9 Cool Features to Use in Windows 10

9 Cool Features to Use in Windows 10 Once computers and laptops are configured to our liking, we use to approach them routinely. After the login page, we do boring stuff, such as opening outlook to check our emails. We fire up the browser to check our bank account, we print pages, we use Word for writing and Excel to fill out spreadsheets.A few days ago, a friend of mine in Westchester asked me if I would show him if Windows 10 has hidden features that would make the user experience more interesting and productive in some ways. After researching across several resources, I came up with some cool features that I will describe below: and everyone running Windows 10 should take advantage of them: 1- WINDOWS CLOCK If you want to add more than one clock to the actual Windows 10 interface, you can do that by going into settings, time, and language. There you will see all the settings for your clock. You can add clock for different times zones if you are interested in other areas of the world and if you have to check the time zone before jumping into a Zoom meeting. Adding a new time zone is useful if, for example, you work as IT professional and you have to remote into computers. The second clock will be added as a secondary clock and will be visible under the primary clock. You can see the second clock after hovering on the primary clock at the bottom right or by clicking on it. In total, you can add two more clocks to the primary one. 2- STEPS RECORDER Head down to the search box and type “steps recorder”. You can use this Windows 10 feature If you have a problem your computer and you want to try to show someone what is wrong with it. As computer troubleshooting errors can be clues for the help desk, users can show the error code that’s coming up. You can push “record” and every time you click the screen, it will record those instances. While you are recording, on the right there is a button where you can add comments. Don’t panic if the screen becomes blurry because that is a prompt to select an area where you can focus the recording on. After you stop recording, you are prompted with another window highlighting the recorded steps. You can also save the recording to a zip file. Once you extract the zip file, you can open the .MHT file with Internet Explorer. Don’t use Microsoft Edge to open the file because it will not work. 3- GOD MODE God Mode is a cool feature that converts an empty folder in your desktop to the control panel and much more. After having enabled God Mode, users will be able to see connected devices, updates, programs, folder structure and everything will be gathered in a convenient list.Right-click on a free space on the desktop. Click on “New” and “Folder”.Enter the folder name GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}.The God Mode folder will now appear on the desktop with all the control panel functions. 4- REPLACE COMMAND PROMPT WITH POWERSHELL If you are an advanced user and prefer to use Power Shell, there is a simple way to replace the Command Prompt with PowerShell. In the search box of Windows 10 located at the bottom left, you can type “Taskbar Settings”. Once the taskbar interface shows up you can turn on the “Replace Command Prompt with Windows Power Shell in the Menu”. The slider button is very simple to toggle, and it does not require advanced knowledge. 5- EMOJI With a simple stroke, it is possible to save same time when adding Emojis to our work. Let’s say we are working on a Word document or on a Power Point presentation and we need to add some Emoji, we can simply type the following: Which is the Windows button + the period sign. 6- NEARBY SHARING If you’re familiar with Apple’s airdrop, Microsoft now has a similar feature called nearby sharingthat will let you share content with other Windows 10 computers connected to your network. To enable Nearby Sharing, go to the search box and type “Share”. Click on “Shared Experience settings”. When you select share in Microsoft Word and many other programs including photos, you should see nearby computers. 7- BUILT-IN CALCULATOR Many of us are already familiar with the built-in calculator, but the Windows10 calculator can do the extra mile for its users. When we open it up, we see it that it works in standard mode, but if we click on the three lines on the top left of it, a wide arrange of new features comes up. The calculator can become a scientific calculator that can calculate logarithms. It can be also used by a programmer as it has program functions and, at the bottom, it can also convert currency, temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius and vice versa, time (hours, seconds, milliseconds etc.) and speed (km to miles and vice versa). 8- TIME DIFFERENCE This Windows 10 feature is helpful when you want to see the time difference between different areas of the world. In the search tab at the bottom left, you can type “Alarm” and when the Alarms and Clock app shows up, click on it. Go to the clock tab. The tab will show primarily your location, but if you click at the bottom right on the + plus sign, you can add a location and it will calculate the time difference between your current location and the new location. If you have friends, family or business and you have to speak to them, that is a good reminder to you of the time zone that people live in. 9- STORAGE SENSE Storage Sense is a nice feature to have especially if we have a computer or a laptop with a smaller hard drive. The feature can also automate the process of getting rid of worthless junk on

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Did you Accidentally Delete Files on Windows? Here’s How to Recover Them

