Office 365 will block Flash by 2019

By EDITOR 

Microsoft recently announced plans to eventually stop the activation of Silverlight, Shockwave, and Flash content in Office 365. This is not just the developers disabling bugs with an option to click a link or button to look at content. Within a few months’ time, Flash will be gone from Office 365 for good.

What media will be affected once this is implemented?

Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash or Shockwave content that uses Microsoft’s OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) platform and the “Insert Object” feature will be blocked. However, media that uses the “Insert Online Video” control via an Internet Explorer browser frame will not be affected by this change.

The following timeline shows the various changes that will take full effect by January 2019:

  • Controls in the Office 365 Monthly Channel will be blocked beginning June 2018.
  • Controls in the Office 365 Semi-Annual Targeted (SAT) Channel will be blocked beginning September 2018.
  • Controls in the Office 365 Semi-Annual Channel will be blocked beginning January 2019.

Why did the developers choose to take out the embedded content?

Microsoft pointed out various reasons for making their decision. It cited that malware authors have been exploiting systems through Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files with embedded content, and that most Office 365 users did not use or rarely use the controls anyway.

Aside from this, the developers at Microsoft decided to take action after Adobeannounced that Flash would reach its end-of-life cycle by 2020. Silverlight was discontinued in 2016, where enterprise customers would have support for the medium until 2021.

For businesses that still need to look at or embed Silverlight- or Flash-based content in an Office 365 document, Microsoft has provided a support page to guide users on re-activating the controls.

As more websites are transitioning away from Flash in favor of HTML5, Microsoft’s once-popular platform has experienced a steady decline over the years. According to Google, Chrome users who loaded a single web page per day that has Flash media had gone down from an estimated 80% during 2014 to below 8% in early 2018.

For more information about utilizing Office 365 features and other IT related concerns, feel free to get in touch with Lanlogic today!

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Chrome to mark HTTP as ‘not secure’

By EDITOR 

Google Chrome currently marks HTTPS-encrypted sites with a green lock icon and “Secure” sign. And starting in July, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure.” Google hopes this move will nudge users away from the unencrypted web. Read on to learn more about the forthcoming changes.

For several years, Google has moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt the Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) encryption. And last year, Google began marking some HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) pages as “not secure” to help users comprehend risks of unencrypted websites. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of a Chrome update, Google’s browser will mark allHTTP sites as “not secure.”

Chrome’s move was mostly brought on by increased HTTPS adoption. Eighty-one of the top 100 sites on the web default to HTTPS, and the majority of Chrome traffic is already encrypted.

Here’s how the transition to security has progressed, so far:

  • Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
  • Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
  • 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default

HTTPS: The benefits and difference

What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? With HTTP, information you type into a website is transmitted to the site’s owner with almost zero protection along the journey. Essentially, HTTP can establish basic web connections, but not much else.

When security is a must, HTTPS sends and receives encrypted internet data. This means that it uses a mathematical algorithm to make data unreadable to unauthorized parties.

#1 HTTPS protects a site’s integrity

HTTPS encryption protects the channel between your browser and the website you’re visiting, ensuring no one can tamper with the traffic or spy on what you’re doing.

Without encryption, someone with access to your router or internet service provider (ISP) could intercept (or hack) information sent to websites or inject malware into otherwise legitimate pages.

#2 HTTPS protects the privacy of your users

HTTPS prevents intruders from eavesdropping on communications between websites and their visitors. One common misconception about HTTPS is that only websites that handle sensitive communications need it. In reality, every unprotected HTTP request can reveal information about the behaviors and identities of users.

#3 HTTPS is the future of the web

HTTPS has become much easier to implement thanks to services that automate the conversion process, such as Let’s Encrypt and Google’s Lighthouse program. These tools make it easier for website owners to adopt HTTPS.

Chrome’s new notifications will help users understand that HTTP sites are less secure, and move the web toward a secure HTTPS web by default. HTTPS is easier to adopt than ever before, and it unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that aren’t possible with HTTP.

How can small-business owners implement and take advantage of this new interface? Call Lanlogic for a quick chat with one of our experts to get started.

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Router malware worse than experts realize

By EDITOR 

In May, security experts discovered one of the most widespread malware infections in history. Now, they’re warning businesses and consumers that it’s even worse than their first assessment. The VPNFilter malware poses a threat to small businesses and requires immediate attention from anyone who hasn’t taken action against it.

VPNFilter recap

A team of security researchers from Cisco released a report that a strain of malware had been discovered on hundreds of thousands of routers and network devices. Originally, researchers believed it affected only Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, and TP-Link devices.

