Unannounced Apple Features For iOS 15!

Apple announced iOS 15 back in June at WWDC, but lacked to mention an important feature that can help us all when it comes to traveling and even other cool features Apple didn’t go into.

Redesign of Maps App

The redesign of the Maps app was mentioned, but it was not put into detail what would be happening other than a nice refresh. One cool thing that is happening with the Maps app is that now it will factor in weather conditions! BGR.com goes into detail about how the Maps app will be able to let you know the weather conditions, such as a flash flood warning, into it’s suggested route.
Not clear how many weather events the app will be capable of alerting Apple users about. It’s a smart addition either way and can help travelers stay warned or find other paths if there is a weather alert in that area.


Here is an example of what to expect when you are using Maps on iOS 15.

Drag-and-Drop Across Apps

The iPad has had it’s ability to drag-and-drop documents, texts or pictures between apps. Now, iPhone has it’s turn!  If you are going back and forth between Messages and Photos to share pictures from an event with coworkers, you can now drag-and-drop the from the Photos app to the Messages app.

To test out the new feature:
Open the Photos app and view your recent photos.
Don’t tap on a picture to open it full screen, instead place a finger on the photo and start to drag your finger across the screen.
Don’t lift your finger when the thumbnail starts to float over the rest of the photos, then switch back to the messages app.
You’ll see a green circle with a + sign in it show up on the thumbnail indicating that you can lift your finger and the photo will be placed in the text field, ready for you to send.

Real Time Snow or Rain Alerts From The iPhone Weather App

Now the Weather app is making it’s comeback. Apple now is having the Weather app alert when snow/rain is getting close to you! It will alert you on your phone a few minutes before it starts and then it will alert when the rain/snow is almost finished.
Once you’re running iOS 15, you can turn on the new precipitation alerts by opening the Weather app, then tapping the three-line icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
Next, tap the circle icon with the three dots in the top-right corner of the screen followed by Notifications.
Slide the switch next to My Location to the On position and then tap Done. If you have more cities added to the Weather app, you can also turn on alerts for each one.

We will keep you updated on more features about iOS 15 as more details unfold!

Phishing Emails – Ways To Detect and Prevent Attacks

Phishing has become one of the most common methods of cybercrime. Despite how much we think we know about scam emails, people still frequently fall victim.
We’re here show you how to detect a phishing email.

phishing scams

Message Is Sent From A Public Email Domain/Misspelled Domain

Sometimes, the hacker will try to use the same information as someone higher up in your organization (such as a president or manager) and use the same credentials but different domain. The one part to check specifically is the email domain. If the email is not recognizable, don’t click on anything!

One example is if the email is allegedly from PayPal, but the domain of the link does not include “paypal.com,” that’s a huge giveaway.  Looking at all your sources will help you identify what is legitimate and what is a malicious attack.

Make sure you are checking ALL parts of the email (not just the display name). Many of us don’t ever look at the email address that a message has come from, but rather just look at the display name. Hackers will use that against you by using the real sender’s picture and name that they are trying to impersonate. Looking into the email address that is sending you anything helps with being able to identify if it is legitimate or if it is a phishing email.

Email Is Poorly Written

When it comes to crafting phishing messages, scammers will often use a spellchecker or translation machine. It will give them all the right words but not necessarily in the proper context. Noticing poorly written emails will usually mean that it is coming from an outside source and it’s a spoof.  Keep an eye on poor grammar and spelling errors.

Message Has a Sense of Urgency

Phishing emails have a tendency of not only having grammatical errors, but it seems like they always have a sense of urgency. Hackers know that an email that seems urgent receives a little more attention to others emails that can be thrown into the back burner. Criminals know that we’re likely to drop everything if our superiors email us with a vital request. Taking the time to actually look at the email domain and how the email is typed out, you will see that it is a malicious attack and not anyone within the company.
Knowing the difference will help not only you, but the company itself with avoiding a data breach.

Suspicious Links

Sometimes when phishing emails are sent, you see either a button or a link that is attached. You can spot a suspicious link if the destination address doesn’t match the context of the rest of the email. Unfortunately, when a suspicious link is hidden behind a button, it is hard to determine if it is legitimist or if it is a fraud. Looking at the email address and identifying if it is real will help with determining whether it is legitimate or not.

Ways To Stay Protected

One way to make sure you’re alert and aware of phishing attacks is educating yourself is phishing training. Phishing training will allow you and your employees to detect phishing emails and understanding what to look for. With simulations, you will be able to identify many different ways that a phishing attack can occur and ways to prevent a data breach for your company.

For more information about phishing training, contact PCS!

More News From Microsoft About Windows 11

Microsoft has released more updates and info about Windows 11. Here is what to expect!

Start Menu Moved

The start menu is no longer at the bottom left of your PC desktop.  Don’t worry, you can move it back!  The redesign of the iconic Windows menu is now in the center of the screen rather than the corner.  It allows you to quickly see pinned apps, as well as a few recommended apps based on what you’ve used before.

Windows 11 also is coming with productivity shortcuts. If you  have multiple apps and windows going at once, you can hover over any window to reveal different options for organizing your screen. Maybe it’s two windows side by side, or one big window with a few smaller ones floating next to it. Click on the configuration you want, and your windows will “snap” into that shape.