Did you Accidentally Delete Files on Windows? Here’s How to Recover Them There is nothing more frustrating that seeing our files gone. When we are working on something and hit accidentally the delete button on the keyboard, we pause for a second to understand why this happened.There is no reason to be sad because when it comes to deleted files, they aren’t actually deleted from your machine; they’re really just hidden from view in order to be overwritten by the PC later on down the line. One of the simplest ways to get your files back is to check the recycle bin and this method is a lot more effective if you have just deleted your files. A lot of people don’t often check the recycle bin but most times you can find what you’re looking for if you just check the trash. Double click on the recycle bin to open it and go ahead and look through all the files that are there to see if the ones that you’re looking for are able to be recovered. Then go ahead and right-click on the files that you want to restore and choose restore. The restore button will move back the file to its original location. You can also drag the files out of the recycle bin and drop it on a new location where they will be stored. Use a data recovery software such as Disk Drill. It’s a powerful all-in-one software suite that not only recovers files but also protects files and disks from danger in the first place. A great feature of this software is that you can recover up to 500 Megabytes of data for free before being prompted to pay for a license. Usually, half terabyte is more than enough for documents photos. One important caveat is that you may want to download and install Disk Drill to a different drive than the one you’re trying to recover the data from so if you’re trying to recover files from your C Drive for example it’s really recommended you download and install the program to an external drive. Once you have launched Disk Drill the interface will show the drives that are connected. On the left, different panels display features such as the data recovery as well as the drive backup and data protection. To recover the missing files, start the scan itself and select the disk or partition where the files were in the first place from the list presented and then click on the search for lost data button to initiate the search. Once the scan is finished you can review the files within the file structure. If you’re looking for photos just select photos, and the software will help you to sort through all the different picture files. Put a checkmark next to the files you want to recover and choose a save location, possibly a flash drive or another external hard drive. Use a file recovery file like Recuva. Download the free version of Recuva from here. Install the software on an external hard drive like suggested for Disk Drill. Time and the installation of the software to an external hard drive can lead to successful recovery, whereas hesitation and installing recovery software in the same hard drive where we need to recover the data from can lead to no results, as software will overwrite the data we are looking for. If you use – and I hope that you are doing so – the built-in Windows backup utility, File History, it will be enough to browse to the external hard drive that contains your files previously backed up via File History and you can manage to recover the files you have accidentally deleted by using the version history feature. Contrary to Disk Drill and Recuva, there is no software that needs to be installed and you can recover the files back to your C drive, as there are no overwriting issues with File History. However, the only caveat is that you need to have set up the back up of your computer earlier than the accidental loss of your files. File History looks similar to its MAC counterpart Time Machine, because it offers the possibility to browse to the different version history each file and folder have. You can use the app Windows File Recovery that you can download from the Microsoft Store. The application works with the command prompt, but its use should not be intimidating.Type winfr and the letter of the drive where you try to get the files from. For example, if the source disk is C and you are trying to recover all .docx files in C, you will type the following syntax in the command prompt: Winfr C: D: /n *.docxWhere C is the source disk and D the destination disk, possibly an external hard drive that will contain the word files we are trying to recover. However, if working with the command prompt is not your forte, the developers of Winfrgui have created the interface that interacts with the terminal. You can download and install Winfrgui from here and install it on your computer without incurring in the overwriting issues described in Recuva and Diskdrill. All Disk Drill, Recuva and Winfrgui are free and can recover accidentally deleted data from internal hard drives, external hard drives and flash drive as well. The main difference between the built-in Windows tools and the third-party recovery software is that the Windows tools do not require to be installed to an external hard drive like Recuva and Disk Drill.

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The Main Tech Support Tools IT Professionals Should Have

The Main Tech Support Tools IT Professionals Should Have Information technology is a business like any other; it can be exposed to lawsuits, malpractice and other negative experiences. After many years in the field, I thought I could provide a guide on how to approach the job and what are the tools of the trade. I have compiled this guide by dividing the tools in three sections, legal toos, hardware tools and software. For each category, I provide a description of what each tool does so that even non-admins can understand the wide array of instruments computer experts use every day at work. With that said, let’s begin with the legal tools: 1- LEGAL TOOLS 2- HARDWARE TOOLS I had the Thinkpad T 470 with 14 inches screen for 6 years and it still works fine. With such a laptop, tech support can use the Ethernet port to troubleshoot a router or a firewall, login into a network attached storage, engage in remote sessions with users and participate in Zoom meetings. The laptop for an IT expert should be equipped with at least 512 SSD or NVME hard drive, 16 GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 processor. I have used this tool a lot to clone laptop hard drives on pc and MAC computers and to recover spinning drives that were not bootable anymore when plugged in into their pcs. It’s a very helpful tool that can also host a temporary backup to an external device because, at the end, there is not so much difference between an external hard drive and an internal one. Recently I was able to experience how sensitive to damage HDMI cables are compared to the VGA as I had to replace HDMI wires very frequently on TVs and monitors hooked up to pc and laptops. 3- SOFTWARE TOOLS This piece of software will also display what devices are alive and which are dead, including their MAC address. A few months ago, I had a client of mine who did not know where the server was in her network and with Advanced IP Scanner I was able to find it in few minutes. The software will display the temperature and the health status in percentage. The power on hours feature on the top right of the picture shows how many hours the hard drive has been on. In the diagnostics tab with the smaller blue dots, if the uncorrectable sector count reaches the 200 marks, the hard drive needs to be replaced. IT tools are invaluable to IT specialists, who use them to assist them in their jobs. As a computer specialist, you will not be able to support your clients without carrying a good array of tech support tools. Achieving your goals without the right tools can be like trying to reach a destination without a map. While all of the properties of success are within you, having the right IT tools can make the difference between success and failure.

