Microsoft & Meta Partner to Integrate Teams and Workplace for Easier Collaboration

Microsoft & Meta Partner to Integrate Teams and Workplace for Easier Collaboration

Competing Social Software Giants Offer Customer-Requested Consolidation of the Two Applications’ Best Features

  • Workplace stated in May 2021 that it has reached a milestone of 7 million paying members. Microsoft similarly revealed later that July that its Teams platform had 250 million unique monthly users.
  • Users will be able to link Workplace with Microsoft Teams thanks to a collaboration launched by Meta, previously recognized as Facebook.
  • The collaboration between Meta and Microsoft is essentially a coming together of two of the industry’s biggest rivals in the business communication software sector.
  • The alliance could become particularly useful to Meta, whose Workplace offering has a far lower user base than competing companies.

Meta, the social conglomerate previously known as Facebook, established a collaboration with Microsoft on Wednesday, November 10th, 2021 that allows clients to connect Meta’s Workplace social networking application with Microsoft Teams software. With 7 million paying subscribers using Workplace and 250 million people using Microsoft Teams, the collab has enormous potential in the enterprise communication space.

While Meta and Microsoft have partnered to unite two competitors in the business communication software industry, Meta’s Workplace and Microsoft Teams don’t completely overlap. Teams is centered on rapid communication among employees and their immediate coworkers, whereas Workplace is concentrated on large, company-wide interactions.

Clients may now access Workplace data from within the Teams application. Users may also watch video conferences from Teams on the Workplace application. Customers on both platforms can participate in conferences hosted on the other app without having to switch to that platform. For example, they can comment, reply with emojis, and interact in other ways without having to toggle between communication applications.

Ujjwal Singh, Workplace’s Head of Product, says of the integration, “[This] will make it easier for people who use both tools for work to keep up to date with information and create even more opportunities for company-wide engagement. The way our customers end up using it is customers use the complementary features, not the competing features,” he continues. “There are customers that are just Workplace shops, and then there are customers that are just Teams shops. This is really for those customers that use both.”

The connectivity will be especially useful for clients who utilize Workplace for daily tasks but use Microsoft Teams as their primary enterprise communications technology. This partnership makes the most sense for Meta because it enables users to access content in Workplace and import that data to other places where they invest the majority of their time. According to Angela Ashenden, Principal Analyst at CCS Insight, “by surfacing the newsfeed in Teams, Workplace can continue to reach those employees, while allowing comms and HR leaders to retain control over the communications and employee engagement platform strategy.”

Tools that facilitate remote work continue to gain traction as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and both Microsoft and Meta are reportedly developing deeper VR-based remote work solutions. This agreement reaffirms both organizations’ commitment to working remotely and accelerates Meta’s objective of creating a metaverse that delivers a completely immersive virtual environment. The move cements long-standing collaboration with other platforms, as Microsoft and Meta clients have already been able to link Workplace with Google’s OneDrive, SharePoint, and the Microsoft Office 365 suite.

The Head of 365 Collaboration for Microsoft Jeff Taper says, “One thing I’ve learned is there’s not going to be a one and only one communications tool on the planet.” He continued, summarizing that remote and brick-and-mortar office workers will toggle between several different tools to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity. The partnership between Microsoft and Meta shows promise in leading the way for competing tools to find ways for clients to integrate their work between applications and spend less time switching back and forth. Expect to see other large applications used in remote work to follow suit.

As far as the future of the collaboration is concerned, Singh has high hopes. “I would say we’re best in class around community, connection, people first and serving all employees,” he says. “Teams is arguably best in class around productivity, so this is really two best-in-class products coming together to solve an employee-experience problem.”


How to Pick the Ideal Unified Endpoint Management Platform

Picking the Ideal Unified Endpoint Management Platform

Unified endpoint management (UEM) software plays an important role in today’s business world, thanks to significant technological advancements. Over the years, endpoint devices have become more data-intensive, connected, and ubiquitous, despite the security risks associated with the software. Thus, proper management of the devices is a top priority for businesses of all sizes.

With the right UEM software, companies can streamline endpoint device management by maximizing security and organization. This type of software centralizes device management, ensuring a more efficient, cost-effective, and secure approach. Another key benefit of UEM is that it can manage IoT devices, wearables, and printers.

Here are the critical factors to evaluate when choosing the right unified endpoint management solution.

