Data Loss – What Is It and What Can You Do To Stop It

Data Loss
What exactly is it?
How can you avoid it?
We’re here to go over everything you need to know about preventing data loss to help keep your information safe!

What Is Data Loss?

Data loss is exactly what you think it is. Whether your information/back-ups are accidentally or maliciously deleted from your system, important data is lost. This might happen when a malicious internal user gains inappropriate administrator privileges, or when an external party seeking to do damage to your company’s reputation hacks into your system. It could be thanks to poorly configured backup jobs or other settings. In addition to these human causes, hardware failure or theft can also account for data loss.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Data?

iland is a cloud service provider of secure and compliant hosting for Backup as a Service (BaaS).  iland’s Insider Protection, guards you against straightforward deletion of all backups and even more sophisticated attacks. The service will assure that a copy of your backup is always available!

Internal or External Threat Protection

Insider Protection enables you to recover a full backup of deleted data! Instead of deleting your backup files, hackers may choose to corrupt or encrypt your backups. This would replace any recovery points you may have causing you to instead use damaged backups. With Insider Protection you will have access to backups that the attackers did not, giving you the confidence you need during a disaster recovery event.

How It Works and How To Recover

With iland Insider Protection, backup files that were deleted maliciously or accidentally are kept in an air-gapped directory. This directory will only be accessible to iland technicians! Backup files that were deleted will remain in this isolated folder for seven days and can be saved to be transferred back to you once you are ready to restore data. Your files will not go away until after seven days of isolated storage.

If you fall victim to a breach like a ransomware infection, the data protected by iland would be untouchable and could be trusted to restore critical data after an attack, easing your mind and reducing your downtime.

 

Contact your PCS Account Representative today
to add this increased security to your current iland cloud storage!

Microsoft Confirms Windows 11 – Everything You Need To Know

Microsoft has FINALLY released their newest version of Windows … Windows 11! Also knows as “the Windows that brings you closer to the things you love” as Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer said.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said “Today marks a major milestone in the history of Windows, It’s the beginning of a new generation.”
We’re here to give you the break down on what to expect.

Windows 11 Coming This Fall

Microsoft announced that Windows 11 will begin shipping to customers this fall, and Windows Insiders can begin testing a preview of it this week.  Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, as long as your current PC is compatible with Windows 11’s new system requirements.

These requirements include:

  • A modern 64-bit processor
  • 1Ghz clock speed
  • 2 cores
  • 64GB drive
  • 4GB RAM
  • UEFI, Secure Book capable & TPM 2.0
  • 9-inch display with 1366×768 resolution
  • DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x

Display Features

  • Rounded corners
  • New desktop wallpaper
  • Centered start menu featuring applications and “recommended” files such as Word and Excel documents, along with a search box.  The new Start menu drops the Live Tiles that were originally introduced with Windows 8 and opts for more of the typical launcher you’d find in Chrome OS or Android
  • The Windows icon has also been spruced up to be a simple square with four equal-sized panes
  • Windows Widgets: containing news, weather and other information.  The Widgets feature uses artificial intelligence to offer personalized content and it can be shown on the entirety of the screen with a swipe from left to right
  • More performance in browsing the internet in Microsoft’s Edge browser, which will enable longer battery life
  • Updates will be 40% smaller
  • Snap Layouts – allows you to quickly snap apps into the various modes that Windows 11 supports
  • Revamped app store – Panay described as

Microsoft Teams Update

Microsoft Teams, the company’s videoconferencing and chat software, is getting a big update to make it more like a systemwide messaging app. Microsoft revealed an interface that puts chats in standalone windows.  Your frequent contacts will now appear as a pop-up on the start bar. Teams is also getting more videoconferencing features and it appears easier to jump right into a video call.  Similarly to using Facetime or iMessage on a Mac.