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7 Productivity Tools to Supercharge your New Windows 11 Computer

7 Productivity Tools to Supercharge your New Windows 11 Computer Once you get a new computer that satisfies your productivity needs and has enough storage space, I think that you may want to consider to install the productivity software I will be recommending in this article. The tools I am proposing are free and can help you complete tasks in a shorter amount of time. One important consideration, though: operating systems are open ecosystems, in that they can be enriched with productivity software, app and other utilities to accomplish things in a professional and clean way. Once you have installed all the required updates in your Windows 11, you may want to pick up some of the best productivity tools for your new computer. But first, let’s describe what thiese pieces of software are able to do: 1- ANYDESK Anydesk is a remote support software that can be used by IT professionals and private users as well. It is supported both on Windows and Macs and it’s very easy to use. Once both the local computer and the remote computer have Anydesk installed, the remote computer user will read the 9 numbers that show up on Anydesk and the local user on the other end will remote in. The software comes with very cool features such as the chance to use unattended access, text chats and the possibility of having multiple sessions by opening new browser tabs. The file transfer feature of Any Desk makes this product a great tool for those who need to access resources remotely. 2- FILEZILLA Filezilla is a tools that moves files and folders between computers by using a protocol called File Transfer Protocol. FTP is used to move files between computers, between servers and between servers and computers. Another popular use of the program is when webmasters upload files from their computers to their web hosting account. For example, if you have stored on your computer WordPress files that need to be uploaded to your domain, you can do that with Filezilla. Its interface is split in right and left side. On the left interface you will see the files and folders stored locally in your computer and after you have filled out the remote server information on 4 boxes on the top, the remote server files will show up on the right of the Filezilla’s interface. 3- GOOGLE CHROME Chrome is the default browser used by Google and Googlers and I have included it in this article because it is a non-Microsoft product. As users are not fully used to Microsft Edge, Chrome is easy to use for its speed, font clarity and the popular bookmarks tab that still atttracts thousands of users every day. The 2021 browser market share shown in the picture above still shows the strong Chrome trend. If you start using Chrome for a period of time, it will store safely the passwords you have used to login into browsers and you will also have a chance to retrieve those passwords if you don’t remember them anymore. Also, Chrome and Gmail are very well linked together because all the settings will be stored in your Google account , including your emails, your browsing preferences and other sensitive data. The Chrome webstore is also a great marketplace to pickup Chrome extensions you like to use. Pinterest and Malware bytes browser guard are the most popular Chrome extensions I generally use almost on a daily basis. 4- NINITE Ninite saves you a lot of time when you have a new computer and you need to install software. Ninite allows you to install software all at once. If you go to, you can select the apps you want to install in your computer and the software will download the packages for you. The apps range from browser, to documents, security and media. With Ninite, you don’t need to go to each individual site to download the app again, because Ninite will do the bulk of the download for you. 5- VLC VLC is a free and open source media player that can solve several annoying problems presented by the Windows DVD default player. When Windows 10 and 11 players cannot read dvd because they don’t have the updated Codec package installed, VLC will solve the problem by reading all video and sound files with no issues. One of the cool features of VLC is also the chance to rip DVD to mp4 files so that you can convert physical DVDs into Mp4 or AVI files. If you decide to use VLC as default media player you have to adjust the settings of your pc which are by default all using built-in Microsoft products. Go to the search bar at the bottom left of your screen and type “Default Apps”. There you can change the music player and the video player to VLC. 6-LIBRE OFFICE Libre Office is a great alternative to Microsoft Office and it is free. The software is made by Oracle and is very popular among the people who do not want to spend the money on Microsoft Office or students who have budget constraints. One of the main difference with Microsoft Office is that Libre Office does not come with an email program included in the suite. Use the browser to read your emails or you can download Thunderbird from Mozilla if you need to download and read your emails on your computer. On the other hand, one of the main downsides of Libre Office is that it does not a have a web version available like its counterpart from Microsoft. As Microsoft has expanded its range of cloud features with One Drive, Libre Office does not support data syncrhonization like One Drive. Therefore, you can still work locally on your computer with Libre Office but you may want to backup frequently your machine to the cloud or to an external hard drive to avoid losing your files. Another setting you want to tweak on Libre Office before

