Microsoft hints at some exciting Windows 12 developments

Microsoft hints at some exciting Windows 12 developments

We’re fickle creatures.

Windows 11 still feels like a new toy, yet we’ve already heard (reliable) speculation about Windows 12 arriving as soon as next year. And now it’s all we can think about!

What will it look like?

What improvements will we see?

Will there be new features?

We can’t answer these questions with certainty just yet, but there are whispers of new features that could be big news for businesses.

Three in particular have got us excited.

First (and probably most obvious) is the inclusion of more AI functionality. From automation to chatbots, AI has exploded in recent months. It just makes sense that Microsoft will harness this power to bring us a more impressive operating system.

We’re likely to see better AI analysis of our content, and prompts to help us begin projects or choose apps to help get things done. It will also help us speed up what we’re doing with improved intuition for what we’ll do next.

We do know that Microsoft wants to bring us faster updates and better security.

It’s likely things will be split into different sections rather than having the entire OS as a single entity as it stands today. That means updates to different elements will be able to run in the background while you continue to work, and different people may be granted access to each partition for improved security.

Microsoft also intends to make the Windows 12 experience more modular. The benefit of creating different components in this way is that higher-powered devices will get the maximum Windows experience, while lower-powered devices will still be able to do everything they need, running the Edge browser, Office tools, or web apps, for instance.

Some of these features may be reliant on dedicated hardware and upgraded equipment and we’re waiting for more announcements on that. As soon as we hear, you’ll be the first to know!

If you haven’t yet made the move to Windows 11, now’s a good time. Get in touch if you need any help or advice.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Criminals are exploiting AI to create more convincing scams

Criminals are exploiting AI to create more convincing scams

One of the many cool things about the new wave of Artificial Intelligence tools is their ability to sound convincingly human.

AI chatbots can be prompted to generate text that you’d never know was written by a robot. And they can keep producing it – quickly, and with minimal human intervention.

So it’s no surprise that cyber criminals have been using AI chatbots to try to make their own lives easier.

Police have identified the three main ways crooks have found to use the chatbot for malicious reasons.

1. Better phishing emails

Until now, terrible spelling and grammar have made it easy to spot many phishing emails. These are intended to trick you into clicking a link to download malware or steal information. AI-written text is way harder to spot, simply because it isn’t riddled with mistakes.

Worse, criminals can make every phishing email they send unique, making it harder for spam filters to spot potentially dangerous content.

2. Spreading misinformation

“Write me ten social media posts that accuse the CEO of the Acme Corporation of having an affair. Mention the following news outlets”.  Spreading misinformation and disinformation may not seem like an immediate threat to you, but it could lead to your employees falling for scams, clicking malware links, or even damage the reputation of your business or members of your team.

3. Creating malicious code

AI can already write pretty good computer code and is getting better all the time. Criminals could use it to create malware.

It’s not the software’s fault – it’s just doing what it’s told – but until there’s a reliable way for the AI creators to safeguard against this, it remains a potential threat.

The creators of AI tools are not the ones responsible for criminals taking advantage of their powerful software. ChatGPT creator OpenAI, for example, is working to prevent its tools from being used maliciously.

What this does show is the need to stay one step ahead of the cyber crooks in everything we do. That’s why we work so hard with our clients to keep them protected from criminal threats, and informed about what’s coming next.

If you’re concerned about your people falling for increasingly sophisticated scams, be sure to keep them updated about how the scams work and what to look out for.

If you need help with that, get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Best Practices for Managed IT Services in Small Business Environments

Best Practices for Managed IT Services in Small Business Environments

choose the best managed IT services provider IT Haven Pro Small businesses often face unique challenges when managing their IT systems. They typically have limited budgets, staff, time, and resources, making keeping up with the latest technology trends and security threats challenging. By hiring managed IT services, small business owners or team members don’t have to wear the IT Specialist hat along with all the other tasks they are juggling. 

