the new development for 2016 provides various functions, the user, usually an account holder in a SharePoint work space, can benefit from it indefinitely. Microsoft is not, without notice, changing the entire functions the software has and therefore retain great market share by incorporating more functions relevant to its end user.

So SharePoint 2016 will still be a digital workspace for the B2B consumers and its intranet uses among employees. One that is enhanced and more accommodating for expanding hardware technology, mobile devices and touch screen capabilities. Its chief function is with fair-sized businesses and among employees sharing, viewing or accessing privatized data.

Time can only tell how soon companies will adapt and upgrade to the new program. Microsoft will phase out the support options it offers to the program’s previous versions that a lot are still using.

As stated by Microsoft’s very own SharePoint general manager, Set Patton,”This is an important milestone.

The release, as stated in RTM, is scheduled for imminent spring of 2016.

The first edition of the program was released during 2001 in over 35 different languages worldwide and remains integral to many modern businesses. Users can still expect document management, personal cloud computing, enterprise social networking, workflow management, enterprise searches, intranet and extranet uses, and even business intelligence.

Office 365 is notoriously known for offering SharePoint as a service, though, it requires a larger infrastructure for installation and day-to-day processing. The requirements have not changed for the coming release be it password encrypted accounts or user names.

The modifications are geared to improve user experience chiefly. Features, such as mobile diversity, will enable the program to provide better support in touch-enabled functions. IT professionals will see improved manageability and overall protection against leaks in data and intentional break-ins. They will experience simplicity of applications and information through the future’s mobile customization.

Protecting your business today and always – A 10-Step Guide

Protecting your business today and always – A 10-Step Guide

Determining and implementing what kind of security measures are best suited to protect your business’ data isn’t always simple. Like with all aspects of your business, your security and protection policies should be carefully considered and precisely arranged.

Cyber Security

We’ve made protecting yourself from cyber-intrusion a little easier with these 10 protection steps:

  1. Get in a password-change routine. 

Everyone has a favourite go-to password – and it’s often the one that gets used for every login that they have. Don’t fall prey to reusing old passwords and try to come up with different ones for every login you use. Get in the habit of changing them regularly – set monthly reminders and don’t keep passwords stored on-file. If all else fails, check out the variety of password-management software that exists.

  1. Figure out the security tools you already have. 

Many applications, like Microsoft Office 365, give you the option to seal files and allow access only for designated users. Utilizing data like this is a no-brainer if you’re working with data that is sensitive or especially at risk of breach. Similarly, Office 365 allows you to wipe data from mobile devices remotely in the event of a lost or stolen device.

  1. Understand the ways your data is moving.

If you’re using cloud technology to store, access and share your data, file transfers are at higher risk of breach than if you were operating within a private network. Unless you’ve set up a personal & secure Wi-Fi hotspot through mobile tethering, you need to make considerations for protecting data on the move. Be sure to check out the document-by-document access designation features offered by Office 365. Using this feature, even if your file falls in the wrong hands, they won’t have access to it unless you’ve pre-emptively allowed it.

  1. Encryption is a must – on all devices.

Encryption might seem tedious but it’s a huge part of arming yourself against cyber-attack. Window’s devices have user-friendly programs preinstalled that make the encryption process quick and less daunting.

  1. The cloud is your database – get used to saving data there.

It’s easy to get in the habit of saving files, folders and emails directly to a hand-held or onsite device. Make sure your utilizing the ample security features on OneDrive – save your data there and avoid losing pertinent information when a device crashes or disappears.

  1. Use your administrator login for changes only.

Only under the administrator login can users make significant changes, deletions and installations on your devices. Reserve your administrator login for these special instances only and have day-to-day users work under a normal account to avoid malware invasion.

  1. If you don’t have anti-virus software, get it – and keep it on.

Every device that functions within your business network should be protected by anti-virus software. Install it, learn about how it works and make sure it’s switched on at all times.

  1. Don’t avoid updates.

It’s tempting to choose the ‘install later’ option when you’re busy, but keeping up to date on updates can make all the difference in sustaining a secure system. Updates are often purposefully released to secure potential system exposures, so when possible, complete them as they arrive.