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How Changing DNS Can Improve the Security of Our Network

How Changing DNS Can Improve the Security of Our Network One of the main pillars of cybersecurity is the DNS. The Domain Name System is an intangible element of the Internet. Every time we research something on the Internet, the DNS gets activated by displaying in our browser the website we are looking for. People use DNS thousands of times a day without even knowing it: every time a user connects to a website, opens an app on their phone, or updates software, their device queries DNS servers to find the IP address associated with the domain. Most organizations don’t bother to secure the DNS layer, but they should, and even home users should be able to make modifications in their network to secure DNS. LEARN HOW TO ADD AN EXTRA LAYER OF SECURITY BY REPLACING THE DNS SERVERS IN YOUR BROWSERIn simple words dns works like a phone book: if you want to call someone you check the phone book to get their phone number; similarly, if you want to open a website, the dns gives you the IP address for that website. To open a website, you need to know its server IP address because computers only understand IP addresses and not domain names, but can you imagine if we were all forced to remember each IP address for every website we visit? That is impossible and that’s why DNS kicks in. We just have to remember the domain name and the dns will resolve the IP address for that domain. POTENTIAL ISSUES IF YOU OR YOUR IT DEPARTMENT DOESN’T SECURE YOUR DNS The problem of not securing the dns is due to an old misconception that it would be enough to install an antivirus on your pc or MAC and your computer will be enough protected. The second error is based on the conviction that the DNS servers installed in the routers of the major ISP such as the ones operating in Westchester, NY, Connecticut (Optimum and Verizon) are safe enough and we should not be bothered changing the DNS in our routers. As a matter of fact, there are DNS attacks that can be carried forward and that can redirect our Internet searches in places where we don’t want to be and where criminals live and prosper. Here are some of these DNS attacks: 1- DNS Hijacking: it occurs when cyber criminals hack the dns either by changing the dns server address or by intercepting the communication between your device and the dns server. After hacking, perpetrators replace the actual server IP address with their site. For example, if you try to open you will be redirected to the hackers’ page where fake advertisements or bogus websites will try to steal your confidential information. 2- DNS Spoofing and DNS Cache Poisoning: dns spoofing is an attack in which the attackers spoof the dns result without changing the dns server settings on the end user computer: a typical dns spoofing act is cache poisoning or dns poisoning. In dns cache poisoning the attacker spoofed the dns cache by redirecting the user to the malicious site. The dns cache is used to speed up the dns resolve process when you open a website its IP address is resolved from the dns server then it is stored as a dns cache so that you don’t have to contact the dns server again next time you try to open the same website the dns cache stored on your computer quickly resolves the IP address speeding up the whole process. Hackers can poison this cache by replacing the IP address, so you are directed to their malicious site instead of the actual site.The difference between dns spoofing and dns hijacking is that dns hijacking or (aka dns redirection) typically involves malware infection that changes the dns settings on user’s computer. Malware replaces the dns server address with the malicious one so all dns queries are sent to the hacker’s dns server. DNS spoofing, on the other hand, is an act where hackers spoof the dns records cached on your computer and use it to their own advantage. HOW YOU CAN PROTERCT YOUR NETWORK FROM DNS HACKING 1- Install a good antimalware product such as Malware bytes. The reason why I recommend Malware bytes is because it has a free browser security plugin, Malware Browser Guard, which will shield up all the Internet searches you make and block all the nasty popups that can lead to hijacking your DNS.2- Use DNS Security: if you own or run a website, you should enable this feature that will enhance the security of the DNS by using cryptographic keys. Basically, DNSSEC creates a chain of trust through encrypted keys that cannot be spoofed or intercepted by criminals.3- Change the Default Password of your Router: as I have reiterated many times, I recommend to avoid the username admin anywhere in our network but if you cannot change the word admin, try to create a very complex password made of multiple types of characters (minimum 10).4- Use a VPN: vpn allows you to browse the internet securely and the chances to get hijacked are reduced to a minimum, because VPN creates a safe tunnel between your searches and the VPN provider.5- Use Secure DNS: if you are able to replace the DNS servers in your router with safe DNS servers such as Google public DNS, Cloudflare or Cisco Open DNS, all the queries your network will make will be resolved to your browser after a check of trust is made by these much safer DNS servers. Here is the list of the main free Public DNS providers: I would just go with Google, Cloudflare or Open DNS and would live the others as a backup. The table above shows Primary Address and Secondary Address because the DNS have to be redundant, that is, if the primary is unavailable, the secondary will step in and viceversa. WHAT PUBLIC DNS DON’T DO TO YOUR NETWORK 1- DNS