Unified Endpoint Management Platform

Robust UEM Security Features

When evaluating a unified endpoint management solution, selecting a platform with strong security features is important. The solution should have the capacity to manage virtual and physical assets more efficiently. These characteristics ensure that the platform protects your organization’s data and devices.

The UEM must come with advanced threat detection and defense capabilities to maximize device and data protection. Examples of key security features include anti-spyware, firewall, encryption protocols, and antivirus software. Automatic updates are another critical feature that helps safeguard your company’s critical assets.

Ease of Integration

The ideal UEM platform enables tech teams to integrate the solution with a wide selection of technologies for added convenience. Examples of these technologies include configuration management databases and IT help-desk systems. In addition, the platform should be compatible with various business apps and software programs.

A well-chosen unified endpoint management solution eliminates the need to worry about data loss by integrating seamlessly with your existing technologies. It also integrates easily and quickly without any need to make major changes or negatively impact user experience.

Device Security Policies

Your chosen UEM platform should allow you to set up a wide variety of policies, such as root detection, anti-phishing, and password-setting policies. This capability is vital to maintaining the security of all devices and connected apps and software.

The inability to set device security policies exposes your organization to wide-ranging security risks outside your premises. Another key aspect to consider includes integration with access management solutions to maximize the integrity of the devices while on the go.

Comprehensive Reporting and Diagnostics Capability

A good UEM solution stores and analyzes critical data to help you visualize various aspects of endpoint device activity. Thus, you gain full visibility of software status information, user behavior, device inventory, usage insights, and hardware status reports. A comprehensive reporting system allows you to monitor the system and identify issues that need resolving.

Automated Management

Device deployment is undoubtedly an undifferentiated activity that can benefit from automation. For this reason, your preferred UEM requires automated management capabilities for faster and more convenient deployment. As a result, you save a significant amount of money by avoiding spending time and effort handling the deployment process. The best part is that your staff receive the devices faster, allowing them to focus on core day-to-day activities and become more productive.

Pricing

Another key factor to consider when choosing a UEM for your organization is pricing. Some vendors offer unified endpoint management tools as part of bundled products, making it easier to get value for money. The vendor’s licensing model also determines the affordability of the software. In this case, you can save a significant amount by opting for a per-user pricing model than the per-device pricing model. Signing up for the latter is not cost-effective because most end-users perform their day-to-day duties using multiple devices.

Remote Environments Support

If your organization has remote work arrangements, it is vital to select a UEM platform that supports a hybrid and remote workforce. By opting for a solution with this capability, you enable your IT support team to manage mobile and traditional endpoints more effectively. As a result, you will notice an improvement in user experience and reduced downtime for your staff.

Non-MDM Deployment Support

Privacy-minded employees are typically unwilling to enroll in mobile device management (MDM) deployments. In such cases, your organization needs to choose a UEM platform that supports a non-MDM deployment. You can also opt for this route for technical reasons. Mobile application management (MAM) support provides a viable alternative because it allows employees to enjoy their privacy since the company has no access to devices.

Device Support

The ideal UEM platform fully supports various operating systems, including macOS, Windows, Wear OS, Linux, Android, VR, and iOS.


Windows 11 Tips: How to Get Things Done More Effectively

Windows 11 Tips: How to Get Things Done More Effectively

Windows 11 comes with a slick redesign and a comprehensive selection of new features. Although it shares many similarities with Windows 10, the new OS introduces groundbreaking features like Android app integration. The best part is that the operating system brings balance to your personal computer with easy-to-use tools that enable you to optimize functionality.

With Windows 11, you can take advantage of new convenient ways to connect with friends, colleagues, and family. The integrated Microsoft Teams enhances communications with free calls, texting, video conferencing, and chat functionality.

You can maximize productivity and other objectives by adopting a variety of tips and tricks.

Windows 11 Tips

Discover New Features

With the Get Started app, you can learn more about Windows 11’s latest features. The app makes it easier to port the Windows 10 preferences to a new desktop device. Likewise, Get Started can inform you about Win 10 applications that you can load to your new device, depending on whether you selected to backup your apps.

In doing so, the Get Started app eliminates the need to start over completely. Instead, you can follow prompts to restore specific documents, Windows 10 photos, and other files on the Windows 11 device. Backup and sync functions require you to sign in to your OneDrive account.

Be sure to check out the future of password technologies, which will be part of Windows 11 and Microsoft’s online services.