Supporting Android Apps From Amazon’s App Store

Android apps will now be supported using the Amazon App Store! Popular apps that people already use on their phones will be available right on the desktop, in the Start menu and more. It is similar to Apple products that support iPhone and iPad apps. However, the Amazon App Store doesn’t offer Google’s popular Android apps like Gmail, Maps and other Google services.  You will need to sign in to your Amazon account to download those apps.

 

We’ll report as more details unfold!

Data Breach – How Can It Happen And Ways To Avoid It!

It seems like recently, we have been hearing a lot more about how businesses have experienced data breaches.  But how did the hackers get into their systems?
We’re here to tell you different ways that hackers can get into your companies information and how to prevent it!

1. Weak and Stolen Credentials (Passwords)

Weak passwords are the easiest way for malicious attacks to happen to your company. They allow hackers to ease their way into your system faster than you could imagine. Having strong and secure passwords that change every 60-90 days will greatly decrease the chances of these attacks.

Password Managers can help store, generate, and manage your passwords for local applications and online services. They assist in generating and retrieving complicated passwords, storing the passwords in an encrypted database, or calculating them on demand.

2. Phishing Scams

Email has been used more for business throughout the years. Hackers have found a way to gain access into your information by creating email that impersonates those that you would receive every day, perhaps even from company executives. Phishing emails are scams that target a specific person/company. Having email security will help identify threats to make sure you keep your companies’ information safe. Identifying email threats will also help to keep your personal information and accounts from being hacked. Knowing what types of email are threats can make a big difference to you and your company!

3. No VPN/Secured Wi-Fi

Not using a VPN service, or logging into an unsecured network can allow hackers to gain access to your business data! Allowing your data to travel through an unsecured network gives access to someone who is using the same network, or even a hacker who is trying to gain access to information you were retrieving on your devices. Once you connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi network, your information is vulnerable. Make sure to use your VPN service, or log into a secured Wi-Fi when trying to access important information. These steps create an extra layer of security, helping to avoid malicious activity, and making it more difficult for your data to get into the wrong person’s hands.

4. Running Updating Operating Systems/Applications

If you’re still running Windows 7 or haven’t updated your applications … STOP HERE AND READ!! Using outdated software and applications can lead to system vulnerability. Microsoft confirmed that Windows 7 will no longer be supported for security updates or technical assistance. If you’re running an outdated operating system, you’ll open your company up to known hacks, malware, viruses and other potential future security flaws.
For example, any Google Chrome versions prior to 91.0.4472.114 may have vulnerabilities that allow attackers to execute arbitrary code in your browser. Having an outdated application or web browser could lead to malicious attacks within your systems, targeting all the information that hackers want to get their hands on. An attacker could view, change, or even delete data if they have the access to do so.
Try to keep track of everything and make sure you install all your software updates as new ones come out. It will help reduce system vulnerabilities and from being a target of a data breach!

Malicious attacks can be avoided if you take the proper steps. A VPN Service, Email Security, Password Manager, Multi-Factor Authentication, and up-to-date software will help keep your system protected and secure!

Want to make sure you’re protected and taking the right steps? Contact PCS for all your cyber security needs!

How Important Is Having A VPN Service?

The term “VPN” gets thrown around more often than others when it comes to your access.  Whether it be for business or personal, being told to have a VPN has always been standard protocol on our systems.  But what exactly is it? Where can we use it? What happens if you don’t have it?
We’re here to tell you what you need to know and how it works!

What Is A VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection.  They mask your IP (internet protocol) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Virtual Private Networks  also secure connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.

Why Do You Need A VPN Service?

Having a VPN service is not only important for business settings, but you can also get it for your personal devices!  When you’re on the internet, especially on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, you could be exposing your private information and browsing history.

Imagine yourself being at an airport or even a coffee shop where there is no secured service.  You are browsing through your emails and even working on a big project for work that is due in a few days.  The amount of clicking you do and what is being put into the unsecured network could potentially get into  by a stranger using the same network. Unless it’s a secured network that allows you to put in a password when trying to connect, your information is vulnerable.