Like many malware strains, VPNFilter infects devices that use default login credentials. But it’s worse than the average cyberattack because it can destroy router hardware and cannot be removed by resetting infected devices.

As if destroying 500,000 routers wasn’t bad enough, VPNFilter lets its creators spy on networks and intercept passwords, usernames, and financial information.

What’s new

Just two weeks after VPNFilter was discovered, security experts announced that it targets 200,000 additional routers manufactured by ASUS, D-Link, Huawei, Ubiquiti, UPVEL, and ZTE. Worse yet, VPNFilter can alter data passing through infected routers. That means when you enter a username and password into a banking website, hackers could steal that information and show you an incorrect account balance to hide fraudulent deductions.

How to stop VPNFilter

Rebooting a router won’t remove the malware, you need to factory-reset the device. Usually, all this requires is holding down the Reset button on the back of the device for 10-30 seconds. If your router has no reset button or you’re unsure whether pressing it did the trick, contact a local IT provider immediately.

Cybersecurity threats have become so prevalent that even large enterprises struggle to keep their digital assets safe. Outsourcing IT support to a managed services provider like Lanlogic will give you enough capacity to deal with issues like VPNFilter as soon as they arise. Call us today to learn more.

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Highlights from the Apple WWDC 2018

By EDITOR 

Apple’s yearly Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) has come to a close. Engineers from Apple met and exchanged ideas with developers in the event, while consumers looked forward to updates on existing products and news about future innovations. Here are the highlights that stole the show.

A more personal, faster iOS 12

Apple has focused on improving the operating system’s performance so that iPads and iPhones become more responsive and work faster. The good news is that older devices that can still run iOS 11 will be compatible with iOS 12.

Developers tweaked the software to make apps launch quicker, especially the keyboard and camera. The latest version of iOS is designed to optimize its system when it is under load, so that Apple products run faster when the user demands higher performance.

Fresh features aimed at impressing consumers include the Memoji, an Animoji that users can customize to their preferences. Group Facetime supports video conferences of up to 32 individuals, and these fun tweaks can be used in both Facetime via the Effects camera and in Messages.

A smarter Siri

Apple’s signature digital assistant can now answer queries about motorsports, food, and famous people. There is a new Shortcuts feature integrated in the Workflow app, which allows users to automate various tasks in first- and third-party apps, to be triggered through Siri voice commands.

Both Shortcuts and suggestions by Siri appear on the Lock screen, and third-party Shortcuts integration will let Siri do more when the user pulls the Lock screen down to search. A dedicated Shortcuts app will be available later this year to give users a quick way to build Shortcuts from dozens of preset options.

An alternative to Google Photos

The iOS Photos app may be useful to Apple product users, but it may seem too basic for some. Once iOS 12 is released however, a clever Photos app will showcase most of the features that Google Photos has.

The Search feature has been improved – users can look for images based on general terms such as “park” or even business names, and multiple terms can be searched (such as images from Africa during a particular month). All pictures will be arranged by place and time in case the user wants to perform searches with those variables.

A new tab labeled “For you” will contain the auto-generated albums which Photos makes, and is sorted with any shared albums. Speaking of sharing, the enhanced Photos app will proactively advise users on what images to share according to who is in the pictures.

A refined WatchOS

Apple’s upcoming WatchOS 5 will introduce users to new ways of connecting to the world while staying active. It may not be a radical revision for the wearable device, but the apps and features it provides will be more helpful and fun for the user.

The highlight of WatchOS 5 is the Walkie-Talkie app, an innovative method of communicating by combining the natural flow of messaging with real-time voice discussions. Just like the conventional product that the app is based on, users simply press and hold down a virtual Talk button to converse with friends and family.

Hiking and Yoga have been added to the list of workout types, while users can keep track of their Outdoor Runs more effectively with support for cadence, the custom pace alert, and the rolling mile pace. Automatic workout detection will make sure that the Apple Watch will always stop or start recording user activity while exercising. This feature works with Open Water Swim, Pool Swim, Rower, Elliptical, Indoor Walk, Outdoor Walk, Indoor Run, and Outdoor Run.

To get users motivated to work up a sweat, WatchOS 5 has a Competition feature that allows friends and family to challenge each other in a contest to see who can get the most activity points within a week. The watches will post regular progress reports to let contestants know how they are doing, and the winner will get a special award.

These updates can change at any time, and will be released by Fall this year. If you need more information on making use of Apple devices and software, or if you have other computer-related concerns, feel free to contact Lanlogic today!