Organize Apps on Your Desktop More Effectively

With Desktop Groups and Snap Assist, you can organize applications on your PC in tandem with your day-to-day activities. By dragging an open window to the edge of the screen, you activate the snap function, which groups the windows into a grid of four or five.

By taking advantage of these features, you keep your screen organized, allowing you to focus on a specific task at a time. Additionally, Windows 11 can remember activities on external screens to help you find the pages where you left off. This option allows you to continue working, even if you switch devices.

Bring Back Folders on Start

Many Windows 11 users expressed interest in pinning folders to the Start Menu, a feature that is unavailable in the new operating system. Thankfully, you can take advantage of a workaround using the setting that enables you to display folders adjacent to the power button on the Start Menu. However, the feature differs from the Windows 10 version in that you can only show system folders.

To activate this functionality, you need to press the Windows key + I and select Personalization. Then, select Start followed by the folders.

Change the Touch Keyboard’s Appearance

Using Windows 11 on touch devices is undoubtedly a fascinating experience, thanks to the customization options. The new OS allows you to tweak the appearance of a touch keyboard to suit your preferences. This capability eliminates the need to stick with the default dark or white keyboard.

To change the appearance of your touch keyboard, press the Windows key + I and select Personalization. Then, click touch keyboard to choose the ideal theme based on the keyboard size. The operating system offers up to 16 preset themes, in addition to the ability to create your custom theme.

Typing Made Easier

The voice typing feature in Windows 11 simplifies many tasks that involve typing. Whether you’re composing an email or a blog article, you can count on the feature to eliminate the need to worry about typing speed or accuracy. Using a microphone to type your thoughts is a faster and more convenient way to work.

Unlike in the past, dictation required the use of a recording device and transcribing software. The best part about voice typing is that the process is instant, saving you time. Windows 11’s voice typing feature detects your voice’s rhythm and inflection to add appropriate punctuation. In addition, the new operating system supports the digital pen and touchscreen functionality.

Stay Focused on High Priority Tasks With Windows 11 Widgets

The new operating system provides a practical way to stay focused on important tasks. It allows you to curate priority tasks using widgets found on the Taskbar. With this feature, you can group to-do lists, news, reminders, upcoming meetings, and much more. This feature eliminates the need to find key content in different apps, pages, and tabs. Widgets provide access to personalized content at a glance for your convenience. You can find publishers to follow via the interest page.


A Quintessential Guide to Windows 11 Tips and News

A Quintessential Guide to Windows 11 Tips and News

Windows 11 introduces a wide selection of interesting new features capable of transforming the user experience. In addition, the operating system comes with a streamlined design, Android apps integration capabilities, a built-in Microsoft Teams conferencing application, and other notable features.

Examples of features that you can expect from Windows 11 include a revamped Start menu, snap layouts, virtual desktops, snap groups, and a redesigned Microsoft store app. MS Office 2021 will launch alongside the new OS.

Although the new operating system comes with specific system requirements, it can still run on older and unsupported computers. However, installing Windows 11 on an unsupported PC has its downsides, including the possibility of not receiving regular updates. Microsoft has not clarified ineligible PC support and the exact system specifications of old computers that can still run the OS.

On the other hand, unsupported computers could not participate in the Windows Insider Program testing processes.

Computer Manufacturers Announce First Batches of Windows 11 PCs

As the era of Windows 11 begins, computer manufacturers like Lenovo have begun introducing their first Windows 11 computers to the market. Lenovo’s first batch of PCs run on AMD’s Ryzen desktop processors.

These processors are ideal for multitasking, gaming, and other functions; they compare favorably against Intel processors. Meanwhile, manufacturers have also started to provide a list of eligible devices that can upgrade to Windows 11.

Other Notable Windows 11 News

The much-anticipated Android app support in Windows 11 will be available sometime after the launch date. Microsoft announced that there would be a delay in introducing this groundbreaking feature into the operating system.

When it comes to gaming features, Windows 11 does not have an exclusive claim to the DirectStorage, an API that boosts loading and texture decompression speeds. This advanced technology will also appear in the Windows 10 operating system.

If you own an eligible Windows 10 device, you can upgrade it sometime in 2022, depending on a variety of factors, such as device age and other system specifications. This phased approach enables Microsoft to assess the deployment and performance of the new operating system before expanding the rollout.

Windows 11 Trips and Tricks

Once you upgrade to Windows 11, there are various tricks and tips that you can follow to enhance your overall experience. For instance, you can download and install third-party apps to tweak the operating system. A good example of such a third-party app is Stardock.