Having the ability to not worry about someone else getting into your information is one way to keep your data and your companies data secured.   Especially when most companies are working remotely, you don’t want to have that thought in the back of your mind whether or not someone can access your companies information.

How Does A VPN Protect Your IP Address And Privacy

The VPN essentially creates a data tunnel between your local network and an exit node in another location.  It makes it seem like you’re miles away in another place when really you are home! Having that luxury allows your location to stay private, while also keeping data and information private.  Think of it like a sturdy tunnel that no one can get into.
Virtual Private Networks use encryption to scramble data when it’s sent over a Wi-Fi network and encryption makes the data unreadable.

Without a VPN, your internet service provider can know your entire browsing history. With a VPN, your search history is hidden. That’s because your web activity will be associated with the VPN server’s IP address, not your own.

What A VPN Can Hide

  • Browsing history
  •  IP address and location
  •  Location for streaming
  • Devices
  • Web activity

Where Can You Use Your VPN?

The answer? Anywhere! Once you have it, you can use it to be able to keep your data secured. While traveling, at home, in the office, and even while enjoying a cup of coffee at your nearest coffee shop.  Having the VPN on your laptop, tablet, iPad, and even any phone device will help make sure your information is protected.

Need help with keeping you and your company safe? Contact PCS!

Why It’s Dangerous To Answer “Fun” Questions On Social Media!

DON’T CLICK ON ANYTHING YOU DON’T KNOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

Facebook has been one of the most guilty social media sites to lead hackers into finding out security questions.  Having access to these answers can lead hackers to obtaining information, such as bank accounts and important data within your systems.
We’re here to help you understand why answering questions and clicking links can actually put your data at risk!

“Did You Know” Questions

Facebook has these questions that are supposed to be fun for everyone to get to know each other. One thing that can lead to it though is getting information within the answers to be able to answer security questions.  Answering about your first dog, where you were born, or anything with personal information will lead to figuring out security questions for bank accounts, credit card information, and even billing information!  They seem to be fun when you first answer them, but when the wrong person gets their hands on that kind of information, it can lead to more severe accounts that can be compromised and information being stolen.
The posts that ask what was your first grade teacher, who was your childhood best friend, your first car, the place you [were] born, your favorite place, your first pet, where did you go on your first flight … Those are the same questions asked when setting up accounts as security questions. You are giving out the answers to your security questions without realizing it! Hackers can use these questions to build a profile and hack into your accounts or open lines of credit

Facebook Quizzes

“At What Age Will I Be Married?”
“Can We Guess Your Age?”
“What Character Are You From The Simpsons?”
These kinds of questions will get you to click on them for curiosity, but it can actually be dangerous to click on those links! Readers Digest confirmed Facebook quizzes may lead you to a website with dangerous downloads, or have malicious links and possible viruses included in the questions. In 2019, CNN reported how this practice were used in a scandal. Ukrainian hackers used Facebook quizzes to install malicious browser extensions.  Better Business Bureau issued an alert just this past year advising against taking Facebook quizzes.  Protect yourself and your information by only clicking links that you are familiar with and trust!  just say no to online personality tests or any seemingly innocent game that asks questions. All those clicks and taps give away your information!

Social Media Personality Quizzes

Having any sort of personality quiz needs to be done through a reputable source.  Seeing them on social media should be the red flag that makes you stay away from them!
Posting personal information on social media is never the best option, but having it posted on a website that you can share on social media can cause hackers to retrieve information that you didn’t want to be accessed.  This goes on to explaining security questions.  Hackers will try to use different forms of quizzes to retrieve information.  Asking how old you are, D.O.B., your full name, where you were born, and everything in between will give someone access to your most personal information.

Using all the sources, social media is one of the easiest ways for an attack to happen.  Once you give someone all the information they need, they will go ahead and use it for their own malicious attacks.

Always make sure you’re keeping safe, use Multi-Factor Authentication for your sites (social media has it), and don’t click on links that you’re not familiar with!