Managed IT services provide small businesses access to a team of IT professionals who can help them manage their technology infrastructure. These services can include everything from help desk support to network monitoring and security to software and hardware management. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of managed IT services for small businesses and provide some best practices for choosing a managed IT services provider. 

Benefits of Managed IT Services for Small Businesses 

#1: Cost & Time Savings 

One of the most significant benefits of managed IT services is cost savings. Many small businesses end up with a long laundry list of apps, services, and programs they don’t fully understand to “manage” their IT needs. Often, these tools end up conflicting with each other and leave substantial gaps where hackers can slip through, or systems can fail. 

By outsourcing your IT needs to a managed services provider, you don’t have to worry about the ongoing costs of hardware and software upgrades. Your provider will provide all of the correct resources for your business, saving you on those overlapping fees. Plus, you have the added cost-effectiveness of avoiding the high expense of hiring and training an in-house IT team. 

#2: Increased Business Productivity 

Managed IT services can help increase productivity by minimizing downtime and resolving issues quickly. The last thing you want is for your staff to be sitting around while they wait for tech issues to be fixed! With a team of IT professionals available around the clock, you can ensure your systems are always up and running smoothly. 

Plus, forgetting to back up your computer systems and data constantly is commonplace. Sadly, it can lead to years of hard work going down the drain if your entire data network disappears overnight. Fortunately, managed IT services provide data backup, so you never have to worry about that again! 

#3: Improved Business & Client Security

As technology improves, so do hackers; thus, so much your IT team. Security is a top concern for small businesses, as they are often targets of cyber-attacks. It is never a good day when client information is stolen or systems fail due to a cyber-attack. Managed IT services can help improve security by providing regular security updates, monitoring potential threats, and implementing best practices for data protection.

#4: Access to Expertise & Continued Education

Unfortunately, small businesses may not have the budget or resources to hire a team of IT professionals with a diverse set of skills, nor can they juggle continued education in technology while managing a business. Managed IT services provide access to a team of experts with a range of knowledge and experience, ensuring that you have the right resources to address any IT needs that arise, now or in the future!

Best Practices for Choosing a Managed IT Services Provider managed IT services for small businesses IT Haven Pro Tri-Cities

As you can see, managed IT services are incredibly beneficial to employ in a small business. However, not all managed IT services are the same. Prior to choosing a provider, we recommend considering the following tips in your hiring process. 

Determine Your IT Needs 

Before choosing a managed IT services provider, it’s crucial to determine your IT needs. This includes assessing your current systems and identifying areas where you need additional support. We recommend having an in-depth chat with whoever has been managing your IT thus far. If that is you, we advise chatting with small businesses similar to yours that have hired managed IT services to see which services they need the most. You should also consider your budget and any specific compliance requirements for your industry. 

Research Local Managed IT Services Providers 

Once you’ve identified your IT needs, it’s time to research managed IT services providers. Look for providers with experience working with small businesses in your industry. Of course, you should check their credentials and certifications to ensure they have the expertise to support your specific needs. Plus, you want to verify their reputation and reviews. 

Evaluate IT Services Offered 

Not all managed IT services providers offer the same services. It’s essential to evaluate the services offered by each provider to ensure they meet your specific needs. Look for providers that provide a range of services, including help desk support, network monitoring and security, and hardware and software management. Conversely, you want your provider to solely work in this field. If they offer other industry services, like website building or social media management, they are likely a jack-of-all-trades rather than the expert you need. 

Consider Communication and Availability 

Communication is key when working with a managed IT services provider. Look for providers that are responsive and available around the clock to address any issues that arise. You should also consider their communication methods, such as phone, email, or online chat, to ensure they can provide support in a way that works for your business. Don’t forget about on-site assistance! Your managed IT services provider should be able to come to your location for assistance if needed, so you will want to avoid outsourcing your IT to other countries or states. 

Review Service Level Agreements

Service level agreements (SLAs) outline the terms of the services provided by a managed IT services provider. Reviewing these agreements carefully is important to ensure they meet your needs. Look for providers that offer SLAs with clear expectations and guarantees for response times and issue resolution. 