If you are looking to boost performance or speed, you need to activate the concealed Power Mode feature. On the other hand, you can also tweak the start menu in Windows 11 to resemble Win 10. The new operating system comes with a centralized and simplified Start menu, including a taskbar. Microsoft has made it easier to revert to the old design or appearance for your convenience.

Features Review

One of the key features of Windows 11 includes less intrusive updates. Microsoft changed the way devices download periodic updates by enabling you to install specific code components on your computer. The tech giant confirmed that this approach could help reduce the amount of data required to install updates by up to 40 percent. Windows 11 installs these updates in the background to minimize disruptions.

Additionally, the system provides an estimated update installation time to help you decide when to reboot your computer.

When it comes to window management, widgets, and virtual desktops, Windows 11 retains the minimize, maximize, and close controls that form part of window management features. Microsoft introduced several window layout options displayed as a pop-up below a window. When you click on the pop-up, the chosen window immediately snaps to a predetermined size and shape.

Another key aspect of your Windows 11 is the impressive performance. This new operating system is faster, allowing you to work more efficiently and maximize productivity. It boots quickly and switches from one window to another almost instantly. Speed tests conducted by experts revealed that the speed improvements are more prominent only on the operating system’s front end. Meanwhile, back-end functions revealed modest or no improvements.

According to Microsoft, you can extend the battery life of your device by upgrading to Windows 11. The new OS comes with a dynamic refresh rate feature that optimizes your display, depending on your activities. However, this benefit does not apply to two devices without a 120Hz screen.


Outages Result of DDoS Attack” Confirms Bandwidth CEO

Outages Result of DDoS Attack” Confirms Bandwidth CEO

David Morken, CEO of Bandwidth.com, has confirmed that a DDoS attack was responsible for recent outages reported on the site on September 27th. Citing that “a number of critical communications service providers have been targeted by a rolling DDoS attack” in a recent statement, Morken also apologized to those who were significantly impacted and assured users that the issue was being addressed and fixed.

As attacks such as this continue to rise, it’s important for fellow businesses to understand what exactly went wrong and if anything could have been done differently to avoid such a catastrophe. DDoS attacks and similar breaches of security can cause serious damage to business reputations and may even put companies under completely.

Let’s take a closer look at this most recent DDoS attack on Bandwidth.com — an attack that also affected several other communications service providers.

Outages Result of DDoS Attack” Confirms Bandwidth CEO

What Does Bandwidth.com Do?

Before getting into the details of the attack, let’s take a look at the company Bandwidth. Bandwidth.com is a global enterprise cloud communications business. Basically, they are a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service company.

VoIP solutions companies provide VoIP services (incoming and outgoing communications using the Internet or IP networks instead of telephone systems) to both individual consumers and businesses.

What Is a DDoS Attack?

DDoS stands for distributed denial-of-service. This type of attack essentially corrupts the attack victim’s computer services (usually a website) so that they are unusable. It does this through overwhelming the target site with sham malicious traffic. The site becomes so flooded that it’s unable to operate correctly.

What Should We Know About This DDoS Attack Against Bandwidth.com?

The DDoS attack that occurred in September of 2021 targeted Bandwidth.com, but they weren’t the only victims. In fact, cybercriminals launched several attacks — some of which reached other communications companies as well.

These companies include VoIP.ms, Voip Unlimited, and Voipfone. Several of the targeted DDoS plans included ransomware infections.

Ransomware is malicious software, or malware, that comes with a ransom threat. Effectively, the target must decide if they want to recover access to their computer systems in exchange for paying a large sum of money to the cybercriminal or if they want to figure out a fix on their own and likely risk losing original access to their networks. Sometimes, actual data is on the line, and if the ransom is not paid, data will be lost, stolen, and sold on the dark web, or permanently corrupted.

An Update on Bandwidth.com’s Status

CEO David Morken stated that Bandwidth’s team was working around the clock to minimize the impact of the attack. However, they also admitted that many of their clients and users had already been affected. Multiple MSPs and other clients who use Bandwidth as a host also stated having issues, which were affecting their own systems and clients in a catastrophic cascade effect.

After the initial phase of outages, Bandwidth.com updated its status with several more partial outages. Issues affected both outbound and inbound calling services.