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The Role of Human Factor in Spreading Malware

The Role of Human Factor in Spreading Malware We all know that technology is made by people and for the people but bad technology is made by intelligent people to harm unaware people. Have you ever thought that at the far end of a malware attack there are very sophisticated programmers and at the opposite end there are people who barely know what a virus is and don’t know how to operate a computer safely? Malware usually does not target those who are in between, that is, people who are able to pay attention to how to stay safe online. The human factor in cybersecurity plays a huge role and it is usually replaced by the expression “users’ education”. Companies are nowadays spending millions of dollars educating people about the risks involved in a cyber attack. The target of a hacker is to find out where users are most vulnerable and access their network. Read my articles about: 1- The first line of defense against ransomware for small businesses 2- If you are a residential user, learn what to do if you believe you have been hacked 3- Learn to take 7 proactive steps to protect your business in Westchester from Malware THE PORTS OF ENTRY OF A MALWARE CAMPAIGN: LEARN WHERE HACKERS GAIN FOOTHOLD As you can see, all these attacks were crafted by humans and targeted unaware humans. Elements that define users’ risk: what type of human behavior determines that the user is at risk? Ransomware is a such serious infection in that it can not only steal information from single users or corporations but it can also weaken the infrastructure of services used every day. Attacks are getting more sophisticated than ever: think about the ransomware installed in the IT admin tool Kaseya that spread across the networks Kaseya and other IT admin were managing. It took weeks to remediate the issue, patch software and networks to finally get rid of the infection. Hackers hide in the most unthinkable places and wait for their prey to come out: unbelievable. Regular training that shows the latest tactics used by attacker is the best way to prevent networks from getting infected. As I often said, security is a process and not a one time task; the evolution of malware and its tactics should be used as a source of knowledge to educate system administrators and users on the dangers of a such fast moving environment, where scopes and targets can rapidly change. Unfortunately, as computers are getting more secure and giving hard time to hackers, mobile threats are now on the rise. Hackers know that we all use more our mobile phones than computers to conduct business and make payments. Text messages with infected links can grant access to our contacts and send spam messages using our phones, unbeknownst to us. Persuasive messages range from package deliveries notifications to amazon purchases. The role of the cloud is also to be mentioned here. Hackers are using the cloud to host their malware and to create suspicious applications that can collect users behaviors before crafting an attack. This type of spyware is very sophisticated and is usually defeated in a corporate environment by whitelisting only a restricted number of applications users can use. For residential users, however, things can be a little bit more complicated as their digital behavior is more permissive, but it will be sufficient to say at the moment that users should only download apps on their phones from the App Store and Google Play. The pandemic has also made more difficult to track data loss prevention and in 2021 we have seen an increase in insider threats. This table provided by Proofpoint shows that protecting computers and laptop’s USB ports can prevent hackers from leaking information to muddy environments: I have posted an article with an interesting video detailing instructions on how to secure USB devices on Windows 10, but the main requirement is that, in order to do that, the machine needs to run Windows 10 Pro and not the home version. Human factors matter more than the technical aspects of an attack. Cyber criminals always look at what can be leveraged and access that can be exploited. Regular training can help users spot malicious emails and bad links contained in bogus websites.

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Should I Use Extenders to Boost the WIFI in the Office and at Home?