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Virtualization is not the same as the cloud

By EDITOR 

Virtualization and cloud computing are two technologies that have long been confusing business owners. But that shouldn’t be the case. Understanding the differences between the cloud and virtualization is the fastest way to use these technologies to your greatest advantage.

Virtualization

Imagine a company with five servers, each assigned a single task such as storage, email, etc. If one day there were a spike in email traffic, the email server might become overwhelmed, causing it to slow down. Adding another server would remedy the issue, but it would be expensive and inefficient on days with less traffic.

With virtualization software, you can combine the resources of all five of the servers in our example. So if the email server got bogged down, it could borrow resources from any of the other servers with extra capacity. The process is not as simple as it sounds, and businesses often turn to an experienced IT service provider to set up a virtualized environment.

Because virtualization software can be installed on a server in your office, it is totally independent of cloud technology. Sometimes, people misunderstand the difference because the vast majority of cloud solutions use virtualization to improve their services.

Cloud Computing

With cloud computing, users can edit documents, save files, and interact with apps that aren’t actually on their computer. Instead, they access these items by connecting to a server via a network or internet connection. If your organization can get the information you need when you need it, you already gain a competitive edge.

To carry out its purpose, a cloud platform sometimes uses several virtualized servers to provide users with a simple system that appears to be all their own, even though it’s actually shared with several other users and servers. There’s no need to purchase additional servers, and you can also save valuable office space by not having to deploy bulky equipment in-house.

Obviously, scalability is critical in today’s ever-changing business conditions. What cloud computing does is make it easier to manage business tasks to maximize productivity. What’s more, it helps streamline operations as more cloud services are integrated. Businesses don’t have to worry about infrastructure maintenance because it is covered by the cloud service provider.

Virtualization and cloud computing are both economical technologies that small businesses should take advantage of. If you want to see what they can do for you, give our team at Lanlogic a call today!

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Keep your laptop from overheating

By EDITOR 

Laptops are so convenient and hassle-free to use. It’s easy to forget that they need regular maintenance. One of the most common causes of laptop damage is overheating. Learn how to prevent your laptop from overheating, so you can boost its speed and prolong its life.

Causes of overheating

Laptops create heat during their normal operation. That’s why they’re designed with internal fans that blow out hot air and suck in cooler air. When your laptop keeps shutting down or suffers serious slowdowns, chances are it’s overheating.

One of the most common causes of overheating is when the fan doesn’t operate normally. This may be due to dust and grime clogging up the fan, preventing it from rotating properly. It’s also possible that the air vents are being blocked, preventing air from flowing into the laptop.

Another thing to consider is the age of your laptop’s battery, which relies on lithium to store electricity. This chemical naturally decays over time, no matter how carefully you use it. The older the battery, the less efficient it is and the more heat it generates.

Software use can also contribute to overheating. Too many apps and programs running in the background can overwork your laptop.

What to do if it’s overheating

The first thing you should do is check your hardware. Turn your laptop off and inspect the vents and your fan for any dirt, grime, or other possible causes of blockage. Also check whether the fan itself is not physically dented, which can slow down its rotation.

Sometimes overheating is simply caused by bad habits. Do you use your laptops in bed or on the carpet? Do you use pillows as padding? Uneven or soft surfaces often block the air vents, leading to overheating. Always place your laptop on a hard, even surface.

Aside from the hardware, check your software. Are there a lot of apps and programs that start automatically when you switch on your laptop? If yes, then you may need to limit them.

Keeping it cool

To prevent your laptop from overheating, always make sure that there’s adequate airflow for your laptop. Better yet, invest in a cooling pad. These pads lift your laptop and add more fans to facilitate better airflow.

Limit the number of programs that run when you start your laptop. Change your settings to “power save.” And shut down your laptop whenever you’re not using it.

It’s easy to take laptops for granted because they’re billed as plug-and-play devices. However, with a little extra care and attention, your devices will last much longer. If you want to prolong the lifetime of your IT hardware, call our Lanlogic experts today.

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5 new features for Outlook

By EDITOR 

Lately, Microsoft has given some love to Outlook — not just the desktop app, but also the web and app versions. In fact, they just released a bunch of new and improved features. Let’s take a look.

#1 RSVP
Outlook makes it fairly simple to invite people to a meeting, but now it will also keep tabs on who’s coming. Just click the new “Tracking” option under “Meeting Occurrence” and see who has committed to the meeting and who hasn’t. RSVP isn’t just available for the meeting organizer, but the attendees, too.

#2 Multiple time zones
Traveling internationally and trying to sync appointments on different continents? Not fun. But now you can set up event start times and end times across different zones.