Keeping Your Business Safe From DDoS Attacks

According to recent reports, distributed denial-of-service attacks are on the rise in North America and other places like Europe and Australia. Like it or not, cybercriminals are getting more creative as they target large corporations and businesses in an attempt to steal data, corrupt networks, wreak general havoc, and, of course, make money.

Although it’s not pleasant to consider, it’s best to act as if your business may be targeted by a DDoS attack in the future. Doing so can help orient your purpose when it comes to cybersecurity and will spur you to make the necessary decisions to keep your business safe. Essentially, fear is the worst.

This means reminding yourself and your employees that they should be on the lookout for signs of a cyberattack. Understand and train your staff on phishing scams and other telltale signs of cybercrime.

It also means hiring an MSP that has strength in cybersecurity. Speak to them about their preventive measures regarding DDoS attacks and similar breaches of security. What do they do to prevent these issues, and what do they do when one occurs?

No matter how small your business or what industry you’re in, you can always be the target of cybercrime. Put in the time and energy necessary to keep your business safe from harm.


Microsoft 365 Security

Microsoft 365 Defender
Beef Up Your Microsoft Cybersecurity

Microsoft 365 Defender: The Best Way To Beef Up Your Microsoft Cybersecurity

Don’t make any assumptions when it comes to your cybersecurity. No matter where a given hardware or software solution comes from, it’s not automatically secure enough “out of the box”.

This is as true of your smartphone as it is of Microsoft Office 365.

As a rule, you should always be concerned about security. It's a never-ending battle, and as such, it should always be considered when it comes to the technology you use at your organization. But what about Microsoft Office 365?

Designed according to Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle, Microsoft Office 365 is a Software-as-a-Service solution that uses a defense-in-depth approach to provide physical, logical, and data layers of security features and operational best practices. Plus, it offers enterprise-grade user and admin controls to further secure your environment — specifically, Microsoft 365 Defender.

What Is Office 365 Defender?

Microsoft 365 Defender is a comprehensive cybersecurity suite that handles a range of key defensive tasks before, during and after a breach. As an additional layer of security for your Microsoft accounts, it handles detection, prevention, investigation, and response across endpoints, identities, email, and applications.

Features include:

  • Activity Tracking
  • Anti Virus
  • Application Security
  • Behavioral Analytics
  • Device Management
  • Encryption
  • Signature Matching
  • Web Threat Management
  • Whitelisting/Blacklisting

Essentially, this solution is designed to protect you and your team while you use Microsoft solutions. Whether it’s email, endpoints, or user identities, Microsoft Defender has a solution to help defend them. Core offerings include:

  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint: This unified endpoint platform provides preventative defensive measures, post-breach detection, automated analysis, and investigation capabilities, and streamlined response methodologies.
  • Microsoft Defender for Office 365: This solution protects your organization from a range of threats that target users through email, links (URLs), and collaboration tools. Microsoft Defender for Identity and Azure AD Identity Protection: Using Active Directory signals, this solution monitors and addresses advanced threats, compromised identities, and malicious insider actions occurring within your organization’s network.
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security: This solution protects your cloud activities and data, providing deep visibility, strong data controls, and enhanced threat protection.

Does Microsoft 365 Include Defender?

Availability of Microsoft Defenders depends both upon which Microsoft 365 subscription you have, and which Defender plan you require.

Defender for Office 365 Plan 1

Included with Microsoft 365 Business Premium, or as an add-on.

Features:

  • Safe Attachments
  • Safe Links
  • Safe Attachments for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams
  • Anti-phishing protection in Defender for Office 365
  • Real-time detections

Defender for Office 365 Plan 2

Included with Office 365 E5, Office 365 A5, and Microsoft 365 E5, or as an add-on.

Features:

  • Defender for Office 365 Plan 1 capabilities
  • Automation, investigation, remediation, and education capabilities:
  • Threat Trackers
  • Threat Explorer
  • Automated investigation and response
  • Attack simulation training

How Do I Turn On Microsoft Office 365 Defender?

  1. Click the Windows logo in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  2. Scroll down the Start Menu and select Windows Security.
  3. On the Windows Security screen, check if any antivirus program has been installed and running on your computer.
  4. Click on Virus & threat protection.
  5. Next, select Virus & threat protection icon.
  6. Turn on for Real-time protection.

Enlist An Expert Team To Manage Your Microsoft Office 365 Security

Think you can handle your Microsoft 365 security on your own?

Maybe you can — in theory, it's entirely possible that, if you've invested in the right technologies, and have the right skill set, you could handle Microsoft 365 cybersecurity for your business all on your own. But, if we’re being honest… that’s a big if.