Need help with keeping your information safe? Call PCS!

BYOD: Bring Your Own Device — Good or Bad?

Every day, we see the implementation of new policies that can enhance the working process, benefiting both employees and employers. For example, a phenomenon in recent years has been remote work. In that same vein, some companies have started allowing workers to bring their own computers, smartphones and other electronic equipment to work, otherwise known as BYOD.

BYOD has many advantages, including reduced company costs and better employee satisfaction. Under this policy, employees are allowed to bring their devices to work, and in return, they get bonuses and compensation as a reward. BYOD guidelines particularly benefit small businesses by reducing their workstation fees. However, you should note that BYOD still has downsides.

A major concern with BYOD regulations is security. Those who bring their own devices to the workplace can become victims of data breaches, creating significant issues for your business. Therefore, you should weigh BYOD pros and cons before you decide to take this route.

Here’s a look at everything you should know about BYOD.

What Is BYOD?

BYOD has become a popular policy in many workplaces. This policy allows the employees to bring their devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones to work. They use these devices in addition to the ones their employer may have provided.

BYOD policies are increasingly widespread, and several companies worldwide are adopting them to save money. Businesses that implement BYOD can potentially save $350 a year per employee, which adds up quickly when you have a large staff. It can also help small businesses in the start-up stages because they don’t have to worry about supplying electronics.

These days, most people have access to personal devices — and they can become attached to the particular operating systems and interfaces on those devices. After all, you’re likely either a loyal Apple user or you prefer PCs. These circumstances have made BYOD a smart option for companies, as they don’t have to make employees choose. Sometimes, businesses will even compensate those who use their own devices since the policy makes so much sense.

BYOD is often called the consumerization of IT, as employees use their personal devices for work-related tasks. Whether or not the company supports the devices, the personal devices connect to the company’s network. BYOD guidelines serve as a framework that control the use of these devices and help reduce the risk of security issues.

Allowing employees to use their personal devices can boost productivity and positively impact performance, but doing so comes with several threats. Since the companies don’t provide the gadgets, they can be a security threat. The risk of a data breach can increase, and troubleshooting the gadget also becomes a problem with BYOD implementation.

The Pros of BYOD Policies

Allowing employees to use their personal devices in the office can be beneficial for both parties. After all, there’s a reason why about 75% of companies have some type of BYOD policy. Let’s look at some of the biggest pros you’ll see after embracing BYOD in your enterprise.

1. Save More Money

The biggest benefit BYOD brings is savings. When companies no longer have to buy phones and laptops for all employees, they can save a decent amount of money. The latest phone models can cost anywhere from $400 to $800, and when companies allow the employees to use their own devices, they don’t have to spend that money themselves.

In addition to the costs of the models, companies will also save on phone plans. Since the employees will be using their own devices, they’ll be responsible for renewing their phone plans. Adopting BYOD can eliminate all these expenses, and you can divert the saved income to other sections of your company.

2. Improve Employee Productivity

Employees have personal preferences when it comes to devices. Some prefer an iOS operating system, while others want their devices to run on Android. When they use their own device, they’ll be more comfortable with the operating system, which will enhance their productivity.

If a job requires using a work phone, you may find that your employees work more productively when their work phone is the same as their personal phone. This way, they don’t have to learn a new system since they already know how everything operates. Additionally, employees won’t have to keep track of another device.

3. Increase Employee Response Time

This point is a more subtle benefit of BYOD. By allowing employees to use their personal phones in the office, the company gives them more freedom. That assures the employees they’re trusted, which can reflect positively on their performance.

Since employees carry their personal devices everywhere, the chances of connecting with them instantly increase. Employees may not be available 24/7, but if any urgent issue arises, the company will have a better chance of getting a response.