Outlook now allows you to show multiple time zones – three within Windows, and one within Outlook for Mac. In Outlook for Windows, add one by clicking File > Options > Calendar Time Zones and clicking “Show a second time zone”. In Mac, add one additional time zone under Outlook > Preferences > Calendar Time Zones. For Outlook on the web, click the “Time Zone” drop-down arrow in your Calendar meeting invite to add an additional time zone.

#3 BCC warning
If you’re on the receiving end of a blind carbon copy (bcc) email, that means the other recipients didn’t know you were copied on it. In Outlook for Windows, you’ll now get an alert if you attempt to reply to that message, such as “You were bcc’d, so perhaps you should reply only to the sender?” That way you’ll remain anonymous.

#4 Office Lens for Android
If you use Outlook for Android, the app will integrate the Microsoft Office Lens feature.
When that happens, you can tap the photo icon while composing a message, then take a snapshot of a whiteboard, document, photo or the like. Outlook will optimize it and then embed it into the email.

#5 Bill-pay reminders
What about your bills? Outlook will identify them in your inbox, show you a summary card at the top of your email each day, send an email to remind you two days before the due date, and automatically add an event to your calendar so you don’t forget to pay on the actual day.

If you want to learn more about these new and improved features, with more on the way, just call Lanlogic today for a quick chat with one of our Gold Microsoft Office experts.

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How to configure your new Windows 10 laptop

By EDITOR 

Got a new laptop? Windows 10 includes some wonderful features along with a revamped interface for Microsoft’s operating system. No matter how experienced you are with Windows, you still may need help getting used to this, so let’s get you started.

#1 Check for updates

Your new laptop should check for updates automatically, but you can also check manually. Just click the gear icon above the Start button to go to the Settings, choose Update & Security > Windows Update and then click the Check for updates button. (Or, just type “updates” into the search box and click Check for updates.)

#2 System restore

If something goes wrong with your laptop, you can save a lot of time and hassle if you have a “restore point,” which is like a backup of your entire operating system.To set up a restore point, search for “restore” from the taskbar and click Create a restore point. You’ll be taken to the System Protection tab of the System Properties window.

From there you can choose what you want to be included in the back and then click the Configure button. Select the radio dial to Turn on system protection if it’s not already on. And then you can choose how much disk space to reserve, usually no more than 2 or 3 percent.

#3 Power plan

If you want to prolong your laptop’s battery life, one of the best things you can do is switch the Power Saver, High Performance, and Balanced power plans based on your needs. To choose a plan, right click the battery icon in the lower-right corner of your screen and click Power settings. Next, click Additional power settings to select a power plan.

#4 App installation tolerance level

To restrict which apps can be installed on your laptop, you can disallow anything that isn’t in the Windows Store. Go to Settings Apps Apps & features and you can choose whether to permit installations from only the Windows Store, any app installations (with a warning), or unrestricted app installations.

#5 Remove bloatware

Vendors package new laptops with lots of trial apps, which are mostly unnecessary and unwanted software called bloatware.

Windows 10 offers an easy way to see which apps are installed on your new laptop and a quick way to uninstall those you don’t want. Head to Settings Apps Apps & features and peruse the list. If you don’t want an app and are 100% certain your computer doesn’t need it, click the Uninstall button.

#6 Anti-ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (or malware) that makes all your data inaccessible until you pay a fee to hackers.

To combat it, type ‘Windows Defender Security Center’ into the search bar at the bottom of your screen, click it and go to Virus & threat protection > Virus & threat protection settings. Here, you’ll be able to enable a new option called Controlled folder access, which protects you against ransomware attacks. By default, the Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders are protected, but you can add others too.

Do you know what settings to change and update to optimize your laptop? This article barely scratches the surface of Window 10’s security and efficiency settings. Call Lanlogic today for a quick chat with one of our Microsoft Gold experts about taking yours to the next level.

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How long should business phone systems last?

By EDITOR 

The phone remains one of the first points of contact businesses have with their customers. That’s why so many companies are upgrading to affordable and hi-tech “VoIP” systems. Voice over IP solutions are a smart investment given their longevity and more.

Different phone systems
Phones have come a long way, from analog landlines to digital handhelds. Today’s businesses need a phone system that can service their numerous needs, and in most cases, VoIP phones are the answer.

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a system of hardware and software that uses the internet instead of wired circuits to transmit data. VoIP does more than just transmit audio; it can also send a variety of data (video, multimedia, SMS, etc.) and perform other tasks as well.