The more confident approach would be to have the National Networks team manage it for you. As your partner in Microsoft 365 security, we’ll handle the following for you:

  • Management of security patches and updates
  • Implementation of best practices for user privileges and access management
  • Ongoing management of data backup

We will employ a range of proven processes that will monitor and maintain your Microsoft 365 cybersecurity. Get in touch with our team to get started today.


What You Need To Know About The Facebook Outage

What You Need To Know About The Facebook Outage

Facebook and its associated services experienced a six-hour outage on Monday.

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus suffered a major outage over the course of Monday, Oct. 4. Beginning just before noon EST, the outage lasted six hours, preventing users from accessing their social media profiles, messaging apps, and Oculus-based services.

Facebook Outage October 4 2021

How Did This Happen?

In a blog post issued Monday night, Facebook reported that the outage was the result of a configuration change to its routers.

This “networking traffic issue” resulted in a cascading disruption to the way the company’s data centers communicate. What should have been a routine Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) update wiped out the routing information that allows other networks to find sites like Facebook and Instagram?

This was especially disruptive to Facebook’s internal company processes because they all rely on their own platform. Staff members communicate using Facebook messenger, which was unavailable while they were trying to determine a resolution. This only further disrupted their recovery processes.

3 Lessons To Learn From The Facebook Outage

This is the worst outage Facebook has experienced since 2019 when they were offline for more than a day. While Facebook services are nonessential, they do offer a low-cost platform for small businesses, which are undoubtedly hit the hardest during outages like these.

Here are three key takeaways:

  1. Routine processes cannot be overlooked: If something as minor as a BGP update can take a business like Facebook offline for a quarter of a day, consider what is at stake at your business. Anytime your staff interacts with business systems and data, you need to ensure they’re doing so carefully. One wrong click could result in lost data or a period of downtime.
  2. Prepare for the worst: No matter how big or how resource-rich a business is, it can still experience crippling downtime. Make sure to invest the right time and resources in developing your business continuity and disaster recovery processes.
  3. Always have a plan: Facebook has learned not to rely on its own platform as an internal messaging solution — do you rely too heavily on one tool as well? Make sure you have an alternative ready to go so that you don’t have to start from scratch when the worst occurs.

As always, events like this prove that IT is an error-prone and complicated part of the business world. You need to plan ahead to both prevent downtime and mitigate the effect it has on your business when it can’t be avoided.


Are You Ready For Windows 11 Official Release on October 5, 2021?

Are You Ready For Windows 11 Official Release on October 5, 2021?

As the official release date for the free upgrade to Windows 11 nears, it is time to prepare for the new Windows experience. You can upgrade to the new operating system, depending on the eligibility of your Windows 7 or 10 PC. Microsoft announced that the new OS comes with specific system requirements for all computers running on Windows 10. On the other hand, new devices will come pre-loaded with Windows 11.

The new operating system incorporates various features capable of empowering your productivity and creativity. As of October 5, 2021, you can take advantage of the rollout, which will continue until mid-2022. Microsoft has staggered the rollout to mainstream users based on PC specifications.

For this reason, you may not immediately qualify for the upgrade but can expect to gain access to the update by mid-2022. On the other hand, Microsoft will continue rolling out some Windows 11 features after the official release date. One of the groundbreaking features for the new OS is Android app integration.

Windows 11 Oct 5

How the Windows 11 Rollout Works

The tech giant plans to implement the first rollout based on criteria, such as device age, hardware eligibility, metrics, reliability, and other considerations. New personal computers will be the first to receive an upgrade to the new operating system.

Windows 10 users will receive notifications to upgrade devices via the traditional system update feature. Alternatively, you can check when the upgrade is available for your computer via the Windows update section in the settings. Microsoft plans to introduce an improved PC Health Check app to help users determine when a PC is eligible for the upgrade.

Meanwhile, if your PC is ineligible for the upgrade, you can still have the option to install Windows 11. However, your device assumes an unsupported state. This status may or may not block your access to critical OS system security and driver updates.

Windows 11 Upgrade: Minimum System Requirements

To qualify for a Windows 11 upgrade, your device should meet the minimum required specifications. According to Microsoft, your computer’s processor should be 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 4 gigabytes random access memory (RAM). The device should have a minimum of 64GB of storage space.