Check for Scalability and Flexibility

Lastly, as your business grows, your IT needs will change. Choosing an IT services provider that can scale its services to meet your changing needs is critical. Look for providers that offer flexible pricing models and can easily add or remove services as needed. Plus, check on their continuing education plans. The tech industry is constantly evolving, and you want to ensure that your IT team is keeping up with the latest trends, so your tech doesn’t turn into a dinosaur!

managed IT services in small business environments IT Haven Pro

IT Haven Pro – Your Local Managed IT Services Provider

If you are a small to mid-sized business in the Columbia Basin, WA, or Northern Oregon, IT Haven Pro offers you a safe and secure place for your data. Contact us today to learn how we can help you elevate your business and ease your worries.

3 essential security tools for every business

3 essential security tools for every business

Your data is one of your most valuable business assets. Keeping it safe should be one of your main priorities. So if you don’t have much security in place, there’s a minimum standard you should be implementing, right now.

There are dozens of security solutions available that all perform different tasks – from preventing criminals gaining access, to recognizing attacks in progress, and then limiting the damage that can be done. There’s no one-size-fits-all as every business has different priorities and different types of data to protect.

Here are three essentials that every business should put in place as a basic level of protection.

1. A firewall

A firewall monitors the internet traffic coming into and leaving your IT network. It acts as a wall between your network and the outside world. It’s your first line of defense against an intruder breaking in to your network.

2. A password manager for everyone in the business.

A password manager stores all your credentials securely, and can also generate nearly impossible-to-guess passwords for all your accounts and applications.

That’s useful against brute force attacks, where cyber criminals essentially try to force their way into your system by guessing the password. It also stops you writing down your passwords somewhere ‘safe’!

3. A VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN is important for any remote or hybrid workers in your business.

It means your employees can access your network from wherever they’re working, without worrying that their online activity is being watched by a criminal.

VPNs make your browsing completely private, hiding your device and location details, and anything you download. If you or your employees regularly use public Wi-Fi – especially to access your network – a VPN is essential.

These are our absolute minimum recommendations.

The strongest security uses additional tools like Multi-Factor Authentication to prove the identity of all users, and antivirus software to deal with any intrusions.

These work together to create a multi-layered security shield to defend against threats on many fronts.

But it’s important you create a security plan that’s right for your specific business. It’s a good idea to seek some professional help.

Not everyone’s as excited about IT security as we are! But we definitely have a passion for it.

If we can help you, get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.

Microsoft 365 makes Multi-Factor Authentication easier

Microsoft 365 makes Multi-Factor Authentication easier

Microsoft is planning to enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) directly in its Outlook app for many 365 business users.

MFA is a vital tool to help protect your online accounts from cyber criminals. It works by generating a second, single-use passcode every time you log into an account. It’s usually sent to an authenticator app on your phone that you have to download and set up first.

Security codes can also be sent via SMS text message, by a phone call, or you might be given a special USB key to plug into your computer.

The process is often made quicker by using a biometric login like your fingerprint or face ID. It’s a minor chore, but the protection it offers far outweighs the couple of extra seconds it takes to access your account.

Microsoft isn’t so sure about those extra seconds, though. If the tech giant can save you that time, it’s going to do it. That’s why it’s looking to streamline MFA for Microsoft 365 business accounts.

It’s rolling out the improvement by building MFA directly into the Outlook app in a feature called Authenticator Lite. Until now, it’s relied on a separate authenticator app or sending login codes.

There’s no news yet for those of us who want faster authentication on our personal PCs. If Microsoft does announce plans to make this feature available to more hardware or operating systems, we’ll update you with any news.

If you don’t already use MFA for your apps and online accounts, we recommend that all businesses implement it as soon as possible. The additional security it offers protects against the vast majority of today’s cyber threats.

For more help and advice about implementing MFA or getting the best from Microsoft 365, just get in touch.

Published with permission from Your Tech Updates.