4. Introduce New Devices

Phone and laptop manufacturers launch new devices regularly, and keeping up with the updates can be incredibly resource-intensive. Companies have to assign new budgets for devices several times a year, which can be a constant struggle for any company. Adopting BYOD will save you from extra expenses and effort.

Companies can simply provide small incentives or stipends to the employees for the newer models. Employees can often keep up with the latest devices better than their companies, so it’s usually better to delegate that process to your workers. The newer devices will have improved features and security, resulting in increased productivity.

5. Boost Employee Flexibility

Flexibility is an essential factor, and it’s directly linked to productivity. When a company provides its own devices to employees, they’re just adding the burden to manage more devices. Employees will have to carry their personal devices and the company’s device, potentially to and from the office. This circumstance decreases flexibility and compromises performance. 

BYOD addresses and resolves this issue. All the required work can happen via one device since employees carry their personal devices everywhere. Plus, a worker can quickly tackle an urgent matter that pops up. Employees don’t have to worry about the company’s guidelines and can work freely. BYOD allows the employees to work flexibly and complete the assignment within the deadline. 

The Cons of BYOD Policies

BYOD is an effective method to save costs and increase employees’ productivity, but there are some cons an enterprise should understand before embracing this new trend. Taking measures to reduce the effect of these cons will directly increase the benefits of the policy.

1. Experience a Lack of Uniformity 

Allowing everyone to use their personal phones will affect the consistency of the workplace. Every team member will use a different phone, potentially causing problems with collaboration. If an employee wants to share a document on iCloud for their team to edit, a person with a Samsung device won’t be able to access that file.

Sharing files and creating a seamless workflow will become a huge task, and the IT department will have to manage various devices. If everyone has the same device and operating system, it’ll reduce the work of the IT department, so the working and sharing process will become cleaner and more efficient. 

2. Encounter Potential Security Issues 

Here’s one of the significant disadvantages of BYOD policies. Allowing employees to bring their phones will increase the risk of a security breach. All the devices will be connected to your company’s network, possibly exposing your company’s network to threats. Before allowing employees to use their personal devices, you must assess the risk and take corrective measures. 

Employers monitor company-provided devices, which means they can safeguard the company’s data. The dedicated devices provided by the company come with guidelines, and every employee has to adhere to them. This concept automatically reduces the chances of any security or data breach and ensures the safety of information.

3. Put Employee Privacy at Risk

It’s more important than ever to prioritize your employees’ privacy. Unfortunately, allowing your workers to bring their own devices to work may raise eyebrows about privacy. Since your workers’ gadgets will link to your company’s system, you may be able to see what goes on when they’re working. That’s also true if you use specific applications to track data, like how many clicks or calls they make throughout the day.

Finding the perfect balance between security and privacy with BYOD can be difficult for employers. It’s essential to create a process where you give your employees the freedom to use their devices following your policies. Developing suitable regulations will make BYOD better for both employees and companies.

4. Discover Certain Legal Issues 

All data is different. If you misplace one type of file, you might only have a slight headache on your hands — and on the flip side, another kind may force you to take on a lawsuit. There are some potential legal issues with BYOD policies, as employees have continuous access to your business’s information. Explaining data loss complications to every employee is a time-consuming affair, and even the slightest mistake can spell legal trouble for the company. 

Essentially, BYOD increases the chances of data compromise, which can result in legal issues.

5. Endure Software Problems

These are serious concerns regarding software issues with BYOD. Several companies use project management software around the office to handle workflow, but what if all the employees have different devices and operating systems? 

Finding software that everyone can access can be a challenge, and even if you manage to find one, keeping it up-to-date will be a regular problem. This situation puts a burden on the IT department, and when an update comes out, reminding each employee to install it on every device will be time-consuming. 

BYOD and Security: Points to Consider

Security is the main obstacle preventing companies from adopting BYOD, as personal devices increase the chance of a security breach. If companies identify these issues and address them, they can reduce the challenges of BYOD. The most severe risk this policy can pose are:

Data Leakage and Loss

Even when employees are doing simple tasks like logging in or sending an email, there’s always a risk of a breach because every device is different. As a result, sensitive information can sometimes fall into the wrong hands. Plus, if employees use their devices for both work and personal tasks, they can accidentally share documents with contacts outside of work. One message containing specific data can make an impact.