Additional requirements include:

  • 720p display
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module 2.0
  • DirectX 12 graphics card or later (should come with a WDDM 2.0 driver)
  • UEFI system firmware (secure boot capable)

Windows 11 Feature Highlights

Windows 11 comes with an ultra-modern and attractive interface centered around the user’s needs. Fresh sounds complement the new design and advanced features to provide a refreshing user experience.

The operating system incorporates a revamped Microsoft Store app that streamlines content searches. In addition, you can look forward to downloading and installing your favorite Android apps, thanks to Microsoft’s partnership with Amazon and Intel. However, this feature is more likely to appear in Windows 11 sometime in 2022.

Another interesting feature is Snap Groups; it provides access to two previously snapped windows, such as an email app or browser. You can access these Windows without snapping to the previous view. Additionally, it is possible to take advantage of the revamped multi-monitor support, which automatically takes you to the previous window view on a particular monitor.

In Windows 11, the update feature displays an estimated installation time to help you choose the ideal time to install security, feature, and driver updates. As such, you can update immediately or hold off, depending on your current activities and other considerations.

The introduction of the Microsoft Teams app revolutionizes how you communicate or connect with colleagues, friends, and family via your PC. With Teams, you can call or chat with your contacts, irrespective of the device they are using.

With Windows 11, you can access widgets via the dock for added convenience. The revamped widget feature leverages artificial intelligence to adapt it based on the applications you are using and the current time. Widgets appear on the desktop if you swipe from left to right on the touch screen.

You can choose various widgets, depending on your interests. Examples of widgets available include weather, news, maps, and much more.

Microsoft also redesigned a variety of apps, such as photos, paint, and the sniping tool. The changes align with Windows 11‘s fluent design language.


Installing Windows 11

Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update?

Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update? Here’s a Quick Guide

Microsoft’s new operating system has generated considerable interest from users and tech experts. Windows 11 brings many key new features that enhance the overall user experience. From October 5, 2021, Microsoft will roll out the update to eligible Windows 7 and 10 users. The OS will also become standard in new devices.

Once the rollout commences, you can upgrade your personal computer using the default Windows update feature. However, the upgrade is only available for computers that meet the minimum system requirements. If your PC does not meet the requirements, you can opt to implement the recommended workaround. However, the workaround uses solutions outside of the Windows ecosystem.

On the other hand, the Windows Insider Program is already offering access to a preview build. This preview is available exclusively to Windows Insider Program members. Microsoft recently released an ISO file to allow members to install the new operating system directly. As a first build, the preview version does not come with a complete set of Windows 11 features.

Installing Windows 11

Downloading Windows 11 Using an ISO File

If you opt to download the Windows 11 preview build, you can copy the operating system directly from the file to a compact disc or a USB drive. With the external drive, it becomes easier to install Windows 11 to a virtual machine, dual-boot system, or personal computer.

Since this option is only available to Windows Insider Program members, you need to register if you are not already a member. Once registered, you are eligible to download the ISO file via the Windows Insider Preview downloads page. Microsoft offers two preview versions from which to choose: the Beta channel and the Dev channel.

With the Dev channel, you gain access to the latest updates and Windows 11 features. On the downside, this preview build is typically buggier. For a more stable version, opt for the Beta channel. The downloads page allows you to choose a product language before proceeding with the download.

Installing the ISO File

The installation process varies, depending on the target device. You can install the file directly to a virtual machine using the VM application. Meanwhile, the installation process differs significantly when the target device is a dedicated PC or a dual-boot system. In this case, you need to copy the file to removable media using the Windows USB/DVD download tool. Experts recommend this utility because it makes your DVD or USB drive bootable.

It is vital to choose an external drive with adequate space to accommodate approximately 5GB. Thus, consider using a USB drive rather than a DVD. Standard DVDs typically come with roughly 4.8GB of storage space. Dual-layer variants provide up to 8.5GB of space.

Downloading Windows 11 After the Official Release Date

If you opt to wait for the official Windows 11 rollout, you can upgrade your PC the traditional way. Microsoft allows you to download the files via the Windows update feature. You simply click the install updates button in Windows 7 or check the updates button in Windows 10, and you will get a new OS.

However, the new OS may become available on your device several months after the official rollout date. So the quickest way to get your hands on the final build is to buy a new computer.

Microsoft will complete the rollout process by mid-2022. Factors that determine when Windows 11 will be available for your PC include age and hardware. In addition, the free upgrade is only available to licensed Windows 7 and 10 operating systems.