Should I Use Extenders to Boost the WIFI in the Office and at Home? As the pandemic and its aftermath have laid out a new workplace settings, home and offices have been redesigned to redistribute users across spaces. Homes have been adjusted with more furniture and computer equipment to make more comfortable working from home; offices, on the other hand, are now prioritizing gatherings and meetings. The typical scenario of the Westchester’s workforce is a hybrid: many users work from home and a couple of times a week still report to their office in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, where they participate in meetings and events. Needless to say that in both settings having a good Internet connection is paramount. The pandemic has already tested Internet companies like Optimum and Verizon to upgrade their infrastructure to meet the needs of residential users forced by the disease to work from home. CHECK OUT MY ARTICLE WHERE I PROVIDE A CHECKLIST FOR WIFI DEADSPOTS IN YOUR HOUSE PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS FOR HOME USERS DEALING WITH WIFI SIGNAL STRENGTH PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS FOR BUSINESS USERS DEALING WITH WIFI SIGNAL STRENGTH But what about after having increased the Internet speed and replaced the router with a WIFI 6 router, your office or home still needs good wireless signal in other rooms where other users are working? THE CASE FOR USING ACCESS POINTS VS EXTENDERS TO BOOST THE WIRELESS SIGNAL But first, what is the difference between an access point and a wireless extender? 1- Repeating wifi waves is not the same as repeating a signal that comes out of a wire instead. 2- Routers’ wireless speed is slower than the ethernet speed; therefore extenders have the tendency to broadcast signals that are already weak at the source. What are the worst wifi networks? The following image shows that the switch from type N to type AC a few years ago brought to almost 3 times more power to the WIFI signal. AC type routers are still widely used in offices and homes and they perform pretty well, especially in environments where users are not far from the router and I would say in places that are not larger than 2,000 square feet. The higher throughput is due to the increased numbers of the antennas that can broadcast faster signals to the devices connected to the network. Now, let’s check the evolution of the WIFI protocols from 1999 to 2019. The table below shows that in 20 years the power of WIFI specifications has increased exponentially: Here is the problem: if you use extenders instead of access points, once you have upgraded your network to higher wifi speeds, you will have your Internet speed curtailed because of the loss you will experience while waves propagate before reaching your device. As a matter of fact, if for example your router speed is 500 Mbps, the access point will provide your device with a speed much lower than that and I would say in the range of 150/200 Mbps. If instead you use an access point, the access point is hardwired to the router and will give you almost the same speed of the main router, which is an optimal situation and is what we all desire. Therefore, access points don’t bring a lot to the table and may not reflect the real speed at the source, even if you configure them optimally by changing channels and surveying the areas with wifi speed apps that you can download on your phone. One more point is worth mentioning: if you have just upgraded your router and its speed to the new WIFI 6 specifications, you may avoid using extenders even if they are of the same specs. In some cases, the least, the better. Try to measure first the speed of the main router in every corner of the house and if the bandwidth is enough, you may just stay with the main router. In a nutshell, you may just let the router reach as far as possible most of the rooms of the house and then you can decide. And even if you came to the conclusion that the extension of the network is necessary, call an electrician or a contractor and run Cat 6 Ethernet wires from the routers to the places where you need stronger signal. That way, when you put an access point in the room that has been hardwired, the speed of the main router will be replicated with no issue because the wire will carry the integrity of the signal from the router straight to the access point. You may finally have realized that, if you hardwire your house, your network will mimic an office network, which is a great leap towards a more reliable and steady connection.

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Google Workspace VS Microsoft 365: Which is Better for a Small Business?