A VoIP system’s hardware (phone units, cables, CPUs, etc.) and software (one or more applications that run the system) can be either on-premises or hosted.

  • On-Premises — Their hardware and software are physically housed within the premises of the company.
  • Hosted — Some of the hardware, like phone units and other equipment, can be found within the premises. But most, if not all, of the software are hosted online. Service providers look after hosted systems for their clients.

Lifecycles: On-premises vs. hosted
With hardware, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hardware is affected by the wear-and-tear of daily usage. Barring any accidents or physical damage, VoIP hardware should last as long as analog handsets, usually several years.

It’s another matter with software, which needs constant updating. It’s faster and cheaper to update software that’s hosted in the cloud versus one that’s on-premises. The differences in longevity between the two should be negligible; both can last upwards of 10 years, depending on your IT support.

Technology today vs. before
Cloud technology has fundamentally changed the way IT solutions are produced. In the past, hardware and software were built to last. Today, they’re built to adapt and change.

The effect of this shift on hardware and software is dramatic.

  • Most hardware components are very similar, with replacements and upgrades coming every 5-8 years on average.
  • Cloud software is faster, easier, and costs less to upgrade. Critical updates can be released almost constantly, with complete overhauls taking no longer than 2-3 years.

As your business grows, your phone system should be able to adapt to rapid growth, the need for more speed, and integration with the other systems in your business, like email or management software.

Be a step ahead
Your business cannot afford dropped or missed calls. Imagine what one day of phone downtime would do to your company. The time to replace your phone system is not after it fails. The best time is before that, when you can plan and budget properly.

Nowadays, it’s not longevity that’s important; it’s staying ahead of the curve. Call our experts at Lanlogic today so you can always be a step ahead.

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Highlights from Google I/O 2018

By EDITOR 

The Google I/O event brings major executives, engineers, and platform developers together to talk about the latest features and developments. This year’s conference just ended, and it looks like consumers have plenty to look forward to.

What happened at Google I/O 2018?

While the primary focus of the Google I/O conference was on the developers, every tech enthusiast in the audience had the opportunity to see what the future holds for their favorite Google products and the upcoming Android P. This year’s developer conference focused on software and new mobile technologies that will be released later in the year.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence

The keynote was kicked off by CEO Sundar Pichai, who talked about Google’s mission and how it is linked to AI. He stated that AI will help industries like healthcare predict certain events.

Pichai also stated that machine learning will play a major role in enhancing closed captioning’s ability to figure out who is talking when there are multiple people speaking on-screen.

However, tech enthusiasts were extremely excited when the Google CEO announced the following features and upgrades:

  • Google Assistant will soon get 6 new voices, including one from singer and songwriter John Legend. Users will only need to say “Hey Google” to start a conversation with the product, instead of each time it is addressed. Google Assistant can now process more than one request at a time, and it can make phone calls to book reservations and appointments for the user with a feature called ‘Duplex.’
  • Google Maps can now suggest restaurants and other noteworthy locations for the user, differentiate between car and motorbike routes, and add businesses to the map by combining satellite images and AI. Augmented reality will be integrated into Street View so that users can easily track the direction they are facing or heading toward.
  • Google News will display its top five stories as soon as the app opens. Advanced AI will push stories that it thinks are relevant to the user.
  • Google Photos will have the Suggested Actions feature which offers to add color to images that are black and white, convert documents to PDF, tweak the brightness on underexposed photos, and instantly share images with the people who are in the picture.
  • Gmail will get the Smart Compose feature that will utilize machine learning to suggest phrases when writing an email.

Public beta of Android P

The test version of Android P is currently available on Oppo, Sony, Mi, OnePlus, Essential Phone and Google Pixel handsets. The search engine giant announced that they will release the first retail version around summer this year.

Beta testers enjoyed the refreshing look of Android P, where most interactions such as switching between apps were done by gestures. A new Dashboard feature shows how long the user has been on the device, including the number of notifications received, how many times the phone was unlocked, and the time spent in a particular app. Users will also be able to set a time limit if they want to stop themselves from habitually staring at their phones.

Availability of Google Lens

In last year’s event, Google announced AI-powered technology called Google Lens which uses a mix of machine learning and the smartphone’s camera to detect a specific object, know what the object is, and provide results based on what it knows about the object.

At the time, this feature was available only in Google Pixel phones, but the search engine giant announced that more smartphones will soon have this feature built in.

Google continues to innovate and improve on its products, and Lanlogic is here to help you make sense of all the tech so you can adapt it to your lifestyle. Get in touch with us today so we can discuss this tech and how you can benefit from it.

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