What to Expect From Windows 11

The upgrade brings many useful features, such as access to Android apps via the Microsoft Store. In addition, you can also look forward to enhanced communication capabilities, thanks to the integrated Microsoft Teams app. Windows 11 also boasts a revamped design, incorporating pastel colors, a centralized Start button, and a new startup sound.

Microsoft also introduces a wide selection of new desktop tools, including widgets. The new OS simplifies virtual desktop creation for added convenience. On the gaming front, Windows 11 leverages the full power of advanced technologies for a superior gaming experience.

Examples of the gaming technologies that unlock your device’s full gaming potential include DirectX 12 Ultimate, Direct Storage, and Auto HDR. These technologies enhance graphics quality and loading time for a captivating visual experience.


Computer Network Firewall

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

A security flaw discovered in RV110W, RV130, RV130W, and RV215W Cisco routers creates significant vulnerabilities. Traditionally, these UPnP (universal plug and play) routers would receive security updates from the vendor. However, Cisco recently announced that it has no plans to release a security patch for the devices. As a result, the company recommends replacing the routers.

Security experts noted that the four devices fell victim to the remote command execution vulnerability. Improper validation of inputs triggers the vulnerability (CVE-2021-1459), which has a common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) score of 9.8 out of 10. This issue affects the router’s management interface.

If you fail to replace the routers, you create an opportunity for a cybercriminal to execute code on the router. The remote attacker can exploit the device without authentication by delivering specially designed HTTP requests. In such cases, the bad actor assumes the root user status on the underlying operating system. As a result, it becomes easier to execute arbitrary code or launch a denial of service (DoS) attack.

Experts believe that replacing the routers forms part of a more comprehensive cybersecurity measure to harden network defenses. Failing to heed the recommendation is not an option, irrespective of company size.

Computer Network Firewall Cisco

End of Support

Cisco is not releasing a security patch because the routers are nearing the end of their working life. Additionally, support is ending for the devices. Although there are no known exploitation instances and proof of concept exploits, you should take risks posed by the security flaw seriously. If you need more time before replacing the devices, consider disabling the virtual private network (VPN) service. Doing so mitigates the risk of an attacker remotely exploiting this feature.

According to Cisco, you can determine the status of the VPN by opening the web-based management interface. In the Basic Settings, find the UPnP feature and tick the Disable box.

Benefits of Using a Business-Class VPN Router

A VPN router is a practical solution for small businesses looking to ensure secure communication. By investing in this type of device, you take advantage of a VPN tunnel that safeguards communication between two networks. The router can also handle secure connections for remote teams, irrespective of location.

Some manufacturers offer devices that enable your team to manage VPN functions centrally. It is also possible to configure individual routers to suit your specific needs. The ideal devices come with failover and load balancing capabilities. If you need more flexibility, opt for devices that run open-source software.

Doing so makes it easier to replace the router’s OS and create additional features. On the downside, this option is not ideal for all businesses. Thus, choose your router carefully.

Advanced routers support up to 45 tunnels and come with robust firewalls to filter traffic in both directions. They also set minimum password complexity standards and incorporate encryption keys. Vendors like Cisco offers wide-ranging VPN routers for small businesses. The devices are more affordable and secure. Some business-class VPN routers are easier to configure, while others require advanced tech skills to set up and manage.

On the other hand, mesh wireless network solutions maximize coverage using nodes and satellite modules. These modules and satellites expand coverage throughout your business premises.

How to Bolster WiFi Network Security

A business WiFi network is an essential component of doing business in today’s connected world. However, an unsecured network compromises your company’s ability to operate smoothly. Cybercriminals can launch denial of service attacks or steal sensitive business information. Thankfully, there are various ways to safeguard your WiFi network.

One of the effective ways to improve security is to keep your router’s OS up to date. Also, replace any routers nearing their end of life or support. By keeping the devices up to date, you take advantage of the router vendor’s security patches and bug fixes.

Additional measures include:

  • Invest in a business-class VPN router with advanced security features
  • Harden cyberdefenses by doubling your firewall
  • Store the route in a physically secure area
  • Employ advanced encryption protocols
  • Eliminate unofficial access points
  • Disable WiFi Protected Setup or WPS

On another level, it is crucial to ensure that your router’s firewall is active. Some routers require manual activation. The manufacturer may list the firewall under network address translation (NAT) or stateful packet inspection (SPI). You can find the feature in the device’s settings.