Google Workspace VS Microsoft 365: Which is Better for a Small Business? The most popular and safest products for small businesses are Google Workspace and Microsoft 365. I am currently using both platforms from my clients in Westchester and I thought that I could compare them and see where both stand out in terms of productivity, cloud computing, ease of use and security. The products look similar in some ways but we cannot say that one is the alternative to the other. However, I would like to make clear that if you’re looking for an exact alternative for either of these services you’re not going to find it in the market. There are some apps in 365 for which there are no alternatives in Google Workspace and there are some apps in Google Workspace for which there aren’t any available alternatives in 365. There are also applications that have similar use, but differ in so many different ways in both platforms. First thing to do if you’re a system administrator or a business owner in Westchester trying to decide which product is better for your organization, or if you’re an IT consultant trying to find a suitable application for your clients, write down the business requirements and its needs.For example, the questions you may be asking before implementing either of those two solutions are: READ HOW IMPORTANT IS TO HAVE A BUSINESS EMAIL IN YOUR CORPORATE ENVIRONMENT PROS OF USING MICROSOFT 365 AND EXCHANGE ONLINE 1- POPULARITY: One of the biggest advantages that Office 365 has over Workspace is that Microsoft Office’s packages have just been around for long time and came out much earlier than Google Workspace. Therefore, large enterprises who have become very accustomed to the use of these office applications won’t find an issue in switching to Microsoft 365 which is a cloud and a software based service as well. For example, let’s take Outlook: Outlook has been around for almost 30 years and it is still one of the most popular application in the world, if not the most popular out there. 2- OUTLOOK APP: The Outlook app for Iphone and Android is free and it works great especially if you are trying to get the most out of your calendar. As Microsoft has created its own app for smartphones, I recommend to use the Outlook app for smartphone if you need to operate a Microsoft email that has been setup via Exchange. Also, try to avoid mixing your personal emails with your Office 365 emails on the smartphone because you will run into issues with the calendar’s synchronization. 3- FLEXIBILITY: Microsoft 365 is a suite that focuses more on desktop applications. A desktop application is a software that gets installed on a device and will run on the computer or laptop where the software is installed. However, contrary to Google workspace which is only cloud based, Microsoft approach is more licensed based and allows the same apps to run online as well. For example, if you have an old machine with not so much hard drive space left, you may want to run only the online version of Microsoft 365 and in doing so you will avoid to take more space in the hard drive. 4-STORAGE PLANS: in the most affordable and basic plans, Microsoft 365 offers 50 GB Mailbox storage and 1 TB One Drive, whereas Google Workspace Starter plan offers a 30 GB Mailbox. In Google, the storage is shared between mailbox and storage. 5- VIDEO CALLS: for video conferencing, Microsoft 365 uses Teams and Google uses Google Meet, respectively. However, Microsoft in its business plans allows to host meetings up to 300 people and in the enterprise plan you can host online calls with up to 1,000 participants. Google Meet, on the other hand, cannot go beyond 500 participants. 6- ADVANCED SECURITY FEATURES: Microsoft offers best in class email security with almost 1,000 customizations when it comes to creating policies for users and email attachments. Advanced Threat Protection protects email attachments, links and files uploaded by users to One Drive for Business and Sharepoint. However, as it is a complex product, I recommend business users to have IT experts configure and implement ATP for users. As the image below shows, there are preset security policies but the Configuration Analyzer allows the admin to configure the product to increase the security score. The higher the Microsoft security score is, the more secure the network running all the Microsoft apps will be. PROS OF USING GOOGLE WORKSPACE 1- 100% CLOUD BASED PLATFORM: Google Workspace does not need any installation and it’s basically browse based. If you use Chrome, you will get the most out of the entire suite as it is easy to use. 2- STUDENTS AND YOUNGSTERS LOVE IT: As Google has a huge foothold in the education business, young students are getting educated to use Google products and will continue to do so when, as adults, will enter the workforce. 3- OUTLOOK VS GMAIL: If your organization does not need to use Outlook, once the domain has been moved with its MX records to Google, the domain will use Gmail that can be easily accessible through a browser without the need to install Outlook on your computer or laptop. LEARN HERE ABOUT THE ISSUES THAT GOOGLE WORKSPACE USERS ENCOUNTER WHEN RUNNING OUTLOOK DESKTOP APP WITH GMAIL As you may infer from the article, Google is more suited for businesses that operate mostly online and share a lot of documents on the Internet. On the other hand, Microsoft is more tailored in a classic corporate environment where there is an IT department and compliance goes hand in hand with auditing processes. The easy administration of Google Workspace is counterbalanced by more complicated interfaces when it comes to configuring Microsoft admin centers. The following infographic form Techmedics can give an idea of how both products can meet small or medium sized businesses needs: Both products excel and lack of features at the same

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7 Steps to Protect a Small Business Network from Malware