  1. Have your own back – test your back-up and restore solutions.

Figure out when your back-up systems were lasted tested and make sure things are running as planned. Routine back-up checks help not only to ensure your data is safely reinforced but also help ensure that it can be restored easily if necessary.

  1. Keep access and security in mind when individuals part ways with the company. 

When employees depart take measures to revoke their access to your database. Even if the parting is cordial, revoking access in a uniform way upon departure covers your bases.

Though daunting, making data protection a priority is fundamental to sustaining your business as a whole. Keep these tips on hand to make arming yourself a little easier. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, we’ve got you covered – get in touch with {company} for additional support. You can speak to one of our IT experts by contacting {phone} or {email}.

4 Fantastic Windows 10 Tips to Make Your Work Life Easier

4 Fantastic Windows 10 Tips to Make Your Work Life Easier

Windows 10 offers several innovative features, and although some are hidden, you’ll want to check these out.

Windows 10

Take advantage of these tips, tricks and hidden features that help you get more from the system that offers you efficiency, organization, and an all-around convenient interface:

  1. Activate Cortana to Help Make Your Life a Little Easier

Cortana has made a leap from the Windows Phone to the Windows 10 PC, and now you’ll be able to enjoy her company with help navigating your device. To receive personalized help from your new cost-effective personal assistant, here are some steps to take:

  • Click the search field in the taskbar,
  • Select settings from the list, and
  • Enable Cortana to give suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more.

Of course you’ll need a microphone in order for Cortana to be able to hear your requests, but the more she knows about you, the more she will be able to help you retrieve files, search weather, travel, and all-around navigate throughout your PC.

  • Set Reminders: Cortana will deliver reminders when you say or type “Remind me to…” which will then require you to enter a time or location. You could also skip this step by simply saying or typing what you wish the reminder to be.
  • Save Locations: Enter common locations you frequently travel and Cortana will retrieve directions and traffic information for you. You can add the locations in the Notebook menu and through the “About Me” option.
  • Get Directions: Searching for locations becomes rather easy with Cortana. Asking questions such as “Where is the nearest mall?” or “How long will it take me to travel to New York?” prompts fast responses.

If privacy is a concern of yours, you can always download programs to secure your privacy settings, such as Windows10 Spy Disabler and AntiSpy.

  1. Personalize Your Start Menu

You have the power to personalize when it comes to your Windows 10 start menu. From here, you can pin or remove apps and programs, move and regroup tiles, or even resize your start menu to suit your personal preference.

You can also resize your tiles. It’s a matter of simply right-clicking the tile and selecting resize to alter the dimensions. If you’re a person who despises the new tiles interface, you can always right-click and select uninstall to erase them, or unpin to simply hide them.

To add an app to your start menu; right-click and select “Pin to Start”.

  • Resizing your Start Menu: Whether you prefer your Start Menu to take up your whole desktop, or want it to stay small in the corner, simply drag the corner in or out.
  • Adjust Live Tiles: Control which interactive tiles you have in your Start Menu by right-clicking the tile and choosing whether you want to unpin the tile or resize to your liking.
  • Have All-App Access: The ability to have all of your apps contained in one place becomes beneficial, you can click the “All Apps” option for an ease of access.
  • Change your start menu color: If you’re tired of the regular Start Menu appearance and want something a little more creative, choose Settings and then Personalization. From there, you will select color and choose from an array of options.
  1. Cast Photos, Audio & Videos to Your TV

You can cast media in Edge, such as audio, photos, and videos to any Miracast or DLNA capable devices on your network. YouTube and Pandora are often used but any copy-protected media, such as Netflix, won’t work.

In order to cast your media, you must initiate remote Playback from the Movie & TV app; from the now-playing screen, you hit the “Cast to Devices” option at the bottom of the screen and proceed to select the device you wish to stream to.

The Movie & TV app screen will then become black but you can control the remote Playback with “Now Playing” controls at the bottom. To disconnect, click “Cast to Devices” and click Disconnect.