Microsoft Won’t Confirm Which CPUs Work With Windows 11 … Yet

Microsoft is making another attempt at clarifying the minimum requirements for Windows 11, as stated in their blog post.  The post is clear that Intel 6th Gen Skylake and earlier CPUs, along with non-Zen AMD processors, will not meet “principles around security and reliability and minimum system requirements for Windows 11.”  That lines up with the company’s original statement that Windows 11 would require Intel 8th Gen Coffee Lake or Zen 2 CPUs and up, but there is some hope for Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake and Zen 1 users.

Where it gets a little confusing is the first Inside build of Windows 11 won’t require TPM 2.0 or specific CPUs.  Microsoft will be paying attention to users with Intel 7th Gen CPUs and AMD Zen 1 CPUs to see if they’re getting the performance that Microsoft is looking for, especially when it comes to reliability and security.

Download Windows 11 As A Free Upgrade Later This Year

Windows 11 should be available around the 2021 holiday season.  It will be a free update to owners of Windows 10 PCs.  There are some hardware requirements, such as a newer processor, four gigabytes of RAM and at least 64 gigabytes of storage. Microsoft has a PC-checker tool you can use.

Support on Windows 10 Software

If you don’t decide to upgrade, Microsoft confirmed that it will continue to support Windows 10 until October 14, 2025.  If you choose not to upgrade, you may lose opportunity on security settings that will continue to keep your PC and data safe. We highly suggest taking the opportunity to upgrade immediately when it is available.

We will continue report as more details unfold!

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!

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!

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!

The Dangers of Direct RDP Access!

Direct RDP Access Used To Be So Common That Now It’s Become More Dangerous.

Did you grow up leaving your doors unlocked and your cars unlocked?
I bet you didn’t have to worry about intruders coming in.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I see it anymore.
Direct RDP access is just leaving your door unlocked for an intruder to come in!

Let’s go over why direct RDP access is dangerous.

What Is Direct RPD Access

The Remote Desktop Protocol (also known as RDP) is used to allow remote access to a computer.  Once you log into a computer, you are able to access everything the way you were able to working on the desktop. RDP is very easy to use and widely implemented. Remote Desktop even comes built-in to most versions of Microsoft Windows.  When it is used within a private network, it’s a very strong business tool. Unfortunately, it’s not secure enough to safely expose to the Internet.

What Can Happen With Direct RDP Access

Hackers are able to get into the information easier than you think.  They can target a specific business and they can act as an employee to gain access to administrative accounts.  Once they gain access, it gives them leverage to steal data, destroy data, install malware or ransomware, or even just staying under the radar and using the resources to host their own services or use as an intermediary to commit other crimes.
Most common is seeing employees getting locked out of their systems/accounts as a hacker forces access with their password.  Then the damage is done and a data breach has occurred.

What You Can Do To Prevent This

As we used above, the easiest way to avoid this is to simply close the door!  Closing down the ports to RDP and reduce the attack. There are so many different tools and protocols that can be used to provide businesses with the safety they need with secured access.

A few examples are as followed:
Setup VPN (Virtual Private Network) that must be connected first before using RDP.
Using a multifactor authentication mechanism can be implemented to augment traditional password authentication.

Another way to prevent a data breach from occurring is to contact your IT company for them to setup everything for you and your company that will keep your business safe.

Close the door and lock it so hackers can’t get in! Avoid intruders!

For more information or you want to get your company on the right track to safety, contact PCS!

Image VS File-Based Backups … The Great Debate!

Image-based backups VS file based back-ups are tricky. 

Knowing when you should use which is even harder.
Knowing what is best for you comes down to what kind of information you are looking to save and back-up.
Let’s go over the difference and what would be best for you and your company.
The main question is … What are you looking to recover?

Difference Between Image VS File-Based Backup’s

Image-based backups preserve a copy of a machine’s operating system. That includes system state and application configurations, as well as the data associated with that machine.  It’s basically an image of your entire operating system including files, executive programs, and OS configurations.  It works best if it is necessary to bac k up a VMware or Hyper-V virtual machine. This is very simple to configure type of backup where you just select an entire drive, partition, or an entire machine, which typically backs up the entire selection you have selected.

File-based backups will back up each file on your PC.  It will save the files, but not the applications that created them. If you did not setup your file backup to save “all” the documents on your machine, then you won’t be able to restore them. It is reasonable when it is necessary to copy separate files so that they can be recovered to any other system. File backups basically come down to you selecting some files and folders that you want to back up and then where you want those file level backups to go.


File-based backups are usually more flexible way to doing backups, scheduling, and are normally smaller backups.

Image-based backups are usually better in disaster scenarios when an entire system restore is required.

What Type of Backup is Recommended?

Now that we have established the difference between the two, the major question stands … Which one is recommended? Both is adequate when having back-ups.

A good backup setup would usually include:
1. An image backup once a month.
2. A full file level backup once a week.
3. A differential file level backup every day other than the full backup day.

This type of schedule will most often help give you an easy and quick way to get files and folders back.  Having extra backup to be able to recover any and all files will be a huge impact to your business information.

 

Need help backing up your computer? Don’t know where to start? Contact PCS and we can help!