Device Infection 

Because workers will be using their own devices, they have the freedom to do whatever they want with their technology. If they want to download an application from an unsecured website, they can. Therefore, their devices might encounter things like malware — and your company runs the risk of enduring potential repercussions.

Security Measures for BYOD Security

BYOD has some security risks, but you can manage them by taking the proper steps.

Application Control

If you use a specific application for your company, you can privatize it on smartphone application stores so it only shows to employees. This step reduces the risk of malware. Additionally, you can ask employees not to install any programs from unauthorized sources without putting restrictions on their personal devices.

Containerization

Containerization is a method of dividing one device into two. Each part of the phone has its own passwords and a protected environment. This way, employees can keep their personal devices and work devices separate without actually carrying two devices. 

Once the user logs into the work phone, they cannot access their personal apps. Therefore, the apps they download in the personal area won’t affect the work portion. It’s a helpful measure, allowing the employees to use their personal devices freely without compromising security. 

Is BYOD a Good Idea for Your Business?

BYOD has several benefits and challenges, so whether or not it’ll be successful for your business lies in how you implement it. A successful BYOD strategy will help your business by keeping employees happy and reducing company costs.

If you and your employees are in sync, this policy can change the face of your business, but a successful implementation lies in reducing the security risks. One small mistake can put your business in trouble. If done right, BYOD can be your ticket to the top.

Contact PCS to Help You Securely Implement a BYOD Policy With IT Experts

If you’re interested in making BYOD policies work for your business, you’ll want a strong team of IT employees to help you ensure a smooth process happens. At PCS, we offer a trusted, reliable team of IT experts to streamline your company’s switch to BYOD. Since BYOD can come with some security threats, we’re here to help companies ensure they have the support they need to succeed.

Whether you need Managed IT, Project-Based IT or Rapid Response IT, PCS can help. Our services come with numerous features to make IT as simple and straightforward as possible for your company. Plus, we can work with you to find an option that aligns with your budget, so you have access to a choice that makes financial sense, too.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide IT services to fit your varying needs, whether or not you choose to pursue BYOD for your company.

Posted in IT

Important Updates From The Apple Announcement: macOS Monterey Version

Monday’s Apple Announcement On The New macOS Software Update

Apple’s newest software update announcement featured the new macOS Monterey update! Here is a quick review of the important information given and the privacy settings featured.

Privacy Settings

Privacy and keeping all your information secured is the most important with technology today.   Apple continues to keep your information safe with all new features that will allow not only your information hidden, but some accounts as well!

Hide My Email

In our previous blog post about iOS 15, Apple has released a feature that we can all enjoy when it comes to keeping your email private! Hide my email instantly generates unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox. This way you don’t have to share your real email address when filling out a form on the web or signing up for a newsletter. Hide my email is built into Safari, Mail, and iCloud Settings.  This is a great way to sign up for subscriptions and then not get bombarded with emails from other spams! iCloud+

iCloud Private Relay 

Apple went a different route with privacy.  With iCloud Private Relay, it is essentially like a VPN that will route your internet traffic through two relays in order to mask who’s browsing and where that data is coming from.  The Verge stated, ” Apple is trying to distinguish the feature from traditional VPNs — and if you ask, Apple will tell you it’s not a VPN at all — in part because it sends data through that second hop. That second hop prevents any one party,
including Apple, from seeing all of your browsing data, Apple says.”

Apple confirmed that it ensures that the traffic leaving your device is encrypted and uses two separate internet relays so no one can use your IP address, location, and browsing activity to create a detailed profile about you.