  1. Discover with Find My Device

Take advantage of the new Windows 10 update with the Find My Device option. No longer for just smartphones and tablets, now you can locate your desktop or laptop. Find My Device saves your device’s locations periodically, although it does not offer remote lock or wipe capabilities yet, you can find the exact location where the device was last online.

This option is turned off by default, but in order to activate it, there are a couple steps to follow:

  • Switch on the Master location setting,
  • Sign in with a Microsoft account set to Administrator,
  • Navigate Start – Settings – Update & Security – Find My Device,
  • Select the Change button,
  • Choose “On” when the “Save my device’s location periodically” option pops up.

The information will be stored into the cloud periodically, and if you happen to misplace your device, it will be as simple as following these steps:

  • Log-in to account.microsoft.com/devices,
  • Select “Find My Device”,
  • Find your device on the given Map location.

Find out more about Windows 10 and whether or not it’s the right choice for you. Contact {company} at {phone} or email us at {email} to discuss your information technology needs.

8 Tips for a Perfect PowerPoint Presentation

8 Tips for a Perfect PowerPoint Presentation

Creating a PowerPoint presentation for an office meeting can feel like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. By following a few important tips, you can create a presentation that is informative and engaging. The first important task is to determine what the presentation will be about. By sketching out the important points you want to discuss, this will give you a feel for how many slides you will need.

PowerPoint Presentation

Follow these eight steps to a great presentation:

  • Keep the Focus on You: When you are speaking, you want the audience paying attention to you and not trying to decipher what is happening on the slide. The point is to keep the slides informative but simple. Slides that have a lot going on are distracting to an audience, and they will lose the point of the message you are trying to get across.
  • Talking Points and Visual Cues: The slides that you prepare do not need to be filled to the brim with data and text. The focus of the slides is to show the important points that you are discussing and as means of visual cues for the audience, highlighting the most important points of your talk, not everything that you say.
  • Static vs. Animation: It is best not to dress up your presentation with too much animation. Transitionary animation is acceptable if it is kept to a minimum. Every slide does not need animation, though. While it might appear to make the presentation livelier, it becomes a distraction from the message.
  • Charts and Graphs: Charts and graphs can have a place in a PowerPoint presentation, but it is important to understand the role of each type. What information are you trying to share? If you are looking to show trends over time, then a line chart is best suited for your purposes. If you are showing a change in quantity during a certain time, then a vertical bar chart is best. Percentages are shown best in a pie chart fashion, and if you are comparing quantities of items, then a horizontal bar chart is in order. 
  • Color Scheme: While the information on each slide is important, the color scheme of the slides can be equally important. Colors have been known to influence the emotions of people. There have been several studies done that back this. It is important to understand what emotions are evoked by which colors. A quick Internet search will offer some advice. Additionally, it is important to understand the environment that you will be giving the presentation in as well. Will the room be well lit? Will it be presented at night? These factors will also help you decide what colors are best. 
  • Font Choice: The font choice and size need to be made with the audience in mind. While the slides should remain simple, they also need to be seen by the attendants in the back. So choosing a fancy font might be nice, but it also might be hard to distinguish the words from the back of the room. It is also best to keep the slides to one or two font choices only; again the focus is on the presentation and what you are saying. 
  • Sound: Adding short audio or video clips to your presentation can offer another layer of understanding for the audience. You can make a point and then illustrate your point with a short video. It is best not to include long video or audio tracks because your audience might have the tendency to tune out.
  • Full Visualization: When you have your presentation completed, take the time to view the talk in its entirety to gauge the flow and content progression. This can be done by viewing the slide sorter. This shows each slide in the order of the presentation currently. From here you can decide if some slides need to be broken up more, or possibly put into a different position for better flow.

Giving a PowerPoint presentation does not have to be a stressful experience. By following the above guidelines, you can create a thoughtful and engaging presentation that will convey the message that you desire.

Call {phone} or email us at {email} to talk about how we can help you better manage your information technology for a flat-rate monthly fee. {company} is here to handle all of your information technology needs.