7 Steps to Protect a Small Business Network from Malware A recent ransomware attack against the German newspaper Heilbronn Stimme raises questions related to the security of their network and the role of IT people and users within that organization. As the infection kept spreading across devices, the newspaper reported that other child companies of the German media group have been affected by the malware. The German company targeted by hackers is not the only one victim of a digital blackmail but more organizations will continue to be hit as along as ransomware evolves and companies do not harden the security of their systems. And the fact that it did not happen in Westchester, or New York, or New Jersey or Connecticut, it does not mean that this story does not deserve our attention. According to the security company Spinbackup, the 2021 cost of data loss suffered by companies in 2021 was about 20 billions, a whopping 70% increase from the 11.5 billion reported in 2019. A company is not only made by its executives and its employees, but also by the IT technicians working in it, no matter if IT is outsourced or not. I consider the ransomware example that hit the European network as a moment to ask my self what action the company took to foster a safer digital environment. Or in more general terms, what is the role of network security in a medium sized company? Let’s ask ourselves some questions so that we can try to find the right solution to the problem: Hacking a network is a profitable business and hackers will rarely hack a home network where there are 2 or 3 computers connected to the Internet. Hackers go where money is: the most luring targets for them are the healthcare, the government and the financial sectors. So, what a small business in Westchester should do to protect its network, its assets and its data? Also, does it cost a lot of money to protect a network from ransomware? The answer is: it depends on its size, because licenses of software products go by users or batch of users. In this article, I am not going to talk about giving tips regarding networks that have Windows 7 computers running, because I consider it silly. Don’t get me wrong: in my opinion, Windows 7 computers should only be used in a business network only if they satisfy the following 2 conditions: A) They are disconnected from the main network and are basically just used as type writer with no chance of sharing resources with other machines. B) They are placed in another network after that help desk has segmented the network via a firewall or a network switch that support VLANs. Learn how to protect a small business network from malware with network segmentation If I were called to secure a small business network, I would begin first with educating users: 1- USERS’ EDUCATION: Tech experts working for the company should educate users about the risk involved in welcoming risky actors doing social engineering and acting as impersonators. Social engineering is a type of attack that attempts to obtain sensitive information by engaging the target until the victim is deceived and a foothold is gained by the perpetrator. Impersonators, on the other hand, are people who claim to be people known by the users. Impersonators attempt to gain access to a network by the deceiving familiarity and confidence that users have with the people or companies they already know or do business with. 2- USE FIREWALLS IN THE MAIN OFFICE NETWORK: If the main headquarters are physically established in a place where users report for work every day, the office network should have a firewall that analyzes what each device does and what each application does. More advanced firewalls can scrutinize app behaviors and exclude other apps from the main network. 3- DESKTOP COMPUTERS AND LAPTOPS: users should login in their devices via a standard account and admin accounts should only be reserved to administrators. If a user tries to download and install a non approved software, the standard account will not allow him/her to do that. Also, a particular attention should be devoted to the deployment and monitoring of antivirus products and the protection of the browser because, as I said many times, one of the main port of entries for an infection is the Internet, the second being an infected email. 4- ZERO TRUST FOR USERS AND ADMINS AS WELL: Users should not be able to run media that have not been previously authorized. For example, I would disable autorun and autoplay in the Windows control panel such as shown in this picture: and flash drives should be blocked from accessing the operating system. This video shows how to block access to flash drives on Windows 10 pro (Windows 10 Home is not supported): Admins, on the other hand, are not good admins if they use the username ADMIN to login as administrators and disregard the 2 factors authentication. 5- USE A VPN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: A virtual private network is a tunneling protocol that allows users to send the Internet traffic not through the main ISP but through a more secure connection that cannot be intercepted by prying eyes. Years ago one of the main drawbacks of the VPN was that it slowed down quite significantly your Internet traffic but nowadays many VPNs have solved this problem and offer decent speeds. A small disadvantage of a VPN, especially if corporate users are working from home is that they won’t be able to use their home printer if they are connected to the VPN. Just turn it off for a minute or two (if you are allowed to by your system administrator) and you can eventually print from your printer. 6- STORE LOCAL BACKUPS IN A SECURE PLACE: First of all, small business environments should have cloud backups. Local backups should be made frequently and when they are completed, they

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Learn How to Secure a Synology NAS in 5 Steps

Learn How to Secure a Synology NAS in 5 Steps When I began following the computer security expert Bruce Schneier , in one of his talks he said that every device that is connected to the Internet is unsafe. When the host asked him to elaborate further on this topic he simply said that the safest computer in the world is the one that is not connected to the Internet. This is the equivalent of saying that the safest airplane is the one that is not flying at all. I agree with Bruce’s statements but my point is that, if we buy a device because we need it for work or leasure, we should do our best in making it more secure when it accesses the Internet. The network attached storage that I have been describing in a previous post is a device that can help home and small business users accomplish several things, such as backing up pcs and MACs, storing and retrieving files locally and in the cloud, and streaming video and music. However, the exposure that this server has to the local network and to the Internet makes it a vulnerable device that shares the same issues of the computers it stores the data from. In this article, I would like to give my best tips on how far I could go on securing the server. I personally like and recommend Synology NAS servers for their clean interface, robust hardware and minimal consumption. 1- DOWNLOAD AND KEEP TRACK OF THE LOG CENTER APP 2- USE A REPUTABLE DDNS PROVIDER FOR EXTERNAL ACCESS 3- USE MORE THAN ONE ADMIN ACCOUNT AND SET UP PERMISSIONS 4- IMPLEMENT ALL THE FEATURES OFFERED BY THE SECURITY APP IN THE CONTROL PANEL a) The browser logout time can kick users out after a preset time, which is good if user for example leaves temporarily his/her desk. b) The firewall section is very minimal but it should be checked by default, including the firewall notifications. c) The protection feature is one of the main security features of this server, in that it allows admins autoblock IP Addresses after a preset number of attempts within a preset number of minutes. The allow block list allows administrators to white or black list ip addresses as well. As we currently live in a world where Denial of Services DDOS attacks are booming every day, the Synology server has also a built-in DOS protection that you may just want to leave checked. 5- ENABLE MULTIFACTOR AUTHENTICATION FOR LOGINS By enabling access based only on permissions and by hardening the security features of the nas, the server can notify admin if there are unauthorized attempted logins and provide a secure environment for those who need to handle mission critical operations and for users who are usually unaware of the risks that Internet-based devices offer.

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