Mail Privacy Protection

This one is pretty cool to say the least.  Mail Privacy Protection is supposed to hide your IP address so senders can’t link it to your other online activity or determine your location.  It also prevents senders seeing if you opened your email or not.  That helps in SO many different cases because now anything you do with your email is completely secured due to the new updates.

Airplay

Airplay is coming to Mac. You can share, play, or present content from another Apple product to the Mac screen!  You can also expand and mirror your display.  This is a HUGE gamechanger for people who love using Airplay but were never able to use it because it was only for smaller devices.  Apple confirmed that you can now also use your Mac as an Airplay speaker high-fidelity sound when you play music or podcasts from another device.

Shortcuts

Apple has now confirmed that you are able to create your own shortcuts using their newest software update.  Apple has confirmed Save time by turning something that would take multiple steps into just one, or connecting your go-to apps and services together with the Shortcuts editor. You can run them from your Dock, menu bar, the Finder, Spotlight, or even with Siri.

 

Apple released more information about their new software update Monterey and all the cool new features added on. To learn more, go to Apple.com and find out everything about the Apple Announcement!

Want to make sure your Apple products are protected? Contact PCS today and we can help you!

Important Updates From The Apple Announcement: iOS 15 Version

Apple Announcement on Monday, June 7 Has Really Changed The Game With iOS 15!

Apple’s new announcements on all their latest software updates exceeded the expectations.
We’re here to tell you all the newest important updates and what that means for your privacy for iOS 15!

iOS 15 and Privacy Features

Apple has taken the new software updates for iPhones and made it easier for communication and making it easy for users to have everything with just a touch of a screen.  Having all the added features with privacy in mind, Apple has shown that it is not just about easy accessibility.

Facetime

With this update, Facetime has changed even more.  Apple has confirmed that you can now share your screen to watch your favorite TV shows, movies, and even listen to music together with the newest feature Shareplay.  This allows you as the user to actually show your friends and family what is on your screen so you can enjoy the experience together no matter how far you are.  Facetime has even made it so when multiple users are Facetiming, it’ll show you the person that is speaking so it’s a more even flow.   Apple has confirmed that the individual voices sound like they are coming from the direction in which each person is positioned on the screen. Finally, people with Android phones or Windows PCs can join your FaceTime calls now. Apple users can share a FaceTime link that can be opened in the web browser on non-Apple devices.

The Photo app will be getting new features too that use computer vision technology to recognize and read text within an image, an aid in image searches.  This could be a good thing or a bad depending on what kind of text you are looking for when

Privacy Enhancements iOS 15

Privacy Enhancements are the most important things in mind when we think about the newest updates and devices.  Apple has stepped up on their privacy when it comes to iPhone users.  One HUGE update that Apple has released is that users can now block tracking pixels in emails (Mail App) that can expose your email activity.   This also hides your IP address from email senders. There is also a new App Privacy Report which is kind of similar to what is currently offered for websites in Safari.  Wired has confirmed that it’s a dashboard that gives you an overview of how often your downloaded apps are accessing your location, contacts, camera, and microphone, as well as third-party addresses each app is pinging.  That helps users monitor what information is being pushed out from apps and how often their using the information so you can opt out of it if you see it’s too much.

Siri is getting more secure too. This new update has on-device speech recognition smarts that is letting the virtual assistant hear and execute the most simple tasks without needing to send your voice clips into the cloud for processing.  That’ll allow more privacy within your device so it doesn’t all get filtered into the cloud.

iCloud+

Speaking of cloud, Apple is coming out with a new feature called iCloud+.  It is the new premium version of iCloud that allows you to continue to love everything about iCloud, but now it has some great privacy features, such as iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email, and expanded Homekit Secure Video support.  Hide my email is the most interesting out of the bunch.  Hide my email instantly generates unique, random email addresses that forward to your personal inbox. This way you don’t have to share your real email address when filling out a form on the web or signing up for a newsletter. Hide my email is built into Safari, Mail, and iCloud Settings.  A step up in privacy for the cloud!

Apple ID

This is going to hopefully make life easier for most users.  Apple has confirmed that Apple ID will have Account Recovery Contacts.  With this, it’ll make resetting your password and maintaining access to your account easier than ever. Apple ID now has a Digital Legacy program as well that lets you designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your account in the event of a death.

Find My iPhone

Find my iPhone has pretty much stayed the same when it comes to the new iOS update.  Now you can not only find yourself, but you can also find your friends and families locations with continuous streaming.  Apple didn’t go into this too much, but you can also locate your device using the Find My network even if your device is powered off and/or erased.

That’s SUPER helpful when it comes to a device being stolen and somehow erased in the process.

These new features in iOS 15 and privacy settings are just a small and important bit of what’s to come with Apple.  Apple has also announced other updates such as new widgets, update on the Weather app, Accessibility, and even Translator and Notes!

For more information on the latest Apple update, check out Apple’s website for the iOS 15 preview.

To make sure your Apple products are safe and secured, call PCS today!

Amazon Sidewalk And What This Means For Your Connection

Amazon Sidewalk … How Does It Work And What Does This Mean For Your Connection

Starting June 8, Amazon’s smart devices will automatically be linked together all across the U.S. as a part of their Amazon Sidewalk network.
We’re here to tell you what happens when it launches and what this means for you and your internet connection at home.

What Is Amazon Sidewalk

Sidewalk is a shared network that is supposed to help their devices work even when you personally do not have internet connection in your home.  Amazon Sidewalk connects with your neighbors connection so that way their products are still able to work even when you or your neighbors have weak or no connection.  The goal is to create a low bandwidth network bridging all devices so that users can reboot malfunctioning equipment and even locate missing objects outside of the house.
However, Amazon Sidewalk runs off of device owners’ personal Wi-Fi which posts some security concerns.
Operated by Amazon at no charge to customers.

What Devices Support Sidewalk

  • Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
  • Echo (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Dot (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Dot for Kids (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen and newer)
  • Echo Plus (all generations)
  • Echo Show (all models and generations)
  • Echo Spot
  • Echo Studio
  • Echo Input
  • Echo Flex
  • Tile. Bluetooth tracker owners can use to keep tabs on their keys, wallet or other important items

Benefits And Concerns About Amazon Sidewalk

This seems to be ideal for users who want their Ring or Echo to continuously work even when their Wi-Fi is down.  Having the capability to still use your phone while seeing your cameras and/or Echo to still play music can help in multiple ways when your Wi-Fi connection is weak … But do you ever think how strange it is that you are using your neighbors connection to be able to make your devices work?
Take your Echo for example.  Sometimes your light on it will show red or even yellow when your connection is weak or does not work.  Instead of not having the device working, your device instead takes the connection from your neighbor to be able to allow the Echo to function normally … It’s like nothing ever happened, except that you are basically taking someone’s connection from their home to run your devices.  Strange to think about, isn’t it?  Your completely throwing out the idea of keeping your connection protected by sharing your connection with other Amazon users.

So, the benefit for this is that your Amazon Devices will continue to work, but the concerns are whether or not your internet connection is actually secured since you’re sharing your connection with other Amazon users.  The biggest issue is thinking if hackers will find ways to get into your accounts due to this.

Ways You Can Opt Out Of Sidewalk

Using The Alexa App

  • In your Amazon Alexa app, select the “More” icon at the lower right hand corner of the screen
  • Go to “Settings” > “Account Setting” > “Amazon Sidewalk.” (Just a note: if you’re not connected to any Echo or Ring devices, you will probably not see this option.)
  • Use the toggle to disable Sidewalk

Using The Ring App

  • In your Ring app, go into your Control Center by tapping the the three-lined icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen
  • Select “Sidewalk” and use the slide button to opt out
  • You’ll be ask to confirm your opt-out. You can opt back in the same way.

You’re not stuck using Amazon Sidewalk if you don’t want to!